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Physicians Report - A Man-made Disaster in Zimbabwe
Physicians Report - A Man-made Disaster in Zimbabwe

Please find below the Executive Summary of the report. The report can be downloaded in full at the following link:

A video of Frank Donaghue, CEO of Physicians for Human Rights, launching the report is also available at the following link:

HEALTH IN RUINS: A Man-Made Disaster in Zimbabwe

An Emergency Report by Physicians for Human Rights January 2009

What happens when a government presides over the dramatic reversal of its population’s access to food, clean water, basic sanitation, and healthcare? When government policies lead directly to the shuttering of hospitals and clinics, the closing of its medical school, and the beatings of health workers, are we to consider the attendant deaths and injuries as any different from those resulting from a massacre of similar proportions?

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) witnesses the utter collapse of Zimbabwe’s health system, once a model in southern Africa. These shocking findings should compel the international community to respond as it should to other human rights emergencies. PHR rightly calls into question the legitimacy of a regime that, in the report’s words, has abrogated the most basic state functions in protecting the health of the population. As the report documents, the Mugabe regime has used any means at its disposal, including politicizing the health sector, to maintain its hold on power.
Instead of fulfilling its obligation to progressively realize the right to health for the people of Zimbabwe, the Government has taken the country backwards, which has enabled the destruction of health, water, and sanitation – all with fatal consequences.

Heedless of concern for the population of Zimbabwe from world leaders and groups such as PHR, the Government has denied access to the country, detained journalists, tortured human rights activists, and even refused visas to former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and Graça Machel. PHR’s team members legally entered the country and were transparent about the purpose of conducting a health assessment.
Nevertheless, the Government apparently planned and then falsely reported their arrest at the end of the investigation. Such actions are a desperate attempt by Robert Mugabe to conceal the appalling situation of his country’s people and to prevent the world from knowing how his Government’s malignant policies have led to the destruction of infrastructure, widespread disease, torture, and death.

This report is yet another wake-up call to Zimbabwe’s neighbors and all U.N. member states for urgent intervention to save lives and prevent more deaths.

These findings add to the growing evidence that Robert Mugabe and his regime may well be guilty of crimes against humanity.

Richard J. Goldstone, Former U.N. Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (ICTY and ICTR); Current PHR Board Member

Mary Robinson Chair, Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative; Former President of Ireland; Former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Chair,

The Most Reverend Desmond M. Tutu, OMSG, DD, FKC, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town; Chair – The Elders



Physicians for Human Rights sent an emergency delegation to Zimbabwe in December 2008 to investigate the collapse of healthcare. The health and nutritional status of Zimbabwe’s people has acutely worsened this past year due to a cholera epidemic, high maternal mortality, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and anthrax. The 2008 cholera epidemic that continues in 2009 is an outcome of the health systems collapse, and of the failure of the state to maintain safe water and sanitation. This disaster is man-made, was likely preventable, and has become a regional issue since the spread of cholera to neighbor states.

The health crisis in Zimbabwe is a direct outcome of the violation of a number of human rights, including the right to participate in government and in free elections and the right to a standard of living adequate for one’s health and well being, including food, medical care, and necessary social services. Robert Mugabe’s ZANUPF regime continues to violate Zimbabweans’ civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.

The collapse of Zimbabwe’s health system in 2008 is unprecedented in scale and scope. Public-sector hospitals have been shuttered since November 2008. While some facilities remain open in the private sector, these are operating on a US-dollar system and are charging fees ranging from $200 USD in cash for a consultation, $500 USD for an in-patient bed, and $3,000 USD for a Cesarean section. With fees in reach for only the wealthy, the majority are being denied access to health care.

» International human rights framework
Zimbabwe is a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR or the Covenant), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Government has a legally binding obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill these rights for all people within its jurisdiction.

The right to health imposes core obligations, which require access to health facilities on a non discriminatory basis, the provision of a minimum essential package of health-related services and facilities, including essential food, basic sanitation and adequate water, essential medicines, and sexual and reproductive health services, including obstetric care. Even with limited resources, the Government is required to give first priority to the most basic health needs of the population and to the most vulnerable sections of the population.

» Methods for this investigation
During a seven-day investigation to Zimbabwe (1320 December 2008) conducted by four human rights investigators, including two physicians with expertise in public health and epidemiology, PHR interviewed and met with 92 participants, including healthcare workers in private and public hospitals and clinics, medical students from both of the medical schools in Zimbabwe, representatives from local and international NGOs, representatives from U.N. agencies, Zimbabwean government health officials, members of parliament, water and sanitation engineers, farmers, and school teachers. The PHR team visited four of the ten provinces in Zimbabwe, in both urban and rural areas. Provinces visited included Harare, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, and Mashonaland East.

» The economic collapse
A causal chain runs from Mugabe’s economic policies, to Zimbabwe’s economic collapse, food insecurity and malnutrition, and the current outbreaks of infectious disease. These policies include the land seizures of 2000, a failed monetary policy and currency devaluations, and a cap on bank withdrawals. Mugabe’s land seizures destroyed Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, which provided 45% of the country’s foreign exchange revenue and livelihood for more than 70% of the population. Hyperinflation has ensued while salary levels have not kept pace. A government physician in Harare showed PHR her official pay stub; her monthly gross income in November
2008 was worth 32 U.S. cents ($0.32 USD). The unemployment rate is over 80%. Low-income households have had to reduce the quantity and quality of food. The Mugabe ZANU-PF government must be held accountable for the violation of the right to be free from hunger.

» Public health system collapse
The Government of Zimbabwe has abrogated the most basic state functions in protecting the health of the population – including the maintenance of public hospitals and clinics and the support for the health workers required to maintain the public health system. These services have been in decline since 2006, but the deterioration of both public health and clinical care has dramatically accelerated since August 2008.

› Healthcare and healthcare delivery
As of December 2008, there were no functioning critical care beds in the public sector in Zimbabwe. The director of a mission hospital told PHR:

“We see women with eclampsia who have been seizing for 12 hours. There is no intensive care unit here, and now there is no intensive care in Harare.
If we had intensive care, we know it would be immediately full of critically ill patients. As it is, they just die.”

Life expectancy at birth has fallen dramatically from 62 years for both sexes in 1990 to 36 years in 2006 – 34 years for males and 37 years for females, the world’s lowest.

› Limits to access: affordability, transportation, closures Since the dollarization of the economy in November 2008, only a tiny elite with substantial foreign currency holdings have any real access to healthcare. Transport costs, even within Harare, have made getting to work impossible for many healthcare employees. A rural clinic staff nurse reported that since he lived at the clinic, he had no difficulties in getting to work; however, since bus fare to get to the nearest town to collect his monthly salary cost more than the entire salary, it made no sense to collect it. He had not done so since April 2008. A senior government official said: Government salaries are simply rotting in the bank. When asked about how the absence of healthcare workers was affecting HIV treatment, the official said: This is not a strike. The problem is the staff and the patients cannot come due to travel costs.

Between September and November 2008 most wards in the public hospitals gradually closed. The most abrupt halt in healthcare access occurred on 17 November 2008, when the premier teaching and referral hospital in Harare, Parirenyatwa, closed along with the medical school.

› Essential medicines and supplies
Access to essential medications was raised by nearly all providers interviewed. In addition to drug shortages, medical supplies (including cleaning agents, soap, surgical gloves, and bandages) were also in critically short supply—or absent altogether. A rural clinic nurse

“Right now I have no anti-hypertensives, no anti- asthmatics, no analgesics, nothing for pain. ... I have a woman in labor right now, and I have no way to monitor blood pressure ... and I have no suture material to do a repair if she tears.”

› Health information and suppression
The Mugabe regime intentionally suppressed initial reports of the cholera epidemic and has since denied or underplayed its gravity. The Minister of Information and Publicity, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, reportedly ordered government-controlled media to downplay the cholera epidemic, which he said had given the country’s enemies a chance to exert more pressure on President Robert Mugabe to leave office. The Minister instructed the media to turn a blind eye to the number of people who have died or [have become] infected with cholera, and instead focus on what the Government and NGOs are doing to contain the epidemic.

