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Zimbabwe cabinet to be sworn in
Friday, 13 February 2009
Morgan Tsvangirai (L) takes the oath as premier from President Robert Mugabe (R)
Robert Mugabe (R) swore his rival, Mr Tsvangirai, into office on Wednesday

The formation of Zimbabwe's unity government is due to be completed with the swearing-in of a new cabinet.

The cabinet posts are split according to a power-sharing deal signed after months of political deadlock.

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF will have 15 posts and the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) 16.

The formation of the government is going ahead despite MDC concern about the fate of imprisoned activists.

Mr Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years, has promised to co-operate in the unity government.

But the allocation of key ministerial portfolios has been highly contentious, and the new cabinet will bring bitter rivals face to face, the BBC's Peter Biles reports from South Africa.

The MDC will control finance and health, while Zanu-PF retains its hold on defence, foreign affairs and agriculture.

The home affairs ministry, which is responsible for the police, will be split between the two parties.

As the power-sharing deal takes effect Zimbabwe faces rampant inflation, a cholera epidemic and unemployment of at least 90%.

The fate of political prisoners will be seen as a test of whether the two men's parties can work together, correspondents say.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who was sworn in as prime minister on Wednesday, spent his first full day in office visiting the jailed activists.

The MDC says more than 30 people, including 72-year-old man Fidelis Charamba, are still being held after being abducted and illegally detained.

They have been accused of subversion and recruiting fighters to overthrow Mr Mugabe - charges denied by the MDC.

The prisoners were given no promises of release after Mr Tsvangirai's visit on Thursday, but the prime minister told them their cases would be processed more quickly.

The MDC agreed to the power-sharing deal in January after disputed elections last year led to months of political deadlock.

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Mugabe retains old guard in Cabinet

February 12, 2009

By Own Correspondent

BULAWAYO - President Mugabe has invited his old and trusted lieutenants to
join the new Cabinet, while ditching some of the so-called Zanu-PF Young

The new cabinet will be sworn-in Friday. Under the Global Political
Agreement signed last September Zanu-PF allocated itself 16 ministerial
posts. The Zanu-PF list announced Thursday has 21 names. There was no
explanation for the inflation. Zanu-PF also allocated itself top-shelf
portfolios including Defence, Justice, Agriculture, Local Government and
Media and Information.

In an announcement on national television Mugabe invited Kembo Mohadi,
likely to retain the much contested Home Affairs portfolio, Paul Mangwana,
tipped to become substantive Information Minister, Ignatius Chombo (Local
Government) Joseph Made (Agriculture) Patrick Chinamasa (Justice) and Sydney
Sekeramayi (Defence).

He also invited trusted lieutenants Emmerson Mnangagwa, John Nkomo, Flora
Bhuka, Nicholas Goche, Stan Mudenge, Sithembiso Nyoni, Simbarashe Mbengegwi,
Webster Shamu and Didymus Mutasa, who were all members of a bloated cabinet
that Mugabe once described as "the worst cabinet in the history of this

He dropped some of his younger ministers and deputy ministers such as his
nephews Patrick Zhuwawo and Leo Mugabe and the garrulous Bright Matonga, the
former deputy Minister of Information.

Those not invited for the swearing-in ceremony also include former first
time deputy ministers Sylvester Mguni and Saviour Kasukuvere. Former
ministers Olivia Muchena and Ambrose Mutinhiri are also absent from the list
announced on ZTV.

Mugabe's list includes only four nominees from Matabeleland. Mugabe's
Zanu-PF lost heavily in the region during the March 29 elections. Formerly a
stronghold of PF-Zapu Matabeleland is now dominated by the MDC.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday announced Giles Mutsekwa, as his
nominee for co-Minister of Home Affairs, which the MDC will share with

The party's secretary-general, Tendai Biti was nominated as Finance
Minister, while Advocate Eric Matinenga was nominated for the Constitutional
and Parliamentary Affairs portfolio, Ms Paurina Gwanyanya-Mpariwa (Labour
and Social Welfare) and Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro will become Minister
of Public Service.

Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei was nominated for the post of Minister of
Science and Technology Development, while former Harare executive mayor
Engineer Elias Mudzuri was picked for the Energy and Power Development
portfolio. The name of Bulawayo businessman, Eddie Cross, who was announced
on Monday as the nominee for State Enterprises and Parastatals, has been
dropped and replaced with that of Joel Gabuza Gabbuza. Also dropped from the
mainstream MDC list is the name of Abednigo Ncube who was controversially
poached from the Mutambara-led MDC.

There was an unprecedented outcry on the Zimbabwe Times website following
the announcement as Ndebele readers accused Tsvangirai of betraying them and
threaned his MDC with dire consequences come the next elections.

Ncube's name was immediately dropped and replaced with that of Gordon Moyo.
As news of Bhebhe's elimination spread the furore on the Zimbabwe Times
website subsided.

Kwekwe Senator Dr Henry Madzorera was appointed as Health and Child Welfare
Minister while Theresa Makone will be sworn-in as Minister of Public

Chitungwiza North MP Fidelis Mhashu was nominated for National Housing and
Social Amenities while party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa was handed the
Information Communication Technology portfolio and Elton Mangoma was
selected for the Economic Planning and Investment Promotion portfolio.

The nominees for the deputy ministers' posts were Dr Tichaona Mudzingwa
(Defence), Roy Bennett (Agriculture), Ms Jessie Majome (Justice), former
Gweru executive mayor Sessel Zvidzai (Local Government) and Samuel Sipepa
Nkomo (Foreign Affairs).

Prime Minister Tsvangirai is also expected to nominate a Minister of State
in the Prime Minister's Office and Deputy Minister of Women's Affairs,
Gender and Community Development.

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White farmer set to become minister

February 13 2009 at 05:58AM

Harare - After three years in self-imposed exile, former lawmaker Roy
Bennett is set to become Zimbabwe's deputy minister for agriculture - six
years after his own farm was seized in controversial land reforms.

Bennett was one of only a handful of white parliamentarians when he
was elected in 2000 on the ticket of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), the party of Zimbabwe's new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

His entry into the new unity government marks one of the stranger
twists in Zimbabwe's decade-long drama between the MDC and President Robert

Bennett was born to a farm family in 1957 in the town of Rusape. He
eventually started his own coffee plantation in Chimanimani, a lush region
near the border with Mozambique, where he grew into one of Zimbabwe's top
exporters of the crop.

A fluent speaker of the majority Shona language, Bennett endeared
himself to people in the region, who nicknamed him "Pachedu", meaning "We
are one."

When Tsvangirai formed the MDC a decade ago, Bennett was one of the
few white farmers to openly declare his support for the party that set out
to defeat Mugabe at the ballot box.

He remained outspoken even in the face of great personal challenges.

His Charleswood farm was expropriated under Mugabe's land reforms in
2003, and the following year he was jailed for eight months for assault
after he punched the justice minister during a heated debate in parliament
on the land programme.

