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Zimbabwe Opposition Party Removes Leader - NYT

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Leaders of Zimbabwe's sole democratic opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change, decided to expel their president
over the weekend, deepening an internal split, The New York Times reports in
its Monday edition.

The president, Morgan Tsvangirai, was removed Saturday by the disciplinary
committee of the Movement for Democratic Change, which is largely controlled
by Tsvangirai's critics within the party, the Times said. However,
Tsvangirai's spokesman, William Bango, told news services that the expulsion
was illegal and would be ignored.

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  Copyright (c) 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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Zambia shuts main power station after mud slide


December 26, 2005, 16:15

Zambia has shut its largest power plant after it was damaged by a mud slide,
an official said today. Rhodnie Sisala, the managing director of state power
utility Zesco, said the southern African country, which normally exports
power to some of its neighbours, would now have to import 300 megawatts of
power from South Africa and Zimbabwe.

"We have shut down the Kafue Gorge station to protect it after heavy rains
caused mud, trees, water and rocks to gush into the power station," he said.
He did not say how long it will be shut.

The Kafue Gorge station generates 900 megawatts of power which mainly
supplies the country's large copper mines, Zambia's economic mainstay.
Sisala said the mines were still getting adequate power, but households were
being rationed. - Reuters

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 24th December 2005

Christmas Eve – and a very special Vigil.  We had a bright, mild day but the Strand was surprisingly tranquil, given the supposed shopping frenzy.  We were pleased to see a big colour photo of the Vigil on the front page of the latest edition of The Zimbabwean . It showed dozens of Santas who visited us last week – we had a few more calling by this week to sign our petitions.  The others were presumably busy on their official duties. 

Despite the demands of the festive season we had a good turnout of supporters – certainly enough to see off the Caribbean “Why are you against Mugabe, saviour of Africa?  Do you want Ian Smith?  Africa for the Africans”.  It was heartening to have a more open-minded Big Issue salesman coming to play our drums and give us financial support.  When you are really down you know who your friends are!  A penny from the poor is of course a million dollars to us.  We certainly got our message through to the Embassy – not least through the Christmas carol singing outside the Embassy on Thursday. 

We wish everyone reading this to remain hopeful and believe that there will be happy Christmases to come.

FOR THE RECORD: 26 supporters plus the Vigil dog came today – all very cheerful but at this Christmas time all missing people back home  and waiting for the day they can be reunited.

FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 9th January 2005, 7.30 pm, first Zimbabwe Forum of the new year.   ADVANCE NOTICE: Monday, 16th January 2006, 7.30 pm, MDC Central London Branch Assembly meeting in place of the usual Monday Forum.   All card carrying members of Central London Branch are invited to attend.  Both meetings will be upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street, London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street, turn right and you will see the pub – nearest stations: Charing Cross and Embankment).

Vigil co-ordinator

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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Zanu-PF bigwigs hijack ZIMA

Zim Standard

By our staff

ARTISTES and music lovers who attended the Zimbabwe Music Awards (ZIMA) on
Thursday were alarmed at the preponderance of Zanu-PF officials at the

They felt the presence of ministers, senators and other senior government
officials was an indication that the ruling party had muscled its way into
yet another musical event.
Already, the government sponsors five musical galas, namely the
Independence, Umdala Wethu, Heroes Splash, Mzee Bira and Unity galas. The
Chimoio solidarity gala, held in Mozambique last year, had also been
scheduled as an annual event, but it has since been cancelled.

In a move which angered music lovers who paid between $250 000 and $500 000
to witness the presentation of the awards, Webster Shamu, the Minister of
State for Policy Implementation, chronicled how radio was used during the
liberation war.

"Radio pachayo chaiva chombo chinokosha.yayitsigira mashoko ayifamba ehondo
yorusununguko. (radio was a key weapon during the struggle, spreading
messages of the liberation)," Shamu said.

Revellers booed him when he started praising President Robert Mugabe,
claiming the 81-year-old leader contributed greatly to the improvement of
the music industry.

Earlier during the proceedings, William Nhara, principal director in the
Ministry of Public and Interactive Affairs, had also told fans about the
government's commitment to developing the music industry. Nhara's department
sponsored a number of awards in the Silver Jubilee categories.

Musicians felt the heavy presence of politicians at the event was uncalled

"This was not a gala, it was an awards-giving ceremony," said one musician.

"We are not against the idea of government supporting music and the arts in
general, but it is also not good for them to use these events for
politicking," he fumed.

Over the past few years, Zanu-PF has made inroads into the music industry,
using musical shows to influence public opinion, particularly in urban
areas, which comprise predominantly opposition supporters. Some government
officials have gone to the extent of taking to the stage themselves. Among
these is Elliot Manyika, a minister without portfolio, who released Nora a
few years ago.

Meanwhile, gospel diva Shingisai Siluma walked a way with two awards, after
winning in the Best Gospel (female) category and the Best Female artiste for
2005. In the Gospel category, she beat Kudzai Sevenzo and Rebecca Malope
copycat, Mercy Mutsvene.

Tongai Moyo also received two awards for the Best Male Artist and for Best
Sungura Artist.

In the Silver Jubilee categories, mbira queen Stella Chiweshe, who is based
in Germany, received two awards in the best mbira category and for the most
outstanding contribution to the music industry over the past 25 years. In
both cases, she had equal votes with Mbira Dzenharira and Busi Ncube

Oliver Mtukudzi and US-based Lovemore Majaivana were awarded for being
outstanding male contributors to the music industry over the past 25 years.

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Zimbabwe axed from EU support

Zim Standard

By a correspondent

BRUSSELS - Zimbabwe's poor human rights record and the deteriorating
political situation have rendered the country ineligible for developmental
aid from the European Union (EU), a top official has said.

