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Defiance reigns as candidates stand

Zim Standard


ZANU PF was thrown deeper into disarray on Friday when several party
members, including a cabinet minister and a politburo member, filed
nomination papers, in open defiance of the party’s presidium.

Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi and Senator Dzikamai Mavhaire
brought their papers to the nomination court in Masvingo and successfully
registered as Zanu PF candidates.

Their names had not featured on the list of candidates approved by
President Robert Mugabe.

Mumbengegwi will compete for the Zanu PF vote with former Masvingo
governor Josiah Hungwe in the Chivi/Mwenezi seat for the Senate.

Mavhaire, of "Mugabe must go" fame, will face a prominent
businesswoman, Maina Mandava for the Masvingo Senate seat.

Party sources noted the defiance signified growing rifts in the ruling
party, rocked to its foundations when a former member of the party’s
politburo, Simba Makoni, decided to challenge Mugabe for the country’s No.1
political job, the presidency.

The Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday
could not say whether or not the senior party members who defied the
presidium would be fired from the party.

"I am not aware that this is what happened. Ask (Elliot) Manyika (Zanu
PF’s secretary for the commissariat). He should have the correct
information," Mnangagwa said.

Manyika could not be reached for comment.

Mumbengegwi and Mavhaire were not the only politicians in Masvingo to
defy party rules. In fact, as one Masvingo politician put it yesterday, "it
turned out to be a defiance galore" in a province which used to be solidly
behind Mugabe.

Another Zanu PF provincial executive member, Eddison Zvobgo Jnr, also
defied the party by standing against the party’s official candidate,
businessman Edmund Mhere.

Henrietta Rushwaya, another member of the provincial executive, also
defied the presidium, filing her nomination papers in Gutu South as a Zanu
PF candidate. Rushwaya, the Zifa chief executive officer, lost in the party
primary elections in neighbouring Gutu East, but will square up against the
veteran MP for Gutu South, Shuvai Mahofa.

And the contest between the Zanu PF candidates is promising
"fireworks"— literally.

Mahofa’s husband, Rt Major Micah Madombwe (46), is in custody after he
and three other Mahofa supporters, were accused of torching the home of a
Zanu PF activist who refused to campaign for the former deputy minister.

In court yesterday, prosecutors said the accused set the home ablaze
in a bid to punish Joseph Muvadi, who allegedly received $240 million from
Mahofa but proceeded to campaign for Rushwaya.

In what was speculated to be a pointer to the presence of a heavy
Makoni element in the March election, 22 independent candidates registered
to stand in Masvingo province.

Key members of the Makoni camp Ibbo Mandaza and Rt Major Kudzai Mbudzi
filed their nomination papers successfully in Mazowe West and in Masvingo
West, respectively.

In Manicaland, the camp successfully lined up candidates to challenge
party heavyweights. Prosecutor Levison Chikafu, the provincial co-ordinator,
will duel with Zanu PF heavyweight Didymus Mutasa in Headlands.

Patrick Chinamasa, the Justice Minister, will compete with a local
medical doctor Edwin Kusano, while Chris Mushohwe will be challenged by Ruth

Minister Joseph Made will be challenged by George Kawonza, a
businessman in the area.

In Bulawayo and Matabeleland North, a high number of independent
candidates filed their nomination papers successfully.

Mark Mbayiwa, who had won a High Court interdict against Zanu PF from
fielding Industry and International Trade minister, Obert Mpofu, will stand
as an independent in Umguza constituency.

"I am still a Zanu PF member but I want to teach Mpofu a lesson that
politicians are chosen by the people," Mbayiwa said after filing his papers.

What promises to be the most interesting battle in Bulawayo will be at
Makokoba constituency, where key officials of the two MDC formations,
Thokozani Khupe and Welshman Ncube, and Zanu PF’s candidate, Retired Colonel
Tshinga Dube will battle it out.

Khupe is the sitting MP, Dube the executive director of the Zimbabwe
Defence Industries, and Ncube the secretary-general of the Arthur Mutambara
formation of the MDC.

In Nkulumane, Gibson Sibanda of the Mutambara faction faces a stiff
challenge from Thamsanqa Mahlangu, the youth secretary in the Tsvangirai

Eddie Cross, won a reprieve from the High Court after the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) had barred him from registering, claiming he was
a British citizen.

He will be a candidate for the MDC Tsvangirai faction for the House of
Assembly for Bulawayo South.

There were surprises in the Tsholotsho North constituency, where
Mgelezelwa Ncube, the candidate for the Arthur Mutambara formation filed his
papers against former Information and Publicity minister, Jonathan Moyo.

There had been reports that the professor had struck a deal that would
stop the MDC factions from challenging him. Mutambara himself faces trade
unionist Collin Gwiyo (MDC Tsvangirai) and Zanu PF’s Patrick Nyaruwata in
Zengeza West.

In Harare, the Makoni camp will have two prominent women standing on
their ticket, Professor Rudo Gaidzanwa and the former government minister,
Fay Chung.

At the time of going to the press, the ZEC was yet to release the
results of the nomination courts which sat on Friday, in what observers
concluded signified how ill-prepared the commission was to run the

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Death be not proud. . .help me make money

Zim Standard


ONISMO Murewa (59), endured the agony and indignity of waiting more
than one week to bury his brother-in-law.

As a struggling builder, Murewa, of Glen View, Harare, could not raise
enough money to pay the undertakers to "fast track" his relative’s burial.

If he had been a superstitious person, he would have been haunted by
the tortured soul of the deceased, howling at him from the back of the
beyond: "Why are you punishing me?"

Sober, if a little frustrated, Murewa said last week: "My
brother-in-law died and I went to book a grave at Granville cemetery. I was
told to return after five days because there were no ready graves that time.

"I tried to negotiate with them, but they refused, probably because I
had no money."

Murewa’s plight is a microcosm of the many nightmares of Harare
residents being fleeced of their hard-earned cash by corrupt gravediggers at
council cemeteries.

At Granville cemetery, aka KuMbudzi on the outskirts of Harare, you
either pay twice to bury your loved one or face the anguish and even terror
of spending days with the corpse in the house.

Mortuary fees have shot up beyond the reach of many, leaving most
people with no choice but to pay what West Africans used to call "dash" to
cut on mortuary fees and other funeral expenses.

An ordinary grave for an adult at Granville Cemetery costs $57
million, while that for an infant costs $28 million — nothing to be sneezed
at these days.

If you want the process to be "fast tracked", cough up an extra $50
million and your wish will be granted instantly.

A number of gravediggers at the cemetery off the Harare-Masvingo road
admitted to The Standard they were making money from death, but pleaded for
understanding for their ghoulish profits: it was the only way they could
survive under the deadly, hyperinflationary environment.

