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Motlanthe to chair critical Zimbabwean negotiations

From The Cape Times (SA), 16 January

Basildon Peta and Peter Fabricius

President Kgalema Motlanthe will lead a Southern Africa Development
Community (SADC) delegation to Zimbabwe in yet another attempt to help
resolve differences which are impeding the formation of a unity government
in that country. Motlanthe's trip was confirmed by his office last night,
after Morgan Tsvangirai had earlier in the day confirmed that he had written
to Motlanthe asking him to chair a meeting between himself and Robert
Mugabe. A statement from the presidency said Motlanthe's delegation would
include President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique and former president Thabo
Mbeki. Mbeki's role is unclear after Tsvangirai emphasised that he be
removed as mediator. "I am just waiting for the President (Motlanthe) to
confirm the exact day and time of the meeting but he informs me that Mugabe
has agreed to meet," said Tsvangirai yesterday. The MDC leader confirmed
that his decision to ask Motlanthe to call and chair the meeting was in line
with his party's position that Mbeki be removed as mediator. "Mbeki has
finished his job," said Tsvangirai, "The sooner people respect that
position, the better."

Tsvangirai is hoping that a direct face-to-face meeting with Mugabe might
meet his conditions for entering a coalition government. He had earlier said
these were; the passing of legislation to create a proposed new National
Security Council; the equitable allocation of ministries; the fair
appointment of provincial governors and other top officials; the halting of
abductions of opposition supporters by the government; and the passing of
constitutional amendment 19 to create the position of Prime Minister for
himself. The constitutional amendment comes before the Zimbabwean parliament
next week. The amendment needs the support of both Mugabe and Tsvangirai's
parties to pass as neither have the two thirds majority required for its
approval. Zimbabwe's deputy information Minister Bright Matonga declared
last week that Mugabe would not meet with Tsvangirai at all but Tsvangirai
said he should not be taken seriously. Tsvangirai said he had been out of
Zimbabwe since November 10 last year because the government refused to give
him a passport. Motlanthe persuaded Mugabe to give him one and the South
African High Commission in Botswana delivered it to him on December 25.

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Zimbabwe activist allowed to appeal her detention

Fri Jan 16, 10:01 am ET

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe rights activist Jestina Mukoko can appeal her
six-week detention before the Constitutional Court, a judge ruled Friday, in
a case that has raised doubts about a fragile power-sharing deal.

Magistrate Archie Wochiunga said that the director of the Zimbabwe Peace
Project could ask the Constitutional Court to free her and toss out charges
that she recruited people for military training to topple President Robert

"The request is neither frivolous nor vexatious," Wochiunga said. "The
constitutional question is therefore referred to the Supreme Court."

A panel of Supreme Court judges will be called to sit as the Constitutional
Court to hear her case, which has drawn international condemnation.

Mukoko was taken from her home on December 3 by a dozen armed men who
claimed to be police, according to fellow activists, and was not seen again
until she appeared in court three weeks later.

She told the magsitrate court on Thursday that authorities had beaten her
about the soles of her feet during interrogations, flatly denying the
charges against her.

She is among 32 activists abducted under similar circumstances in separate
incidents since October, according to Human Rights Watch.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says 11 more of its
members are missing, while two top party officials appeared in court
Wednesday on charges of trying to assassinate the head of the air force.

Their cases have heightened fears over a power-sharing deal signed four
months ago by Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, which has never been

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Magistrate refers Mukoko case to Supreme Court

Violet Gonda
16 January 2008

Harare Magistrate, Archie Wochiwonga, delivered a ruling on Friday saying
the case involving some political detainees, including civic leader and
former broadcaster Jestina Mukoko, should be referred to the Supreme Court
to determine whether their rights had been violated.

Lawyers representing Mukoko and the others, all accused of crimes relating
to acts of terrorism against the Mugabe regime, made an urgent application
in the magistrates' court seeking a referral to the Supreme Court on this
rights violation basis.

The group of about six were remanded in custody to January 30th.

Lawyer Andrew Makoni said that another group, including the MDC's Director
of Security Chris Dhlamini, were denied bail in the High Court also on
Friday, by Justice Karwi. They face charges of bombing trains and police
stations. Makoni said although the Judge expressed shock at the torture
described by the individuals he said they were not proper candidates for
bail as the charges were a serious matter. He however ordered that the
political detainees be taken to a private clinic for urgent treatment.

For the first time since her illegal abduction in early December Mukoko
testified in court on Thursday that she had been tortured by state security
agents. The former broadcaster is one of scores of political and civic
activists who have made sworn statements saying they were tortured into
making confessions of participating in alleged plots to remove the Mugabe
regime from power.

Many of the victims had been missing for several weeks before they were
finally found in prisons around Harare just before Christmas.

11 activists were still missing with the State denying knowledge of their
whereabouts. But on Thursday, during a court hearing with the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights seeking the production of the missing persons, the
state admitted three were being held as witnesses in the alleged coup plots.

Meanwhile the state media reports that more people have been charged in
connection with the terrorism threats. On Friday the Herald said: "Three
businessmen and former members of the Rhodesian forces have appeared in
court for allegedly recruiting MDC youths for banditry training at their
plots in Goromonzi."

The state mouth piece said John Naested, who is a major shareholder for
Tiles for Africa, Bryan Michael Baxter and Angus John Thompson, owners of
Bax Investments and Angus J. Thompson (Private) Limited respectively, were
remanded to January 22.

We reported last week the three ran a well known outdoor adventure camp
called Kudu Creek. They were initially arrested on January 2nd after a
military style raid on the camp premises. The camp, which has been in
operation for more than five years in Ruwa, offers adventure training for
Boy Scouts, tourists and others interested in learning the art of outdoor

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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SAfrica, EU meet on Zimbabwe as economy crumbles

16 January 2009, 11:11 CET
(KLEINMOND) - South African and EU officials met Friday outside Cape Town
with a heavy agenda including the Zimbabwe crisis, as that country's economy
crumbled further.

South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma welcomed EU
development commissioner Louis Michel and Czech Foreign Minister Karel
Schwarzenberg before the closed door meeting.

She said she hoped for a "constructive" meeting that "will produce positive
outcomes" on a variety of issues including the global economic crisis and
climate change.

The so-called "troika" -- gathering South Africa, the European Union, and
the Czech Republic which currently holds the EU presidency -- aims to
strengthen co-operation while addressing other global issues and concerns.

