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Ring Out, Wild Bells

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

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Zimbabwean activists to spend New Year's in jail

Associated Press

Dec 31, 10:53 AM EST

Associated Press Writer

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- A respected human rights campaigner and 31 other
activists in Zimbabwe will remain in jail over New Year's after a High Court
judge postponed an application for their release until Friday.

Zimbabwe Peace Project leader Jestina Mukoko and the other detainees are
accused of plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe, who has been in
power since 1980.

Opposition leaders say the detentions are part of Mugabe's clampdown on
pro-democracy activists and are further evidence of his determination to
keep control of his stricken nation in defiance of a power-sharing

"The year ahead, 2009, looks grim," Grace Mutandwa, a Zimbabwean staff
member at the British Embassy in Harare, wrote in a blog. "Many in Zimbabwe
would like to forget 2008 but this is something we might not be able to do."

Once a source of regional pride, Zimbabwe has been crippled by galloping
hyperinflation - one egg now costs 300 million Zimbabwe dollars. There is
mass unemployment and worsening malnutrition, and the country's education
and health systems are collapsing.

The southern African nation's power, water and sewage treatment systems are
in total disrepair, and a cholera epidemic has killed more than 1,600 people
since August.

The international Red Cross said Wednesday it has deployed seven emergency
response units throughout Zimbabwe to combat the worsening cholera crisis.
The units - specialized teams that are fully self-sufficient for one month -
are usually only deployed in the most critical humanitarian situations, such
as the Indian Ocean tsunami and large earthquakes.

Tammam Aloudat, a Red Cross emergency health officer, said the mobile units
would be able to reach rural communities. Currently 43 percent of cholera
victims in Zimbabwe are dying before they can reach a treatment center, even
though the disease is easily treatable, he said.

Activists say the humanitarian crisis has been accompanied by increasing
repression in recent weeks.

Defense attorney Beatrice Mtetwa said state lawyers conceded Wednesday for
the first time that state security agents abducted Mukoko from her home in
early December. For weeks police had denied they were holding the peace

High Court Judge Alphias Chitakunye on Wednesday postponed a defense
application for the immediate release of Mukoko and the other detainees
until Friday.

Mtetwa said police have defied at least two court orders to free them and
ignored a magistrate's ruling that they be allowed visits from private
doctors after they appeared in court Monday with swollen and bloodied faces.

The defense team also demanded that the police commissioner and attorney
general be summoned to the High Court for contempt. A Dec. 24 ruling said
the activists should be transferred to a hospital for investigation of
alleged torture.

The High Court applications came shortly after a magistrate ordered them to
stay in custody until Monday.

Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe also ordered five officials with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change to remain in detention to Jan. 5 on
allegations of involvement in two minor bombings at the main Harare police
station earlier this year and a small explosion at a bridge outside Harare.

They included a close adviser to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his
party's head of security.

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Zimbabwe high court to rule Friday on Mukoko proceedings

Africa News
Dec 31, 2008, 15:03 GMT

Harare - A Zimbabwean High Court judge is to rule Friday on whether criminal
proceedings against human rights activist Jestina Mukoko on charges of
plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe's government should be halted
until circumstances surrounding her kidnapping and subsequent arrest are

This follows an urgent application filed Wednesday by Mukoko's lawyer,
Beatrice Mtetwa, seeking an order compelling the police and the attorney
general to identify the people who abducted her.

Mukoko was seized early on the morning of December 3 from her home in
Norton, some 40 kilometres south-west of the capital Harare. After the
abduction she could not be accounted for three weeks.

The police said they were treating the matter as a kidnapping. She only
appeared in public at a court on December 24 to face charges of recruiting
for banditry.

Dydimus Mutasa, Zimbabwe's state security minister, said in an affidavit
filed to judge Alpheus Chitakunya that the people who kidnapped Mukoko must
not be identified, citing the 'sensitivity' of the case.

But Mtetwa told journalists outside the court that she was not happy about
the minister's explanation.

'If anybody has committed an offence the law is very clear - the
constitution must not be suspended because there are state security issues.

'No law allows anybody to grab a suspect in a their night clothes and take
them to an undisclosed location and spend weeks without your family, lawyers
or courts knowing were you are,' said Mtetwa.

Of the conditions of Mukoko and other opposition activists who claim to have
been tortured during their detention Mtetwa said medical doctors had
examined them and 'confirmed that they were indeed tortured. So it is
crucial that they are taken to a clinic with proper facilities as a matter
of urgency.'

The activists are in police custody after an appeal against a High Court
ruling last week that they should be released to a private clinic.

