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

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The Immediate Outlook.

It is not possible to look too far ahead in Zimbabwe - conditions are just
too unstable and literally anything could happen any day. I get up every day
thinking - is this the day when it all happens? But whatever happens, the
immediate outlook is pretty grim and I think it needs analysis and

If we start by examining the economic outlook, sector by sector, this
reveals a truly alarming situation. In respect to agriculture, it is now too
late to prevent the disaster that is going to happen this summer as food
production and the production of all export crops plunge to new lows. There
is little seed available, no fuel for land preparation, no chemicals and
very little fertilizer. It is now just 85 days away from the critical date
for planting and there is just not enough time left to overcome the present
shortages. We are about to see another year wasted and another year during
which Zimbabwe will be another African country requiring emergency food aid.

In mining the situation is only marginally better with all investment frozen
by hostile government policy decisions and a poor domestic economic
outlook - at a time when for the first time in 50 years, basic commodity
prices are rising in real terms. In industry and commerce the situation is
critical - one businessman said to me today - "we have no coal, no diesel,
no chemicals and no sign of any relief". For many, if not most industrial
firms, they are close to closure.

In the tourism sector, the position is no better - occupancy rates are below
break even, many hotels and resorts are closed and the major hotel groups
are all making losses and being forced to cut back on everything. Recent
changes to the tax regime do not help and a new tax on transactions on the
stock market of 10 per cent on both sales and purchases simply makes it
impossible for the bourse to function. The stock exchange has been virtually
closed down since the Ministers statement on the 18th and once they start
operating stock market valuations will plunge. One broker told me they are
holding Z$3 trillion in "sell" orders.

Since he took office the Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono, has closed down
10 asset management companies, 7 commercial banks and several other
financial institutions. These closures have cost investors and customers
many billions of dollars. Now these losses are being compounded by the huge
impending losses of a stock market crash.

Citizens have seen their investments devastated by these developments and
savings have been wiped out by inflation and low interest rates. Pensioners
are living in penury unless they receive help from overseas or local
sources. I doubt if confidence can be re-established in the financial
services industry until there are major political changes in leadership and

Then there is the inflation outlook. Inflation rates have risen every month
this year and in July they rose at an annual rate of 10 000 per cent (I am
told that this is what 47 per cent in one month translates into when
compounded). August will be worse and I can see no sign of any slow down in
price rises in September. How do we cope with these massive price rises in a
collapsing economy? There is only one possible outcome - incomes are going
to fall even faster and poverty in every sense is going to become much

Then there is the humanitarian situation. We have at least 5 million people
in need of food aid. This number will grow exponentially in the next three
months and we need to import huge amounts of food - 120 000 tonnes of maize,
30 000 tonnes of wheat, thousands of tonnes of vegetable oils and fats and a
significant proportion of our protein foods including milk and baby foods
every month.

There is simply no way we can afford the bill and the State has still not
asked for help. If these bottlenecks were overcome immediately, how do we
get that volume of product into the country on a depleted rail network and a
degenerating road transport system? If we do not get help and if this food
does not arrive then the UN description of Zimbabwe as the worlds "worst
humanitarian crisis" will take on graphic proportions. Unlike Niger and
Mali, the television crews will not be here to bear witness to this
failure - only the graves in poor villages across the country will be there
to bear witness and by then it will be too late.

In the political sphere the news is no better. Mugabe has rejected the South
African emergency loan proposals because of the conditions attached to them.
I have never seen such an intensive media effort to obscure what is really
going on as in respect to this loan debacle. I think even those whose job it
is to confuse us are themselves confused by all that is going on. Mugabe has
rejected the UN's overtures to stand aside and let them help; he has
rejected the UN assessment of our needs and the humanitarian priorities. He
has also rejected mediation by the AU and any independent assessment of the
humanitarian crisis by the AU itself. He has rejected the mediation of an
old friend and ally - Chissano.

Within Zimbabwe the political crisis evolves on a daily basis. Powerful Zanu
and military figures talk to opposition politicians, seeking assurance and
asking what can be done to break the logjam. Zanu PF itself has fractured
into two main factions with others simply abandoning the Party as a lost
cause and retiring to the sidelines for fear of being hurt. The rape of the
country's assets continues and in fact accelerates as those in power at a
local level see no future and seek to make hay while the sun shines. Mugabe
is in his bunker, like Hitler at the end of the Second World War, imagining
the progress of his massed divisions and giving orders that cannot be obeyed
even when death was the consequence of refusal.

He knows in his heart that he cannot survive - his circle of friends is now
down to a handful of people and countries, even in Africa he is now seen as
a liability, not an asset. He knows he has failed, failed his people, failed
his country and his continent and that disgrace and banishment are the most
likely outcome of this situation. In some ways I feel sorry for the man - so
much to offer, so much to gain, all lost because of a blind pursuit of power
at any cost, even the destruction of your own country and the complete
impoverishment of its peoples.

In a sense I am glad we are here at last - because it means that the end of
this nightmare is close. But my goodness, what a mess to clean up after!

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 28th August 2005.
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Cleanup campaign squeezes rural communities dry

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

BEITBRIDGE, 29 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwean government's clampdown on
informal trade has dealt a heavy blow to rural communities already
struggling to make ends meet in the wake of another dry spell in the
southern Beitbridge district.

Sikhululekile Makusha, a small-scale farmer in the village of Chitikwa,
about 10 km outside the town of Beitbridge, used to earn more than US $1 a
day selling vegetables, enough to support herself and her three children.
"Now they don't let us sell anything - I have nothing to feed my children,"
she said.

Around her the land is parched. A goat nibbles on a clump of dry grass
nearby, while the sun blazes down. There is not a single patch of green for
miles around and the water in the neighbourhood borehole has dried up.

The leaves on the mopane trees near her hut have also shrivelled and died,
spelling yet more hardship. The mopane worm, a large caterpillar that feeds
on the leaves, is an important source of protein and income for the rural
communities living around Beitbridge.

"We have not been able to harvest any mopane worms this year," said Makusha.

Her family has tea in the morning and maize-meal porridge ('sadza' in the
local language) with vegetables at night. "We have these two meals only - we
cannot afford to buy bread every day," Makusha said.

"Families used to earn more than US $29 for each 20 litre bucket of mopane
worms, which are normally harvested between April and December," said a
relief worker. Usually at least two bucketloads can be harvested from a
single mopane tree, "but this year there were no rains - the leaves have
dried, and so there have been no worms".

The informal market in Beitbridge has been cleared out by the Zimbabwean
authorities as part of a national clean-up campaign that began in May; it
has become a parking lot for taxis.

Elekias Zvonumo and three vendor friends had a seven-year contract with a
farmer to sell oranges in the market. Now they sit beside the highway 15 km
outside Beitbridge with over a 100 bags of oranges, hoping for a lift to
Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo.

"At least we can sell our oranges there, but it [transport] is expensive,"
said Zvonumo. Taking the oranges to Bulawayo, more than a 300 km away, by
taxi would cost more than what the total consignment of oranges are worth,
he added. "The situation is desperate at home," said Zvonumo, who supports
his family of six.

The arid Beitbridge district in Matabeleland South, one of Zimbabwe's
poorest provinces, comprises Beitbridge town and about 50 rural villages
where most people are small-scale ranchers or vegetable farmers. About
139,000 people live in and around the urban centre, with another 49,000 in
the countryside. At least two-thirds of the population is believed to be in
need of food aid.

"Very little maize and grain is grown in the area, while vegetables and
fruit are procured locally - everything else is brought in from outside,
which often costs a little more," said a relief worker.

Cross-border trading, another important alternative source of food, was also
wiped out by the cleanup campaign. The staple food, maize-meal, is not
readily available in the rural areas and can cost more than US $3 for a 50kg
bag - the average monthly consumption of a family of four. "Before, people
used to bring bags of mealie meal in and sell it informally - now they
cannot even do that," a vendor pointed out.

Many other commodities and household items, ranging from soaps to bed linen,
had also been brought in informally. "The authorities are very strict now,
but goods do come in - smuggled in, or by paying hefty amounts of money to
taxis coming across the border," said another relief worker.

Maize-meal is available in the shops and at the local outlet of the Grain
Marketing Board, the state grain-selling monopoly, in Beitbridge town, but
food is available in limited quantities, and availability and prices are not

"Prices keep increasing every day - a loaf of bread now costs between Zim
$10 to $14,000 (about 50 US cents), when only in January it was selling at
Zim $4,000 (about 16 cents)," commented a consumer queuing outside a shop
for a loaf of bread.

"I cannot even remember the last time I saw sugar in the shops," remarked

Fishing, another source of revenue for the rural community has also been
restricted. The authorities have prohibited people without licences from
fishing in the district's dams and rivers. "The situation is worse than last
year - people could at least fish for additional income or food. How can
people afford to live?" wondered another relief worker.

Desperation is driving many Zimbabweans across the border to neighbouring
South Africa and Botswana. Hundreds of Zimbabweans sit by the highway,
waiting for a lift to Musina, the neighbouring South African town, a mere 12
km away.

Progress, 21, is among the several hundred Zimbabweans who dream of a job
opportunity in South Africa. Since their mother died last year after a "long
illness", Progress has been forced to look after her two siblings, Chipo,
18, and Sharon, 8.