The sentence was imposed by the parliament then dominated by Mugabe's
Zanu-PF, and following his conviction he lost his parliamentary seat.

In 2006, he fled to neighbouring South Africa to escape arrest after
being implicated in an alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe.

Police claimed Bennett was the mastermind in the alleged conspiracy,
which also implicated MDC lawmaker Giles Mutsekwa, who is set to become
co-minister for home affairs on Friday.

The agriculture ministry does not deal directly with the land reform
scheme. A separate resettlement ministry oversees the programme, which
sought to redress colonial injustices by resettling white-owned farms with
black farmers.

The new farmers often lacked experience and were given little
government support or a formal title to the land, which prevented them from
seeking bank finance for their new farms.

Bennett will be tasked with helping farmers succeed after years of
disastrous crops that have left seven million people - more than half the
population - dependent on food aid. - Sapa-AFP

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Showdown looms on Bennett’s farm

February 12, 2009

roy-bennettDeputy Minister of Agriculture, Roy Bennett

CHIMANIMANI (Radiovop/Own Correspondent) - A show-down looms at Pachedu Farm in southern Manicaland province following this week’s nomination of the farm’s former owner Roy Bennett as the deputy minister of agriculture.

Bennett was evicted from Pachedu by war veterans and other Zanu-PF supporters back in 2003 during the controversial land invasions which targeted white commercial farmers. Bennett’s nomination on Tuesday has reportedly already generated panic and pandemonium on the farm

In its heyday Pachedu was a major exporter of coffee. That was until Bennett’s eviction by a group of war-veterans. He fled to neighbouring Mozambique and then proceeded to South Africa where he remained in exile until his return to Harare two weeks ago. He immediately visited Pachedu.

This week, as if in a form of poetic justice, Bennett became Zimbabwe’s deputy Minister of Agriculture.

“There is pandemonium at Pachedu Farm following the nomination of Bennett by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirayi into cabinet,” said Chris Muchero, one of the occupiers on the farm.

“The people at the farm are not sure of their fate since Bennett is now going to be the deputy Minister of Agriculture. What is more worrying to the invaders is that Bennett visited the farm when he returned from exile in South Africa two weeks ago.”

Some chiefs in the district are also reportedly pushing for the return of Bennett to Pachedu. Bennett who is a former Member of Parliament for the area was popular with the local community, whom he assisted in infrastructural development and food aid. He also availed his high breed bulls to the local community for cross-breeding.

“He was such a fatherly figure to us, that is the reason why we nick-named him Pachedu (We are together).”

The war veterans and Zanu-PF supporters looted Bennett’s property including livestock, household effects, farm equipment and crops. Zanu-PF Member of Parliament for Chimanimani East, Samuel Undenge and a Major Masabeya were implicated in the looting on the farm.

Summing up Bennett’s unceremonious eviction from Pachedu Farm at a recent journalists workshop, Mutare-based human rights lawyer Trust Maanda said, “Bennett left Pachedu Farm with only his under garments.”

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Zimbabwe's Mugabe chooses allies for unity cabinet

Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:07am GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has appointed
party loyalists from a previous cabinet he described as the "worst in
history" to a unity government with Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC.

Cabinet members from both parties will be sworn in on Friday and will need
to bury years of animosity to rebuild the southern African country's
shattered economy, which is struggling with the world's highest inflation

Analysts are worried that both Mugabe and Tsvangirai have appointed party
loyalists and allies rather than technocrats better qualified to implement
the radical reforms needed to head off total economic collapse.

The two leaders agreed last September to share power, but the deal stalled
for months as they haggled over the allocation of cabinet posts, stirring
doubts over whether the old foes can work together to bring in foreign aid
and investment.

They agreed to implement the accord under pressure from regional leaders at
the end of last month and Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister on

A cabinet list released by Mugabe's officials late on Thursday includes
former defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, former state security boss
Didymus Mutasa and Emmerson Mnangagwa, touted as a potential successor to
Mugabe, 84.

Some of the ZANU-PF members in the new cabinet have held ministerial posts
since independence in 1980, when Mugabe came to power.

Mugabe, whose party lost its parliamentary majority in a March election, in
August called the previous cabinet the "worst in history", adding that the
ministers were unreliable.

"Mugabe's list of 15 cabinet ministers will contain a small forest of dead
wood," the private weekly Zimbabwe Independent said on Friday. "The
appointment of ministers who were in the last cabinet dissolved last
February would be a serious indictment of Mugabe."

Foreign investors and Western donors have made clear the provision of funds
will be contingent on democratic and economic reforms, such as reversing the
nationalisation policies implemented by Mugabe's ZANU-PF.

ZANU-PF will have 15 members in the cabinet, Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) 14, and a splinter MDC group will hold three posts.

The ministers will be sworn in at 1100 GMT.

Tsvangirai, who took office on Thursday, has nominated party secretary
general Tendai Biti to the post of finance minister with the challenging
task of reviving the economy. (; +263 4 799

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"Worst cabinet in history" set for partial comeback in Zimbabwe

Africa News
Feb 13, 2009, 7:56 GMT

Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who declared his last cabinet
'the worst in history,' reappointed many of its members to a new
power-sharing government that is due to be sworn in later Friday.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported that 20 of Mugabe's 21
choices for minister and deputy ministers were members of the last cabinet,
which Mugabe had acknowledged last year as dire.

The list includes such controversial figures as Emmerson Mnangagwa, head of
the Joint Operations Command security cabinet that directed last year's
post-election violence against the victorious Movement for Democratic Change
of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Hardline former lands minister Didymus Mutasa, who once declared Zimbabwe
would be 'better off with only six million people,' -or the half the
population that supported Mugabe - also makes a comeback.

The Herald did not say which minister obtained which portfolio.

The MDC, which will be making its debut in government, announced its
nominations to the 31-ministry cabinet earlier this week.

Fourteen ministers have been drawn from Tsvangirai's MDC larger faction, 15
from Mugabe's Zanu-PF and 3 from a breakaway MDC faction led by robotics
professor Arthur Mutambara.

The number of ministers exceed the number of ministries by one because the
MDC and Zanu-PF have agreed to 'co-minister' home affairs, which controls
the police.

Friday's ceremony at State House in Harare, where Tsvangirai was memorably
sworn Wednesday as prime minister by Mugabe, concludes the formation of the

Zimbabweans are counting on the new administration to bring about change in
a country that is reeling from world-record inflation, severe food, fuel and
cash shortages, and raging HIV and cholera epidemics.

But analysts warn that the MDC's ability to effect change is hampered by the
skewed sharing of power. Mugabe remains head of state and government, while
Tsvangirai's role will be to formulate and implement policy.

Zanu-PF retains most of the key ministries such as defence, state security
and information, while MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti gains the
unenviable post of finance minister.

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Lawyers, WOZA members released

Friday, 13 February 2009
Human Rights Defenders Alert
A Harare Magistrate on Thursday 12 February 2009 granted free bail to
two project lawyers of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and
eight members of the group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), who were arrested
on Tuesday 10 February 2009.