Amadeu Altafaj, the spokesperson for Louis Michel, the commissioner in
charge of development and humanitarian aid, said until the economic and
political situation in Zimbabwe improves the 25-member bloc would not fund
any development projects.
Addressing journalists from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries
who attended an EU conference on Combating Extreme Poverty and HIV/Aids,
Alfataj said they would however continue funding humanitarian aid projects,
administered through non-governmental organisations.

Altafaj said: "We discuss developmental projects with governments. With the
current political situation in Zimbabwe, we can't fund any of these

He said there were differences among EU member states on policies relating
to the Zimbabwean situation. "Africa is lagging behind in the race to meet
the Millennium Developmental Goals, hence the need to accelerate development
in the health and education sector," Alfataj said.

Plans were also underway, Alfataj said, to improve road networks and
telecommunications systems in order to build efficient regional markets.

Recently, the General Affairs and External Relations Council endorsed the EU
Strategy for Africa hailed as a milestone in EU-Africa relations expected to
boost Africa's sustainable development. Discussions have started on turning
this strategy into concrete projects, to increase stability, boost economic
growth and reduce poverty.

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Guards earn more than cops, soldiers

Zim Standard

By Foster Dongozi and Godfrey Mutimba

ITS official - security guards, who have for long been denigrated by some
sections of society, are now earning better salaries than soldiers and

Soldiers and members of the police have become a rag-tag outfit with most of
them seen clad in faded and worn out uniforms and shoes.
Their earnings have seriously been eroded by inflation amid reports of very
low morale in the camps.

A new recruit at established security companies takes home over $3 million
while junior soldiers and their counterparts in the police force take home
just over $2 million.

Recently, The Standard carried an expose about how soldiers and policemen
had resorted to nefarious activities, including theft and armed robberies,
to make ends meet.

Soldiers who spoke to The Standard this week revealed that they were now
being served beans at their camps as the economic situation continues to

In the past, soldiers and police details enjoyed "sumptuous meals" at their

A soldier who spoke on condition he was not named said: "The army can not
afford to buy meat for us. We are made to eat beans day in and day out, a
situation which is different from several years ago when we enjoyed a
variety of meat dishes.

"Life in the camps has become difficult for us because it is very hard to
eat the same type of food every day. The situation is likely to affect our
health. We need variety but the government can not afford that anymore.''

However, it is reported that the defence forces are now offering lengthy
periods of off-days to soldiers staying in the camps in a bid to limit the
cost of feeding its members.

"While we are struggling to survive on our poor salaries, senior officers
are getting hefty salaries and allowances. They drive expensive cars while
our colleagues who stay out of camps are struggling to pay rent."

The soldiers and police officers say they are between a rock and hard place.

Uniformed forces that live among civilians have to contend with hostile
neighbours who regard them as the government's instruments of oppression.

The army and police have in the past been used to suppress demonstrations by
critics of President Mugabe's government.

A police officer, who lives in a residential suburb in Harare, said
landlords were "punishing" them by regularly raising their rentals.

"Urban areas are MDC strongholds. Unfortunately, most landlords assume that
all uniformed officers are Zanu PF supporters and they exact their revenge
by charging exorbitant rentals," he said.

He said despite their low salaries, some police details were paying monthly
rentals as high as $5 million.

"As a result, very little police work is being done as members of the force
try to find other means of raising money. The situation is so pathetic that
members have to borrow money just to buy a bundle of vegetables."

Aggrey Ushe, the ZNA spokesperson, dismissed the allegations saying soldiers
were trying to make an issue out of nothing.

"That is not true, Kana vanhu vakadya beans kamwe kana kaviri votoiita
issue. We are getting our normal rations of food and that issue of beans
happened once or twice not on a daily basis,'' Ushe said.

On soldiers' poor salaries, Ushe said these salaries would be reviewed in
January as is the practice.

"Every year in January our salaries are increased and therefore we are
hoping to get a reasonable increment next January, which is only next month.
As for the days off, soldiers normally get long offs,'' he said.

Two months ago, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri told a parliamentary
committee that the police were under-funded, a situation that tempted some
officers to indulge in corrupt activities.

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Zanu PF demands more cash from taxpayers

Zim Standard

By Nqobani Ndlovu

BULAWAYO - The Zanu-PF Central Committee wants the political grant it
receives from the government to be reviewed upwards despite having secured
$3.4 billion from taxpayers this year.

The ruling party says it feels betrayed by its members who failed to
contribute towards a targeted $26.4 billion during 2005. Only $2.5 billion
was raised from the sale of membership cards and subscriptions.
According to a Central Committee report tabled at the recent Annual National
Conference held in Esigodini, the ruling party received $3.380 billion this
year from State coffers, compared to $306 million the previous year.Under
the Political Parties Finance Act, parties that retain a specific number of
parliamentary representatives are entitled to government grants. The ruling
party and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been the
beneficiaries under provisions of the Act.The Central Committee report in
possession of The Standard reveals that the ruling party had a staggering
$100 billion budget this year for running its day-to-day activities and
hosting various political party events.The report reads in part: "The party
received a government grant which is accessed through the Political Parties
(Finances) Act. This year alone, the party received its portion of $3.380
billion while in 2004 the party was allocated $306 million. Given the
inflationary spiral experienced, it is recommended that the government
consider increasing its grant."The recommendation, likely to be effected
early next year, comes at a time when the party has not even exhausted half
of the grant, according to the Central Committee report. The report says
that only $47 billion had been used for various activities. It does not
include the billions gobbled up by the recent Zanu PF annual people's
conference.The report shows that Zanu PF members who are not buying
membership cards or paying subscription fees continue to dishearten the
Central Committee.According to the report, hundreds of party members have
this year alone deprived the party of close to $24 billion in subscription
fees.The Central Committee report reveals that Zanu PF was looking at
realising $26.4 billion had all the cards been bought and subscriptions paid
by 30 October. Reads part of the report: "Despite the increases in the
revenue, the (party finance) department is disheartened by the rates at
which membership cards are selling since the launch in October."The total
revenue received from all stands at $2.5 billion out of the expected $26.4
billion had all cards been bought and fully subscribed for by 30 October
2005."Contacted for comment, David Karimanzira, the party's Secretary for
Finance, refused to comment saying the report was confidential and not for
public consumption."I can't comment on that. It is a confidential document
and its contents are not for public consumption," Karimanzira said.

