The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Motlanthe appeals to SADC for aid

February 21, 2009

By Mxolisi Ncube

JOHANNESBURG - South African President, Kgalema Motlanthe, has invited the
regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc to offer
financial aid to Zimbabwe, which is currently reeling under a decade-long
economic crisis.

Zimbabwe also faces a serious humanitarian crisis.

Motlanthe, who is also the regional bloc's chairman, told the South African
media after a meeting with Zimbabwe 's Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai,
that he had asked SADC Finance Ministers to hold a meeting next week, in
which they would possibly develop a rescue plan for Zimbabwe .

"Our (South African) Finance ministry is developing a package plan for
Zimbabwe , whose figure will be determined late next week," Motlanthe told
the media in Cape Town Friday.

"By the end of next week, we will have a clear, detailed action plan."

The South African President said that because of the huge figure that
Zimbabwe needs to get its economy back on track, he had decided to include
the SADC, the African Development Bank (ADB) and the international
community, which he partly blamed for Zimbabwe 's current crisis.

"Many Western countries imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe ," said Motlanthe.

"The idea is to ensure that we unlock that so that Zimbabwe can be treated
like a normal country," said the SADC Chairman.

Tsvangirai, who has placed top priority to getting essential services like
health and education back on track, says that in the long term, Zimbabwe
might need about US$5 billion to revive its battered economy, whose meltdown
is blamed largely on the populist policies and mismanagement of the country's
resources by President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe of Zanu-PF together with Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara of the
splintered Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) last week overcame five
months of haggling over cabinet posts and finalized the implementation of a
SADC-brokered government of national unity, which has been prescribed as the
only way that both political healing and economic revival can be achieved in
the former British colony.

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Roy Bennett bail application on Tuesday - MDC

MDC Press Release - MDC Treasurer General, and Deputy Minister of
Agriculture designate, Roy Bennett bail application will heard in the Harare
High Court on Tuesday 24th of February 2009 at 0900hrs. Delaying tactics in
hearing the bail application must stop.

We maintain that the cases against Roy Bennett have no basis at law and are
trumped up, vindictive, malicious and politically motivated. Roy Bennett and
all political prisoners must be released immediately, unconditionally and

Any attempt to force Roy Bennett into submission will not succeed. Convinced
of the justness of the cause for a just, peaceful, democratic and prosperous
Zimbabwe, he has rejected being horse-traded for some unsavory political
deal. Leaving a dead body in Roy Bennett's cell for the whole day is nothing
but an attempt to torture him. It constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment of
Roy Bennett and the inmates which may have long and lasting psychological
effects. This callous disregard of the respect for human life and even
failure to respect the deceased, does not give confidence on the Inclusive
government's commitment to unbridled respect for human rights.

We call upon the Inclusive government to take a decisive step against abuse
of human rights and promote a culture of respect for the dignity and well
being of all citizens. This is what the democratic agenda is all about. The
Inclusive government can not continue as if it is business as usual, and be
on the same trajectory of abusing human rights with impunity.

Notwithstanding the appalling prison conditions, Roy Bennett was in very
good spirits this morning. He has become an activist for all other
prisoners. Prisoners are severely malnourished and are getting one handful
of sadza per day. Three people have died in the time has been there.

Roy Bennett is is appealing for well wishers to donate soap and
disinfectants to Mutare prison.

This entry was posted by Sokwanele on Saturday, February 21st, 2009 at 1:34

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Bennett shares cell with dead man

February 20, 2009

Cape Town (AP) - The body of a detainee who died in prison on Thursday while
sharing a cell with MDC treasurer Roy Bennett was still in the cell on

The deplorable conditions in which Bennett and other detainees are being
held were among the highlights during talks held between Zimbabwean Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and South African President Kgalema Motlanthe on

Motlanthe and Tsvangirai met at Tuynhuis in Cape Town to discuss the
situation in Zimbabwe and possible ways to get the country back on track.

Meanwhile the Movement for Democratic Change reiterated accusations that
Bennett's detention on terrorism and weapons charges was politically

"The conditions in the prison are so deplorable that one person in Roy
Bennett's cell died yesterday and the body is still to be removed. Prisoners
are literally starving to death," the MDC said in a statement.