The ten including the lawyers Ms Roselyn Hanzi and Mr Tawanda
Zhuwarara were finally brought to court on Thursday 12 February 2009 after
spending two nights in police detention at the notorious Harare Central
Police Station.
Magistrate Gloria Takundwa granted free bail and ordered the human
rights lawyers and the WOZA members to reside at their given residential
addresses and not to interfere with State witnesses. The ten will return to
court on 04 March 2009 for commencement of trial.
Ms Roselyn Hanzi and Mr Tawanda Zhuwarara were arrested by
unidentified members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on 10 February
2009 as they were returning to the ZLHR office situated next to the
Parliament building after lunch. Regrettably, they were caught in the
crossfire of further indiscriminate arrests carried out by the ZRP arising
from a demonstration outside Parliament building in Harare by the Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). With the complicity of Parliamentary staff, they were
unlawfully detained in the Parliament Guard Room, until police details
removed them to Harare Central police station.
In contravention of constitutional protective provisions relating to
detained persons, but in the customary fashion of the ZRP, lawyers who
attempted to get access to Hanzi and Zhuwarara at Harare Central were denied
access by the police on the day of their arrest and only obtained access to
their clients on Wednesday 11 February 2009.

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Zimbabwe Doctors Leave as Health System Fails, Cholera Spreads

By Jason Gale
Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Doctors are leaving Zimbabwe, causing clinics to close, as the health system collapses and Africa’s second-worst cholera epidemic spreads in the countryside, aid groups said.
The exodus of medical professionals is compounding a “near total devastation” of Zimbabwe’s health-care system, Doctors Without Borders said yesterday. Thousands of doctors, nurses and other health staff aren’t being paid and have no money for basic needs such as buying a bus ticket to get to work.
Since the cholera outbreak began in Zimbabwe in August, 3,513 deaths have been reported to the World Health Organization, compared with 4,031 fatalities recorded worldwide in 2007. The cholera bacterium is spreading through contaminated drinking water because sewage and water systems have collapsed.
Zimbabwe, ruled by President Robert Mugabe since 1980, is in the grips of a decade-long recession and has the world’s highest inflation rate, at 231 million percent last July, the last time the government provided an official estimate.
“The ongoing political and economic crisis is severely affecting people’s ability to access and afford health care, particularly people dependent on HIV/AIDS treatment,” Doctors Without Borders said in an e-mailed statement. The group, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, has treated more than 45,000 of Zimbabwe’s cholera patients or about three-quarters of cases.
Health Workers
A shortage of national health workers is stoking the rate of cholera patients dying from the diarrhea-causing disease, according to the WHO.
“The outbreak is not yet under control,” said Wilfred Sikukula, who is heading the cholera response for Christian aid group World Vision. “It can best be described as having shifted from the urban centers, where it first manifested, to the rural areas,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Cholera, which causes profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to fatal dehydration and shock, is suspected to have infected 73,105 people in Zimbabwe as of Feb. 11, according to WHO. Of patients treated in the hospital or a clinic, 1.9 percent has died. With prompt rehydration, less than 1 percent of cholera patients die, according to WHO.
Cases will probably increase until the end of the rainy season, which lasts another two months, World Vision said.
The disease is contracted by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the pathogen. The infection often causes mild or no symptoms. About 20 percent of patients develop profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps. Without treatment, death can occur within hours, according to the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New Minister
Zimbabwe’s incoming Minister of Health Henry Madzorera said his priority in office will be to bring state health-care workers back into hospitals and clinics to get a grip on the cholera epidemic, Voice of America reported yesterday.
Now schools have been added to a list of shuttered public institutions because of a salary dispute between teachers and the government, World Vision said. That’s meant 720,000 children are no longer benefiting from the group’s schools feeding program.
Schools were scheduled to resume from a summer break on Jan. 27. Teachers are staying away, demanding a pay increase from their current monthly salary, equivalent to less than $10, according to World Vision.
As part of the government’s 2009 budget, released last month, school teachers and other civil servants will be paid in the local currency. Most businesses have abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar, which is in short supply because the central bank can’t print money fast enough to meet demand.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Gale in Singapore at
Last Updated: February 12, 2009 22:49 EST

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Deputy Prime Minister Arthur G.O. Mutambara Speech at Swearing in Ceremony

Friday, 13 February 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, I rise to speak on three related issues. The
first matter is explaining why we are here today, that is the meaning and
significance of today. The second issue involves outlining the challenges to
be tackled by this new government. The last subject deals with what has to
be done to ensure that the new government can successfully execute its
mandate, what we call the critical success factors.
Fellow citizens, we are here to celebrate the coming together of
Zimbabweans in pursuit of their collective national interest. This is a new
era of peace and unity in our country. We are here to celebrate the dignity
of difference. Three different generations of Zimbabweans have come together
to salvage their country. Three different political parties have joined
hands in an inclusive government to serve their people. Different social
classes and different ethnic groups have come together as members of one
family, the Zimbabwean family. This is the dignity of difference, the
divinity of diversity. Embracing diversity and differences is a reservoir of
strength. It is a source of creativity, innovation, and stability.
Leveraging inclusiveness, and the creative tension thereof, will lead to the
effective and sustainable resolution of our national
socio-political-economic challenges
The tasks of the inclusive government we seek to establish are
immense, but not insurmountable. The first area is the resolution of the
humanitarian crisis, in particular the cholera epidemic, food supply,
education, and healthcare. The second area is stabilization and recovery of
our economy. Our country and people have gone traumatic and polarizing
experiences. We need a national healing process, as the third area of
concern. The next matter revolves around the crafting and adoption of a new
people driven democratic constitution. This must be a national consensus
document supported by all political parties, with total buy in and ownership
by the entirety of civic society, and the generality of the people of
Zimbabwe. The last area of concentration is going to be the economic
transformation of Zimbabwe into a globally competitive economy. As
Zimbabweans we seek to collectively develop a thirty year economic vision,
shared and adopted by all political parties, the business community, and all
relevant stakeholders. This vision will be buttressed by a national economic
strategy rooted in industry sector plans. The growth pillars will be 15-20
major impact industrial projects. We might not do much in terms of execution
and results on this fifth item. What we seek to do in this transitional
authority is to lay the foundation by completing the inclusive envisioning
process, strategy development, identification and valuation of the projects,
and implementation planning.
In order for us to be able to execute the mandate of this government,
an enabling environment characterized by certain behaviours must be in
place. We must work as one team, Team Zimbabwe. We must have unity of
purpose and action. We must work together and be seen to be working
together. We must speak the language of unity, the language of working
together. We seek to establish one government, with one cabinet, to serve
one nation. Hence we must be prepared to take joint responsibility for both
failures and successes. We must re-establish trust and respect among
ourselves, as leaders and as Zimbabweans. As a nation we must regain
confidence from those external to us. This can be achieved by clearly
working in harmony, and establishing both a credible cabinet and a credible
plan of action. To our developmental, cooperating, and strategic partners in
the region, Africa, and the international community, we say we are grateful
for the role you have played in our struggle to establish a peaceful,
prosperous and democratic nation. Your role before 1980 and in the last 10
years is greatly appreciated. Now that Zimbabweans have spoken with
unprecedented unanimity and have come together to fix their country, we call
upon you to give this inclusive government a fighting chance. This is a new
era of peace and unity in Zimbabwe. For those who have imposed whatever
measures against Zimbabwe, be they targeted sanctions, call them what you
may; those measures must be removed immediately. As leaders of this
inclusive government we will be remiss in our charge if we do not take this
principled position. We will not be serious about the people's business. Our
country needs all the support it can muster from the global community of
nations, balance of payment support, credit lines, and more importantly
investment. As a new government we seek to normalize and harmonize our
relations with all nations of the world. On our part as leaders of Zimbabwe
we commit to working together in a coherent, clean, democratic and competent
In conclusion, with your permission President Mugabe, may I take this
opportunity to ban all party political slogans during the period of this
inclusive government. Let us give up party politics until the next
elections. Going forward, there will be only two slogans permissible.
Delivery, delivery, delivery. Results, results, results.
The struggle to attain a peaceful and prosperous nation continues .
I thank you, tatenda, siyabonga.