National University of Science and Technology (NUST) economist, Oscar
Chiwira said the demands for a review of the grant by Zanu PF were draining
government coffers.

Chiwira said: "For Zanu PF to be asking for money when we are advocating for
fiscal discipline does not help the economy at all. The money will be used
for consumption and political expenditure at the expense of capital
expenditure. There are many priority sectors that need more money than
political parties."

Economic commentator, Eric Bloch said: "It is a cost to the fiscus. Of
course, the law allows political parties to get grants in proportion to
their members in Parliament but it is all a cost to expenditure that is paid
by taxpayers' money."

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War veteran slams government over 'broken promises'

Zim Standard

By Gibbs Dube

BULAWAYO - A war veteran has slammed the government for failing to provide
agricultural inputs to resettled farmers in occupied farms in Chief Sigola's
area saying the land reforms were not being properly implemented, resulting
in reduced food production in Zimbabwe.

The ex-Zipra combatant, John Hungwe-Magwaza - representing more than 40
families who forcibly occupied the once productive Spring and Alder farms,
about 22 kilometres north-east of Bulawayo - said the government had made
empty promises during the past five years leading to low crop production in
the area.
"We have no agricultural implements to till the land and to make matters
worse we have not yet received seed maize to start planting our crops. It is
pathetic that some regions like Mashonaland West are getting all the inputs
while we are failing to access the same state facilities," said

He said that when they occupied the two farms they believed that it was a
genuine cause meant to empower the less privileged black majority but they
were concerned that they were unable to access agricultural inputs for crop
production and livestock rearing.

"This is the major reason why food stocks have diminished. We have failed to
till the land because of the government's empty promises on agricultural
inputs," he said.

Hungwe-Magwaza, who stays at the Spring Farm House after forcing the then
white owner to leave in 2000, said occupants of the two farms were surprised
that tractors from the District Development Fund (DDF) allocated to them had
not materialised.

He said although lack of fuel could have contributed to the shortage of
draught power, the government should have "at least hired tractors from
various companies in and around Bulawayo for us to till the land".

He noted that most settlers at the two farms were no longer engaged in
animal and crop production, opting to venture into gold panning and brewing
illicit beer in order to make ends meet.

His attack on the government comes at a time when the ruling party recently
admitted at its annual conference held in Esigodini that farmers are
struggling to access agricultural inputs resulting in lack of meaningful
production on occupied farms.

A detailed report on Land and Land Reform presented at the conference by
President Robert Mugabe indicates that the land reform programme had been
crippled by lack of agricultural inputs, multiple farm ownership, the
depletion of natural resources on occupied farms and rampant vandalism of
farm implements by new farmers.

The land audit report - conducted on 1 174 farms by the Ministry of Lands,
Land Reform and Resettlement - raised questions about the authenticity of
the land reform programme which started in 2000 and was spearheaded by war
veterans and supporters of the ruling party.

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Zinasu urges travel ban on MDC rebels

Zim Standard

By our staff

THE Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) has petitioned the European
Union (EU) to include the names of MDC pro-Senate faction leaders on its
travel sanctions list, claiming that they are working in cahoots with Zanu
PF to destroy the opposition.

The EU has slapped sanctions on several government and Zanu PF officials
accused of undermining democracy in Zimbabwe. Prominent among these is
President Robert Mugabe who has been banned from travelling to Europe.
In a letter written to, Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, whose
country holds the EU Presidency, the studentsí union demanded an immediate
inclusion of Professor Welshman Ncube, the party secretary general, vice
president Gibson Sibanda, Gift Chimanikire, Paul Themba-Nyathi, Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Fletcher Dulini-Ncube and Getrude Stevenson.

The letter was copied to South Africa President Thabo Mbeki, African Union
chairperson and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and the SADC
chairperson, Festus Mogae, who is the President of Botswana.

The students accuse the pro-Senate faction of working with Mugabe's regime
to derail a process aimed at removing Zanu PF from the government.

Themba-Nyathi yesterday dismissed the move by ZINASU as utter rubbish and an
act of immaturity.

He said: "What do you expect from misguided and immature youths who don't
know the enemy of the party? It is up to the EU to decide who to put on
their list. Actually they will laugh at them. The EU cannot include us on
the list for the sole reason that we participated in the elections. It will
then mean all the MDC MPs and mayors will also be included because they
participated in previous elections."

The students body claimed that the pro-Senate faction was becoming a threat
to opposition politics and democracy in the country.

"These misguided opposition members are now behaving in the same way with
the government and Zanu PF officials. They are now using the State's
oppressive institutions like the partisan courts, where judges are appointed
by none other than Mugabe himself to win their cases, not against their
party leader Morgan Tsvangirai but against the people of Zimbabwe", reads
the petition.

The students say they were astonished by the coverage the pro-Senate faction
was getting from media organisations which favour the ruling party.