"My sister," said one of them, "we earn less than $100 million a
month. How can you expect us to survive? If someone comes and offers you $50
million to bury a relative quickly, can you refuse?"

He spoke only on the understanding that he would not be quoted by

Others who had neglected to make that request of the media had
subsequently lost their jobs, he said.

The Standard spoke to mourners at the sprawling cemetery: they
complained the graves were being dug too shallow.

If they wanted them dug deeper, they said, they were asked to pay
more, to the gravediggers.

"We were told that we had to wait for a while as ‘something’ was being
done on the grave. We later paid to have the grave dug deeper," said
Precious Kagoro of Dzivaresekwa.

But the gravediggers dismissed the allegations, saying a normal grave
they were supposed to dig was "5.2 feet and seven feet" for a double grave.

Unlike in the past when the place was always crowded with people
burying their relatives, the cemetery had few mourners when The Standard
visited it last week.

The gravediggers blamed the city council, saying it did not want to
employ more gravediggers.

"The problem here is manpower," said a gravedigger. "We are less than
15 workers here and that is why we just dig a few graves for a few burials
these days."

But the assistant curator at the cemetery, Clement Kudzamaoko, claimed
there was no shortage of labour. He blamed the situation on the high death
rate in the city.

"The death rate these days is alarming and that is why we have
problems of graves ready for burial," he said.

Kudzamaoko said officially they allowed people to buy graves and wait
for 24 hours before burial.

But some mourners said they had been told to wait up to 72 hours.

The gravediggers said their problems were not being addressed and most
of them were constantly sick because of the dust they inhaled during the
digging of the graves.

"Just look at us!" said one. "We look like people born of the same
mother. We are all thin. Our health is at risk as we are not given milk to
cleanse our chests."

He claimed a number of gravediggers had died of tuberculosis caused by
their exposure to too much dust. Others were ailing.

Kudzamaoko confirmed the gravediggers were not getting the much-needed
milk because of the tough economic conditions in the country.

Corruption at cemeteries throughout the country is reportedly rampant,
as is the theft of council property from the graveyards.

Gravediggers, mostly in the large cities, have been accused of going
back to the cemeteries at night after the burials, to steal coffins for

At Granville cemetery, one mourner is said to have been bitten by a
snake last week. According to the gravediggers this is because there is no
one to cut the long grass.

In 2005, several people were arrested and convicted of digging graves
at Mabvuku cemetery and stealing garments from the corpse of a toddler.

Harare City Council director of Housing and Community Service, Justin
Chivavaya, declined to comment, saying he was new on the job.

Efforts to get a comment from Harare Town Clerk, Tendai Mahachi, were
also fruitless as he said he was busy attending meetings.

Meanwhile, although the poet John Donne once wrote "Death be not
proud", the gravediggers would not join him in that plea, appealing instead
to Death to help them make a little money on the side, in a country where
extra income can be made from anything, including . . . Death.

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ZESN barred from voter education

Zim Standard


The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) last week barred, with
immediate effect, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) from
conducting voter education, The Standard confirmed yesterday.

It is feared that because of the complicated electoral process, the
ZEC directive is likely to result in the highest number of spoilt ballot
papers since 1980.

Voters will be required to vote for several candidates at once in the
elections for president, parliament (House of Assembly and Senate) and local

ZESN responded with shock to the directive. The national director,
Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, said they would cease immediately their voter
education campaign, but would now focus on civic education, as this did not
require ZEC approval.

Chipfunde-Vava said ZESN had last Monday submitted an application to
the ZEC seeking authority to conduct voter education campaigns.

The ZEC has been unable to conduct a nation-wide electoral education
campaign, especially on areas of voter registration and inspection of the
voters’ roll, leaving the function to ZESN.

Although ZEC says it is conducting a door-to-door voter education
exercise, with only six weeks to go before the polls it is doubtful the
exercise will reach many potential voters ahead of 29 March. There is no
immediate evidence of the voter education campaign being conducted by the

For example, the ZEC is yet to publish in the national media the
constituency and ward boundaries, the number and location of the polling
stations, or how voters can tell which wards they now fall under with the
new system of ward-based voting.

But last night campaigners said the ZEC directive was "petty" and
smacked of envy for the work ZESN was undertaking. They pointed out that ZEC
had started late in running its campaign and that its visibility and effect
were limited.

ZESN, on the other hand, they said, started its voter education
campaign last year.

"They have no capacity, they started late, and they don’t appear to
have adequate resources", one campaigner told The Standard yesterday. We are
complementing what they are doing and if they view ZESN as competitors,
surely that’s petty."

On Wednesday ZEC wrote to the ZESN: "We note with concern that the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network has been conducting voter education
through the medium of the print and electronic media although the voter
education material was never sanctioned by the commission.

"Be advised that the current advertisements being flighted by
yourselves are in contravention of the law and you are therefore requested
to stop any further publications forthwith until authority to publish or
broadcast the same is obtained from the Commission."

The Commission said in terms of Section 15 (1) of the ZEC Act (Chapter
2:12), no other person other than the Commission, or a person appointed in
terms of Section 14 (3), or a political party should provide voter education
unless such person conducts voter education in accordance with a course or
programme of instruction furnished or approved by the Commission.

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Daily News set to bounce back

Zim Standard


ZIMBABWEANS starved of a daily alternative to the diet of heavily
biased news offered by the State media, could soon get a reprieve.

Last Thursday, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of
the banned titles, The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday, submitted a
fresh application to the Media and Information Commission (MIC) for the
relaunch of their newspapers.

John Gambanga, chief executive officer of ANZ, confirmed to The
Standard the group submitted its fresh application on Thursday afternoon.

"The provisions of the law give the commission 30 days and you should
start counting the days excluding the weekends," Gambanga said. "I am
confident that we will be registered. I see no reason why we should be
denied the licence."

If there are no problems with its papers, the publishing company could
be granted its licence by the end of March — 30 days from day of submission.

Asked why it had taken so long for ANZ to file its application when
the MIC wrote on 14 January inviting them to file a fresh application,
Gambanga said: "If you take a look at the requirements you will discover
that there is a lot of work that needs to be done. We had to consult a lot
of people to help us fulfill the needs of the application after we received
the 14 January letter from the commission giving us the green light to
apply. There was need to deal with issues such as market research and the
cash flow."

Ownership of the newspaper group had not been an issue, he said.
"Certainly not. All the application required are the names of directors and
it was not a problem. It must be understood that this is not just an
ordinary letter.

"They have 30 working days to look at it and make a decision. I am
told they will give us the licence this time."

Asked whether they had an indication when they expected to be granted
the licence, Gambanga believed this would be just before or after the

"But we are not an election paper," Gambanga said. "The fact that we
get a licence is good enough for many journalists who are roaming the
streets and churning out lies to overseas markets to make ends meet.

