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Mbeki Claims SADC Talks Resolved Election Dispute

SW Radio Africa (London)

8 February 2008
Posted to the web 8 February 2008

Lance Guma

South African President Thabo Mbeki on Friday claimed both Zanu PF and the
MDC had managed to resolve their major differences over a framework for next
month's election.

Speaking during his annual state of the nation address Mbeki said the
parties involved had reached full agreement, 'on all matters relating to the
substantive matters the parties had to address. These include issues
relating to the constitution, security, media and electoral laws, and other
matters that have been in contention for many years.' This contradicts the
facts on the ground because despite the opposition reluctantly agreeing to
contest the March 29th election they have described the talks as a complete

The MDC insisted on a new constitution before the election but Mugabe
refused to give in to those demands and instead went ahead to announce an
election day before the conclusion of the talks. This was seen as a slap in
the face for Mbeki who had to fly into Zimbabwe at one point to try and
salvage the process. This week Mbeki was eager to gloss over his failure to
resolve the crisis, claiming that although there was dispute over 'the
timing and the manner of enactment' of the constitution' it was a
'procedural matter.' He also used the signing of Constitutional Amendment
number 18, by both Zanu PF and the MDC, as a victory for the process. 'The
relevant laws in this regard have already been approved by parliament,
including the necessary constitutional amendments.'

Mbeki was eager to emphasize that the mediation would continue but his
optimism contrasted sharply with MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa's comment that
the 'dialogue was already in the mortuary.' Sidney Masamvu, the Southern
African analyst for the International Crisis Group, said Mbeki was trying to
save his legacy from the ghost of having failed to resolve the crisis. The
Zimbabwe talks had presented the last throw of the dice for him in terms of
leaving a lasting legacy, given his failures on the domestic front.
According to Masamvu the speech on Friday was a desperate bid to sanitize
what has been an embarrassing conclusion to the SADC talks.

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Influential Former Army Generals Ready to Campaign for Makoni

SW Radio Africa (London)

8 February 2008
Posted to the web 8 February 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

Retired army generals Solomon Mujuru and Vitalis Zvinavashe are reportedly
going to campaign for independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni, in a
bid to oust Robert Mugabe from power.

A source close to Zvinavashe, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces' second commander
after Mujuru, told us he was ready to throw his full weight behind Makoni.
The retired general has publicly voiced his concern on several occasions
about the state of the country's political and economic situation.

Addressing a meeting in Gutu, Masvingo province in December last year,
Zvinavashe openly castigated Mugabe for staying in power too long,
suggesting it was time he passed on the baton to someone else.

'Everyone in Zanu-PF knows Zvinavashe's position on Mugabe and he's also on
public record for criticising Zanu-PF legislators for not telling people the
truth about the critical food shortages in the country,' added the source.

Makoni's right hand man at the moment is retired army Major, Kudzai Mbudzi,
a close confidante of Zvinavashe. When visiting his home area of Masvingo,
Zvinavashe is usually in the company of Mbudzi, a former spokesman for
Zanu-PF in the province. He was suspended from the party in October last
year for his refusal to organise the 'million man march' in Masvingo in
support of Mugabe.

Makoni has stepped up the pressure on the 84 year-old ruler by accusing him
of intolerance and a 'deep lack of self-confidence.'

Political analyst Isaac Dziya believes Makoni's approach to take Mugabe
head-on has tacit approval from Mujuru, long touted as the kingmaker in the
ruling party. Mujuru belongs to the Mashonaland East province that has open
rebelled against Mugabe. It is in this same province that most cabinet
ministers, including Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, lost in the
primaries to emerging young turks in Zanu PF.

But Dziya warned Zimbabweans not to get carried away with this latest
development, saying it had the hallmarks of a Zanu-PF plan to confuse the

'He may be genuine but questions will be asked about his meeting with Mugabe
two weeks ago and his intention to be registered as a Zanu-PF candidate for
Makoni in Manicaland. I guess people will wait to see who he names as his
partners in this new project of his,' Dziya said.

Most of the rebels have been identified as coming from Mashonaland East
where all the manoeuvring and planning is believed to be coming from.

This has prompted the party to scrutinise results of primaries there.
Didymus Mutasa, the security minister and a top confidante of Mugabe Zanu-PF
said the party would in the coming days intensify a campaign to weed out
rebels linked to the former finance minister.

'We have rebels in the party and we will have to look at who is who,'

Mutasa reportedly told ZimOnline.

While Mugabe has yet to comment on the latest development, reports say he is
seething with rage at being betrayed by people from his own party and its
reported he has promised to crush the rebels.

An analyst opined that the biggest problem with a purge is that the plot to
oust him involves people who have strong military backing, people who still
command a lot of respect and support among party cadres than him.

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Zimbabwe Ruling Party To Probe Primaries, State Media Say


HARARE, Zimbabwe (AFP)--Zimbabwe's ruling party is to investigate the
results of primaries for upcoming national polls in which several key allies
of President Robert Mugabe were defeated, state media reported Friday.

The Herald newspaper said there had been widespread complaints about the
primaries within the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front for
the elections on March 29 and the final results would now be delayed.

"The complaints include alleged imposition of candidates, allegedly unfair
disqualification of candidates and candidates who declared themselves
unopposed, " The Herald said.

The primaries were to have been completed on Monday of this week but they
have now been extended until next week as the party investigates the
complaints, the paper said.

Among those surprisingly defeated in the primaries were several cabinet
ministers, including Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere and Agriculture
Minister Rugare Gumbo.

The Herald said complaints filed to the party leadership included one by
activists in the northwestern Chinhoyi province who claimed some candidates
with criminal records had been allowed to stand.

A former legislator also claimed some senior party officials, plotting her
downfall, imposed a man in a constituency reserved for female candidates
while two male candidates complained over the rule reserving some seats for

The complaints have already been discussed at a meeting chaired by Mugabe
and attended by vice presidents Joice Mujuru and Joseph Msika and the
ZANU-PF national chairman John Nkomo.

Mugabe, who has ruled the former U.K. colony since independence in 1980,
faces a challenge from a senior ZANU-PF figure, with former finance minister
Simba Makoni taking him on as an independent at the ballot box.

The 83-year-old Mugabe is seeking a sixth term of office in the joint
parliamentary and presidential election at a time when Zimbabwe is wracked
by an inflation rate officially put at 26,000%.

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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MDC unity talks collapse: the facts

New Zimbabwe

By Stella Allberry, MDC national executive secretary for health (Mutamnbara
Last updated: 02/09/2008 04:23:29
WHEN our National Council (MDC Arthur Mutambara) was requested to attend an
extraordinary National Council Meeting for the reunification process, there
were mixed emotions as we travelled to Harare.

Many of us had been deeply hurt in the last couple of years, and quite
frankly were proud to be part of a sincere and principled group that were of
one heart and vision, working tirelessly for the betterment of our country.

We all knew that for the sake of all our beloved Zimbabweans we had to do
all that was in our power to have a united front against Mugabe to free the
people of Zimbabwe. We were secure that we would make the right decision.

Ten of our top leadership had been working again on some type of agreement
(the last coalition agreement had been rejected by the Tsvangirai formation
in April last year). This was a reunification agreement.

On Saturday, February 2, 2008, we were presented with a document that the
top ten from both parties had agreed upon. They told of endless debates
being held until the early hours of many mornings, saying they faced the
hardest negotiations of their lives.

The document they showed was a fully comprehensive one, and I submit it here
so you may see for yourself what it is all about (CLICK HERE FOR DOCUMENT).

The reunification process seemed fair and just in every way. It was supposed
to colminate in a reunification congress shortly after elections, dissolving
both parties and making one reunited MDC. We debated vigorously but
sensibly. Our concerns were few and not too major. Our unity was incredibly
evident, with our desire for freedom and an end to the suffering of our
nation being our focus.

The new seats allocation between the two formations was a little
disappointing for our side, effectively giving the Tsvangirai formation
approximately 70% in 6 provinces, 50% in 1 province and 30% in the three
Matabeleland provinces, but we recognised that all agreements require a
considerable amount of compromise and tolerance.