"This then stands to reason that there is no longer any difference between
the ruling party members and these members of MDC. Mr Chairman all what we
want is a more productive and robust political culture that can ensure that
the interests of every Zimbabwean are served," said the letter.

The move by Zinasu is likely to add a new dimension to the MDC circus. The
students body is among civic bodies that joined the labour movement to form
the MDC. Members of the opposition like anti-Senate spokesperson, Nelson
Chamisa, the late Learnmore Jongwe, Tendai Biti, among others were formers
student activists.

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I am ready for Tsvangirai, says Ari Ben-Menashe

Zim Standard

By Foster Dongozi, recently in Montreal, Canada

ARI Ben-Menashe, the Canadian "consultant" accused of framing MDC president,
Morgan Tsvangirai into making treasonous statements, says he is not worried
by the US$5 million lawsuit that the opposition leader has filed against him
in Canadian courts.

Tsvangirai is suing Menashe after he was cleared of treason charges in which
the Canadian was the government's star witness.
His company, Dickens and Madsons, was at the centre of the treason trial in
which Tsvangirai was accused of making a request to have President Robert
Mugabe assassinated during a meeting which Ben-Menashe secretly filmed in
London in December 2001.

The treason charges were thrown out in 2003 after Ben-Menashe was described
as an unreliable witness.

Ben-Menashe has been described as a former spy, retired arms dealer and
commodity broker.

He was born in Iraq and educated in Israel.

The Standard last week tracked Menashe to his lair in Montreal, Canada,
where he spoke to this newspaper.

"Mr Tsvangirai can sue or do anything that he wants but I am prepared to
defend myself," Ben-Menashe said before breaking into peals of laughter.

Ben Menashe who "earned" huge sums of money from the MDC and the government
during the period said: "Tsvangirai has no hope of winning that lawsuit. I
have overwhelming evidence including the recordings I made of him in London.
I am ready for him."

The first contacts between the MDC and Ben-Menashe were made through Renson
Gasela and subsequently Professor Welshman Ncube, before Tsvangirai came
into the picture.

On allegations made by members of the Tsvangirai camp that he was hired to
destroy the MDC president's credibility, Ben-Menashe again burst out in

"No, no, no. That is ridiculous; that is not true. The MDC leadership
through Renson Gasela approached me to do consultancy work for them through
Rupert Johnson, a colleague. "There was never anything said about destroying
Tsvangirai's credibility," Ben-Menashe said.

"I know that is what some people are saying in Zimbabwe but that is not
true," said the hard-to-believe Ben-Menashe.

Gasela confirmed making the first overtures towards Johnson but said
Tsvangirai had attended subsequent meetings with Ben-Menashe alone.

Ben-Menashe said: "I initially refused to do work for the MDC because we had
done work for the Zimbabwean government but they said that did not present

He accused the opposition party of lacking sound leaders.

"The MDC is not a loyal party; a loyal party should be loyal to its

Ncube said: "One would have to be particularly dumb to believe that we would
have to go through a treason trial in order to have Tsvangirai trapped. In
any case, all the evidence was ventilated in court and the sum total is that
we were all conned by Ben-Menashe."

Ben-Menashe, who has been accused of conning governments in Africa and other
parts of the world, flatly denied suggestions he was a conman.

"That is absolute nonsense, that is not true, no please, please no,"
Ben-Menashe said before terminating the interview.

In Canada Ben-Menashe is back in controversy.

Albury Grain Sales, where he is the chief operating officer, is accused of
promising to ship soya beans to Uzbekistan after being paid a deposit of
US$336 000.

The beans never materialized, but Ben-Menashe accused the country of
defaulting on its payments.

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Zinatha man faces jail in UK

Zim Standard

LONDON - A Zimbabwean traditional healer and spirit medium who refused to
provide a blood specimen for testing after being suspected of drink-driving
faces jail after having an acquittal reversed by the British High Court.

In what was described as a bizarre case, Nyararia Mukandiwa, from Dalton,
Huddersfield, had earlier escaped conviction at a magistrates' court after
saying he could not give blood for spiritual reasons.
He was described in court as a licensed traditional healer from Zimbabwe,
registered with the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association, known
as Zinatha.

He also said he was a spirit medium, known as a Mhondoro, and considered
himself possessed by spirits, and therefore had to avoid situations that
unexpectedly drove him into a trance.

Professor Richard Werbner, of African Anthropology at Manchester University,
had given expert evidence on behalf of the 33-year-old at Huddersfield
Magistrates' Court that the sight of a corpse, extreme anger and the
spilling of blood could all send him into a trance that could result in
violence to himself or the police.

District Judge Bennett ruled in September 2004 while sitting at Dewsbury
Magistrates' Court that Mukandiwa's spirit medium role meant there could be
a risk to health if required to give blood.

That was a reasonable excuse for him not providing a blood sample under the
1988 Road Traffic Act, said the judge, and refused to convict him.

Justice Bennett said: "I was satisfied that this man's fear of giving blood
related to his going into a trance and the consequences for the police, who
would not know how to respond to the situation, with which they would be
totally unfamiliar".

But in November, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) appealed to the
High Court, and two senior judges ruled there were "fatal flaws" in Justice
Bennett's decision and Mukandiwa must be convicted.

During the two-hour hearing, Lord Justice Scott Baker, sitting with Justice
Newman, observed: "The district judge seems to have got mesmerised in this

The alleged risk of blood causing a trance could easily have been avoided by
Mukandiwa shutting his eyes or looking away, said the Lord Justice Baker.

The evidence was that it was the spilling of blood which was the problem and
might cause a risk to health. There was no finding that the sight of it was
a problem.