In the wake of Mukoko's abduction, opposition Movement for Democratic Change
leader Morgan Tsvangirai has threatened to pull out of the power-sharing
deal he signed with Mugabe in September unless Mukoko and other detainees
were released by December 31.

The power-sharing deal which will keep Mugabe as the president while
Tsvangirai becomes prime minister follows a hotly-disputed presidential
run-off in June which was marred by more than 200 deaths mainly targeting
the opposition supporters.

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Human Rights Lawyers Fight to Get Imprisoned Zimbabwean Activists Released

By Peta Thornycroft
31 December 2008

Several court actions are in process in Harare to try and free 17 previously
abducted activists still in prison, despite a High Court order to release
them. Human rights lawyers believe more activists, mostly from the Movement
for Democratic Change party, who have been missing for weeks are being
detained at unknown locations.

Zimbabwe's small community of human rights lawyers are extremely busy
petitioning the High Court to secure the release of their clients who were
abducted by state security agents in the last few weeks.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights director Irene Petras said Wednesday that
there are 17 activists who have been charged by the police with a range of
allegations in connection with plots to overthrow President Robert Mugabe.

None have yet been charged in a court of law. On Christmas Eve, the Harare
High Court ordered that nine be taken to hospital, and the other eight be

All 17, including a two-year old child whose parents are among those in
detention, are being held in Zimbabwe's maximum security prison, although
none have yet been charged in court.

Petras said her organization has a list of a further 13 activists' names,
whom she said were reportedly abducted and are still missing. Petras said
the lawyers' group believes they also are somewhere in detention in Harare.

Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has filed an urgent application with the Harare High
court to prevent terrorism charges proceedings against human rights activist
Jestina Mukoko.

The application also asks the court to investigate and charge those who
kidnapped Mukoko from her home on December 3.

Human rights lawyers are also filing with the High Court a charge of
contempt of court against the police for defying a court order on Christmas
Eve for the release of the 17 being detained. In additions, another group of
lawyers have filed an application for charges against the 17 to be dropped.

All 17 have told their lawyers that they have been assaulted or mistreated
since they were abducted by security agents since October.

Human Rights director Petras said some of those in detention have been
allowed visits from family members and some are receiving food sent to them.

Meanwhile, the situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate.

The Red Cross said Wednesday that it has deployed seven emergency teams
normally reserved for major global disasters to fight Zimbabwe's worsening
cholera epidemic.
They aim to help 1.5 million people in Zimbabwe, where more than 16-hundred
people have died of cholera since August and nearly 30,000 have been
infected, the Red Cross said.

The World Health Organization says the cholera epidemic was spread by
disintegrating water and sewage systems and poor sanitation in urban
centers. All ten Zimbabwe provinces now have cholera.

Besides the epidemic, Zimbabweans are also struggling against
hyper-inflation, severe food shortages and chronic political instability.

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The torture of Jestina Mukoko

The incarcerated human rights defender tells of her horrific treatment

Jestina Mukoko, the head of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, who was kidnapped
from her home last month, and was today still held illegally by the police,
has described her treatment following her abduction. It is a grim story of
deprivation, assault, and torture.

Jestina, 54, has told the world what happened to her in papers filed at the
Harare High Court, in which she demanded that the trumped-up charges of
plotting to topple President Mugabe be dropped, and that she be released as
ordered by a High Court judge last week.

She said that for 19 days, following the abduction, she had no idea where
she was being held. On journeys she was always blindfolded, even when the
state security agents who first grabbed her handed her on to the police.

In her statement she says bluntly: "I was tortured. At first I was assaulted
on the soles of my feet with a hard rubber object, while I was sitting on
the floor. Later I was told to raise my feet to a table, and then everyone
in the room started assaulting me.

"They took a break for a while, then started beating me again. And beatings
continued every few hours. The men were always visibly drunk, many of them
with bottles of liquor in their hands."

Her torturers constantly accused her of recruiting and training youths for
banditry, and of working with the opposition Movement For Democratic Change
(MDC) in an alleged plot to topple Mugabe.

At one point, as she continued to deny the charges, one of her assailants
left the room, and returned shortly with a quantity of gravel, which he
spread on the floor.

"He ordered me to pull up my clothes and kneel on the gravel. I was beaten
again while on the gravel."

Jestina suffers from severe allergies and was denied medication for ten
days. Then she was seen by a Doctor Chigumira, who was shocked by her
condition, and afterwards medication was supplied.