Schwarzenberg expressed hope the two parties could "in regional affairs and
international affairs, co-operate for a more peaceful and more just world."

Cooperation in the fields of energy and transport would be discussed first,
while the last order of the agenda included peace and security issues topped
by South Africa's embattled neighbour Zimbabwe.

The former southern African breadbasket on Friday announced it was issuing a
100 trillion dollar note in a bid to keep pace with hyperinflation.

The Great Lakes region, Sudan, Somalia, the Middle East peace process and
the Balkans were also to come under the scrutiny of the delegates.

The European Union is the world's largest trading bloc, generating 30
percent of global gross domestic product, as well as the biggest donor to
poor and developing countries.

According to South Africa's foreign ministry, exports to the EU totalled
152.6 billion rand (15 billion US dollars) in 2007. The EU is also the
principal source of foreign direct investment in South Africa.

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EU may take more action on Mugabe: Czech FM

16 January 2009, 16:48 CET
(KLEINMOND) - The European Union may impose further "restrictive measures"
on Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government, the Czech foreign minister
told reporters Friday.

Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the EU presidency, spoke after
meeting with his South African counterpart Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the EU
development commissioner Louis Michel outside Cape Town.

"The European Union is contemplating the implementation of further
restrictive measures," he said.

"The sanctions, we have not yet decided about them. They would be what we
call tailor-made -- not hitting the broad population but hitting those who
are responsible and in power," Schwarzenberg said.

The EU last month widened sanctions on Mugabe's government, including a
travel ban on his inner circle.

The EU also expressed deep concern about human rights violations, a cholera
epidemic that has claimed 2,100 lives, and "the tendency of Robert Mugabe to
make unilateral decisions," Schwarzenberg added.

The former southern African breadbasket on Friday announced it was issuing a
100 trillion dollar note in a bid to keep pace with hyperinflation, which
has impoverished the once-vibrant country.

Mugabe signed a power-sharing deal with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
four months ago, but their agreement to form a unity government has never
been implemented, despite a worsening humanitarian crisis marked by severe
food shortages.

"The best agreements, the best laws are totally senseless if they are not
implemented," Schwarzenberg said, adding that the unity accord "is the only
starting point we have to the process of democracy and rule of law in

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Daily cholera update and alerts, 15 Jan 2009

 Full_Report (pdf* format - 99.5 Kbytes)

A. Highlights of the day:

- 689 cases and 24 deaths added today (in comparison 1550 cases and 104 deaths yesterday)

- 36.8 % of the areas affected have reported today (21 out of 57 affected districts)

- 87.1 % of districts reported to be affected (54 districts/62)

- All 10 of the country's provinces are affected

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Cholera kills 2,225 in Zimbabwe, infects 42,600

HARARE, Zimbabwe - The death toll from a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe rose
to 2,225 Friday and the head of the U.N. children's agency toured a hospital
where weakened victims of the waterborne disease were receiving
international help.

UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman, on a three-day visit to the southern
African nation, also met Friday with President Robert Mugabe. No details of
their meeting were released, but it came the same day as the United Nations
urged Zimbabwe to speed up the delivery of humanitarian supplies.

As Veneman toured the hospital in Budiriro, a crowded neighborhood of
Harare, the capital, women collected water from tanks set up outside.
Zimbabwe's economic collapse has destroyed its infrastructure, and the
country has not been able to ensure clean water or prompt medical help for
its citizens.

UNICEF has provided funds, medicine and food to keep the Budiriro hospital
going since October, but the hospital had been overwhelmed with patients in
recent months. The crowding has fallen, but Veneman said that does not mean
the cholera epidemic that has swept the country is slowing.

In Geneva, the United Nations said the cholera death toll in Zimbabwe since
August reached 2,225 on Friday, with 42,675 others infected and 1,550 new
cases being reported every day. The U.N. also said a lack of clean water and
proper hygiene was causing re-infection after treatment and added there was
an "urgent need" for funds to pay Zimbabwean health workers.

The world body said an operation to feed millions of hungry Zimbabweans,
which preceded the cholera outbreak, meant aid workers and medical workers
were competing for vehicles and fuel. It urged the government to cut red
tape to speed up the arrival of supplies, which can take several months to
get through the border.

Cholera outbreaks are common in developing countries, but the waterborne
disease does not usually kill more than about 1 percent of people infected.
In Zimbabwe, the World Health Organization estimated that the fatality rate
was about 5 percent.

Veneman thanked health workers who have been traveling around Budiriro on
bicycle to distribute water purification tablets and offer hygiene advice.

"We shall keep working until we have managed to eradicate and control the
disease together," she said.

She also talked with patients, including 30-year-old Tecla Ziso, who said
she had been at the hospital for two weeks.

"My health has improved since I came here. I'm getting treatment and
drinking clean water," she said. "I think by tomorrow I will be going back
to my home."

While Zimbabwean health officials were cooperating with international aid
workers, a power-sharing dispute has kept politicians from addressing the
root causes of the country's collapse.

Mugabe and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai were to meet Monday to
try to resolve a monthslong impasse that has kept them from forming a unity
government. Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe, in power since independence from
Britain in 1980, of trying to hold onto too many key Cabinet posts.

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Zimbabwe Cholera Prevention Measures Not Working - UN

GENEVA (AFP)--The death toll from cholera in Zimbabwe has reached 2,201, the
U.N. said Friday, warning that prevention measures weren't working.

The UN's humanitarian coordination office, or OCHA, said in Geneva that a
growing number of deaths were occurring outside care facilities in rural
areas, with 87% of the country's districts now affected by the disease.

The new death toll is nearly 100 more than the 2,106 reported by the World
Health Organization Wednesday, while the number of people affected is up
from 40,448 to 41,986.

"We've noticed a growth in the death rate outside the health system, of
people in their homes, especially in the countryside," OCHA spokeswoman
Elisabeth Byrs told journalists.

"What we're worried about is the 51% who are 'community deaths'," she said.

"That proves that the results we were hoping for from the prevention
campaigns and the distribution of medicines and supplies... are not being
felt," she added.

The U.N. pointed to a "meltdown" in social and economic facilities in
Zimbabwe, hit by political crisis and runaway inflation, that stopped the
provision of clean water and proper hygiene, generating a cycle of
"infection and re-infection", especially in rural areas.

Public health staff at government-run treatment centers were underpaid and
in need of financial support to ensure continued treatment there, Byrs said.

