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New Zimbabwe

Christmas in jail for calling Mugabe 'thick-headed'

By Agencies
Last updated: 12/15/2004 23:40:21
A ZIMBABWEAN commuter will spend Christmas in jail for calling President
Robert Mugabe "thick-headed," the Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Arnold Bunya, 29, was arrested on December 1 after an argument with his
brother on a bus during which he admonished his sibling by saying "Do not be
thick-headed like Mugabe."

Bunya was warned by a member of the Central Intelligence Organisation
traveling on the bus to stop insulting the veteran leader but persisted and
was then taken to a police station where he was arrested.

A Harare court on Tuesday remanded Bunya in custody until December 28.

Zimbabwe's strict Public Order and Security Act (POSA) make it an offence to
insult the head of state.

There are regular reports of people on buses being arrested for slandering
Zimbabwe's long-time president. Usually those found guilty receive light
jail sentences, fines or are ordered to do community service.

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Critics Call for End of "Peer Shielding"of President Robert Mugabe By
William Eagle
      15 December 2004

An international conflict prevention organization says the Southern African
Development Community should stop what it calls "peer shielding" of
Zimbabwe. The International Crisis Group, or ICG, wants more pressure on
Zimbabwe to guarantee that next year's parliamentary elections will be free
and fair.

Peter Kagwanja is the director of the ICG's Southern Africa Project in
Pretoria, South Africa. English to Africa reporter William Eagle spoke with
him about the elections and about how African democrats can encourage change
in Zimbabwe. Mr. Kagwanja, who is originally from Kenya, says he sees a
gradual change in the way African leaders view Zimbabwe's president Robert
Mugabe. For example, he notes that in July, the African Union criticized
Zimbabwe's human rights record; in August, the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) passed principles and guidelines governing democratic
elections; and, he says within Zimbabwe itself, civil society is growing
stronger in its calls for greater democracy. He credits pressure from
Zimbabwean civil society for a recent ruling that found opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai not guilty of treason - a charge made by the government.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, two important allies of the government - the
COSATU labor movement and the Communist Party -- have come out against
President Tabo Mbeki's policy of quiet diplomacy toward the oppressive human
rights policies of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

There is also the beginning of electoral reforms in Zimbabwe. In Harare,
opposition and ruling party members are discussing such reforms as extending
polling hours and guaranteeing the right of the opposition to the state
media. Zimbabwe's Justice Minister has said he has already agreed to use
"translucent ballot boxes" for next March's parliamentary elections. But Mr.
Kagwanja of the International Crisis Group says electoral reforms must be
accompanied by political ones - such as the repeal of repressive laws that
make the electoral field uneven. He says electoral reforms "only produce a
"C- " election - one that appears to be fair but made fraudulent " due to
many months of repressive laws, attacks by ruling party militias, the
absence of media freedom, and the abuse of human rights.

Robert Rotberg - the director of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government
program on intrastate conflict and president of the World Peace
Foundations -- has called for South African president Thabo Mbeki to offer
President Mugabe safe passage to Namibia ahead of elections in an effort to
promote a smooth transition to democracy. But Mr. Kagwanja of the ICG says
that's not likely to happen, nor is any military involvement in removing the
Zimbabwean leader. He notes that within Zimbabwe, the country's own military
supports him. Mr. Kagwanja says the best strategy is to use next year's
parliamentary elections as a stepping stone for electing the opposition in
the presidential elections two years later when he says many believe will
not include President Mugabe.

The government of Zimbabwe has been critical of non-governmental
organizations within Zimbabwe, and those on the outside like the
International Crisis Group. They are accused of being Western funded efforts
to destabilize a government whose legitimacy comes from President Mugabe's
role as a liberation fighter for independence from Great Britain. News
reports quote Zimbabwe's foreign minister as saying his government "will not
become gullible victims of ..'genetically modified propaganda'
reactionary forces to discredit [the] elections."

But Peter Kagwanja says he and other Africans fighting for change in
Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa are not "reactionaries." He concedes that
his group is largely funded by international foundations, and by
Scandanavian countries, along with others. On the other hand, he says the
ICG has been equally vocal in calls for democratic change in countries like
Kenya. He notes that Zimbabwe also accepts Western funding from the
International Monetary Fund. Mr. Kagwanja says the important question to ask
is "are we doing the right thing ?"
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Daily News online edition

            Thumbs down for Mugabe

            Date: 15-Dec, 2004

            CAPE TOWN - Results of a study conducted by Research Surveys, a
South African research organisation, show that President Robert Mugabe is
not doing a good job as president of Zimbabwe and that his policies ignored
basic human rights.

            Only 11 percent of the 2 000 adults from the seven major
metropolitan areas who were interviewed in their homes during the study felt
that Mugabe was doing a good job as president of Zimbabwe compared with 59
percent who felt Thabo Mbeki was doing a good job as president of South

            Although there was some variations in the figures across race
groups, Mugabe's approval ratings were universally low.

