The ZIMBABWE Situation
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‘We want to transform Zim into functional nation’

by Charles Tembo Wednesday 02 December 2009

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s economy will grow by 4.7 percent this year with growth
expected to quicken to 7 percent in 2010, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said
on Wednesday.

The battered economy that had been in free fall since 2000 and only
stabilised following formation of a power-sharing government by President
Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai 10 months ago had
initially been projected to grow by 3.7 percent in 2009.

Presenting a US$2.25 billion budget to Parliament – the coalition government’s
first full budget – Biti said: "In 2010 we are working on the assumption
that the GDP will grow by 7 percent.”

Summing up the guiding principle behind his budget Biti, who is secretary
general of Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party, said he hoped to transform the
crisis-sapped country into a “vibrant, democratic, prosperous and functional
nation underpinned by the values of social justice and equality.”

The Finance Minister said the economy which was originally set to grow by
3.7 percent would grow by 4.7 percent in 2009, compared to a negative 10
percent in 2008 and attributed the better-than-expected performance of the
economy to improved performance in the mainstay agricultural sector which
grow by 10 percent this year.

The agricultural sector had previously declined by a cumulative -85.7
percent since 2002, owing to a devastating combination of erratic weather
and Mugabe’s chaotic land reforms that destabilised the key sector.

Biti said mining was expected to grow by two percent this year and 40
percent in 2010 compared to a decline of -22.1 percent in 2008.
Manufacturing is expected to grow by eight percent in 2009, following
cumulative decline of -91.1 percent.

Turning to agriculture, Biti said the government was expecting more than 1.5
million hectares to be put under maize, wheat and other staple grains in the
2010/2011 season.

The tobacco target for 2010/2011 is set at 75 000 hectares with a potential
yield of 200 million kilograms of the crop that is a major foreign currency
earner. Biti said to achieve the projected yields about US$600 million was
required in funding for growers which he said would be raised from the
private sector.

For the 2009/2010 season which is underway, Biti said the government was
looking to: “assist one million vulnerable rural households with crop input
packs comprising 10 kg maize/sorghum seed, 100kgs compound D and 100kgs
ammonium nitrate. Vulnerable small farmers will be assisted to the tune of
US$95.3 million.”

Biti, who announced a raft of tax cuts to stimulate consumer spending and
lighten the tax burden on corporates, said the budget would be jointly
financed from revenue raised by the government and donors.

The Finance Minister projected government revenue at US$1.444 billion and
said the balance would be raised from donors and other funders.

As part of measures to increase public spending, the minister reduced tax
for workers, with the tax-free threshold now pegged at US$160. He introduced
a bonus tax-free threshold of US$400 with effect from November.

Zimbabweans importing vehicles would be paying less in duty. With effect
from 1 January next year, import duty for half tonne pick up trucks will
drop to 25 percent from 40 percent.

Vehicles with an engine capacity below 1 500cc will also attract duty of 25
percent, down from 40 percent, a welcome reprieve for car buyers in a
country where the motor industry is yet to recover after more than a decade
in comatose.

Biti slashed corporate tax by five percentage points to 25 percent and as a
further incentive to potential investors reduced transaction levies on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) to 3.21 percent from 7.5 percent.

To ensure a sustainable availability of basic commodities at a time when
local manufacturing companies are still struggling to meet demand, Biti
extended suspension of customs duty on basic commodities to 31 July 2010. –

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Zim talks facilitators present report to Zuma

by Simplicious Chirinda Thursday 03 December 2009

HARARE - South African officials facilitating Zimbabwe's power-sharing talks
on Wednesday presented to President Jacob Zuma a progress report on the
negotiations aimed at resolving problems rocking Harare's 10-month-old
coalition government.

The South African leader, who last month took over as the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) mediator on the Zimbabwean question from former
president Thabo Mbeki is now expected to visit Harare to try to push the
negotiation process forward.

A spokesperson for the facilitation team, Lindiwe Zulu who is also Zuma's
International Affairs Adviser, told ZimOnline yesterday that they had
presented a report of their findings during a one-day visit to Harare to

"We have presented a report of the findings of our visit to Harare to
President Zuma who will know how to proceed," said Zulu without disclosing
what the report contained. "We don't know yet if he will travel to Harare as
yet but we just had a mandate to play and that's what we have done."

Zuma appointed the three-member team just over a week ago to push for a
quick resolution of the power-sharing dispute threatening to derail the
Harare administration.

In addition to Zulu, other members of the team that on Monday met with
President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Premier
Arthur Mutambara and the negotiators, are Zuma's political adviser Charles
Nqakula and anti-apartheid struggle veteran Mac Maharaj.

A summit of SADC's special organ on defence and politics held last month in
Maputo, Mozambique 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).

Welshman Ncube, who is representing the MDC faction led by Mutambara
yesterday said the negotiations would resume today.

"We are resuming negotiations tomorrow (Thursday), we are progressing very
well and we will keep on negotiating," Ncube told ZimOnline. But after being
asked if they are making progress on the outstanding issues, he said, "I
think so."

Some of the outstanding issues that have threatened to destabilise the
coalition government 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. - ZimOnline

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‘New Zim constitution by December 2010’

by Simplicious Chirinda Thursday 03 December 2009

HARARE –  Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga on
Wednesday said the country would by this time next year have a new and
democratic constitution.