Lord Justice Baker added: "Even if he went into a trance, the district judge
conducted no real analysis of the likely consequences, other than concluding
Mukandiwa might be violent to himself or others.

"It seems to me to be a far cry from the evidence shown that to give a
sample would entail a substantial risk to Mukandiwa's health".

The judge described how Mukandiwa was stopped by a police patrol after his
Peugeot car strayed across a white line in February 2004 on a Hudders field

At first the police gave him the benefit of the doubt over drink-driving
because a breath-testing kit was not available.

But he was arrested and taken to Castlegate police station because, as he
went to drive off, he clipped the central reservation.

He was asked to give blood after he failed, through medical reasons, to
complete a breath test at the station.

He replied: "I can't give blood for spiritual reasons." He was subsequently

Allowing the DPP's appeal, Lord Justice Baker said the High Court had also
been asked to consider whether the police should have been obliged to
require the healer to provide a sample of urine, not blood.

But that issue never arose in the magistrates' court and it was too late to
raise it now -- PA

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No respite in sight for struggling Zimbabweans

Zim Standard

By our staff

RESPECTED economist Eric Bloch has projected that a sharp rise in inflation
in the first six months of 2006, in what could result in more hardships for
ordinary Zimbabweans struggling to survive under difficult circumstances.

Bloch said he expected inflation, which hit the 500 percent mark in November
to go up by between 40 and 50 percent.
Dr Bloch said: "We should expect a massive increase in the rate of inflation
due to the fact that people will soon be paying newly hiked school fees for
their children, new local authority tariffs and increased electricity

"To make matters worse, we expect a revised exchange rate to have a
significant impact on the economy resulting in serious foreign currency

"Inflation will be expected to increase by between 40 and 50 percent,
leading to the hiking of prices of basic commodities."

He said the situation was expected to improve in the last six months of the
year if there was a good crop harvest and controlled government expenditure.

"A stabilised exchange rate may lead to significant improvement in foreign
currency inflows. This may ultimately lead to a decline in the rate of
inflation in the last six months of the year. If this situation prevails,
foreign currency may be used for servicing critical areas instead of
importing grain," he said.

Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
said life would even be more difficult for workers next year.

"Government has no clue, neither has it any plans to solve the situation. As
workers, we have already put plans of exerting more pressure on government.
It would be action, action, and more action from labour," said Matombo.

Despite this gloomy scenario, Zimbabweans whose homes were destroyed during
"Operation Murambatsvina" wished that the year 2006 would be a turning point
for the country, once considered Africa's bread basket.

"I hope that most people who were affected by 'Operation Murambatsvina' will
get the houses they were promised by the government. Right now I stay in a
shack near Richmond Dumpsite thinking of what life has in store for my
family. I am poor and homeless . The government should do something for us,"
said Esnath Ngwenya, a shack dweller at Ngozi Mine.

Ngwenya was affected by "Operation Murambatsvina" but has since gone back to
the illegal settlement after government failed to provide decent
accommodation for her family of six.

For Senzeni Nyathi, a vendor, life on the streets of Bulawayo has been tough
throughout the year as she has been playing hide and seek with the police
and municipal security personnel.

"I hope that the situation will improve next year with vendors allowed to
sell their wares without being harassed by state security agents and
municipal police," Nyathi said.

Such sentiments were also expressed by vendors in Harare who have been
harassed by recruits from the National Youth Service, employed by the city
council.In areas such as Chitungwiza, Kuwadzana, Glen View, residents wished
if the city council would address the sewage and water crisis.

The residents have in the past few months been left with no option but to
stay in houses with blocked sewer pipes and raw sewage flowing through their

While many were pessimistic that their plight will improve next year unless
a political settlement was reached Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), there were other people who felt things might be
better next year.

The vice president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC),
Obert Sibanda, said although no significant business growth was expected
next year, there were high hopes that the government would tackle high
inflation and other related economic ills which have bedevilled the country.

Sibanda said: "We hope that the government will implement fiscal policies as
pronounced by the Ministry of Finance so that they tackle inflation,
shortages of fuel, the free fall of the Zimbabwe dollar and various economic
problems. It is important for government to implement its ambitious fiscal
policies so that market forces determine prices of all commodities.

"At the same time, we believe that the country's exchange rate will also be
determined by market forces. This will ensure that we have foreign currency
inflows that may, in the long run, result in an improved socio-economic

Pastor Patson Netha of Churches in Bulawayo, a non-governmental organisation
comprising over 150 pastors in Matabeleland, said Zimbabwe's problems would
come to an end if all stakeholders were prepared to work together and map
the way forward in order to improve citizens' standards of living.

"Our future lies in our hands as we cannot be seen to be fighting while
people are suffering," Pastor Netha said.

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Zanu PF thugs snatch food from PLWAs

Zim Standard

By our staff

MORE than 100 people living with HIV and Aids and orphans in Harare's
Sunningdale suburb had their food packs confiscated recently by senior Zanu
PF officials and supporters.

Sunningdale falls under Harare South Constituency.
The people living with HIV and Aids say they were accused of being
supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change, who were not supposed to
benefit from any government initiatives.

The incident happened just as organisations fighting the spread of HIV and
Aids were completing a petition to President Robert Mugabe urging him to
ensure his government treats the HIV and Aids pandemic seriously.

The food packs comprised maize-meal, mahewu/amahewu, peanut butter, and
other groceries which had been sent to the area by the National Aids Council
as part of its efforts to cushion people living with HIV and Aids.

Some of the people who lost their food to the Zanu PF supporters include
orphans whose parents died of HIV and Aids related diseases and some elderly

NAC has in the past been accused of succumbing to the demands of the ruling
party in politicising AIDS funds by ensuring that they flow towards the
coffers of the ruling party.