By 12PM on Saturday, we had adopted the agreement and were ready to meet
with the other team and sign it into reality. I even had a romantic notion
of the two leaders holding clasped hands up in the air to a roar of Chinja

Instead, we waited for four hours while the Tsvangirai formation debated.
Eventually, our top ten leadership were called back into negotiations. The
Tsvangirai formation's National Council had been debating at the same time
as us and could not accept what their top ten had negotiated for them.

From 4PM until 8.30PM, we waited and were then told that the Tsvangirai
formation were sticking over the point of wanting to have two more seats in
Bulawayo. We had already compromised in other areas, for example we had
agreed to only have 28% of seats in Harare, even though we were entitled in
terms of our agreement to at least 33%.

Mutambara had asked them to make a decision one way or the other by the next
morning, as we just could not debate further. The Tsvangirai formation's
Bulawayo contingency were, it seemed, really fighting the process, and I
couldn't help but cry in my heart: "Please, please remember the bigger
picture for the people."

On Sunday morning, our leadership called us in and we heard that the
Tsvangirai formation had brought an entirely new and different demands to
the table. Funnily enough, the Sunday Mail newspaper heard before us. We
were told that the Tsvangirai formation wanted 50% of all the Matabeleland
and Bulawayo seats, including those where our MPs were already sitting and
further, they would not guarantee not fielding in the other 50%! Where was
the good will towards a united MDC? We were blown away!

A few of us women cried and I even had an opportunity of saying with a
broken heart: "Do we give it to them to stop the suffering of the people?"
But even as I said it, I thought what will we be doing for the people of
Zimbabwe? If we give them greedy MPs who think only of themselves anyway,
are we not betraying them more? Mutambara and Welshman Ncube (our Secretary
General) both looked me directly in my face and asked if I had an idea of
what to do. They had tried their absolute hardest, they said.

The press conference was called, and we are going alone. I see that Eddie
Cross has written of the gloom in our camp. Yes, that is true, but not
because we cried for ourselves. There is no doubt that our gloom was shared
by millions of patriotic Zimbabweans who hoped that people would put
personal interests aside for national interest -- something that the
Tsvangirai formation has failed to do.

Eddie Cross also has written that the decision not to form a united front
was "received favourably across the nation..." Whilst I have no doubt it was
received favourably by Cross, the people at State House and by Zanu PF
throughout the nation, I think the truth is that most reasonable Zimbabweans
were deeply disappointed. Yes Eddie, we are very very sad, but not for
ourselves. In fact, to stand with principled people is the greatest honour
of my life!

I will never stop fighting this regime as long as I have breath in my body
and I have no feeling of guilt or shame in the choices we have made because
we gave it our best shot. We must now take on the brutal Zanu PF regime
divided, but we will do so with courage and determination.

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MDC Stalemate Presents Major Obstacle

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

8 February 2008
Posted to the web 8 February 2008

Constantine Chimakure

THE MDC may prove to be the biggest obstacle to its own bid to oust
President Robert Mugabe after unity talks between the two opposition
formations collapsed at the weekend.

Many theories have been postulated as to the real causes of the political
stalemate between the two factions. Policy inconsistency, infiltration by
security agents and a leadership crisis are but a few examples of such
theories that seek to explain the MDC's failure to get its act together.

Suffice it to say divisions in the main opposition party have left the once
vibrant movement staring at defeat in the presidential, legislative and
council elections on March 29.

Political analysts said the failure of the talks meant that the opposition
factions would contest the polls fragmented -- a move that will result in
the splitting of votes in favour of Mugabe and the ruling party.

To make matters worse, the analysts argued, neither one of the MDC camps had
approached the talks seriously since it was apparent that each faction had
already come up with its position way before the weekend meetings.

The talks crumbled after the MDC factions failed to agree on how to select
candidates for the House of Assembly and Senate elections.

Analysts had predicted a tight victory for Mugabe if the two MDC factions
had fought the elections as a single party, but going into the polls divided
they would hand the 84-year old nationalist a resounding victory.

Political scientist and a critic of Mugabe's leadership style, John Makumbe,
said the failure by the MDC to patch up their differences would see Zanu PF
wallopping the opposition.

Makumbe said it was regrettable that the MDC formations failed to agree on
how to come up with candidates when they had initially devised what appeared
to be a sound formula.

"It is clear to me that Mugabe will win hands down. He will have the last
laugh," Makumbe said. "What is needed to confront the current dictatorship
is a united front and the MDC should know the cost of vote-splitting."

In Kenya in 1998, then President Daniel arap Moi won his fifth and final
term with 40% of the votes against a divided opposition in a muddled,
controversial and chaotic election.

Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe lecturer, said the MDC have shot
themselves in the foot by failing to come up with an election pact.

"The opposition has just done themselves in and in fact it would not be
wrong if one were to suggest that they are becoming another obstruction to
democratic change," said Makumbe.

Both factions of the MDC had come up with a formula for selecting
candidates. Under the proposed pact, the camps would select a single
presidential candidate.

The Tsvangirai group was to field candidates in 70% of the seats in Harare,
Manicaland, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and
Masvingo provinces. It would also field 50% of the candidates in Midlands.

The faction was expected to contest 30% of the seats in Bulawayo and the two
Matabeleland provinces.

Mutambara's faction, on the other hand, was supposed to field 70% of the
seats in Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South.

The national council of the Tsvangirai faction rejected the original

In a dramatic U-turn, the Tsvangirai camp wanted to have all seats in Harare
and Chitungwiza. It also wanted a vast majority of seats in Bulawayo and the
Matabeleland provinces reserved for them.

Political scientist Michael Mhike was of the opinion that the failure of the
talks was partly because of parliamentary hopefuls in the Tsvangirai
national council who saw themselves losing opportunities to occupy political

Mhike argued that the hopefuls took a stance to reject the proposed formula
way before the two factions met at the weekend.

"In the end, the meetings at the weekend by the two formations was more of
an argument of the deaf," Mhike said. "No one came to the meeting prepared
to give in to the demands of the other."

He said the MDC had worsened its political predicament by failing to patch
up differences following the October 2005 split.

"Many voters are convinced that Mugabe will easily romp home to victory in
the elections and I think it is a fair prediction," Mhike said. "The MDC has
betrayed the electorate which wanted the two parties to unite or come up
with a loose coalition for the March 29 elections."

Eldred Masunungure, a political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe,
said the collapse of the MDC talks was tantamount to electoral suicide by
the opposition.

"The decision to go separate ways was a self-destruct button," said
Masunungure. "They will be mince-meat for the ruling party."

Observers have questioned whether Tsvangirai or Mutambara, individually or
collectively, could defeat Mugabe. While it is generally agreed that Mugabe
is much weaker now than ever before given internal rivalries and an economy
in free-fall, it is also true to say that opposition leaders are weaker
compared to him in a number of respects.

Mugabe is under siege on many fronts. The collapsing economy is blamed on
mismanagement by his regime while internal wrangling in Zanu PF has created
serious fault lines in the party. Mugabe is also isolated inside his party
and internationally.

However, he has the state machinery on his side. He also has a lot of
resources at his disposal to prop up his rule, the sort of things Tsvangirai
or Mutambara can only dream of.

Other analysts argued that the failure by the MDC to unite would work
against Tsvangirai's faction in the Matabeleland provinces where Mutambara's
camp enjoys more support.

Tsvangirai, the analysts said, cannot win the March polls without support of
the Matabeleland region, while Mutambara camp could retain seats in that
region alone.

Tsvangirai enjoys support in the Mashonaland provinces.

Mutambara's camp, which is the smaller faction of the MDC, quickly conceded
that unseating Mugabe -- a tough assignment at the best of times -- look
slimmer after failure to construct a united front.

Mutambara's faction spokesperson Gabriel Chaibva blamed Tsvangirai for the
collapse of the united front talks saying the camp had made unreasonable

"Tsvangirai said his national council had rejected the original agreement,"
Chaibva said.