“If we cannot have a new constitution now then we can never have it,”
Matinenga told a meeting organized by the country’s civic groups to discuss
the constitution making process.

“I can tell you that by this time next year we will be celebrating a new
constitution,” he said.

Matinenga told the meeting that the violation of people’s rights that
currently prevails in the country will be a thing of the past, saying this
could only be stopped through the crafting of a democratic and people-driven

“This is not the Zimbabwe we want yet. There is selective arrest and
prosecution of citizens but this is not an issue that we can leave to the
security agents, all Zimbabweans must make sure that this comes to an end by
participating in the making of a new constitution,” he said.

Asked how the current wave of arrests can be ended, Matinenga said; “The
(ongoing) second round of political talks by political party negotiators are
to get to a stage where these issues shall be dealt with and make sure that
we are going to have relative peace and equality before the law.”

Despite Matinenga’s optimism, Zimbabwe’s constitution making process has
stalled on several occasions due to a myriad of problems starting with an
ill-fated all stakeholders constitutional conference which was disrupted by
President Robert Mugabe’s supporters early this year.

It was later successfully held but only a few of resolutions passed at the
conference have been implemented owing to a variety of problems, chief among
them a shortage of funds to pay for the constitution making exercise.

For example, a special parliamentary committee set up to lead the process
never had proper funding until recently when the government and donors
chipped in with funds.

According to a time table set under last year’s power-sharing pact or Global
Political Agreement (GPA) signed by the country’s three main political
parties, the constitutional reform exercise should have now been at the
public consultation stage, with outreach teams touring the country to gather
the views and ideas of citizens that they want included in the new
governance charter.

The committee has however since postponed the deployment of outreach teams
to next year.

One of the three co-chairpersons of the special parliamentary committee told
ZimOnline yesterday that they would rather have the process delayed than
producing a shoddy document.

“We would rather delay the process because we don’t want to repeat the
scenes of the All Stakeholders Conference which were caused by our poor
organisation,” said Paul Mangwana, who represents Mugabe’s ZANU PF party on
the committee.

In addition to funding shortages, sharp differences have also emerged
between the political parties over the writing of the new constitution that
threaten to derail the reform process.

ZANU PF has said any new constitution should be based on a draft
constitution secretly authored by the political parties on Lake Kariba and
known as the Kariba Draft.

However, civic organisations are opposed to it, saying the document leaves
largely untouched the wide-sweeping powers that Mugabe continues to enjoy
even after formation of a power-sharing government with Tsvangirai and
Deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara.

Under the GPA – the basis of the February unity government – the country is
supposed to have a new and democratic constitution in the next two years.
Once the constitution is in place, the power-sharing government is expected
to call fresh parliamentary, presidential and local government elections

Zimbabweans hope a new constitution will guarantee basic freedoms,
strengthen Parliament and limit the president’s immense powers. – ZimOnline

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RBZ bill watered down

Written by The Zimbabwean
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 07:24
HARARE - The Senate is moving to further water-down the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe Amendment Bill, passed by the House of Assembly and transmitted to
the upper house last week.
The RBZ Amendment bill, gazetted by the Minister of Finance Tendai Biti on
August 14 after Cabinet unanimously endorsed it, was first subjected to
scrutiny by Parliament's Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion as well as
the Public Accounts Committees before it was sent to the House of Assembly
last week, where it was passed with minor changes. The main aim of the bill
is to reform the central bank, including whittling down the wide-sweeping
powers of the central bank governor, Gideon Gono, who had assumed an
omnipotent role in the national economy.
The bill will slash the powers of the governor by installing an independent
chairperson and board. Zanu (PF) was whipping into line its Senate caucus to
have the Bill further amended to cover concerns that ostensibly emerged too
late to be raised when the Bill was before the House of Assembly, Paul
Mangwana, the Zanu (PF) caucus representative said. Mangwana said the Zanu
(PF) Senate caucus wanted the RBZ Board and not Biti to appoint members of
the audit and oversight committee that has been established under the bill.
A new section 29A introduces an audit committee whose members are the deputy
chairperson of the RBZ Board and two other persons appointed by the Finance
Minister outside the board. While the proposed establishment of the audit
committee is in line with international best practices on good governance,
and is meant to enhance the central bank's transparency and accountability,
the Senate, where President Mugabe's party has a working majority, buoyed
mainly by appointed senators and chiefs, has become the new battleground in
efforts to block Biti from further clipping Gono's wings.
The Senate reportedly wanted Section 29A (3) to be amended to provide that
the audit committee prepares reports to the board and not to the oversight
committee, further downgrading Biti's envisaged powers under the bill, which
Zanu (PF) claims will make the Finance minister too powerful, an assertion
rejected by Biti. Zanu (PF) managed to arm twist the MDC last week to agree
to offer an amnesty to Gono, but observers say it could be annulled if there
is concrete evidence of impropriety. Mangwana said the Senators were also
not happy with the clause that all the shares held by the Reserve Bank in
any company incorporated in Zimbabwe in which it has a majority shareholding
be seized by the State. Gono used these shelf companies to run his so-called
quasi-fiscal activities that crippled the economy by taking over functions
of the national treasury, including buying farming inputs and extending
financial support to government departments.
"The argument is that while the bank has been allowed to dispose of its
shares in any company in which it has a majority shareholding, it is being
directed to settle liabilities vis-ą-vis other commercial banks," Mangwana
said. "We would have preferred a wording that expands the settlement of
liabilities." RBZ has interests in Carslone Enterprises (mining); Fiscorp
(Pvt) Ltd, Homelink (Pvt) Ltd (property development) and the Export Credit
and Guarantee Company, all of them set to be seized by government. Mangwana
wants the State to inherit the staggering debts accrued by these companies
when it takes them over once the RBZ Amendment Bill becomes law. Biti's bill
proposes that the RBZ clears its debt obligations on these companies.
Even after the ongoing spirited attempts by the Zanu (PF) caucus to further
water down the bill, it still significantly puts a restraint on the Reserve
Bank's propensity to dabble in quasi-fiscal activities. The bill confines
the central bank to its core functions of setting monetary policy and
ensuring price stability, eliminating once and for all Gono's reckless
minting of cash that fuelled hyperinflation.