Her job as a part-time labourer on a farm 20 km from Beitbridge town used to
pay for their school fees. "Now there is no work at the farm - the orange
season is over. I just sit at home and wait. I want to go to South Africa,
but I cannot leave my sister alone here."

Their grandmother, a pensioner and a vendor living in town, provides
financial support when she can. Their family could be among the 39,000 that
the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) intends to feed in rural Beitbridge
between October 2005 and April 2006.

Following a fourth year of drought and low agricultural production, WFP
plans to assist nationally four million people in the year ahead.

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Govt refuses to endorse emergency appeal

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

JOHANNESBURG, 29 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwean authorities have hit out at
the United Nations, saying its response to the country's current
socioeconomic challenges is inappropriate and misguided.

President Robert Mugabe's government last week refused to endorse a US $30
million emergency appeal to provide food and medicine for 300,000
Zimbabweans hardest hit by his controversial urban cleanup campaign.

Jan Egeland, the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said on
Friday that the lack of an agreement with the Harare government had put the
appeal on hold.

"It's hard to understand why we can't help these people. The government
disagrees with the wording of the flash appeal, or with our working with
certain NGO's, and it disagrees with the numbers [of people affected],"
Egeland said.

Signs that the government would rebuff the UN's offer of help became evident
when Zimbabwe rejected a scathing report compiled by UN special envoy, Anna
Tibaijuka, which had labelled the cleanup campaign a "breach of both
national and international human rights law provisions guiding evictions"
that had created a humanitarian crisis.

"The UN appeal cannot be acceptable because it is based on Tibaijuka's
flawed report. The government has since responded to it, as requested, and
we wonder why the UN has gone ahead and prepared the appeal without
considering the contents of the Zimbabwe response," Deputy Information and
Publicity Minister Bright Matonga told IRIN on Monday.

Zimbabwe has denied Tibaijuka's findings that over 700,000 people were
directly affected by the demolition drive, saying the figure was "grossly
exaggerated". It insisted Operation Murambatsvina ('Drive out Filth') was
carried out within the confines of Zimbabwean law with the aim of addressing
"a cocktail of social, economic and security challenges that were negatively
impacting on the country's economy and the populace".

The UN special envoy said a total of 2.4 million people, or 18 percent of
the population, were affected by the evictions and the crackdown on the
informal economy that began on 19 May.

Egeland said that humanitarian agencies had not been informed when evictions
took place, and often arrived too late, or on occasion were not allowed to
access sites where homes had been bulldozed. This had prevented aid workers
from being able to accurately trace where displaced people had moved to.

Egeland said that many of those driven from their homes by Operation
Murambatsvina had returned to the countryside, while others were living in
urban slums in conditions much worse than before they were evicted. He noted
that only about 100,000 individuals were currently being assisted by NGOs
and the UN at 50 sites around the country.

Matonga hit back at the accusation the authorities had abandoned those made
homeless by the cleanup campaign. "The government has not failed to provide
for the needy, and there are no displaced people's camps anywhere in the
country. The people have been resettled somewhere, or given new stands in
their original areas."

On Monday Security Minister Didymus Mutasa also downplayed the need for
international assistance.

"We do not know of any people as desperate as described in the UN report and
some media reports - those who need care are not too many, and we can cope.
Government-built shelters are going up in every town - so where is the
crisis?" Mutasa asked.

Finance minister Herbert Murerwa earlier this month said the government was
slashing its reported allocation of $3 trillion (US $300 million) for
Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle ('Stay well') - its new housing
reconstruction programme - by two-thirds.

But both Mutasa and Matonga denied that Hlalani Kuhle was stuttering, with
only 5,000 housing units having been built so far to accommodate the
hundreds of thousands left without shelter.

Mutasa said the project was being slowed down by material shortages, but
insisted the government would meet its goal of 150,000 new houses or plots
allocated by mid-October.

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UN News Centre

UN, Zimbabwe agree to keep working on new draft for humanitarian appeal
29 August 2005 - The United Nations country team and the government
officials in Zimbabwe reached agreement today to establish a working level
joint committee to draw up a new draft of a flash humanitarian appeal to
raise money to help the 700,000 people left destitute by a government slum
clearance campaign, the United Nations humanitarian agency said today.

The UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it
expected to have news on the outcome of this process towards the end of the

The arrangement follows a news briefing in New York last week by UN
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, who said that
the two sides could not agree on wording to describe how many people were
affected by the evictions.

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

He also said that the world body has been using funding from an earlier
appeal to provide some aid to 170,000 people affected by the evictions. But
a much broader programme is sorely needed to address the larger scale
emergency in the country which has seen life expectancy plummet from around
63 years in the late 1980s and early 1990s to 33.9 years in 2004.

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

Zimbabwe Parliament to pass rights-curtailing Bill today
Tue 30 August 2005

      HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party will today use
its absolute control of Parliament to force through the House a raft of
constitutional amendments that will take away some of Zimbabweans' most
fundamental rights such as the right to own agricultural land.

      ZANU PF, which failed to win an absolute majority in last March's
disputed election but still enjoys absolute control of Parliament through
additional support from Mugabe appointees to the House, yesterday summoned
through state-owned media all its parliamentarians to be present today to
ensure the Constitutional Amendment Bill sails through.

      The controversial Bill described in a statement issued yesterday by
the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) as a "direct and undisguised frontal
assault" on the rights of Zimbabweans will virtually nationalise
agricultural land, banning private landowners from contesting seizure of
their land by the state, while courts will be prohibited from hearing such

      The omnibus amendment Bill will allow Mugabe's government to deny
passports to its critics and will also create a 66-seat Senate, which Mugabe
has publicly said he wants to use to appease disgruntled lieutenants in his
ZANU PF party by rewarding them with seats in the upper chamber.

      The proposals sailed through the first stages in Parliament last week
when 61 ZANU PF legislators voted for Parliament to adopt the Bill while 28
opposition legislators voted against the Bill.

      Two thirds of Parliament's total150 members must vote in favour of the
Bill today before Mugabe signs it into effective law. ZANU PF can easily
amass the required number of votes.

      The party won 78 seats last March and controls another 12 seats
occupied by unelected individuals appointed to Parliament by Mugabe through
a constitutional clause allowing him to do so.

      The ruling party also enjoys the support of the eight provincial
governors, who seat in Parliament with full voting powers. The governors
were handpicked to their posts by Mugabe. ZANU PF can also bank on the
support of the 10 chiefs who seat in Parliament and have since independence
voted with the ruling party.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party has 41 seats
in the House while former Mugabe propaganda chief, Jonathan Moyo, holds the
remaining seat.

      In its Monday statement the LSZ, which is the representative body of
the legal profession in the country, criticised the constitutional Bill
saying it served to: "trivialize the constitution, which is the bedrock of
the law."

      The society called on the government to drop the Bill and instead open
up an all inclusive and democratic constitutional reform process. ZimOnline.

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Zim Online

IMF team extends stay in Zimbabwe
Tue 30 August 2005

      HARARE - An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team in Zimbabwe for
consultations with the government over Harare's economic policies has
extended its stay by another week, a government official said yesterday.

      Zimbabwe, which is experiencing its worst economic crisis in years,
has struggled to repay its debt to the global lender and faces possible

      "We have not concluded our talks, there is no news at the moment ...
when we have news we will let you know," Finance Minister Hebert Murerwa
told the press.

      The IMF's three-member delegation arrived in the country last week for
talks that were expected to last for about a week, although there was no
definite departure date. A central bank official told ZimOnline the team
will now leave on Friday.

      The visit precedes a September 9 meeting in Washington that is likely
to decide whether to expel Zimbabwe.

      The crisis-sapped southern African country is negotiating a US$500
million dollar loan with neighbour South Africa. Part of the loan, if
granted, would be used to pay off the IMF, with the rest going towards vital
fuel and food imports as the country grapples with worsening shortages of
both commodities.

      In July Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe chief Gideon Gono said the
country had stepped up payments to the IMF, repaying $37 million of its
outstanding debt in the previous 18 months. But earlier this month an IMF
official said there had been no payments since June.

      Zimbabwe is sitting on more than US$4.5 billion in foreign debt which
it has struggled to repay since 1999, when it began to face crippling
foreign currency shortages following the withdrawal of balance-of-payments
support by the IMF.

      President Robert Mugabe's critics say government mismanagement, has
led to unemployment of more than 80 percent and hyper-inflation, causing
critical shortages of foreign exchange, food and fuel.

      The IMF and other key multilateral funders and donor institutions cut
support to Zimbabwe over policy differences with Mugabe, especially his
controversial seizure of white-owned commercial farms to parcel out to
landless blacks, which has accelerated the economic decline. ZimOnline.

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Zim Online

US$67 million Iran-Zimbabwe credit facility hits snag
Tue 30 August 2005

      HARARE - A US$67 million credit facility deal between Iran and
Zimbabwe has hit a snag over fears by Teheran that cash-strapped Harare will
not be able to repay money provided to it under the facility, ZimOnline has

      The short-to-medium term loan facility provisionally agreed by
Zimbabwe's Ministry of Finance and the state-owned Export Development Bank
of Iran last May was for foreign currency-short Harare to import capital
equipment including tractors and other agricultural machinery as well
telecommunications hardware.

      The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, which
is jointly owned by South Africa's ABSA Bank and President Robert Mugabe's
government, negotiated the deal on behalf of Harare.