"I had a long chat with (Chinondidyachii) Mararike prior to the
submission. He says he will not allow past events to influence their

Mararike is the chairman of the special committee of the MIC tasked
with considering the fresh ANZ application.

Mararike confirmed receipt of the ANZ application but was not
immediately able to say whether its papers were in order. When The Standard
called to speak to him, he said: "We are still going through them and we
have just taken a short break."

But he said: "We are there to enable. We reaffirm our commitment to
act in a very balanced and impartial manner. Our processes are not at all
pre-determined. We consider the application as it comes and there is a
checklist of things that have to be fulfilled."

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Push carts to the rescue

Zim Standard

  By Nqobani Ndlovu

BULAWAYO — Push carts now ferry the sick to hospitals in Bulawayo
after fuel shortages virtually grounded the city’s ambulance service.

In an unprecedented development, the local authority is also
contemplating putting the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) on alert as its
capacity to react to disasters, such as outbreaks of fire or fatal road
accidents has been severely crippled.

The crisis has been spawned by critical fuel shortages blamed on the
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim)’s failure to provide council with
fuel over a month ago.

Local authorities and government departments are not allowed to source
fuel from private dealers, although Noczim is struggling to source fuel due
to foreign currency shortages.

The Bulawayo city council said it had managed to fuel six
petrol-driven ambulances, while the state--of-the-art ambulances donated by
Toyota Zimbabwe last year have been grounded because of fuel problems.

In December, the ambulances were only fuelled twice, the council said.

Last week, the executive mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube sent an SOS to
residents and the business community for fuel donations. He said services
such as refuse collection, ambulance and fire were almost at a standstill
due to the crisis.

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No one is worth dying for: Makoni

Zim Standard


INDEPENDENT presidential candidate Simba Makoni says he wants the 29
March polls to be a "contest of ideas" that will pull Zimbabwe out of the
current economic and political quagmire.

He was launching his manifesto under the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn banner
last week in Harare at a press conference attended by business leaders,
youth representatives and academics. Makoni said he did not want to see
"fists, stones and knives" flying in this election.

"No-one is worth dying for," he said, "not President (Robert) Mugabe,
Arthur Mutambara, Morgan Tsvangirai. Certainly not Simba Makoni. No-one is
worth killing for . . ."

Makoni was until two weeks ago a member of the Zanu PF politburo,
chaired by President Mugabe who has boasted publicly of having "several
degrees in violence".

Makoni’s former party has been accused of unleashing violence on
opposition supporters. In some cases, ruling party militias have
petrol-bombed opponents in broad daylight.

About his Zanu PF connection, Makoni said it was history and he would
not concern himself with the past.

He said what was important was that he had offered himself to lead a
process to reclaim "Zimbabwe and its resources back to the people".

He said he was not motivated by "negatives, not against President
Mugabe, not against Mr Tsvangirai". All he wanted was to see national
re-engagement that would result in national reconciliation and economic

If elected president, Makoni said he would launch a National
Authority, a body that would be charged with putting the country back on the
path of economic recovery.

He did not say much on the composition of the body and its mandate,
saying only: "The National Authority will represent all the stakeholders. It
will roll the country out of the crisis."

Makoni described himself as "an activist and a simple man of rural
origins". He appeared not too keen to reveal much about his campaign
strategy, and who, in Zanu PF, was backing him.

Makoni said he was supported by many people in Zanu PF, but was
unhappy with the way the extraordinary congress in December endorsed Mugabe.

He said: "I can’t read the roll call of the millions of Zimbabweans
who support us."

He made the comment amid reports that a Zanu PF politburo member had
been spotted at the hotel where Makoni launched his manifesto.

At Makoni’s table sat Ibbo Mandaza, Rt Major Kudzai Mbudzi, Godfrey
Chanetsa, a former Press Secretary for Mugabe-turned diplomat, and another
man identified only as A. Mujeyi.

In his manifesto, Makoni characterises Zimbabwe as full of fear,
stress and tension, disease, poverty and a decline in capacity and policy
review capability.

Saying there has been "failure in policy-making and implementation,
resulting in stillborn attempts to turn around the economy", Makoni pledges
to re-examine and re-define the mandate of the central bank and its
relationship with the state, among other things.

He pledges that a new people-driven constitution will be developed
after full consultation.

Makoni affirmed the necessity for land reform, but says he intends to
ensure transparent and equitable processes of land reform.

He promises to restore the rule of law, "particularly in the mining
sector which is critical for foreign currency inflows through the sales of
gold, platinum, diamonds, chrome and other minerals."

He also promises to resolve food, power and fuel, water and sanitation
problems which have blighted many Zimbabweans lives.

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US President blasts Mugabe

Zim Standard


UNITED States President George W Bush on Thursday rebuked President
Robert Mugabe as "a discredited dictator" and wished "the nightmare" caused
by his leadership could be over.

Speaking on his African policy ahead of his trip to five African
nations, Bush said Zimbabweans deserved to have a better leader than Mugabe.

"In Zimbabwe, a discredited dictator presides over food shortages,
staggering inflation, and harsh repression," he said.

"The decent and talented people of that country deserve much better."

Bush said America would continue to support freedom in Zimbabwe.

"And I urge neighbours in the region, including South Africa, to do
the same," he said, adding that the US looked forward "to the hour when this
nightmare is over, and the people of Zimbabwe regain their freedom."

Bush has in the past criticized Mugabe’s government as tyrannical. But
Mugabe has shot back by insisting that Bush could not lecture him on human
rights, describing the US leader and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as
allies bent on effecting "regime change" in Zimbabwe.

Bush’s second trip to Africa began yesterday and will take him to
Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia.

Bush said he was visiting the five nations because they were "a place
where democracy is advancing, where economies are growing, and leaders are
meeting challenges with purpose and determination".

Bush’s visit will look at US initiatives that improve education,
reduce poverty and fight pandemic diseases.

The US is working with Africa to overcome poverty by helping African
economies grow.

Zimbabwe is in the seventh year of recession. At 66 000%, its
inflation rate is the highest in the world. Four out of five people are out
of work while citizens are worse off than they were in the 1950s, an
unprecedented situation in a country not at war.

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Parirenyatwa suspends hospital theatre operations

Zim Standard

  By Bertha Shoko

PARIRENYATWA Hospital has stopped all surgical operations after it ran
out of theatre supplies last week, The Standard has confirmed.

All urgent surgery is now being referred to Harare Hospital, an
equally ill-equipped referral health centre.

Two weeks ago, surgeons and anaesthetists stopped all operations in
protest against poor working conditions.