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Zanu (PF) caused untold suffering - WFP

Written by Itai Mabasa
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 12:58
HARARE - Zanu (PF) has caused untold suffering to the vulnerable children of
Mbuya Nehanda Children's Home following the invasion of the institution's
farm by war veterans, a World Food Program (WFP) representative said.
According to a report released by the WPF the institution started operating
as a children's home in 1997. At that time it was self-sufficient and
operating a number of lucrative projects. "We operated lucrative piggery,
poultry and cattle rearing. Crop production was also a major source of food
and income since we are sitting on a 12 hectare farm that was donated to the
first lady (Sally Mugabe) at the time by a white commercial farmer," reads
the report.
The haphazard Zanu (PF)-led land invasions and seizures are, however,
largely blamed for the deteriorating standards at the institution following
the looting of the institution's property by the war veterans and other Zanu
(PF) supporters. "Activities took a down-turn after the departure of the
British-born farm manager during the year 2000 land seizures. Production
ceased, farming equipment and animals were stolen and vandalized and
considerable donations stopped since the farm manager was also instrumental
in sourcing funding from donors," reads the report.
Responding to a question posed to the home's staff and residents by members
of the media on whether the area's political leadership has done anything to
alleviate the problem, the representative said they did not even know the
names of the area's members of both houses of assembly. The institution is
currently home to 115 residents, 44 females and 71 males, ranging in age
from four to 18. There are also more than 17 members of staff.

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ZRP – a weapon of repression

Written by The Zimbabwean
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 09:39
The inclusive government and all stakeholders must work tirelessly to
restore the integrity of the ZRP as a professional force, writes MORGEN
Zimbabwe’s security forces, particularly the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP),
have often and accurately been described as an appendage of the former
ruling Zanu (PF) party. Some critics have gone to the extent of labelling
Zimbabwe’s police force an extension of the Zanu (PF) youth league. Since
the formation of the MDC, the ZRP has on numerous occasions been abused by
President Robert Mugabe to perpetuate his despotic rule. In the process,
they have made clearly partisan decisions with regard to political
gatherings and arrests of perpetrators of political violence. he police
moved swiftly to arrest and bring to book seven MDC-T MPs on trumped up
charges including petty theft, abuse of agricultural inputs, rape and
possession of weapons of war.
In stark contrast was the high profile case of Joseph Mwale, head of CIO in
Chimanimani who murdered Kainos Tom “Kitsiyatota” Zimunya in front of
witnesses Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika in the run-up to the June 2000
elections. To date they have never been arrested. The recent arbitrary
shooting and injury of three Shabane Mine workers in a demonstration also
leaves a lot to be desired. They were shot simply because among their
leaders were MDC-T councillors. It is such selective application of the law
which has tarnished the image of the police force and reduced it to a weapon
of repression. The ZRP has abandoned its former professionalism and has
allowed itself to be manipulated to prop up Mugabe’s waning political
fortunes. The advent of the formation of an inclusive government in Zimbabwe
should usher in a new era for the police force in which it redresses its
shattered image, reorients its training programmes and embraces modern
information communication technology.
The inclusive government must restructure the training syllabus of ZRP. The
six months depot training is insufficient. The curriculum must be expanded
to include areas like human rights, democracy and the rule of law over and
above the legal knowledge taught at the depot. The recruits, as part of
their studies, should have time to receive lectures at the UZ Law School on
these subjects. They can also be attached to the POLAD department where they
will be taught comprehensive political ideologies. This will give them a
balanced appreciation of the political order of the day and an insight into
the need to maintain minimum human rights standards. Arrangements can also
be made for them to acquire comprehensive computer literacy skills in order
to equip them to cope with advanced modern technology.
Promotion to higher posts has largely been determined by one’s ability to
defend the aging regime. The Police Act must be amended to make it mandatory
that the post of Inspector and above be held by an individual with a
university degree from a recognized university, a person of integrity and no
political affiliation. After undertaking the expanded training, all officers
must be re-graded by the Public Service Commission. The entry point of which
must be at least equal to a teacher who holds a diploma for all non graduate
constables. The meagre salaries of US$150 must be increased to boost the
morale of the force and reduce cases of bribery and corruption.
The inclusive government must also seriously look into the housing needs of
the police force. It is a common sight to see senior police officers with
the rank of Assistant Inspector residing in wooden cabins. Those in urban
areas are now senior lodgers. Junior officers are not spared. Upon
graduation, they are allocated one room which serves as a kitchen, bedroom
and dining room. At Mwenezi Police Station there are no toilets at the
police camp and officers make “night visits” to the nearby bush
Our police force’s capacity can also be improved by equipping them not only
with skills but resources. Cases are rampant where police officers scrounge
for paper, pen and bond paper from other government departments. Some even
go to the extent of forking out their hard earned dollars to buy stationery
for the proper execution of their duties. - Morgen Kulare is the National
Research and Advocacy Officer for Youth of Zimbabwe for Transparency and
Progress (YZTP).

