The ZIMBABWE Situation
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MDC wants to declare talks deadlock

Written by Stanley Chikomba
Tuesday, 15 December 2009 12:10
Negotiators of the country's three main political parties are said to have
agreed on fifteen of the 21 outstanding issues threatening the shaky
coalition government but the MDC wants a deadlock to be declared on the
remaining ones, sources close to the talks say.

The sources told The Zimbabwean newspaper this week that the parties have
agreed on 15 items out of an expanded list of issues tabled when the parties
resumed talks after the SADC Troika meeting held in Maputo last month.
"They have agreed on most of the issues and have presented a progress report
to the three principals and now await direction on how to proceed on the
remaining issues," said the source.
Among the crucial issues that have been agreed are media reform, pirate
radio stations, audit of the land reform programme among others. The parties
are however still deadlocked on the issue of sanctions, appointment of
Attorney General, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, provincial governors,
Roy Bennett and security sector reform.
The MDC party led by Prime Minister Tsvangirai is said to have declared a
deadlock on these outstanding issues and want them referred to SADC for a
determination. But President Robert Mugabe is insisting that the talks be
given more time. He met Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Deputy
Arthur Mutambara met on Monday and agreed to give the negotiators more time
to thrush out a workable deal before declaring a deadlock.
The negotiators are now set to resume the final talks on Friday. On the
other hand the three principals have agreed to make an announcement on what
has been agreed next week upon Mugabe's return from Copenhagen where he went
to attend the ongoing climate change talks.
"The MDC wanted the negotiators to declare a deadlock and have the matter
referred to SADC but Mugabe is said to have asked his colleagues to give the
talks more time," said the source.
At his party's just ended congress Mugabe asked the SADC appointed mediator,
Jacob Zuma, to be patient insisting that any issues agreed in the ongoing
power-sharing negotiations would only be implemented when MDC calls for the
lifting of Western sanctions on Mugabe and his loyalists.
When approached for a comment one of the negotiators, Welshman Ncube, of the
MDC party led by Mutambara said he an not talk about the deliberations ofeh
talks but said, "We are still negotiating and we have no timetable."
SADC Troika last month asked Zimbabwe's political leaders to engage in
dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues in the implementation of last
year's power-sharing agreement or global political agreement (GPA).
Some of the outstanding issues include Mugabe's refusal to rescind his
unilateral appointment of two of his top allies to head Zimbabwe's central
bank and the attorney general's office.
Mugabe has also refused to swear in Tsvangirai ally Roy Bennett as deputy
agriculture minister while the Prime Minister's MDC-T party is also unhappy
by what it says is selective application of the law to target its activists
and officials.
On the other hand ZANU PF, which insists that it has met all its obligations
under the GPA, accuses the MDC-T of not living up to a promise to lead a
campaign for lifting of Western sanctions against Mugabe and members of his
inner circle.

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Neutrality of South African mediators questioned

By Lance Guma
15 December 2009

The neutrality of the South African mediators in the ongoing Zimbabwe crisis
talks was questioned this week, after the ruling African National Congress
(ANC) party issued a solidarity message with ZANU PF at the end of the
5-yearly congress in Harare.

ANC National Executive Council member, Tokyo Sexwale, who is also the South
African Minister of Human Settlements, said they had come to the congress to
'support your deliberations and express our solidarity with the conference'.
The statement went on to wish ZANU PF well in consolidating 'your democratic

It is worth remembering that ZANU PF lost the March 2008 elections to the
MDC and resorted to a campaign of violence and murder to force a situation
that eventually led to the government of national unity. Over 200 opposition
activists were killed while tens of thousands were beaten and tortured. One
analyst said it was shocking Sexwale could talk about ZANU PF's 'democratic
rule' when events showed the complete opposite. He said this exemplified the
ANC's 'see no evil, hear no evil' approach to the Zimbabwean crisis.

South African President Jacob Zuma appointed a team of former cabinet
ministers to help facilitate negotiations between the two MDC formations and
ZANU PF. This came about after Prime Minister Tsvangirai's MDC party walked
out of cabinet, citing a number of outstanding issues in the implementation
of the power sharing agreement.

There had been hope that with Mbeki's 'quiet diplomacy' finally out of the
way, Zuma would take a tougher line on Mugabe. But this week's statement
from the ANC has now put into question the neutrality of these new South
African mediators.