The surgeons are worried about ruining their reputations by going into
the operating theatre without adequate supplies of anaesthetics, vital for
surgical operations.

Sources say operations have been halted and patients requiring urgent
surgery or emergency caesarian sections are being referred to Harare
hospital at their own cost.

The shortages of surgical supplies are said to have worsened since the
relocation of the giant pharmaceutical company, Johnson and Johnson, to
South Africa, citing viability problems in a foreign currency-starved

Sources said the company was one of the most reliable suppliers of
surgical equipment and drugs to many public and private hospitals.

After its relocation, many hospitals are having difficulties sourcing
their own foreign currency to import enough stocks of surgical supplies.

"This means hospitals, private or public, now have the task of
sourcing their own foreign currency on the black market, or for those who
are lucky, from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, to procure these surgicals,"
said one doctor on condition of anonymity.

"This will not be a problem of public health institutions alone, but
includes the private sector. At some private hospitals and the problems are
creeping in there too."

The source said apart from the problems at the theatre, shortages of
drugs (including general painkillers and antibiotics) have worsened to such
an extent that doctors are finding it difficult to monitor their patients.

"Today," said one doctor, hardly able to disguise his anger, "you may
find that there is amoxycillin (an antibiotic) and start your patient on the
drug. But tomorrow when you come back, you will hear the drug — of which the
patient is supposed to take a full course, normally for a week— is not
available. It becomes really difficult to monitor the progress of our

"A patient can develop drug resistance to some of these drugs because
today you have given him this drug and then tomorrow he has another one
which he might also stop taking because it is not available. Seriously, how
can we work like this?"

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZAHDR) has
expressed outrage at the worsening situation in government hospitals.

Douglas Gwatidzo, ZAHDR chairman, said he feared lives could be lost
if government fails to intervene urgently.

Chief executive officer of Parirenyatwa hospital, Thomas Zigora, was
not immediately available for comment at the time of going to press even
after The Standard left several messages at his office.

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Bakers demand $5m a loaf price

Zim Standard


BAKERS have asked the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC)
for a review of the price of bread to at least $5 million a loaf, citing
viability problems.

National Bakers’ Association (NBA) appealed to the NIPC last week to
raise the bread price from $3.3 million to $5.3 million.

NBA chairman Vincent Mangoma confirmed to Standardbusiness the
industry had written to the NIPC to "urgently" look into the bread price.

"The industry needs a price of $5.3 million a loaf to break even."

Mangoma said inputs now account for $4 million a loaf, which meant the
industry was operating at a loss.

He said the major cost drivers — fuel and flour — were not readily
available. Where they were available, the industry had to dig deep into
their pockets to raise the cash.

Fuel accounts for 26% of the total costs but was scarce, Mangoma said.

"If the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe was able to supply fuel at
subsidized rates, the price of bread would be reduced," he said.

The industry needs at least 80 000 litres a week of diesel and

Mangoma said flour was not scarce on the market as the milling
industry was struggling to meet demand.

"Whatever wheat is available to the millers, the industry is citing
viability problems such as water and power cuts," he said.

The recommended price of flour is $600 million a tonne, but bakers
were sourcing it at between $800 million and $1.2 billion as it was not on
the open market.

"Those who offer a higher price get the flour," Mangoma said. Flour
accounts for 18% of the industry’s input costs.

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Zimbabweans ignore inflation as battle for survival continues

Zim Standard

  ANYWHERE else, news that inflation has topped 66 000% might have sparked street
protests and sent nervous shudders through a government facing an election
in just over a month.

But Zimbabwe’s economy has sunk so low for so long, that many appeared
to have resigned themselves to their fate, largely shrugging off Thursday’s
announcement that year-on-year inflation had yet again shot to a record in

Analysts say despite the decaying economy, President Robert Mugabe
does not face much of a challenge to his 28-year rule during the 29 March
election, given a deeply divided opposition and a political climate of fear.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been in recession for seven consecutive years,
resulting in chronic shortages of food, fuel, water and electricity.

Zimbabweans have long become used to finding their way around soaring
prices, using barter to trade goods from magazines to cooking oil.

"The reality is that we see the effects of high inflation each time we
visit the supermarket, the (inflation) figure tells us what we know
already," said Gabriel Makombe, a clerk at an insurance firm in central

"The surprise, this time, is they actually released such a figure
ahead of the elections," he added.

The government statistics agency, often accused by analysts of
understating price rises, said year-on-year inflation reached 66,212.3% from
26,470.8% in November.

Zimbabwe has long had the world’s highest inflation rate as it
grapples with a recession blamed on Mugabe’s policies, such as the seizure
of white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.

The central bank was forced to issue high-value notes amid a bank note
shortage between December and January.

But the highest denomination 10 million Zimbabwe dollar bill — worth
$333 at the official exchange rate but only $1.25 on the black market — will
buy only two loaves of bread and is rapidly losing value.

Apart from the chronic shortage of basics, frequent power cuts, broken
sewers and bad roads mirror the economic decay in a country where only one
in four adults is in formal employment.

The government statistics agency has been increasingly reluctant to
release the data, a tacit acknowledgement that authorities are losing the
battle against inflation.

The official inflation rate is nearly double that of the Weimar
Republic in 1923. But it is still well below the worst modern-day
hyperinflation, when inflation in Yugoslavia in 1994 peaked at 313 million

Mugabe (83), and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, is
seeking re-election in the general election. He faces challenges from former
ally Simba Makoni and old rival Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change.

While the rotting economy has piled pressure on Mugabe, political
analysts say a divided opposition might be too weak to unseat him from

"Despite glaring evidence of economic mismanagement, chances of Mugabe
being voted out remain remote," political analyst Eldred Masunungure said.

Mugabe denies ruining one of Africa’s most promising economies and
says it has been sabotaged by Western nations that have imposed sanctions on
Zimbabwe as punishment for his land reforms.

Last year Mugabe ordered a blanket price freeze in a desperate bid to
stem inflation, but the move backfired as supermarket shelves were rapidly
emptied of basic goods, worsening widespread shortages.

Although the government has gradually relaxed price controls, many
producers are yet to recover from the devastating price blitz and most shops
are stocked with imported products that are beyond the reach of many.

Supermarkets that were flooded by consumers at the height of the
government crackdown on prices are now relatively well stocked but short of

"We simply cannot afford goods, like meat, a pint of milk and a loaf
of bread, that we used to take for granted. Even the single meal most of us
have grown used to is no longer guaranteed," said a government worker who
declined to be named.

Salaries for most government employees range from 200 million to 500
million Zimbabwe dollars and a union representing teachers making up the
bulk of state workers is pushing for a wage hike to at least Z$1.7 billion
to keep up with inflation.

"My earnings are hardly enough for transport fares, let alone school
fees and food," the government worker added.