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Special deal for Zimbabweans beset by delays

Published: 2009/12/03 06:42:49 AM

THE proposed special dispensation for Zimbabwean migrants living in SA is
still on the cards but is bogged down in technical hitches and further held
up by the need for political approval.

Deputy Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba yesterday said the plan - under
which undocumented Zimbabwean migrants would get special status allowing
them to stay in SA for extended periods - was awaiting political endorsement
from the government.

"The special dispensation has gone through administrative processes and now
needs a political decision," Gigaba said at a media briefing in Pretoria
meant to highlight preparations ahead of tomorrow's draw for the 2010 Soccer
World Cup in Cape Town.

The special dispensation for Zimbabweans was mooted last year at the height
of the political and economic crisis that forced thousands from that country
to trek to SA, mainly in search of employment.

"We took the decision when we were under pressure and were trying to
alleviate the pressure both for the Zimbabwean immigrants who were in the
country as well as for the South African government, but implementing the
decision is a little bit more complex than taking it in the first instance,"
Gigaba said.

Questions that the department continued to grapple with included whether to
grant special status to Zimbabweans only - to the exclusion of other

Also unresolved was what rights the beneficiaries would have and the length
of time over which the dispensation would apply. "If it's two years, what
happens at the end? So you have to consider the repercussions that this
decision is going to have," Gigaba said.

He said home affairs was aware that getting buy-in on the decision to go
ahead would be difficult, hence it had adopted other immediate measures. It
was no longer government policy to deport Zimbabwean migrants, while a
90-day visa waiver was implemented early this year.

Zimbabweans fleeing economic collapse in their country had blurred the lines
between refugees and economic migrants throughout the region, Gigaba said.

Home affairs was consulting within SA on its decision to treat refugees
differently from economic migrants. Gigaba said that after a presentation
last week by Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma to the Congress
of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the union federation was "supportive
of that discussion".

Gigaba said tomorrow's World Cup draw was another milestone in ensuring SA's
readiness for the event. However, human trafficking remained among the major
worries, especially as the region had limited capacity and legislative

"We are worried that there is a lot of human trafficking to and from SA,
especially within our region," he said.

Attention would also be given to stemming human smuggling during the World
Cup. "The problem with human trafficking is that it doesn't only relate to
people who are being sent abroad, it also relates to children being
trafficked from one village to the big city," Gigaba said.

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Zimbabwean delegation praises Rwanda’s reconciliation drive
Thursday, 3rd December 2009

Youth representatives of ZANU-PF, MDCT and MDCM from Zimbabwe during their tour in Musanze (Photo B. Mukombozi)

MUSANZE - The leader of the visiting Zimbabwean delegation from the Ministry of Youth and Empowerment, has commended Rwanda’s reconciliation drive, saying it is a manifestation that Africans can solve their own problems. 

Zimbabwean Deputy Minister of Youth Development, Indignation and Empowerment, Thamsanqa Mahlangu, made the remarks yesterday after visiting ex-combatants at Mutobo Demobilisation Centre in Musanze district. 

The 14-member delegation is on a five-day tour to draw lessons from the reconciliation strategies and peace building initiatives. 

“Rwanda is now a beacon of hope in Africa, and it has proved that Africans should seek solutions to their own problems. This offers a big lesson to the people of Zimbabwe,’’ Mahlangu said. 

The delegation is composed of staff from youth ministry, members of the National Youth Council, and representatives of three political parties in Zimbabwe. 

Some of the ex-combatants who trekked up to Zimbabwe during the wars in DRC surprised the Zimbabweans when they sang a song in one of Zimbabwe’s local dialects.  

Later they visited students undergoing civic training at the Peace and Leadership Centre in Nkumba, Burera District.

Francis Potai, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Director of  the National Youth Services, noted that Rwanda’s reconciliation policies should make Africans proud.


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Tollgates rake in $3,5 million

Written by Gift Phiri
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 12:31
HARARE - Zimbabwe's new highway tax has raked in US$3,5 million for the
government, the finance minister has told Parliament.
In August this year, 22 tollgates were set up on all the country's major
highways, charging  motorists a fee to boost government coffers and help
rehabilitate the collapsing and dangerous road network. Light vehicles are
charged US$1 at the tollgates, manned by officials from tax collector
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, ZIMRA, and police officers. Buses pay US$3 and
lorries pay $5.
Speaking during a recent question and answer session in Parliament, finance
minister Tendai Biti said: "The money collected from tollgates as of last
Friday is US$3,5 million. The total is more than the equipment used to set
up these tollgates." Zimbabwe's road infrastructure is dotted with large
potholes, carriageway markings have faded, and road signs have been
vandalised or stolen, making driving a scary experience. Biti said
negotiations for the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Chirundu and
Bulawayo-Mutare roads were at an advanced stage, adding that this would
avoid delays at tollgates.
Much like the highways themselves, the infrastructure at the tollgates is
rudimentary, and cause frustrating delays for motorists. Officials collect
the tax and write receipts manually from desks placed in the middle of the
road. Prefabricated structures and tents at each toll station provide
shelter and portable toilets are pitched by the roadside for use by the tax
collectors.  Biti warned against corruption.
"I need to say that there should be methods to make sure that the tollgate
fees collection are more transparent," Biti said. "Cabinet should make sure
that leakages are minimised."