Writing on his blog, Robb Ellis said; 'When Tokyo Sexwale stands up at the
just completed ZANU PF congress and declares undying gratitude to ZANU PF
because of their support of the ANC during the South African liberation
struggle, then we have to realize that the deck is stacked hugely against
the MDC.' He also pointed out that the fact that the negotiations had been
suspended to allow for the ZANU PF congress 'then we had to take cognizance
of the evident position of strength that ZANU PF work from.'

At the end of the congress ZANU PF issued a long list of defiant positions,
claiming there was not going to be any negotiating over the appointments of
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, Attorney General Johannes Tomana and the
swearing in of Roy Bennett as Deputy Agriculture Minister. The remarks,
Ellis said, showed the 'unity government is now living on borrowed time.'

Journalist Denford Magora had a more brutal assessment of the situation. He
said people read too much into the Congress of South African Trade Union's
(COSATU) tough stance on Mugabe as evidence that Zuma will be "forced" to
deal with Mugabe.

'The truth of the matter, of course, is that COSATU made the noises they
made about Zimbabwe as a way of adding to their grievances against Thabo
Mbeki. It was about internal politics. They used Zimbabwe to show Mbeki up
yet again as an incompetent leader who needed to be replaced. Now that this
has happened, they are quiet and will not risk breaking up the ANC
Tripartite Alliance over Mugabe and ZANU PF.'

With the regional SADC grouping continuing to tread softly, Mugabe still has
no incentive to behave.

As Zimbabweans continue to suffer, all they can do is hope.

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Mugabe to join climate talks under UN loophole

Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:10pm GMT

COPENHAGEN, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe arrived in
Denmark on Tuesday to attend U.N. climate talks, despite Western sanctions
on his travel and public disapproval from his Danish hosts.

Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said that Mugabe was allowed
to attend the Copenhagen climate conference because of rules that permit him
to attend U.N. meetings, over-riding European Union and United States travel

"That is the spirit of the U.N. -- that the world needs a place where we can
meet with those we basically don't like. And I guess that is how you can
characterise the person you're asking about," Rasmussen said when questioned
about Mugabe.

Mugabe's arrival prompted local media to ask whether Danish leaders would
shake the 85-year-old African leader's hand and whether, as elder statesman,
Mugabe will be seated next to Denmark's Queen Margrethe at a dinner on
Thursday for heads of state and government attending the climate conference.

Mugabe, in power since 1980, is one of more than 110 world leaders attending
the final two days of the conference that is trying to reach a global
climate agreement.

Upon arrival, Mugabe said he expected from the Copenhagen conference "what
everybody else hopes to get -- an agreement."

He denied feeling isolated. "I am a member of the world population. I'm only
one dot in the population. I am a member of the world. Why should I feel

U.S. President Barack Obama, who has called Mugabe a "dictator", is to
attend the Copenhagen conference on Friday.

Mugabe is a pariah in the West, blamed by critics for plunging his southern
African country into poverty through authoritarian rule, economic
mismanagement and corruption.

He has blamed the West for ruining his country with sanctions, which he says
are in retaliation for the seizing of white-owned farms on behalf of
landless blacks.

He rules Zimbabwe under a 2008 power-sharing agreement with his political
rival, Morgan Tsvangirai. (Reporting by John Acher and Henriette Jacobsen;
Editing by Dominic Evans)

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Mugabe slammed for attending climate summit

By Violet Gonda
15 December 2009

Globetrotting Robert Mugabe is said to have 'commandeered' an Air Zimbabwe
plane on Monday evening to fly him to the United Nations climate summit,
which is underway in Denmark. It is reported that he went with a 59 member
delegation, on top of an advance team that is already at the summit in
The Zimbabwe government has come under attack for sending such a large
delegation of officials, at a time when the bankrupt government should be
streamlining. Last week Finance Minister Tendai Biti revealed in parliament
that Zimbabwe had gobbled up more than US$28 million in 2009, in foreign
On Monday James Maridadi, the Prime Minister's spokesperson, said Tsvangirai
would not be going to the summit, to cut down on spending and that the
decision was also made in the spirit of promoting a single delegation from
Government officials from all parties have been travelling to're-engage'
the west after years of isolation, but critics say it is extremely wasteful
to send so many people to this particular summit.
Mugabe has come under fire for attending a global climate summit, when he is
responsible for destroying the environment in his own country. Zimbabwe
suffers from severe environmental degradation, with whole forests
disappearing due to the lack of power. Wildlife poaching is also completely
out of control and it's well known that the poaching, particularly of the
black rhino, is orchestrated at the very highest levels in cabinet.
Analysts say that allowing Mugabe to speak and have a platform at a summit
that is focused on environmental issues, is nothing more than absurd.
Political commentator Professor Stanford Mukasa said the idea of climate
change and other international protocols have no relevance to Mugabe - and
this is his only chance to go shopping in Europe because he is under an
international travel ban. Mukasa said Mugabe has never been environmentally
conscious back home and that the destruction of the environment in Zimbabwe
has contributed to the worsening of the climate conditions in the country.
"Mugabe has nothing to offer to the climate control conference because he is
one of the guilty parties by his deliberate policies at home," said the
political commentator.