Meanwhile, most of the working trucks left in the country are being snapped
up for a massive food aid operation that is targeting 6 million people this
month alone, leaving essential medical supplies by the wayside.

The OCHA said red tape was blocking the import of more vehicles that were "
desperately needed."

An added concern is the imminent flood cyclone season, which stands to
worsen the impact of cholera, a waterborne disease. Zimababwe's government
this week put out flood warnings as rivers swelled, the U.N. said.

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires

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Quintillion per cent inflation and a 100 trillion dollar note in Zimbabwe

As hyper-inflation in Zimbabwe soars unabated, the central bank Friday
unveiled a new higher denomination bank note of Z$100 trillion. Official
figures of inflation in the country are unavailable, but economists estimate
it to be running into quintillion percent. The government stopped issuing
the figures in July last year, when it was 231 million percent, fearing they
would trigger speculation and profiteering. The central bank also issued
Friday new Z$10 trillion, Z$20 trillion and Z$50 trillion bank notes to help
the public grapple with hyper-inflation, the highest in the world. But
inspite of the new higher denomination bank notes, the purchasing power of
the money remains low. The new Z$100 trillion note can only buy 20 loaves of
bread. The country is mired in political, social and economic problems
widely blamed on President Robert Mugabe's mismanagement and refusal to step
down after almost three decades in power. (Friday 16 January - 14:33)

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Zimbabwe inflation rockets off the scale

By Daniel Howden
Friday, 16 January 2009

Zimbabwe reached another landmark low today as the central bank introduced a
new Z$100 trillion note, worth about £20 on the black market.

The real inflation rate has exploded beyond calculation, with the cost of
parking at Harare airport now commonly used as an indicator of the US dollar
exchange rate. The charge at the carpark is Z$400bn or US$1.

Previous issues of new denominations typically prompt mass queues at banks
as desperate people struggle to get hold of currency that will soon be
worthless. Prices are doubling at least every day in the worst peacetime
economic collapse in history. For those with no access to hard currency,
food, medicine and other essentials are unobtainable. And the country is
ravaged by a cholera epidemic that has killed at least 2,000 people, the
World Health Organisation says.

Attempts to break the political deadlock over power-sharing between Robert
Mugabe's government and the Movement for Democratic Change are expected to
inch forward this weekend when the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
returns to the country.

All parties are expected to meet the leaders of South Africa and Mozambique
on Monday. Mr Tsvangirai has accused Mr Mugabe of trying to dilute the
opposition's role in the prospective unity government and to retain full
control of the security services. He also demanded the immediate release of
kidnapped activists. He described conspiracy charges brought against
abductees as "trumped up" and expressed concern for 11 more MDC members who
are missing.

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Zimbabwe Minister: Abductions Of Activists Counterproductive

JOHANNESBURG (AFP)--The alleged abduction and torture of Zimbabwean rights
activists and opposition members has weakened efforts to form a unity
government, the country's deputy information minister said Friday.

"These abductions and torture will not take us anywhere," Bright Matonga
said on South African public radio, vowing that the authorities would
investigate the allegations.

He also called on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to join a
unity government, as South Africa prepared to lead a new round of talks on a
power-sharing deal in Harare Monday.

"We cannot go it all alone. This is the point we are making. We need the
MDC," Matonga said, in an unusually conciliatory statement from President
Robert Mugabe's government.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe will go to Harare with former
president Thabo Mbeki and Mozambique's President Armando Emilio Guebuza to
try to revive the unity accord signed four months ago but never implemented.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has warned that the arrest and beatings of
activists violate the pact, which guaranteed freedom of political activity
and expression.

Human Rights Watch says 32 opposition activists have been abducted and often
beaten by security forces since October, while the MDC says 11 of its
members are missing.

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires

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Rice talks tough on Zimbabwe

January 16, 2009

By Munyaradzi Mutizwa

United States President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for UN ambassador,
Susan Rice, on Thursday vowed to get tough with Zimbabwe and revive US
leadership globally with an emphasis on beefing up peacekeeping capacity.

At her Senate confirmation hearing, Rice pledged to confront the regime of
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, urging China, Russia and southern
African countries to join the Obama administration in isolating the
Zimbabwean leader.

"Their interests no longer, frankly, coincide" with Mugabe's regime, the
former diplomat told the Senate foreign relations committee, after its
chairperson John Kerry said she was an "outstanding choice" for the UN job.

Arguing it was "in our shared interest to support a peaceful transition in
Zimbabwe to a democratic government," Rice said China and Russia should
support UN efforts to isolate a regime "that is clearly not long for this

"I hope very much that under president-elect Obama's leadership, we will
work with southern Africa and bring their private condemnation into the
public sphere. so that the people of Zimbabwe's suffering can finally end,"
she said.

Rice, who was a top foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign after
serving as an assistant secretary of state in the 1990s, recognised the UN
"often frustrates Americans, and I am acutely aware of its shortcomings".

But effective global diplomacy and UN support was needed now more than ever
in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, she said, vowing to maintain
pressure on Congress to pay off mounting US arrears in UN budget dues.

"My most immediate objective, should I be confirmed, will be to refresh and
renew America's leadership in the United Nations and bring to bear the full
weight of our influence, voice, resources, values, and diplomacy at the
United Nations," Rice said.

While promising new US leadership at the UN on climate change, nuclear
proliferation and human rights, Rice also vowed to strengthen UN members'
ability to train and equip peacekeepers for global hotspots.

"The fact that more than one year after the force was established, the
crucial UN mission in Darfur is only at half its authorised strength is
patently unacceptable," she said.

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Security Forces Gear Up for Mass Protests

Institute for War & Peace Reporting (London)

Chipo Sithole

16 January 2009

Harare - Tanks moved into Harare's townships this week and security forces
were put on high alert in preparation for the start of a national strike and
protest marches next week by pressure groups angry about the deepening
economic crisis caused by the failure to put in place the country's new
ZTV, a mouthpiece of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party, said
"security agents have been put on high alert" and all police leave

The government, alleging that the opposition is planning a coup to oust
Mugabe through banditry, terrorism, demonstrations and strikes, has warned
that plans by labour unions to shut down power and telecommunications will
cause chaos.

The National Constitutional Assembly, NCA, a militant civil society pressure
group, has announced that it will hold street protests demanding the
installation of a transitional authority to spearhead constitutional reform
leading to free and fair presidential elections.