      Teheran, vigorously courted by Mugabe as part of his new "Look East
Policy", was initially agreeable to the deal but was now developing cold
feet chiefly because of Zimbabwe's worsening foreign currency and economic

      Mugabe has turned to the East after falling out with Western
governments that have cut credit facilities to Harare and imposed sanctions
against the Zimbabwean leader and his top officials who they accuse of human
rights violations and stealing elections.

      The Iranians unconvinced Zimbabwe will pay back in June rejected a
payment guarantee document submitted by the Ministry of Finance in Harare
and set new preconditions for the loan.

      The Iranians are now demanding that Zimbabwe deposits the equivalent
of 15 percent of the loan amount with their (Iranian) bankers as proof that
Harare will pay back money advanced to it, according to sources privy to the
troubled credit facility deal.

      In a letter dated, 27 June 2005, rejecting Harare's payment guarantee
document, Iranian officials wrote: "We acknowledge receipt of your letter
No. Em/Iran/JPM/ng/066/05 dated June 6 2005 enclosed with the legal opinion
of Gambe & Partners as well as the payment Guarantee and Legal Opinion
issued by the esteemed Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (now
ministry of Finance) of Zimbabwe.

      "However, we would like to draw your kind attention to the point that
several discrepancies have been found to exist in the said documents.
Accordingly we have sent back to you the original copies of the said

      A Zimbabwe Finance Ministry confidential document dated, 25 August
2005 that was shown to ZimOnline yesterday also confirms the Iranians had
rejected guarantees from Harare to pay back the money.

      "The Iranians rejected the payment guarantee that was signed by the
Acting Minister for Finance on 11/05/05, we have noticed areas that have to
be clarified before the (new) payment guarantee can be signed by the
Minister," reads part of the document that was prepared by the Finance
Ministry for the Attorney General (AG)'s office. The AG's office is involved
in the loan negotiations as government chief legal advisor.

      It was not possible to immediately get comment on the matter from the
Iranian bank, Zimbwe Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa or AG, Sobhuza

      But sources said officials from the AG's office and the Finance
Ministry were yesterday locked in meetings to try and bring the credit
facility back on track.

      The money from Iran was to be used to rehabilitate the state-run
Agricultural and Rural Development Authority's ageing fleet of tractors. The
tractors were expected to be imported as kits and were to be assembled in
Zimbabwe by another government-owned company, the Industrial Development

      State-owned fixed and cell phone network operators, Net*One and
Tel*One, were expected to also import capital equipment under the credit
facility. ZimOnline.

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Business Day

No reform pledges for IMF team in Harare
Dumisani Muleya


Harare Correspondent

ZIMBABWE's risk of expulsion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has
increased substantially as its fact-finding mission to the country has been
unable to secure any serious commitment to economic reforms and debt

The failure of the IMF team, which concludes its crucial visit to the
country today, to make meaningful progress in its talks with President
Robert Mugabe's government has magnified Zimbabwe's risk of expulsion from
the fund in the next 10 days.

Zimbabwe's chance of expulsion is looking increasingly more likely as
financial rescue package negotiations with SA to repay the IMF debt and pay
for critical imports appear on the verge of collapse as well.

A senior Zimbabwean government official said there had not been much
progress because the reforms demanded by the IMF needed time and money. "We
discussed the need for fundamental economic reforms but this needs time to
implement. It is fine for us to just agree we will do this or that but it's
unrealistic to expect an immediate economic recovery in this environment.

"The other problem is that in as much as we want to settle our debt, we don't
have the money. We are trying our best but the situation is difficult."

Zimbabwe's expulsion will have far-reaching consequences for its crumbling
economy and the region. The collateral damage of Zimbabwe's political and
economic crisis on regional economies is severe because Zimbabwe is the
second-largest economy in the region. An economic meltdown will also affect
numerous South African companies that operate there.

The IMF fact-finding mission has already met Zimbabwean Finance Minister
Herbert Murerwa and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, among other leading
government officials.

Sources said the IMF team might no longer meet Mugabe as initially expected
to discuss the debt repayment issue. The matter was discussed with Murerwa
and Gono in the two meetings they had with the mission.

Official sources said yesterday the IMF had told Murerwa and Gono to sort
out the economic crisis and repay the debt as a matter of urgency or risk

The IMF board meets on September 9 on the Zimbabwe situation after its
frantic efforts to get its $295m debt repaid and its efforts to secure
economic reforms in Zimbabwe failed.

While tight-lipped, an IMF source said the fund was not happy with the
progress made in transforming the economy. "They keep promising they will do
this (the reforms) but every time we come back nothing happens."

Besides that, plans to have the IMF debt wiped out with South African help
seem to be faltering as well. Harare has adopted a hostile approach to
Pretoria's attempt to attach political conditions to loan negotiations.

Although South African officials have been at pains to deny the conditions,
the reactions by Zimbabwean officials, including Mugabe, clearly suggest
there were strings attached to the loan.

A series of angry outbursts from Mugabe's top government officials have
indicated a growing resentment of President Thabo Mbeki's intervention.
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Zim Online

Mugabe uses former commander's burial to show disdain of opposition
Mon 29 August 2005

      HARARE - President Robert Mugabe on Sunday used the burial of his
former air force commander to showcase his disdain of opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party,
labeling them "political stooges, crooks and cowards".

      Addressing thousands of mostly supporters of his ruling ZANU PF party
gathered to pay last respects to the late Josiah Tungamirai, who was also a
minister in Mugabe's Cabinet, the veteran Zimbabwean leader said: "Zimbabwe
is no home for traitors, for political stooges, for crooks and political

      Mugabe, who has vehemently rejected pleas by South Africa and the
wider international community to reopen dialogue with the opposition to find
a democratic solution to Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis, insists
the MDC is a stooge of Britain and the West.

      Publicly snubbing demands by South African President Thabo Mbeki and
his government to resume dialogue with the opposition in return for
financial assistance from Pretoria, Mugabe two weeks ago said he would
rather hold talks with British Premier Tony Blair claiming he was the
principal behind Tsvangirai and the MDC.

      Mugabe, who maintains Britain is using the MDC in a bid to recolonise
Zimbabwe, called on Zimbabweans to jealously defend their sovereignty which
he said was under threat from "treachery from within the country (and from)
outside our country".

      Zimbabwe is in the grip of a grinding political and economic crisis
that has manifested itself in shortages of food, fuel, electricity,
essential medical drugs, hard cash and almost every other basic survival

      The International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s board meeting on September 9
could vote to expel Zimbabwe for nonpayment of a US$295 million debt, a
development that would hasten the total collapse of the southern African
country's economy.

      South Africa, fearing Zimbabwe's collapse would trigger off an immense
humanitarian crisis that would spill beyond its northern neighbour's
borders, has offered Zimbabwe a US$500 million bailout loan to pay off its
IMF debts and to buy critically needed food and fuel.

      But Mugabe rejected a precondition by Pretoria to revive dialogue with
the MDC before the money could be released, forcing Mbeki and his government
to instead now demand that Zimbabwe undertakes wider and democratic
constitutional reforms to address governance problems at the root of its
crisis, according to authoritative sources.

      Mugabe and his government, who had already started using their
absolute control of Parliament to unilaterally change Zimbabwe's
constitution, are said to be amenable to a wider constitutional reform
exercise. ZimOnline.

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Zim Online

Zimbabwe intelligence minister threatens police and judicial officers
Mon 29 August 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's powerful intelligence minister Didymus Mutasa last
week threatened judicial and police officers with unspecified action if they
did not release one of his "blue-eyed boys" arrested for murdering his
political rivals, authoritative sources told ZimOnline.

      In yet another illustration of the erosion of the rule of law in
Zimbabwe, Mutasa last Monday phoned Rusape town magistrate Tendai Mahwe
instructing him to release Albert Nyakuedzwa from prison and to quash murder
charges against him.

      Mutasa, who is also in charge of land redistribution and is one of
President Robert Mugabe's closest confidantes, also phoned Ronald
Muderedzwa, the police commander for Manicaland province under which Rusape
falls, telling him not to pursue investigations for murder against
Nyakuedzwa, according to the sources.

      The policeman and magistrate however did not follow Mutasa's
instructions and instead reported the matter to their superiors who are said
to have told them to ignore Mutasa and pursue the murder case against
Nyakuedzwa, who was arrested on August 21 for allegedly murdering another
ZANU PF activist, Hatinah Mukono.

      "Their bosses told them to go ahead with the case and to ignore
Mutasa," said a source privy to the matter, who did not want to be named.

      Nyakuedzwa, who is in jail awaiting trial, is said to have led a
campaign of violence against Mutasa's rivals in ZANU PF. According to the
sources he organised the murder of Mukono to punish him for having
campaigned against Mutasa in the run up to last March's parliamentary

      Both Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and Police Commissioner
Augustine Chihuri could not be reached for comment on the matter last night.

      Mutasa, who has publicly said he wants to be vice-president in a
post-Mugabe government, refused to take questions on the matter telling
ZimOnline not to, "drag my name into this scandal."

      Senior ZANU PF and government politicians have on several occasions
been accused of blocking investigations against themselves or their
relatives while Mugabe himself is said to have ordered police to abandon
corruption investigations against Mutasa himself and former parliamentary
speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa.

      The government denies politicians interfere with the law enforcement
and judicial process.  ZimOnline.

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Zim rebuilding 'not planned'
29/08/2005 09:34  - (SA)

Carole Landry

Harare - Rarely does the television news go to air in Zimbabwe these days
without a report on the success of the government's home-building campaign,
launched in the wake of its sweeping demolitions.