At the time of writing High Court Judge Alpheus Chitakunya is set to rule on
the legality of her detention, and her friends and supporters hope she will
be set free today. There is also hope that the 31 other activists known to
have been kidnapped recently will also gain their freedom.

Meanwhile, today is December 31. At this point I would normally wish all who
visit this blog a happy new year. But to do so, to those still surviving in
Zimbabwe, would be ironic in the extreme. Instead may I humbly pray that
somehow we all get safely through 2009.

Posted on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 at 15:5

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Mutasa Wants Mukoko's Abductors Protected

HARARE, December 31 2008 - A Zimbabwean judge will on Friday decide
whether the state should disclose state security agents who abducted and
tortured human rights activist, Jestina Mukoko while in custody.

High court judge Alphius Chitakunye, heard submissions from the state
and Mukoko's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who urged the court to release her and
institute an investigation into circumstances leading to her disappearance
early this month.

Mukoko wants the court to compel the police to arrest the state
security agents who abducted her early this month.

She is compelling the court to force police to release details of her
abductors and where she was being held over the last month.

"The judge has reserved his ruling to Friday 2 January 2009. The state
has stated that they cannot disclose who the abductors were because they are
state security agents and that if they do so they jeopardize state security.
So you have a government minister saying that in fact it has certain
undisclosed facilities where they keep people who have been abducted by
state security agents and that the court could not enquire into those forced
disappearances," said Mtetwa."

"There is no law in Zimbabwe that allows anybody to abduct people and
keep them in undisclosed places for three weeks without family members
knowing where they are, so we are not satisfied with the minister's claims,"
said Mtetwa.

State security minister Didymus Mutasa however said that the
identities of the state agents who abducted Mukoko and the facilities
involved in the matter could not be disclosed due to the sensitivity of the

In an affidavit submitted to the judge, Mutasa said:  "In view of the
sensitivity of the case and the necessarily clandestine modus operandi and
the nature of State Security organs, it is imperative and prudent that the
identities of officers seized with investigating matters of this nature and
any facilities involved be kept a closely guarded secret. To do otherwise
would not be in the best interest of national security," said Mutasa.

He urged the court not to grant Mukoko's order for the disclosure of
her abductors.

"I have therefore personally duly considered Applicant's (Mukoko)
Order sought, particularly paragraphs 2-5 of the Draft order and opine that
granting the order would be highly prejudicial to state security. Wherefore,
I pray that this Honourable Court decline from granting the said order or
any order for that matter, which would have the effect of, directly or
indirectly, of disclosing state security facilities and the identities of
State Security agents," said Mutasa.

Doctors have confirmed that Mukoko was tortured while in police

"They were seen by private doctors on Tuesday who have testified that
Jestina and others need to be immediately admitted at a medical institution
that has proper facilities to investigate the torture claims because the
medical examinations have confirmed that they were indeed tortured.

"It is absolutely crucial that they be taken to those medical
institutions that have the proper equipment. We will get the decision of the
judge on that," said Mtetwa.

Meanwhile, a magistrate remanded Mukoko and 29 Movement for Democratic
Change activists in custody to Monday 5 january 2009.

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Gono Reviews Cash Withdrawal Limits

HARARE, December 31 2008 - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor,
Gideon Gono has further increased weekly cash withdrawal limits for
individuals to Zd5 billion ($US1.25), up from $500 million ($US0.12).

A single loaf of bread costs Zd4 billion.

Individuals will again be allowed to access a further $10 billion
($US2.50) from their bank accounts before the end of one month.

The Zd10 billion cash limit is only accessible to account holders upon
production of their December 2008 pay slips while weekly cash withdrawal
limits for companies remain pegged at Zd15 billion.

The RBZ contends that Zimbabwean companies have little use of solid
cash as they can still utilise electronic money transfer facilities such as
the Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) and cheques.

The new cash measures take effect this Friday ahead of yet another
change in cash withdrawal limits on the 12th of January 2009, afterwhich
individuals will be allowed to withdraw all their money as long as they are
able to produce December 2008 or previous pay slips.

Gono has been criticized for putting a lid on bank withdrawals, among
a myriad of other controversial policies.

According to Gono, cash withdrawal limits are intended to tame
spiraling inflation, currently pegged at over 231 million percent, the
highest in the world.

Independent economic analysts estimate the figure to be more than 2
billion percent.

Repeated increases in cash withdrawal limits have been met with high
price increases, as retailers try to contain the resultant influx of
shoppers, desperate to use their cash before it is eroded by hyperinflation.