            Fourteen percent of the black South Africans felt Mugabe was
doing a good job, eight coloureds thought so while eight percent of whites
and four percent of Indians also thought he was doing a good job.

            Seven out of 10 disagreed that Mugabe was doing a good job and
Zimbabwe had a positive future under him. A total 58 percent felt that
current policies in Zimbabwe ignored basic human rights while 13 disagreed
with this view.

            Forty-one percent said South Africa must do more to intervene in
Zimbabwe's politics but most who said so were whites followed by blacks and
coloureds. Forty percent were against the idea.

            The study showed that South Africans think that President Mbeki
spent too much time out of the country but they still think that he is doing
a good job as president.

            Asked if Mbeki devoted too much time to Africa and too little to
South Africa, 62 percent agreed with 19 disagreeing and another 19 saying
they did not know.

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Daily News online edition

            Reflections on unity: no falsehoods, half-truths

            Date: 15-Dec, 2004

            THE unity whose anniversary is to be celebrated soon was mostly
political: Dissident elements of PF-Zapu were outgunned into a merger with
Zanu PF.

            The TV footage of Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo hugging each
other and raising their clasped hands in victory is slightly deceptive.

            According to many reports, 20 000 men, women and children were
killed in Matabeleland and Midlands before the two political parties
hammered out the now much-ballyhooed Unity Accord.

            Zanu PF saw it as a victory over PF-Zapu, whose leader it
accused of being the leader of the dissidents. For many PF-Zapu members,
proud of the separate identity of their party, the accord was a betrayal.

            But all this is of little consequence 17 years after the
signing. What Zimbabweans must reflect on deeply is the huge falsehood,
peddled by Zanu PF, that the unity of the people must translate into unity
under Zanu PF.

            There must be a unity in diversity. Zimbabweans must be united
in safeguarding their independence, their freedom from colonialism and from
the dictatorship of any sort, including the dictatorship of one political

            People must now accept that political pluralism in an
independent country can only enhance democracy. The ancient theory that to
strengthen its unity against internal and external influences, the country
must be a one-party state has been proved to be fatally flawed.

            Moreover, it is promoted only by autocratic leaders, people who
cherish the idea of running their countries as their own private properties,
brooking no criticism and bludgeoning into submission those who dare to
challenge them.

            Zimbabwe has become such a country under Zanu PF.

            Instead of taking to heart the platitudes being spewed out by
the government media on the meaning of unity, people must vow not to allow
Zimbabwe to degenerate into another African dictatorship with an anaemic
economy and an even more sickly political system.

            Independence and unity must mean freedom to choose their own
leaders and freedom to reject those leaders and parties who have proved over
the years to be greedy, corrupt and selfish.

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Daily News online edition

      Chombo sought to bring down everything good represented by the MDC

      Date: 15-Dec, 2004

      The government, led by Local Government and National Housing Minister
Ignatius Chombo has been bungling the operations of Harare City council ever
since an MDC-led council came to power nearly three years ago.

      From day one that the MDC council, led by Elias Mudzuri took office,
the devious Chombo went on a war path, shooting down everything progressive
that the council proposed to do.

      In the end, Mudzuri was dismissed in a flagrant defiance of all tenets
of democratic practice and the operations of council were ground to a halt.

      Not so long ago, Chombo forced most of the MDC councillors to step
down on their own volition after they found huge hurdles in their way.
Today, Harare City Council is being run by a team of hand-picked men and
women, the so-called commission, which does nothing but simply rubber stamps
what Chombo says.

      As if that is not enough of Chombo's bungling, we are now told that
the government owes council $7,9 billion.

      This is one of the reasons why council has failed to raise money to
meet its salary obligations for the nearly 10 000 workers it employs.

      It is clear that council's expenditure is much more than its income.

      And the situation is not made better by inflation, corruption and
sheer mismanagement and government interference. But what is more worrying
than anything is the act of silence and docility displayed by the rate

      Are all the rate payers saying it's alright, God will provide a
miraculous panacea? God only helps those who help themselves. In the end,
our fate depends on what we can do to determine it.
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Daily News online edition

      Boycotting poll not an option, say analysts

      Date: 15-Dec, 2004

      PRETORIA - Political analysts said this week urged the main opposition
party in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change to contest the 2005
parliamentary election saying boycotting the poll would throw the opposition
party into political oblivion.

      Speaking during a seminar on Zimbabwe organised by the South African
Institute for Security for Studies, the analysts said the options were tough
for the MDC.

      The MDC has threatened to boycott the election unless the government
of President Robert Mugabe fully implements the Southern African Development
Community protocol of free and fair elections adopted last August.

      But International Crisis Group director for the southern Africa
project, Peter Kagwanja said a boycott was not an option.

      "Boycotting will deprive the MDC the voice they have in parliament and
space to question the legitimacy of the Mugabe regime," Kagwanja said.

      He said there was still a chance for the MDC to do well in the poll if
they start serious campaign. Kagwanja said if the MDC boycotts the election,
they run the risk of being irrelevant on Zimbabwe's political map.