PHR heard from several sources in Zimbabwe that the Government has intentionally suppressed information regarding increasing malnutrition.
PHR asked a nurse staffing a public-sector clinic in a rural district if there had been cases of malnutrition. The nurse became visibly anxious and then replied:

“Malnutrition is very political. We are not supposed to have hunger in Zimbabwe. So even though we do see it, we cannot report it.”


» Failed sewerage and sanitation systems Before the ZANU-PF government nationalized municipal water authorities in 2006, water treatment and delivery systems worked, although suboptimally.
The Mugabe regime, however, politicized water for political gain and profit, policies that proved disastrous, and which have clearly contributed to the ongoing cholera epidemic.

All Harare residents PHR interviewed reported that trash collection has effectively ceased. Throughout Harare, and especially in the poor high-density areas outside the capital, PHR investigators saw detritus littering streets and clogging intersections. Steady streams of raw sewage flow through the refuse and merge with septic waste. A current Ministry of Health official reported to PHR: There is no decontamination of waste in the country.

» Nutrition and food security
The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) predicts that some 5.1 million (45% of the population) who will require food aid by early 2009 in order to survive. Agricultural output has dropped 50-70% over the past seven years. The ZANU-PF government has exacerbated food insecurity for Zimbabweans in 2008 by blocking international humanitarian organizations from delivering food aid and humanitarian aid to populations in the worst-affected rural areas. Patients with HIV/AIDS and TB are especially vulnerable to food insecurity.

In the months following the March 2008 elections, the Mugabe regime used food as a weapon of war against MDC supporters and the rural poor. On 31 December 2008, a government official in Chivhu prevented WFP from distributing food aid: “The villagers accused the chief of being corrupt and diverting donor aid and distributing it along party lines. They indicated that . . . the chief and his ZANU-PF supporters used to source maize from the nearby Grain Marketing Board and then sell it to the poor villagers.” A leader of a health NGO reported that:

“There is no food in many of the hospitals and there is starvation in the prisons.”

» Current health crisis: Cholera
The current cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe appears to have begun in August 2008. As of this writing, more than 1,700 Zimbabweans have died from the disease and another 35,000 people have been infected. The U.N. reports that cholera has spread to all of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces, and to 55 of the 62 districts (89%) and that the cumulative case fatality rate (CFR) across the country has risen to 5.0% - five times greater than what is typical in cholera outbreaks. Control has not been reached: There has been a doubling of both cases and deaths during the last three weeks of December, 2008.

› Cholera infectivity, epidemiology, and treatment The origin of the current cholera epidemic appears to stem from the failure of the Mugabe regime to maintain water purification measures and manage sewerage systems. Civic organizations in Harare warned of a cholera time-bomb in 2006, but the Mugabe regime ignored the warning signs. Not until 4 December 2008 did Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Welfare finally request aid to respond to the cholera outbreak by declaring a national emergency. This negligence represents a four-month delay since the start of the cholera outbreak, but at least a three-year delay in responding to the water and sanitation breakdowns, which have allowed cholera to flourish.

Death rates from cholera are usually under 1%; however, in the current Zimbabwe epidemic, the cumulative death rate for the country is around 5%, and more than 40% of all districts have case fatality rates above 10%.

PHR asked a senior government official responsible for cholera surveillance why Zimbabwe’s case fatality rate was more than five times greater. She attributed the high death rate to three causes. First, in the initial phase there simply were no supplies, such as ORS and IV fluids. Second, few clinic or hospital staff were sufficiently experienced or trained to respond to cholera, and many patients died even in facilities that had adequate supplies. Finally, the issue of transport costs for patients and staff, exacerbated by the closure of the public hospitals, meant that many patients either could not reach care, or reached care in advanced dehydration, and could not be saved.

» Current health crisis: Anthrax
WHO has reported some 200 human cases of anthrax since November 2008 with eight confirmed deaths. These cases were attributed to the ingestion of animals (cattle and goats) that had died of anthrax. Zimbabweans avoid eating animals that have died of disease – but these cases appear to occurred in starving rural people scavenging carrion.

PHR was told that veterinary anthrax control programs in Zimbabwe, which had included regular monthly control programs, have been dramatically curtailed in the economic collapse. The surviving herds are now much more vulnerable to infectious diseases.

» Current Health Crisis: HIV/AIDS
UNAIDS figures show that Zimbabwe has a severe generalized epidemic of HIV-1, with an overall adult (ages 15-49) HIV prevalence rate of 15.3%. An estimated 1.3 million adults and children in Zimbabwe are living with HIV infection in 2008. Of these, some 680,000 were women of childbearing age.
In 2007, some 140,000 Zimbabweans died of AIDS, and the current toll is estimated at 400 AIDS deaths per day. Access to HIV/ AIDS care and treatment is threatened by the current collapse and HIV programs are currently capped: some 205,000 people are thought to be taking Anti-Retrovirals (ARVs), but no major program is currently able to enroll new patients. Some 800,000 Zimbabweans are thought to require therapy, or will require it in the coming months-years.

PHR investigators received corroborating reports from donors and HIV/AIDS patients in Zimbabwe that ZANU-PF government officials had plundered $7.3 million USD in humanitarian aid for HIV/AIDS treatment – part of $12.3 million USD from the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Following public outrage over the scandal months later in November 2008, the ZANU-PF-controlled reserve bank returned the stolen funds to the Global Fund.

For HIV/AIDS the most severe threat has been the interruption of regular supplies of antiretroviral drugs. Multiple key informants, patients, and providers told PHR that ARV supplies had become irregular due to breakdowns in drug delivery, distribution, provision, and theft of ARV drugs by ZANU-PF operatives. Most troubling were reports that some physicians were switching patients on established ARV regimens to other regimens based not on clinical need, but on drug availability. This can lead to drug resistant HIV strains. These dangerous practices constitute a significant threat to public health since the development and transmission of multi-drug resistant variants of HIV in Zimbabwe could undermine not only Zimbabwe’s HIV/ AIDS program, but regional programs as well.

» Current health crisis: Tuberculosis
PHR asked an expert working with the national program to describe the status of the program in December 2008: “There is no politically correct way to say this – the TB program in Zimbabwe is a joke. The national TB lab has one staff person. There is no one trained in drug sensitivity testing. The TB reference lab is just not functioning. This is a brain drain problem.

The lab was working well until 2006 and has since fallen apart. The DOTS program in 2000 was highly effective, but that has broken down now too.
There is no real data collection system for TB. This stopped in 2006 as well.”

Both MDR-TB and possible XDR-TB (a largely fatal and often untreatable
form) have emerged in Zimbabwe, but the critical capacity to diagnose and manage these infections has collapsed.

» Current health crisis: Maternal morbidity and mortality Maternal health in Zimbabwe has deteriorated greatly over the past decade.
The maternal mortality rate has risen from 168 (per 100,000) in 1990 to 1,100 (per 100,000) in 2005. The major contributors are HIV/ AIDS and a significant decline in availability and quality of maternal health services. PHR interviewed several Harare mothers at a distant Mission Hospital who had sought obstetric care. One went to Mbuya Nehanda Government Maternity Hospital for a cesarean section on 14 November 2008.
She was told that the operation could not be performed because there were no nurses, doctors, or anesthesiologists at work. Another woman said:

“I wanted to have my baby in Harare but Parirenyatwa hospital was closed.
I was having my prenatal care with my own doctor at [a private clinic] but they wanted so much money. They wanted only U.S. dollars, in cash. $3,000 dollars for the surgeon, $140 dollars for the nurse, and $700 dollars for the doctor who puts you to sleep.“

The health and healthcare crisis in Zimbabwe is a direct outcome of the malfeasance of the Mugabe regime and the systematic violation of a wide range of human rights, including the right to participate in government and in free elections and egregious failure to respect, protect and fulfill the right to health.

