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Chaos at banks as Zimbabwe extends currency deadline

Yahoo News

by Godfrey Marawanyika Mon Dec 31, 8:47 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's central bank chief indefinitely extended a
deadline Monday to exchange 200,000-dollar bills just hours before they were
to cease being legal tender after scenes of chaos at banks across the

In a press conference, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono
declined to set a fresh date for withdrawing the notes and blamed recent
heavy rains for hampering efforts to stock up banks with new higher
denomination bills.

"The legal status of the 200,000 dollar bearer cheque notes is now
reinstated and extended to a future date which will be announced when it is
deemed strategic to do so," Gono told reporters.

"All economic players are therefore advised and required to continue fully
accepting the 200,000 bearer cheque note as it is a legitimate part of our
legal tender."

Gono, one of veteran President Robert Mugabe's chief lieutenants, had
announced two weeks ago that the 200,000-dollar bills (about eight US
dollars / 5.4 euros) would be worthless as of midnight on New Year's Eve as
part of efforts to snuff out a burgeoning black market, and to tackle cash

Major queues were seen outside banks in central Harare long before opening
time on Monday, with thousands of customers carrying small satchels of cash
or wads of the expiring notes.

Many complained they were being forced to exchange notes they had withdrawn
only days before.

"It's so frustrating because I was given these old banknotes when I made a
withdrawal on Saturday and I am back here to deposit almost all of the money
since many people are refusing to accept it," said Douglas Chimwasa, a
Harare resident.

There were chaotic scenes outside the main branches of Barclays and Stanbic
banks in Samora Machel Avenue, with customers trying to barge their way
through the doors.

Many storekeepers decided simply to close for the day rather than risk being
caught in the mess and accepting the outgoing notes.

Gono's statement on December 19 that the 200,000 bills were being phased out
was also accompanied by the announcement that new 250,000, 500,000 and
750,000 zimdollar notes were being immediately introduced.

However many banks, particularly in rural areas, have not received
deliveries of the new currency, since flooding is hampering the operation.

"Excessive wet conditions hampered cash swap teams' ability to effectively
access most outlying areas," Gono said.

Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said
the postponement made Gono look ridiculous.

"The reserve bank governor has shown he is a jester, otherwise how else can
you describe someone who announces one thing today and reverses the
announcement the following day," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told AFP.

"You can't plan a day longer in the present circumstances."

Harare-based independent economist Daniel Ndlela described as "senseless,"
the withdrawal of the 200,000 dollar bills at a time when the official rate
of inflation is nearly 8,000 percent.

"Under hyperinflation, any introduction of a new currency will not make a
difference as the new denomination loses value within days," Ndlela told

He attributed the cash shortages to waning confidence in the banking system.

"Nobody in their sense would sell their goat, for example, and take the
money to the bank when they are not sure they can withdraw it when they want

Zimbabwe has been experiencing cash shortages since November, blamed by Gono
on "cash barons" hoarding notes and exchanging them for scarce foreign
currency outside the banking system.

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Zimbabwe cash crisis persists

31st Dec 2007 16:13 GMT

By Mutumwa Mawere

WHAT a difference a year makes. Only last year, there was widespread
consensus that Mugabe’s days were numbered and he had lost the confidence of
his party.

Using this logic, there was expectation that there would be an internal
rebellion whose ultimate beneficiaries would be the opposition forces.
Mugabe turned 83 this year and was as confident as he was 27 years ago that
he alone was the legitimate custodian of Zimbabwe’s sovereignty.

The political market of Zimbabwe has largely been defined by Mugabe who has
proved to be smarter than his adversaries not because he has solutions that
will accelerate the advance towards the achievement of the goal of a better
life for all the citizens of Zimbabwe.

Since the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabweans
have been promised change that appears to be a mirage.  Both the MDC and
ZANU-PF have drowned the voices of Zimbabweans to the extent that the future
of the country has been located in the minds of these two formations.

The framework of the SADC mediated talks has been premised on a notion that
if the injury inflicted to MDC’s quest for power is resolved then the
Zimbabwean crisis would be addressed.  It appears the issues that were of
concern to MDC are being addressed through the talks and yet the real issues
that informed the change agenda are not necessarily on the minds of the
negotiators.  Was the change offered merely a slogan?  Will the change that
will come from the talks be the change people can believe in?

Will the scrapping of AIPPA, POSA, amendment number 18, and the other
changes that have seen the MDC and ZANU-PF come together bring the kind of
changes that will make Zimbabwe work again?  While the Parliament of
Zimbabwe was meeting to railroad the amendments to the laws that MDC sees as
roadblocks to its journey to statehouse, Zimbabweans were exposed to a worse
crisis than HIV/AIDS i.e. the cash crisis.

This crisis was as predictable as Mugabe’s continued hegemony over ZANU-PF.
The attempt to locate the Zimbabwean economic crisis outside the framework
of bankrupt policies and governance problems has been engineered by the
Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) who has the uncanny habit to
point a finger at others for problems that he creates through senseless

When he was appointed in late 2003, people who knew him well were acutely
aware of what kind of disaster would ensue.  Predictably he started by
introducing a new vocabulary in Zimbabwe, externalisation, as a mechanism of
diverting the attention of the nation from the core problem of policy

Many lives have been disrupted and businesses destroyed.  He positioned
himself as the Chief Cop and proceeded to target selected individuals to be
processed by the police.