"He (Tsvangirai) has no control over his formation and that is why one day
he will agree to reunification under the framework of a document crafted by
teams of 10 people from each side only to renege on it the next day."

Tsvangirai also admitted at a press conference at the weekend that the
failure of the talks was regrettable

"Indeed, I must confirm that we had agreed on a set of principles, rules and
guidelines. However, the national council disagreed on the selection of
candidates," Tsvangirai said.

"On our part, we are still committed to the reunification of the MDC
formations. There is a dispute and disagreement. It's regrettable, it's
unfortunate and that is reality. We have to stand by it."

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Split looms among war veterans

Zim Online

by Nqobizitha Khumalo Saturday 09 February 2008

      BULAWAYO – The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association
(ZNLWVA) is headed for a split after a group of former fighters said they
were breaking away in protest over the way the war veterans’ body was being

      The new group, called the Zimbabwe National Association of Liberation
War Veterans Cadres, is said to be linked to a faction of the ruling ZANU PF
that is vying to unseat President Robert Mugabe from power.

      The group was expected to meet in Bulawayo this weekend to formally
announce its launch.

      The looming split within the war veterans’ body could deliver a
telling blow to Mugabe who has relied on the former fighters to act as foot
soldiers during election times, beating up opposition supporters

      The emergence of the group could herald more bad news for Mugabe after
his former finance minister Simba Makoni announced last Tuesday that he
would stand against the veteran Zimbabwean leader in next March’s election.

      Henry Ndebele, an executive member of the new war veterans group, said
they were deeply concerned over the image of the war veteran and party that
has been “soiled” over the past eight years.

      “Our mother association is under siege and our party, ZANU PF, is also
under international scrutiny. There is need therefore for a group that is
not soiled to show the true colours of the party,” said Ndebele.

      ZimOnline could not establish yesterday if the new war veterans body
were part of Makoni’s project to unseat Mugabe.

      ZNLWVA chairman, Jabulani Sibanda, who has fiercely defended Mugabe,
could not be reached for comment on the matter yesterday.

      Sources close to the developments said senior ZANU PF officials
opposed to Mugabe’s continued reign were behind the formation of the
splinter war veterans group to dilute Sibanda’s influence on war veterans.

      A dark cloud has engulfed ZANU PF since Makoni’s announcement last
Tuesday that he would stand against his former boss in the 29 March election
in what has been described as the biggest rebellion against Mugabe in

      A mood of fear has gripped the party amid rumours of plots,
conspiracies and counter-conspiracies after Makoni clearly stated that he
was not working alone but with like-minded people within ZANU PF.

      Several big names within ZANU PF have been mentioned as part of Makoni’s
bold project as the groundswell of discontent threatens to erupt into an
open rebellion against Mugabe. - ZimOnline

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Civic groups decide whom to back in election

Zim Online

by Nqobizitha Khumalo Saturday 09 February 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwe civic society leaders are expected to decide today which
political party to back in council, parliamentary and presidential elections
next month.

The more than 50 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that began their
People’s Convention in Harare yesterday have traditionally supported the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in elections
against President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party.

The 2005 split of the MDC into two rival formations, one led by Morgan
Tsvangirai and the other by Arthur Mutambara, makes NGOs’ task tricky and
potentially could even split the civic society groups themselves.

However, some top civic society leaders openly declared on Friday that they
would not be throwing their lot with former finance minister Simba Makoni
who has revolted against Mugabe to stand as an independent in the March 29

“When we make the resolution we must state to Makoni that (he) can destroy
ZANU PF but not rule the country,” Lovemore Madhuku, who heads the National
Constitutional Assembly pressure group, said to much applause from

Makoni, a former member of ZANU PF’s inner politburo cabinet until his
revolt, stunned Mugabe and Zimbabwe when he announced last Tuesday that he
would be standing as an independent in next month’s presidential election.

Analysts say, Makoni who commands considerable respect across the political
divide, could offer Mugabe a tougher challenge than a divided MDC.

The former finance minister has not said whether he will form an alliance
with the opposition. He has insisted he remains a member of ZANU PF while
urging all “Zimbabweans yearning for change” to join him in his project to
unseat Mugabe.

The director of Bulawayo Agenda, Gorden Moyo, said civic society could not
back Makoni especially after he said he remained loyal to ZANU PF.

Moyo said: We should state it to one man (Makoni) and his handlers who say
they are still ZANU PF and owe loyalty to ZANU PF . . . ZANU PF is a party
with a tradition and history of corruption and rigging elections. We say no
to that.”

It was not immediately clear whom between Tsvangirai and Mutambara would get
the endorsement of civic groups and to complicate matters some civic leaders
privately said they preferred Makoni.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of an acute economic recession critics blame on
mismanagement by Mugabe and seen in the world’s highest inflation rate of
more than 26 000 percent, 80 percent unemployment and shortages of food,
fuel and foreign currency.

Mugabe, who at one time boasted that no one could have run Zimbabwe’s
economy better than him, denies ruining the country and has promised a
landslide victory in March to once again prove he has the backing of
ordinary Zimbabweans. – ZimOnline

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Makoni needs every Zimbabwean’s support

Zim Online

by Mutumwa Mawere Saturday 09 February 2008

HARARE - An election marks a defining stage in any nation but 29 March 2008
represents not only a landmark day but also a significant turning point in
the history of post-colonial Zimbabwe.

If one accepts that no change is change one can easily appreciate why
President Robert Mugabe’s name is on the ballot.

Even his most ardent and diminishing supporters would agree that Zimbabwe is
at the crossroads and a better day is awaiting it.

The last eight years have failed to produce the kind of change that the
country required to lift it up, instead the political and economic crisis
has worsened.

It is generally agreed that the political stalemate of the last eight years
is a reflection of a leadership deficit that is characteristic of many
post-colonial states in which fear is the optimal currency used to regulate
and manage political behaviour under the guise of consensus and nation

Two political parties, the MDC and ZANU-PF led by Morgan Tsvangirai and
Mugabe, respectively, have dominated the political scene over the last eight
years and it is generally accepted that national interest has been
sacrificed for political expediency and as a result the frontiers of poverty
and hopelessness have increased and not diminished.

I have no doubt that both Mugabe and Tsvangirai would agree that Zimbabwe
deserves better than the kind of leadership they have provided over the last
eight years.

While it is arguable whether it would be fair to compare Tsvangirai with
Mugabe given that the former has sought courageously to put his life on the
line to bring the language of change at the forefront of political
discourse, it must be accepted that the MDC has dismally failed to provide
an alternative to the ZANU-PF way of doing things.

It would be grossly unfair if the history of Zimbabwe failed to acknowledge
the efforts of the MDC and its divided factions in helping expose the policy
and leadership bankruptcy of ZANU-PF.

However, it must be acknowledged also that rightly Zimbabweans feel let down
by the amateurish prosecution of the change agenda and the obvious lack of
cohesion and sense of purpose displayed by the leaders of the change

The urgency of change cannot be overstated, as is the need to find a viable
vehicle for delivering such transformation.

Zimbabwe is pregnant and it is obvious that ZANU-PF has also invested in
change in so far as it has failed to deliver on the Zimbabwean promise and
its leader, Mugabe, must be held culpable for failing to lift the country to
new a destination of opportunity and hope.

Due to the fact that Zimbabwe has not known of any other leader than Mugabe,
one has to start a review of his administration from 1980.

When one looks back at the journey, one cannot overlook the man-made
disasters and policy confusion, corruption, mismanagement and above all the
arrogance of absolute power.

There are many who believe in the face of the most debilitating crisis and
exodus of the country’s brain trust that they can bury their heads in the
comfort of ZANU-PF desert sand ignoring that the future of the entire
population is at stake and time for games is over.

Equally, there is a belief in the opposition that only the actors on stage
have the monopoly of reason and have what it takes to remove the cancer.

The election date is now known and thanks to SADC, MDC and ZANU-PF were
reunited into co-sponsoring the constitutional and legal changes that were
deemed to be problematic for any transition and electoral legitimacy.