The findings contained in this report show, at a minimum, violations of the rights to life, health, food, water, and work. When examined in the context of 28 years of massive and egregious human rights violations against the people of Zimbabwe under the rule of Robert Mugabe, they constitute added proof of the commission by the Mugabe regime of crimes against humanity.


1. Resolve the political impasse
The UN Security Council and the South African Development Community should call on the Mugabe regime to accept the result of the 29 March election and allow the MDC to assume its place. Governments should end their support of Mugabe’s regime, engaging in intensive diplomacy to assure a democratic political transition. They should maintain and strengthen targeted bilateral sanctions until Mugabe cedes power and a stable government is established.

2. Launch an emergency health response
The government of Zimbabwe should yield control of its health services, water supply, sanitation, disease surveillance, Ministry of Health operations, and other public health functions to a United Nations-designated agency or consortium. Such a mechanism would be equivalent to putting the health system into a receivership pursuant to the existence of a circumstance that meets the criteria for the Responsibility to Protect. If the government of Zimbabwe refuses to yield such control, the U.N. Security Council, acting pursuant to its authority under Article 39 of the Charter, should enact a resolution compelling the Government of Zimbabwe to do so.

3. Refer the situation in Zimbabwe to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity The U.N. Security Council, acting pursuant to its authority under Article
41 of the U.N. Charter, should enact a resolution referring the crisis in Zimbabwe to the International Criminal Court for investigation and to begin the process of compiling documentary and other evidence that would support the charge of crimes against humanity.

4. Convene an emergency summit on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases Donor governments and the Global Fund should consider this crisis as a first test-case of the collapse of a health system in a country that is a recipient of emergency AIDS and TB prevention and treatment programs. The Obama Administration, together with the Global Fund and other donors, should convene an emergency summit to coordinate action to address the current acute shortfalls in AIDS and Tuberculosis treatment and care.

5. Prevent further nutritional deterioration and ensure household food security To prevent further deterioration of nutritional status, especially among the most vulnerable (young children, mothers, HIV/AIDS, and TB sufferers), the international community needs urgently to fully fund the 2009 Consolidated Appeal (CAP) for Zimbabwe of $550 million USD. Importantly, donor governments must ensure non-interference by the current governing regime in obstructing, diverting, politicizing, or looting such humanitarian aid. The United States as well as other donor governments and private voluntary organizations should increase donations of appropriate foods to the responsible multilateral agencies, such as WFP, to meet the impending shortfall in the coming three to six months.

© Physicians for Human Rights

© 2008/2009 Physicians for Human Rights Cambridge, Massachusetts All rights reserved.

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The Horror Mugabe Doesn't Want the World to See
By Frederick Clarkson
January 13, 2009
Bishop Desmond Tutu calls for the world to take action against the regime of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and the Nobel Prize-winner has signed the preface to a harrowing new report from Physicians for Human Rights on the man-made situation that may, if ignored, match Rwanda.

What is the secret so horrible that President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe does not want the world to see? Why did he refuse visas for Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan and Graca Machel of “The Elders,” a group of eminent statesmen, last fall? Why did Mugabe’s secret police keep a team of investigators from Physicians for Human Rights under surveillance in the week before Christmas last year—and try to arrest them before they could tell their story to the world?

In a report titled HEALTH IN RUINS: A Man-Made Disaster in Zimbabwe, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) revealed Mugabe’s dark secret this morning at a press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa: President Mugabe's regime was committing crimes against humanity. Desmond Tutu, the retired Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, said in a statement that the PHR report: “documents that the people of Zimbabwe are being denied the most basic of life’s necessities—access to health care, food, clean water, and even life itself. The world must take action against the Mugabe regime for these crimes against humanity.”

Excerpts from
A Man-Made Disaster in Zimbabwe

Crimes Against Humanity

…Robert Mugabe [has attempted] to conceal the appalling situation of his country’s people and to prevent the world from knowing how his Government’s malignant policies have led to the destruction of infrastructure, widespread disease, torture, and death.

The Cholera Epidemic is a Result of Human Rights Violations

The Mugabe regime intentionally suppressed initial reports of the cholera epidemic and has since denied or underplayed its gravity.

Healthcare Neither Accessible nor Affordable

...The dollarization of the economy since November 2008 has led to an economic apartheid in healthcare access. Since then, only a tiny elite with substantial foreign currency holdings can be said to have any real access to healthcare.

Human Rights and Torture

...A political environment marked by partisan violence, arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention, torture, and extrajudicial killings have continued unabated since the March 2008 parliamentary and presidential elections.

Seizure of Farmland by the Ruling Elite

Under the guise of land redistribution to benefit landless black Zimbabweans, Mugabe instead awarded many of these once productive farms to government ministers.... The land seizure led to sharp falls in agricultural production...and increased food insecurity for millions.

The Collapse of Democracy, the Economy and Health Care

The health crisis in Zimbabwe is a direct outcome of the violation of a number of human rights, including the right to participate in government and in free elections and the right to a standard of living adequate for one’s health and well being, including food, medical care, and necessary social services.

PHR found that the Mugabe government has withheld food aid, seed, and fertilizer to rural provinces in order to starve political opponents; that the regime nationalized and then withheld routine support for municipal water and sewer systems from cities that elected political opponents; that the health care infrastructure and the economy itself is nearing utter collapse; corruption is the rule not the exception; and that the regime brutally silences critics to cover its crimes, profound corruption and incompetence. (See report here)

“While we were there,” Frank Donaghue, CEO of Physicians for Human Rights told Religion Dispatches, “human rights activists were imprisoned and tortured.”

“People think that the most compelling problem is cholera,” he said (and indeed, the cholera outbreak has been widely reported). But, adds Donaghue, it is also a symptom of more profound underlying problems. “The issue is the collapse of the government, the economy, and the health system” he said. “Human waste is running down the streets. Kids are playing in it. The sewage system is in such bad repair that you get sewage in tap water.” PHR has issued the video, below, depicting how the disaster even affects the nation’s capital city: “The Marimba River which feeds Lake Chivero, Harare’s main water supply, is so filled with [human] excrement that plant growth covers its surface.”

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Robert Mugabe should face trial say US doctors

US doctors who inspected Zimbabwe's health care facilities say Robert Mugabe
should be tried for crimes against humanity.

Last Updated: 6:05PM GMT 13 Jan 2009

The recommendation came in a damning report published after the group's
fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe last month.

They were forced to flee after interviewing 92 health workers, patients,
nurses and members of the public, and being accused by the government of
being American spies.

The doctors, members of a group called Physicians for Human Rights, also
concluded that the United Nations should take over the country's health

"The UN Security Council ... should enact a resolution referring the crisis
to the International Criminal Court for investigation and to begin the
process of compiling documentary and other evidence that would support the
charge of crimes against humanity," said Dr Frank Donaghue, chief executive
officer of the group.

"There are no public hospitals open, none, all the clinics are closed, there
is no health care for pregnant women and the cholera statistics are

"The Mugabe regime intentionally suppressed the initial reports of the
cholera epidemic and has since denied or underplayed its gravity ... has
intentionally suppressed information regarding increasing malnutrition,
according to the report.

The report said that a pay-slip shown to them by government-employed doctor
in Harare showed that in November she had earned the equivalent of 28 pence.

A nurse told the visiting doctors: "Malnutrition is very political. We are
not supposed to have hunger in Zimbabwe. So even though we do see it, we
cannot report it."

The report was endorsed by Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights; Judge Richard Goldstone, the former UN Chief Prosecutor at
the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda;
and Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town.

They said in a preface to the report: "These findings add to the growing
evidence that Robert Mugabe and his regime may well be guilty of crimes
against humanity."

Dr David Sanders, a former lecturer at Zimbabwe's medical school, which has
now shut down, said: "The statistics are staggering. In the last 15 years,
the life expectancy has dropped from 62 years to 36 years of age."