New crimes were invented without even going to Parliament.  Citizens saw in
Gono a new action man determined to make Zimbabwe work again but behind this
façade was a monster bent on undermining the democratic order by
transforming a peoples’ bank into a personal one able to dispense benefits
to friends while being criminally used to undermining the interests of

What POSA and AIPPA to ensure compliant journalism, the RBZ came in handy to
whip businesses into compliance.  The Banking Act was changed to allow the
RBZ to have effective control of the financial services industry.

Asset management companies were brought under Gono’s control so were mineral
exporters.  The centralisation of power by Gono would ordinarily attract
outrage but in the case of Zimbabwe it appears that even the opposition
forgot to place Gono’s activities on the agenda of the SADC talks.

Why would the MDC forget to prioritise the economy in the agenda for change?
The role of the RBZ in undermining democracy has already been acknowledged
as is the unaccountability of its Imperial Governor.  Gono did not stop at
blaming alleged forex externalisers he proceeded to blame the banks for
economic sabotage.

The introduction of the term economic saboteur in the vocabulary was yet
another Gono invention as an attempt to absolve him of any responsibility in
helping to undermine the formal economy.

The list of people who have been labelled as saboteurs is endless but has
included farmers, bankers, miners, and squatter dwellers.  The operation
Murambatsvina was a brainchild of the RBZ on the mistaken assumption that
eliminating the squatters would help eliminate the black market.

Any rational economic thinker would know that an informal economy is a
product of bad and misguided policies in the formal sector.  Any functioning
democracy would not have so many saboteurs as has been created by Gono
during his tenure.

The RBZ has become the omnipresent state within the state only accountable
to the Head of State who at 83 years old cannot be presumed to know what is
really happening.

The activities of the RBZ under Gono would require a Commission of Inquiry
to unpack.  It would not be surprising to find both ZANU-PF and MDC office
bearers as direct beneficiaries of Your Governor’s generosity.

The President has blindly placed faith in the blind to turn around the
economy. Yesterday it was Project Sunrise and yet the country has not seen
any daylight or brighter things. Zeros were removed from the currency and it
only took Murerwa, the former Minister of Finance, to remind the nation that
the zeros will be back with a vengeance and it appears the chickens have
come home to roost with the current cash crisis.

Gono has engineered the sanctions defence that Mugabe has conveniently used
in advancing his conspiracy argument.  Under this construction, Zimbabwe is
a victim of the machinations of imperialist working with their puppets, the
opposition parties, to undermine the sovereignty of the country and achieve
an illegal regime change.
Nobody ever thought a day will arrive in post colonial Zimbabwe where
citizens would be reduced to cashless individuals through the ineptitude of
their servants in government.

The crisis was long in coming and the response has been denial and
obfuscation at best.  In a hyperinflationary environment no one can blame
citizens for having no confidence in banks.  Why sterilize cash in banks
while prices are changing at a supersonic speed?
Now Gono has invented another enemy i.e. cash barons as the new victims.

In what kind of a country would you have a thriving informal cash business?
It can only be in Gonoland.  Who is responsible for undermining the
financial services industry?  Why are the so-called change agents missing in
the money debate?  Gono wants to name the culprits when the real culprit may
not be far from him and his actions.

In seeking re-election in a vote planned for March next year, one can only
assume that President Mugabe has no clue as to who is the real economic
saboteur.  It is not the MDC stupid.  It cannot be Gordon Brown or George
Bush.  It must be somewhere close to home.

Why is Gono so eager to expose the so-called cash barons as if this will
cure the injury he has caused?  He now alleges that politicians are
responsible for the economic mayhem.  When citizens decide in their own
interests to hoard cash one must appreciate their reasoning and avoid
simplistic explanations that will not resolve the problem.  All Gono’s
prescriptions have so far made the condition of the patient worse and yet
his principal continues to support him unreservedly.

To confirm that the RBZ is now a Presidential organ operating outside the
oversight of Parliament this is what Gono had to say: "This governor will
not be intimidated. I have the full support of my principal (President
Mugabe). This time there are no roadblocks. We are saying to cash barons
come with your sack or trunk of money and we will talk. There is every
reason for them to be very afraid.”

The cash crisis is just but one of many symptoms of a failed state and yet
the future of the country is being discussed at a level that appears to be
blind to the concrete conditions under which Zimbabweans have to eke a
living.  This is a moment of great opportunity to tell Zimbabweans the truth
about what they may not want to hear that the country can only come out of
its current economic quagmire if it is led by principle and not by
calculation.  People should overcome their fear and focus on the future that
is being eroded and undermined by their own servants.

Those who stand up when it is risky will be remembered by history for the
change that Zimbabwe yearns for.  Zimbabweans can only believe again in the
liberation project if change stops being a slogan for opportunists and
political mercenaries.  Even President Mugabe will agree that spending time
in queues is not part of the deal that they fought so hard to create a new
Zimbabwe.  The leadership vacuum is evident and it is never too late for
citizens to invest in real change.