Cabinet ministers can be seen on state television touring housing projects
around the country as construction crews toil away under Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, or Live Well.

But housing advocates are questioning whether the reconstruction drive - the
first phase of which ends on Wednesday - is helping Zimbabweans who lost
their homes in what the government described as an urban cleanup campaign
that ended a month ago.

Housing minister Ignatius Chombo insists that the August 31 target of 5 000
new homes has been reached and that Zimbabwe is hammering away at its next
goal of 150 000 new houses or plots allocated by mid-October.

"If there is somebody who is sleeping out in the cold, I would like to know
why," Chombo said.

"Give them to me and I will find them a place to stay, so the towns are
properly planned."

Far behind their target

At Whitecliff farm, the showcase of Zimbabwe's homebuilding campaign, the
site manager told Chombo last week that about 110 houses now had roofs,
while the foundations for 136 more had been laid - a far cry from the target
of 1 000 homes.

The reconstruction effort was launched on June 26, when a United Nations
envoy arrived in Zimbabwe to report on the humanitarian crisis sparked by
Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive out Filth, that left 700 000 Zimbabweans

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has dismissed the
reconstruction effort as nothing more than a gimmick by the government to
save face after the demolitions.

"Operation Garikai was not planned. They announced it because of the outcry
of the people affected and the international community," said MDC housing
critic Jobert Mudzumwe.

"The government might be able to provide housing to very few people but not
on the scale that is required after Murambatsvina," said Beth Chitekwe-Biti,
director of Dialogue on Shelter, a local organisation concerned with

Making a 'political statement'

"They wanted to make a political statement around this. Providing toilets
and water doesn't reek of achievement so they began building houses," said

But as the deadline neared, the government has asked private entrepreneurs
to take part in Operation Garikai and authorised many of the displaced to
start building their own homes.

UN Habitat representative Per Iwansson says the success of the government's
housing policy does not lie in home-building but rather in the allocation of
stands, or plots of land, to provide a permanent home.

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Zimbabwe plans epic fuel conservation project
          August 29 2005 at 10:56AM

      Harare - The Zimbabwean government, which is battling crippling power
shortages, is soon to embark on an ambitious electricity and fuel
conservation programme, the state-controlled Herald newspaper said on

      Power shortages have worsened the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans in
recent months. City and town residents have to contend with frequent power
cuts because of insufficient power generation.

      Fuel shortages meanwhile mean only those with access to foreign
currency are able to procure regular supplies of petrol and diesel.

      Justin Mupamhanga, the permanent secretary in the energy ministry,
told the Herald that consultants had been hired to work out a programme to
conserve electricity and fuel.

      "We hired a consultant to carry out the exercise and (the consultant)
is expected to present the result by mid September," Mupamhanga said.

      "We have also engaged a consultant to address conservation in the fuel
sector and will soon develop fuel conservation campaigns including tips on
how to save fuel," he told the newspaper.

      Power-saving projects are expected to promote the use of solar power
to save electricity, finding alternative sources of energy such as methane
gas and blending ethanol with fuel, according to the Herald.

      The state-run Sunday Mail this week announced that the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority had been given permission to increase tariffs
by 100 percent "to enable the power utility to remain viable".

      President Robert Mugabe's government blames the shortages on
Zimbabwe's chronic lack of foreign currency. - Sapa-dpa
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Zim tries power from pig manure
29/08/2005 18:55  - (SA)

Harare - As Zimbabweans battle frequent power cuts, local pig farmers want
to apply for funding from the central bank for a project to generate
electricity from pig manure, state-controlled radio reported on Monday.

According to Paul Ndiweni, director of the Pig Industry Board of Zimbabwe,
the "technical aspects of the project have already been worked out."

A team from Zimbabwe visited Belgium earlier this year to see a research
unit on biogas production.

"The project, which will utilise all by-products of pig rearing has been on
the cards since 1996," the report said.

The board is to approach the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for funding
soon, it added.

Urban residents in Zimbabwe endure frequent power cuts.

The state- run Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority recently indicated that
the power utility required more than two billion US dollars over the next
five years to avert a power crisis.

On Sunday state media announced a 100% rise in electricity tariffs in a
further blow to Zimbabwe's struggling consumers.

President Robert Mugabe's government blames the power cuts - and similar
shortages of petrol and diesel - on a crippling lack of foreign currency.

The state-run Herald newspaper reported Monday that the government would
soon embark on an ambitious programme to conserve desperately- needed fuel
and electricity.
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Mail and Guardian

      New Zim Bill 'makes mockery of the law'

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      29 August 2005 03:29

            Zimbabwean lawyers on Monday urged President Robert Mugabe's
government to scrap a Bill that will prevent white farmers from legally
challenging land grabs, saying it makes a mockery of the law.

            "This a direct and undisguised frontal attack on the
independence of the judiciary," the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) said in a
statement on the eve of the Bill's tabling in Parliament, where it is
expected to be passed.

            "Under the circumstances, the LSZ urges the government of
Zimbabwe to abandon its current moves to remove protection of the law and
oust the power and jurisdiction of the judiciary."

            The Zimbabwean Parliament will on Tuesday vote on the Bill that,
if passed, will also bar people perceived to be anti-government from
travelling abroad.

            It will also disenfranchise all those who have one or more
foreign parents and hold permanent residency status but not full

            "The amendment, if promulgated, will seriously erode, if not
remove, the fundamental rights to property, secure protection of the law and
freedom of movement," said the nearly 2 000-member LSZ.

            The reforms also aim to introduce a bicameral Parliament that
critics say is meant to boost Mugabe's hold on the legislature and
accommodate more ruling-party members.

            Zimbabwe's land reforms, which began, often violently, in 2000
after the rejection in a referendum of a government-sponsored draft
Constitution, have seen about 4 000 white farmers lose their properties.

            The land has been redistributed to landless blacks in a move
that the government has said is designed to correct imbalances created by
colonial rule, when the majority of prime farmland was owned by about 4 500

            Critics say the majority of the beneficiaries lack farming
knowledge and depend on government handouts.

            Human rights lawyers say about 4 000 former white commercial
farmers are challenging the seizure of their properties.

            For the Bill to be passed, the governing Zanu-PF needs 100
votes. The party has 107 members in Parliament, including chiefs. -- 

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Patients Panic As Fire Guts Hospital

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

August 28, 2005
Posted to the web August 29, 2005

Loughty Dube

Scores of panic-stricken patients at Mater Dei Hospital, one of the best
medical institutions in the country, were on Friday night lucky to escape
unhurt after fire broke out and caused extensive damage to the Intensive
Care Unit.

However, the fire brigade reported that one patient suffered burns during
the evacuation at the hospital.

The fire whose origin had not yet been established by the time of going to
press broke out at around 9 pm on Friday evening and was contained an hour

The fire brigade initially concentrated on evacuating patients and saving
equipment and some provisions at the institution before putting out the

It remained unclear yesterday why it took so long for the emergency services
to respond. The fire-fighting unit's headquarters is close to Mater Dei
hospital but they only got to know about the fire when it was at roof level.

Bulawayo Fire brigade spokesperson, Linos Phiri, said his team reacted
swiftly to the report but said the fire was already out of hand.

"The fire was reported to us at 22:29 and we arrived at the scene three
minutes later, but when we got there the roof was already collapsing," Phiri
said, adding they were still trying to establish the cause of the fire.

Most of the evacuated patients spent the night on the hospital grounds,
while the rescue services were making frantic arrangements to transfer
patients to other institutions.

Sources who spoke to this newspaper yesterday said authorities at Mater Dei
hospital were negotiating with officials at the underutilised Ekusileni
Medical Centre to arrange transfer of patients.

Ekusileni Medical centre, a brainchild of late nationalist and former Vice
President Joshua Nkomo remains, unused due to disagreements among the
hospital's board of directors.

Relatives of inmates at Mater Dei Hospital, who spoke to this paper
yesterday said they were impressed with the manner the hospital staff and
residents from the nearby Ilanda and Malindela suburbs handled the disaster.

"Malindela and Ilanda residents showed co-operation as they helped move
equipment and patients out of the building before the arrival of the fire
brigade. That explains why there were no lives lost in the incident," said a
resident, narrating events to onlookers yesterday morning.

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UPI Intelligence Watch
Government officials from 46 African countries attended the annual
China-Africa Cooperation Forum (CACF) in Beijing with new promises of
Chinese assistance. CACF is now China's primary mechanism for coordinating
its expansion into Africa in a search for access to African natural
resources, especially oil. Other raw materials of interest to China include
natural gas, copper, manganese, iron, fish and timber.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- China has been solidifying its oldest and
strongest partnerships with repressive regimes in Zimbabwe and Sudan. Former
U.S. ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria Princeton Lyman said in
testimony in Washington before the US-China Economic and Security Review
Committee, "What is disconcerting is the willingness of China to not only
help but to defend rogue regimes. China has in effect inhibited the United
Nations from imposing sanctions on Sudan and, in Zimbabwe, is helping to
bail out a regime that is repressive and is destroying the country."