      "May be they can pull out and go back to the drawing board but it will
be a very difficult option," said Kagwanja.

      Professor Brian Raftopolous of the University of Zimbabwe's Institute
for Development Studies said there was no way any other party except Zanu PF
could win the 2005 elections.

      He said the conditions were very discouraging and it was disturbing
that Southern African leaders continued to shield Mugabe despite massive
human rights abuses and lack of significant electoral reform to pave way for
a free and fair election.

      Raftopolous said because of the cosmetic electoral changes that the
Mugabe regime was undertaking, "it is going to get some kind of legitimation
from regional leaders."

      He said the quiet diplomacy stance adopted by South Africa clearly
indicated that the regional leaders would support Mugabe and his ruling Zanu
PF even if he did not fully implement the SADC protocol.

      The seminar, held under the theme "Zimbabwe: Imagining the future" was
attended by political analysts from Zimbabwe and South Africa.

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Daily News online edition

      Journalists still an endangered species

      Date: 15-Dec, 2004

      By Bill Saidi

      NB: This is the first of a three part series from an article by Bill
Saidi which is in the book: Visions of Zimbabwe.

      The book, published by Manchester Gallery in the UK earlier this
month, was part of a pioneering exhibition at the Manchester Gallery in
November this year which brought 10 contemporary artists and three writers
from Zimbabwe.

      IN September 2003, about a dozen policemen and women stormed the
editorial offices of the Daily News in Harare, to shut down the newspaper.

      As they rampaged through the offices, I was assailed by the most
bizarre sensation of deja vu.

      First, there came into focus in my mind's eye the dingy office of the
Zimbabwe African National Union - Zanu in downtown Lusaka, in Zambia, in the
mid 1960s.

      There I was, in my mid 20s, being harangued by a fiery-eyed Zanu
official, Peter Mutandwa. He demanded a confession from me for what to him
seemed a heinous crime of political betrayal: it was I, wasn't it, who had
written a story in The Central African Mail, praising the leader of the
Zimbabwe African People's Union - Zapu in 1963?

      Didn't I know that Zanu was the only genuinely nationalist movement
fighting colonialism in southern Rhodesia? Zanu had split from Zapu in 1963.
It was now led by Ndabaningi Sithole.

      Zapu was still led by Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, revered until his death in
1999 as Father Zimbabwe. I refused to confess. I was only the production
editor of the brazenly pro-African nationalist and anti-colonialist weekly.

      It supported the struggle against the British-imposed federation of
Rhodesia and Nyasaland. As far as I knew, it reported on both Zapu and Zanu,
who were now operating in Zambia in exile with remarkable balance.

      Its editor was Richard Hall, an Englishman formerly of the British
paper, The Daily Mail, before coming to Africa. Mutandwa was adamant:

      I must confess, he demanded, shaking a huge fist in my face. He
eventually relented, letting me go with the warning that there would be hell
to pay if I repeated that mistake.

      I was almost delirious with relief when I left the office. Mutandwa
was fiercely nationalistic. I had known him back home as a very loud and
acerbic critic of the settler regime before the parties moved to Zambia
after the 1962 elections brought in an ultra-rightwing government in
southern Rhodesia.

      Mutandwa died of natural causes before independence in 1980. He, among
others, helped me create a vision of the future of a press in an independent
Zimbabwe that filled me with trepidation.

      Back in The Daily News offices in 2003, a second picture sprouted in
my mind as I watched a heavily-built Law and Order detective interrogate
Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, the small-bodied chief executive officer of our
publishing company, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ).

      Nkomo was being threatened with jail if he did not co-operate with the
police. He calmly said he had spent 15 years in jail during the armed

      This time I was back in the 1970s, facing Willie Musarurwa, in my
hotel room in Lusaka. I had flown in from Ndola, where I was deputy
editor-in-chief of Times Newspapers, publishers of the largest selling
newspaper in Zambia, The Times of Zambia and the Sunday Times of Zambia, for
which I wrote The Sunday Times Special.

      Musarurwa and I had worked at African Newspapers, publishers of The
African Daily News in Salisbury (now Harare) in the mid 1950s.

      But in Lusaka he was with the Zapu mission to launch the war against
the settler regime. Musarurwa berated me for what he alleged was the
pro-Zanu slant in the Times newspapers.

      Like Mutandwa, he would not accept my denials. He was, unlike
Mutandwa, accompanied by a beefy body guard who stared at me balefully
throughout the interrogation.

      These two parties, Zanu and Zapu, as the merged Zanu PF, became the
government of Zimbabwe at independence in 1980. The two officials had
advocated nationalist journalism.