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Corrupt Bank Employees Face the Chop

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

31 December 2007
Posted to the web 31 December 2007

Perry Kaande

BANK employees who allegedly worked in cahoots with "cash barons" face the
chop as the banking sector braces for the tough stance initiated by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to restore sanity.

Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono recently said investigations carried
out show that several bank employees had facilitated enormous cash
withdrawals in return for kickbacks.

The RBZ has compiled 32 volumes of documented evidence of some bank
employees' illicit dealings.

The names have been forwarded to the relevant banks and some of these had
initiated dismissals.

The central bank alleges that individuals were issued with billions of
dollars without the necessary clearance from the RBZ.

Banks contacted to ascertain whether they had employees that were implicated
in the cash scam could not divulge any details.

Analysts are of the opinion that owning up at this time "would be tantamount
to public lynching at a time when the banking sector is trying to maintain
credibility and retain clientele".

A senior official with CABS said there had been no indication that employees
from the building society were involved, but was quick to add that he could
not discount the possibility that some employees may have been involved in
clandestine dealings.

The situation on the ground in many banking halls before the RBZ expose
speaks volumes about the illicit cash deals.

In some banks, some tellers and other front office staff had become "mini
cash barons".

It was not unusual for a teller to take one person from a queue and then
process five other transactions from inside the cubicle including some from
other members of staff.

Expensive lunches, designer clothes, top of the range mobile phones and
top-ups to purchase cars were the chief incentives used by barons to access
large volumes of cash.

The majority of citizens, unable to dole out Christmas gifts patiently
waited in long, winding queues for hours and often went home without the
desired cash.

"Perhaps it's now the bank tellers' chance to make money," one irate
observer said.

As we enter 2008, we wait to see if heads will indeed roll or whether banks
will adopt a protectionist attitude toward the culprits.

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Zimbabweans rush to hand in expiring bank notes

Yahoo News

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabweans thronged banking halls Monday to beat a deadline
to swap 200,000-dollar bills which become worthless when businesses close
for the day.

The reserve bank of Zimbabwe phased out the 200,000 zimdollar (about eight
US dollars) bank notes in a bid to snuff out a burgeoning currency parallel
market and tackle cash shortages which saw many going to the Christmas
holiday without withdrawing their salaries.
Depositors who had formed queues while waiting for banks on Samora Machel
Avenue in central Harare to open, handed in small satchels of cash or wads
of the expiring bearer cheques.

"It's so frustrating because I was given these old banknotes when I made a
withdrawal on Saturday and I am back here to deposit almost all of the money
since many people are refusing to accept it," said Douglas Chimwasa, a
Harare resident.

"You can imagine how much time I lost in the queue waiting to withdraw this
money and now I will waste at least another hour returning it."

Bearer cheques, essentially money printed on ordinary paper, were introduced
in 2003 as a stop-gap measure to ease currency shortages caused by
skyrocketing inflation. They expire after one year.

Zimbabwe has been experiencing fresh cash shortages since November blamed by
central bank chief Gideon Gono on "cash barons and baronesses" hoarding cash
and exchanging it for scarce foreign currency, outside the banking system.

The central bank ordered banks to extend work hours over the past two
weekends to accept the 200,000 dollar bills and dispense cash.

The bank also introduced new 250,000, 500,000 and 750,000 zimdollar notes
two weeks ago in a bid to tackle Zimbabwe's cash shortages.

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Zim points fingers at Britain


    December 31 2007 at 10:38AM

Harare - President Robert Mugabe's spokesperson has accused former
colonial power Britain and other Western countries of sabotaging Zimbabwe's
efforts to turn around its economy by offering a safe haven to criminals.

The comments came after an MP from Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party,
David Butau, fled to Britain last week. Police in Zimbabwe had placed Butau
on a wanted list for alleged foreign exchange violations.

"The criminals follow the sponsor. It's becoming apparent that we are
no longer talking about mere economic crime, we are talking about economic
subversion that has the blessings of foreign interests," George Charamba was
quoted as telling the official Herald newspaper on Monday.

"When you follow the footsteps of criminals and indicted persons this
suggests a new geography of crime which connects Zimbabwe to Britain,
Australia, the US and New Zealand."

He said these were the same countries that took a negative stance
against the country's controversial seizure of white-owned farms.

Butau heads a parliamentary committee on budget and finance. It was
not immediately clear if he was on a list of dozens of ruling party
officials banned from travelling to Britain over alleged rights abuses.

Britain has become a destination of choice for a handful of Zimbabwean
businessmen escaping the southern African country after the central bank
began a crackdown on so-called economic saboteurs in 2004.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the police would continue to
pursue the MP.

"The arm of the law is quite long and it will soon be catching up with
him," Bvudzijena told the Herald.

Last week central bank governor Gideon Gono accused the parliamentary
committee headed by Butau of shying away from their responsibility after it
turned down the Reserve Bank chief's offer to name senior government
officials engaging in shady deals and hoarding cash.

In a telephone interview from Britain, Butau told a state newspaper
Sunday that he was being victimised by Gono.

"We received information that RBZ Governor Gideon Gono was amongst
those sabotaging the economy and when we confronted him with that he acted
fast on me and passed on information to the police about my purported
exchange control violations," he told the Sunday Mail.