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Zimbabweans detail abduction spree

Fresh details of recent abductions, beatings, and forced confessions of
Zimbabwe's opposition leaders and civic activists emerged Tuesday during a
press conference.
By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the January 14, 2009 edition

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The men came for Bothwell Pasipamire just after
midnight on Dec. 13, armed with pistols. With his wife screaming, they
pushed him into a brand-new white Toyota pickup truck, and took the young
newly elected councillor of a small rural town on what he thought would be
the last drive of his life.

For the next three days, Mr. Pasipamire would be beaten, tortured, and
forced on camera to beat a mutinous Zimbabwe army soldier, and then confess
to various crimes against President Robert Mugabe's government, until he was
finally allowed to escape by sympathetic intelligence officers.

His story - told to reporters from the safety of Johannesburg, South Africa,
as civic activists and fellow members of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) face trial for treason this week in his native
Zimbabwe - speaks volumes about the brutal lengths to which Mr. Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party is willing to go to stay in power, nine months after losing
national elections to the MDC.

"The ZANU-PF, they are trying to cause fear within the people of Zimbabwe,"
says Mr. Pasipamire, speaking with the Monitor at a Johannesburg hotel. "For
example, I am a town councillor. People will say, 'If a councillor is
abducted, eh! What about myself?' "

Three months after agreeing to share power with the MDC in a coalition
government, Mugabe continues to rule his impoverished and famished country
with an iron fist.

While neighboring African nations urge Zimbabwe's contending parties to set
their differences aside, and are putting extra pressure on MDC leaders to
reach a deal, any deal, Mugabe's security agencies are sweeping the country,
arresting, beating, and then charging rivals with crimes punishable by
death. In such an environment, experts say, peaceful negotiation is nearly

"This diminishes the prospect of a functional coalition government," says
Ozias Tungwarara, an expert on Zimbabwe for the Open Society Institute in
Johannesburg. "ZANU-PF has never been serious about reforming the political
environment. Their only interest is holding on to political power at all

Mugabe's campaign of terror - coming at a time of complete economic
collapse, growing famine, and a cholera epidemic as water and sanitation
systems break down - began almost as soon as he agreed to a power-sharing
deal with the MDC on Sept. 15.

The MDC, whose president, Morgan Tsvangirai, defeated Mugabe in the first
round of elections on March 29, reports that some 40 of its members have
disappeared from their homes since Oct. 25. Eleven of these abductees, like
those abducted during the presidential campaign earlier this year, have
never surfaced and are thought to be now dead.

The MDC's numbers are slightly higher than those kept by rights groups, such
as the Harare-based Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. According to that
organization, eight non-MDC activists have been detained along with Jestina
Mukoko, the founder of the Zimbabwe Peace Project; seven MDC activists soon
joined them at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and Chikurubi Female

"Behind the political crisis and health emergency, there is a worsening
human rights crisis in Zimbabwe, with the most recent development being this
unprecedented spate of abductions of human rights defenders," said Irene
Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International's branch in South Africa.
"This shows the audacity of a regime that is desperate to stay in power..
The only way out of this problem is through unified pressure from outside,
in particular of African leaders."

While Zimbabwe police first denied having MDC members and civic activists
like Ms. Mukoko in custody, they later admitted the activists were under
arrest, and charged them with recruiting young men to train in guerrilla
warfare and sabotage in alleged training camps in neighboring Botswana.
Activists under trial have testified that they were tortured, like
Pasipamire, into signing false confessions.

Mukoko, in her sworn court testimony, and Pasipamire, in his recorded
statement before legal counsel, have both alleged that officers of
Zimbabwe's feared Central Intelligence Organization beat them on the feet
with heavy rubber cords.

In Pasipamire's case, a CIO warrant officer named Mabhunu also allegedly
sexually assaulted him, and tried to force him to kill a mutinous Zimbabwe
army soldier with a crowbar, in front of a TV camera.

"I don't want you to suffer, but we do need your help," Pasipamire recalls
Mabhunu telling him during an interrogation. "All I want you to do is to
kill one of the soldiers we have here at the camp. The soldiers have already
been beaten; they won't fight with you. But I need you to hit one of them on
the head with this and kill him. Can you do that for me?"

"I have never killed anyone in my life. I can't do that," Pasipamire recalls

"OK, can you pretend to do it?" Mabhunu allegedly replied.

The next morning, Pasipamire and other men were "made to pretend" to beat a
young soldier in camouflage uniform, while a TV camera filmed them. He then
confessed on TV to having beaten soldiers and murdered at least one, on the
order or Mr. Tsvangirai.

Afterward, he recalls, "one of the officials patted me on the shoulder and
said, 'Don't worry if it is true or not. It's what we need, nothing more.' "

After four days, Pasipamire escaped from the torture camp, assisted by
sympathetic members of the CIO.

"There are some inside ZANU-PF and CIO who do not believe in what they are
doing," he says, adding that he cannot say more without endangering those
who remain in Zimbabwe.

Pasipamire also thinks that Mugabe's tactics will not hold down Zimbabweans
forever. "People see if you don't do anything, then there [will be] no
change," he says. "But if you push, then things will change. I can't say
when, but someday, I'm sure everything is going to be OK in Zimbabwe."

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How the "evidence" was manufactured

From ZWNEWS, 13 January

An MDC councillor from Kadoma who was kidnapped a week after Jestina
Mukoko - and held at the same torture camp near Goromonzi - has escaped and
given the first full account of government strategy behind the current wave
of abductions. Mr Bornwell Pasipamire was snatched from his home at Kadoma
on Saturday 13 December and driven to a camp at Goromonzi where he was
interrorgated by a man calling himself Army Warrant Officer Mabhunu. "They
were not after information, just to make me so scared by use of torture and
beatings that I would follow their orders," Pasipamire told ZWNEWS shortly
before he was due to address a press conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday
morning. "The strategy worked. They abused me and I was not allowed to sleep
for three days because they kept hosing me down with cold water. Even the
blanket in my cell was wet." On the second day, Pasipamire and others were
made to act out the beating of a uniformed soldier, one of several arrested
during the Christmas riots in Harare. "The young soldier looked more scared
than me which is really saying something. We had to pretend to beat and kick
him while he rolled on the ground, and all the time ZBC TV cameras filmed
us," he said.

Pasipamire, who has O-level English and speaks the language fluently, was
later separated from the others and handed a written text with more than 20
questions and answers. "I was given some time to learn the answers, then the
TV crew appeared again along with a smartly dressed men who looked like a
news presenter. And for hours we ran through the script with him asking me
the questions and me repeating the answers like a parrot. If I got one wrong
they would stop the camera and make me do it again." During the "interview",
Pasipamire was made to confess that he had been trained as a guerrilla in
Botswana, returned to Zimbabwe with orders to overthrow the government and
he had been handed US$1000 personally by Morgan Tsvangirai who told him that
the money came from the British and Americans via their ambassadors in
Harare. "I had never been to Botswana and the whole thing was a list of
lies, but I and others who were good at English had to go through this
rubbish, or face being tortured and beaten all over again," he said. There
was also a women's section at the camp where Pasipamire says he believes
human-rights activist Jestina Mukuku may have been held. On his release,
Pasipamire made a detailed statement to legal counsel.

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Cholera Death Toll In Zimbabwe Rises To 2,024, Says UN Agency

(RTTNews) - The death toll in the ongoing cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has
crossed 2,000 since it began in August, said the World Health Organization
(WHO) on Tuesday.

The WHO said that the cholera epidemic has claimed 2,024 lives out of the
39,806 suspected cases reported in Zimbabwe since August, adding that the
fatality rate from cholera epidemic in the country stands at 5.1%, much
above the normal 1% in such massive outbreaks.

Meanwhile, Physicians for Human Rights, a U.S. based group, called for an
International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into the spread of the
cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, and blamed President Robert Mugabe's
government for the collapse of the country's health and sanitation systems,
which indirectly led to the spread of the epidemic.