While in the 1960s and 1970s Chinese infrastructure projects such as
stadiums and railways were undertaken in Africa, Chinese influence
subsequently waned during the 1980s because China was unable to match
increased Western aid programs. China's recent emergence as a powerful
economy has produced an increased need for natural resources. In 2003
China's trade with Africa in 2003 was valued at about $10.7 billion; this
year it will exceed $32.3 billion.
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Farmers Fail to Repay Loans

The Herald (Harare)

August 29, 2005
Posted to the web August 29, 2005

Martin Kadzere

ABOUT 60 percent of farmers who accessed Government agricultural loans under
various schemes during the 2004/05 agricultural season have failed to repay,
threatening the continuity of the facility.

This has made it difficult for various agro-lending institutions to finance
new applications and could hamstring the Government's efforts to finance
agricultural activities to achieve food self-sufficiency.

The Agricultural and Development Bank (Agribank), Tobacco Industry and
Marketing Board, Grain Marketing Board and Cold Storage Company are among
agro institutions which have been lending to farmers at an annual interest
rate of 50 percent, now reduced to 20 percent.

Besides being afforded this rare opportunity to borrow at concessionary
rates and without collateral, farmers have failed to meet their side of the

Participants who attended the National Economic Consultative Forum last week
emphasised the need for agricultural loans to be accessed by farmers
committed to production.

They also expressed concern at the slow rate at which the loans are being

With only a month away from the beginning of the 2005/06 farming season,
concerns have been raised whether new farmers who failed to honour their
obligations could be able to access new loans.

The latest developments are certain to have far-reaching effects to the
revival of the sector, which has been accorded priority by the Government
and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in terms of funding.

Food importation this year is expected to gobble millions of dollars in
foreign currency as the country failed to produce enough grain during the
last farming season.

Although the entire Southern African region was affected by drought,
inadequate commitment to production by new farmers who benefited from
agrarian reform had also impacted negatively on the production of the staple
maize crop.

The majority of farmers applied for loans for rehabilitation of irrigation
infrastructure but this did not translate into increased production.

It is also understood that some farmers, instead of channelling the funds to
agriculture, diverted the funds to non-farming activities, taking advantage
of the absence of collateral security on loans.

About 90 percent of applications by farmers for loans have been turned down
by various commercial banks and farmers have been quick to lay the blame on
banks for being too stringent in their requirements.

However, it has since emerged that some of the biggest challenges to farmers
in their bid to acquire concessionary funds are lack of understanding of
application procedures and poor track records.

It emerged last week that only $950 billion out of a projected $7 trillion
had so far been disbursed by commercial banks on behalf of the Reserve Bank
largely because most applicants did not understand the application

Poor track records have also seen banks exercise extreme caution before
disbursement, in light of threats by the central bank to debit their
accounts in the event of default by the farmers.

Although the granting of loans is no longer based on a farmer's ability to
provide collateral, banks have tightened their appraisal systems to ensure
the money ends up in the right hands and for the intended purposes.

That state of affairs has, consequently, created its own complexities as
fears heighten that the next farming season could be negatively affected.

Questions are also being asked why production has continued to go down while
the RBZ and the Government are working tirelessly to made available critical
inputs and funding to farmers.

It has since been suggested strict measures be put in place to speed up
loans disbursement while ensuring risk management systems throughout the
evaluation, monitoring and controlling process are not compromised.

Government set aside $150 billion for the 2004/05 agricultural season.

Under the scheme, $20 billion was advanced to fund tobacco production, $60
billion for maize and $20 billion each for irrigation, livestock and for
maize production.

A whopping $7 trillion has been set aside for the 2005/06 season.
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Airzim Leaves Passengers Stranded

The Herald (Harare)

August 29, 2005
Posted to the web August 29, 2005


SCORES of passengers were stranded at Harare International Airport yesterday
when the mid-morning Air Zimbabwe flight to London was cancelled at the last

When The Herald visited the airport, irate passengers could be seen milling
around while others crowded Air Zimbabwe counters trying to get help from
flustered junior staff, as the senior staff was reportedly locked up in a
meeting to find a solution to the transport crisis.

Air Zimbabwe manager on duty Mrs Matilda Simboti refused to comment saying
the issue was way above her station and referred all questions to chief
executive officer Dr Tendai Mahachi, who could not be reached as his mobile
was unreachable last night.

Efforts to get comment from the national airline's spokesman, Mr David
Mwenga also failed.

However, a senior official who requested anonymity said the Air Zimbabwe
plane failed to take off from London because of a technical fault.

"There are certain spare parts which needed to be fixed before it could fly.
But we are glad that the spare parts were taken to London through British
Airways this morning (yesterday).

"The plane could not fly because we wanted to ensure safety for passengers,"
said the official.

Frustrated passengers who spoke to The Herald said they had not been given
an explanation as to why the flight was cancelled, and no senior official
even bothered to come to offer an apology.

Speculation was rife that the plane, which is reported to have failed to
leave Gatwick Airport for Harare on Saturday night, could either have
developed mechanical faults or been impounded over outstanding landing fees.

A passenger, Mr Elliot Chavhundura, said he was supposed to leave on Friday
last week, but was told that the plane was over-booked.

"I was supposed to leave on Friday, but when I came to confirm I was told
that the plane was full, and was asked to come today (yesterday), but when I
arrived I was told the flight had been cancelled.

"I have been told to check again on Wednesday but there is no guarantee
since the Wednesday flight is already fully booked. To make matters worse I
have been told that I can not go back to the hotel where I was staying, but
have to look for my own accommodation till Wednesday.

"I am now stranded here with my wife and two kids. I am very concerned about
my youngest child who is not feeling well. Where am I supposed to find
accommodation since I am from Bulawayo? This is the kind of unprofessional
conduct that needlessly tarnishes the image of our country," he added.

One tearful young lady who refused to give her name said she was afraid that
she might lose her job as she was supposed to have reported for work on

"I was also supposed to leave on Friday, I am not even sure when I will
leave, and I am not sure whether I will find somebody else doing my job.
This is so disappointing," she lamented.

The national airline recently leased a Boeing 767-300ER from Thailand to
service its Harare-Dubai-Bangkok-China routes while its Boeing 767-200ER is
undergoing C checks till October.

C check is a comprehensive overhaul of the plane that involves stripping
down to check for structural integrity and mechanical soundness. These are
the two planes capable of enduring the 14-hour long haul flights to London.

The other three smaller Boeing 737-200s and two MA60 planes can only cover
domestic and regional routes.

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'Made in Africa' System of Democracy is Bad

New Vision (Kampala)

August 29, 2005
Posted to the web August 29, 2005

John Kakande

TANZANIAN President Benjamin Mkapa's farewell speech, Democracy with African
characteristics: The quest for a new governance paradigm for Africa, that he
delivered to Uganda's Parliament raised very pertinent issues that Uganda's
political leaders ought to take very seriously particularly as the country
reverts to multiparty politics.

President Mkapa did acknowledge the fact that political governance remains
one of Africa's core problems. "Today, from the experience of the last few
decades, we can attribute most civil wars, and cross-border conflicts, to
the legacies of the bigotry, intolerance and exclusion. The new African
democracy I advocate must have at its heart the politics of tolerance and
inclusion, not as a product, but as a fundamental, deliberate goal and
priority," said President Mkapa. Not many leaders in Africa recognise
existence of the governance problem and need for reforms. Take for instance
Zimbabwe, which was once an economically progressing country now ruined by
President Robert Mugabe's misguided policies and despotism. But Mugabe wants
to create the impression that Zimbabwe's problem is British Prime Minister
Tony Blair.

Although I concur with President Mkapa on most of the issues he raised, I am
quite skeptical about his call for what he described as "democratic
governance with African characteristics." The argument that Africa needs its
own 'brand' of democracy was precisely the basis for the single-party system
that many African countries including Tanzania went through for over two
decades between 1960 and 1980. The proponents of the single-party system
argued that African countries could not afford the luxury of the multiparty
democracy where you have a ruling party on one hand and opposition parties
on the other. The single-party system turned out to be repressive and
disastrous. The single-party system eliminated competition in politics and
banished civil and political rights including speech and expression. The
freedom of the press was equally quashed. A few African leaders, notably
late President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania conceded that the single-party
system had serious shortcomings and was unviable. The single-party system
was an attempt to 'invent' an African 'brand' of democracy, but the
experiment was disastrous.

The Movement system or what was described as the "no-party democracy" was
yet another attempt to establish a 'Made in Africa' brand of democracy.
Proponents of the Movement system argued that multiparty politics was
unviable in a country that was not industrialised. They argued that
political parties in a non industrialised country like Uganda tend to be
organised on basis of sectarian issues like religion and tribe. They cited
the old political parties - the Democratic Party and the Uganda People's
Congress as typical example of sectarian-based parties. But after close to
two decades of 'no-party' system and with two referendums, it has now been
recognised that the system was fundamentally flawed. Uganda is now
undergoing a transition to multiparty politics.

However, I fully agree with President Mkapa that having free and fair
elections and multiparty politics per se won't guarantee good governance.
Good governance should not be equated to existence of political parties.
There are many African countries, even within the neighbourhood of Uganda
that purport to be multiparty democracies when in reality they are very
repressive. Multiparty politics should not be used to justify the politics
of exclusion and intolerance.

This is why I believe the National Resistance Movement's new slogan-
Tubejjeko (let us rid ourselves of the uncommitted), will be bad for the
country. It could mean the NRM won't tolerate any internal dissent. But
broadly it suggests that the NRM will henceforth practice the politics of
exclusion or the winner-takes-it-all type of politics.