The fugitive MP said he would only come back to Zimbabwe once his name
was cleared. - Sapa-dpa

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$10bn Cash Deal - Magistrate Blasts Police, RBZ

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

29 December 2007
Posted to the web 31 December 2007


Harare provincial magistrate Mr Mishrod Guvamombe yesterday blasted the
police and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for frustrating the course of
justice by disposing of the $10 billion exhibit recovered from illegal
foreign currency dealer Dorothy Mutekede before it was brought to court.

Mr Guvamombe took a swipe at the police and the central bank when it emerged
after the testimonies of deputy officer commanding CID Serious Frauds
Section Chief Superintendent Alison Nyamupaguma and RBZ director of
Financial Intelligence Unit Mr Mirirai Chiremba that the money had already
been deposited with the RBZ before the case was finalised and that its
serial numbers were not recorded.

In his testimony, Chief Supt Nyamupaguma told the court that on the night
Mutekede was arrested, police took the $10 billion cash exhibit to the
central bank where it was deposited into a cash detention account. When the
money was taken to the RBZ, it was not booked in the exhibit book at the
police station, which is a prerequisite for all exhibits according to the
Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

Neither did RBZ officials serialise the money on receipt but returned it
into circulation. This prompted Mr Guvamombe to criticise the two
institutions for frustrating the justice delivery system, describing their
conduct as tantamount to defeating the course of justice.

This, he said, made it difficult for the court to establish the source of
the cash. When asked by the court to explain why the police failed to follow
the normal procedure of handling exhibits, Chief Supt Nyamupaguma said they
had made a mistake.

"There was a mistake and we need to revisit the whole system," said Chief
Supt Nyamupaguma. "I now see the loopholes in the system and they should be
rectified." Mr Guvamombe was not convinced with the explanation. "Both the
RBZ and the police are defeating the course of justice. They have taken away
our exhibits and we are left with no work to do. "In future you should know
that exhibits are court property and should not be disposed until the matter
is finalised.

"The RBZ should not be used by the police to frustrate our cases here and I
do not know how you should communicate this among yourselves. "Why are you
not keen to investigate the big fish as opposed to this youthful lady? You
are not interested in getting the barons. If you are after the cash barons
why bring "runners" like this 24-year-old lady.

"If I was in your position, I would have investigated the leakage. It is
clear that there is no way this woman could have possessed the cash without
getting it from the RBZ.

"You should have the same zeal in investigating the source that you had in
dealing with Mutekede's case. I expect speed and diligence in matters of
national interest like that," said Mr Guvamombe.

Mr Guvamombe said it was apparent that the youthful Mutekede had no access
to such a huge amount of cash.

"It is clear that the money came from the RBZ. The money 'is talking to
every one that it is coming from RBZ', in view of its packaging," said Mr

The court also sought an explanation from Chief Supt Nyamupaguma why police
were reluctant to probe Harare businessman Jonathan Kadzura on his alleged
involvement in the case. Chief Supt Nyamupaguma said the matter was still
under investigation and they wanted to first complete Mutekede's case before
moving on to other people. Mr Tapuwa Mudambanuki of Mudambanuki and
Associates, who is now representing Mutekede, said his client had no access
to such an amount of cash and does not qualify to be called a cash baroness.

"I appreciate that the cash is RBZ packed and such amounts are dispatched to
meet a (bank) branch's needs for a day. Commercial banks cannot give such a
huge amount to individuals and it would be queer for a young lady like
Dorothy to acquire it.

"The biggest amount deposited in Mutekede's bank account was $500 million
and would it not be a misnomer to call her cash baroness?

"The RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono on (ZTV programme) 'Face The Nation'
recently was visibly angry with cash barons and baronesses and there is need
to get to the bottom of the case," Mr Mudambanuki said. He attacked police
for seeking to punish his client and leaving culprits who were hoarding
cash. "You should have done your work with due diligence. It's a gross
miscarriage of justice to seek to punish this innocent lady for being used
as a conduit of cash barons who have access to large sums of money from the
RBZ," said Mr Mudambanuki.

He said his client was being prejudiced as the police applied the law

"It cannot be possible that she has access to $10 billion from the RBZ. We
want to know the truth of this matter because it has an impact on her moral
blameworthiness in this case." Asked why Mutekede was temporarily released
on Saturday night and then rearrested on Sunday afternoon, Chief Supt
Nyamupaguma said the arresting detail - a sergeant - thought the case was
clearcut since Mutekede had admitted to the charge.

"The arresting detail thought the case was a straightforward one and that
there was no need to detain her since she was pleading guilty. He briefed me
the following morning and Mutekede was rearrested," said Chief Supt
Nyamupaguma. In his evidence, Mr Chiremba said when the money was brought to
the central bank, it was deposited into a cash detention account, where it
could be released by way of a court order.

He explained that it would be put into the system but if the police needed
it, it would be released to them in the form of a cheque or through a
transfer. Under cross-examination, Mr Chiremba said the serial numbers of
the $500 000 new bearer cheques were not recorded and its origin could not
be traced. "If police seize money, they can bank with us and it is treated
like any other normal cash deposit in the cash detention account. If they
want their money back, they will get it through a transfer or cheque

"We did not serialise the money at the bank and the source cannot be easily
traced," he said. Mr Guvamombe warned the RBZ against being used by the
police to frustrate matters before the courts. "You should sit down and
revisit the cash detention facility because in this case you have destroyed
the exhibit. You have handicapped us and we do not know whether that was
deliberate or a mistake and I am left baffled," he said.