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Audit Unearths 5 000 Ghost Workers

Masvingo, December 15, 2009 - The government audit has unearthed 5 000 ghost
workers in Masvingo province with 1 000 of these registered as teachers at
non-existent schools, sources revealed to Radio VOP on Tuesday.

"As we compiled the statistics we got so far, we found out that 5 000
workers were non existent... Some of these workers are either dead or left
the civil service for greener pastures, while others never set foot at the
offices which they are said to be working," said the source participating in
the exercise meant to flush out ghost workers and others who got on the
government payroll on patronage basis . "Another 1000 workers are fake
teachers at non existent schools in the province, but, surprisingly, they
had the Employment Code (EC) number."
They have so far inspected Gutu, Chiredzi, Bikita, Mwenezi, Masvingo Rural
and Urban, among the eight districts in the province.

Contacted for a comment, Public Services Minister Prof Elias Mukonoweshuro
said: "The audit process is a comprehensive process covering the whole
country. We will not reveal piecemeal results for a specific province. A
team of independent auditors will collate and release the results for the
whole country."
He said his Ministry would release the results for the whole country next
year January.

"Let me assure you that the results will not be made a secret since they are
a public matter. They will not be hidden from the public," Prof
Mukonoweshuro said.

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Gwezere bail hearing set for the Supreme Court

By Tichaona Sibanda
15 December 2009

Pascal Gwezere, the MDC transport manager jailed on trumped-up charges of
weapons theft, appeared in court on Monday for a remand hearing, but his
case was postponed to next week Monday by a Harare magistrate.

Gwezere's lawyer Alec Muchadehama told SW Radio Africa that he's pushing for
the case to be heard in the Supreme Court after the Attorney-General filed
an application challenging the bail that was granted by the High court.

'He's set to go to court for another remand hearing on Monday next week but
we are pushing for the earliest possible time to get the Supreme Court to
hear our arguments. We will simply be responding and arguing that the AG's
office erred in opposing his bail application,' Muchadehama said.

Gwezere's family is very concerned about his overall health which is
seriously deteriorating as a result of long torture sessions. Gwezere was
granted bail three weeks ago after being charged with weapons theft, but he
has been forced to remain behind bars at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
The High Court granted him US$500 bail, with strict conditions, but the
State immediately invoked a draconian legal act that kept him in jail, on

Chief Law officer Michael Mugabe, from the attorney general's office, lodged
an appeal against Gwezere's bail in the Supreme Court and until the court
makes a ruling on the matter Gwezere will remain locked up at the notorious

The senior MDC employee was abducted from his Mufakose home in November and
went 'missing' for a week before he was finally brought before the courts,
bearing signs of severe torture.

He has told the courts his abductors repeatedly interrogated him using
torture methods, leaving him with serious injuries to his head, feet, leg
and back. Despite these injuries, he has been denied access to private
medical care, with prison officials openly ignoring a ruling that he be
allowed access to proper care. The transport manager was charged with
stealing firearms from Pomona Barracks and receiving military training in
Uganda a decade ago. The military training charge has already been thrown
out by the magistrates' court and the MDC say the theft charges have no
basis in fact.

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3-year battle against partisan ZRP - young cop tells all