Speaking on condition they were not named, members of the Thembinkosi
Support Group based in Sunningdale said the NAC was supposed to deliver food
to them.

"Officials at the NAC offices said they did not have fuel to deliver food to
Sunningdale and urged us to find our own transport. Senior Zanu PF officials
then went and grabbed the food and distributed the food packs to their
supporters and used the occasion to urge people to vote for Zanu PF
candidate, Vivian Mwashita in the Senate election," said a resident living
with HIV and Aids in Sunningdale. Mwashita went on to win in the 26 November
Senate elections.

The people living with HIV and Aids said they had lodged a complaint with
NAC, through their co-ordinator, only identified as Chigondo.

Madeline Dube, the NAC communications manager, said: "I am not aware of the
incident; I would need to check before I get back to you."

Elliot Manyika, the Zanu PF national commissar said the allegations were
mere gossip.

"Why do you listen to gossip? Does your newspaper rely on gossip and

When The Standard pointed out that it had spoken to the victims, Manyika
retorted: "That cannot happen because the government introduced the AIDS

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Let's have the courage to do what's right

Zim Standard

ZIMBABWEANS are now driven only by hope. Their dreams, right now, are
propelled by the belief that the New Year can only hold out better prospects
than the past six years that have witnessed a dramatic turn for worse in the
fortunes of a nation for which the region, continent and the world at large
held so much hope.

We are sustained by hope even though there are increasing indications
pointing to a gradual villagisation of our communities. Major cities of
Bulawayo, Chitungwiza and Harare offer startling evidence of rapid decline
in service delivery - the result of sustained neglect.
We live dreams powered by hope. Two years ago Zimbabweans believed a winter
maize crop would provide the panacea to the nation's dwindling capacity for
food self sufficiency. Zimbabwe's optimism infected neighbouring states,
which despatched delegates to marvel and seek knowledge from Zimbabwe's
fountain of ingenuity in the face of hardships.

Today, no one talks about the project any more even though estimates put the
number of Zimbabweans in need of food aid at between three and five
million - only second to Malawi in the vulnerability of its population
because of serious food shortages.

Since October 1999 Zimbabweans have been sustained by hope that the
country's fuel crisis could not get any worse. But seven years on it is hard
to find anyone still optimistic of a speedier resolution to the crisis.

As if to celebrate our gullibility the government decides it has found the
final solution to the fuel crisis; Its panacea is a shrub-like plant that
for long has been used as a perimeter fence by many rural communities.

But we are too easily misled. The propagation of the Jatropha plant will
require a massive operation to produce the kind of quantities that would
provide adequate fuel for national requirements. As things stand this can
not be an overnight wonder. It would require enormous investment into
extraction and refining plants scattered throughout the country. We marvel
at the employment creation capacity, the empowerment it might create for
rural communities and the foreign currency savings it will translate into as
Zimbabwe will no longer require buying expensive fuel on the world market.

Yet, what we find astonishing is that, given the sharp minds this country
has produced, many of them in government, no one has stopped to question why
we should be embarking on this massive investment when less than three
decades ago this country produced ethanol, which lessened the country's
dependency on fuel imports.

The technology and skills are still available and the plant would require
far less investment to refurbish and bring to operating condition instead of
a totally new investment in uncharted waters.

Too often, the problem with this country is that people promote projects not
necessarily because they will work, but because they will create instant
wealth for them. It is possible that someone is already eyeing a contract to
put up the plant. Where a foreign partner is involved there is the prospect
of claiming commission, then there is the mass provision of the Jatropha
seeds and contract to move the harvest to designated plants or points.

Industry has been the major disappointment in this country. It has not
provided the much required leadership out of the predicament Zimbabwe finds
itself in. Rather it has tended to believe that this is a function of the
government. The function of government should be to provide an enabling
environment for industry to meet the nation's requirements. Perhaps the
effect of the flight of most of Zimbabwe's business skills is beginning to

It is time those with influence and access to government started engaging
policy makers on a serious level - not more useless workshops - so that
Zimbabwe can reassess the course it has chosen.

It is frightening that the government can deliberately pick a quarrel with
the United Nations over a model house that the government claims is
incomplete and unfit for people, when in Chinhoyi, for example, the
government has decided to hand over uncompleted houses to "beneficiaries" of
"Operation Garikai" so that the new owners can complete construction using
their own resources and at their own pace.

Is it possible that the estimated one million victims of "Operation
Murambatsvina" would agree with the government that they should not be
handed the UN/government model houses in preference to the hovels they now

For far too long we have feared to remind the government to do the right
things, preferring political correctness. In the process we have been
victims of our cruel master - hope.

For once in 2006 let's have the courage to remind the government to do
what's right for the nation and not for the few in the ruling party.

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Greedy politicians take God hostage

Zim Standard

weekendopinion By Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem

CHIRISTMAS is upon us again with all the attendant spirituality, religiosity
but more pronouncedly, the banalities of blatant vulgar commercialism that
isemptying the season of any religious or spiritual meaning.

How is it that the celebration of the humble birth of a carpenter's son in a
tent no more salubrious than a manger is now taken over by multi-billion
dollar consumer industry with no more interest in your spiritual revival
than the profits they can fleece from your pockets?
Christmas is not the only religious occasion that has been commercialized.
The Muslim fast in the holiest of holy months of Islam, Ramadan, that is
supposed to bring believers in the Muslim faith closer to Allah and their
fellow human beings especially those less well-off, has become themost
expensive month in many Muslim families and communities and a whole month of
gratuitous consumption with an even more ostentatious end.

The Muslims seem to be trying to out do their Christian counterparts in
trying to commodify and commercialise their Eid.It is not just the religious
festivals alone that have been taken over by commercialism. The temples,
Mosques, Churches and other places of worship have not been spared.