Gono, desperate to restrain the world's most volatile economy, early
this month unveiled Zd1 billion, Zd5 billion and Zd10 billion notes in a bid
ease recurrent cash shortages in Zimbabwe.

A day before its introduction, Zd10 billion was equal to ($US55) but
its worth plummeted to $US14 in just 24 hours.

Only last month, the maximum cash withdrawal limit was pegged at Zd50
million for individuals before being raised to Zd500 million following the
introduction of the Zd100, Zd200 and Zd500 million notes.

Parallel market rates are now the most realistic models of pegging the
value of the US dollar in Zimbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe's government has been battling to raise
foreign currency after the suspension of balance of payment support by the
International Monetary Fund, owing to failure by administration to respect
property rights.

To finance its operations, government now relies on sending teams to
the black market through the RBZ, to harvest available foreign currency,
which would have been sent by Zimbabweans now living in the Diaspora to
their hard-pressed relatives.

Government early this month came to terms with the effects of its
disastrous policies when hordes of uniformed soldiers went on the rampage,
looting shops in the city centre and beating up suspected foreign currency

Most urban centres are now teeming with youths, some of school going
age, parading crisp wads of high denomination Zimbabwean dollar notes,
seeking to exchange them for the widely sought after hard currency.

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Red Cross attends to Zim

The Red Cross has deployed seven emergency teams normally reserved for major
global disasters to fight Zimbabwe's worsening cholera epidemic, it said in
a statement on Wednesday.

The emergency response units have been used in the past for major
earthquakes and the Indian Ocean tsunami, but over the last week seven of
the teams have been sent by Red Cross societies from Britain, Finland, Japan
and other countries, it said.

They aim to help 1.5 million people in Zimbabwe, where more than 1500 people
have died of cholera since August and nearly 30 000 have been infected, the
statement added.

"Cholera is a preventable and treatable disease: no one should die from it,"
said Tammam Aloudat, an emergency health senior officer with the
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva.

"Currently, the proportion of people who get cholera and die as a result is
higher than five percent. To say that cholera is under control, this number
should not exceed one percent," he said.

"Even more alarming is that 43 percent of people die before they are able to
reach a treatment centre," Aloudat added.

Besides the epidemic, Zimbabweans are also struggling against
hyper-inflation, severe food shortages and chronic political instability.


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Libya Sends Drugs, Experts to Country

The Herald

Published by the government of Zimbabwe

31 December 2008

Harare - LIBYA yesterday joined other countries that have rendered support
to the ongoing fight against cholera after it seconded nine medical experts
and donated a planeload of drugs and water treatment chemicals.

The consignment was received by the Minister of State for Policy
Implementation, Cde Webster Shamu; Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation
and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made; Libyan charge d'affaires
to Zimbabwe Mr Amara Albatal, Civil Protection Unit director Mr Madzudzo
Pawadyira and senior officials from the Ministry of Health and Child

The officials could, however, not disclose the quantities or value of the
medical supplies.

Speaking soon after the arrival of the drugs at Manyame Airbase yesterday,
Libyan head of delegation Dr Fidan Hamza said the team of three medical
doctors, three nurses, two engineers and support staff would be in Zimbabwe
for a week and would extend their visit if the situation required them to do

"We are in the country to help Zimbabwe fight the cholera epidemic as part
of efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

"The team has brought with it a consignment of drugs among them antibiotics,
body fluids and painkillers for use in the current efforts to halt the
spread of the disease.

"This is on behalf of our leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the people of
Libya and in the spirit of the African Union and solidarity," he said.

Dr Hamza said the gesture should mark the beginning of an African effort to
stop the spread of diseases on the continent.

Receiving the drugs, Cde Shamu expressed the Government's appreciation of
the support Zimbabwe is receiving not only from the African continent, but
across the globe.

"On behalf of the Government and people of Zimbabwe, allow me to express my
utmost gratitude and appreciation for this vital gesture of solid
humanitarian assistance from the government and people of Libya.

"Zimbabwe continues to count on Libya's consistent and unconditional
commitment to targeted socio-economic interventions as well as political
support and solidarity in the wake of phenomenal challenges such as the
current cholera epidemic," he said.

Cde Shamu said it was gratifying that the Libyan government had timeously
and generously responded to the appeal by Sadc for urgent assistance to
Zimbabwe and, therefore, stands out, along with other African brothers.

Zimbabwe, he said, would always hold dear the support rendered by Libya.

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Ravaged Zimbabwe’s tourism pipe dream
Alex Matthews
Looking on the web for some info about Zimbabwe (I’m visiting the Victoria Falls in a few days time), I stumbled across an article dated the 12 December in the Zimbabwean state-owned propaganda machine The Herald about how that beleaguered nation intends to make tourism a key foreign currency earner, increasing its contribution to the Zimbabwean GDP by 400% by 2010.