Written by Martin
Tuesday, 15 December 2009 18:42
JOHANNESBURG - The Zimbabwe Republic Police has during the past decade lost
thousands of its junior officers, who were either fired or deserted their
jobs in protest against political victimisation.
The Zimbabwean this week tracked down one former officer - ex-Constable
Tafadzwa Gambiza (27), who recounted how he braved his superiors'
partisanship for three years, until he was forced out on June 26, 2008 a day
before Zimbabwe 's ill-fated Presidential run-off, which Robert Mugabe
contested alone and later declared himself winner.
Gambiza, whose service number was 050097C, was attested into the ZRP on May
29, trained at Chikurubi Depot and graduated on November 30, 2000 - the same
year that Mugabe began his controversial and often violent land seizures
that have crippled Zimbabwe's economy.
During his unwavering defiance, Gambiza, one of the few police officers who
were brave enough to openly challenge the Zanunisation of the ZRP by its
commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, saw himself at one stage being suspended
for more than two years for arresting Zanu (PF) bigwigs. He was threatened
with death, and ultimately dismissed for refusing to help rig the 2008
Gambiza, still laden with police jargon and quoting statutes to demonstrate
his undying love for the law-enforcement agency that kicked him in the teeth
when he tried to perform his duties according to the book, says he had his
first confrontation with Chihuri's hypocrisy during the March 2005
parliamentary elections.
"I was on election duty with other police officers at Mbizo Youth Centre,
Kwekwe on March 31, 2005," recounted Gambiza, perusing his police notebook.
"While I was still at the polling station, I arrested a Zanu (PF) official,
July Moyo, for contravening section 146 of the Electoral Act."
Moyo is a former Midlands Provincial governor and Zanu (PF) chairman for the
same province, who was suspended in 2004 for participating in the Dinyane
Declaration (Tsholotsho) that sought to push for the elevation of Defence
Minister and Presidential hopeful, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to the post of
Vice-President ahead of Joyce Mujuru.
"He came to the polling station on voting day, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned
'Vote Emmerson Mnangagwa - Zanu (PF) Kwekwe constituency', a cap with the
same inscription and a badge which said Zanu (PF) chief election agent on
his shoulder," said Gambiza, reading out Moyo's National Registration
numbers - 63-278979 Y03, to confirm the arrest.

Moyo challenged
"When I asked him why he was doing that, Moyo told me that he was a minister
for the ruling party and I challenged that, telling him that there were no
ministers, as cabinet had been dissolved by the President before the
elections. I arrested him immediately." Gambiza said that while he was
calling his station on the radio, Moyo called Mnangagwa to inform him of "an
MDC officer who was disturbing him from campaigning".
"Just when the police truck arrived, Mnangagwa also arrived and began to
insult me, accusing me of being a traitor working with Morgan Tsvangirai and
the MDC to re-colonise Zimbabwe. He also threatened to have me dismissed
immediately for standing in the way of Zanu (PF)."
After obscenities had been hurled at him, Gambiza said he arrested Mnangagwa
as well and drove the two men to Kwekwe Central police station, where he
tried to have them detained. He was stopped from doing that by an Assistant
Commissioner Sakonda, who was the police Election Commander for Kwekwe.
"Sakonda said that I should take down their names and release them, as they
were well-known people who would not go anywhere. I tried to argue that
these people had committed a serious offence, and that MDC members had been
arrested and detained for lesser ones." He was hauled before a board that
would determine his suitability to continue his duties as a police officer.

Medical grounds
"The board, presided over by Chief Superintendent Norman Sibanda (now Senior
Assistant Commissioner), Superintendent Phineas Muhedziwa (now Chief
Superintendent and recently suspended for raping a junior officer) and
Superintendent Mushapaidze declared, as I had expected, that I was
unsuitable for police duties and I later received a signal that my last
working day would be July 6, 2006." Gambiza did not take this lying down
and lodged an appeal with the Police Service Commission in terms of section
51 of the Police Act. He was re-instated in 2006.
However, this was just the beginning of more battles for the junior officer,
as his superiors tried to have him fired from the ZRP "on medical grounds".
"They claimed that I was an epileptic and should be discharged from my
duties and even wrote a letter to the police medical doctors urging them to
set up a medical board to discharge me," said Gambiza. This failed, as the
ZRP Southern Region General Medical Officer, Doctor D. Wachi, responded:
"Constable Gambiza is responding well to treatment and is currently free of
fits. I am therefore, of the opinion that he does not require a medical
However, this was his last victory. On August 21, 2006, he was suspended by
the then Senior Assistant Commissioner (now Commissioner) Charles Mfandaidza
for no reason and without any pending trial. "The suspension order was
served on me by Superintendent Enerst Muchenjekwa and witnessed by Inspector
Paul Deka, who both did not explain its reasons and I stayed on suspension
for two years," added Gambiza. On May 29, 2008, he challenged the then
Officer Commanding KweKwe district, Ruth Madya, who, during a routine Zanu
(PF) campaign meeting at Kwekwe Central police station, ordered police
officers to sloganeer and denounce the MDC and to ensure that their
dependants and workers above the age of 18 voted for Mugabe.
"When we reached question time, I asked her if the ZRP had changed course
from a non-partisan law-enforcement agency into a Zanu (PF) force and Madya
accused me of being a bad influence on the rest of the officers," said
Gambiza. "She told us that those who did not heed her calls would be
dismissed from the ZRP, adding that some would even disappear without
trace." Gambiza said that on June 18, 2008 - nine days before the
Presidential election run-off vote, their superiors drove all police
officers in the Midlands province to the Kwekwe district conference room,
where they were ordered to vote through postal ballots for Mugabe.
The clandestine voting was allegedly being presided over by Mfandaidza.
"Voting was done in the presence of senior officers, who would tell us to
tick against Mugabe's name. However, while some were still voting, SADC
election observers arrived at the station and the senior police officers
packed their ballot papers and sneaked out of the camp without being
"After that, some ZUPCO buses were sent to transport us, together with our
workers, dependents and members of the Neighbourhood Watch Committee
(civilian volunteers who are not allowed to vote through postal ballot) to
Gweru Old camp to continue voting.