      I predicted they would accept a free press only on condition it
supported them. Musarurwa became the first black editor of the Sunday Mail
in Zimbabwe after independence. We worked for the same government newspaper
conglomerate, Zimbabwe Newspapers. I often chided him for his earlier
Stalinist stance on the role of the free press. I believe that Musarurwa was
aware of my own personal view of the struggle. Like most Zimbabweans, I was
furious with the British government for not acting against the white
supremacist regime of Ian Smith when it declared its illegal independence
from the British Crown in 1965. Harold Wilson's spineless reaction to the
threat of Ian Smith's UDI precipitated one of the bloodiest wars in the
history of a continent already bathed in the carnage of the Scramble for
Africa. (To be continued on Thursday, December 16)

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Zim Online

Thur 16 December 2004
  HARARE - The ruling ZANU PF party plans to amend the Political Parties
(Finance) Act to give itself a bigger share of state financial grants
leaving little for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party, ZimOnline has learnt.

      Well-placed sources said the move, expected to be implemented early
next year, was meant to financially cripple the MDC which can no longer get
funds from foreign donors and Zimbabweans living and working abroad after
the government banned foreign-sourced funds for political parties.

      "ZANU PF wants the grant allocation to be changed in its favour. This
would help hurt the MDC's pocket besides obviously meaning more cash for
ZANU PF," said an official of the party, who did not want to be named for
fear of victimisation.

      ZANU PF finance secretary David Karimanzira said his party was
entitled to a bigger share of state grants but referred questions on plans
to change the law to party legal secretary Patrick Chinamasa.

      Karimanzira said: "As the ruling party, we are obviously entitled to
more but if you can talk to legal secretary Patrick Chinamasa about changing
the share ratio."

      Chinamasa could not be reached for comment on the matter last night.

      According to sources, ZANU PF, which political analysts tip to win
next year's general election, wants to be given 65 percent of the Z$6.5
billion granted political parties under the 2005 national budget regardless
of the percentage of votes it garners in the March ballot.

      If the MDC finally decides to contest the election and emerges the
second biggest winner as it did in the 2000 poll, it would get 35 percent of
the money.

      At present, political parties are allocated their portion of state
funds according to the percentage of votes they receive in a general
election. ZANU PF has been getting 51 percent of the yearly state grant for
the last four years since the 2000 ballot.

      The MDC has been getting 49 percent with the other smaller opposition
parties getting nothing because they failed to garner the minimum 15 percent
of votes parties must win to qualify for state grants.

      MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said: "The current (state grant)
allocation ratio is determined by the 2000 general election and ZANU PF can
only change the ratio after the March 2005 election provided they get 65
percent votes in the election." - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

MDC meeting banned to pave way for ZANU PF
Thur 16 December 2004
  HARARE - The police have banned two meetings by the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party, one to pave way for a ruling ZANU PF
party meeting and the other because the police did not want the MDC meeting
at night.

      The two meetings that were scheduled for tonight in the MDC
strongholds of Harare and Chitungwiza were part of about 5 000 meetings the
party wants to hold across the country to conclude discussions with rank and
file members on whether to participate in next year's general election.

      MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube was unsure last night whether the
police, accused by human rights and pro-democracy groups of using the law to
suppress the opposition, would not also ban the remaining meetings.

      He said: "The police have refused us permission for our meetings in
Harare and Chitungwiza. We are not sure what they will do with the other

      A police spokesman, Oliver Mandipaka, confirmed to ZimOnline yesterday
that the police had barred the two meetings but said he could not give the
reasons why the meetings had been banned.

      However, in letters written to the MDC banning the meetings, copies of
which were shown to ZimOnline, the police said they were barring the
opposition party from meeting its supporters at Harare's Stodart Hall to
allow a ZANU PF meeting to take place near the hall.

      On the Chitungwiza meeting, the police, who under tough state security
laws must authorise all political gatherings, said they were banning the
meeting because they did not want "the MDC to hold a meeting at night in the

      The MDC leadership wants to use the meetings to gauge the mood of
ordinary supporters before deciding in early January next year whether to
stick to the decision to boycott the March election.

      The opposition party last August said it was suspending participation
in all elections until the government fully implemented Southern African
Development Community (SADC) standards and recommendations for free and fair
elections. The party also wants political violence ended before it can take
part in elections.

      The SADC electoral guidelines, among other key conditions, require
that independent commissions run elections. The political playing field
should be fair and violence-free under the regional guidelines. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Labour demands quarterly wage increments
Thur 16 December 2004
  HARARE - The labour movement says it will demand quarterly wage increases
for workers, a position that could scuttle social contract talks with the
government and business.

      The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Employers Confederation
of Zimbabwe and the government yesterday resumed dialogue to find a common
approach to resolving the country's worsening crisis.

      Talks between the three parties collapsed 21 months ago after workers
and employers accused the government of hiking the price of fuel without
consulting them.

      Sign-posting the government's position earlier this week, Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, said the three parties should agree on a
social contract that supported government attempts to bring down inflation
by abolishing quarterly wage increases.

      ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe told ZimOnline that the
union was going to insist on, "quarterly increase in wages as long as
workers' wages fall below the poverty datum line."

      According to the ZCTU, the poverty datum line or the minimum amount of
money an average family of two parents and four children needs per month is
Z$1.5 million. An average Zimbabwean worker takes home between $500 000 and
$1 million.