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Civil servants take Tsvangirai to task

February 12, 2009

By Raymond Maingire

HARARE - Striking civil servants have vowed to continue the action despite
Wednesday's call by Prime Minster Morgan Tsvangirai for them to return to
work by Monday while waiting for their salaries which would apparently be
paid in foreign currency.

Tsvangirai told thousands of people who witnessed his inaugural address as
Prime Minister on Wednesday that his first objective in the new government
was to address the plight of civil servants.

"As Prime Minister," Tsvangirai said, "I make this commitment that as from
the end of this month, our professionals in the civil service, every health
worker, every teacher, every soldier, and every policeman would receive a
pay in foreign currency.

"In this respect, I ask every schoolteacher, every school in this country to
be reopened and that every member of the civil service is behind his and her
desk, on Monday, this Monday, no later than Monday."

But Zimbabwe's civil servants, who include teachers' representative groups,
have vowed they will not comply with a statement which was issued at a rally
as it did not represent official government policy.

But on the contrary, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the
country's biggest labour representative group, urged all striking workers to
return to work saying Tsvangirai needed to be given the benefit of doubt he
was going to deliver on his pledges.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA), which boasts of a 45 000-strong
membership, said it was "wishful" to suggest that teachers would end their
one year long strike by Monday.

"There would be no teachers at work on Monday," ZIMTA spokesperson, Sifiso
Ndlovu told The Zimbabwe Times Thursday.

"For teachers to go back to work, they need to have the foreign currency in
their pockets first because that is what they will use to go back to work
and not just a commitment or a promise.

"We relish the chance of addressing that commitment in practical terms," he

"As far as teachers are concerned, the issues still have to be organised
along institutional structures.

"It is not advisable for us to act on an instruction given at a rally and
the status of that rally was that of an inaugural celebration as it were."

"Tsvangirai was not addressing a meeting of civil servants. He was
addressing a gathering of mainly his supporters.

"We want to believe he was sworn in on what we saw as collective
responsibility and this means he was going to consult his cabinet; he was
going to consult his President and other colleagues and therefore reach an
agreement which he can then communicate to the nation.

"So in the absence of that, teachers cannot in their normal senses, say that
is now taken as a decision."

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) also said its members
would not return to work on Monday even if the instruction was to come from

"Our policy is very clear," PTUZ secretary general, Raymond Majongwe said.

"We want to discourage this idea where issues of professional importance are
addressed at rallies and funerals."

Majongwe said the demands by teachers were not just about money but bordered
on relevant issues affecting them.

"The issue is not about going to work because Tsvangirai is now Prime
Minister," he said.

"We have real labour issues affecting us. We have issues where teachers fled
their areas because of political violence.

"We also have issues where teachers are in Cape Town, Beitbridge and how do
they go back to work when they do not have the money yet.

"We have situations where the cholera outbreak has not been addressed. We
are a real trade union. We are not a briefcase organisation. We will not go
back to work even if the instruction was to come from Jesus."

Tendai Chikowore, the chairperson of the APEX Council, the negotiating arm
of Zimbabwe's civil service also said civil servants would wait for formal
communication by government before they decide on the way forward.

"The announcement by the Prime Minister is most welcome as it shows a
commitment on the part of a government official to restore sanity within the
civil sector," said Chikowore.

"But what is important are details of the package and how much it has
covered in as far as meeting our expectations is concerned.

"The question is; are the monies promised within the reach of what civil
servants were anticipating? When is the money going to be paid, and what are
the time lines and so forth?

Civil servants are demanding a minimum salary of US$604.

Although no general strike action has been declared within the entire civil
service, the beleaguered sector is in near paralysis following massive
resignations of experienced staff who have either left the country or have
taken up self help projects in Zimbabwe's chaotic informal sector.

Most workers who have remained at work are simply abusing work facilities to
do petty deals to supplement their meagre salaries.

Chikowore said, "The will to work is there but the resources are not there.

"Some civil servants work in outlying areas and would want to leave money
and food for their families and it is not possible to do so if the money is
not yet there."

Government last month refused to commit itself to paying its workers using
foreign currency.

But the ZCTU, which met Prime Minister Tsvangirai on Thursday morning, said
it had faith the Zimbabwean Premier would deliver on his promises.

"If the promise was made by the paymaster of the civil servants himself, who
are we to question the credibility of his statement?" ZCTU president
Lovemore Matombo said to journalists Thursday.

"As workers, we feel we should give him a chance to deliver on his promises
by going back to work. If he fails, then that would be another thing. But we
have faith in Tsvangirai that he will stick by his promise."

The ZCTU has been agitating for all workers to be remunerated in hard

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Unaccompanied Children Flee Zimbabwe in Growing Numbers

12 February 2009

Zimbabweans rest in there makeshift homes at show grounds in Musina, 17 Dec 2008
Zimbabweans rest in there makeshift homes at show grounds in Musina, 17 Dec 2008
The new power-sharing government in Zimbabwe comes as a worsening economic crisis sends thousands of refugees each day into neighboring countries. A growing number of these are children who travel without parents or any adult relative, which makes them particularly vulnerable.

It is late afternoon and the sun glints on the razor wire of the triple fence line marking South Africa's border with Zimbabwe.

A half-dozen boys in ragged clothes scramble through a small opening in each fence showing how easy it is to cross back and forth from their country.

At night they often hide in empty vehicles or buildings at the border post in Beitbridge or sleep across the border to escape South African police.

But many migrate to a camp on a sprawling fairground in Musina, 12 kilometers up the road, which offers some food and some protection.