Refused to vote
"On arrival there, I refused to vote and challenged the superiors against
taking over the job meant for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and making
it theirs and turning police stations into polling stations. On June 26,
2008, a day before the run-off, Gambiza received a signal notifying that he
had been fired from the ZRP with immediate effect.
"Again they claimed that I was unsuitable for police duties and a Sergeant
Major Muyambo of Mbizo police station, who claimed that he had been sent by
Mfandaidza, evicted me from Kwekwe Central police camp on July 17, claiming
to have been sent by Mfandaizda.
"He was being accompanied by two other Sergeant Majors - Richard Chizhongo
and Majaya, who said that Mfandaidza had told them that I was an MDC man.
They searched my wardrobe and stole R80 from it while I was out of the
house." Gambiza said that after his eviction from camp, he was threatened
with death until he fled Zimbabwe for South Africa, where he is currently
working and living as a political exile.
"I will not return to Zimbabwe anytime with Mugabe still in charge because I
know that they will definitely kill me," he said as a parting shot.

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Polio Outbreaks Worry WHO

Harare, December 14, 2009 - Africa has seen a rise in polio cases over the
years due to lack of immunization, the World Health Organization said on
Monday at the opening ceremony of an immunization conference in Harare.

WHO Africa director, Dr Luis Gomes Sambo told over 150 delegates that
Angola, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria are affected the

"The number of countries with polio outbreaks following the polio virus
importations has increased from 13 in 2008 to 19 in 2009," Sambo said.

"Several polio-free countries in our region have suffered setbacks in polio
eradication. It is my hope that the African region will stop the
transmission of polio virus, move towards certification and concentrate on
others public health priorities."

But Africa has scored a success in reducing measles cases on the continent,
WHO said.

"We have a recent example of success with the 92 percent reduction in
measles mortality however, we are currently facing difficulties in
sustaining this important gain because of lack of adequate funding," said

"Routine immunization coverage in the region has increased during the last
ten years from 40 to 74 percent as of December 2008.However, the overall
increase in routine immunisation coverage rate masks disparities between and
within countries."

WHO said immunisation coverage has seen child mortality rate reduced to
below 10 million in Africa.

"Increased immunization coverage, along with clean water and better
sanitation, is key reason why today, for the first time in documented
history, the number of children dying each year has fallen to below 10
million," WHO said.

The Africa immunization conference in Harare runs 14 to 17 December.

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Herald Story is Absolute Nonsense – Minister

Written by Gift Phiri
Tuesday, 15 December 2009 12:13
HARARE - The Minister of Mines and Mining Development minister has dismissed
as "nonsense" claims by official media that the Zimbabwean government has
stopped two companies licensed to mine the Chiadzwa diamond fields
ostensibly because of environment concerns. (Pictured: Minister Obert Mpofu)