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Lots of Drugs, No Takers

By Vusumuzi Sifile

HARARE, Dec 2 (IPS) - Martha* knows that her two young sisters and her need
medicine. She also knows where to get it - a clinic a few yards away from
her home in Glen Norah, a high-density suburb in the Zimbabwean capital.

But she cannot get the life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). At 15,
the law prevents her from doing so. She can only access the drugs in the
company of an adult.

"When my mother died in 2007, my aunt used to collect the drugs for us. She
has since relocated to South Africa, and our other relatives say they are
too embarrassed to be seen collecting the drugs, people will think they are
now sick," said Martha.

Martha is among the estimated 158,798 children who are infected with HIV in

On November 24, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) released a
report that 100 children under 5 years of age die every day in Zimbabwe.
Most of these children die from HIV/AIDS related illnesses.

"Today and everyday in Zimbabwe 100 children below five years of age are
dying of mostly preventable diseases," said Dr Peter Salama, the UNICEF
country representative.

According to the National Aids Council (NAC) 39,809 children die every year
due to AIDS-related ailments. The children are dying not because there are
no drugs. The drugs are there, but youngsters just cannot access them.

"The drugs are there, everything is there, the only challenge is who (will)
take the children for anti-retroviral treatment, because they cannot go on
their own," said Orirando Manwere, a spokesperson for NAC.

A 2008 study on the factors contributing to the low uptake to paediatric ART
in Zimbabwe showed that one of the challenges was that few officials were
trained in the field, and among those trained, the staff turnover was very
high because of low salaries. But this was not the main challenge children
faced in accessing treatment.

The obstacle to treatment for many children living with HIV in Zimbabwe is
that they cannot access ARVs on their own. The law requires them to do so in
the company of parents and guardians.

"The main challenge is the laws, they are not conducive at all," said
Bekezela Mapanda, the chairperson of a committee that organised this year's
commemorations for World Aids Day.

"There is need for a review of the policy framework to address issues of HIV
and AIDS among children. The state should ensure that these children are
able to access treatment and prevention without any prejudice. The law
should be clear on how we handle issues of disclosure among children."

A draft report of the 'Zimbabwe National HIV and AIDS Estimates 2009',
produced by the ministry of health and child welfare, shows that nearly 10
percent (107 388) of people living with HIV in Zimbabwe are children below
the age of 14.

The ministry of health and child welfare estimates for 2009 that 35,190
children are in urgent need of ART. Of these, only less than half, about
16,000 children, were receiving ART by the end of August 2009.

Accessing treatment is a challenge for most of these children, who either
live without adults in child-headed households or stay with relatives.

Speaking to IPS on condition of anonymity, a Harare pharmacist said in some
cases, drugs meant for children were actually expiring due to low uptake.

"The painful part is that while you have the drugs even expiring, they are
not accessible to many children who need them. We should re-look into our
legal framework regarding children's access to treatment.

"Look at South Africa, they are currently debating to allow anyone above the
age of 12 to access treatment. We also need such debates in Zimbabwe, this
will certainly change the way we approach some of these issues," he said.

In some cases, activists have resorted to door-to-door campaigns to identify
children who need ART but are not on treatment. A home-based care group in
Seke, a rural community near Harare, conducted a pilot project and managed
to place 83 children on ART.

In May 2009, UNICEF collaborated with the government in carrying out the
Multiple Indicator and Monitoring Survey (MIMS). The results of that survey
indicate that children were most affected by the deterioration in the
provision of social services.

According to the figures, there has been a 20 percent increase in mortality
of children under five since 1990, the baseline year for the Millennium
Development Goals. Children in rural areas, and those among the poorest
one-fifth of the population, were the most vulnerable.

The government report also indicates that: "The number of children living
with HIV and AIDS initially peaked at 114,316 in 2003 and declined to
107,388 children in 2008 and 105,740 in 2008.The upward trend is estimated
to start again in 2014. The increase could be a reflection of the survival
of children on cotrimoxazole and ART."

The plan aimed to expand the number of patients on ART ensuring equity by
gender, age (among the youth and children) and disability. It specifically
sought to increase the number of children accessing ART by updating ART
guidelines and training materials to adequately cover the paediatric

According to the country director of the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS
Foundation (EGPAF), Agnes Mahomva, the inadequate access to treatment is a
result of the harsh economic situation that prevailed in Zimbabwe over the
last few years. EGPAF is an international organisation that seeks to prevent
paediatric HIV infection among children, and improve their access to

"The crisis caused a high staff vacancy rate (of such skilled personnel like
counsellors)," said Mahomva. "There is a need to address staff retention and
motivation issues including strengthening of community-based health care
cadres. There is poor identification of HIV-exposed and infected children."

Mahomva added that there were currently "weak linkages between ART clinics
and the community".

"There are inadequate diagnostic services for children under 18 months.
There is a need to expand early infant diagnosis (EID) and sensitise
communities on its importance," she said.

The government has, however, started moving towards improving paediatric ART
uptake. A revised Child Health card, which captures HIV status, has been
developed. Every child who produces this card at a health service centre
will be allowed to access treatment without an adult. The card certifies
that the child is positive and should be given treatment.