After the testimonies by Kadzura, Chief Supt Nyamupaguma and Mr Chiremba, Mr
Guvamombe excused Kadzura and said the court would call him if the need
arises. Prosecutor Mr Zvekare argued that Mutekede's case was now confusing
as she initially pleaded guilty to illegally dealing in foreign currency but
later shifted goalposts saying Kadzura had given her the $10 billion to
source foreign currency for him on the black market.

Mutekede was remanded in custody to Monday for sentence. Earlier, Kadzura
had told the court that Mutekede was his "casual intimate girlfriend" of
seven months but denied he gave her the said $10 billion. Kadzura said he
did not know anything about the money and was not aware why Mutekede
implicated him.

He initially said Mutekede was just an "acquaintance", but after further
probing by prosecutor Mr Tawanda Zvekare, Kadzura told the court that she
was actually his girlfriend but could not disclose the occasions they became
intimate. "She (Mutekede) was my casual girlfriend and I cannot disclose the
number of times I took her to bed. It was difficult for me to firstly say
she is my girlfriend because I did not see her regularly.

"If you do not see each other for months, it becomes difficult to safely say
she is your girlfriend.

"Our relationship started about six to seven months ago and in that period I
met her on not more than eight occasions.

"I used to visit her at Roadport but she would only come to my car and we
would talk for about two to three minutes. "I would go there about once or
twice per week although I am no longer very sure of the frequencies," he
said. Kadzura said he was neither an RBZ employee nor did he have any links
at the central bank to facilitate the release of such an amount of money.

"I am not a permanent employee of the RBZ and I am not even on the board. I
am not even an advisor to the bank and the police in their papers lied.

"Some may mistake me for an advisor by merely being an economist," he said.

Kadzura sat on an RBZ advisory panel which was dissolved in January this
year. He admitted that he was aware of Mutekede's illegal foreign currency
dealings saying he even advised her on several occasions to shun criminal

He denied having communicated with Mutekede after her arrest saying the
messages purportedly sent to him by Mutekede never reached him. Mutekede
tendered her mobile phone to the court which showed five text messages she
sent Kadzura after her arrest and two blank messages purportedly from him.
The messages had the following messages, "call", "call urgently", "Hillside
Police", "I am in trouble" and "Jonathan in trouble I need your help".

In her statement read in court, Mutekede also claimed that she lied to
Kadzura that one of her clients Mohammed Mussa had offered $20 billion in
$200 000 bearer cheques to source foreign currency. She said this was to
entice Kadzura to give her the $10 billion to source foreign currency for
him. Kadzura denied having received the said phone messages until the court
adjourned to consult Mutekede's service provider, Econet, to verify her

Econet could not provide proof of the messages she sent and received saying
it required about two months to trace.

But Econet did provide the court with a print ut of calls made by Mutekede
and it was stated that Mutekede phoned Kadzura on 16 occasions in
one-and-a-half hours while she was in police custody on December 23 although
Kadzura insisted that he did not communicate with her.

He said he was avoiding answering Mutekede's calls after learning that she
had been arrested.

He further averred that his children had access to his phone and Mutekede
might have talked to the kids when she phoned.

Mr Guvamombe said the evidence from Econet showed there was communication
between the two.

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63 people die on Zimbabwe’s roads

The Times, SA

Sapa Published:Dec 31, 2007

Sixty three people have died on Zimbabwe’s roads since the beginning of the
festive season, "one of the bloodiest in recent years," the Herald online
said on Monday.

In 2005, 43 people died on the roads while 398 others were injured in road
accidents during the festive season.

Last year, at least 24 people died while 39 others were injured in 178
accidents over the same period, the Herald said.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Andrew Phiri told the Herald that police
had so far recorded 476 accidents, which left 350 people injured this
holiday season.

In the worst accident, on Friday, 12 family members from Harare died
instantly while three others sustained serious injuries when a truck they
were travelling in was involved in a head-on collision with a Mhunga bus
along the Harare-Masvingo Road, the newspaper said.

Last week, three cars were swept away in Harare after the drivers tried to
cross a flooded river separating Warren Park D and Kambuzuma suburbs, the
police spokesman said.

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Mugabe interview on Africa Channel blasted as propaganda

Nehanda Radio

30 December 2007
By Fortune Tazvida

An interview conducted by Africa Channel CEO and founder James Makawa with
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has infuriated thousands of exiles from
that country.

Nehanda Radio was flooded with e-mails from angry Zimbabweans asking why a
channel serving them in the diaspora could allow Mugabe unchallenged
propaganda space on its channel.

Makawa apparently never made a single attempt at asking Mugabe any difficult
questions on current problems instead choosing to soothe the aging dictators
ego with historical questions.
'I have never seen such drivel in my life,' wrote one viewer, 'Zimbabweans
watching wanted to hear answers to their problems and all we got was this
Zimbabwean interviewer speaking with an American accent and clearly showing
us he was scared of his guest.'