Indeed Religion as a whole has become a terrain for those in power and
control of society to justify their economic, political and
ideologicalhegemony over the less privileged, the poor and the powerless.
Just look around you and see how many religious leaders are living in
opulence while their congregations are emaciated by poverty, want and

The more churches and mosques we build the less Godly our societies become.
If you look at the construction boom in many African countries their main
catalysts are either public and private money launderers or religious
communities building houses for God who does not need it on the backs of
their followers who are homeless or leaving in houses not fit for a
manger!It will seem that God only hears the prayers of the founder or
leaders of the church not that of the groaning mass of followers. Or are we
witnessing what Marxists call "opium of the masses"? The late Afro beat
King, Fela Kuti popularised this in one of his more popular songs as
"Archbishop na Miliki, Pope na enjoyment, Imam na Gbaladun" (meaning the
Archbishop,the Pope and the Imam are enjoying themselves) while their
congregations are "suffering and smiling". There is no place where this
manipulation of religion is more pronounced than in our public spaces.
People in power appropriate God and organise religion to justify their rule
and misrule. People who are in office as a result of mass bribery of the
electorate and pervasive rigging say: "Its God's will".

If God wants you as president, MP, mayor or councillor why must he do it
through rigging? They use and abuse their public positions to
amassstupendous wealth and claim its "God's blessings". Why is God blessing
those who are taking from those who do not have, people who are denying the
masses drugs in their hospitals, schools for their children and goodroads to
walk God's earth?

Have you noticed how many "born again" Presidents and First Ladies we have
across the continent of Africa? Yet can we say there is any Godliness in
their behaviour in office? They are putting God to the service of their
secular greed.Governor Alameisigha of one of Nigeria's Oil-producing states
who recently jumped bail in London on money laundering charges and now
impeached and awaiting trial for massive corruption in Abuja arrived home
shamelessly proclaiming that it was by "God's miracle" that he escaped from
London dressed as a woman! Which God was aiding him other than the
incompetence of the British police and intelligence service who did notsee
him escaping and the reciprocal incompetence of their Nigerian counterparts
who did not spot him on arrival?

Too many things are put on God because this omnipresent and omniscient Being
has no defence lawyers. He does not talk in His own defence and hasno
instant rebuttal department. Therefore He is open to abuse, misuse, and
subversion. For instance no African leader will say that God told him (or
her, now that Ellen Serlief-Johnson of Liberia will join the Club) to go to
the IMF or World Bank or any other foreigners and foreign institutions to
whom they pawn the national economy. However when it comes to themremaining
in office in perpetuity they concoct conversations with Godand their
unfinished "missions" on His behalf as excuses for not leaving power.

A courageous priest recently reminded his congregation in Abuja during
aState House sponsored end of year service there are things people want to
hear and there are things God wants people to hear. He chose to give God's
message rather than dance to the tune from those wishing President Olusegun
Obasanjo to do a Yoweri Museveni. There were contorted facesand feigned
indifference but the priest spoke for God in the presence of Caesar.

In this yuletide season, amidst all the festivities and crash commercialism,
we need priests, religious leaders and public intellectuals who are able to
speak the truth to those in power and encourage their flocks to do the same
and stop God's house of worship from becoming a den of thieves, charlatans,
opportunists, exploiters and oppressors.When you attend Church services this
weekend ask yourself a few questions: Am I here for God? Is my pastor
serving God or serving himself/herself? Or worse still, is he putting God at
the service of those in power? Merry Christmas!

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Time up for new forms of struggle

Zim Standard

weekendopinion By Takura Zhangazha

THE Senate election, scarcely legitimised by the Zimbabwean population if
the 19 percent voter turn-out is anything to go by, has now begun to have
the added misfortune of being misread both within the ranks of the ruling
party, opposition and non-governmental organizations.

Within the leadership wrangles of the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change there have been two dimensions to the aftermath of the
debacle. The first being that the extremely low voter-turn out is evidence
of the Zimbabwean people's recognition of the decision by the party's
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to call for a boycott of the elections. The
second, and emerging from those within the party's leadership that actively
campaigned for a few candidates in the election and defied their president,
regards the handful seats won especially in the south of the country as
being indicative of the potential lack of legitimacy of their leader and
therefore an indictment on his national leadership credentials.
For Zanu PF on the other hand, the grumbling about the necessity of a Senate
will be dying down now, as the latter's role in keeping its hegemony alive
and kicking, albeit with the assistance of what are clearly partisan
security arms of the state becomes more apparent and etches its way into a
reluctant but complicit national consciousness.

For the non-governmental organizations, there is evidently a strategic
quandary about how to proceed from here, in pursuit of democratic
government. The talk herein has been centred on the establishment of a new
"united front" or other forms of coalitions that can take the centre stage
in establishing "people power" in the form of "social movements" with the
issue of constitutional reform maintaining a somewhat central role in the
accompanying political discourse. I am of the view that the issue of the
Senate elections and the furore it created within the aforementioned
components of Zimbabwean society are somewhat hazy and miss the true
dynamics of Zimbabwean politics from an essential perspective that I shall
examine in slight detail. The first being that politics and political
activity in Zimbabwe is no longer an ingrained part of Zimbabwean national
consciousness in the strict sense of the term. Politics as practiced in the
ruling party, opposition political parties and civil society has become a
separate entity from the everyday lives of Zimbabweans. It has ceased to be
interactive and as such does not address the new culture of Zimbabwean
existence that has been engendered by years of repressive rule.