All last week, the opposition press carried advertisements announcing the
protest action, expected to start next week, and stencilled signs have
appeared on Harare's walls and kerbs. "Zvakwana (Enough)!" they read.

On January 12, army trucks rolled into Chitungwiza, about 25 kilometres
north of Harare and a stronghold of opposition to Mugabe, and soldiers
patrolled the streets of volatile suburbs in the capital as Zimbabweans
braced for street protests planned by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions,
ZCTU, which is demanding that salaries be paid in foreign currency.

With the increasing "dollarisation" of the Zimbabwean economy, the Zimbabwe
dollar, which is used to pay government workers, is virtually unacceptable
as legal tender.

"Why should workers accept payment in Zim dollars when the government itself
has said it has lost confidence in the local currency and charges for every
service in forex," asked ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibebe. "There
will be no option but mass action until our demands are met. That's the only
language that the regime understands."

Military police in combat uniform manned roadblocks on main roads into
Harare while mounted patrols moved into the tree-lined avenues surrounding
the president's official residence.

Police and paramilitary reinforcements have been deployed to a central city
park, the Africa Unity Square, where protests in the city centre usually
start, and heightened day and night patrols are in place to try to pre-empt
the planned protests in the capital, which is a hotbed of support for the

No traffic is allowed around the square and streets in the vicinity have
been blocked off with concertina wire coils, while there is a massive and
unprecedented deployment of police and paramilitary in areas close to the

Tensions are running dangerously high as anti-riot police rough up innocent
citizens and carry out strip and search operations, allegedly looking for
concealed weapons, which they claim the opposition and its allies are
planning to use to foment unrest and destabilise the country.

Although organisers are trying to keep routes and details of protest marches
secret until the last minute, there is talk of a march on Munhumutapa
Building in central Harare, which houses Mugabe's offices, with a demand
that he make a "national statement of surrender".

After four months of fruitless attempts to implement a power-sharing deal
between Mugabe and the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change,
MDC, exasperated civil society groups have, albeit reluctantly, now resolved
to take the country on a more volatile route.

"We cannot allow Mugabe to destroy the country while we watch," said Maddock
Chivasa, spokesman for the NCA, calling on Zimbabweans "to protest regularly
and consistently [every week] until a resolution to the political crisis
engulfing our country is found and implemented.

"Democracy will not come tomorrow, and perhaps any time soon, but it
certainly will never come until and unless we fight for it. The NCA will
keep organising and mobilising until our country is governed in accordance
with the will of the people."

The NCA's push for a transitional authority comes amid increasing fears that
the power-sharing deal signed in September by Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and the head of a breakaway faction of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara,
may collapse because of the failure by the three signatories to agree on the
allocation of the most powerful ministries, especially the home affairs
portfolio, which oversees the police.

The government has warned marchers that their action, which it terms "a
British-sponsored plan to subvert a democratically elected government", is
"tantamount to a coup", which will be put down ruthlessly.

Since December 24, at least 17 MDC officials and human rights activists have
been charged with offences ranging from terrorism to recruiting insurgents
for military training. They are part of a group of an estimated 42 people
the MDC says have been kidnapped by state agents as Mugabe cracks down on

A police spokesman, appearing to relish the prospect of a confrontation,
said any protests will be ''met with the full wrath of the law''.

"All our departments are on high alert as there are elements within the
Movement for Democratic Change who are bent on destabilising the country. We
will come down very heavily on anyone found carrying weapons," he said.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa has rubbished the allegations, saying the party
has no motivation to be involved in the planned civil society protests.

"The fact that they've suddenly increased their presence in a show of might
means they believe their own absurd propaganda about bandits," said Chamisa.
"There are no bandits. Why would the MDC, which controls parliament and thus
government, want to destabilise itself?"

Mugabe, 84, has been under pressure to retire so new presidential elections
can be held, but there is little hope that he will do so, despite the fact
that his nation is facing its worst economic crisis since independence in

''Any thought of the dictator giving up power quietly is sheer delusion,"
said Chivasa.

Mugabe returned to Harare on January 11, after cutting short his holiday in
the Far East, to face the gathering storm.

He returned to a city beset by severe shortages of many foods and struggling
with constant interruptions to the supply of electricity and water. From the
tinted windows of his bullet-proof Mercedes, he would have seen the feral
children sniffing glue and begging on street corners; the drivers camping
out in fuel queues that extend for miles outside empty petrol stations.
Chipo Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR-trained journalist in Zimbabwe.

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Hunger stalks rural Zimbabwe as food aid dwindles

Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:22pm GMT

By Nelson Banya

CHIRUMANZU, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Maxmore Mhazo brightens as he talks about
how food handouts from aid agencies have saved lives at his Zimbabwean
village, but he is worried by the dwindling size of the portions.

"Many of us would be dead were it not for these donations," the 74-year-old
retired mine worker said as he and scores of others in Chirumanzu lined up
for food packages distributed by British aid agency Oxfam and the World Food
Programme (WFP).

Each got 10 kg (22 lb) of maize, a pint of cooking oil and a bar of laundry
soap, but that was less than they had received in the past three months
because of the strain put on donors trying to fight Zimbabwe's multiplying

"We are doomed without this programme," Mhazo said at the village in central

The food crisis is due to the collapse of the agricultural sector and
economic meltdown, exacerbated by political deadlock between President
Robert Mugabe and the opposition.

An estimated five million Zimbabweans, about 40 percent of the population,
are surviving on food aid.

Donors expect that number to grow, but they are also diverting money from
food aid to fight a cholera epidemic that has already killed over 2,100
people and their appeals for more funding are not being met in full.

Although the southern African nation has had good rains during the current
growing season, many farmers did not receive enough seeds or fertiliser to
enable them to grow enough maize, which is the staple.

"All indications are that the next harvest is going to be worse than the
last, so there is urgent need for action," Peter Matoredzanwa, Oxfam's
country director in Zimbabwe, told Reuters in an interview.

He added that up to one in five of those getting handouts could go without
this month as a result of the funding problems.


The WFP, a U.N. agency, sounded the alarm this week when it announced that
it was $65 million short of the $140 million it wanted to raise in an
emergency food appeal for Zimbabwe.

The crisis has been worsened by the diversion of money to fight the cholera
outbreak. The disease, normally preventable and easily treatable, has spread
from urban to rural areas.