Others took offence at the way Makawa tried to gloss over the Gukurahundi
massacres by saying a few hundred were injured or killed when several
reports have put the number at over 20 000 Ndebele's killed. While there was
nothing wrong in Makawa tracing Zimbabwe's history, it was his reluctance to
question Mugabe on current problems in the country that irked many.

Only on one occassion did Makawa ask Mugabe what he would say to suffering
Zimbabweans. Mugabe's answer that they have goats and cattle to eat showed
that Makawa was out of his depth in this intervew. He never followed up to
ask what Mugabe meant, nor investigate Mugabe's implied statement that town
dwellers were foreigners from Malawi and Mozambique who knew nothing about
the liberation struggle, several viewers pointed out.

In 2002 Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party splurged £60 000 on a propaganda
supplement in the New African Magazine. They followed that up with a £1
million full magazine supplement in the same publication to defend their
brutal crackdown on the opposition in the aftermath of the March 2007 Save
Zimbabwe campaign rally.

African TV stations like OBE in the United Kingdom have shown a
reluctantance to run critical stories on Zimbabwe. OBE for example often has
its crew visit Zimbabwe at governments expense to film various beauty
pageants, musical gala's and other tourism functions. The Zanu PF government
is very happy to pay for positive publicity and it remains unclear what the
deal with the Africa Channel on Mugabe's interview was?

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Hospitals Review Consultation Fees

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

29 December 2007
Posted to the web 31 December 2007


Government hospitals have reviewed consultation fees upward in line with
inflation, Health and Child Welfare Minister, Cde David Parirenyatwa has

Cde Parirenyatwa yesterday said consultation charges have been increased to
$10 million for adults and $5 million for children above five years but
below 12 years. Government hospitals were charging consultation fees as low
as $1 000. Admission overnight at a Government hospital is now $4 650 000
from $211 for adults while children will pay $4 million.Ambulance fees now
cost $126 000 from $100. Cde Parirenyatwa said the old fees had become
ridiculous. "We are simply rationalising the fees so that they are not
ridiculously low," he said. The minister said children below the age of five
still do not have to pay, as was the case before.

Cde Parirenyatwa said the charges were, however, still affordable as
compared to those being charged by private hospitals."We do not want it to
be prohibitive but at the same time we want it to be of use to the
institutions that will be charging those fees," he said.The minister said
that in some cases it was getting expensive to even collect the money due to
stationery expenses.

Cde Parirenyatwa said Government though committed to providing health
services to people would not try and subsidise medical aid and those who are
not on medical aid have to pay the full amount.

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Anglican Parishioners Boycott Service

The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe

31 December 2007
Posted to the web 31 December 2007


WRANGLES within the Anglican Church continued yesterday with parishioners in
the church's two branches in Chitungwiza and Harare failing to attend church
services after members clashed.

In Chitungwiza at St Stephen's Anglican Church parishioners boycotted the
church service because they were opposed to the new priest.

The officer-in-charge at St Mary's Police Station, Inspector Eric Ngindi,
confirmed the incident and said no one was injured during the clashes.

At St Andrew's Church in Glen View 8 parishioners alleged that resident
priest Father Martin Zifoti stopped a service after he allegedly called the
police to protest that the parishioners were in the church without his

A church member who spoke to The Herald on condition of anonymity alleged
that Father Zifoti obtained a peace order against all Anglican bishops and
on Saturday refused permission to a church member get married in the church.

"He does not want anyone to use the church building and only this Saturday
he stopped a couple from tying the knot in the church.

"He no longer attends most of our church services and today (Sunday) he
called the police and told them that we were in the church without his

"Our church service starts at 8am and ends at 11am but the police came
around 9am and ordered us all out, after he told them that he had already
conducted a church service and we all wonder what time he had done so," said
the church member.

Last Thursday a service at the same church ended prematurely when rival
groups fought.

Two camps have emerged within the Anglican Church, one supporting Bishop
Sebastian Bakare appointed by the Province of Central Africa while the
other, and larger group, is behind incumbent Harare Bishop Nolbert Kunonga,
who led the withdrawal of the diocese from the Province of Central Africa.

Police had to intervene to quell the disturbances, which left some church
members nursing injuries.

In interviews, residents said a parish committee allegedly aligned to Bishop
Bakare was holding a meeting at the church when all hell broke loose.

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Why some Africans leave the motherland

30th Dec 2007 22:26 GMT

By Chenjerai Chitsaru

THERE is probably no legitimate reason to criticize President Robert Mugabe
for going on holiday when his compatriots are facing what some of them would
call a crisis of monumental economic proportions.

Others, probably diehard supporters of  the 83-year-old veteran politician,
would most likely describe what Zimbabwe is going through as a minor
 “hiccup” in its drive to recover completely from an economic crisis they
ascribe to “Western sanctions”.

Most Zimbabweans did not enjoy the kind of Christmas they believed they
would be entitled to in normal times. After all, when Christmas arrives and
there is not even enough bunting to mark the day, who would dare to glorify
the occasion as “normal”?

Moreover, this is apart from the absence of the traditional “goodies” that
are requisite to any celebration of this occasion: rice, chicken, bread,
buns, cakes, not to mention gifts for the kids and even for some adults.

Most shops and supermarkets have been empty for months, victims of the
government price blitz of last June, followed by a shortage of cash a few
months later.