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Voters fire warning shots during primaries

Zim Standard


THE loss by many sitting ruling party MPs during recent primaries is
not just a vote of no confidence in their leadership. It is also a rejection
of the party they represent, portending an ominous outcome to the 29 March
harmonised elections.

For the first time in nearly a decade, the new political landscape
gives rise to hopes of turning over a new leaf and a chance for this country
to move forward and regain lost ground.

The party that will emerge victorious in just over a month away is one
that is not only able to promise an immediate return to normality. It is
also the party that can articulate the specific measures necessary for the
country to reach the Promised Land.

It is possible that in its desperation, the government will ensure a
marked improvement in the supply of fuel in the country, going into the
March 2008 harmonised elections, possibly as Equatorial Guinea rewards the
government for handing over Simon Mann. But this would be a mirage. For
nearly 30 years, Zimbabweans have been fed rhetoric that is long on promises
but short on delivery. Now is the time to deliver.

But it is also time Zimbabweans learnt to identify, name and shame
those who have colluded with the regime in inflicting unparalleled suffering
on Zimbabweans. It is also important to make a distinction between friends
of Zimbabwe and those of the ruling elite. The government believes the
people of this country will quickly forget about the fuel, food, water and
power shortages, if it can show improvement — however little this is — ahead
of the March elections. It has a very dismal opinion of the electorate.

It is also crucial that at this point in the run up to the elections
that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) launches a campaign on the
exact locations of the polling stations and familiarises the electorate with
the four ballots voters will be handed out when the electorate turns out to
vote on 29 March 2008.

After so many elections since 1980, the level of spoilt ballots
continues to be unacceptably high. This year, the ZEC must ensure that
people are conversant with the voting process and that more importantly at
this stage of Zimbabwe’s development it should be unacceptable for voters to
be assisted – it is an indictment on ZEC’s voter education campaign. Polling
officials should be wary of people being assisted because they would be
voting under duress. These cases need to be documented because they are
blatant attempts at denying Zimbabweans their right to free and fair

All parties taking part in the elections should not only pledge their
commitment to free, fair and peaceful elections and demonstrate their
abhorrence of violence. They should all commit themselves to controlling
their unruly members and supporters. They should also desist from the
penchant of abusing other contestants.

Anyone offering to lead this country needs to engage and secure the
commitment of the international community on its willingness to assist so
that the majority is absolutely certain of what they will be voting for.
Such an arrangement would promise a departure from the hardships and
isolation of the past decade and half. What Zimbabwe needs right now is
someone who can connect with and open channels of communication with the
rest of the world.

Re-engagement of the international community and getting its support
would ease pressure from internal expectations.

At the same time, the international community could unveil a package
that is linked to the willingness of the new leaders to implement widespread

International institutions such as the International Finance
Corporation, with a record of supporting the private sector, could be
approached so that they weigh in with support for the recovery of industry
and the manufacturing sectors.

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Voter's check list - a must

Zim Standard

  sundayopinion By Bill Saidi

OUR vote is secret —they keep telling you before an election. But
there is nothing illegal in sharing a few choice guidelines with fellow
guardians of democracy.

First, does this candidate have a track record as a fearless defender
of the rights of all people?

They may not have prostrated themselves in front of a Cabinet Minister’s
Mercedes Benz, until that worthy contributed free of charge 50 000 litres of
fuel to all the commuter omnibuses plying the city-Mbare route (it could be
any other route, but I pick this one for sentimental reasons).

Secondly, have their party been involved in gratuitous violence
against citizens, like the Women of Zimbabwe Arise! (WOZA), unarmed students
protesting against steep tuition fees, or journalists protesting against

Thirdly, has their party existed for the entire period of our
independence? If it has, was it the opposition or the ruling party?

If the latter, then there can be no equivocation: under this party,
thousands of people died needlessly, thousands of jobs were lost needlessly,
thousands of children died needlessly, thousands died of hunger . . .

Under that party, the Zimdollar became worthless, and the country lost
many friends, needlessly.

If you still decide to vote for this candidate, then you have to
answer to your Conscience, assuming there is someone looking after you.

Somewhere during your miserable life, the question may be asked: "Do
you really care about life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?"

Seriously, a party which has wreaked such havoc on people’s lives
could not provide cast iron evidence of its right to another term. The
country is now the butt of many, mostly sick jokes, from Anchorage, Alaska,
to Darwin, Australia.

As a voter, you are expected to justify your endorsement of this
party. Wherever you live in Zimbabwe, your life has been blighted by its
stultifying bungling. In 28 years, has this party been a pillar of strength
for you?

Or has it been violent, arrogant, uncaring, diffident, indifferent and
insensitive to your every need?

If you think it’s presumptuous of a columnist to advise you on your
choice on 29 March, you could be right.

But since freedom of expression is not proscribed in this land, you
can’t very well sue the columnist for this generous advice.

Even under the almost lawless Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA), there is no provision for imposing sanctions on a
columnist who offers free advice to would-be voters.

After all, any lessons on freedom and democracy can be obtained in any
library in the country. There, you will find the 1948 United Nations
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which your government, the same one
we are rubbishing, signed.

Article 1: All human beings are born free and endowed with reason and
conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of

There are other Articles, including Article 19, which refers
specifically to freedom of expression: your inalienable right as a free

The argument has been made that all this is rather airy-fairy, as the
world is not perfect. People’s rights are violated daily and in many
instances, there is no redress. Even soldiers of the United Nations are
violating the women they are sworn to protect.

Zimbabwe has been accused of gross violations of citizens’ rights.
Since there has been no other government since independence, it is the
government of the party seeking re-election on 29 March to blame.

You may argue that since you, personally, have not been subjected to
any torture or inconvenience — being allowed to quaff your libation every
night after work, in your favourite watering hole, with your closest male
and female friends around you — what’s the big deal?

It may be difficult for you to appreciate your status if you were very
young in 1980, when this country became Zimbabwe, shedding the name of

That name was derived from Cecil Rhodes, a white adventurer and
capitalist seeking to plunder the country for the enrichment and glory of
his motherland, Great Britain.

A liberation war was launched against the descendants of the British
occupiers and, after much bloodshed and destruction, Britain handed over the
country back to its owners.

As represented by Zanu PF, the new owners have brought the country to
what it is today: a penniless pariah state, with everything —except
politicians — in short supply, including food, water, electricity, other
basic necessities.

The election is designed — really! — for you to decide whether this
party has done such a magnificent job it should be afforded another
opportunity to . . .

You have your check list. Work on it.