Minister Obert Mpofu told The Zimbabwean that it was "absolute nonsense"
that two South African companies recently licensed by the government,
Canadile Miners and Mbada Mining (Pvt) Ltd, to mine the Chiadzwa diamond
fields, located in the Marange region, some 90 km southwest of the city of
Mutare, on the eastern border with Mozambique had been stopped pending an
environment assessment.
The reported government order to halt operations comes after the two
companies had set up multi million dollar State-of-the-art plants to process
rough diamonds fom the lucrative fields, including excavators, earthmovers
to density medium separators.
The companies were awarded mining contracts for one of the world’s richest
diamond fields by the Zimbabwe government – even though a British-registered
firm African Consolidated Resources has a high court order saying it alone
has a right to the claim.
Mpofu told The Zimbabwean: "Thats nonsense. Get the truth from the
authorities. Phone ZMDC (Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation). They are
the ones who own that claim."
Asked then why the official Herald had reported the matter as gospel truth,
Mpofu said: "They are just excited. They (Herald) also should have checked
with the authorities. Phone Mubaiwa at ZMDC."
Mubaiwa was not immediately available at the time of going to press.
The Herald reported that Zimbabwe’s Environment Management Agency (EMA) has
stepped in and stopped operations claiming Mbada Diamond Mining failed to
carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment before starting to mine.
The newspaper did not state why EMA turned a blind eye to the firm’s
operations until now amid the high publicity that surrounded the launch of
the mining operations at the fields.
The environment assessment can take months, and Mpofu dismissed the report
as a figment of the newspaper's imagination.
If true, the order would have represented a huge loss of revenue for Mbada
Mining (Pvt) Ltd, which had installed a plant to mine 300,000 tons of ore
per hour and was in the process of investing in another plant with a
capacity to process 100,000 tons of ore per hour.
The newspaper had claimed the parastatal ZMDC would use the equipment, worth
more than US$100 million, which the two companies had put on site at the
diamond fields to continue mining. It is not clear why the environment
assessment exempts ZMDC.
Efforts to obtain comment from Canadile local representative Lovemore
Kurotwa were futile at the time of going to print.

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SAA plane strikes wild pigs

2009-12-15 14:30

Harare - Wild pigs living around Harare's international airport were struck
by a plane, a month after causing the crash of a just-airborne aircraft
there, reports said on Tuesday.

Last week, a South African Airways aircraft hit two of the pigs, Peter
Chikumba, chief executive of Air Zimbabwe, the country's national carrier,
was quoted as saying in the Harare Herald newspaper.

The incident came after an Air Zimbabwe Chinese-made MA60 ran into a wild
pig on November 2, bringing the aircraft down, but causing no loss of life.

Chikumba gave no further details of the latest incident, but said national
parks rangers were called in and captured 90 of the pigs. Residents in the
area say pigs are abundant on farms surrounding the airport and easily
burrow under the fences meant to keep them out.

Pigs are not the only problem, Chikumba said. The amount of birds at the
airport is also posing a risk.

"We (Air Zimbabwe) had to abort a flight to Johannesburg after they invaded
the runway a fortnight ago. The pilot had to reduce speed and institute
emergency brakes," Chikumba said.

He said the state-owned airline desperately needed cash to deal with the
invasions of birds and animals, but was still stricken by the effects of the
country's economic collapse last year when inflation hit 230 billion per
cent and the currency collapsed into a worthless 1 US dollar to 10 trillion
Zimbabwe dollars.

The national economy has begun to recover since the inauguration of the
country's coalition government in February, but Air Zimbabwe received no
money from the new administration's budget last week.


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Downwardly mobile in Zimbabwe
Four years after her house was demolished in a blitz by Zimbabwe's government, Chipo Chama still lives in a grass thatched shack.
A family sits outside their home in the suburb of Epworth in Zimbabwe's capital Harare
A family sits outside their home in the suburb of Epworth in Zimbabwe's capital Harare Photo: Reuters

Though she is married to a builder, the 27-year-old housewife has rickety wooden planks for walls and covers her roof with plastic sheeting to keep out the rain in Harare's Hatcliffe suburb - far from the neighbourhood where she used to live.

"Right now I don't have a housing lot, but we are paying money to local co-operatives (to save for a down payment) so we may get lots to build houses," Chama said.

In 2005, Chama had a sturdy brick and cement house with asbestos roofing, but the government bulldozed it, saying it was illegal and was not fit for human habitation.

The blitz, which was named Murambatsvina - meaning "Drive out filth" - left more than 700,000 people homeless and shattered the livelihoods of 2.4 million people whose small businesses were also destroyed by President Robert Mugabe's government.

The police and the army gave only short notice to people to move their property from buildings slated for destruction, causing property losses estimated in millions of dollars.

Some now live in settings far worse than the homes that were razed, often without water, electricity or sewers, coping with harsh conditions made even more abject by the country's economic straits.

The campaign was widely seen as an attempt to tamp out support for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which enjoys much of its support in Zimbabwe's cities.

But since MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai joined a unity government with Mugabe in February, little has changed for the victims.

Chama says she lost property worth $300 US (185) - a huge sum in a country where per capita GDP was estimated at $200 last year.

Despite her loss, she hopes one day she will be able to find a lot to build a house for her family.

"I hope that in the years to come we will be able to build homes like in other surburbs," Chama said.