      Chibhebhe added: "To suggest that we should not demand a living wage
when the poverty datum line is over $1.5 million per month is hypocrisy at
its worst." - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

More protests at Zimbabwe embassy
Thur 16 December 2004

      PRETORIA - About 50 protesters yesterday demonstrated at the Zimbabwe
embassy in Pretoria against President Robert Mugabe's human rights abuses in
the country.

      The demonstration was led by the South African Congress of Trade
Unions (COSATU), Amnesty International and a group called Concerned
Zimbabweans Abroad.

      A spokesman for COSATU said the protests were meant to highlight human
rights violations in South Africa's troubled northern neighbour.

      The demonstration at the embassy is the second in a week by civic
groups over the human rights abuses in the country. Last Friday, about a
hundred protesters demonstrated at the embassy demanding a stop to human
rights violations by Mugabe's government.

      Critics accuse Mugabe of unleashing violence on his perceived
opponents during every election since 2000 to maintain a tight grip on
power. Mugabe however denies the charge, saying the allegations of human
rights violations are from the West bent on ousting him from power for
seizing land from the minority whites for redistribution to landless
blacks. - ZimOnline
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      Zimbabwean Parliament debates on amending electoral bill 2004-12-15 21:38:20

          HARARE, Dec. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwe's fresh electoral bill was
still been dragged on in Parliament till Wednesday morning, as the
legislative body debated on amending the bill for a whole night.

          The bill, seeking for an electoral reform in the southern African
country, has involved parliamentarians from the ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front, and lawmakers from the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party in an eight-hour debate on amendments
proposed by the MDC.

          The House was divided on whether to allow posters, pamphlets,
circulars or other printed material having reference to election bear the
name of the printer.

          Members of the MDC also opposed the idea of members of the
uniformed forces to work with the commission, saying their presence would
intimidate voters.

          The electoral bill is set to establish the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission to administer all elections in the country, overhaulingthe
Electoral Act and setting up an electoral court.

          According to the bill, the proposed independent electoral body
will direct and control the registration of voters and ensure proper custody
and maintenance of voters' rolls. Enditem

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Mail and Guardian

MDC dissatisfied with limited Zim poll reforms

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      15 December 2004 13:19

Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) have agreed to reform some of that country's electoral laws, but the
opposition said it is "dissatisfied" by the state's attempts to portray
absolute agreement.

"The state press is trying to imply that the changes to the electoral laws
have our blessing," MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese said on Wednesday.
"Actually, we're anything but satisfied."

A parliamentary committee made up of MPs from both parties said polls will
be open for 12 hours in next year's election.

Observers of Zimbabwe's 2000 and 2002 elections slated the Zanu-PF
government for closing polling booths and denying thousands the right to

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said he has
already agreed that "translucent ballot boxes" will be used in the poll,
expected in March next year.

But the MDC said it is "bitterly disappointed" that civil and church leaders
will not be appointed as election supervisors.

Chinamasa told state radio: "You can't just pick up people in the streets,
as no one would be prepared to take responsibility if anything goes wrong."

Gonese said: "We're not suggesting people should be picked from the street.
We suggested eminent citizens should be trained as electoral supervisors.

"The opposition is far from satisfied and far from happy with the way the
Electoral Act is being drafted, but negations are over, they're finished and
what is in the new law will mainly be what Zanu-PF wants in the law," he
said in a telephone interview. -- Sapa

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New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe protesters petition Blair over asylum seekers

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 12/16/2004 01:34:11
THE United Nations Refugee Agency on Wednesday joined the chorus of calls
for the cessation of all deportations of Zimbabwean asylum seekers as
protesters marched on 10 Downing Street and the houses of Parliament.

"UNHCR's opinion is that in security and protection terms the situation on
the ground in Zimbabwe continues to be of serious concern," it said in a

"Under the current circumstances, the UNHCR's recommendation for States to
suspend all removals to Zimbabwe (initially made by UNHCR in March 2002) is
maintained and remains current and valid."

Tens of Zimbabweans marched through the streets of London and massed outside
Prime Minister Tony Blair's No 10 Downing Offices where they handed over a
petition calling on the British government to stop all deportations of
failed asylum seekers.

The vocal National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns also joined in
the fray, launching a campaign for Zimbabweans to flood Immigration Minister
Des Browne with letters protesting last month's resumption of deportations
which had been suspended for two years.

NCADC said: "Since November 16, we have been inundated with calls from
'snatched' Zimbabweans in detention and relatives/friends of Zimbabweans,
all who are deeply distressed at the thought of being returned or someone
they know being returned to Zimbabwe. As the UNHCR has made its advice on
suspension of removals to Zimbabwe clear, we are asking all recipients of
this message to campaign to ask the Home Office to reinstate the 'suspension
of removals' to Zimbabwe."

The marchers carried placards with the message "Zimbabwe Elections Mean
Violence", "Don't Send Us Back To Die", "Blair Don't Help Mugabe" and "Blair
And Mugabe You Are Both Killing Zimbabweans".