"When the epidemic started, OCHA (the UN Office for the Co-ordination of
Humanitarian Affairs) predicted a total of about 60,000 cases up to April,
but we already have over 40,000 cases and now expect that figure to go
beyond 60,000," Matoredzanwa said.

In Chirumanzu, desperation is setting in.

About 9,000 people eligible for handouts have been cut off and many have
resorted to bartering livestock for grain. About 250,000 people in the area
and two districts in the central Midlands province are being fed through the
Oxfam programme.

"I have no option but to exchange my goats for maize meal, otherwise my
family dies," said a distraught Jacob Moyo, who has five children and is
responsible for the care of an elderly mother.

"It pains me, having to trade in my livestock, but what can one do? I hope I
won't have to barter my cattle as well."

Many Zimbabweans believed that a power-sharing agreement between President
Mugabe and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai might lead to an
economic recovery and prevent a humanitarian disaster.

But a four-month deadlock over the control of key ministries has dashed many
of those hopes. High-level talks are due to resume next week under pressure
from regional leaders.

"When the deal was signed in September, we were hopeful but not anymore.
This deal has taken too long. I have no reason to believe it will get back
on track," Moyo said.

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Seed distribution - The Zanu (PF) way -

See pictures

This is how seed was distributed in Mutasa and all areas in Zimbabwe. MDC members received absolutely nothing at all and ZANU(PF) RECEIVED seed and fertiliser some of which ended up on the Black market and was charged in US Dollars.

I captured these pictures on 14 January 2009 at Mutasa DC growth point, Mutasa Central Constituency, Manicaland. You can see from the pictures that it was an exercise meant to exclusively benefit those aligned to Zanu (PF) – regalia clearly demonstrate the selection criterion. These pictures were taken only 200m from the Mutasa GMB depot and 100m from a 24hr roadblock at Bonda junction manned by the Army and ZRP. The beneficiaries claim that the seed was coming from the President of Zanu (PF), one Robert Gabriel Mugabe – what a shame! I suspect it is the consignment from Sadc. How did SADC say they will ensure fair distribution to all Zimbabweans across the political divide?

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Zimbabwe Welcomes Return of Tsvangirai for Crisis Talks

By Scott Bobb
16 January 2009

A senior Zimbabwean official says he is pleased that Prime
Minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai is returning home for talks with
President Robert Mugabe on reviving the stalled efforts to form a unity
government. The reaction comes after the South African government announced
that President Kgalema Motlanthe would go to Harare Monday to mediate
between the two rivals.

Zimbabwe's Deputy Minister of Information, Bright Matonga, Friday welcomed
the return of Morgan Tsvangirai to Zimbabwe after a two-month absence.

Matonga said on South African national radio that it was time the veteran
opposition leader and President Robert Mugabe overcame their differences and
formed a unity government to address the Zimbabwe crisis.

"What is very important now is to put the people of Zimbabwe first," said
Matonga. "Yes, there is suffering. There is hunger. It's high time that our
leaders sit down and make a way forward, make a way forward that is not
selfish but to the benefit of everybody."

The South African government earlier announced that President Kgalema
Motlanthe (as head of the Southern African Development Community) would go
to Harare to mediate the talks.

Tsvangirai announced Thursday that he was returning to Zimbabwe on Saturday
for talks due early next week. But the veteran opposition leader gave
conditions that laws governing the security forces and the powers of the
president and prime minister must be enacted first and the arrests and
torture of his supporters must stop.

Mr. Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the head of a smaller opposition party Arthur
Mutambara four months ago signed a global political agreement aimed at
forming a government of national unity. The new government was to end a
political standoff that followed disputed elections last year.

But implementation of the accord has stalled over the allocation of
ministries and other disputes.

Tsvangirai said Mr. Mugabe was part of the problem as well as part of the

"Since we are committed to this global political agreement we have to have a
partner," said Tsvangirai. "Unfortunately I don't have a credible partner on
the part of Mugabe. But we have to deal with him in terms of the outline of
that global political agreement. It doesn't mean necessarily that I trust
him wholly [completely]."

The developments came as a leading human rights activist, Jestina Mukoko,
appeared in a Zimbabwean court pleading to be allowed to see her doctor more
than three weeks after being taken from her home and beaten by unidentified

Mukoko is one of several dozen activists who disappeared weeks ago and
eventually reappeared in Zimbabwean jails charged with conspiring to
overthrow the government. Court orders to release some of the detainees or
provide medical treatment to others have been ignored.

Government spokesman Matonga said such issues could be resolved once a new
government was formed.

"This business of abductions or whatever, torture, it's not going to resolve
anything. What is important now is to form that government," he said. "Once
you form that government, government can then sit down and investigate those

The government has accused members of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
Change of recruiting young men for military training in neighboring
Botswana. Tsvangirai and the Botswana government deny the charge.

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I want to work
Silhouette - posed by a model

Brian Chiambire says he will be skinned alive if he returns to Zimbabwe. On Tuesday 13 January 2009 he joined other asylum seekers in a protest at Downing Street against a ban on working during the lengthy asylum applications. Hear his story below.

Brian Chiambire is one of hundreds of Zimbabweans who handed in their CVs at Downing Street on Tuesday 13 January to campaign against a ban on working under UK Government immigration rules.

A Harare woman beaten by Zimbabwean police

A Harare woman beaten by Zimbabwean police

The Government says those applying for asylum may not work as it could encourage others to make bogus claims.

Brian argues that most Zimbabwean asylum seekers don't want to claim benefits and that some are having to wait up to eight years to get an answer about applications.

"It was a campaign for the people of Zimbabwe who live here, most of them were denied their asylum cases and they're not allowed to work," says the 25-year-old, who is currently living in Reading while his asylum application is processed.

"Most of them have gone for years without working, they are professionals. Some are of them are lawyers, electricians, teachers.

"It's a death sentence."

Brian Chiambire on a failed asylum application

"They want to work, they don't want the benefits, they want to work and gain experience in work."

Brian was born and raised in Harare with his family. After working as a customs clearance officer he applied for a job to teach music to youths in rural areas.

At the interview he was told he would have to join the National Youth Service to get the job.

The NYS is an arm of the ruling Zanu PF party, headed by Robert Mugabe. No one is forced to join the NYS but youth are persuaded to join them.

Its sole purpose is to recruit youths into the army and train them to inflict violence on those who oppose the ruling party.

When Brian decided not to take the role he was threatened with being skinned alive.