Another victim of Murambatsvina, builder John Chitawa, 49, said that his life has never been the same after his property and few belongings were demolished in the clean up campaign. But he also says that life has moved on, and that he is picking up from where he left four years ago.

"When Murambatsvina hit us we lost a lot of things because the two roomed house I had built and the property was destroyed," Chitawa said adding that he lost valuables worth $3,000.

"The whole property I had was lost, my bed, my wardrobe, radio. I was attending a funeral when the blitz came and everything was destroyed and I was left at ground zero."

Chitawa, one of the few who got a housing lot from the government after Murambatsvina, has already built four rooms but there is no electricity, water is not flowing in taps and he uses a ventilated pit latrine - known here as a Blair toilet - because the sewer system is not functioning well.

A few houses were built by the government of President Robert Mugabe in 2005 but were far from accommodating all the victims of Murambatsvina and the houses lacked water and sewers.

Fidelis Mhashu, a housing minister, said that the new unity government is mapping up a policy to build low-income housing, adding that if the country does not give priority to building houses for the homeless slums will emerge.

"We don't have slums in this country of the likes of those in Kibera, Kenya, and other countries," he said referring to one of the biggest slums in Africa.

"We are aware that if we don't act with speed we are going to have problems of slums appearing or mushrooming," Mhashu said.

Mhashu estimates that the country has a housing backlog of two million people and said the government will approach donor countries and financial institutions to assist in building houses as the government doesn't have money.

"Our [estimation] is [that] about two million people require accommodation [nationally]," Mhashu said.

"We are frantically looking for funds from our financiers throughout the world."

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Zimbabweans test the definition of refugee

Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
A Zimbabwean seeking asylum in South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, 15 December 2009 (IRIN) - The "humanitarian nature" of the mass movement of Zimbabweans to neighbouring Southern African countries has blurred the distinction between what is a "refugee" and an "economic migrant", because such people fit neither category perfectly and fall between the cracks, a new report says.

"Official responses to Zimbabwean migration in Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique are still premised on this distinction, and so are failing to protect both Zimbabweans and [their own] citizens," noted Zimbabwean Migration into Southern Africa: New Trends and Responses, a report released in early December by the Forced Migration Studies Programme (FMSP) at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Neighbouring countries have been an essential lifeline for thousands of poor Zimbabweans, said Monica Kiwanuka, the main researcher for the report. Those crossing the border were not refugees - most did not even apply for refugee status - and, given the extent of economic collapse at home, could hardly be considered "voluntary" economic migrants.

"Many Zimbabweans who qualify for refugee status ... do not apply for asylum due to the need to move back and forth across borders to support families left behind. They resist the category of refugee, which connotes dependency, and they emphasize their ability to work," Kiwanuka told IRIN.

"Yet there are currently no legal instruments in the region, or in specific countries, that address the needs of this forced, mixed and livelihood-seeking migration," she commented. Only recognized refugees and asylum seekers qualify for humanitarian assistance and legal protection in a host state.

"So many Zimbabweans are not legally protected, nor do they receive humanitarian support, as they fall outside the mandates of these support structures," Kiwanuka commented.

With the exception of South Africa, protection and access to services in most countries in the region is contingent on receiving refugee status, and require asylum seekers to stay in isolated camps, unable to work or travel, and thus send money home.

South Africa is considering the introduction of a special permit for Zimbabweans but the policy is still under review.

"These [conditions] are unsuited to [their] needs," Kiwanuka said, and defeated the purpose of crossing the border, so most Zimbabweans did not apply for asylum. The alternative of having to fend for themselves allowed the flexibility to move back and forth between countries as shoppers, labourers and traders.

Despite persistent deportations, xenophobic attacks and other means of exclusion, poor Zimbabweans have been prepared to risk anything to earn an income in a host country.

''To accept to return home after being dropped for deportation at Plumtree means I have agreed to let my people die''
A Zimbabwean interviewed in Botswana explained: "To accept to return home after being dropped [for deportation] at Plumtree [on the Zimbabwe/Botswana border] means I have agreed to let my people die ... you [would] rather die trying to get back inside [Botswana] and find money to keep them alive."

Kiwanuka said responses to Zimbabwean migrants were not harmonized among the four countries: "In Botswana, Zambia and Malawi, asylum is available to Zimbabweans; in Mozambique, the few people who have applied for asylum have been rejected due to the state's decision to consider Zimbabweans as 'economic' and not forced humanitarian migrants."