At a meeting on children's rights in September, social services minister,
Paurina Mpariwa, said they were working towards reviewing the policy
framework on children's access to social services like ART.

At the moment, Martha and her siblings will continue to hope for an early
resolution of the legal impediments to their access to ART.

*Not her real name. (END/2009)

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Back on the air, but don’t mention Mugabe

December 3, 2009

Radio 5 Live’s presenter finds that Zimbabweans choose theior words
Victoria Derbyshire

Yesterday I presented my Radio 5 Live programme from Harare, the first time
a full domestic BBC programme has been transmitted from Zimbabwe since
foreign press were banned in 2001. It did not look like the capital city you
would associate with a developing country. It looks like a capital city
anywhere in the world.

There are boutiques and familiar brand names like Nando’s and Wimpy. There
are also some very rich people driving Toyota trucks that cost US $20,000 in
cash. Some people at least are doing very well.

Harare was not what I had anticipated. I had expected there to be tension
and that people would be suspicious of us. That was not what happened.
People were extremely friendly and very comfortable talking to us.
Certainly, if I asked, “What do you think of President Mugabe?” they chose
their words very carefully. The worst thing that anybody said was that he
has his shortcomings. More often they would say “he liberated our country”
or “I don’t get into politics”.

Apart from that, it was a very friendly and open atmosphere. We could move
freely and we never felt we had to look over our shoulders. I had been told
not to have loud conversations in public places in case Central Intelligence
officers were listening but we were never stopped or restricted or told that
we couldn’t talk to someone or that we couldn’t enter a certain place.

I wanted to go to a hospital and our fixer, Brian, a black Zimbabwean, said
he knew the chief executive of Harare Central Hospital and we just turned up
without an appointment and when he had finished a meeting he showed us
round. It smelled of fresh paint and we saw doctors on busy wards. A year
ago, the place was shut because the staff couldn’t afford to get to work.
Now there is a unity government and because of the dollarisation of the
economy the staff are getting to work and getting paid.

I also went to a supermarket where the shelves, which were empty 12 months
ago, were fully stocked and people could buy what they want. These are signs
that there has been an improvement in the daily lives of Zimbabweans.

However, it is important to point out that there are certainly many, many
problems in rural areas which I haven’t had a chance to see with my own eyes
on this visit.

Also if you are politically active and support the Movement for Democratic
Change, the party of the Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, you are still at
risk of being threatened, harassed and beaten up.

I spoke to a woman in a safe house who works for the MDC. She was on her way
to work early one morning four weeks ago when four men tried to abduct her
and beat her. She thought that they were intelligence officers working for
Mugabe. She screamed for help and a crowd started gathering around the car
and shouting “leave her”, and they let her go.

If you are a white farmer then you may still face problems. I spoke to one
farmer who lost his farm nine years ago and is still fighting to get it

Of the expat Zimbabweans living in Britain who rang in to the programme one
was really enthusiastic that the time was approaching when she could go
back. One of the people I interviewed in Harare had said there was some hope
and she was really holding on to that.

One woman said she wouldn’t return even though her elderly mother was there.
She was a supporter of MDC who left in 2002. And there were similar stories
from other callers who said that the country was not yet stable enough for
them to return.

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Nigeria Banking on Agriculture in Kwara

2 December 2009

The Nigerian state of Kwara has received international attention for its invitation to dispossessed white farmers in Zimbabwe to come to Nigeria. The oil-producing nation - Africa's most populous - currently imports about U.S.$3 billion worth of food to sustain its 140 million-plus people, and the Kwara government hopes the experienced commercial farmers will help the state become food self-sufficient. Over two dozen large-scale farms are now underway, providing employment for an estimated 3-4000 people.

What gets less attention is that Kwara's governor, Bukola Saraki, is focusing on agriculture and food security as a key component of economic prosperity. But his campaign is beginning to be noticed. He was a plenary speaker at the Corporate Council on Africa's annual meeting in September - this year in Washington, DC - and media attention to the state is increasing. Governor Saraki recently sat down in his office in Ilorin, the Kwara capital, where he discussed with AllAfrica's Reed Kramer and Tami Hultman his work to continue to expand credit facilities, to produce an agricultural surplus, to build schools and health centers and to transform farming into a prestige occupation for education young Nigerians. Here are excerpts from what he said about agriculture and food security.

Tami Hultman/AllAfrica

Gov. Bukola Saraki

In Kwara, our area of strength is agriculture, and we have a lot of schemes to encourage small scale farmers. The key issue is increasing yield. To take someone from subsistence farming to above that, he or she must increase yield. On one hectare of land, can he or she do three, four or five tonnes of maize as opposed to just two? That makes a difference between poverty and getting someone out of the poverty bracket.

What we've done is encourage them via mechanization and providing credit. And more importantly, I think the future holds a new generation of farmers - young graduates, qualified - who have moved to the cities and are roaming around looking for jobs in oil, banking, and engineering companies. Why? Because they don't see agriculture as a source of livelihood.

Now what we are trying to do is encourage them. We did that in collaboration with the scheme of [bringing in] new commercial farmers - which you have seen - which is this scheme where we had commercial farmers that used to be in Zimbabwe brought here, whose profiles do not meet the typical profile of the Nigerian farmer. A Nigerian farmer's profile is: 60 years old, not well educated, not well exposed to new technology, can't walk up to a bank and raise credit.