The MDC expressed hope that Bennett and other detainees would soon be
released on bail.

In addition to acute food shortages, Zimbabwe is in the midst of a cholera
epidemic blamed on its crumbling health care and infrastructure. The World
Health Organisation said Friday that the number of cases had soared above 80
000, including 3 759 deaths.

Despite the problems, President Robert Mugabe is planning a lavish party
next week to mark his 85th birthday, which is on Saturday.

Save The Children sent him a birthday message.

"As Mugabe throws parties in Zimbabwe for his 85th birthday, one in 10
children in his country is destined to die before their fifth birthday. Most
of their mothers won't even live to half the president's age," it said.

"There's nothing for children to celebrate in Zimbabwe. As thousands of
pounds are spent on birthday food and drink, millions of children struggle
to survive on basic food aid rations, often with no way of getting clean

Tsvangirai said on Friday that his country could need as much as $5bn in

Motlanthe said southern African finance ministers and the head of the
African Development Bank would meet next week to evaluate the needs and said
South Africa was prepared to take the lead in any financial rescue package.

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SA government 'conniving' with Mugabe to remove white farmers
By vusimoyo

Published: February 20, 2009

Chiredzi: Top South African government officials might be working with ZANU
PF to unlawfully remove white farmers off their productive farmland, the
ZimEye has learnt.

A Chiredzi farmer who made an application for protection to the South
African government has detailed his ordeal in an application for the second
time without a reply from the South African government.

The Chiredzi farmer is faced with a warrant of arrest from Police in
Chiredzi. Peter Henning, who has been farming in Chiredzi has been informed
that the Zimbabwe Republic police are after his farm and they will shortly
execute a warrant of arrest, the crime being for 'occupying his own

The farm which is on Holding No 40, Hippo Valley Estates, Chiredzi is one
Zimbabwe's most thriving virgin farmlands left since Robert Mugabe began his
chaotic land grab process nine years ago.

As a South African national, Henning has to his side the protection of the
South African government which help he has now sought but none has yet come.
In a letter to a Mr Simmins, Henning pours out his heart crying for help the
second time in a week sounding his concerns.

It is believed that this action against Henning is part of a masterminded
plot of the Zanu PF faction within the Zimbabwe Government of National Unity
(brokered by the South African Government and endorsed by SADC) to rid
Zimbabwe of all white farmers still on the land.

Henning is not alone in this harassment as many other farmers across the
country are under threat from Robert Mugabe's thrifty 'machinery' which has
set its teeth on edge.

This is so despite that fact that Henning is in possession of a High Court
Relief Order, issued in March 2003, enabling him to "continue farming
without interference from anyone".

As a direct result of Mugabe's chaotic land grab process, Zimbabwe is faced
with the worst hunger in history with an estimated half population requiring
food aid

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UN humanitarian team due in Zimbabwe

Sat Feb 21, 5:03 am ET

HARARE (AFP) - A top UN humanitarian assessment team was scheduled to arrive
in Harare Saturday for a five-day visit to the country which is battling a
deadly cholera epidemic, UN officials said.

"The UN team is arriving Saturday evening on a five day-visit," a UN
Information Centre (UNIC) spokeswoman in Harare, Tafadzwa Mumba, told AFP.

"The team is made up of officials of the World Health Organisation (WHO),
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the World Food Programme (WFP)," she said.

"There are going to be four or five people in the UN team," she said.

UN resident representative in Harare, Agostino Zacharias, confirmed the
team's arrival.

President Robert Mugabe agreed to allow a top-level UN team to visit
Zimbabwe to find ways of curbing the cholera epidemic and a food crisis, UN
chief Ban Ki-moon said earlier this month.

"The humanitarian situation, which has reached an almost unbearable point
for the people in Zimbabwe, has been a source of deep, deep concern for the
international community, for the United Nations," Ban told a press
conference in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the African Union summit.

"He (Mugabe) assured me that he and his country would be fully open to
humanitarian work and activities," Ban said.

Cholera has killed more than 3,759 people in Zimbabwe, while seven million
people -- more than half the population of 12 million -- need emergency food
aid, according to UN figures.