The politics of exclusion coupled with political intolerance ultimately
breeds violence. In Africa, leaders in power have sought to 'crush'
opponents physically, politically or financially. This is what has caused
the civil wars and turmoil.
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It Actually Got Off to a Whimper!

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

August 28, 2005
Posted to the web August 29, 2005

Stewart Chabwinja

WE were rather startled to learn on Newshour that the Harare Agricultural
Show, on its deathbed and threatening to breathe its last for the last
couple of years, had "got off to a roaring start", Monday.

Patiently we waited for evidence of the roar during the bulletin. "All 480
stands have been taken," Newsnet claimed, conveniently omitting to inform us
some of the takers had not bothered exhibiting. "The main attraction for
kids and adults alike are two Brahman bulls weighing 750kg each," a reporter
continued, showing the proud owner of the two beasts.

Then there were the "horse-rides, pomp and fanfare for the kids" and police
displays in the main arena. Full stop.

It was all exaggeration for effect as is the norm. Truth is the show, rather
than "roaring" to a start, actually got off to a pitiable whimper.

Zupco pledged transport to the Show, while commuter timetables were
suspended to ferry those wishing to attend. Now that was probably the easy
part. The hard task was finding passengers for the buses for despite the
sexing-up of reports to arouse the interest of a skeptical public, the
show's turnaround is as mythical as that of the economy.

What was the highlight of Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba's visit?
Despite coming to officially open the Show, it must have been the visit to
Vic Falls where there was much more to amuse him than at the show.

Pohamba "came, saw and was impressed", predictably drawled the reporter in
his booming voice. There was footage of the Guvnor and Pohamba being taken
around, at one time viewing some neatly arranged maize cobs and small
amounts of groundnuts, fruit and the like, in a half-empty room.

Hardly the stuff to impress Pohamba, but maybe the booming-voice reporter,
for he thundered: "Zimbabwe is a strong agricultural country no matter what
detractors say!"

A pat on the back to Dead BC for giving the newsdesk a facelift. It is
looking much tidier and decongested. The fidgety, behind-the-scenes crew is
no longer visible behind the news anchor.

We only hope these changes will be accompanied by a change in news content -
and news comprises much more than politicians promising rented gatherings
sweet nothings, or party members and reverends masquerading as analysts.

In the mailbox is a letter from David Mupfurutsa who makes the following

1. Could someone tell Studio 263 scriptwriters that, even in these hard
times, anger is not the only human emotion worth exploring. Watching the
programme, even a half-wit can tell that most of the actors look like they
need to attend intensive anger-management sessions.

2. With Doves having recently taken over sponsorship, the mood on the set of
Studio 263 must be very pensive or sombre as a funeral, with actors probably
contemplating which character is going to be killed-off. Sponsors must after
all get mileage. Would the new sponsors not be digging their own grave if,
like the previous sponsors, they moralised about HIV/Aids or even death?

3. Kudos to Gary Thompson for the adrenaline-filled programme International
Sports, which is in the league of his yester year's One-on- One. His
production is really a breath of fresh air, showing Midas touch, a far cry
from juvenilia dished out by the national broadcaster.

4. Judging from his frequent appearance you would be forgiven for thinking
that diminutive Ray Kaukonde from Mash East is the only governor in the
country. Either he is extremely hardworking or just loves the TV cameras.
Remember Chen Chimutengwende? (we do, we do... and especially miss his rumba
gyrations when in full view of the camera.)

Yup!: anger and tantrum-throwing are indeed Studio 263's preoccupation,
while happiness is as scarce as sugar, forex, or your favourite brand of
lager. You rarely have two actors in the same room without an argument
ensuing. The petty squabbles are enough to drive you up the wall and for the
angriest dude in the land, the new Jabu gets my vote.

All this is typified by Yolanda, the teenager impregnated by Tom Mbambo,
who's fled overseas - hit-and- run, they call it. Her contribution to the
soap being that of anger, and crying herself silly in just about every
episode for weeks now.

And another from a worried parent, 'Mothers yekuFio':

Heard Terrence Mapurisana reporting from Gwanzura Stadium the other day.
"People from all walks of life have come to BADE farewell to Cde Chimbetu.
Musicians like Cde Chinx are also here to BADE farewell to our hero."

He went on and on telling us the well-known people who had come to "BADE"
farewell to Cde Chimbetu". My nine-year-old son also noticed this
grammatical error and has now given Terrence the nickname 'BADE'.

I wonder if there is no way of teaching these guys the correct Queen's
language lest they poison our children.

We wonder too.
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  Letter from America

      By Dr. Stanford Mukasa
      August 29, 2005

      Some of the strongest condemnation of the Mugabe regime came from the
UN emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, last Friday.
      Egeland expressed dismay that the Mugabe regime had blocked attempts
by the United Nations to appeal for $30 million to purchase food and other
relief for the victims of Mugabe's operation cleanup.
      Which other regime in the whole world would turn down an offer for
relief assistance for its own people when it is abundantly clear, as in
Zimbabwe, that the country is in a coma and is economically bleeding
      Figures and statistics supporting this fact are not only coming from
NGOs and other agencies but also from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the
ministry of finance , and central statistics office in Zimbabwe.
      But this should not come as a surprise to anyone. This was simply the
latest in a series of acts of repression and crimes against the people of
Zimbabwe by the Mugabe regime.
      While nothing Mugabe does should not surprise anyone it should raise
serious questions about whether negotiating with Mugabe, or engaging him in
some of diplomatic process to democratize Zimbabwe is no more than an
exercise in futility.
      There has been a great deal of discussion on the never- ending acts of
repression against the people of Zimbabwe by Robert Mugabe and ZANUPF. For
the past five years civic society leaders and the MDC, church delegations,
and trade unions have tried at different times to engage Mugabe in a
discussion aimed at resolving the crisis in Zimbabwe.
      The lineup of delegations that have been in touch with Mugabe is
probably as long as the bread and fuel queues Zimbabweans are experiencing
      The half -hearted attempts by the African Union and the SADC
leadership to engage Mugabe all fell by the wayside.
      Even a loan that purportedly was being offered by South Africa to help
Zimbabwe pay its debts to the IMF has not been picked up by Mugabe as of
August 27. Mugabe is said to be fuming against the conditions that have been
placed on the loan.
      All of this reflects not only a hardening of attitude on the part of
Mugabe, but a clear sign that Mugabe has lost all interest, if he ever had
any, in improving the lives of the people of Zimbabwe.
      That callous neglect of the Zimbabweans was very much in evidence when
acting information minister, Chen Chimutengwende, told Violet Gonda on SWRA
that there was no starvation in Zimbabwe.
      For Mugabe the business of repression has been business as usual. He,
like Emperor Nero, has been able to do practically anything he wants
regardless of the adverse consequences on the people of Zimbabwe.
      If we look at Mugabe's record, he has been consistent and persistent
in his atrocities and crimes against the people of Zimbabwe. It is almost
like all efforts to rein him in have failed dismally.
      In as far resolving the central problem, namely, bad governance in
      Nothing useful has come out of Thabo Mbeki's quiet diplomacy.
      Nothing significant has come out of the targeted sanctions against
Mugabe and his cronies.
      In fact nothing significant has come out of all those international
condemnations and appeals and statements on the repression in Zimbabwe.
      Absolutely nothing has come out of delegations by church leaders'
meetings with Mugabe.
      Nothing has come out of the United Nations' secretary general's
special envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka's meeting Mugabe and her report about
the so called operation cleanup.
      Nothing has come out of half- hearted attempts by former Mozambican
leader Joacquim Chissano's offer to mediate between the MDC and ZANUPF. In
fact Chissano did not show any real interest in this role. He is too close a
friend of Mugabe to be an honest broker.
      Chissano threw in the towel at the first hint that Mugabe did not want
to talk to the MDC. Imagine back in 1976 if Henry Kissinger in his shuttle
diplomacy in southern Africa had simply given up after John Vorster and Ian
Smith told him there were not interested in talking to the nationalists?
      Yet Kissinger engaged in a shuttle diplomacy between the stakeholders
in the region. Until he hammered out a solution. Whether we liked the
initial solution or not the fact of the matter was Kissinger did not give up
after the initial rejection.
      Chissano has done absolutely nothing of this sort. It was probably a
simple telephone call to Mugabe that Chissano made from the comfort of some
god- forsaken hotel that Chissano made that effectively ended his efforts. I
can imagine the telephone call with Mugabe probably went something like this
      " Yo, Robert Mugabe. This is your best man J.C. No, I am not Jonathan.
I am Joacquim Chissano. Listen. This Obasanjo dude has asked me to mediate
some talks between you and the MDC. You don't want to talk to Tony Blair's
stooges do you?"
      And from the other end of the line came, "Of course not. And thanks.
Bye." And that was it. And Chissano probably reported back to his African
Union colleagues who were equally nonchalant about the issue. They want to
go down in history as having tried. What they do not know is that their best
was not good enough.
      The bottom line is all attempts through diplomacy, quiet or otherwise,
have yielded absolutely nothing. Mugabe has not budged.
      The question that the Zimbabweans must face is: Are the people of
Zimbabwe going to sit and do nothing while Mugabe runs the state to the
ground? This question has been asked time and again.
      The response has been that if Zimbabweans were to confront Mugabe they
would , in fact, be confronted with a well oiled army that would not
hesitate to shoot. Projections are that a single confrontation with Mugabe
could cost hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.
      The other response has been that Zimbabweans are too busy struggling
for survival to entertain any thoughts of confronting Mugabe.
      These two answers are, quite frankly, an oversimplification and a cop
out. The very same people who offer these responses have not given
suggestions on a way forward toward a democratic Zimbabwe.
      Even civic society and the MDC leadership have, despite having such a
strong network and structures in the country, been grossly lacking in
strategy. MDC boasts of well- oiled network and growing numbers of people
joining the MDC.
      What is that network, and structure and increase in membership for? I
am reminded of one time I was at Msika several years ago. There were several
buses going to my destination. To attract passengers drivers would rev the
bus engines to give an impression that they were about to leave.
      I, in my naiveté, rushed into one such bus . But the moment I got in
and took a seat, lo and behold, it was another one hour before the bus
actually took off!
      Zimbabweans are being attracted to the MDC by expectations that MDC
and civic society will launch a dynamic program of opposition politics -
only to find no one is doing anything, except for isolated outbursts in a
completely ineffective Parliament.
      MDC and civic society leadership, on the other hand, argue that
attempts at mass action have been tried with no results.
      But this is not a reason to give up. Most revolutions and mass
protests around the world did not succeed on the first attempt.
      MDC and civic society leadership are right now on the frontline in the
strategies to confront Mugabe. They have masses of Zimbabweans behind them
looking up to them to provide effective leadership.
      If the MDC and civic society leadership will be the first to throw in
the mass protest towel, preferring methods that do not work with Mugabe,
then the leadership must tell the people whether they want to continue to
lead the opposition movement or give way to those who will.
      There is a saying in the business community here in the United States.
If you are in leadership position you must lead. If you cannot lead you must
get out of the way and let someone else take over the leadership.
      There are also suggestions for a third force or third way or third
option - whatever people prefer to call it. Starting a new structure under
the third way or third force will not help Zimbabweans. What the so called
third force or third way need to do is to become a vanguard movement
operation within the structures that have already been established by the
      This group of strategists should right now be taking a hard look at
all options to confront Mugabe. One option that MDC and civil society
leadership can launch would be a campaign of civil disobedience. It is
internationally and historically accepted that when a government no longer
serves the interests of people, and thwarts all efforts to replace it
democratically, the people reserve the right to use whatever means they see
fit to replace that government.
      In this context a civil disobedience campaign could be one of the
actions the people of Zimbabwe can take as a prelude to mass action.
      I want to repeat that it is not impossible for Zimbabweans to stage an
effective mass protest. Mugabe's army can never subdue a determined protest.
It has been proved in Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Togo, Madagascar,
apartheid South Africa and many other countries.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
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IMF visit could influence South Africa loan