The election date is real and so are the choices available to Zimbabweans.

It is significant that Mugabe sought and obtained a democratic endorsement
from his party and not many of his adversaries can claim the same.

What is refreshing is that a new factor has emerged in the form of Dr Simba
Makoni who has been persuaded to throw his name in the ring.

The timing of his entrance into the political theatre is significant not
only because he waited to allow the MDC factions to come to an inescapable
conclusion that they have no consensus leader but also after ZANU-PF had
failed to find a leader that can look Zimbabweans in the eye and proclaim
that he is offering change that citizens can believe in.

Makoni did not choose the easy road of enveloping himself into political
parties and then finding himself behaving undemocratically like many
opposition parties who wanted to cut a deal to protect their incumbency
ahead of the people of Zimbabwe as well as change the constitution under the
cover of SADC mediated talks.

Surely, it would be unfair to conclude that the MDC was not party to the
legislation passed during the last eight years that many find rightly
draconian and abhorrent to the extent that President Mbeki had to intervene
to make the parliament of Zimbabwe work again.

Makoni has made the right decision to stand as an independent because
Zimbabwe urgently needs a new direction and if anything, the last 28 years
have demonstrated that the fate of a country can be manipulated by one
individual even when the institutional framework exists for a democratic
constitutional order.

One cannot argue that the parliament of Zimbabwe has been effective in
protecting the interests of the country and, if anything, no change will be
meaningful if such change does not result in a change of the head of state.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono has already exposed that
Zimbabwe can no longer claim to have a constitutional order in that the
budget under his stewardship of the RBZ is no longer a vehicle for
allocating national resources.

Even the opposition who have been a constant feature of the state as
parliamentarians must accept the responsibility for creating a situation
where the state has become privatised.

Ordinarily, if all the current members of parliament loved Zimbabwe they
would not have offered themselves for re-election after failing the people
of Zimbabwe in providing the critical role of oversight.

Many have accepted the existence of corruption in Zimbabwe and yet the
Parliament of Zimbabwe has failed to expose the true nature of corruption
and, if anything, many of them have already been accommodated in the gravy
train presenting a challenge for any post-Mugabe leader.

Some have argued that Makoni is not a principal but for him to succeed, he
necessarily needs the protection of ZANU-PF heavyweights while accepting
that such so-called heavyweights have failed to provide the kind of
leadership required to lift up Zimbabwe.

Does Makoni really need such so-called heavyweights? Do Zimbabweans need a
new face to symbolise the kind of change they want to see? Does Makoni
represent the face of change?

Makoni’s patience must be acknowledged and it just goes to demonstrate that
he has thought long and hard about the challenge before Zimbabwe.

He needs and deserves the support of all the people of Zimbabwe who rightly
have been disillusioned by the many messengers of hope who have turned out
to be no better than the people they purported to be fighting against.

Does Zimbabwe need five more years of political bickering? The political
environment in polarised and will remain so if this is left to Mugabe and
his long time rivalries.

The macroeconomic regression will continue unabated so will the future of
Zimbabwe be condemned into a cul de sac.

The challenge of restoring legitimacy is before Zimbabwe and I am not
convinced that either Mugabe or Tsvangirai will be able to deliver the kind
of economic revival, national reconciliation, regional stability and more
importantly remove the country from its pariah status.

At some stage, I had underestimated Makoni’s courage to subject himself to
the rough and tumble of Zimbabwean politics of recriminations but I must
give it to him for taking Zimbabwe first in his agenda.

We can only support such courage and I do hope that anyone who wants to see
change in Zimbabwe will take Makoni as his project.

Ibbo Mandaza has earned my respect for having the courage and vision of
standing up while we all chose to be arm-chair revolutionaries. I have no
doubt that Mandaza played a key part in helping convince Makoni to offer
himself for abuse.

Some will ask legitimately about who is behind Makoni. Please count me in
for in him I see hope and it would be naļve for me to expect him to make
hope possible while I choose to pontificate about my role in making tomorrow
a brighter day.

No change will come out of its own. I have been impressed by Barack Obama’s
ability to communicate the urgency of now in the context of America and help
make the most improbable thing in American history become probable.

Can you imagine that in one month his campaign raised US$32 million from
ordinary people hungry for change? I have no doubt that Zimbabweans will
rise up to the challenge and dig deep into their pockets to invest in the
kind of change they want to see in Zimbabwe.

Makoni does not need any political heavyweight but needs the financial
support and above all the vote on 29 March 2008.

Can you imagine if every Zimbabwean in the diaspora and anyone interested in
seeing a different Zimbabwe were to sacrifice one meal for change in
Zimbabwe, what a difference it will make to the Makoni candidature.

It is never too late to make the investment. I will start with my own 1 000
rand and all I need is to find a bank that will take the money to Zimbabwe
for Makoni and the many prospective parliamentarians who stand for a new

Together we can make a difference and construct a new garment of change
fortressed by a common thread of hope.

Anyone interested in this project, please indicate your appetite for change
by registering your voice on my website:

* Mutumwa Mawere is a Zimbabwean-born South African businessman

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Zimbabwe Presidential Hopeful Makoni Urged To Seek Opposition Allies


      By Blessing Zulu
      Washington & Harare
      08 February 2008

Advisors to Simba Makoni, the former Zimbabwean finance minister who threw
down the gauntlet to President Robert Mugabe this week by announcing his
candidacy for president in March elections, have urged him to forge a
strategic alliance with the opposition given signs he may not garner much
open ruling party support.

Makoni said Tuesday when he announced his candidacy that senior ZANU-PF
figures would soon join him, but sources close to Makoni say this was a
tactical error given a harsh ruling party response that could sway others
from declaring open backing.

ZANU-PF insiders told VOA that the Central Intelligence Organization has
submitted a report to Mr. Mugabe advising him that Makoni's bid to displace
him from the highest office in the land is not likely to shake the ruling
party to its foundations.

The report warned the ZANU-PF leadership not to send new supporters to
Makoni by mishandling its ongoing primary elections, which could alienate
office seekers.

The ZANU-PF elections directorate is said to have been flooded with
complaints about alleged irregularities in primaries, including
announcements saying that candidates were unopposed though primaries were
still being organized. Sources said that the president has taken direct
charge of the party response to the complaints.

A number of Mr. Mugabe's ministers have been defeated in party primaries,
possibly reflecting disenchantment at the party's grass roots.

Political analyst Dewa Mavhinga told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio
7 for Zimbabwe that it is not surprising ZANU-PF members are not prepared to
join Makoni as they have traditionally stuck with President Mugabe through
thick and thin.

Harare correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reports that civil society leaders
opening a two-day convention dubbed the “People’s Convention” dismissed
Makoni’s candidacy on Friday, issuing the warning that Zimbabweans should be
on their guard against what they called a ruling party scheme to divide the
opposition in March elections.

Makoni’s candidacy has drawn mixed reactions across the political spectrum.

The ruling party has reviled him as a “traitor" while one leading liberation
war veteran issued a thinly veiled threat. The opposition Movement for
Democratic Change faction led by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai has called
him an "opportunist," while the rival faction headed by Arthur Mutambara has
welcomed Makoni's entry as a candidate.

There have been persistent rumors of a Makoni-Mutambara alliance in the

 Reporter Caroline Gombakomba sought perspective on Makoni's positioning
from two political observers: columnist Pius Wakatama, a spokesman for the
Christian Alliance, and Chido Makunike, a political commentator and blogger
based in Senegal.

Though many have voiced reservations about Makoni's intentions, Wakatama
said the former cabinet member's bid to become Zimbabwe’s next president has
generated a lot of excitement on the ground and changed the very nature of
the contest.

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US Expresses 'Very Serious Concern' About Zimbabwe March Elections


      By Blessing Zulu
      08 February 2008

The U.S. government has expressed “very serious concern” about the elections
set for March 29 in Zimbabwe, saying the Harare government's past
performance did not encourage optimism as to the conduct of the elections in
a free and fair manner.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey told journalists in a briefing Thursday
that the Zimbabwean government's record "doesn’t leave us with a lot of
 hope” that the presidential, parliamentary and local council elections will
be free and fair.