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday met South African
President Kgalema Motlanthe in Cape Town to discuss a 10-billion-rand
(980,000-dollar) aid package to revive the southern African nation's
shattered economy.

Motlanthe, who heads the 15-nation regional bloc SADC, had promised to rally
economic support for Zimbabwe in the region once a national unity government
was established in the crisis-wracked country.

The formation of the government was completed with the swearing into office
of Tsvangirai as prime minister last week.

Zimbabwe is buckling under economic meltdown, characterised by the world's
highest inflation, which came to 231 million percent in July.

Reconstructing Zimbabwe may cost as much as five billion US dollars (about
four billion euros), Tsvangirai said after the meeting Motlanthe.

Motlanthe has convened the region's finance ministers next week to devise a
plan to assist their starving and desperate neighbour.

A total of 80,250 cholera cases were reported up to February 19, according
to the latest update by the WHO and Zimbabwe's health ministry.

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Mugabe loyalists shower him with praise

February 21, 2009

HARARE (AFP) - Party loyalists on Saturday lavished Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe with plaudits as he marked his 85th birthday against the
backdrop of a deadly cholera epidemic and crippling economic crisis.

"Like a mighty crocodile, you have remained resilient, focused and resolute
against all odds and stood by the principles of our liberation struggle as
well as the sovereignty of our beloved motherland, Zimbabwe," the Defence
Ministry said in a newspaper advertisement.

Mugabe, born on February 21, 1924, at Kutama Mission northwest of the
capital Harare, was due to celebrate his birthday with a feast on February
28 with party members, government officials and diplomats in his home
province of Mashonaland west.

The president was showered with praise despite an economic crisis that has
produced the world's highest inflation, last put in July at 231 million

The cholera epidemic, meanwhile, has killed more than 3,759 people while
seven million people - more than half the population - need emergency food
aid, according to UN figures.

"We indeed salute you our commander-in-chief and hero, and further pray that
the Almighty God grant you many more years," the defence ministry added.

Mugabe's chief secretary Misheck Sibanda also praised his "visionary
leadership, selfless dedication to the ideals of national unity, sovereignty
and empowerment of the indigenous majority."

Sibanda said Mugabe has provided an "enduring legacy that should inspire
both current and future generations."

State-run newspaper, The Herald, urged other political parties to "salute"
Mugabe's legacy, as a top UN humanitarian assessment team was scheduled to
arrive in Harare later Saturday on a five-day visit.

"We should never forget that 50 of the 85 years, comrade Mugabe has been in
the trenches slaving so that you and me could live a life of dignity," the
newspaper said in an editorial.

"Therefore, whether we are in ZANU-PF, MDC-T (Morgan Tsvangirai's party),
MDC-M (Arthur Mutambara's splinter formation) or Mavambo or any other of the
fringe parties that sprout at election time, let's collectively salute and
learn from this man's legacy, a legacy of selfless service to the nation.

"If everyone gives just a fraction of what comrade Mugabe has given this
country, we will be up there with the most advanced countries in the world."

Mugabe, a former liberation hero, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in
1980, winning a one-man run-off last June after former opposition leader -
now Prime minister - Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the race citing
state-sponsored violence against his supporters.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai, who leads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
later reached a power-sharing deal in September.

After several months of disagreement over the allocation of key ministries,
Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister on February 11.

Cabinet ministers were sworn into office two days later to complete the
process of forming a national unity government.

Mugabe has over the years lost the friendship of his former allies in the
west and earned criticism for his management of the inflation-ravaged
economy while he and immediate members of his family lived in luxury.

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City Council, Residents Headed For a Fight

MASVINGO, January 21 2009 - A showdown is looming between residents
and the city council following the latter's decision to increase charges,
without consulting.

The council had initially pegged the monthly charges at ZAR50, but
residents were shocked when they received bills ranging from R200 to R300.

The Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Association (MURRA), a
pressure group, said the residents will hold demonstrations at the council
buildings next week if the charges are not reversed.

"We agreed that the council would charge us in forex long before the
economy was dollarised. We settled at ZAR50, but now we are surprised to see
the city fathers increasing the charges as if we are paying in local
currency," MURRA spokesperson Tendai Mutungira said.

She added that the local authority did not consult the residents like
they used to do in the past when seeking to increase rates and tariffs.