Commercial banks were ordered to open during the holidays to help complete
an exercise ordered by the central bank to rectify an anomaly created, in
the opinion of many observers, by the central bank itself.

There was, according to some estimates, a mood of nationwide gloom during
the festive season.

The only tangible evidence of any merry-making or any attempt at
merry-making were the number of fatalities on the roads: a record for this
period in many years.

Almost ten members of one family were reportedly killed in one road accident
on the Harare-Masvingo road.

Mugabe is an old man. He needs his rest, especially as he is reportedly
preparing to go on the campaign trail fairly early before the March

Politically conscious Zimbabweans, while bemoaning their own plight of
economic deprivation, must have been monitoring the elections in Kenya ,
held only a few days after the Christmas holiday.

As I write this, the results had not been announced – both President Mwai
Kibaki and his presidential challenger, Odinga had claimed victory.

There was the frightening prospect of disputed election results plunging
East Africa ’s largest economy into crisis for a long spell.
For most Zimbabweans, this must have brought back dark memories of the
aftermath of the 2000 parliamentary and the 2002 presidential elections.

Both were the subject of such heated local and international dispute the
overall impression was that Zanu PF had rigged them – and deserved to be
censored for that act.

Of course, Mugabe had already angered most former foreign allies by forcibly
taking over vast, prosperous commercial farms owned by whites. The
apparently noble idea that this was a legitimate attempt to right the
colonial wrongs of the past did not settle well with many of his critics,
including many Zimbabweans, who were outraged by the violence which
accompanied  the exercise.

There have been no specific statistics relating to the number of Zimbabweans
leaving the country after 2000.

But the exodus was triggered by the economic fallout of the estrangement
between Mugabe’s government and the friendly foreign governments who had
previously backed his economic plans, however grudgingly.

Estimates vary from four to five million. One country, South Africa, appears
to be hosting the largest number, almost three million or more.

The United Kingdom, the former colonial master, probably has the largest
number in Europe. Granting the Zimbabweans political asylum has not been
routine: the British government has had to be sensitive to the concerns of
their political constituency in such areas as jobs, the provision of health
services and the alleged propensity to resort to crime among the

The government in Harare tends to scoff at the legitimacy of the claims for
political asylum for its own citizens fleeing to either Britain or South
Africa. Its reasoning: there is no strife in Zimbabwe, no political
repression which is any more callous than any to be found elsewhere in

Yet political opponents of the government continue to be beaten up or even
to get  killed. The laws against the untrammeled freedom of the media are
still in place. Proposed amendments seem specifically designed to appeal to
foreign critics of the electoral playing field in readiness for the 2008

The talks between Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic change
(MDC) seemed mired in arguments. The prospects of total agreement before the
elections seem as far away as ever.

In fact, the opposition has not ruled out a boycott of the elections, citing
Zanu PF’s refusal to agree to far-reaching changes to fully democratize the
electoral process.

If the elections are not recognized as thoroughly free and fair by all
neutral observers, there is no telling what the consequences could be for
the Mugabe regime’s image abroad.

What is clear is that if the conduct of the elections is not given a clean
bill of health by the observers, another exodus is likely to ensue.

The question will once again be debated: why do some Africans leave the
homeland to face an uncertain future in foreign lands?
Switzerland has recently taken a drastic step to discourage illegal
immigrants from risking their lives to seek a brighter and more profitable
future for themselves in that country.

The government put out an advertisement which graphically tries to
demonstrate to any future illegal immigrants how much agony they might have
to endure if they try to enter Switzerland illegally.

Reports suggest that even some Swiss citizens believe the government has
gone too far. But the point is made very strongly that most of the illegal
immigrants are conned into parting with a lot of hard-earned cash by
fraudsters who promise them paradise, but eventually deliver only hell or
even death.

Thousands of Africans have perished on the open seas, abandoned by their
would-be benefactors in small, crowded boats.
Most African governments have tried to argue that there is hardly any
legitimate reason for their citizens to flee their own countries.

Yet in many African countries evidence abounds of such naked denial of the
people’s legitimate rights to freedom of choice, expression, assembly and
association no right-thinking advocate of basic human rights would persuade
the asylum  seekers to “stick it out to the end” in the hope of an
improvement in their conditions.

Most of the complaints among African governments of the West, particularly,
luring their nationals to seek employment there, than remain in their own
countries, disregard the natural inclination of  most highly-trained and
highly-educated people to benefit from their years of toil in classrooms,
laboratories or factory plants.

Such an enormous fuss is made of patriotism and loyalty to the motherland
that it is easily forgotten that patriotism, by itself, cannot, for
instance, pay the rental or even provide for the basic needs of a citizen
who feels they brought themselves up, through their own blood and sweat, to
where their skills are profitable to both themselves and whoever decides to
pay for those skills.

Zimbabwe, for instance, has many professionals now working in foreign
countries, with hardly any feeling of guilt or betrayal of their country.

Most of them only have to read of the corruption in high places to feel a
sense of gratitude that they didn’t allow their love for their own country
to blind them from leaving the motherland.

The politicians of Africa must carry most of the guilt for the economic
squalor on the continent. Their own sense of patriotism is highly
questionable: it is, essentially, not patriotism to the country, but to
Mammon - or whatever name it is called in their native tongue.