Casey added that the United States would like to see international observers
deployed to monitor the elections "not only just as a matter of general
principle but because there have been so many problems and concerns" with
the political process.

In the country, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network again expressed
reservations about the electoral process. ZESN issued a statement earlier
this week saying that the delimitation or redistricting process carried out
by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was not constitutional, as parliament
was not given a chance to debate the results.

ZESN followed up Friday with a warning about the national voters roll,
saying that it is a "shambles." The civic group, which deployed thousands of
monitors during the 2005 general election, said the names of many voters
have mysteriously disappeared from the roll in the midst of a major
reorganization of constituencies and wards.

In an interview with reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe,
ZESN Chairman Noel Kututwa reviewed the issues plaguing the elections,
beginning with the way in which the ZEC delimitation report was tabled in
parliament just days before it recessed. Only one copy was made available to
the entire parliament.

With registration and voter roll inspection a focus of public attention,
some residents of the capital were distressed this week to find their access
to a registration office in the center of Harare obstructed by a sudden
influx of soldiers and police officers.

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Voter registration and inspection has been extended until Thursday 14 February

Registration centres in urban areas are supposed to open at 7am
and close at 6 pm daily, INCLUDING SATURDAY & SUNDAY.

passport, NOT drivers licence, because it does not have your citizenship
status so is no longer accepted) and proof of residence if changing address.
Proof can be a utility bill or bank statement etc to you at that address.

If you rent accommodation, you should produce letter from your landlord with
his/her ID number ,stating that you reside at that address, and a utility
bill etc to the landlord or you at that address.

Please note that you will not be allowed to vote unless you are a CITIZEN,
under the law passed in 2005.  If you wish to remain a Zimbabwe citizen and
vote but have not renounced the other citizenship you are deemed to be
entitled to, you should renounce that citizenship - contact citizenship
office at Makombe Building.  Your ID or passport must have "CIT" and not
"Alien" for you to be able to register and vote.

Please tell everyone you know to register or check.

Mt Pleasant - Wards 7 & 17
Alex Park Primary
Avondale Primary
Beit Hall, Tomlinson Depot School
Belgravia Sports Club
North Park Primary
Groombridge Primary
Vainona PrimaryHarare West - Wards 16 & 41
Warren Park 7 Primary
Masaisai Primary
Haig Park Primary
Alfred Beit Primary
Ellis Robins
Avonlea Primary
Hallingbury Primary
Emerald Hill School
Marlborough High
Marlborough District Office


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Why Makoni is the Messiah

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

8 February 2008
Posted to the web 8 February 2008

Vimbai Walker

THIS has been a week of political drama. No bookmakers would have got this
one right at all: the seemingly converging MDC formations finally breaking
irretrievably apart and the reluctant Simba Makoni's shock challenge for the
highest office.

First we had the following developments: "Deadlock in MDC talks," screamed
the Sunday Mail headline of February 3. The Standard carried a more subtle
"MDC factions deadlocked" on Page 2. Then of course the Herald on Monday
gleefully headlined "MDC faction talks collapse".

That this news was painfully received by the majority of Zimbabweans -- 
including some moderates in Zanu PF -- is completely lost on the amateurish
and hopelessly incompetent MDC leadership.

Certainly, many people all over the world -- non-Zimbabweans included -- had
hoped that the one event that would galvanise Zimbabweans into rushing to
last-minute voter registration and voters' roll inspection would be the
weekend announcement of a coherent, unified MDC to face President Robert
Mugabe and his Zanu PF.

That this seemed inevitable, given the intense lobbying and cajoling the
feuding parties had been receiving from every corner of the globe as well as
the common-sense necessity of doing so, had been premised on the fact that
never has the ruling party been so vulnerable, especially on the economic
and social fronts.

The national blackouts, the cash shambles and banking crisis, the
stratospheric inflation rate and trebling prices -- the whole general mess
the country is in would surely have been enough motivation for any
opposition leadership to cast aside any differences and go for the jugular.

A sharp, short, shrill and united campaign would have been all that was
required to capture the state presidency, even at this late hour where many
people had not bothered to register to vote. Never mind the parliamentary
and senatorial posts.

And then Makoni does what everyone has been coaxing him to do: join the
fray, and with that single move, he has ripped the hitherto solid Zanu PF
image to shreds.

All right-thinking Zimbabweans need to see this move by Makoni in its right
context -- that of rescuing Zimbabwe from a further five-year misery. It has
certainly not been an easy decision, and there is no guarantee that it will
be a successful challenge, but this is the greatest hope Zimbabweans have
for change now.

The timing of course has been spot-on. If the disappointing MDC formations
had indeed re-united, then it would have been a mistake for Makoni to dilute
the new enhanced chance of electoral success by the united opposition.

Zimbabweans need to cast aside the habit of criticising new entrants and
people who make realistic sacrifices for the betterment of all, and desist
from destructive conspiracy theories. Already, Makoni's move is being touted
as a Zanu PF intelligence creation. This is not helpful at all.

The MDC leadership, if it can be called that, inexplicably fails to grasp
that by its arrogant and misguided insistence to approach the elections as
separate formations they are alienating whole swathes of voters, the
international community and their capacity to lobby for support.

As it is, the MDC's urban support base has been shrinking considerably over
the years, mainly due to perceived bungling, policy failures, dithering and
indecisiveness, and Zanu PF is steadily capitalising on that. If the chances
of the MDC winning the elections had been 55% as a united front, they will
have dropped to less than 30% as a result of this own goal.

It has become clear that the MDC has the following weaknesses:

* Incompetence: the MDC has consistently failed to convert winning
situations to its advantage. In particular, they behaved inexplicably when
the presidential election was stolen in 2002, with Morgan Tsvangirai failing
to provide solid leadership to the population which was clearly angry and
indignant. Subsequently, they failed to capitalise on Operation
Murambatsvina, the cash queues and now the national blackouts, among many
other disasters which the despondent and angry population would have
responded to in a unified show of defiance.

* Greed: it is clear to any discerning potential voter (read urban
Zimbabwean) that the MDC has become a career movement for its senior
leadership, hence the silly squabbling about non-existent national posts.
How can you immobilise yourselves before a crucial election by arguing about
cabinet posts, vice-presidencies etc instead of wooing the voters and
drumming the point home for everyone to register to vote even at this late
hour? It is has become disgustingly obvious that all the focus and
motivation are now centred on parliamentary perks (4x4 vehicles and fat
allowances) and the "fame" of being MPs. And the donor cash for the top

* Arrogance and naivety: the Sadc mediation effort, which the MDC typically
had no Plan B for, should really not have been just between Zanu PF and the
MDC formations only. This really stemmed from the arrogance the MDC has that
it represents the entirety of disgruntled Zimbabweans. Maybe this would have
been true six years ago, but not anymore. The constant bungling and
squabbling have left many Zimbabweans disillusioned and hopeless, and the
only reason most would vote for them is that they see the need to break the
Zanu PF stranglehold on the country, and hope to sort out the MDC soon after

There is no doubt that the shocking performance of Zanu PF in the 28 years
it has been in power -- the economic mismanagement, the kleptocracy, the
violence and corruption -- would make anyone with a normal, moral,
functioning brain not want to return them to office.

But this does not make the MDC saints. Tsvangirai naively thinks he is the
best alternative Zimbabweans have to Mugabe. How incredible! His behaviour
alienates many Zimbabwean voters, including most in the diplomatic
community. Certainly, the MDC is now just as guilty of failure to renew its
leadership as Zanu PF.

Tsvangirai has led the party through three failed elections since its
formation, and anywhere else in the world he would have stepped aside for
someone to give the party a new shot at power. It doesn't have to be Arthur
Mutambara he has to defer to; even Tendai Biti, Lucia Matibenga, Welshman
Ncube, Elias Mudzuri or whoever would have added new flavour to the party
image. There is nothing that beats rejuvenating an opposition party than
timely and transparent leadership renewal.