The United Nations Refugee Agency said: "The UNHCR has kept the situation in
Zimbabwe under constant review. There has been no detectable abatement of
political violence against the opposition, particularly the Movement for
Democratic Change, despite pressure from the international community.
Indeed, it is clearly apparent that instances of violence have continued to
occur. Members and supporters - real or perceived - of the MDC or any other
opposition party or movement continue to be the target of human rights
violations, including ill-treatment, torture, arbitrary arrest and

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Funds Set Aside for Education Inadequate: Committee

The Herald (Harare)

December 15, 2004
Posted to the web December 15, 2004


THE parliamentary portfolio Committee on Education, Sport and Culture
yesterday said the $5,5 trillion allocated to the ministry for the 2005
financial year falls way below the $13 trillion the ministry had asked for,
the chairman of the committee Mr Fidelis Mhashu said yesterday.

He told Parliament the allocation comes amid problems that included
increased brain drain in the sector, a high HIV and Aids rate among
teachers, poorly equipped rural schools and poor access to education in
marginalised areas.

"While Zimbabwe is regarded highly in making significant strides in
education, the standards are going down," said Mr Mhashu, who is MP for
Chitungwiza (MDC).

He said the committee was concerned that teachers, who made the majority of
civil servants in the country, had very low salaries compared to other civil

Said Mr Mhashu: "The raw deal that teachers are getting has further fuelled
the brain drain, and your committee calls upon authorities to address and
resolve this issue as a matter of urgency."

He said rural schools should be subsidised and there should be free
education for the poor and the localisation of examinations should be
adequately funded.

The chairman of the portfolio committee on Health and Child Welfare Mr
Blessing Chebundo said the high rate of HIV/Aids prevalence in the country
and unfavourable working conditions were worsening the health sector's
already deteriorating situation.

He said the problems have resulted in the country suffering serious brain
drain as health professionals leave the country in search for "greener

Mr Chebundo, who is MP for Kwekwe (MDC), said the health ministry, which was
allocated $3 trillion for the 2005 year compared to $801 billion this year,
could have been allocated 15 percent of the $28 trillion they had requested
for in the national budget for 2005.

The chairman of the portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water
Resources and Resettlement Cde Daniel Ncube told Parliament that more funds
were needed for the agricultural sector which contributed about 16 percent
of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs a significant
number of people.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was allocated $1 trillion
for the year 2005 compared to $497 billion this year.

"The allocation should be reviewed because there are things like the sorry
state of the District Development Fund (DDF)'s equipment. The budget should
have made an allocation to the fund," said Cde Ncube, who is MP for Zhombe

The chairman of the Finance Committee Cde Ray Kaukonde said ministries
should strive to operate within their budgets as they have been doing.

He said there was need for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
to look at the high interest rates of about 200 percent and do something
about it.

"On the exchange rate, the committee also wants a single exchange rate," he

Cde Kaukonde, who is MP for Mudzi (Zanu-PF), said more resources should be
channelled to the agricultural sector which was the backbone of the
country's economy and had the potential of earning the country the much
needed foreign currency.

However, Cde Kaukonde said, his committee had found out that there was very
little accountability in parastatals and the attitude should change.

The Acting Minister of Finance and Economic Development Cde Herbert Murerwa,
in his 2005 budget presentation, said the budget was crafted and presented
against a background of economic challenges that demanded significant
sacrifices and perseverance from all citizens. He said a lot of discipline
and accountability was required across the various sectors of the economy.
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Millers Stop Processing of Price-Controlled Roller Meal

The Herald (Harare)

December 15, 2004
Posted to the web December 15, 2004


MILLERS have allegedly stopped the processing of roller meal for the more
profitable refined mealie-meal whose price is not controlled.

Government controls the price of roller meal and any increase is subject to
State approval.

As millers are concentrating on the production of refined mealie-meal,
roller meal is reportedly no longer readily available in retail outlets as
only negligible supplies are finding their way on to the market.

The development has allegedly hit hardest the average consumer in the
low-income bracket.

"Our findings show that major millers have all but abandoned milling roller
meal with negligible supplies of the commodity found on the market.

"Most retail outlets interviewed by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)
said they were not receiving enough deliveries from the major millers," said

"The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe is dismayed by an unexplained
unavailability of roller meal in most retail outlets.

"This situation has hit the average consumer the hardest as roller meal is
the most affordable brand of mealie-meal," remarked the consumer watchdog.

What is baffling, however, CCZ said, is that refined mealie-meal is found on
the market in large quantities, raising suspicions that major millers have
either stopped producing roller meal or have scaled it down to concentrate
on the more lucrative refined mealie-meal.

A 10 kg packet of refined mealie-meal is selling for about $29 000 while 20
kg of roller meal costs about $25 000. The Grain Marketing Board, the only
authorised buyer of maize, which has also turned miller in efforts to
protect consumers against exploitation by unscrupulous millers, has also
allegedly failed to sustain demand for roller meal.