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Zimbabweans in Diaspora: Missing link in new struggle

Zim Standard

  sunday opinion By
Masola Wa Dabudabu

IN history, we learnt how, in one way or the other, the Munhumutapa
Dynasty managed to have their citadel of Great Zimbabwe turn into ruins. Now
in our time, in front of our glaring eyes and with our silent approval, we
have witnessed RGM committing a grand murder of our country. We have
witnessed Zimbabwe, a great country turn into a great ruin.

Zimbabwe is no more; yet more sadly; some Zimbabweans went down and
continue to go down with her!

In this piece, I dedicate a special moment to all those who have since
died in pursuit of emancipation from RGM’s crippling tyranny. May their
courageous souls rest in eternal peace! Let it be boldly told that their
blood; drained from their veins by RGM’s goons and Zanu PF dim-wits; was not
shed in vain.

They all died in pursuit of the shared values of freedom and we still
yearn for freedom! We long for liberty. We still dream the dreams our
fore-fathers dreamt during the days of slavery. We still face the same
nightmares our great-grandfathers experienced during colonialism. The
suffering is unbearable.

Our voices long to sing without being fettered and our wounded bodies
long to be cleansed of their festered scars. We profoundly recognise that
liberty; the absence of coercion; is an expensive commodity for anyone to
beget and to perpetually behold.

When we got independence, we thought and felt as if we had achieved
liberty. It was an ephemeral imagination; a crazed delusion. Now we all
realise that the essence of liberty appears to be perpetually gone!

Notwithstanding our current predicament; I shall still repeat the
dedication to those who have so far perished in pursuit of genuine liberty
from inhumanity such as the one exercised by RGM on the people of Zimbabwe.

May their courageous souls rest in eternal peace.

And now to those who as yet have managed to survive the onslaught on
the people; greetings from the Diaspora!

Greeting you from the Diaspora conjures memories of neglect of
national duty on the part of the people in the Diaspora. In brief, I have
employed the term Diaspora as collective reference to Zimbabweans who find
themselves displaced from their beloved motherland by the current turmoil in
Zimbabwe .

I particularly resent referring to Zanu PF sponsored tourists (or
terrorists if it tickles your fancy) who throng most western countries as
part of the Diaspora. (I hope I do not incur the wrath and might of His
Eminence The Police Commissioner-General Chihuri who sadly had his not so
brilliant offspring shown the way from Brisbane to Harare ).

I digress!

Anyhow, we find ourselves separated from our country due to RGM’s
insidious handling of the country’s socio-economic and socio-political
affairs. In our hearts, we hold a hope; at least an evocative desire to be
able to one day return to a Zimbabwe that hopefully would be in a manageable

If it makes those who have to face the injustices, the evil, the
wickedness, the tyranny, the prejudice, the totalitarianism and the horror
feel better; I shall let it be known that life in the Diaspora is not all
sweet smells and enchanting sounds!

As long as one is a Zimbabwean and not RGM’s crony, wherever one is
and whatever one is doing; the signs of suffering and torment show on one’s
weary face. The suffering shows on everyone! Meeting fellow Zimbabweans who
consider RGM as an old man with repulsive manners and outright foolish
policies is the most heart-rending moment in the Diaspora. Telling that the
soul is tormented becomes as easy as ABC.

Perhaps I should be allowed to graphically describe a typical
Zimbabwean in the Diaspora; usually rotund, fat, over-fed, stout, plump,
corpulent, fleshy, podgy, meaty, chubby, obese, big, huge, enormous and so
on but lacking in confidence. The confidence has been eroded by RGM’s
despotic tendencies back home. Their spirits; instead of growing
proportionally to the individuals’ weight gain; are diminishing!

Zimbabweans in the Diaspora walk with bent heads as they project souls
in anguish, like oxen that have no means to express their sexuality. Most
Zimbabweans who found themselves turned into peasant farmers over night, by
dint of fortune for some and a dint of misfortune for others, will recall
how an ox is renowned for providing the power that is required of it as a
beast of burden but fails to deliver the vital components for perpetuating
the genus.

With due respect to family values; Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are
like oxen that have had their aspirations to reproduce young ones of their
kind dashed by the emasculating effect of the castrating equipment. In oxen,
testosterone refuses to kick in to accentuate and to promote the development
and maintenance of male sex characteristics.

Again, with respect to Zimbabweans, especially the cowardly ones in
the Diaspora, our manhood has been reduced to nothing. We are neuters whose
only strength lies in docile compliance even to instructions to
self-destruct. We are hopeless in our spirits. We are dead weight in the
struggle for emancipation.

We are people who can only talk of a nation that was once proud and
envied by all of Africa and beyond. We have nothing to say in our defence.
We have failed our countrymen in the fight for freedom from autocracy.

RGM derives sadistic pleasure from our state of limbo. He feeds on our
lack of zest to exercise a satanic stranglehold on the bloody reigns of
power. The effect of RGM’s hold on the people’s collective manhood; albeit
remote; is debilitating. For most of us in the Diaspora, the results of RGM’s
misrule leave us in awe dismay as we are fully knowledgeable that we cannot
do anything to help.

At RGM’s behest, Zimbabwe’s economy has ground to a screeching halt.
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have removed themselves from Zimbabwe’s
political formula and as a result have lost the opportunity to stand up and
be counted as people with esteem.

We are hopeless; helpless and hapless! I salute those who genuinely
soldier on from the cauldron itself. It is my sincere hope that their
gallantry will be rewarded during their life-times.

When I see the hopelessness and the helplessness of the situation,
tears roll on my cheeks. I look back with envy on the men and women who gave
up their lives during the people’s gallant fight against Ian Smith’s
hegemony that had been born out of UDI. In the revised list, RGM is not
included as he has since desecrated the sanctity of the struggle! We now
make him out as a manipulative coward who relied more on crook than on hook
to usurp the results of a concerted collective effort.

Zimbabweans should not weep for ever as we might become the notorious
weeping stock of the world. Let us not weep no more but rather crack the
whip. Together we can weave a whip to lash at RGM’s wicked flesh. Perhaps
when the tears of weeping roll no more; the crackling sounds of the whip go
silent; the death-telling whines of our children die down and the chickens
truly come home to roost; the milk and the honey will start to flow.

What really matters in Zimbabwe today is not RGM but it is the people.
RGM has removed himself from the realm of reality. He is now a devil’s
angel. Perhaps RGM should change his name to RLM; the L signifying his new
role of the devil Lucifer!

I cry for mercy.

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A warning on Simba Makoni's history of failures

Zim Standard

  sunday view by Benjamin

The entry of Simba Makoni into the Presidential race has created a lot
of excitement among desperate Zimbabwean intellectuals.

I can’t blame them; they are desperate. Mutumwa Mawere, Trevor Ncube,
Alex Magaisa based in the UK, among many intellectuals, are ululating,
trying to influence Zimbabweans to vote for someone who has been tried, but
has never produced any convincing results.