It is obvious that there are deficiencies in both MDC formations. The
Mutambara faction has its own serious shortcomings, not least its perceived
tribal slant and cleverly contrived sympathetic treatment by state media.
Even some of its senior leaders have failed to come clean on allegations of
benefiting from patronage extended by Zanu PF.

But the formation is undeniably a major player in the opposition arena. And
ignoring or belittling its role and influence in a major election is a
recipe for disaster.

It is common cause that the Tsvangirai formation is generally the aggressor
when it comes to negotiations, stemming from its overstated larger support

It is also obvious that Tsvangirai himself panders to the whims and
interests of a lot of his close advisers, most of whom manifestly do not
have the national interest at heart.

There is no doubt that by quibbling and prevaricating, and as a result
failing to prevail on his power-hungry camp, Tsvangirai has dented his own
chances of victory and thus condemning Zimbabweans to prolonged misery.

And when all is said and done, the MDC should bear some responsibility for
the economic and social mess Zimbabwe is in now. Wait, this is not because
of the ridiculous oft-repeated statement that they invited economic
sanctions on the country, but simply because they dared challenge Zanu PF
and failed to complete the job.

History will acknowledge how recklessly Mugabe reacted to the threat of
losing power when the MDC was formed in 1999, and the subsequent loss of the
referendum in February 2000. The Zanu PF response is well-documented: the
farm invasions, the destruction of sound economic practice, social
standards, including absolute control of the media, the violence and murders

Now, will all that fight for normalcy, the ensuing suffering and resultant
destruction of the economy be in vain simply because of selfish posturing?

Thus the entry of Makoni in the presidential race breathes new life,
interest and hope into the election.

Perhaps the more moderate of the MDC formations, plus all other practical
change-seeking institutions, will campaign for Makoni as president. Surely
this is the only realistic way of achieving electoral success.

Vimbai Walker is the nom de plume of a Harare based writer.

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Long-time rival is unlikely to stage an upset of Mugabe

Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, February 08, 2008
I suspect I am not alone in being surprised at the backbone and hitherto
invisible reservoir of political principle Simba Makoni has discovered as he
tries to unseat Zimbabwe's malevolent old dictator Robert Mugabe.

For some months the spotlights of hope have focused on Makoni as the most
attractive potential candidate from within the ruling ZANU-PF party to
unseat Mugabe, now 83 years old, in power since 1980 and bucking to remain
president for the rest of his life.

The fracturing of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic
Change, under the relentless assault of Mugabe's secret police and political
militias has left many to conclude the only hope for salvation in Zimbabwe
is if Mugabe is ousted by a challenger from within ZANU-PF.

So far Mugabe has arranged the political castration of all ZANU-PF grandees
who have hinted they are candidates for the succession.
But with yet another renewal of Mugabe's tenure in what in Zimbabwe are
laughingly called "elections" due next month, Makoni, 57, a former finance
minister forced out of office in 2002 when he tried to devalue the
Zimbabwean currency, took the courageous step this week of announcing he
will run for the presidency.

The response of Mugabe's coterie of razor-toothed catamites to Makoni's
announcement has been swift and violent. The entire machinery of Mugabe's
putrid regime has been set in motion against Makoni, starting with his
expulsion from ZANU-PF.

Makoni has been a sometimes overly loyal member of ZANU-PF since the 1970s
when, as a student in Britain, he was its representative in Europe in the
war to end white minority rule in Zimbabwe.

State-controlled media have been all over Makoni in a style that makes
Britney Spears' relationship with the paparazzi look calm and courteous.

The Harare Herald newspaper poured contemptuous scorn on the attention given
the Makoni candidacy by independent and international media. In reality, the
Herald suggested, Makoni is a political embarrassment and his candidacy for
president "the loud fart all silently agree never happened."

More threatening was the reaction of the so-called veterans of Zimbabwe's
war against the white regime of Ian Smith in the 1970s. Most of these thugs
are too young to have fought in the war and are in reality a murderous
political militia used by Mugabe against his opponents.

The "veterans" have branded Makoni a traitor in line with propaganda on
state-controlled radio insinuating that he is an agent of the British
government. Mugabe claims Zimbabwe's problems (inflation is at 150,000 per
cent and unemployment over 70 per cent) stem from a secret British
government campaign to make Zimbabwe a colony again.

I first came across Makoni about 20 years ago when he was one of the chosen
elite riding the gravy train of foreign donor money aimed at undermining
apartheid in South Africa.

It could be a lucrative business, fighting apartheid.

Makoni's corner of this windfall was as the executive secretary of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), an alliance of the nine
so-called "frontline states" adjacent to South Africa and dedicated to
overthrowing the apartheid regime there.

SADC was too internally divided to be a real threat to Pretoria. But Makoni
always adopted the haughty demeanor of someone at the controls of a
supremely powerful organization. Makoni was shuffled to SADC after being
energy minister, at age 30, in Mugabe's first government in 1980.

His former liberation war fighter colleagues found Makoni too clever, too
sharp and too intellectually arrogant. They persuaded Mugabe to get rid of

That mistrust of Makoni is still around, especially among the elderly
leaders of ZANU-PF who have experienced Makoni's intellectual contempt.
Outside the party Makoni has some following, especially among those with the
benefit of not knowing him.

Those who know Makoni continue to hold he is driven by shallow ambition and
does not have the qualities to pull Zimbabwe back from Mugabe's destruction.
And his chances of beating Mugabe are nil.
International Affairs Columnist

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ZCTF Report: Milk for rhinos

8th February 2008
Thanks to Clover Milk (RSA) who donated 150kg of skimmed milk powder, there are 3 very happy young rhinos in Zimbabwe this week. Our heartfelt appreciation to Clover for this most welcome donation. Thanks also to Linda Honegger who very kindly collected the milk from Clover, paid the documentation fees and organized for the milk to be flown to Bulawayo, and to Dave Gill for collecting it from the airport and arranging customs clearance etc. I drove to Bulawayo to collect the milk and the ZCTF paid the duty of just under ZWD300 million.
We would also like to thank the Howick Agricultural Co-op and Jan Phelan and family for their donation of approximately 100 teats for Tatenda and Sandy Wilde for her donation of glucose.
We took 3 of the 6 bags of milk and the glucose to Imire on Sunday. Tatenda is growing very nicely thanks to the people who have assisted with his food.
                               TATENDA WITH HIS MILK AND GLUCOSE
Tatenda used to have his mud bath in a puddle in the Travers' back yard but he has grown too big for the puddle so he is now escorted into the game park where he can have a real mud bath which he enjoys immensely. As soon as he gets close enough to smell the mud, he starts galloping towards it and jumps in with a huge belly flop.
                                    TATENDA HAVING A MUD BATH
On Wednesday, we drove to Buffalo Range to give the other 3 bags of milk powder and 10 teats to Janie Style for her two young rhinos, Carla and Lisa Marie. These two rhinos are easily twice the size of Tatenda.
                                            CARLA AND LISA MARIE
Janie has done an amazing job rescuing these 2 orphans from the jaws of death. Their mothers were shot by poachers last year. Lisa Marie was caught in a snare and Carla was shot through her shoulder and chopped in the face with a panga. It was thought that their chances of survival were very slim but Janie persevered and they pulled through. Lisa Marie almost lost her leg due to the snare wound and although it has now healed quite well, she can't stand on it for longer than about 10 or 15 minutes - then she has to lie down to keep her weight off it for a while. Both rhinos love having their stomachs rubbed.
        LISA MARIE'S SNARE WOUND                            JANIE STYLE (LEFT)  
Lisa Marie and Carla are very attached to each other and can't bear to be separated for any length of time. Both rhinos, like Tatenda were very interested in their milk from Clover. They did a full inspection of the bags and could obviously smell what was inside because they tried to rip the bags open and we had to remove the bags before they succeeded.
It was difficult to leave these beautiful animals and we realized how fond of Janie they are when Carla tried to get into the car with her. 
We are extremely grateful to Janie for all her hard work in trying to preserve this very special endangered species and also to the Save Foundation of Australia who donated milk and food last year.
Johnny Rodrigues
Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
Tel:               263 4 336710
Fax/Tel:        263 4 339065
Mobile:          263 11 603 213

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13 Zimbabweans Still in Custody 10 Days After Church Raid

SW Radio Africa (London)

7 February 2008
Posted to the web 8 February 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

Thirteen Zimbabweans from the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg that
was raided by South African police last week are still in detention, facing
charges of being illegal immigrants. They are the last out of a group of
1,500 refugees who were arrested at the church shelter run by Bishop Paul

Bishop Verryn said the remaining 13 detainees are due to appear in court on
Tuesday. Most possess legal documents but they had not yet been given the
opportunity to produce them. The Bishop confirmed that a small number had no
documents at all. It had been feared that they would be deported but the
Bishop said none had been sent back to Zimbabwe.