Some of the major millers have attributed the shortage of roller meal to
inadequate maize supplies from GMB.

Despite holding the GMB responsible for their failure to produce enough
roller meal, the millers cannot explain why at the same time they are able
to produce refined mealie meal in abundance.

Others, said the CCZ, maintained that they were still milling roller meal,
but the commodity ran out as soon as it was delivered.

A manager with a leading retail outlet in the city centre confirmed the
shortage, but said it was not confined to just roller meal. Even deliveries
of refined mealie-meal and rice had been erratic, he said.

"We have not had supplies for a number of weeks now and do we are not
getting any satisfactory reasons for the hitches.

"Most of the major suppliers have not been delivering mealie, both roller
and refined, and at the moment we getting mealie-meal supplies from some
indigenous millers," said the manager who preferred anonymity.

He added that they were battling to get even cereals like rice.

Said CCZ: "The CCZ would like to condemn this unfair business practice on
the part of some millers as indications are that they are simply allocating
more maize to the production of refined mealie-meal at the expense of roller

The CCZ is a Government-supported consumer rights watchdog.
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Cape Argus

      When only gran is left
      December 15, 2004

      Caught in the grip of an Aids pandemic and a crippling
      drought, Zimbabwe's orphans look to their grandparents.

      Until a week ago, elderly Hannah Dube and her five grandchildren
living in the dusty village of Kezi in southwestern Zimbabwe had been
surviving on small portions of dried white melon.

      Then Zimbabwe's social services stepped in, handing the 75-year-old
Dube emergency aid of the staple corn grain to feed her family caught in the
grip of an Aids pandemic and a crippling drought.

      The grandmother's plight in this remote corner of Zimbabwe tells the
story of the burden of many other pensioners in a country where Aids has
turned a million children into orphans.

      The UN children's organisation, Unicef, estimates that more than one
in five children will be orphaned in Zimbabwe by 2010, with more than 80% of
those orphaned by Aids which kills 3 000 people a week.

      Nine of her grandchildren are orphaned - she is looking after five
children between the ages of five and 13.

      Three successive years of drought have exacerbated food shortages.

      "We only eat one meal a day," said Dube. "We are used to it now and
there is nothing unusual about it," she said.

      While food is available in the shops, people like Dube and her family,
who have no source of income, cannot even dream of buying any.

      Driving up to Dube's home along a narrow dust road, hundreds of
people, carrying empty sacks, were seen walking back home, looking tired,
hungry and dejected.

      They are coming from the local business centre where they had gone to
register their names for food aid to be handed out three days later.

      "We were told (by an international aid organisation) to come and
register our names for food coming next week. But now they say only those on
the old list will be given food," Dube said.

      The Zimbabwean government this year turned away foreign food aid
saying the country produced enough to feed its people.

      But Harare has recently allowed the UN World
      Food Programme to undertake a one-off free food
      distribution to get rid of its stock left over from April when the
government stopped general food aid.

      Volunteer workers confirm the hunger in the area.

      "It is depressing to go out there visiting the sick, handing out soap,
diapers, some antiseptic solutions but seeing that what is urgently needed
is food," said volunteer Georgina Tshabalala.

      Dube is not only struggling to provide food for her orphaned
grandchildren, but also shelter.

      She cleans up grass that fell while she was thatching the roof of her
new mud and pole hut in this remote rural area of Zimbabwe.

      With nobody to help her build or maintain their home, Dube has to risk
climbing on to the roof to patch it up before the rains bring it down.

      The elderly woman told AFP she had no choice but to look after some of
her grandchildren.

      Those who are not under her wing are probably involved in illegal gold
mining, rife in the area.

      "I don't know how they are surviving, but no one helps me with

      "The chickens and the goats you see outside I sell to send these
children to school," she said.

      Despite the difficult living conditions and lack of food, one of her
grandchildren, seven-year-old Dan, passed his year-end school examinations
with A grades. - Sapa-AFP

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From News24 (SA), 15 December

Disbelief greets Zim inflation

Harare - President Robert Mugabe's government on Tuesday claimed it had met
its target of bringing inflation down below 150% before the year end,
releasing figures showing the rate for the 12 months to November had fallen
to 149.3%. State radio said this was in line with predictions made in
December 2003 by the then newly appointed governor of the Zimbabwe Reserve
Bank, Gideon Gono. The inflation rate in October stood at 209%, down from an
all-time high of over 600% at the beginning of the year, according to the
Government's Central Statistical Office. The official figures are, however,
widely disbelieved, with the Zimbabwean dollar continuing to fall against
all major currencies on the black market and soaring prices for fuel,
postage and telecommunications, transport, medicines, and many basics. On
the official market, the Zimbabwe dollar now stands at Z$6200/US$ and
Z$8212/E. Mugabe claimed last week that the economy is in the midst of a
"dramatic" recovery following redistribution of 5 000 seized white owned
farms to black Zimbabweans, a policy which saw a massive slump in
agricultural and manufacturing production, and near collapse of tourism,
another traditional money-spinner.
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The Star

      Harare's anarchy has gone too far
      December 15, 2004

      Cosatu, in its attempt to discover what is happening north of our
border, deserves praise for an achievement - getting Zimbabwe on the
political agenda.