The crisis in Zanu PF now is about (President Robert) Mugabe’s
overstay in power, not about any ideological differences.

Like Mugabe, Makoni has also over-stayed his usefulness. Makoni was a
minister in Mugabe’s government in 1980, 28 years ago. His stay was cut
short after he was appointed executive secretary for SADC. What did Makoni
achieve at SADC? Did he leave a happy man?

His stay as CEO of Zimpapers did not improve the company’s fortunes.
He was fired after clashing with the Editor of The Sunday Mail one of the
newspapers under the Zimpapers’ stable. But can his praise-singers tell us
what he achieved at Zimpapers?

Some have described Makoni as a wealthy businessman. What do we know
about Makoni’s businesses? If you are asked who is a more successful
businessman in Zanu PF among Philip Chiyangwa and Makoni, Makoni comes last.

Makoni may have won a lot of admiration for "his" decision to devalue
the Zimbabwean dollar.

I call it "his" decision because it wasn’t his decision. Makoni is not
an economist — he was simply communicating advice given by the economists
employed in the Ministry of Finance.

And what did he do? He betrayed the economists by chickening out. He
failed not only the economists, but the entire nation by being spineless
when it mattered most.

Makoni was there when ESAP was introduced under the late Bernard

I can’t remember whether Makoni was at SADC that time, but, as head of
a regional institution, he was supposed to advise the government against
Economic Strustureal Adjustment Programme (ESAP).

Among people who advised against ESAP was none other than Morgan
Tsvangirai. I am not bootlicking here. All in doubt must read "Beyond Esap",
a book published by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

We never heard Makoni speak a word against ESAP.

I couldn’t control my laughter when I read him being quoted as saying.
"My security is in my people." Now, like Grace Mugabe, Makoni owns people?

Or was he misquoted? Let me try to list some of Tsvangirai’s

He galvanized the ZCTU into a modern, vibrant labour organization.
Most of you may be mistaken that the ZCTU was only popular for street
protests. I have already referred to Tsvangirai’s position on ESAP. Through
his hard work, the ZCTU established what at some point became the regional
resource centre for labour issues.

The first librarian to run the ZCTU library was the late Nomore
Sibanda, who was later joined by another lady whose name I cannot remember.
Several other librarians joined the team later. This demonstrates Tsvangirai’s
vision for information as a tool for decision-making.

Because of his leadership abilities, Tsvangirai was elected as
chairperson for the National Constitutional Assembly, where he led a team of
enthusiastic academics, trade unionists, students, workers — defeating
Mugabe in the constitutional vote of 2000.
An avid reader, Tsvangirai qualified for a post-graduate diploma in
Governance at the Harvard University.

He is one of a few Zimbabwean politicians holding such a

It must be against this background that I hear civic society in
Zimbabwe seems to be distancing itself from Makoni.

He must realise that Zimbabwe lacks chemical engineers with a vision,
and should use that to revive Zimbabwe’s chemical industry in a country
ruled by one with a qualification in Governance.

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We are Ready

Saturday 16th February 2008

Dear Family and Friends, Now is not the time to give up! This is the
rallying call in Zimbabwe and its getting louder by the day as elections
draw ever closer.

This week I met a friend who had been transferred to a town nearly 400km
away. We had not seen each other since August last year and those times,
just six months ago, seem like they were from another era. It is hard to
believe that back in August inflation had just topped one thousand percent
and that now its sixty six thousand percent. Its a percentage so high that
none of us can comprehend what it really means. When I last saw my friend in
August, a litre of milk was thirty thousand dollars; six months later its
five million dollars! My friend isn't surviving on his salary anymore. He
can't afford for his wife and child to live with him and he survives only
thanks to the subsidies given him by his parents who have a plot in the
rural areas. My friend's entire monthly salary is sufficient to buy him a
two litre bottle of cooking oil and one loaf of bread. It costs more than
his entire monthly salary to travel the 400km back to the town he once lived
in, to see his friends and relations.

As is the norm in Zimbabwe today we talked about plans for survival. The
usual question that was uppermost in the conversation was: Wouldn't it be
better to leave the country? Go somewhere that has food in the shops, water
in the taps, regular electricity and where even a menial job earns enough
for you to pay your rent and buy a months supply of basic foodstuffs.
Despite all the hardships, we agreed that now was not the time to be making
decisions and that we must wait till after the elections. Everyone is just
trying to hold on until after the elections.

Hope for real change is now less than six weeks away. It is undoubtedly
going to be a gruelling six weeks. Since the Africa Cup of Nations football
games ended, so too did the supply of electricity and many residential areas
are back to fifteen hour a day power cuts. With these come water cuts and
with 66 thousand percent inflation come prices that change at least once a
day and businesses that are closed more than they are open.

There is a feeling of real anticipation in the air of Zimbabwe and whether
it is a protest vote or a ballot for a new democratic order, we stand ready
to rebuild our battered land. Despite all the negatives attached to every
aspect of the coming elections, we are ready.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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A letter from the diaspora

16th February 2008

Dear Friends.
One of the hardest lessons in life is learning who to trust. It's a sign of
maturity when individuals and nations acquire the judgement to know who to
trust and who to be wary of. Slowly, with experience we discover the people
who will not let us down; we know they will be there when we need them and
do what is right for us, the people who trust them. Elections are occasions
when we get the chance to exercise that judgement on a national level.

At Independence in 1980, we trusted Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF to do what was
right for us as a nation. We, the people, gave Robert Mugabe the power that
he has enjoyed for twenty-eight years. One of the hardest truths for
Zimbabweans to accept is that our trust was misplaced. We look around and
see a nation tearing itself apart. We no longer know who to trust; Mugabe
has succeeded in turning what was once a trusting - some would say naïve -
and united people into a fractured collection of individuals who can no
longer be sure who to trust. We have lost faith in each other and in our
leaders, traditional, political and even religious. Mugabe and Zanu PF have
almost destroyed the moral fibre of our society.

We have repeatedly been told by Mugabe and his followers that the only thing
that counts is loyalty to the ruling party, anything less is betrayal. MDC
supporters and anyone else who dares to think differently are branded
traitors. 'Vatengesi,' sellouts scream the likes of Joseph Chinotimba.
According to the ruling party, liberation credentials are still the only
criteria of the true patriot. That is the Zanu PF mantra, the very basis of
their belief that only they are entitled to rule Zimbabwe through whatever
crooked means they choose. How else can they claim as they did this week
that they are 99.9% certain of winning the elections!