At the time of the late night raid, police said they were looking for
criminals, drugs and guns. Nothing illegal was found on the premises and it
is now the actions of the police themselves that are in the spotlight. Some
refugees who were released last week accused the police of forcing them to
pay bribes for their freedom. This was after Bishop Verryn reported that the
police had used excessive force during the raid, assaulting him and his

As a result the Independent Complaints Directorate is investigating the
conduct of police officers who took part in the raid. Verryn said he is
shocked at police treatment of foreigners in South Africa, both with and
without legal papers. He explained: "One of the things that happened to some
of the people that did have papers is that their papers were torn up by
police officers and what was said to them was these papers came from the
Mbeki government and he is no longer in power. Some of the stuff that is
happening around the rest of the country is very, very difficult to
understand in a human rights concept," said Verryn.

The Bishop said the Zimbabweans arrested last week were released with
assistance from prominent human rights lawyer George Bizos and lawyers from
several private firms who volunteered their services. Bizos has represented
opposition officials in Zimbabwe, including MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai.

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Zimbabwe: Red Cross seek long-term solutions to flooding misery

International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies

Date: 08 Feb 2008

By Mark South

In the wake of floods which have left thousands homeless, the Zimbabwe Red
Cross are seeking long-term solutions to the humanitarian disaster. The
Muzarabani region, close to the border with Mozambique in the north east of
the country, experiences minor flooding in most years, but this year heavy
rains have resulted in the highest water levels for two decades. Many
farming families are new to the region, attracted by Muzarabani's famously
productive soil, and, according to Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Red
Cross Emma Kundishora, their lack of awareness of the flood threat made them
particularly vulnerable.

'A lot of people have moved to the area quite recently because the land is
so fertile. Crops grow very well there, sometimes farmers don't even need to
use fertilizer, and a lot of the people affected by the flooding are new
arrivals. It's a very attractive place to live as far as agriculture is
concerned,' she said. 'People who have lived there a long time know how to
build only on the higher ground but recently a lot more huts had been built
close to the river and on the low-lying fields. These huts could not
withstand the flooding and the people who lived there are now homeless.'

Working in conjunction with the local authorities and other aid agencies the
Red Cross had been encouraging people not to build on the vulnerable flood
plains and to move to higher ground. With their houses wiped from the face
of the land, many families now have no choice but to head to higher ground
where the Red Cross has been distributing shelter and other practical aid.

The challenge now is, as Kundishora sees it, to make this short-term
relocation to higher land permanent. 'We're helping people move to higher
ground temporarily and in the long term we need to look at resettling people
on higher ground permanently, away from the danger of flooding,' explained
Kundishora. 'In Muzarabani and other areas we know that if there are heavy
rains then they will flood – we were aware of the danger, we were prepared
and because of this we were the first humanitarian agency on the ground.

'A lot of people have already moved to higher ground but the danger is that
as the waters subside they will begin creeping back into the vulnerable
areas.' Even in the face of ruinous flooding, the secretary general knows
that convincing people not to return to the site of their former homes will
be a hard sell, but because many of those affected are new arrivals,
Kundishora hopes that they will have yet to develop the strong ties to their
land which has made relocation schemes in other areas so difficult to

The biggest challenge she sees is one of practicality, with the need for new
settlements on the high ground to be equipped with sufficient infrastructure
to attract the farming families. 'After these latest floods I think those
who are new to the area will now be ready to move, but they need to have
somewhere to move to,' she said. 'People need shelter, they need places to
rebuild, they need clean water, they need access to schools, and they need
food now and food security for the future. 'These are all strands of the Red
Cross response and we are cooperating across the board to ensure this is a
successful, sustainable long term recovery.'

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Journalist banned from Bulawayo

Steven Price in Harare

February 8, 2008

The ongoing problems faced by the media inside Zimbabwe continued with the
barring of a senior cricket writer from Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.

Mehluli Sibanda, who writes for the Sunday News, was told earlier this week
by Stanley Staddon, the Bulawayo Metropolitan Cricket Association (BMCA)
chairman, that he would not be allowed to cover the one-day match between
Zimbabwe and the Warriors on Sunday (February 10).

Sibanda was given no reason, and the move is all the more surprising in that
usually no accreditation is needed for a match which will attract few
spectators and almost no journalists. A BMCA source said that Staddon was
acting unilaterally and the issue had not been raised with the board.

The source told Cricinfo that Staddon and Sibanda have fallen out before. A
few years ago Sibanda wrote a scathing article following Staddon's election
as Matabeleland Cricket Association vice-chairman. It is believed that at
one stage Staddon threatened legal action over the article but it never came
to anything. Last year, during the Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka A match in Bulawayo,
Staddon unsuccessfully attempted to ban Sibanda from joining other
journalists claiming he was improperly dressed.

Staddon is a somewhat controversial character who was appointed to the
Zimbabwe Cricket Union board in 2004 and the following year was named on the
interim committee put in pace by the Sports and Recreation Commission.
However, when a new board was elected in 2006, Staddon's name was a notable
absentee. An attempt to regain his place last year failed when there was a
clerical error in his application.

Steven Price is a freelance journalist based in Harare

© Cricinfo

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The extraordinary story behind Simon Mann's 'prison transfer' to Equatorial Guinea

Daily Mail, UK
By ANDREW MALONE -  Last updated at 21:51pm on 8th February 2008


When they finally came for him, Simon Mann was totally unprepared. At 1.30am, five hours before dawn, the former SAS officer and British soldier of fortune was asleep in his cell inside a notorious African prison. It was a hot, still night. Insects whirred, sick prisoners coughed and groaned.

With more than 3,000 inmates, Chikurubi maximum security prison in Zimbabwe is a place of disease, brutality and death. Mann, an old Etonian and the son of a former England cricket captain, had spent the past four years incarcerated there, enduring beatings, inedible food and plagued by illness and lice.

This week, after being secretly extradited from Zimbabwe to the fetid west African state of Equatorial Guinea, he must now wish he was back in Chikurubi, despite such awful conditions.

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Simon Mann

Captured: Simon Mann, left and another alleged conspirator, after their 2004 arrest

Mann had originally been jailed in Zimbabwe in 2004 for plotting with a team of mercenaries under his command to stage an armed coup in Equatorial Guinea, once dubbed the 'Dachau of the Continent' due to its state-sponsored brutality.

This week, after he was paraded in manacles on state television by his new Equatorial Guinea captors, Mann's wife, friends and British diplomats anxiously demanded guarantees that the 55-year-old would not be harmed.

Simon Mann's wife Amanda

Ordeal: Simon's wife Amanda

However, that seems unlikely. The president of Equatorial Guinea has already vowed to sodomise his high-profile prisoner, before skinning him alive and parading his body through Malabo, the rat-infested capital of the former Spanish colony.

The extraordinary saga of Simon Mann has been shrouded in lies, secrecy and misinformation. Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea, both international pariahs, refuse to provide details of this week's hand-over.