Seventeen-year-old Ippo Mario arrived several weeks ago. He fled to South Africa after Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party began attacking supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change following disputed elections last year.

"First, they burnt down my father's shop and threw stones through the glass. And one time they beat my father. That's when I decided to run away after my father was dead and my mother also is deceased," said Mario.

A young Zimbabwean boy eats a meal at the show grounds in Musina on December 17, 2008
A young Zimbabwean boy eats a meal at the show grounds in Musina on December 17, 2008
Rudzani Ramugondo works for Save The Children. He says there are more than 1,500 unaccompanied minors in Musina. Many of them arrive with little more than the clothes on their backs and they sleep outdoors like the thousands of adults here.

"Their needs, it's - one - to have shelter, to have a place where they can stay. Two: As an individual they need personal things like clothing, like blankets, like toiletries. And most of them they actually want to be in school," said Ramugondo.

His group has been able to place 250 children in local schools. For the others who are still waiting, they have organized informal classes with volunteer teachers who teach coping skills.

Because they are under-age, refugee children cannot apply for asylum in South Africa. So an adult aid worker goes with them to the registration center and helps them fill out the forms.

For young women, the dangers are even greater. Sixteen-year-old Riuvarasha Azangwe was crossing the border with her sister when a gang of young men, called gumagumas here, tried to rape them in the bushes.

"I fought them. So they said they want to cut me. They cut me and they ran because there were soldiers coming," said Azangwe.

Azangwe needed 20 stitches to sew up the 10-centimeter-long gash in her arm. The men took all her belongings including a cell phone with the number of a relative she was to join in Johannesburg.

A counselor with Save The Children, Lillian Rambuda, says most of the unaccompanied girls are invisible. They do not contact the aid agencies because they are quickly taken in to work on farms or in the sex trade.

"Girls, especially girls, are under a big challenge because some are starting to do prostitution while they are still young. They are being grabbed by big men lying to them, expecting them to do things which they were not willing to do. As they are stranded and vulnerable they do as they are told," said Rambuda.

The heartache of these children often comes out in music such as this song written in the Shona language by 17-year-old Tonderai Muroyiwa.

He sings "please forgive Zimbabwe. Look at the suffering, the people dying. Please help."

Humanitarian groups say the only solution for kids like this is schooling until they can get jobs. But that could take a long time since there are millions of unemployed people already in South Africa, from both sides of the border.

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Lupepe loses project to Bredenkamp

February 12, 2009

Business Correspondent

BULAWAYO - Government has scuttled two multi-million dollar coal mining and
electricity generating projects planned by a consortium of indigenous
business people in partnership with an Indian company and awarded the
project to one of Zanu-PF's major financiers, casting grave doubts on its
indigenization thrust.

Under the proposals, Fumana Energy Private Limited led by Bulawayo
businessman, Delma Lupepe, would have partnered an investor from India to
inject capital into the power station upgrade in partnership with a
consortium comprising the local community, traditional chiefs, workers, the
Matabeleland Development Association and individual business people.

The two projects estimated to cost US$600 million and US$400 million
respectively to implement would have broken Hwange Colliery Company long
held monopoly in coal mining and Zimbabwe Power Corporation (ZPC) power

According to the Fumana proposal, both entities lack the capacity to
mobilise funds needed to invest in upgrading power and coal supplies for
increased generation and initiating other downstream industries from coal

Fumana's proposed project would have witnessed the opening up of coalfield
in Hwange district and coal-bed methane in the Lupane Halfway area of
Sinamatella where geological surveys have indicated 96 million tons of coal
deposits await exploitation.

Last week, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) chief executive
officer, Engineer Benjamin Rafemoyo announced the power utility had entered
into a US$ 800 million deal with John Bredenkamp a known Zanu-PF financier
on an identical project which Fumana had earlier proposed.

South African-born Bredenkamp ranked among Britain's richest people in 2002,
with an estimated fortune of US$ 1 billion had his companies investigated
for tax and exchange control violations and he reportedly fled Zimbabwe in

About a dozen and half of his companies were placed under a revised
sanctions list published by the European Union in January this year.

Bredenkamp temporarily fell foul of President Robert Mugabe in his attempts
as king-maker in 2004. He allegedly tried to convince Mugabe to retire and
make way for his business partner and long-time presidential hopeful,
Emmerson Mnangagwa, a strategy that underestimated the intensity of the
succession race and resulted in a fierce Zanu-PF backlash.

Sources close to the consortium of indigenous businesspeople say Fumana had
applied for a concession which falls under the Ministry of Lands and Land
resettlement, but Minister Didymus Mutasa had given preference to a belated
application by Bredenkamp because of his Zanu-PF connections.

The Western Area Coalfields was allocated to ZPC, but the stipulated period
to develop the coalfields has now elapsed before the power utility undertook
any tangible work on the concession. It is highly unlikely that ZPC would
make any meaningful development of a mine in five to seven years.

On the other hand Hwange Colliery Company (HCC), which is also vying for the
same coalfield has neither the production capacity nor the financial
resources to develop a mine in the short term

The project envisages providing thermal coal to Hwange Power Station Stage 3
which Hwange Colliery Company is not likely to be able to support under its
current performance that has resulted in coal shortages both for industrial
and agricultural as well as for domestic use. Fumana Energy also envisioned
mining coking for internal markets such as the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel
Company (ZISCO), Zimbabwe Alloys and Zimasco as well as for export while
providing general purpose coal to support agricultural and domestic needs.

According to the project blueprint, mining coal-bed methane which has an
assortment of other applications such as petrochemicals and fertilizers
would buttress foreign currency generation through exports.

Fumana CEO, Lupepe in June last year said in a letter to President Mugabe
the project would bring economic development to the Matabeleland region,
increase foreign currency inflows through the export of coking coal and
increase employment.

"We think that this is a unique opportunity for Zimbabwe to demonstrate its
ability to address the current challenges being faced, through a joint
venture partnership that empowers the people of Zimbabwe, retains national
ownership while increasing the country's electricity generation capacity"
the letter says in part.

Fumana requested government support in the form of a Letter of Support for
submission to the Mining Commission; authority to negotiate with ZPC which
holds mining concessions through two special grants for the proposed site of
the venture and a government Pledge of Security to boost investor

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Mr. Tsvangirai's Leap of Faith


Published: February 12, 2009
One can only wonder what Robert Mugabe was thinking as his political rival
and now partner, Morgan Tsvangirai, was sworn in Wednesday as Zimbabwe's
prime minister. In his inaugural speech, Mr. Tsvangirai promised a virtual
revolution: rule of law, political freedoms, independent news media,
economic reform, food for needy Zimbabweans regardless of party affiliation.

Nothing could be further from the horrors that Mr. Mugabe has wreaked on his
suffering country: political chaos, economic collapse, desperate food
shortages, violence, a fierce cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 3,500
We hope the national unity government will allow Mr. Tsvangirai to achieve
his ambitious and essential goals. But like many others, we are skeptical
that Mr. Mugabe - Zimbabwe's illegitimate president - and his henchmen will
allow it.