Enter one Simba Makoni. As Eddy Cross remarked this week, 'He has a very
nice smile' to which I reply, 'Beware the smile on the crocodile!' Where was
Makoni during Murambatsvina? Where was he when MDC leaders were being beaten
to a pulp? Where was Makoni when the brave women and men of Woza were
arrested and beaten for handing out roses on Valentine's Day or when the
police repeatedly misused their powers against the NCA to prohibit any form
of demonstration? Where was he when our economy was diving into free fall,
when education and healthcare were being destroyed? Where was Makoni when
the press was being muzzled and all dissent was being crushed?
The answer to all these question is that Makoni was nowhere to be seen. Not
once did he raise his voice in protest. Instead he was there in the Polit
Bureau, at the very heart of the ruling party, part of the machinery of
government that sanctioned all the repressive legislation designed to keep
Zanu PF in power. All his political life, Simba Makoni has been an integral
part of the ruling party and now he tells us, the people of Zimbabwe, that
he will 'bring about change through national re-engagement- whatever that
means! He speaks of 'national healing' a process of reconciliation which he
says which will be achieved ' with the help of friends'- Thabo Mbeki

I can no longer afford to travel regularly to London for the Vigil but I
understand that Zimbabweans toy-toying outside Zimbabwe House are divided in
their view of Makoni's entrance onto the presidential contest. Some are
saying that it's a brave move, he's an honest man and that they might vote
for him - if they had the vote that is. Some of these Zimbabweans have been
away from the motherland for a long time and may not even be Citizens any
longer. They seem to have forgotten that the Zanu PF government of which
Makoni was a part was responsible for that piece of disenfranchisement.
From what I hear on SW Radio Africa there are divided views on the Makoni
question back home too. Zimbabweans have short memories it seems. Have they
forgotten why they are in the mess they are in? Have they forgotten that it
was Morgan Tsvangirai who led them in the call for change, that it was
Morgan Tsvangirai who was imprisoned and beaten, tried for treason while all
around him his colleagues were beaten and arrested? Yes, he has made
mistakes but they were political blunders, serious errors of judgement; he
too has sometimes been too trusting, but not, I believe, lacking in
And yet, Zimbabweans are prepared to put their trust in a man like Makoni,
who states quite categorically that he is not against Zanu PF, not against
Robert Mugabe. Surely, that is trust carried to the point of blind naivety -
but perhaps that is just what Mugabe is banking on - and the support of
Arthur Mutambara who has thrown his weight behind Makoni. Does anyone else
smell a rat?
Yours in the struggle. PH

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Dark days for southern Africa


    February 16 2008 at 08:41AM

By Peter Fabricius and IFS Reporters

The South African government is often urged to cut off power to
Zimbabwe to force President Robert Mugabe to behave himself. But, strangely,
it turns out that power actually flows the other way.

Last month, South Africa imported 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity
from its disempowered neighbour.

It exported nothing in return, and has not done so for about a year.
This anomaly explains little about the odd behaviour of electricity - but a
lot more about the parlous state of the regional power network.

The power utilities of SA, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique,
Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi and Tanzania are all members of the Southern
African Power Pool (SAPP), a network launched in 1995 to enable its members
to buy and sell surplus electricity to their neighbours. At that time, SA
had a large surplus and could supply all the needs of the smaller countries.

However, like SA, the SAPP exhausted its reserves last year, and is
now in deficit of about 1 000MW.

Eskom has contracts to supply Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia,
Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, but because of the deficit in SA, it now
supplies only Botswana (350MW), Lesotho (24MW) and Swaziland (180MW.)

Eskom is importing 180MW from the Democratic Republic of Congo and 1
200MW from Mozambique's Cahora Bassa hydroelectric generator - and,
intermittently - as with that 100MW last month - small amounts from Zimbabwe
and Zambia. This usually happens at about 3am when the demand in these
countries is lowest.

So, among the state power utilities of the SAPP, powerhouse SA is
actually a net importer of about 750MW. But if you add in Eskom's
contractual supplies to specific industrial users, like Mozambique's Mozal
aluminium smelter, which takes a whopping 950MW, SA becomes a slight net

But many South Africans are unhappy that the country is exporting
electricity at all, while some foreign investors are contemplating suing the
SA government for damages to reclaim their losses caused by the power

They plan to argue that SA has violated bilateral investment treaties
that demand favourable conditions for investment, including adequate power.

Some mining companies are considering seeking compensation in an
international court, arguing that they are being discriminated against
because Eskom is exporting to the region, while they are being forced to cut

But Eskom has responded that it must honour existing export contracts
and that it exports only around 5 percent of its capacity - about 1 400MW to
1 600 MW.

"Some of the region's utilities are dependent on Eskom for up to 80
percent of their energy needs," Eskom says.

"If exports are stopped, these countries would experience substantial
energy shortages, which would have a crippling impact on their economies and
put additional pressure on SA's socio-economic position.

"Zero exports would only have a small impact on reducing domestic
load-shedding needs."

Eskom also pointed out that it supplied power only to countries with
firm contracts - Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho.

To others, like Namibia, it was exporting on a day-ahead basis when
excess power was available.

Eskom also points out that it is striving to increase its imports from
the region. It already gets 1 200MW from Cahora Bassa, 110MW from the DRC's
Inga hydroelectric plan and an occasional 100MW from Zambia's Kariba.

Eskom is helping to refurbish and extend these and other plants and is
negotiating with the DRC, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and

Most notably, it has an interest in the plans to build Inga 3 and 4
hydroelectric stations on the Congo River, which would supply about 32 000MW
to the SAPP grid.

Some analysts argue that this clean power has the potential to make
the building of further coal and nuclear-powered generators in SA
unnecessary, but Eskom seems reluctant to risk further power failure
disaster down the road by not building its own capacity.

As in SA, mining - now Zimbabwe's biggest earner of foreign currency -
is being hit hard.

Botswana lost 25 percent of its power last week to load shedding,
partly because Eskom had reduced its contractual quota from 425MW to 350MW
last year, while Namibia is scrambling to find alternatives and is bracing
itself for a crash soon.

Namibia has said it plans to build its own nuclear power station.

This article was originally published on page 4 of The Star on
February 16, 2008

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Zimbabwe's Coventry sets world record in 200m backstroke


Sun Feb 17, 2008 12:15am IST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry set a world
record in the 200 metres backstroke with a time of two minutes 6.39 seconds
at the Missouri Grand Prix on Saturday.

The 24-year-old Coventry, who lives and trains in the United States, broke
the previous mark set by Hungary's Krisztina Egerszegi in August 1991 by
0.23 seconds.

Coventry, who won the gold medal in the women's 200 backstroke at the Athens
Olympics in 2004, finished more than four seconds ahead of second-placed
American Margaret Hoelzer who clocked 2:10.76.

The Missouri Grand Prix, being held at the University of Missouri's Mizzou
Aquatic Center in Columbia, Missouri, is an event leading to the Beijing

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