The new Nigerian farmer is much younger, is a graduate who can write a business plan, and that begins to make the young chaps think, "Oh, so there are these kind of farmers that exist all over the world; farming is not archaic or rural. That changes the orientation. We have a school now where we have a lot of young guys who now look at farming differently and say, "This could be a business!"

And we hope with that to get better productivity, because [this new generation of farmers] are just better equipped than the existing farmers. Also, with the commercial farmers, we hope that being beside the small-scale farmers, best practices will be transferred. You begin to see that already. If you look at small-scale farmers in Shonga [where the Zimbabweans first established their farms] and compare them to small-scale farmers in other parts of Nigeria, they are better - their yields are better. We believe that by having the commercial farmers, there will be a pull-up effect: as they are getting better, the small scale farmers will get better.

And there is what we call agro-allied industries. For example, if you look at dairy, the more dairy production you have, the more demand you will have for maize, soya beans, and all the feed stock. Who is going supply all the feed stock?

Some of the issues about small-scale farmers has to do with the lack of markets. They do grow these things, but who buys them?  If you have the agro-allied demand, you push demand on the small-scale farmers. If there is a market, it easier for the banks to go to the small scale farmers and finance them, because they know that whatever they produce, agro-allied industry is going to pick it up. That is not happening at the moment.

But when that happens, say you've a demand for 100,000 liters of milk on a daily basis, which means you need 2-4,000 cows, they need maize or soya beans for feed - who is going to supply that? So immediately the small-scale farmer can go to the bank and say, 'I need to supply farmer Y with so much maize every month, because he needs it for the cows.' And the bank can give him that money because they can see where he is going to get paid from. Right now, the farmer is saying, when I harvest, I will go to the side road and put it there and pray that someone is going to buy it. Or, if things are bad, I'm going to eat it myself; that doesn't really help the commercial side of it.

All of that needs to come together and that is what we are doing here. We believe, over time, those small-scale farmers will become more productive.

We have a lot of cooperatives and support from the micro-finance banks. But unfortunately, as I said, most of the commercial banks are very reluctant to lend to agriculture. That's also why we are doing a lot of land reform in order to provide security for the financial institutions. That doesn't exist at them moment; they don't have any assets to hold on to.

But the most important thing is creating the market. If we can create the market, the sector will stand on its own. At the moment the market is not there, so it is difficult for the financial institutions to give support.

The Zimbabwe farmers also had problems getting credit; you can imagine what it is like for the small-scale farmers. But luckily, since the Zimbabwe farmers have been here, they have been able to raise two billion naira [895,000 Euros] in credit. It is a bit frustrating for them, because they are the first, but I think as we continue to go through those processes, in a few years down the line, it is going to be much easier to access credit. That is one of the great things we have done with this project.

We have broken a lot of new ground that never existed before, because now agriculture is there and the government is doing something. The federal government has come up with a policy of providing 200 billion naira [895 million Euros] in five-year repayment plans. It never happened before - and it was based on the model that they saw here in Kwara state. Banks are taking equity in agricultural projects. These are things that never used to happen. So we are beginning to see this agricultural revolution and the country moving in that direction.

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Zimbabwean Activist Honored

The following is an Editorial Reflecting the Views of the US Government

01 December 2009
From 1982 to 1987, Zimbabwe's Magodonga Mahlangu witnessed the massacre of
tens of thousands of people in Matabeleland by the Zimbabwean government,
including some of her family members. Determined to expose the brutal rule
of the Robert Mugabe regime, Magodonga came to lead the Women of Zimbabwe
Arise, or WOZA, movement, co-founded by Jenni Williams in 2002.

In the face of beatings, death threats and imprisonment Magodonga and other
brave members of WOZA continue to wage a campaign of peaceful protests that
have helped mobilize international support for democracy and human rights in

For her tireless efforts to empower women to speak out against the abuses of
the Mugabe regime, Magodonga was honored recently by President Barack Obama
with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. The award, established in
1984 to honor human rights defenders around the world, was presented to
Magodonga at a White House ceremony on November 23.

"By her example, Magodonga has shown the women of WOZA and the people of
Zimbabwe that they can undermine their oppressor's power with their own
power, that they can sap a dictator's strength with their own," said
President Obama.

Zimbabwe's citizens have suffered from the political and economic crisis
that has plagued the country under Mugabe's rule, elements of which persist
today despite the transitional government that has been in place since
February of this year. President Obama cited "desperate hunger, crumbling
health and education systems, domestic violence and rape, and government
repression ranging from restrictions on free expression to abduction and
murder of dissidents."

President Obama noted that WOZA has grown from a handful of activists to a
movement of 75,000 people, including an affiliate NGO for men called MOZA.
"Over the past 7 years," he said, "they have conducted more than a hundred
protests - maids and hairdressers, vegetable sellers and seamstresses,
taking to the streets, singing and dancing, banging on pots empty of food
and brandishing brooms to express their wish to sweep the government clean."

Peaceful demonstrators "have been gassed, abducted, threatened with guns and
badly beaten," said President Obama. Some three thousand of their members
have been in prison or police custody, and both Ms. Mahlangu and Ms.
Williams are facing a possible 5-year prison sentence from a December 7,

Despite 30 arrests, beatings, and other abuse suffered in Zimbabwe's
appalling prisons, Magodonga Mahlangu remains an inspiration to all who
stand for democracy and human rights.