      Well documented is our neighbour's fall into economic decline with 80%
unemployment and poverty among the black population, forex and petrol
shortages, mind-boggling inflation, the threat of hunger - with food aid
used as a political weapon - not to mention rampaging youth squads known in
Zimbabwe as "green bombers".

      With the independant Daily News and other papers banned and state
media off limits to the opposition MDC - except to be vilified - plus
Draconian legislation against the media, free speech and human rights NGOs,
anyone who believes there's a chance of free and fair elections next March
is being, to say the least, unreal.

      Perhaps a good idea would be for an all-party South African delegation
to visit Harare, before the elections, to monitor whether the regime has
adopted the SADC election guidelines.

      When a human being is brutally persecuted, I don't give a hoot what
colour God gave him/her. I hope most readers are of the same mind.

      Roy Bennett, the opposition MDC MP, was voted in overwhelmingly by his
African constituents in Chimanimani at the last Zimbabwe elections. They
gave him a Shona name, Pachedu or Let's-all-pull-together (like Kenyatta's

      But from Mugabe's viewpoint: How dare the voters of Chimanimani elect
a white MDC farmer!

      Following severe provocation and a scuffle with a minister in
parliament last year (no one was hurt), parliament, acting like a medieval
Star Chamber, sentenced him to 15 months in prison with hard labour.

      This avoided involving the police and the inconvenience
      of bringing Bennett to court. He made a full public apology for his
part in the fracas but to no avail.

      This is a denial of basic, and parliamentary, human rights and in no
way does the punishment begin to fit the crime. Could it be the regime's
method of ensuring that Roy Bennett won't stand in Chimanimani for the MDC
next time round? He has been locked up at Mutoko, about 160km from Harare,
and I am sure Amnesty and others are doing what they can to help him.

      I understand his wife is allowed to see him for 10 minutes every
fortnight. Bennett should be released immediately or brought to court.

      Parliaments around the world, including South Africa, should protest
this grave human rights violation before Harare's ploy becomes a new
tendency in despotic states wishing to bypass the judiciary.

      Ivor Davis

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Zim Daily Mirror

Govt owes city council $7,9bn

Farirai Machivenyika
issue date :2004-Dec-15

THE Harare City Council is now funding its operations, including paying
salaries, from its capital account at Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ), a
move that is likely to affect socio-developmental projects for the capital
and collapse the municipality.

This was revealed yesterday by the acting city treasurer, Cosmas Zvikaramba,
in an executive summary on the perennial financial problems faced by the
city presented during the first meeting of a commission recently appointed
to run the city's affairs a week ago.
The commission is chaired by former acting executive mayor Sekesai
Makwavarara and was appointed by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo
following a spate of resignations and suspensions of MDC councillors by the
parent ministry.
Zvakaramba said: "The problems articulated above have led to an accumulation
of creditors inclusive of salary deductions. Currently, the Standard
Chartered accounts have been garnished by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
(Zimra) leaving the CBZ capital account for the funding of all operational
expenditures including salaries. The current account is in overdraft of $12
The situation was worsened by the government debt to the troubled council
that now stands close to $8 billion.
The chairman of the Combined Harare Ratepayers' Association (CHRA), Mike
Davies, was quick to castigate the move, saying it would obviously
compromise service delivery to residents.
He said: "The legality of the move is questionable, but it is reflective of
the total disregard of the law by the government. It is also a sign of lack
of confidence the residents have in the council and the commission and until
such a time democratic local government institutions are restored, the
problems facing the council would not end."
Davies urged residents to boycott paying rates as a sign of protest against
the government's interference in Harare's affairs.
Zvakaramba recommended that Harare's service delivery could be improved if
the  government paid up its debt.
He said: "In view of the myriad challenges engulfing the council, it is
imperative that management and council seek the assistance of the minister
in the recovery of government debt, as well as debts owed by satellite
Zvakaramba added: "Government must be requested to urgently settle the
outstanding debt of Z$7,9 billion no later than 15th December 2004."
He also recommended that the government finance operations, especially in
the health department, and also allow council to implement the frozen 2004
second to fourth quarter rate increases in 2005 as a stop- gap measure.
Zvikaramba said the funding gap between the revenues and outflows was
widening and this had made payment of salaries, procurement of chemicals and
settling of debts difficult.
Another recommendation that is also likely to set the council on a collision
course with its employees is the staggering of December salaries due to the
low cash inflows.
"It is hereby recommended that the salary for December be staggered in light
of the envisaged low inflows exacerbated by the garnishee order placed on
SCBZ accounts," Zvikaramba said.
During the past four months, the council has been failing to pay its workers
and remit their contributions to their union on time and this has seen the
workers seeking redress in the courts of law.
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