Brian sought help from the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change whom he supports. They informed him life was in grave danger and helped him get in touch with a contact in the UK to help him flee the country.

Zimbabwe's riot policemen walk on a Harare street

Zimbabwe's riot policemen walk on a Harare street

Brian arrived in Reading on a visitors permit in March 2007 to live with his aunt who is an army medic in Aldershot but lives in Whitley Wood.

"I was running away from Zimbabwe because they wanted me to join the National Youth Service, which is a youth militia which is used to campaign for the ruling party, and the way they campaign is to beat up people," he tells BBC Berkshire.

He never claimed benefits as he always planned to move back to Zimbabwe.

"My intention was to go back to Zimbabwe after the elections in March," he says, " but after the elections, nothing has changed. Now I'm an asylum seeker.

He adds: "I applied for asylum in Croyden at the Home Office because nothing has changed in Zimbabwe.

"I'm still waiting for my interview on the 19th of March with a caseworker so he or she can decide should I stay here or should I go back to Zimbabwe."

But if he is made to return to Zimbabwe, Brian says he won't survive.

"It's a death sentence," he says if his asylum application fails.

"Now I'm an activist for the restoration of human rights in Zimbabwe and we campaign for the rights of the people and I'm always on the website. With the special forces they're always on the look-out for people like me."

While waiting for his application Brian says his life is mundane as he can't go out and work.

A burning stall in Harare, Zimbabwe

A burning stall in Harare, Zimbabwe

"Most of the time I'm at home doing nothing," says Brian.

"What I'd like to do is go to work and pay taxes, but I can't because I'm not allowed to work.

"I play instruments as a musician for maybe an hour or two a day, but most of the time I do nothing."

He has no money of his own and relies on any little handout from his aunt. He has never claimed any benefits although he has started the process of applying for them.

"I feel sad because I want to do something, I was working back in Zimbabwe but I'm not used to staying at home. I'm still young, I want to get experience working."

Brian took part in Tuesday 13 January's demonstration and handed in his CV to PM Gordon Brown's office.

He says: "We are appealing to the Government that at least if they can allow us to go to work or have work placements  we can pay taxes and do more to change things in Zimbabwe.

"That's the support we need."

last updated: 16/01/2009 at 14:20

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Zimbabwe Business Watch : Week 3

Business began the week in a haze of confusion as the surrounding economy
has become non-functional.

Salaries paid to staff and workers in December realized a return of as
little as two tomatoes as authorised daily cash withdrawal increases did not
keep pace with inflation.

The Zimbabwe Dollar barely exists as legal tender as virtually all
transactions now take place in Rand and USD. About the only services or
goods that can still be obtained in ZD are electricity, rates and land line
telephones. However, only cash payments are accepted for these.

Foreign Currency Trading Licenses are being delayed sometimes for months and
this simply prevents business operations from functioning at all.

Inflation continues to accelerate even in the "dollarised" parallel economy
with prices exceeding those internationally by up to 400%. The OMIR stands
at 11,42 qdln and the USD has been trading at over 65 billion to one.

To add to the bizarre circumstances, the recalcitrant authorities have
extended last year's June 18 price controls madness to June 30th 2009!! This
is merely seen as a mechanism to harass business and attempt too shift the
blame for the national emergency from an inept "government".

Most factories have extended their Christmas shutdown, some indefinitely,
whilst the outcome of the present round of talks on the political impasse
becomes clear.

This entry was written by Sokwanele on Friday, January 16th, 2009 at 8:10 pm

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Mozambique to modernise Cahora Bassa Dam on River Zambezi

APA-Maputo (Mozambique) Mozambique's major Hydroelectric Cahora Bassa (HCB)
Dam on the River Zambezi will undergo extensive refurbishments this year,
according to company official here on Friday.

Board of directors' advisor Henriques Silva told APA that an engineering
project such as HCB required maintenance and modernisation, and this was the
reason for the projects that were to be carried out this year.

\"We have planned extensive modernisation and expansion plans to the
infrastructure and the dam's mechanisms,\" Silva said without disclosing the
amount to be spent on the work to be done.

Southern African states of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi, facing serious
power crises, have turned to Mozambique for supplies into their national
power grids.

\"The modernisation programme includes the sectors of the dam itself and the
sub-station. We have just concluded the modernisation of the southern
electricity generation plant\", he said.

In addition, the government has authorised HCB to build a new US$800 million
power station in the northern bank that could increase power supplies to the
energy-starved neighbours.

Currently, the company has exhausted the maximum capacity of power it can
produce from its generators on the southern bank of the Zambezi.

HCB, which suffered from decades of neglect and lack of investment,
currently provides 60 percent of its power to South Africa\'s Eskom and 35
percent to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).

Mozambique consumes the remaining 5 percent and only 15 percent of the
country\'s 20 million people have access to electricity.

  CM/nm/APA 2009-01-16

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MDC must place nation before selves

January 16, 2009

By Geoffrey Nyarota

THIS weekend all eyes on both sides of Zimbabwe's great political divide
will be focused on the mainstream Movement for Democratic Change led by
Morgan Tsvangirai.

Soon after his arrival back in Harare after a controversy-ridden absence
from the country of four months Tsvangirai's political acumen will be
subjected to an unprecedented test. So too will the judiciousness of the
entire leadership of the MDC be subjected to stringent examination.

Tsvangirai will chair a meeting of the national executive of the MDC which
is scheduled to meet in Harare on Sunday, January 18. The executive will
hold long overdue deliberations on critical issues pertaining to the general
welfare of the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe. Also at stake, by default
as it were, is the very survival and future well-being of the MDC itself.

Sunday's meeting will be held against a backdrop of the vexatious decision
over whether or not the MDC should join President Robert Mugabe's clearly
intransigent Zanu-PF party in a government of national unity in terms of the
controversial Global Political Agreement signed by the parties back in
September 2008. The MDC will hold its deliberations in the context of deeply
divided opinion, even within its own ranks, over what constitutes the best
course of action for the party to follow for the benefit of those people who
continue to place their faith in it.

On the agenda of the meeting will be a formidable array of challenges to be
discussed. Issues include Zimbabwe's acute humanitarian situation typified
by unprecedented levels of starvation, the dollarisation of the financial
sector where only a few have access to foreign currency, and the ongoing
scourge of brutal political violence.