"These findings add to the growing evidence that Robert Mugabe and his
regime may well be guilty of crimes against humanity," said a report
released by the group on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe, which is currently reeling under a severe economic and political
crisis, is struggling to control the massive cholera outbreak because of a
shortage of water purification chemicals, drugs, medical supplies and health
professionals in the country.

Various health and relief agencies have blamed poor sanitation and shortage
of safe drinking water for the spreading of the water-borne disease and have
warned that the outbreak could spread further if safe water and sanitation
were not provided immediately.

The ongoing economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe is widely blamed on
President Mugabe's failure to form a unity government involving the
opposition, as per a previously agreed power-sharing deal reached in
September to end the political crisis and to pull back the impoverished
African country from an economic collapse.

Repeated power-sharing negotiations following the deal had ended deadlocked
with the opposition MDC accusing President Mugabe's Zanu PF party of
refusing to share important portfolios with them in the proposed unity

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Helping an overwhelmed clinic respond to cholera in Chirundu, Zimbabwe

Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Date: 09 Jan 2009

By Thomas Myhren

CHIRUNDU, Zimbabwe, 9 January 2009 - Cholera victims were in agony on the
damp grass outside an overfilled clinic in Chinrundu, a small community in
the Northwest region of Zimbabwe. The rural clinic, which only has the
capacity to treat eight patients, has been overwhelmed by the cholera
emergency; its staff has already witnessed 185 cases and 16 deaths.

These figures are a testimony to the difficult circumstances found by UNICEF
Zimbabwe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist Boniface Nzara when his
team arrived at the site.

Only three courageous nurses and a handful of volunteers were on hand to
operate the clinic.

"When we arrived at the clinic we were met by a frightening sight. People
with cholera were just lying outside the clinic with very little assistance"
said Mr. Nzara. "The hygiene situation inside was literally a cholera
breeding ground."

Mr. Nzara added that there were very few latrines, and that all patients
were being treated side by side, posing a major risk for those who had been
admitted for illnesses other than cholera. "The clinic was infested with
flies and had a terrible smell. It was a struggle and inconvenience for the
understaffed nurses to move around to assist patients," he recalled.

Large and aggressive outbreak

The current cholera outbreak here is, by far, the largest and most
aggressive one in the country's recent history. A major contributor to the
emergency is the breakdown of health systems, coupled with soaring
inflation, which has weakened Zimbabwe's ability to provide basic social
services. Health workers are severely affected by the economic climate, as
their monthly salaries do not cover the cost of transportation to work.

Last month, with supplies running short, clinic representatives made the
journey to the UNICEF office in Harare, seeking urgent assistance. Within 24
hours, the first truck carrying assistance was deployed.

In response, said Mr. Nzara, the UNICEF team "travelled for nearly five
hours to reach the clinic, which is close to the Zambian border. We brought
a cholera kit, which contains everything a clinic needs to provide

Cholera kits arrive

Each cholera kit includes two treatment tents large enough to house 50
patients, beds and pit latrine equipment, as well as IV fluids and oral
rehydration salts. Decontaminating foot baths and handwashing points were
set up in strategic areas as precautionary measures.

UNICEF also supplied a 5,000-litre water tank and 500,000 water-purification
tablets to secure safe drinking water in the short term.

"We had to do on-the-job training on hygiene education while setting up the
centre. We could not waste any time," said Mr. Nzara. "Children often see
water puddles and want to play in them, or put their fingers in their mouth
without washing them with soap first. We have raised awareness that these
actions could seriously harm the child."

New clinic set up

Due to the lack of personnel, the team had to rely on community members to
assist in setting up the new facilities.

"Since there was limited manpower, the team and I had to wear two hats -
both as coordinators and construction workers," said Mr. Nzara. "We spent
two days setting up the Cholera Treatment Clinic to make it function and
have all the requirements such a clinic should have. It was a hectic job,
but seeing the relief on the faces of both patients and nurses provided all
the motivation we needed."

The new clinic is providing tangible hope for Chinrundu and its surrounding
communities. Mr. Nzara said UNICEF expected an increase in admissions at the
clinic and a decrease in fatality rates, as patients will no longer be
prematurely sent home to make room for incoming cholera cases.

"Our colleagues are doing a remarkable job, working around the clock to
provide assistance in a very difficult operating environment," said UNICEF
Acting Representative in Zimbabwe Roeland Monasch. "We are further scaling
up our efforts with increased supplies and will continue to battle cholera
as long as it takes."

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Abducted child released from Chikurubi

January 13, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Prison authorities on Tuesday released from detention a
two-year-old child who was abducted along with his mother three months ago.

Nigel Mutemagau was abducted by suspected state security agents last October
along with his mother, Violet Mupfuranhewe.

Since their appearance in court late in December Nigel had remained with his
mother in Chikurubi Maximum Prison.

Nigel was released late Tuesday afternoon and handed over to some people who
had visited Mupfuranhewe and who are now frantically trying to locate his
parents' relatives so that they can hand him over to them.

Mupfuranhewe will, however, remain in detention.

The release of Nigel follows last month's order by High Court Judge Justice
Yunus Omerjee ordering the release of the child, as well as various MDC
members and human rights activists who were abducted from various locations
over the past three months

They include former newscaster Jestina Mukoko who was abducted from her home
in the town of Norton, 40 kilometres west of Harare.

Although Omerjee ruled that Mukoko, the director of the Zimbabwe Peace
Project, and eight MDC members must be released to a private hospital for
medical examination after alleged torture, the state has defied the ruling.

Meanwhile, High Court Judge Alphas Chitakunye will on Wednesday hear and
make a ruling on an urgent chamber application in which the Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights (ZLHR) is seeking the immediate production and release of
twelve missing Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members.

ZLHR is seeking an order compelling State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa,
Commissioner-General of Police Augustine Chihuri, the Commissioner of
Prisons Paradzai Zimondi, Johannes Tomana, the Attorney-General, and their
agents to produce and release the remaining twelve missing abductees before
the High Court. The lawyers are also seeking an investigation and
prosecution of their abductors.

The twelve missing MDC members are Lloyd Tarumbwa, Gwenzi Kahiya, Lovemore
Machokoto, Charles Muza, Ephraim Mabeka, Edmore Vangirai, Peter Munyanyi,
Bothwell Pasipamire, Graham Matewa, Fanny Tembo, Larry Gaka and Terry

They were abducted in the period between October and December last year in
various areas including Zvimba and Kadoma in Mashonaland West Province,
Makoni in Manicaland Province, Gutu in Masvingo Province and Gokwe.

Some of the MDC members abducted in October and surrendered into police
custody in December said they saw some of the twelve missing persons during
their detention.

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UK immigration detain prominent Zimbabwean activist

By Lance Guma
13 January 2009

British immigration officials on Monday detained prominent Zimbabwean
activist Luka Phiri at the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre in London,
and plan to deport him to Malawi on Thursday. Phiri, a well-known activist
who has participated in countless demonstrations, sought asylum in the UK
after entering the country on a Malawian passport in 2003. He says he
acquired the Malawian passport to avoid the tight visa restrictions put in
place for Zimbabweans wishing to travel to the UK. But despite a temporary
ban on the deportation of unsuccessful Zimbabwean asylum seekers, the UK
Home Office is using the technicality that Phiri is a Malawian citizen,
based on his passport of entry.

The case has enraged many Zimbabwean activists who accused the British
government of putting at risk a genuine activist who has campaigned
vigorously against Mugabe's regime. Phiri spoke to Newsreel from his
detention room Tuesday and says he provided the UK Home Office with evidence
of his Zimbabwean nationality. Some of the documents include his Zimbabwean
metal ID, long birth certificate, divorce papers, custody papers,
educational certificates from age 7 to 26 and even his old and new
Zimbabwean passports. He has also provided two letters from both the MDC in
Zimbabwe and the UK, confirming his membership of the party. All in all
Phiri says he provided close to 50 documents that prove his nationality.