"They did not consult the residents like what they did when they
sought approval for forex payments. This did not go down well with the
residents, who want to stage a demonstration at the town house. Others have
vowed not to pay the amounts," said Mutungira.

However, Masvingo Mayor Alderman Femius Chakabuda said the local
authority had not increased its monthly charges, but the figures for this
month were higher as they covered defaults.

"We did not increase the monthly charges, they remain pegged at R50.
But the amounts may be higher for some who had not paid for previous months.
They are being fined. The only difference is that the fine is being charged
in foreign currency, even though the residents were paying in the local
currency for the months in question," Alderman Chakabuda said.

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Cholera command and control centre set up

HARARE, Zimbabwe, February 21, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ -
Daily press briefing by the office of the spokesperson for the UN

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports today that the latest number of
suspected cholera cases in Zimbabwe has surpassed 80,000, including 3,759
deaths.  All 10 provinces of the country are affected.

High numbers of cases have also been reported in neighbouring countries,
especially South Africa.  But the relative strength of the health-care
system there has enabled the case fatality rate to remain below 1 per cent.

Other countries where cholera has been reported include Malawi, Mozambique
and Zambia, but it has to be noted that cholera is endemic in these
countries, according to WHO.

The World Health Organization, together with its partners, has set up a
cholera command and control centre in the capital, Harare.  The role of the
centre is to coordinate the response to the cholera outbreak and provide
technical coordination for partners in the areas of epidemiological and
laboratory surveillance, case management, social mobilization, logistics and
infection control of water and sanitation in treatment centres.

SOURCE : United Nations - Office of the Spokesperson of the

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Using Technology in the Fight Against Cholera in Zimbabwe

by Amanda Atwood , February 21, 2009

Tagged: audio, cholera, health, mobile phone, technologies, telephony,

This week we gave our first targeted demonstrations of Freedom Fone, aimed
at encouraging local health organisations to use Freedom Fone as one of the
communications tools in the response to Zimbabwe's cholera crisis. We
believe that given the rapid spread of the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe,
greater use should be made of the country's most ubiquitous communication
tool - the mobile phone - to share information that can help address the
suffering and limit the number of deaths.

Since August last year, WHO reports there have been over 80,000 cases, and
over 3,615 people have died. This is an entirely avoidable tragedy. The best
way to prevent cholera is to provide good sanitation and clean water -
standards in most democracies. But in Zimbabwe, the economic and political
collapse have resulted in infrastructural decline and malnutrition, and this
entirely preventable disease has become an epidemic.

In the long term, only the rebuilding of Zimbabwe's infrastructure, health
care system, and food security can stop cholera. But local and international
health agencies are doing what they can to combat cholera through providing
Oral Rehydration Solution, clean water in bowsers, setting up cholera
treatment facilities, and nation-wide information campaigns.

The information campaigns have included radio and television advertisements,
print flyers, and SMS messages to mobile subscribers. But organisations
coordinating this response recognise the limitations of these approaches.
Thus, at our initial meeting with a social mobilization group including
representatives of UNICEF, the Ministry of Health, the World Health
Organisation and Oxfam GB, we were invited to present at a much bigger

The larger group included over 60 representatives from the Ministry of
Health, WHO, UNICEF, DfID, USAID, MSF, IOM, Red Cross and dozens of other
local and international organisations and donors.

In these meetings, we presented how a national cholera hot line using
Freedom Fone's Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menu system could reach
greater numbers of Zimbabweans efficiently and cost effectively, becoming an
excellent complementary information outreach tool alongside the more
traditional methods which are currently in use.

We also shared a demonstration of what a sample cholera information service
might sound like. We ran various channels in English and Shona (the main
indigenous language of Zimbabwe) to give the audience a taste of how Freedom
Fone works.

For example:

Press 1 to learn about cholera symptoms and prevention
Press 2 to learn more about treatment options
Press 3 to find out where to go for help
Press 4 to hear an audio feature
Press 5 to leave a message

This larger meeting approved of the idea of incorporating Freedom Fone into
their communications strategy, but its success will still depend on a few
key factors:

Telephony - The service will be most readily scalable to a nation-wide
service if it can be connected to VoIP numbers. At present, VoIP is in a
grey area in Zimbabwe. Access isn't illegal, but it's also not readily
available. We are hoping that companies that provide VoIP termination will
recognise the severity of Zimbabwe's cholera crisis, and open up numbers to
this service as part of their corporate social responsibility.