Mr. Mugabe stole last year's election after Mr. Tsvangirai won the
first-round vote. The best solution would have been an end to Mr. Mugabe's
rule. But with Mr. Mugabe refusing to resign and key African leaders
refusing to push him out, Mr. Tsvangirai apparently decided that the
power-sharing deal was his best chance to rescue his foundering country.

If there is any real hope, African leaders - especially South Africa's -
must pressure Mr. Mugabe to stop tormenting the opposition and let Mr.
Tsvangirai do his job. And they must make clear that if Mr. Mugabe does not,
they will finally stop protecting him.

The United States, Europe and others must continue providing humanitarian
aid to help Zimbabwe cope with the cholera epidemic and feed its people. But
they are right to hold back major development aid and maintain sanctions
until Mr. Mugabe and his henchmen show they are serious about keeping their

Mr. Tsvangirai must also remain clear-eyed about Mr. Mugabe's reprehensible
ways and not be seduced by the limited power he has managed to negotiate.
Zimbabwe desperately needs an end to its horrors and deserves the hopeful
future Mr. Tsvangirai has promised.

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Can Tsvangirai fix Zimbabwe's basket-case?
Thursday, 12 February 2009

By Jorn Madslien
Business reporter, BBC News

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has declared that his first priority will be to fix the country's basket-case economy.

Morgan Tsvangirai
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's battles are only about to begin

It is a challenge of biblical proportions - even when leaving aside the problems of sharing power with President Robert Mugabe.

"The expenditure needs of government stretch from the North Pole to the South Pole while its revenue options are as terse as the shortest verse in the Bible - 'Jesus wept'," observes the All Africa news service.

With most of Zimbabwe's schools and hospitals closed, its roads and sewers in tatters, and with at least eight in 10 people out of work, there is no shortage of areas where expenditure can be clocked up.

But raising the cash is a trickier task.

Take Mr Tsvangirai's first promise to his people, that "every health worker, teacher, soldier and policeman will receive their pay in foreign currency until we are able to stabilise the economy".

Doing so would make sense, given that the US dollar and the South African rand have become the de facto currencies in Zimbabwe, with most shops refusing to accept the Zimbabwean currency as payment.

This has rendered the salaries currently paid to civil servants pretty much worthless.

In turn, many have been forced to seek an alternative income, whether from other jobs or by turning to corruption, while others have simply left the country.

No assistance

The question is not whether civil servants should be paid in a currency that will pay for their food, but rather where the government will get the money from.

Gold digger in Zimbabwe
The impact on Zimbabwe has been particularly severe
Economist Intelligence Unit

Unlike many other African nations which receive aid from wealthy nations, Zimbabwe saw the International Monetary Fund turn off the taps a decade ago.

Donors, led by the US and the European Union (EU), have said they will neither ease economic sanctions nor provide development assistance until it is clear that Mr Tsvangirai has truly managed to wrestle power from President Robert Mugabe.

First, the EU would want to see "tangible signs of respect for human rights, the rule of law, and macro-economic stabilisation", it said in a statement.

"We'll just have to wait and see," agreed US State Department spokesman Robert Wood, calling for evidence of "good governance and particularly real, true power-sharing on the part of Robert Mugabe".

Direct investment into Zimbabwe from abroad has also all but collapsed, which leaves the government with just one way to get hold of foreign currency, namely exporting.

Severe impact

In the recent past, more than half its export earnings have been generated by its platinum, gold, ferrochrome and nickel mines.

It would not work unless Zimbabwe accepted that South Africa would control its economy, which would make it virtually a province of South Africa
Azar Jammine, senior economist at Econometrix

In recent months, these earnings have plummeted as global prices for precious metals have slumped, with some mining companies mothballing operations till demand picks up again.

"The impact on Zimbabwe has been particularly severe, " according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

"All four sectors are in serious trouble, partly because of the global downturn but also the collapse of basic infrastructure, especially electricity and water supplies."

Zimbabwe's other foreign currency earner, agriculture, is a shadow of its former self after the wholesale looting of farms by Mr Mugabe's cronies during the early 2000s, when productive and profitable farms were either actively wrecked or left to rot.

These days they do not even produce enough to feed the country's starving population.

"Seven million people are in need of food aid"," says Mr Tsvangirai, so it is clear that significant export earnings from agriculture are out of the question.

The country no longer has a tourism industry to speak of, and it could take years before visitor numbers pick up.

Indeed, to make Zimbabwe attractive to tourists, the country's deadly HIV/Aids and cholera epidemics will need to be tackled and the rule of law must be re-established.

'Unhelpful and unacceptable'

With little scope for raising sufficient foreign currency from exports, another solution has been put forward.

Zimbabwe should adopt the South African rand as its currency, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe has suggested.

Cholera patients
Zimbabwe's suffering people should not expect quick relief

But there are plenty of sceptics.

"It would mean that Zimbabwe would have to follow very different policies than what they've followed up to now," says Rudolph Gouws, chief economist at Rand Merchant Bank.

"This would require Zimbabwe to give up its monetary and exchange rate policy sovereignty," observes Alide Dasnois, economist with the Governance of Africa's Resources Programme of the South African Institute of International Affairs.

Such a move would also leave Zimbabwe with "a very tight fiscal space in which to manoeuvre and pull itself out of its misery", he reasons in an article in the Cape Times.

And as the rand would be overvalued relative to Zimbabwe's situation it would "destroy the competitiveness of its exports" and hence remove any chance of an export-led recovery, he continues.

As such, adopting the rand would "paint Zimbabwe into a corner in its bid to revive its economy", though this is not the main reason why it is an unlikely scenario.

"It would not work unless Zimbabwe accepted that South Africa would control its economy, which would make it virtually a province of South Africa," adds Azar Jammine, senior economist at Econometrix.

Mr Mugabe in particular would resist any dilution of Zimbabwe's sovereignty, while Mr Tsvangirai would see it as "an attempt by South Africa to be party to the agreement via the back door", Mr Lwanda reasons, insisting that adopting the rand would be "unhelpful and politically unacceptable" to Zimbabwe.

Political battle

An economic solution to Zimbabwe's woes is clearly not forthcoming at this stage, so expect Mr Tsvangirai to focus on his political battles.

He will have to fight on two fronts.

At home he will need to make the power sharing agreement with Mr Mugabe work.

While on the international arena he will need to convince both government leaders and investors that he has truly established himself as the nation's genuine leader.

Only then will sanctions be lifted and both aid money and inward investment begin to flow.

Without such input from the international community, there is little hope that Zimbabwe's economy can begin to recover and the country's humanitarian crisis be brought to an end.

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How did it come to this?