Phiri says all the letters he has received from the UK Home Office regarding
his case refer to him as a Zimbabwean. He also says his UK driving licence
states clearly that he is a Zimbabwean. It's only for purposes of
deportation that he is being referred to as a Malawian. Phiri, who was
previously a close aide of now MDC Vice President Thokozani Khupe, is set to
be deported Thursday on a Kenya Airlines flight KQ101 from Heathrow Airport
at 7pm. There was a flurry of activity Monday and Tuesday as different
organizations and activists campaigned for his release, including pleas for
intervention being sent to his East Ham MP Stephen Timms, from the UK Labour

This is now the second time Phiri has faced the prospect of deportation. In
2006 he spent nearly 12 weeks in detention at the Dover Removal Centre,
before being moved to Campsfield in Oxford. The Zimbabwe Association
pressure group for which he now works as a volunteer, proved instrumental in
blocking his deportation then. Almost 3 years later the same organization
has to go through the same process, again coordinating Phiri's judicial
review appeal via his lawyers. No court action is expected until late on
Wednesday, a day before the actual deportation.
The planned deportation of Phiri is in stark contrast to the treatment
afforded to former Labour and Social Welfare Minister Florence Chitauro, who
is now living in London and travels to and from Zimbabwe without any
hindrance. As Labour Minister she helped brutally suppress strikes against
workers in the country. She lives in a plush town house in West London with
husband James Chitauro, himself a former senior civil servant in Mugabe's
Labour MP Kate Hoey has in the past slammed the UK border agency for being,
'obsessed with trying to meet targets on asylum seekers and keeping out any
Zimbabwean who they think might not return home. But they need to spend more
time checking out some of the ZANU PF apparatchiks who have been coming in
and out for years and who are personally responsible for what is happening
in Zimbabwe now.'

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Zimbabweans protest outside Downing Street

Tuesday, 13, Jan 2009 05:27

By staff

A demonstration by Zimbabweans looking for the right to work in the UK has
taken place outside Downing Street.

Organisers said the event was timed to mark six months since prime minister
Gordon Brown said he would look into the situation of 11,000 destitute
Zimbabweans living in the UK who can not return home and are not allowed to
work or access benefits.

The demonstration, organised by Citizens for Sanctuary, demanded permission
to work, pay taxes and gain the skills they need to "help rebuild Zimbabwe".

Several hundred Zimbabweans gathered outside Downing Street in a bid to
remind Mr Brown of when he declared he would look at "what we can do to
support Zimbabweans in that situation and we will report back to the House
[of Commons] in due course".

A dossier was delivered containing several hundred CVs from Zimbabweans
seeking employment in the UK.

Jonathan Cox, from the Citizens for Sanctuary campaign, appealed to Mr Brown
to take action and help.

"It has been half a year since the prime minister promised to look at what
could be done for Zimbabweans," he said.

"This demonstration will remind Mr Brown that 11,000 destitute Zimbabweans
are waiting for him to keep his word. Our government has been a world leader
in criticising Mugabe while leaving many of those who escaped that horrific
regime to languish here without hope.

"We must prepare Zimbabweans who came to Britain in search of sanctuary with
the skills and experience that they will need to forge a brighter future for
their country once democracy and stability are restored."

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, added: "Ministers
cannot complain about [president] Mugabe on the one hand, yet stand idly by
while Zimbabweans are suffering here in the UK. Give Zimbabweans the right
to work."

In July last year 2,000 Zimbabweans rallied in Parliament Square calling for
permission to work and pay taxes, at a demonstration addressed by John
Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, and other civil society leaders.

The Foreign Office is urging the government to adopt a more liberal policy
towards Zimbabweans in the UK, because it gives them moral leverage when
dealing with Mugabe's regime. That opinion is not shared by the Home Office,
who take a harder line.

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Thomas Sibanda, "It's a wonder people haven't started destroying banks and looting them"

Photo: IRIN
Cash shortage - Zimbabweans queue to access their accounts as banks run out of money
HARARE, 13 January 2009 (IRIN) - In most countries, if you are a service-orientated kind of person, being a bank teller is a pretty good job, but not in Zimbabwe. Banking staff deal daily with sullen or irate customers wanting to get their hands on their savings, but who have been limited by law to a ceiling on withdrawals that does not cover the cost of a loaf of bread.

Teller Thomas Sibanda* spoke to IRIN about being on a frontline of the country's economic crisis, in which the inflation rate is officially in the hundreds of millions of percent, and one US dollar now costs around 20 billion Zimbabwean dollars.

"It used to be a pleasure dealing with clients coming to withdraw their money or carry out other transactions, but that is no longer the case. The banking system has steadily been going to the dogs, and as a bank teller I feel like an undertaker at a funeral.

"Granted, the queues are not as long as they used to be following the decision by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe [RBZ] to force clients to withdraw only a maximum of Z$10 billion [US$50 cents] per month if they are withdrawing their salaries [a restriction that was recently lifted].

"Most of the people who come to the banks these days are those [who do not have payslips] and can only withdraw Z$5 billion a week [US$25 cents – a restriction that remains in force].

"What does a person do with that small amount of money when a single trip into town is now costing a US dollar or its equivalent in Zimbabwean dollars? Where does the RBZ think the people are getting the rest of the money?

"When queues were so long it was such a big challenge for us. At one time a customer jumped into my cubicle and threatened to beat me up. The police and internal security were called, but the client refused to leave unless he was given his money, and even though the bank manager had given an order that we should not disburse more money, the cash was raised to give to the irate customer.

"That kind of anger among clients is understandable. Imagine that a person comes into town and joins a bank queue as early as 4 a.m., only to be told at the close of business that he can't withdraw his money [because of the cash shortage], even though he or she knows that his account has sufficient funds.

"Back at home his family does not have a single cent to buy bread or other basic necessities. The customer doesn't even have the money to travel back home. What do you expect him or her to do? It's a wonder people haven't started destroying banks and looting them.

"It is immoral and illegal, but I'm aware there are many bank officials who have been taking advantage of the cash crisis to enrich themselves. They ask clients for huge kickbacks, or use the client's savings to buy foreign currency, which they pocket without the knowledge or consent of the customers.

"That practice, however, seems to have gone down after a number of the bank officials, some of them very senior, were arrested."

* Not his real name

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in grand lie on salaries

Tuesday, 13 January 2009 16:58 Ivene Cheunga

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has lied to the nation once again that
workers in the formal sectors would be able to access their full salaries
upon presentation of the December 2008 and January 2009 payslips amid
stunning confusion of commercial banks giving their clients mule kicks
refusing to entertain last year's payslip, Harare Tribune has established.

Since yesterday, most commercial banks had been turning away their clients
with confirmations that Gono who is believed to be an agent of the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) of America, did not give them enough money for
them to disburse full salaries as per the RBZ fake pronouncements.

"The RBZ has announced that with effect from 12 January 2009, workers in the
formal sector would be in a position to access their full salaries upon
production of a December 2008 and January 2009 payslip," said ZBC news
anchor Juliet Muzenda at the 2000hrs televised news bulletin.

Muzenda also gave one and only true confirmation that the RBZ had indeed
printed new Z$20Billion and Z$50Billion denominations of local currency the
development that subsequently resulted in a US$ scooping the entire latest
high denomination.

In another interview with a teller that requested anonymity at CABS Park
Street in central Harare, their bank wrote a salvo to the central bank chef
challenging him to be sincere with customers as they accused his
organisation of misrepresenting the cash situation a situation that
eventually piled pressure on them as some customers threaten bank workers
with physical abuse.

"We received a memorandum Saturday from the central bank advising that we
should only entertain the January 2009 payslip as there is not enough money
to cover the requirements of December 2008 as well,"  another senior bank
official at Kingdom bank Samora Machel in Harare told the Harare Tribune.