Connectivity - If the service runs on VoIP numbers, its availability as a
24/7 information source will depend on constant power and connectivity
uptime. We will need to find an organisation - such as an ISP - which is
willing to host the Freedom Fone server on its premises, where its power and
connectivity can be guaranteed.

Content - Even more interesting than these technical challenges will be the
issue of developing the content. Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic has brought
diverse agencies together around a common crisis, but organisational
politics and preferences are likely to still play out in developing the
content callers would phone in to hear. This will be an important learning
experience for us in how to work with multiple partners to agree on content

Marketing - Once the service is up and running, the call-in number(s) will
have to be promoted. This will need to be done in an expansive and diverse
way, to reach a wide range of Zimbabweans. Our suggestions for this include
traditional media as well as more creative approaches, such as promoting the
Freedom Fone cholera number on airtime cards and specially printed packets
of safe water and Oral Rehydration Solution.

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Nasty competitors may steal cholera's spotlight

21 February, 2009, 16:52

Cholera is the latest mainstream evidence of the wretched conditions in
Zimbabwe. But when the fog of the cholera epidemic clears, the world will
find that Zimbabwe's medical crisis is a beast with many vile faces.

"Dealing with cholera is different from other emergencies," Pia Engebrigtsen
a Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) nurse said. Cholera is a quick killer so
"you know lives will soon be lost."

This, and the fact that terminal evidence has spilled across the borders,
are two primary reasons that cholera has garnered so much attention.
However, more sly medical assassins are at work in Zimbabwe threatening to
wreck long-lasting and far-reaching havoc.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) revealed an array of nutrition-related

Speaking on United Nations Radio, Richard Sollom of PHR, who visited
Zimbabwe, said, "We saw evidence of malnutrition.I believe that malnutrition
is really going to be over the next several months a major health issue."

Food and water shortages push Zimbabweans to make extreme and desperate
choices. Those choices are making rare conditions more common and existing
conditions worse.

The 200 cases of human anthrax reported between November and December by the
World Health Organization (WHO) are a prime example.

Read more

Anthrax is a common animal disease in Zimbabwe but human infections are rare
since it is not customary to eat carcasses. However, these cases and the
eight resulting deaths were linked to desperate people eating and feeding
their children dead, contaminated cattle and goats.

These hunger-induced anthrax cases stayed below the radar.

"Malnutrition is very political," a nurse told PHR. "We are not supposed to
have hunger in Zimbabwe. So even though we see it, we cannot report it."

"In Epworth, MSF has seen a doubling of children on our malnutrition program
in December and again in January," the organization reported. But they have
been stopped from conducting a nutritional assessment.

"The Mugabe regime is trying hard to suppress this information," Sollom said

But, in a country with a non-existent healthcare system the effects will
expose themselves, especially when 15% of the adult population has HIV/AIDS.

Food and Drugs
"Patients living with HIV/AIDS are especially vulnerable to food
 insecurity," according to PHR. "They are prone to both diarrhoea and
wasting that can be exacerbated by poor nutrition."

Furthermore, proper nutrition is necessary for antiretroviral treatment.
Without food, a person experiences the harshest effects of the medication
but gains the least benefits from it.

MSF noted a clear increase in people defaulting on treatment when President
Mugabe stopped food distributions. This report is consistent with others
that found that hungry people are less likely to take HIV/AIDS medication.

PHR further reported patients selling their medication to buy food and noted
that having to choose is especially deadly for patients with AIDS since
interruptions can lead to rapid health declines and drug-resistant

When Drugs Don't Work
Drug-resistant viruses are a growing concern among the international health
According to Dr. Chris Beyrer of John Hopkins University, poor nutrition is
not the only threatening cause.

Due to inconsistent availability of drugs, HIV/AIDS patients are often
forced to take whatever is available. Beyrer says regimens are switched
sometimes as often as every two weeks- a definite risk for drug resistance.