In the latter context there has been an unprecedented phenomenon of late -
the wholesale abduction and torture of MDC and civic society activists
before they are hauled before partisan courts of law to face what by all
appearances are spurious charges of engaging in acts of banditry.

Whatever decision the MDC leadership makes they should remain mindful that
their major adversary, President Mugabe, continues to enjoy the lion's share
of support among his peers on the African continent and that even the change
of the guard in South Africa does not appear to represent a deeply rooted
change of attitude towards the Zimbabwe crisis.

Hopefully, their decision will possess the potential to win the African
leaders over to finally appreciate both the predicament and the expectations
of the majority of the population of Zimbabwe. Once that happens they can
then bring more pressure to bear on Mugabe, who must, of necessity, do
everything possible to alleviate the continued suffering of the people of

One option open to the MDC will be to swallow their pride, accept they made
a blunder in throwing a lifeline to a beleaguered Mugabe when they signed a
deal with him in September. They would then bite the bullet and turn their
back on what, even to them, must now be a tedious negotiation process.

They run the risk, however, should they opt for this route, of being accused
of scuttling a process in which so much time, emotions and financial
resources have been invested. This way, however, they would absolve Zanu-PF
of further blame. Mugabe will simply wash his hands and proceed with the
task of forming a new government, however futile the exercise. He would
probably leave a few cabinet posts of his choice open, just in case, there
is a change of mind or a surfacing of turncoats at the MDC.

This appears to be the strategy that Zanu-PF itself prefers, judging from
their actions and strategies over the past four months, which appear
primarily to have sought to provoke the MDC into walking out in frustration.
Mugabe has made it abundantly clear he is past caring for the welfare of the
people. His major concern now is primarily his own welfare and that of his
close allies.

Warning him that economic constraints would render it impossible for him to
proceed very far is purely academic. Mugabe has survived as President for
almost 10 months now since he lost the presidency. The temptation to stretch
his luck further will be strong. His inner circle - now enlarged to include
the judiciary - is not starving in any case.

The second option open to the MDC would be to take the calculated risk of
joining the government of national unity as a junior partner to Zanu-PF.
Zanu-PF would again emerge the winner. Mugabe is too contemptuous of
Tsvangirai and the MDC to want to engage in a genuine power-sharing
arrangement with them. It is for that reason that he has appointed
provincial governors and a new Attorney General as well as renewed the
contract of the governor of the Reserve Bank's, in total contravention of
the terms and the spirit of the GPA.

This is Mugabe's arrogant strategy to spite as well as remind Tsvangirai
exactly who is calling the shots. Part of Mugabe dilemma is that he hates
Tsvangirai with a passion. Thabo Mbeki and Arthur Mutambara, the other key
players, have done little to conceal their loathing of the MDC leader.

For the MDC the continuously unfolding panorama, therefore, appears to have
assumed the countenance of a "Heads Mugabe wins, tails we lose,"

The second option would provide a certain incentive for the MDC leadership -
the stopping of the Zanu-PF gravy-train at Harvest House. Whether this
scenario represents the best prospects of a better Zimbabwe the MDC
leadership will decide on Sunday.

To facilitate their decision-making process Zanu-PF has been gracious and
generous of late.

The authorities have finally produced many of the MDC and civic society
activists who were abducted and tortured over the past four months. This
week they even discharged two-year old Nigel Mutemagau from Chikurubi
Maximum Security Prison.

The MDC National Executive will hold its meeting two days before the opening
of Parliament. The new session will review the Constitution of Zimbabwe
Amendment (No. 19) Bill, which if adopted, will provide the legal framework
for the government of national unity to be implemented.

It is not as if the MDC is totally emasculated or as if Mugabe is still the
embodiment of power and strength.

Whatever decision Tsvangirai and the MDC make this weekend will have a
bearing not only on the welfare of Zimbabwe in the immediate and distant
future but also on the very prospect of the MDC's continuity as a viable
player on a dynamic political landscape.

Whatever decision they finally make the MDC would be well advised to place
national interest well ahead of own personal interests. The current
Zimbabwean political landscape is already littered with the skeletons of
politicians who assumed wrongly that the people of Zimbabwe were ready to be
used to further their personal agendas and feather their own nests.

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We are a people in limbo

Zimbabweans where ever they are and what ever they are doing are a people
who do not know what tomorrow holds for them.

You do not know whether to wake up expecting a heavy military and police
presence in all the streets of Harare and all other major towns, or to wake
up to the information that a mother and her two-year-old son have been

You are not sure of whether your colleague, church mate or neighbour will be
alive tomorrow due to cholera, starvation or some such evil that might
easily befall them over night.

In Zimbabwe you wake up not knowing whether there will be power, water to
drink or food to eat. You just wake up because it is dawn but you have no
plans for tomorrow! What kind of a life is that?

In Zimbabwe we wait and we do not know whether schools, colleges and
universities will open this year. We also do not know whether teachers,
lecturers and all workers will go back to work so that the education system
can function. My friend awaits her son's Grade 7 and her daughter's O level
results not knowing whether they will ever get their results and will those
results be theirs or someone else's? We wait anxiously, hoping against hope
that one day she will have those results.

Others decided to leave Zimbabwe and look for a better life but no sooner
had they left did they find that they are also in limbo in South Africa not
knowing whether they will be able to get any legal papers or not. The
situation is not any better in the UK. While the UK government has said it
will stop deporting Zimbabweans for the time being, those applying for
asylum cannot work and they wait in limbo not knowing what will happen to
their future. Whether they will get their papers or not. What does tomorrow
hold for them?

And the families that are left behind. They all wait for either their mum or
dad to come back or to take them and start a new life in any country where
one or both their parents would have managed to settle down. So where ever
they are, generally Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, are in a limbo waiting for
the time when they will be able to freely come back home.

The question is when will this be? Some are really desperate to come back
home but at the moment they cannot dare think of it and all they can do is

So how long do we have to wait in limbo before we get respite? Zimbabweans
have hope but you also say for how long are we going to keep on hoping
because to cap it all, politically we are in a paralysis, making us all

This entry was posted on January 16th, 2009 at 9:01 am by Sophie Zvapera

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Rights Advocates Seek Temporary Status for Zimbabwe Emigres

By Howard Lesser
Washington, DC
16 January 2009

Since August, it's estimated that at least 38-thousand Zimbabweans have
crossed into South Africa seeking asylum, health care, or better job
opportunities --  a substantial rise over the departure rate a year earlier.
Bill Frelick, refugee policy director for Human Rights Watch, says that food
shortages, the cholera epidemic, and meager prospects for earning a
livelihood are having as much impetus for the mass exodus as the political
and economic repression that spawned these conditions.