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      29 August 2005

      Business Day reports that Zimbabwe's risk of expulsion from the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) has increased substantially after a
visiting team failed to secure any serious commitment to economic reforms
and debt repayment. The country faces expulsion by the international money
lender after failing to repay its debt arrears of US$295 million. According
to the report, a senior government official said the reforms demanded by the
IMF needed time and money. The IMF team's visit ends Monday, while no
progress has been reported in negotiations for a loan from South Africa

      There will be an IMF meeting on September 9 in Washington which is
likely to decide whether or not to expel Zimbabwe. It appears Mugabe's
refusal to accept conditions as part of any deal may be causing problems.
The regime continues to be stubborn about accepting any conditions from both
the IMF and South Africa, and has also been difficult regarding efforts by
the United Nations to raise funds to assist victims of its own cleanup
operation. Food and blankets donated by South African churches a month ago
has still not reached the needy families who are living without food or

      So why does everyone seem to be babying Mugabe, allowing him to
destroy and then set the conditions when he needs help? Elinor Sisulu of The
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in South Africa, said regional support for
Mugabe has been the biggest problem. She says when Mugabe first came with
the race card, ranting against white commercial farmers, he got full support
from the region because they like that kind of anti-imperialist rhetoric.
But Sisulu believes the regional leaders are now too embarrassed to withdraw
that support.

      Sisulu said she does not understand why it is difficult for African
leaders to apply peer pressure in Zimbabwe, particularly when Mugabe is in
breach of most regional human rights charters and many international ones as
well. There should be no discussion as to what to do with him. She said even
in the ECOWAS region where interference made a difference, the leaders went
only so far before allowing a flawed election to take place in Togo. Sisulu
believes the African Union should have supervised that Togo election. She
also believes that when peer review is practiced, things will change in

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
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White Farmers Project Impresses Obasanjo

This Day (Lagos)

August 28, 2005
Posted to the web August 29, 2005

Tunde Sanni

Impressed with what he saw on the 15,000 hectare Kwara State Commercial
Agriculture Project during a one-day working visit at the weekend, President
Olusegun Obasanjo has invited leaders of the expatriate farmers pioneering
the project for a meeting in Abuja Monday.

The meeting, which will also be attended by Governor Bukola Saraki, Minister
of Agriculture, Alhaji Adamu Bello, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria
(CBN), Prof. Charles Soludo, and chief executives of the major commercial
banks in Nigeria, is to discuss the problem of funding the project in Kwara

Before summoning the meeting, Obasanjo enjoined the farmers to be patient
and not to be discouraged by the attitude of banks to financing agriculture
in Nigeria, saying the few banks that offer loans to agricultural projects
do so at "suicidal interests as high as 20 per cent."

Stressing that any lending higher than single digit rate was "not good," the
President said "government and the banks must come together to solve the

The President, who inspected two of the key economic projects of Saraki
during the visit, lauded the governor for the innovative ways he has been
addressing the economic problems of his state since he took over its
leadership two years ago.

Obasanjo, while speaking at a lunch in his honour at the end of his visit,
praised Saraki for his hands-on leadership style and single-minded
commitment to the execution of his numerous projects.

During the visit, Obasanjo visited the site of project being pioneered by
expatriate farmers from Zimbabwe in Shonga, Edu Local Government area of the
state, and the new terminal building being constructed by the state
government at Ilorin International Airport as part of a project to turn the
airport into an international cargo hub.

He commended the foresight of the governor in inviting the farmers from
Zimbabwe at a time they were having problems over land reforms in their

reiterating his position that the know-how and expertise of the farmers was
African-based and should be made available anywhere it is needed.

The President said he was impressed with the level of support and
encouragement that the farmers have been accorded since their arrival in
Kwara State, saying for agriculture to succeed in Nigeria, government at all
levels and the financial institutions must be prepared to give it heavy

"We need to get together, the Central Bank and commercial banks with people
like Governor Saraki who now have the understanding of the problems
confronting agriculture because the problem of agriculture is one that we
can solve and one that we must solve."

He said a 25,000 tons silo was being constructed by the Ministry of
Agriculture, adding, "By the time your maize is ready for harvest (at
Shonga)that silo will be ready".

President Obasanjo also praised the governor for innovating the
international cargo hub project in Ilorin, noting that it would assist
Nigeria's export drive.

He announced that the Federal Government would build a multi-million Naira
cold room at the airport for commodities to be exported by farmers and
others in agro-allied industry.

In his remarks, Governor Saraki thanked the President for supporting the
invitation of the farmers from Zimbabwe from the outset, noting that the
statement made by the President to the farmers when he received them in
Abuja encouraged the state government tremendously and further assured the
farmers that the project enjoyed support from the highest political level in

He spoke about other agricultural programmes being undertaken by the state
government, stressing however that direct federal Government support was
vital for the success and sustainability of many of these programmes.

After the departure of the President Friday, Governor Saraki thanked the
people of the state for turning out enmasse to welcome the President in
Ilorin and Shonga, saying the turnout and mood of the people were
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Younger Leaders Can't Handle Mugabe

The Nation (Nairobi)

August 28, 2005
Posted to the web August 29, 2005

Owino Wene

Like a sinner who knows he is in good company, Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe stomped the ground at the 25th summit of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) in Gaborone, Botswana, last week, with
inimitable confidence. With what transpired at the summit, Dr Mugabe, the
longest serving SADC leader, must be excused for thinking that he was at an
Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit circa 1984 when the Big Man was
really big.

At its most incompetent best, the defunct OAU was known for its
hear-no-evil, see-no-evil and speak-no-evil posture. The organisation is no
more but its infamous policy of "non-interference in the internal affairs of
member states" is being pursued and sustained most enthusiastically by SADC.

At the Gaborone summit, new SADC chairman and Botswana President Festus
Mogae let it slip that SADC has rechristened the OAU policy as

"We believe in a policy of live and let live. Those who want to hold
periodic elections shall have them, those who want multipartyism shall do
so, while those who want to fight shall continue fighting," President Mogae
told a media briefing after the summit.

He categorically stated that Zimbabwe was never on the SADC agenda at the
summit although Dr Mugabe and his Zanu-PF have run the country to the
ground, an issues that should be of grave concern to the bloc.

More sweet music was to come to Dr Mugabe's ears from former Mozambican
president Joachim Alberto Chissano, the man chosen by the African Union (AU)
chairman, Nigerian President Olusegun Obassanjo, as special envoy to
Zimbabwe. The former head of state admitted that none other than Dr Mugabe
had convinced him that he does not have a job as mediator in the Zimbabwe

SADC decided to bury its head in the sand on Zimbabwe despite loud cries
from regional civil society organisations gathered in Gaborone for the
summit. The NGOs made a passionate plea for the leaders to deal with the
Zimbabwe hot potato. But the die was cast when the SADC leaders announced
that Zimbabwe would not be on the agenda. So why have SADC leaders shied
away from taking on Zimbabwe?