Ten years ago, Zimbabwe was self-sufficient in food. Today more than
two-thirds of its population needs food aid, many are dying of hunger and
this year's harvest will be the worst in decades. By Chris McGreal

Chris McGreal
The Guardian, Friday 13 February 2009

Juliana Tafirei will probably die, while the pills that could save her life
lie on her bedside table. The drugs arrive each month with a batch of Red
Cross food aid at her small conical house in the village of Muzondo in
Masvingo, a sprawling agricultural province of about 1.3 million people,
300km from Harare, the Zimbabwean capital. But there are a lot of mouths to
feed and the food runs out after a couple of weeks, three at best. After
that, Tafirei and her six children eat only every other day, a meal
consisting of a few boiled wild vegetables and sometimes a cup of maize
begged from neighbours.

That is when Tafirei, 36, stops taking the antiretroviral (ARV) drugs that
prevent HIV from developing in to full-blown Aids. On an empty stomach they
are, as one health worker puts it, like digesting razor blades. "We don't
each much. The food they give us doesn't last. The children get hungry. It
is hard to tell them they cannot have food when they can see it sitting
there," says Tafirei, lying in bed eating a small plate of beans, her only
meal of the day. "When I eat I feel a bit better. But when I get hungry, I'm
really, really weak. I can hardly walk. I'm taking ARVs. Without any food I
don't take them because it's very painful."

But intermittent use of the drugs, combined with immune systems weakened by
a lack of food, makes ARVs virtually useless over time. Then Aids takes a

Tafirei is not alone. The United Nations says that this month it will feed
seven million Zimbabweans, more than two-thirds of the population still left
in a country where drastic shortages have driven millions of the most able
across the border to work illegally in South Africa. But new foreign food
aid has all but dried up as the western financial crisis bites and donors
hesitate to pour in more money to alleviate a crisis of President Robert
Mugabe's making. So rations for most people have been cut to about 600
calories a day, less than the minimum required to keep an adult alive.

There is little relief in sight with the worst harvest in decades expected
this year, mostly as a result of Mugabe's land seizures and economic
policies. The numbers dying are rising steadily. A silent, almost unseen,
cull is underway.

Zimbabwe is not Ethiopia 25 years ago. The dead are not dropping in the
street. Many of the women wondering where the next meal will come from for
their children are still well rounded. Few of the children are skeletal,
although their extended bellies are testament to chronic malnutrition, and
in parts of the country - near the eastern border with Mozambique and parts
of Matabeleland - starvation has taken hold. But the gnawing hunger that
plagues people in great swathes of Zimbabwe is compounded by collapsing
immune systems. With that comes disease. Children get sick quicker.
Hospitals have no medicines and, frequently, no doctors and nurses. So the
children die.

The food shortages have helped cholera take a hold in Zimbabwean towns and
villages, killing more than 3,300 and infecting nearly 70,000. The numbers
keep rising. And the graveyards are being filled ever more quickly by Aids
in a country where one in four are infected with HIV. Hundreds of thousands
of Zimbabweans are receiving ARVs. Millions are not, and they are among
those dying in the largest numbers. No one can put a figure on it but in
town after town, health workers speak of sharply escalating death rates.

"It's all down to food. Without food, Aids comes. Cholera comes. The weak
ones die. Any disease, they die," says a senior state health worker who
declines to be named because of a government ban on talking to foreign

"In the rural areas most people are malnourished but I have also seen
starvation for the first time in recent weeks. Only a few cases, but I
didn't see that before. They died of starvation. There have been food
shortages before and neighbours always helped the poorest. But no one has
anything to spare any more."

Aids upset the traditional family model years ago, robbing many children of
their parents and imposing a new kind of family headed by grandparents or
teenagers looking after younger siblings and cousins. But working-age men
and women were still around in sufficient numbers, bringing in a salary or
working the fields, to help out the most destitute in the village or
township. Now even that support mechanism has collapsed in many places as
the economic crisis has driven those who could work to South Africa or
Britain in search of any kind of job, or to Harare, to deal in the black

In parts of rural Masvingo, working-age men - and quite often women - are a
rarity. As the number of available adults shrinks, the mothers and
grandmothers who remain find themselves looking after eight, 10, even a
dozen children. With that has come a constant struggle to find enough food.

Rosina Chimbewa is 69. She had 15 children: six are dead. They left 10
grandchildren who live with her in a tiny house in a poor suburb of the town
of Masvingo. The eldest is 13-year-old Samantha. She is a serious girl who
sits bolt upright next to her grandmother with her hands on her lap under a
poster of Jesus with his eyes raised to the heavens. She takes on a lot of
the responsibility for looking after the other children, preparing their one
meal a day of maize and boiled vegetables. She says they cry because they
want more.

"There's nothing for today," Samantha says quietly. "We are waiting for our
grandmother to find something. There are days when we don't eat. There's
nothing to be done about it."

Her grandmother winces at Samantha's comments. There is food from the Red
Cross, she says, because the children were orphaned by Aids, but it's not
enough. "I used to have a market stall but now I'm old and can't move so we
rely on the Red Cross and well-wishers. But we haven't been receiving food
aid for three months and it's difficult. So we had to ask the neighbours for
some mealie meal (maize) and they sometimes help. But they don't have much
food themselves," she says.

"Hunger is painful. It never goes away. I look at the children and I know if
I feel it, they can feel it. In the first days they would cry and ask for
food but they saw they were putting me under stress and so now they just sit
and look."

When what little money there is goes on food, everything else is sacrificed.
The children stop going to school because there is no money for pencils and
books and uniforms. Many of the schools are closed in any case because
teachers' pay is worth so little they don't bother to go to work or have
gone to South Africa to earn rand as waiters and taxi drivers.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross is using foreign donations to feed about 260,000
people infected with HIV or affected by it, such as Aids orphans. One such
recipient is Tambudzai Savera in Masvingo. It is hard to imagine that the
42-year-old woman can last much longer. Her face is drawn, her eyes close
constantly and she works hard to get out a few words to explain that she
feels ill and is hungry. Savera's daughter, Rudo, props her mother up in bed
and says she has stopped taking her ARVs.

The Red Cross delivers 50kg of maize, 5kg of beans and some cooking oil
every month but that has to feed Savera and four children, providing them
with little more than 1,000 calories a day. Savera used to make a living
selling vegetables but her health and the general economic situation means
she isn't making money any more, so she rents out the stall for 50 South
African rand (3.50) a month. In South Africa that would be enough to buy
another 10kg of maize, a litre of cooking oil and a few extras. But the
Zimbabwean authorities have been imposing 90% duty on food crossing the
border, and then there are the transport costs and the vendor's mark-up. So
a packet of maize has more than doubled in price by the time it reaches
Masvingo or Harare and the 50 rand don't go very far.

Even food aid can create its own problems. People who were once seen as the
most vulnerable and a source of sympathy - the men and women on the awful
ARVs, the children orphaned by Aids - are now sometimes viewed by their
desperate, hungry neighbours as at an advantage. Sometimes they come
knocking and those who have previously relied on their kindness find it
difficult to turn them away.