A client Simon Mukwena of Kuwadzana in Harare expressed dismay at the
central bank's blatant lack of sincerity with customers saying that he is at
pains to make ends meet for his family to survive yet Gono cherishes playing
April Fools day with the nation. He said that he can't wait for the day Gono
is going to be pinned on the wall and he would be the first one to clap him
as he is now the godfather of Zimbabwe's socio-economic ills.

Meanwhile, in an official comment the RBZ public relations directorate has
said that it has always been the case that the central bank advises its
network of banks to apply for enough cash resources for their clients
arguing that the blame should sqaurey lie with respective banks that failed
to request fro adequate cash resources

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Zimbabwe: Appoint Neutral Interim Govt, Urges Ex-Clinton Aide

Donald Steinberg

13 January 2009

guest column
Zimbabwe's Parliament, its only legitimately-elected body, should take the
lead in resolving the country's crisis by legislating for a non-partisan
transitional government to rule for 18 months and plan new elections, writes
Donald Steinberg, a former aide to President Bill Clinton of the United

If things could get any worse in Zimbabwe, they have. The country is on the
verge of complete collapse: there are no public services, no health sector,
no economy. Half the population needs food aid and humanitarian groups say
it will take hundreds of millions of dollars of new support over the
upcoming weeks to avoid mass starvation.

With the breakdown of water supplies, cholera is spreading. Already 1,700
people have died from the disease, with many more infections expected in the
next two weeks. At least four million Zimbabweans have fled to neighboring
countries, and the entire region, including South Africa, Botswana, Zambia
and Malawi, is at risk.

The international community has been paralyzed over how to help Zimbabwe
move back from the precipice. While there are calls for President Robert
Mugabe's departure - some from Africans such as Kenyan Prime Minister Raila
Odinga and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu - Mugabe and his hard-line Zanu-PF
supporters and security officials have shown themselves immune to
international pressure.

There are signs that Mugabe is about to name a cabinet unilaterally and many
fear he will declare a state of emergency or martial law to justify further
repression. He recently told supporters that "Zimbabwe is mine."

Implementation of the flawed power-sharing deal negotiated by former South
African president Thabo Mbeki following the fraudulent June 2008
presidential election run-off is hopelessly deadlocked. Mugabe and his
Zanu-PF party will not accept genuine power-sharing, and Morgan Tsvangirai
and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are understandably unwilling to
join an administration as, at best, weak junior partners, responsible for
ending international isolation but without the authority to implement
reforms and distribute emergency humanitarian relief. Creating a government
with two centers of power is inherently unworkable in the current
non-cooperative environment.

Zimbabwe's long national nightmare must end, and its only
legitimately-elected body - Parliament - must take the lead.

Parliamentarians should prepare a constitutional amendment to create a
non-partisan transitional administration to govern for 18 months, under the
leadership of a chief administrator - a neutral Zimbabwean from the private
sector, civil society or an international institution. This person should be
chosen by a two-thirds parliamentary majority, and would be ineligible to
stand for president in the next election or serve as prime minister after

Under this plan, Mugabe must stand down and should never be able to hold
public office again. The positions of president and prime minister should
remain unfilled through the life of the transitional administration and
partisan ministers should be replaced by neutral administrators. Morgan
Tsvangirai and the MDC would have to put their leadership aspirations on
hold until new elections.

The job of the transitional administration would be to prepare presidential
elections in 18 months through a reconstituted and apolitical Electoral
Supervisory Commission, and to address the humanitarian and economic crises

Such a deal would give Mugabe immunity from prosecution, a dignified exit
and the assurance that he will not simply be handing power to his bitter
rival. His main supporters in the security forces could be offered the same
amnesty and honorable retirement. While this would be hard to swallow for
those who have suffered at the hands of the regime, it would end the current
suffering as well as the prospect of massive suffering in the future.

Right now the MDC has deep concerns over the potential response of the
Zimbabwean security forces and Zanu-PF hardliners to an immediate transfer
of power. The prospects for a dangerous and violent transition are very
real. Such an outcome would serve no one, least of all Mugabe, Zanu-PF
stalwarts and the security forces.

For the MDC, the approach I have outlined would secure Mugabe's immediate
departure, create a cooling-off period and improve the prospects of a smooth

To facilitate such a process, the Southern African Development Community and
the African Union should name a new international mediator to succeed Mbeki.
Regional actors such as South Africa and Tanzania should offer forces to
help ensure stability during the transition.

Relevant Links
  a.. Zimbabwe: Major Party Set to Sink Powersharing
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should at the same time appoint
a special representative to mobilize international help in addressing the
humanitarian crisis. The international community could assist the
transitional government in the huge task of reconstruction and ensure that
all parties cooperate.

If patriotism and a desire to end their country's tragic suffering aren't
enough to drive Zimbabwe's leaders to create a credible, competent
government that can inspire confidence at home and abroad, enlightened
self-interest should be.

Donald Steinberg is the deputy president at the International Crisis Group
and a former special assistant for African affairs to President Bill Clinton
of the United States.

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Zimbabwe's Whites Targeted Again

Mugabe regime steps up campaign against minority, accusing it of trying to
take over the country.

By Chipo Sithole in Harare (ZCR No. 175, 13-Jan-09)

Embattled Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe is piling more pressure on the
country's dwindling white community, with a campaign of intimidation and

Mugabe, who, of late, has been using warlike demagoguery to frighten
critics, alleges that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, is
taking instructions from its "white masters". He has repeated his mantra
that the MDC will never rule "my Zimbabwe", and says he will not surrender
the country to white colonialists.

Mugabe's government has stepped up a propaganda campaign against the 40,000
whites, who live among 12.5-million blacks in the former British colony that
Mugabe led to independence in 1980.

Whites are being accused of training hit squads to overthrow Mugabe and
undermine the September 15 power-sharing deal.

At the same time, the security forces are stepping up verbal and physical
threats against whites, jailing some for allegedly fomenting unrest against
the regime.

On January 7, heavily armed soldiers, police and intelligence officers
raided an outdoor training camp called Kudu Creek in Ruwa, 30 kilometres
from Harare, and seized three white men who do adventure training with boy
scouts, tourists and others involved in outdoor pursuits, alleging that they
are training terrorists to topple Mugabe.

The three men, alleged by a police spokesman to have been members of the
Selous Scouts, a special forces regiment of Ian Smith's Rhodesian army,
which operated from 1973 until the introduction of majority rule, have been
involved in adventure training since the early 1980s and are well known in
Ruwa. According to the police, they are now "facing terrorism charges for
training bandits".

In another incident, a group of white doctors assessing the widespread
cholera epidemic that has claimed an estimated 1,800 victims were jailed
last week, accused of being on an undercover mission to overthrow Mugabe.

The crackdown on the country's few remaining white farmers has intensified
markedly, despite a ruling by a Southern African Development Community,
SADC, tribunal in Namibia in November that the land reform programme was

Almost four months after the signing of the power-sharing deal, there is
still no government in place. The MDC blames Mugabe for the delay, saying he
wants to retain all the key ministries, including foreign affairs, home
affairs and finance. Western governments have called for the MDC to have the
upper hand in government.

Mugabe's press secretary, George Charamba, in his weekly column in the
Herald last weekend, under the alias Nathaniel Manheru, claimed whites still
control the economy and scorned the remaining 400 white farmers, down from
4,500 before the start of the land grab in 2000. Mugabe has accused white
farmers of bankrolling the MDC.

Charamba also alleged that the "Rhodesians" want control of ministerial
portfolios to do with lands, mines and the security ministries, "without
which they have realised they cannot back their control of the first two".

He further alleged that whites were forming an alliance with the MDC and
regrouping across borders in a bid to repossess land seized from them once
the power-sharing deal comes into force.