This is evident in a number of respects. The ruling Zanu PF party has now
evidently become an organization that citizens no longer adhere to on the
basis of political principle but on the basis of patronage and the greasing
of palms or when it comes to the lower echelons of society, for the strict
purposes of survival amidst a surfeit or heinous operations such as
"Operation Murambatsvina". The buying of a Zanu PF membership cards and
attending a rally of the same can be the equivalent of buying a recharge
card for use with a mobile phone or being part of a burial society out of
fear of the phenomenal expenses that a funeral might bring one's way. No
more and no less.

In such a theatre, the singing of songs and sloganeering is done simply to
keep within the circles of access to necessities rather than the maintenance
of ideological positioning or principle. Zanu PF has become external to the
people, occasionally invading their space through repressive actions with
people recovering in order to reposition their lives in the interests of
survival, by re-buying a Zanu PF membership card or attempting to prove
loyal to that party in order to prevent further calamity. Zanu PF's
"victory" in the Senate elections and all its previous "victories" have been
devoid of the people's mandate and are symptomatic of a population that
merely negotiates with power that is actually beyond it.

Support for Zanu PF, where it exists, is merely a testimony to how distinct
that party is from the people and the people are from it. In their eyes,
Zanu PF is a party beyond them in terms of decision-making, but where
rallies, election campaigns are held for the people to join in for the
benefits associated with it or else ignore it completely, while awaiting the
next catastrophe to be visited upon them in the form of poverty-deepening
policies such as a budget announcement or the dismissal of an elected city
council. The opposition, on the other hand has demonstrated an increasing
incapacity to understand the nature of the Zimbabwean political psyche
through the manner in which it is handling its Senate election differences.
The name-calling has not stopped; neither have the physical and legal
squabbles about a forthcoming congress. This very public squabble, perhaps
now unavoidable as it is, leaves the public with a sour taste in the mouth
about politics in Zimbabwe because it is projected largely as a "them" and
"us" scenario.

It is the leadership that is viewed as fighting, and the public is not sure
why they are doing so and the more they fight the more they lose sight of
the national psyche. In some sections of the populace, the MDC squabbling is
viewed as entertainment, with people querying what the next move of such and
such a faction is. When the people begin to view a party as entertaining it
means it is becoming devoid of meaning to them, it is no longer a critical
part of their options for survival. In this sense, the distinction or
separation of the MDC from the national psyche has been created by the
failure to provide alternative forms of resistance to a repressive state.
The opposition, in its ascendancy, somehow got de-linked from processes of
struggle that create a conscious populace that is willing to fight on the
basis not just of bread and butter issues but principle and ideological

On paper, what the opposition promised to the people of Zimbabwe prior to
the 2000 parliamentary campaign was accepted as "progressive" in so far as
it sought to redress at governmental level, the bad economy and the issues
of bad governance practised by Zanu PF.

What it might have missed out on, however, is that politics of resistance
are not constructed in a narrow sense as being only about institutions of
power that is parliament, government and the security services. They come
wholesale with the creation of an alternative political culture and creation
of self-reliance in areas where resistance is strongest. This involves the
largesse of political scheming at the minutest levels of the party, the
narration of a much more people centred history vis-à-vis that based on
individuals as told by Zanu PF. But until the MDC congress (es) occurs, the
party will be losing valuable time and continuing on the unenviable path
divergent from its actual task of constructing a new Zimbabwe. Civil
society, in the aftermath of the senate election as well as in the midst of
the MDC internal disagreements has been re-focusing its activities around
issues familiar to the common person either in the form of the
constitutional reform agenda, labour rights and demands, gender equality and
issues around HIV and AIDS. This "familiarity" is beginning to create a gulf
between the public and the NGO's in the sense that the issues have been in
the public arena for a number of years and progress seems to be minimal. And
where actions such as demonstrations or big campaigns are undertaken, the
public allocates itself observer status precisely because it does not quite
know how to suddenly wake up and be a part of an action not linked to their
everyday existence or an action that has the characteristic of bringing
short lived victories without actually articulating an organic vision of the
purported action. Moreover, the culture around actions tends to reproduce
the Zanu PF myth that it is only by apparent confrontation that the struggle
can be waged.

There is need for civil society to stop showcasing and get on with the
actual business of creating viable alternatives of struggle. It is one thing
to be committed and consistent; it is another to be stubborn and couched in
a singular mindset of how the struggle should be waged.

There is further need to de-construct the big themes around which civil
society has been operating. Themes like "democratization", "civic
education," "home-based care", "anti-globalization", "constitutional reform"
whether spoken in local languages or as is, have not changed the manner in
which the people attempt to understand them.

These themes are understood from the perspective of "the other", or in more
straightforward terms, as being possible but actually irrelevant to everyday
lives. The same can be said about the debates around how the MDC has lacked
a coherent ideology by civil society leaders and I emphasize the point,
whatever clearer ideology that emerges from the MDC, within the current
culture of politics in Zimbabwe, it will remain abstract to the people
because the issue is no longer about "themes" or "ideologies", it is now
about how to reclaim the people's committed attention and construct new
politics of resistance.In conclusion, I posit that there is need to re-think
the politics of resistance in Zimbabwe, especially on the part of those, who
like myself are strongly opposed to the dictatorial manner in which the Zanu
PF government is administering the country. Our politics of resistance now
need to breathe the voice of the people more articulately and begin to think
"small" in order to achieve "big". This would entail beginning to act first
on local issues or community grievances and creating alternatives forms of
survival for the people together with engendering a new form of
self-reliance (economic, social and political) in order to de-legitimate
Zanu PF's attempts at patronage. This will serve to construct a new type of
legitimacy beyond a political rally or a demonstration held in a city
centre, legitimacy based on the inclinations of the people over and above
central committees or national councils

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