To make matters worse, HIV/AIDS patients are prone to tuberculosis. But,
according to PHR, the tuberculosis program has essentially shut down. "In
December, the National TB lab had one staff person."

Since there is no data collection on tuberculosis cases, no one knows how
many infections there are or what strains are spreading across the country.
But international health officials are expressing growing concerns.

Certain strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis are almost incurable and
extremely fatal. Southern Africa has hosted such strains before.

The Larger Threat
Between three and four million Zimbabweans have fled to other countries and
commercial sex has exploded at the borders.

International health organizations warn that Zimbabwe's medical disaster
threatens to spread nasty consequences throughout the region.

The appearance of rare and mutating diseases could reverse the progress of
several nations' health programs.

Michelle Smith for RT

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Unity Govt Poses Serious Threat to Vested Interests

HARARE, Zimbabwe, February 21, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ -
Zimbabwe's unity government has started on a bad note, confirming what those
sceptical of this deal feel and indeed the fears of Western countries that
maybe Zanu PF is not ready or, rather, beyond change. The arrest of senior
MDC official Roy Bennett hours before he was due to be sworn into office
indicates the lack of sincerity on the part of Zanu PF and the security
forces the party controls. The arrests go against President Robert Mugabe's
pledge that he is committed to the deal and is sincere in his dealings. As
the leader of Zanu PF and indeed the security forces in Zimbabwe, the arrest
of Bennett cannot be said to be the slightest of sincere actions.

This arrest and the intransigence still being shown with regards to the
continued detention of political prisoners indicate that, to some degree,
President Mugabe is losing control of his structures, especially the
security agents.

SOURCE : Media Institute of South Africa (MISA)

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No, minister

Comment from ZWNEWS, 21 February

Senator Coltart, the new minister of education, sport, art and culture, says
that the New Zealand cricket team have an obligation to tour Zimbabwe. He
says he is prepared to travel to New Zealand to lobby the government there
to allow the tour to take place. This is putting the cart before the horse.
First, there has yet to be any change in the economic and human rights
conditions which lie behind the New Zealanders' concerns over their tour.
Second, leaving aside these wider problems, it would be far more important
to investigate what Ozias Bvute and Peter Chingoka have done with all the
money that has passed through Zimbabwe Cricket while they have been in
charge. Only when ZC's murky finances have been made transparently clear
would it be appropriate for any minister to call for cricket tours of
Zimbabwe. Senator Coltart, as sports minister, should instead be putting his
effort into making public the various audits of ZC's finances that remain
firmly under wraps. And if a journey is really necessary, it should be to
Dubai to lobby the ICC to reveal their own investigation into ZC's affairs.
But the minister's over-riding priority should be getting the nation's
children back to school. And if he does wish to expend effort beyond his
education brief, perhaps he can put his culture minister's hat on and
persuade ZBC to release the missing Doctor Who tapes.

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Street level leadership

Saturday 21st February 2009

Dear Family and Friends,
While our new Prime Minister and unity government pick their way through the
rubble of Zimbabwe, a frenzy of chronic overcharging has got underway and it
has launched us into a state of super-hyper-inflation.

Leading the pack of thieves are the parastatals and municipalities who must
know that accountability is just around the corner and that this is their
last chance. Tel One, suppliers of the only fixed line telephones in the
country, have increased their price this month by eight thousand percent.
Last month phone bills were in Zimbabwe dollars and a residential account
was the equivalent of 2 US dollars. This month they have changed to US
dollars and are demanding 165 US dollars. There is nothing in writing, its
just a matter of pay whatever we say or you'll be disconnected. Despite
their demand that we pay in first world currency (i.e. US dollars) they
continue to give us fourth world service. Telephone accounts are no longer
issued and customers are given no breakdown showing monthly rental, calls
made or units used. For most people the amounts being demanded by Tel One
are more than their entire monthly income. They are almost twice the 100 US
dollar salaries being paid by the Unity Government to soldiers, policemen,
teachers and other civil servants.

The electricity suppliers, ZESA, have increased their prices this month by
600 percent and have also converted to US dollars. They too do not provide
accounts or statements, have not read household meters for well over a year
and offer neither excuse nor explanation for their new prices. Its pay up
however much we say or we'll turn you off.