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe, his country in ruins with inflation at 25,000 per cent and worthless bank notes fluttering through the streets, has banned all foreign journalists. But as Mann was about to be bundled out of Chikurubi last week, I clandestinely entered the country to discover the truth.

It is estimated that one in five of Zimbabwe's 13million population work for the Central Intelligence Organisation, a fearsome security network originally trained by the East German Stasi and interrogation specialists from North Korea.

After secretly interviewing prisoners, jail officials, lawyers and intelligence officials, I can tell the story of how Mann had hoped to carry off the biggest pay-day in the history of private warfare.

It is a tale of greed, treachery and betrayal. It is also laced with allegations that Western intelligence agents tacitly sanctioned Mann's audacious - and ultimately doomed - attempt to take control of Equatorial Guinea - a country with some of the world's biggest oil reserves.

After initially being arrested in Zimbabwe, Mann endured a dehumanising time in Chikurubi. For 18 hours a day, he was shackled in leg and wrist irons, which caused gangrenous sores. Although he had a chronic hernia problem, he was repeatedly refused medical treatment.

Suffering from a bad hip - the price of dodging bombs and bullets when he fought as a mercenary in wars throughout Africa and the world - he was in constant pain. His poor diet also caused problems with his teeth and eyes. He feared he was going blind.

But Mann had powerful friends. After being placed in a single cell with 40 other prisoners, where male rape was widespread and many of the inmates HIV positive, he was moved to another, less harsh, wing. There, he was allowed a cell - with no bed and a concrete floor - shared with only six other inmates.

Holton Mackenzie, a Zimbabwean serving an indeterminate sentence for 'crimes against the state', said the Englishman fitted in well: 'We all liked him. He was a good man.'

With huge bribes being passed to prison staff by unnamed Mann supporters, the mercenary worked on boosting his popularity by sharing magazines and other contraband smuggled in by prison officers.

Jonathan Samkange, his solicitor and close friend, ensured that special food parcels were smuggled in three times a week, containing beef, chicken, eggs and vegetables.

Although Mann's hip and hernia still caused him problems, these packages were lifesavers and his health improved.

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Black Beach prison Equatorial Guinea

A cell at Equatorial Guinea's notorious Black Beach prison

As a result, he avoided having to eat prison food - a diet of filthy rice once a day or a small bowl of kapenza (a watery gruel supposedly flavoured with small dried fish). 'He would give us what he didn't want,' said Mackenzie.

After serving three years of his sentence, he was released on parole - to be re-arrested immediately after Equatorial Guinea launched the High Court action in Harare demanding his extradition.

Mann took the news badly. 'He knew he would die if he was extradited,' one Chikurubi inmate said. 'He said it made him sick to think about what would happen if he was taken to Equatorial Guinea.'

But his lawyer then tried to convince him that the Zimbabwe courts were relatively independent and it wasn't a foregone conclusion that he would be extradited.

Samkange said: 'He became quite optimistic and thought he would be saved.' Mann had even started planning for life after prison. Between trying to exercise, by limping up and down his tiny cell, he began to write a book on pieces of paper smuggled in by corrupt guards.

Mann believed his writings would make him a fortune, revealing his role in an audacious real-life coup attempt in the country that Frederick Forsyth visited before writing his best-selling thriller about mercenaries, The Dogs Of War.

However, his hopes of avoiding extradition to Equatorial Guinea proved an illusion. Hope is a foolish thing in Africa, a continent scarred by corruption, treachery and bloodshed in battles over vast reserves of oil, diamonds and gas. There was to be no 'fair play'.

With chronic shortages of petrol and electricity, Mugabe was offered a deal by Equatorial Guinea: oil in return for the English prisoner.

Cunningly, Mugabe said he would allow the courts to decide while, privately, he had decided Mann's fate. He regarded the Englishman, a former friend of Lady Thatcher's son, Mark, who had once joined the former Prime Minister for Christmas dinner, as a 'white devil'.

Ten days ago, at the High Court in Harare, a judge ruled against Mann's claims that it was unlawful to send him to a country where he would almost certainly be tortured and killed. His lawyer, Samkange, hadn't anticipated that a judge linked to Mugabe's Cabinet would preside over the hearing. 'I am horrified by what has happened,' he said.

Even so, Mann hoped an appeal would succeed. At the very least, it would buy him time. Elections in Zimbabwe are scheduled for next month. Amid rumours of rivals plotting against Mugabe, who has reduced the life expectancy of the average Zimbabwean by three decades since coming to power in 1980, there was also the slim prospect that he would be forced from power.

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Black Beach prison Equatorial Guinea

Black Beach, Equatorial Guinea:There are no human rights, no proper access for lawyers, no regular family visits and no medical supervision

Yet, it was not to be. Hours after the judgment against him, Mann was sleeping under a coarse prison blanket in Chikurubi when thugs from Zimbabwe's feared Law and Order Section burst into his cell. Groggy, but realising what was happening, Mann shouted for help.

Accounts of what occurred next differ. According to some inmates and prison officers, he struggled with the soldiers. He was shouting that he wanted his lawyer. He was also punched and 'roughed up'. After being overpowered, he was dragged outside and bundled into a white Nissan 4x4 vehicle with blacked-out windows.

His spectacles were lost in the struggle as he was wedged in the back of the Nissan, still in shackles.

Escorted by three other vehicles full of armed thugs, he was taken to the Manyame air force base, just south of Harare. A jet was waiting to fly Mann through the night to Equatorial Guinea.

But, in extraordinary scenes on the airstrip, sources claim Zimbabwean forces started arguing over what to do with Mann. According to some, a fight broke out between officers charged with handing him over.

Aware of the money they could make out of this prize prisoner, some wanted to fly him to a different country, where he could be held hostage until his friends in Britain could pay them a lucrative ransom for his release. There was a struggle between the rival factions. Shots rang out. According to one eye-witness account, Mann was slightly injured.

What is not in dispute is that it took more than four hours to get Mann on to the waiting aircraft, which was operating illegally and had not registered a flight plan. The aircraft did not take off until after 5am.

Friends claim that Mann was 'sold out' by Western intelligence agencies anxious to distance themselves from a plot which they had been involved in to seize control of vast oil reserves in Equatorial Guinea.

Adam Roberts, the former Africa correspondent of The Economist and author of The Wonga Coup, a book about the affair, said: 'Western governments - including Spain, Britain and the United States - knew that mercenaries were cooking up a plan to carry out a coup in Equatorial Guinea.

'The plotters believed not only that they had permission to go ahead with the coup, but that Spain would provide military assistance once it had succeeded.

"Britain and America would have gone along with regime change in Equatorial Guinea quite happily, as long as oil supplies were assured. But this was not the case and the support never materialised."

Such arguments are academic to Mann now, who must bitterly regret his decision to put together a party of 70 mercenaries, intent on overthrowing Equatorial Guinea's dictatorial president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

The coup was to have set him up for life. He had arrived in South Africa in 1997 and persuaded Mark Thatcher, a Cape Town neighbour, to invest £75,000 in the operation, using the codename 'Scratcher'. (Thatcher claimed later he did not know a coup was planned.)

The plan was to pick up weapons in Zimbabwe and then fly to Equatorial Guinea, meeting with a small advance party already there. A separate aircraft would fly in Severo Moto Nsa, an exiled opposition politician, who would take over the government and give Mann a slice of all oil profits as well as a diplomatic passport.

But agents from the South African government had infiltrated the operation and Mugabe was tipped off about the stop-over in Zimbabwe. Mann and the other mercenaries were arrested.

Today, as he faces treason charges for his failed coup, some believe Equatorial Guinea's President Obiang, despite his blood-thirsty threats, may spare Mann - if he reveals who was really behind the plot. The president's lawyers this week launched a civil case for damages in London, trying to flush out the truth about Mann's alleged prominent backers.

Meanwhile, Mann must hope that somewhere, whether in Britain, France or South Africa, a group of his mercenary friends are plotting an audacious raid on Black Beach prison. For hope is all that Simon Mann may now have left.

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