Obtaining a Zimbabwean passport was not only very difficult but also extremely expensive, which contributed to the problem. "We all want to be out of trouble, but where can we find the passports these people want from us?" another migrant in Botswana complained.

"Since undocumented migrants fall outside the mandates of the two key support structures in humanitarian assistance - government and non-government institutions," the needs of undocumented Zimbabweans remained "invisible and unmet". Migrants lived precariously, "earning meagre incomes in the host countries and barely covering their basic human needs for shelter and food," the researchers found.

Beyond semantics

"Lack of protection of migrants in the region is based on a false distinction between a forced and an economic migrant, instead of focusing on the real and urgent needs some of these migrants have," Kiwanuka said.

The report suggested that a better term would be "forced humanitarian migrants", who moved for the purpose of their and their dependents' basic survival.

Underscoring the importance of a common humanitarian position on the outflow of Zimbabweans into the region, and the challenge various agencies faced in reconciling their mandates with real needs on the ground, the Regional Office for Southern Africa of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs coined the term "migrants of humanitarian concern" in 2008.

Nde Ndifonka, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), told IRIN: "We categorize these migrant populations from Zimbabwe broadly as 'mobile and vulnerable populations'.

"Refugees have some specific needs, rights and responsibilities, which fall under the mandate of UNHCR [the UN Refugee Agency]. They also have more general needs, rights and responsibilities within the broader category migrants, which is where IOM operates, he said.

In general, "Migrants, as everyone else within the country, are the responsibility of government. As an intergovernmental organization with expertise in migration management, IOM, just like UNHCR, works with the government to address migration and migrant (including refugee) challenges, within the available resources," Ndifonka commented.

But the bottom line, said FMSP's Kiwanuka, was that interventions would "need to acknowledge the humanitarian nature of migration from Zimbabwe", and "policy response should focus on providing some measure of humanitarian support to the most vulnerable, supporting employment and self-employment, and permitting cross-border mobility."

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

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Drawing a line in the sand

Robert Gabriel Mugabe has decided that any concessions given to the MDC with
regard to the coalition to government will be on his terms, his timings and
not worth the paper that they are written upon.

In essence, Mugabe is putting two fingers up at the world, SADC and the
Zimbabwean people.

Is this the 'democracy' that the Zimbabweans want or need - or deserve?

Let's briefly look at just what Mugabe is attempting to hang onto
undemocratic rule in a shattered Zimbabwe.

1. Mugabe does not have the popular mandate to rule Zimbabwe. We all know
what terror he visited upon the people last year to force Tsvangirai's hand
and thereby steal the vote in a one-man sham election.
2. Mugabe's party have already told the world that they are not prepared to
concede anything further to the MDC - not that what they have conceded is
anything to write home about - and Mugabe has already begun preparations to
call a new election. According to him, the 'unity' government only has a 24
month life cycle.
3. Mugabe's party have told Jacob Zuma, the SADC-appointed mediator, to slow
down in his expectations of the negotiations to be resolved soon. Mugabe
marches to his own beat - and even if he is out of step with the rest of the
country, he somehow forces his will.

Mugabe has stated that negotiations are complete - even though an article
today says that they will resume on Friday - and he states that the
implementation of the 'resolution' depends upon Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai's successfully calling for an end to the "illegal" sanctions
against the Mugabe administration.

The sanctions in place are not illegal. They are not economic, and they are
not under the control of the MDC leader.

Just as Mugabe banned CNN and the BBC from reporting from within Zimbabwe,
so governments around the world have recognised the need to ban him and
members of his loyalist fraternity from travelling to their countries and
doing business within their borders.

There is nothing illegal in that - and whilst the idea of the sanctions may
have been planted many years ago by a very young MDC party, the choice of
who, how and when these measures act against is for those that implement
them to control.

To suggest that the implementation of the few concessions he is prepared to
make are dependent upon Tsvangirai convincing foreign powers that Mugabe et
al should be allowed to travel the globe with impunity is ridiculous.

Mugabe is intent on giving as little power away as possible and hanging on
for as long as he can. The threat of new elections being called soon is also
another barb that he uses to needle the MDC.

Only he knows the true date - and that probably hasn't been decided yet
either - but he has made the clarion call laid down the challenge and awaits
the renewed fight from a standpoint of some strength.

The free world, SADC and the Zimbabwean people should all be gathering their
breath and strength for the coming fight. And come it will as Mugabe will
not accept defeat. Not now - not ever (as recent history in Zimbabwe tells

We should all be drawing a line in the sand - and stating loud and clear,
"So far - and no further!"

Robb WJ Ellis
The Bearded Man

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