Besides President Mogae's let-sleeping-dogs-lie explanation, Mr Chissano
added another dimension to the sad saga with his pointed question at a media
briefing: "Who are we to judge Zimbabwe and start naming their problems
while we have problems in our own countries?"

However, President Mogae and Mr Chissano were involved in a classic exercise
in contradiction. If SADC has a hands-off policy on dealing with the
internal affairs of member states, then why did South Africa and Botswana
soldiers storm Lesotho in 1998 to restore order? None other than President
Mogae authorised the sending of Botswana troops on the mission.

SADC states Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe also sent troops to meddle in the
Democratic Republic of Congo.

It is obvious that SADC is handling President Mugabe with kid gloves because
diplomacy, especially the African brand is a veritable theatre of the
absurd. It is easy for regional bodies in Africa like Ecowas - the Economic
Community of Western African States - and SADC to lean heavily on errant
small states while the big ones are allowed to literally get away with

When Liberia and Sierra Leone were burning in the 1990s, Ecowas did well to
send in peacekeeping troops with the mandate to fight. The same happened
with the Botswana-South Africa-SADC operation in Lesotho. But Zimbabwe is no
Sierra Leone. Nor is it a lightweight like Lesotho or Liberia.

President Mugabe is the enfant terrible in African politics, but his
liberation credentials and past standing have scared fellow leaders from
taking him head-on. He is one the longest-serving presidents on the
continent, the only independence leader still in power. Thus he can afford
to stomp the ground at the SADC summit with the confidence of a bull in his
kraal. He knows the "young men" who took power "yesterday" have no guts to
take on him.

Owino Wene is a Kenyan journalist working in Botswana
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Plot to oust Tsvangirai thickens

Takunda Maodza
issue date :2005-Aug-30

AS power games continue to rock the MDC, the plot to oust party leader
Morgan Tsvangirai thickened after it emerged that the secretary for legal
affairs David Coltart last week made an abortive constitutional amendment
proposal suggesting that presidential aspirants must be a degree holder.
The move immediately courted the ire of other opposition legislators who saw
it as a calculated manoeuvre to elbow Tsvangirai, who is not a degree
This prompted Coltart to withdraw the draft document on proposed
constitutional reforms which read in part: "A person is qualified for
election if he or she is a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth or by descent, holds
a university degree, other than an honorary degree and is at least 40 years
Coltart, the MP for Bulawayo South, later erased the contentious insertion
after he was allegedly questioned by fellow MDC legislators.
If the proposed amendment had been adopted, the party sources said, it would
have also affected Tsvangirai's deputy, Gibson Sibanda and other senior
opposition party officials in the now-dissolved "Top Six", except party
secretary general Professor Welshman Ncube. Tsvangirai has since dissolved
the top six following disagreements, reportedly citing too many centres of
power, before he went on to get rid of shadow ministerial positions and
replaced them with parliamentary portfolio heads.
In a 127-page document Coltart supplied to Parliament's Paper Office last
Thursday for tabling in the august House, he had proposed the creation of an
executive authority exercisable by or on the authority of the President,
Prime Minister and Cabinet and its members.
Sources at Parliament said they were surprised when Coltart withdrew the
document from the Paper's Office before it was even tabled.
"He came and withdrew the document. We were surprised as he did not give any
reasons why he was withdrawing the document," the source said.
Apart from barring non-degreed would-be presidents, Coltart also proposed
that one can be disqualified from the office of President on attaining 65
years or has held the same office for two successive terms.
He added: ".or within five years before the date of election, he or she has
been convicted inside Zimbabwe of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment
for 12 months or more, whether or not the sentence was wholly or partly
suspended or he or she was granted a pardon."
MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese would not comment on the matter yesterday
referring all questions to Sibanda who said he was in a meeting when
contacted for comment.
Efforts to reach him later were fruitless while Coltart's mobile phone
indicated it had been barred from incoming calls.
The MDC has been rocked by serious factionalism this year amid reports two
camps have emerged within the main opposition - one backing Tsvangirai and
the other Ncube.
Tsvangirai has since dismissed reports of factionalism in the MDC and was in
the media saying he was not aware of any political machinations to oust his
In May, this year a group of youths, believed to have been acting on
instructions from some party heavyweights, went "beserk" assaulting MDC
officials and attempted to confiscate party vehicles, including one
allocated to Ncube.
The youths, who were later sacked from the MDC, have since challenged their
Last Thursday, Glen Norah MP Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga was reportedly
assaulted by youths at a meeting at the party's headquarters, Harvest House.
Other delegates were reportedly also attacked by the youths during the same
Meanwhile, some MDC officials in Glen Norah reportedly stoned Robert
Manyengavana's house in the high-density suburb and extensively damaged
Manyengavana is an official in the MDC's Harare province.
"They came around midnight and stoned Manyengavana's house, damaging
windows. Of those that stoned the house, two culprits (names supplied) are
close associates of Misihairambwi-Mushonga. She is against the election of
certain individuals in the structures of the party in her constituency and
stands accused of hiring thugs to assault her enemies in the constituency,"
the source said.
The MDC is currently restructuring all its branches countrywide ahead of its
congress expected next January.
"When the incident happened Manyengavana had travelled to his rural home in
Rusape together with his young brother Moses, one of the party officials who
was assaulted at Harvest House on Thursday evening," added the source.
Efforts to get a comment from Misihairambwi-Mushonga were in vain at the
time of going to press last night.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

No more press statements on Zambezi Project: Dabengwa

From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo
issue date :2005-Aug-30

IN a move likely to fuel speculation about the future of the multi-billion
dollar Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP), its chairman Dumiso
Dabengwa says from now on neither him nor members of the board of trustees
will talk to the press about the project.
He said they would rather have the facts speak for themselves while
journalists would be invited to tour the site and write competently and
factually on progress made at the massive venture expected to turn the
parched Matabeleland region into a greenbelt.
Dabengwa's statement followed numerous complaints from analysts and the
public about the reported snail pace of construction work.
"I will no longer be issuing statements or comments on this project because
I believe that you should be the eye of your readers," the former Home
Affairs minister said.
"Given that, you should be able to drive to the construction site every now
and then so that you see progress made on the project and inform your
readers on what you will have seen there," he added.
Dabengwa explained that their decision was not based on gagging the press
per se, but because it was MZWP policy now to desist from blowing their own
trumpet, which variably made people suspect that the organisation was trying
to cover up for its failures.
"We have reached this decision because some people think that we are blowing
our own trumpet. Some believe our continued presence in the media are
efforts to cover for our failures," he said. "We are saying to you as the
media, go out there and see for yourself what has happened and tell the
people what you have seen."
The project has so far received massive funding from the national fiscus and
the central bank.
Recently, the MZWP Trust requested for $4,2 billion it said would enable it
to adequately monitor progress so far made in the important venture.
That request aside, the project also received varying monetary injections
from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe yet it was still to fully take off the
A visit to the site recently revealed that construction work was yet to
start though excavations had been completed.
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      EC donates food aid to Zim
      Aug 29 2005 01:46:56:637PM

      Johannesburg - The European Commission (EC) has announced it will
donate an additional ?4.45m to help the United Nations World Food Programme
(WFP) feed thousands of hungry people in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland
over the coming months.
      The donation follows a recent plea by Kofi Annan to 27 heads of state,
the EC, and the Africa Development Bank, for urgent assistance to the WFP in
southern Africa where more than 10 million people face food shortages.

      In the letter Annan said that "if we are to avert a catastrophe in a
few months' time, then food and cash must be pledged immediately."

      The donation means the EC and bilateral pledges from the European
Union (EU) member states now cover well over 50% of total food commitments
to date in Zimbabwe.

      The EC had already pledged ?20m towards WFP's Regional Protracted
Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) that started in January this year.

      The money was made available to procure and distribute maize and other
essential food items in the three countries, but in particular to help the
people of Zimbabwe.

      It also brings the combined EC and EU member states' contributions to
WFP's regional appeal to about ?44m.

      This is enough to cover the procurement and distribution of some 111
000 tons of food for the region, representing about 41% of total donor
pledges to date to the southern Africa appeal.

      The Harare-based EC Delegation said: "In committing these funds, the
European Commission recognises that food security in the region is of
serious concern, and in particular, that the needs in Zimbabwe remain

      "Without the direct intervention of the international community a
significant proportion of the Zimbabwean population will be at serious

      Preliminary results of the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee
(ZimVAC) indicated that an estimated 2.9 million Zimbabweans require food
aid this year.

      The affordability of staple foods by the poorest also remains a
serious issue.

      WFP plans to distribute 300 000 tons of food in Zimbabwe through a
short-term vulnerable group-feeding programme for about three million

      In addition, WFP is already targeting about a million people, mostly
children, through school feeding and HIV and Aids-supported activities.

      Kevin Farrell, WFP country director in Zimbabwe: "Thanks to the
generous support from donors including the European Commission and EU member
states at the moment we have commitments for about 50% of our needs through
to December.

      "However, the most critical time of the year is the lean season which
starts in December and runs through to April so the worst is yet to come and
we urgently need pledges for this period as well."

      "The EC and its humanitarian organisation (ECHO) has made available
?68.6m ($83m) to the region in 2005, on top of what has been given to WFP."

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