Matthew Cochrane, a Red Cross official in Johannesburg who has just returned
from Zimbabwe, expects the situation to deteriorate. "It's not suddenly
going to fall off the edge," he says. "You'll see a steady and steep
decline. It's frustrating going through the country and seeing how healthy
the soil looks. But there's a lack of seeds and fertiliser. A lot of seeds
that got planted were poor quality ones and even those farmers who get good
seeds aren't getting fertiliser. At first glance the crops look healthy but
then you realise the plants are about 3ft shorter than they should be at
this stage."

Last year's harvest was the worst since independence in 1980. Zimbabwe,
which used to be more than self-sufficient in food, produced only about a
third of its needs. This year is expected to be even worse.

A Zimbabwean health official grimly observes that people are dying from the
effects of hunger despite being billionaires - "No," she gasps,
"Quintillionaires!" - and then briefly allows herself a guilty laugh at the
absurdity of it all. Some of the dead did have trillions and quintillions of
Zimbabwe dollars in the bank but it was virtually worthless in a country
with inflation running somewhere above 10 sextillion% and a newly issued 100
trillion Zimbabwe dollar note losing almost all its value in a matter of

The growing food shortages have played an important part in burying the
national currency. With less food coming in to the cities, prices surged.
The government tried to curb inflation by imposing price controls. But all
that did was empty the supermarket shelves as local producers refused to
sell at loss-making prices and importers stopped importing because prices
were less than goods cost to buy.

The black market quickly took over. Food was shipped in from South Africa
and sold illicitly for US dollars and rands. Underground supermarkets sprung
up in warehouses and garages. The government swore it would never allow
people to deal in US dollars but faced with a burgeoning parallel market and
with no solutions of its own, the authorities first agreed to let some shops
and then all businesses trade in foreign currency. In the past few weeks,
the entire economy has gone over to American dollars and rands. Zimbabwe
dollars have all but ceased to be traded.

That has made life a lot easier for those who can lay their hands on foreign
currency. Some families receive rand from sons and daughters working in
South Africa. Cash is flowing again and the supermarket shelves are filled.
But the bulk of Zimbabweans have been virtually shut out of the cash

In rural Masvingo they are back to bartering. A day's labour on someone
else's crop is worth a cup or two of maize. What little property people
owned is sold off, although that is getting harder with fewer people buying.

Idah Mbizvo, 50, gets no food aid at all. She is looking after six of her
own children and three grandchildren at their home in the village of Vuranda
in the Chivi district of Masvingo. She has kept them alive by selling off
most of what she owns, and from what one of her sons brings in by panning
for gold."I don't even remember what meat is," she says and laughs. "For us
there's no light at the end of the tunnel. This is the worst period of my
life. We had 10 goats but we sold them so we could get maize.

"Now everything is gone and the children are not getting enough food. They
are unhappy. They go to school barefoot with torn clothes. They should have
something decent but we can't afford it. Now everyone wants to be paid in
rand. Where can I find rand? I can't find even one rand to buy them books or

"I don't think we'll be able to send them to school any more but I'm not so
worried about that. Food is the worry now."

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Zimbabwean Christians to highlight heartbreak on Valentines Day

By staff writers
13 Feb 2009

Zimbabwean Christians will join human rights campaigners in a Valentine's
Day vigil outside Zimbabwe's embassy in London.

Representatives of Christian organisations including the Council of
Zimbabwean Christian Leaders in the UK, Tearfund and other Christian
agencies working in Zimbabwe, will deliver a Valentine's card to the
embassy, launching the Love Zim campaign.

The campaign comes at a crucial time with the introduction of the new
power-sharing government.

It is organised by activist group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), who will
hand out roses at the vigil.

Eight WOZA activists were arrested in Harare on Tuesday for distributing
roses, symbolising their call for peace and political tolerance, outside
parliament there.

Cards will also be delivered to the South African and Ugandan High
Commissions and Number 10 Downing Street. Each card, headlined with the
message "Don't go breaking our hearts", includes a personalised message and
Psalm 149.

Qobo Mayisa, General Secretary of the Council of Zimbabwean Christian
Leaders in the UK, said: "Zimbabwe is embarking on a journey towards
national recovery and reconstruction amid economic chaos, hunger, a cholera
outbreak and continuing human rights violations.

"We believe the Love Zim prayer campaign will support what to some may
appear to be an impossible outcome by inviting divine guidance and
intervention through this process of transition. The church and people of
the UK can help the reconstruction efforts by committing themselves to
offering prayers for our ravaged nation."

The London vigil comes three days after Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangari was sworn in as prime minister of a unity government, sharing
power with President Robert Mugabe.

The Love Zim campaign aims to build support among UK churches for Zimbabwe.

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Caritas urges global solidarity on "Zimbabwe Sunday"

13 Feb 2009 10:23:00
Source: Caritas Internationalis
Caritas Internationalis

Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight is sending a
message of solidarity to the people and Church of Zimbabwe for "Zimbabwe
Sunday" on 15 February on behalf of all 162 national Caritas members.

The Southern Africa Catholic bishops declared the date as Zimbabwe Sunday in
an attempt to raise concern for the humanitarian, political and economic
crisis engulfing the country.

Half of Zimbabweans rely on food aid to survive, a cholera epidemic has
killed 3,500 so far out of 71,000 cases, and the country's economic, health,
educational infrastructure has collapsed.

Lesley-Anne Knight said, "The people of Zimbabwe need our solidarity in this
time of crisis and tragedy. Reports from Caritas staff on the ground are of
acute need among the majority of people. The lack of food will be peaking
over the next few weeks, a cholera epidemic has already killed too many, and
the suffering is deepening.

"Catholics and people of good will around the world will be seeing the
tragic events unfold in Zimbabwe and wondering what they can do to help. We
can follow the example of the Southern African bishops by marking 15
February as Zimbabwe Sunday with our thoughts and prayers."

South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier spoke about the reasons for declaring
a Zimbabwe last week. Cardinal Napier said, "There was a delegation of two
bishops that came to address the bishop's conference and one of them put it,
I think, in the most graphic way anyone could put it. He said it was
'passive genocide' for the world to be standing by and watching what's going
on in Zimbabwe. I think one could say the situation is worse than
desperate." Cardinal Napier says he hopes to accomplish two things on
February 15th.

"The first one is simply to express our Christian solidarity with our
brothers and sisters, who are suffering. And do something
towards alleviating some of their suffering by collecting funds, food,
clothing and medicines and things of that nature," he said.

Collections will be made at Catholic churches across southern Africa
February 15th. Caritas Internationalis, the international coordinating body
for Catholic charities, will help distribute the charity items through its
national member and Church partners.

Caritas is appealing for $7 million to help a quarter of a million people
avoid starvation, provide health care, and clean water to 16,000 homes The
appeal will provide monthly food rations for 164,212 people to prevent them
suffering from malnutrition and death.

Contact Patrick Nicholson on 0039 334 359 0700 or

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