"What we're seeing is significant numbers of Zimbabweans who are crossing
into South Africa at the Musina crossing, in particular.  The numbers being
registered are far in excess there of what we saw in the last year, and
people are in bad shape.  Food and medicines have all been markedly reduced
as a result of the combination of the economic implosion in Zimbabwe, which
is traced to the political repression in the country," he noted.

The procedural obstacles that expatriates find on the other side of the
border often result in deportations - more than 250-thousand sent back
annually. Human Rights Watch says that many of these deportations of
Zimbabweans fleeing political violence, forced evictions and economic
destitution are avoidable, that Pretoria's asylum policy needlessly subjects
applicants to stringent legal interpretations, and that considering the
victims for temporary status rather than full-fledged political sanctuary
would free up the system to help rescue those in dire need.

"What we're really doing is calling upon the South African government, which
has already a pretty dysfunctional asylum system in terms of doing
individual refugee status determinations, to basically say that this is a
situation that calls for a temporary status that would basically put into
effect a non-deportation policy for Zimbabweans and give them work
authorization," said Frelick.

Human Rights Watch claims that the South African absorption system is
backlogged because of an inflexible approach to defining refugee status,
which it says places too much weight on Zimbabweans having to justify their
flight in terms of political persecution. Frelick says a more pragmatic
approach would help unclog the pipeline and enable the migrants to find

"Under the present circumstances, we think that it's a bit arbitrary or
artificial to make the fine distinctions between a person who's fleeing
political repression and a person who is fleeing hunger, the inability to
have medical treatment, and in many cases, people that for example fled from
the old Operation Murambatsvina, where ZANU-PF, the ruling, governing party
of Robert Mugabe, razed poor, shoddy structures in urban areas to push
people out into the rural areas. And the number of the refugees that we're
seeing in South Africa are actually people that lost their homes during that
period of time. So these are people that have lost their livelihood.  They
are not able to get medical treatment. They are not able to get food. And
they're not people who would traditionally fall under the refugee
definition, perhaps, but we're also not able to say these are economic
migrants seeking opportunity. These are people who are involuntary migrants,
people who don't have a choice, and any reasonable person under these
circumstances would leave, and they need protection," he said.

The Human Rights Watch researcher notes that if the political will exists,
South African authorities would have the capacity to adjust their quotas for
needy people by designating larger categories, such as nationality, to their
criteria for asylum and temporary status. As such, he note, immigration
officials would simply agree not to deport the Zimbabweans and put
government resources to better use securing emergency provisions and helping
the refugees find jobs and get back on their feet.

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"Zimbabwe: Appoint Neutral Interim Government"
Donald Steinberg in allAfrica
13 January 2009

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 States.

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 it.

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 immediately.

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 transition.

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.

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

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Comments from correspondents

'Bickering' over ministerial posts
That Mugabe doesn't get it, should not surprise us because he probably does not want to. But journalists, (how many of them!) should, and so to write of 'bickering' over ministerial posts seriously prejudices a true understanding of how Zimbabwe got to its present state and what the remedy might be. (Zim introduces $100 trillion note)
This kind of reporting infers that all these bickerers need to do is stop bickering, agree on the posts, and everything will come right. That's is so absurd that it rankles deeply.
A Government of National Unity will have no hope of fixing what ails Zimbabwe unless it has the power to undo what Mugabe has done.
1) Destroyed agriculture
2) Destroyed meaningful enterprise
3) Destroyed personal freedoms and liberty
4) Destroyed the judiciary
5) Compromised the Security Foces
6) Made the interests of the people and state subordinate to the interest of his party 
Nothing can be achieved until these processes begin to be reversed and Morgan Tsvangirai understands this.
I will say once again, if Morgan takes the MDC into the Government of National Unity without the power to at least make an honourable start on reversing these things, it will ultimately be fata for the MDC.
Peter D 

"WHERE was Britain and America when Gukurahundi was battering people in
Matabeleland and Midlands? Can we trust them to be our saviours now? I am
definitely not impressed by their antics."
E Ndlovu, Bulawayo.

Re the above, when are the great majority of Zimbabwean people going to take
some responsibility for what they are allowing to happen to them and get off
their backsides and do something about it for themselves?

I am fed up of the whinging and lack of action coming out of Zimbabwe.

Other countries in the same position have fought their oppressors. Yes, it
has cost lives and caused hardship but they have eventually overthrown the
oppressive regime controlling them.

Zimbabweans are not even prepared to organise "a day on the streets" or any
other civil unrest in case they get hurt or arrested. This is not the way to
change things. For goodness sake get out there and fight for your basic
freedoms whatever it may cost you in the short-term.

Mugabe relies on your inaction to retain his power and day after day, week
after week, month after month you let him get away with it. Why?

Only a few brave souls raise their heads above the parapet and so are easily
picked off. Get behind Jestina and here ilk, follow them, give them support.
Protest as never before when people are abducted, when a two year old is
incarcerated, when people are tortured.
Do something about it; Let Mugabe know it is not acceptable.

For God's sake, and your own, do something to get Mugabe's attention and
indeed that of the whole world. Stand up and fight like people who want
their freedom. Don't rely on others.

These are just some of the "headlines" from today's .Where else in the world would a people allow
their government to get away with such nonsense and do nothing about it?

Nowhere is the answer.

Just look at the list, humiliation heaped upon humiliation.

No more passports for 'ordinary' Zimbabweans

Abducted baby released to strangers

Cholera deaths rise as UN bails out health department

MDC MP convicted for 'forging signatures on nomination paper'

Telone, Zesa Charge In Foreign Currency

War Vets Loot Goods And Forex

Maize Seed Diverted To Black Market

Zimbabwe's Justice system has been perverted

Military police sent to restore order at Zim diamond field

Zimbabwe Ruling Party Rejects Opposition Demands for Activists Release

Half of Zimbabwe population reliant on food aid

Police continue to harass Anglicans

Zimbabwe Cholera Epidemic Adds 1,550 Cases, 104 Deaths In 24 Hours

Muckraker: State Media Takes Spin to Dizzying Heights

Come on people of Zimbabwe, do something about it for yourselves. Don't wait
for others. It's your country, fight for it.

Ken. UK

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