"With the support of Britain, Europe and America, the dream of a return, a
second coming, seems more and more palpable, more and more graspable," he

Alluding to a column written by Eddie Cross, the MDC policy coordinator, on
Zimbabwe Mail Online, suggesting that the MDC is prepared to let the country
"crash and burn" if it does not get real authority under the power-sharing
deal, Charamba wrote, "On the one hand is a real chance for a second
Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, with Tsvangirai at the helm. On the other is ZANU-PF,
which, by Cross's reckoning, is now sufficiently weakened to make more and
more concessions, if not to capitulate.

"Let no one come under any illusion: Cross is making a case for the best
black servant, never for the best black president. He is making a case not
for a strong black Zimbabwe, but for a white Rhodesia under a black puppet.
His argument for an MDC victory or, the obverse, an argument for ZANU-PF's
defeat, is a case for Rhodesia's second coming without whose realisation,
white Rhodesians are prepared to let Zimbabwe 'crash and burn'."

In his controversial column, Cross wrote, "The GPA (global political
agreement or power-sharing agreement) says the MDC is in charge of the bus
and MT(Morgan Tsvangirai) is the driver. We just need to make sure,
absolutely sure, that there are no dual controls in the front of the bus.

"What the people at the bus stop are saying is 'we will not get on the bus
until we are satisfied that the driver is our man and not Mugabe'. And that
is not negotiable. If Mugabe is anywhere near the wheel, we would rather let
the bus crash and burn."

Cross's comments have provoked an angry response not only from Charamba. A
militant group in Zimbabwe's ruling party has accused him of having a
"colonial mindset" and of being a "dangerous advisor to the MDC".

Even more chilling are threats by Mugabe's shock troops.

"Our members are prepared to pick up arms to resist any attempts by racists
of the likes of Cross and the MDC to destabilise the economy and, by
extension, the country," Togarepi Pupurai of the Zimbabwe National
Liberation War Collaborators Association, ZNLWCA, the group at the forefront
of the sometimes violent land invasions, warned. "Our duty as the ZNLWCA is
to defend the revolution at any cost, this is our mandate as children of the

Chipo Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.

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Zim judge blasts SADC court over white farmer ruling

HARARE, ZIMBABWE Jan 13 2009 16:07

A top Zimbabwe judge has said a regional court had no jurisdiction to rule
that 78 white farmers could keep land lost to Harare's land-reform scheme,
state media reported on Tuesday.

The tribunal "lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine the application",
the Herald newspaper said, citing deputy chief Justice Luke Malaba
addressing the opening of the 2009 session of the Bulawayo High Court.

Malaba said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal,
which ruled last November in favour of the farmers, had heard the matter
prior to all legal avenues under national law being exhausted.

The farmers had appeals pending in the country's Supreme Court when they
approached the tribunal for recourse, he said.

"The applicants had not exhausted all remedies provided under ... the
Constitution of Zimbabwe, as the Supreme Court was still to make a
determination of the matters raised by the application when the tribunal
took the case up," Malaba said.

The Namibia-based SADC court ruled that the farmers can keep their farms
because Zimbabwe's land-reform scheme discriminated against them.

It ruled that the Zimbabwe government had violated the treaty governing the
15-nation regional bloc by trying to seize the white-owned farms.

The verdict was the first major ruling by the court since it first convened
in April 2007.

Eight years ago Zimbabwe began seizing white-owned farms to resettle them
with landless black people, but the chaotic programme was plagued by deadly
violence and some farms ended up in the hands of cronies of Zanu-PF leader
Robert Mugabe.

Three of the farmers had already been kicked off their land before the SADC
court ruling. The others had been allowed to keep their farms, but some
reportedly are fending off new expropriation orders.

The SADC tribunal was created as part of a peer-review mechanism within the
organisation. It aims to ensure the objectives of SADC's founding treaty,
including human rights and property rights, are upheld. -- Sapa-AFP

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Our lives depend on Mugabe going

I've just been preparing information on cholera - causes, symptoms and
prevention - for our next Kubatana email newsletter. In countless
publications its stated that good sanitation and waste management is vital
to preventing the spread of cholera.

Take a drive or a walk around Harare these days and you'll find over flowing
rubbish bins in every shopping centre. In the Avenues, home to thousands of
flat dwellers, rubbish is strewn on the street. At Kamfinsa Shopping Centre,
the mound of rubbish dumped near where people queue for their daily or
weekly allowance from Gono, is growing daily. Street cleaners have stopped
cleaning. Public toilets have been closed because there isn't any water to
service them. The toilets in my office block, and no doubt countless others,
seldom have water. With this degree of failure of public services, people
cannot achieve the high standards of cleanliness required to stop cholera in
its tracks.

Foreign governments and international development agencies are engaged in
trying to stop the spread of cholera. Whilst these efforts are helping
Zimbabweans on the ground I wonder how the aid agencies are reconciling the
fact that the Mugabe regime has been the chief architect of the collapse of
vital infrastructure in Zimbabwe, and that if we want to actually stop
cholera, then Mugabe, the larger problem, has to go. Until then we'll be
running around trying to extinguish countless humanitarian crises.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) chief executive officer Frank Donaghue,
believes that the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe is a "symptom of the collapse
of the entire health system" and PHR is calling for Zimbabwe's health care
system to be placed under international receivership.

Millions of Zimbabweans couldn't agree more and our lives depend on it.

This entry was posted on January 13th, 2009 at 1:37 pm by Bev Clark

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Zimbabweans Face Growing Woes Amid New Crackdowns
JANUARY 13, 2009, 2:15 P.M. ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Weeks before President Robert Mugabe has vowed to set up a new government, Zimbabweans are facing a deepening humanitarian crisis and amid what appears to be a renewed security crackdown.

[Zimbabwe] Getty Images

A Zimbabwean looks at a new 50 billion dollar bank note issued by Zimbabwe's central bank. The bank has been introducing new bank notes every month as the country battles to catch up with runaway inflation.

In recent days the military and police have stepped up patrols and roadblocks, suggesting that Mr. Mugabe may again be preparing for a violent crackdown against any threat to his regime. Seven opposition members were charged this week for their alleged role in a bombing plot last year. They pleaded not guilty, and their lawyer said they had been beaten in custody.

Mr. Mugabe has said he will form his own government next month, and hold new elections in 2011. That's too long for Matidaishe Nzou, a Harare resident who has already lost five family members to cholera.

"We will all be dead by then," he said.

Zimbabwe's economic crisis has worsened in the past six months as the government remains deadlocked over how to share power with the opposition. Zimbabweans struggle to buy anything with their currency, which has been almost entirely devalued. The government released a new $50 billion note this week, which is worth little more than one US dollar.

State services have collapsed. A cholera epidemic has claimed 1,937 people since October, according to the World Health Organization. Most district hospitals and clinics, especially in rural areas, have been closed since the beginning of January, because they have no drugs, materials, or means to pay their staff. Mothers struggle to deliver their babies. HIV/AIDS patients eat medicinal herbs dug from the ground.

"The whole country is turning into some kind of giant mortuary," said Douglas Gwatidza, head of the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights.

Health workers who stay on charge their patients in foreign currency, then share the profits among themselves. "The government cannot pay us so we have to find ways of paying ourselves," said one such nurse, Ethel Ngundu.

These days, it's not just the health care workers who have turned their business into a private practice. Police officers demand a little extra to follow up on complaints. Some public-school teachers have refused to go to work unless parents pay them directly, in foreign currency.

Perhaps most worryingly for the government is the underpaid army, upon whom Mr. Mugabe depends to remain in power. Soldiers in recent months have demanded to be paid in foreign currency, which the government cannot afford.

Instead soldiers roam city streets, looting market stalls and stealing from citizens, on the pretext of hunting down illegal foreign currency dealers. Some have hired themselves out as debt collectors.

"We are paid in Zimbabwe dollars and we have no other means of survival," said an army captain who declined to give his name, for fear of reprisal.

Zimbabwe began to unravel after Mr. Mugabe declared himself president after holding a one-man election in June. In September, he signed an agreement to share governing power with his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, who had won the first-round elections in March. But the two sides have remained deadlocked over how to divide up the powerful ministries.

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