Municipal charges have gone up by 900 %, in US dollars, and the outrage is
palpable. No bills are produced and so we don't know how much of the charge
is fact and how much is for someone's back pocket. Residential dustbins have
not been collected for ten months. In desperation people have taken to
dumping their garbage in the bush, under trees or simply on the side of the
road. Most suburban street lights have not worked for two or three years,
tar roads are a maze of gullies and cavernous potholes and the grass on
street corners is over six foot high.

By all accounts the power sharing unity government in Harare is in a
perilous place as I write. But while all eyes are on political prisoners,
power struggles and battles of will, ordinary people are falling by the
wayside. We wait for street level leadership and accountability - its been a
long, long time coming.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy

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Calm the rage of betrayals

I'm sitting at my desk in my office in Harare this Saturday morning. The
room is being painted and furniture is piled up high around my desk. The
Zimbabwean sky outside is big and very blue. The Kubatana team reckoned that
its time our work space had a face lift. Quite a good idea I think at this
point in time as our country could possibly be on the verge of something
new. Possibly.

Somewhere in the city Mugabe has turned 85: talk about needing a face lift,
he needs much more than that, like a plane to somewhere else; anywhere but

I've just come across an article sharing memories of Mugabe from various
Zimbabweans on the BBC web site.  Andrew Mutandwa, former press secretary to
Mugabe, said that "we were hungry for a hero". Back in the early 80s, Mugabe
was that hero to millions of Zimbabweans.

Why I mention this is because I've been reading an email from a big hearted,
patriotic Zimbabwean who believes that we should shun the phrase "let's wait
and see". This is what just about everyone is saying in response to the
formation of the Unity Government. He believes that we should engage the
term "let's work and see". The thing is, the majority of Zimbabweans have
never stopped working hard, but as Leonard Matsa points out, the politicians
care very little for the man and woman on the street.

Another suggestion in his email is that photos of Morgan be put up alongside
Mugabe's in all the public, and private (would you believe) spaces in
Zimbabwe where presidential portraits are currently hung. But, we don't need
to do this. Instead, we need to take Mugabe's portrait down, rather than add
to the mugs gallery. The elevation of our leaders through grandiose birthday
parties, presidential portraits, brash motorcades and a a host of special
privileges must cease. Very quickly the trappings of power corrupt our
leaders. And through our consent, we encourage this.

Zimbabweans are going through a lot right now. Besides being challenged by
maintaining a sense of dignity and hope on the battleground of unemployment,
inflation and a cholera epidemic, this new Unity Government will take some
getting used to. Whilst we must look forward with optimism, we have to have
some time to reconcile our feelings of doubt and mistrust.

As Chris Magadza, a Zimbabwean poet, writes in "Sun on my Face" . . .

  Wipe away the bitterness
  From my brow.
  Heal my soul, and
  Calm the rage of betrayals.

This entry was posted on February 21st, 2009 at 12:07 pm by Bev Clark

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Fractured confidence

When we told our SMS subscribers that the MDC had agreed to join the inclusive government, the response was largely relief. People sent us messages saying things like “Thank God,” “at last,” and “This is a good move.”

But three weeks into the new government, the cracks are beginning to show. The arrest and ongoing detention of Roy Bennett, Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate, is particularly worrying for many of our subscribers. Here are some of their responses to the news of his arrest:

As head of government Tsvangirai should enlighten us on the circumstances leading to Bennett’s arrest. Has he been criminal or an enemy of government? Why include him in cabinet when he has arrest warrant? Moreover I think there was a clause telling us to forget the past and open a new chapter in their speeches. If we need to prosecute for past crimes then the whole Zanu PF hierarchy should be arrested.


Bottom line. Bob has to go. Sorry

This is totally unacceptable. Let us walk out of this farce.


What charges are they arresting Bennett? Otherwise this inclusive government is a bluff. Tsvangirai might have been corrupted and sold out. The much needed rescue package is gonna not materialise. So the set up is a failure. We still at zero. If there is no selling on Tsvangirai ’s part let him be the first protestant so that we have direction otherwise we need to further study the set up before we conclude anything.


Zanu is undermining the very fragile Political Agreement by arresting a Dep. Minister nominee. They always want to complicate situations. They should release him.

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