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Be the change that you want to see

New Zimbabwe

By Mutumwa D. Mawere
Last updated: 12/30/2007 23:39:47
NO SOCIETY can ever be greater than the sum of the actions of its citizens.
The end of each calendar year is like a birthday of a natural person that
provides an opportunity to take stock and reflect on past achievements and
challenges of the future.

Indeed, when we say many happy returns, we are celebrating life and its
renewal because, like water, life makes a difference that cannot be reduced
to any monetary value. The quality of life of any people is causally linked
to human action and not inaction. It would be unreasonable to wish many
happy returns to a dead person or a person who makes no difference to the
lives of people.

Hope and faith is all we have as mortal beings, but in both, possibilities
and opportunities exist to advance the cause of human civilisation in a
manner that defines history and leaves a legacy for future generations.

As Africans, we remain challenged by not only our colonial legacy but by our
own inadequacies. For how can we explain that in this year of the Lord,
Ghana celebrated its golden jubilee and yet the last 50 years do not show
the kind of progress that “uhuru” promised?

With 53 sovereign states, Africa has all it needs to advance its own agenda
and it is important for all Africans, however we choose to define who is an
African, to seriously and honestly reflect not only the rights that African
citizenship confers on them but the obligations to the continent. What is
our purpose and have we discharged what this continent expects from us?

The colonial experience provided us with an opportunity to develop a
consensus on what we did not want to see in Africa. It spurred our brilliant
minds to invest in pain and suffering as a vehicle to change the status quo
ante that condemned the majority to an inferior standard of living and
political disenfranchisement. That investment created heroes and heroines
among us but it also should have challenged us to critically examine why
Europeans were so determined to exclude native Africans from governance
issues and whether, in fact, the past 50 years have helped the African cause
or undermined it.

Each New Year allows people to make resolutions and yet the end of the year
rarely is used to reflect on the past. Rather, it is used for different
purposes than what it was meant to be.

In engaging in the decolonisation struggle, Africans made a conscious
decision that an exclusive Africa is not the kind of Africa that should be
allowed to exist. In making this decision, it cannot be said that Africans
expected someone to invest in the change they wanted to see in post-colonial

How much thought did our founding fathers apply to post colonial
architectural and foundational issues? Any house that is built on sand will
suffer an inevitable fall, compelling any rational builder to think about
the foundation. How secure is post-colonial Africa? Whose responsibility is
it to make Africa work?

We all can engage in mental gymnastics with no salvation in sight. When I
look back at 2007, I cannot help but remember how Nigerians after 47 years
of independence handled their own transition. The controversial elections
and the manner in which the incumbent President manipulated the process to
exclude his own deputy demonstrate our maturity as a people in addressing
the leadership challenges that all African states face. Sierra Leone handled
its own transition in its own way.

At the party level, we began the year unsure whether President Mugabe would
prevail and there was no expectation that Jacob Zuma would end up as the
President of the ANC. Many expected Zuma to face the same fate as his
Nigerian counterpart but we now know that it is possible for an African
ruling party to make choices that are contrary to its leader.

As I write this article, Africa awaits the Kenyan election results and what
is significant is that the incumbent President is fighting for his political
life. His cabinet colleagues have been tsunamied out of power without
resorting to the Pakistan way of resolving political differences.

We have a cause to celebrate and as we look to 2008, we have to be
encouraged that the days of exclusive politics are numbered.

Exclusivity in politics can only end if citizens invest in change. Most
African leaders believe in elections and surprisingly, citizens who purport
to be angry at the lack of change in African politics are the very culprits
that do not participate in electoral politics. If Zuma’s supporters did not
register as ANC members and proceed to organise themselves institutionally
to have a voice, it is common cause that no change of guard would have taken

Many of us who pretend that we have the interests of the continent at heart
have been missing in action. Isn’t it funny that often the loudest in the
room is the weakest? Africa’s armchair revolutionaries often do not
participate in electoral politics and yet they expect see a democratic
Africa. Through the ballot, many careers have been terminated
notwithstanding the fact that many African leaders still believe that a free
and fair election must be rigged.

The only power people who do not have power have is the power to organise.
As political consumers we have rarely shown the organisation that was
displayed by Zuma’s supporters in unseating an incumbent President. In the
economic sphere, the last 50 years of post colonial experience has exposed
how economically fragile we are, notwithstanding the fact that we purport to
be in control of our destinies.

Will 2008 be any different from 2007? Only our actions will answer this
question. It is irresponsible for anyone to be angry at something they can
do something about and yet we choose to do nothing. We have retreated to the
comfort zone of the blame game and naturally, the white world becomes a
football for bad leaders while citizens reduce themselves to robots.

The real owners of the African story should be its citizens. However, the
future of Africa continues to be on the agenda of non-Africans while we
become experts at pursuing our own personal interests in the belief that it
is not our responsibility. Our abdication and nihilistic acceptance that we
are a helpless lot allows men and women of badwill to undermine our
collective interests.

This time next year, we must be able to say that we have made efforts at
making ourselves the agents of change that we want to see. We have done it
before and there is no reason to believe that we cannot rise to the
challenge. A brighter tomorrow is only possible if we do something about it

Mutumwa Mawere's weekly column is published on New every
Monday. You can contact him at:

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