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Faber author wins Guardian First Book Prize

03.12.09 Katie Allen

A "humane and disarmingly funny" collection of short stories by Zimbabwean
author Petina Gappah right has won the Guardian First Book Award 2009 in
association with Waterstone's.

An Elegy for Easterly (Faber) wins Gappah £10,000 and an advertising package
for her book in the Guardian and the Observer.The ceremony took place last
night (2nd December).

Guardian literary editor and chair of judges Claire Armitstead said: "2009
has been the year of the short story . . . Petina Gappah's humane and
disarmingly funny mosaic of life in Zimbabwe is undoubtedly one of the very

Stuart Broom from Waterstone's, who represented the views of the five
Waterstone's reading groups during the final judging process, said: "There
is a quietness, humour and charm to this book that resonated with the
Waterstone's reading groups.

"Many readers commented on the delicate simplicity of the stories, which
belies the fact that a number of the short stories explore very harsh
political realities. It's going to be fascinating to see what Gappah does
next as a writer."

The shortlist also comprised: A Swamp Full of Dollars by Michael Peel (I B
Tauris); The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton (Granta);The Wilderness by Samantha
Harvey (Jonathan Cape); and The Selected Works of T S Spivet by Reif Larsen
(Harvill Secker).

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Diaspora power and the realities of our dispersal

The Zimbabwean Diaspora population has a tough needle to thread in
formulating the economic recovery plan and the crucial accompanying
political reforms for Zimbabwe.
Life in the Diaspora requires the dexterity of balancing the patriotic
yearning for a return to Zimbabwe and surviving in the difficult rigours of
an exiled existence. This tenacity and resilience has become a hallmark by
which the majority of Zimbabweans abroad are now defined. Abiding and
benefiting from the rule of law in the countries in which they reside makes
it impossible for the Diaspora to contemplate returning to Zimbabwe unless
their civil liberties are permanently secured.
The US State Department estimates that over fifty thousand Zimbabweans now
live in the USA. It is now a common feature on football Sundays, for
Zimbabweans to join their American compatriots and cheer on their favourite
American football team, wearing shirts emblazoned with images of Eagles,
Cowboys, Redskins or the Colts. American football is a sport unfamiliar to
most Zimbabweans back home. In the summer, it will be time to watch
baseball - a complete social and cultural metamorphosis.
This Diaspora grouping is now accustomed to and anchored in unavoidable
capitalist consumerism social habits that are an indispensable feature of
the fast-paced life in the USA. Drive through banking, fast food courts and
the emergency (911) number that promptly triggers the response of an
efficient ambulance, fire or police service within minutes have become
second nature.
The estimated one million Diaspora Zimbabwean residents in Europe are now
also accustomed to free market economy traditions and enjoy the freedoms of
speech, association, and other civil liberties unknown to their fellow
compatriots in Zimbabwe. Their social habits are dissimilar to their USA
counterparts. Real football (known as soccer) forms the social bond and
Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea to name a few, are as popular.
Cricket has a sizeable Diaspora following.
Over three million Zimbabweans have trekked down south and have made South
Africa their home. They enjoy the financial liberation in Africa's largest
economy and the freedom, protected by one of the world's most liberal
This synopsis brings a conservative figure of over four million Zimbabweans
now living in the Diaspora and whose monetary support to an equal number of
relatives and friends back home through remittances has helped the
Zimbabwean economy.
The time has come for this collective financial power to be transformed into
a cohesive political centre. Diaspora residents-the true believers of
freedom-need to politically motivate and positively influence their
relations in Zimbabwe. Diaspora rights and aspirations are best articulated
and defended by Diaspora residents themselves through the strategic
occupation of the palpable void created by the polarised political landscape
in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabweans have become world citizens and tolerant internationalists. Soon
it will be common to experience a cultural fusion that will blend Asian,
European, American and African Diaspora experiences at a single-family
reunion in Zimbabwe.
Freedom and tolerance are not an invention or preserve of the West. African
political leaders cling to the notion that ordinary citizens must not
question their authority under the guise that it is against our African
values, traditions and customs. Hate and intolerance are un-African norms
and pose a threat to national reconciliation.
Yearning for freedom has absolutely nothing to do with reverting to
colonialism (kudzorera nyika kuvarungu) or a threat to the sovereignty of
All Zimbabweans have a God-given alienable right to be free and live in
No government or man can take those rights away.
According to the electoral commission in the 2008 presidential election,
Zimbabwe had 5 934 768 registered voters and 2 537 240 people voted - a
42.75% turnout. Only 1 079 730 people voted for the incumbent Robert Mugabe
who garnered 43.24% - with all the irregularities included. Morgan
Tsvangirai received 1 195 562 votes or 47.87%.
If only 42.75% of the people in the Diaspora-who voted with their feet and
left Zimbabwe-were now permitted to vote for a leader of their choice whilst
residing in their respective countries of abode, more votes would be cast by
exiled Zimbabweans than by voters in Zimbabwe. The main ingredients for a
vibrant democracy - the rule of law - would compel Zimbabweans to vote
freely without voter intimidation or political violence in the Diaspora.
Diaspora residents are proud patriotic Zimbabweans whose
contributions-second only to multilateral humanitarian aid-helped buttress
Zimbabwe during the harsh period of an economic meltdown.
The diaspora residents collectively hold the keys to Zimbabwe's economic
Phil Matibe -

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