Apparently, the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism president somehow expects tourism-generated-foreign currency earnings to surge from US$50-million to $1-billion by 2010 — ie in the space of little over more than a year. He also miraculously predicts a global downturn-defying tripling of visitor arrivals from one million people to three million. He doesn’t explain where the money — or the visitors — will be coming from or quite why they’ll be swarming into the country in 2009 when they’ve been avoiding the place since the land invasions began in 2000.

In true Zanu-PF mouthpiece style, The Herald blames the tourism industry’s current woes on the West:

Since then [2000], it has been negatively impacted on by the harsh economic environment arising from warnings against travel to Zimbabwe from traditional source markets, resulting in reduced arrivals, low occupancies, job redundancies and business closures.

Sunny optimism won’t get Zimbabwe’s ruling cabal anywhere. It might make for uplifting newspaper copy but it’s certainly not going to save the nation. But then again, that’s the last thing the ruling party’s thugs are concerned with.

Thanks to Mugabe and his cronies’ systematic destruction of a once vibrant country and economy, the Zimbabwe tourism brand is dead — and is set to remain so for quite a while. Even were democracy to be restored and the Zanu-PF dictatorship removed within the next few months (which, considering the current stalemate, is highly unlikely), there’s absolutely no way that there would be the kind of tourism growth projected by the ZCT. With a cholera epidemic, widespread starvation, chronic shortages, rolling power cuts, civil unrest and hyper-inflation, there’s a lot that needs to be resolved before most visitors even consider it a holiday destination option. Of course it doesn’t help that Zimbabwe Tourism’s website isn’t functioning either — although it’s hardly surprising and a rather more accurate reflection of the current state of Zimbabwe’s tourism.

Tourism will one day return to Zimbabwe which is an extraordinarily beautiful country with friendly, hospitable people. But, whatever The Herald might say, the day that visitors return en masse is still far, far away.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 at 10:36 am

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If we will not remove Mugabe, then we should shut up

Published Date: 31 December 2008
By Bernard Ingham

LET me make a New Year confession. I have never seen a Harold Pinter play. I
have never felt any inclination to spend an evening wondering what on earth
he was on about. My pleasures are altogether more simple.
I am thus in no position to praise or criticise him, though, as always, I
suspect the Left's hero-worship is a bit overdone.

My reading of his obituaries, however, suggests that his stage trade mark -
pregnant pauses - assumes a certain international significance as the New
Year fast approaches. How pregnant is the interminable pause over Zimbabwe?
Will 2009 produce action to rid the world of that mad, racist totalitarian,

Don't hold your breath.

Not even Margaret Thatcher, who was full of foreboding when Mugabe won power
in 1980, could have foretold the sheer horror of his régime.

Over the past 29 years and, more spectacularly, since the turn of the
century, we have learned increasingly of the full misery of living under his
demented jackboot.

And what does the world do? At best, it tut-tuts.

Now, I am the first to recognise that Mugabe may be mere par for the course
on the continent of Africa. From Somalia to the Congo, from Equatorial
Guinea to Darfur, man's contempt for man, if he is of the wrong tribe or on
the wrong side, knows no bounds.

Life is cheap and death often a release from a feudalism armed with
relatively modern weapons and all the inventive tortures of the psychotic.

And yet, if you ignore the noble efforts of aid agencies trying to alleviate
the worst excesses of Mugabe and others, we do next to nothing.

I am also the first to acknowledge that, after Iraq and Afghanistan, man's
appetite for trying to deal with the menace of cruel dictators as well as
violent Islamic puritans, is strictly limited. Iraq has not yet proved we
can export democracy in sustainable form.

In any case, we have discovered the limits of overwhelming military power
against recalcitrant people.

At the same time, our condemnation of racism provides pathetic little
domestic stories for the press about this nominally Christian country
suppress-ing innocent traditions lest we upset those born into a coloured
skin or a different faith. In our palsy, we are very good at
self-flagellation but useless when it comes to tackling real
life-threatening discrimination - as Africa daily testifies.

What is more, Mugabe and his ilk know it. That is why, in his foam-flecked
racism, he confiscates white farmers' lands and starves his people,
rendering them greater prey to disease, while his propagandists divert
attention with tales of British subversion. If only.

He can be pretty certain, even in overriding an election and imprisoning his
opponents, that nobody will do anything beyond Gordon Brown's saying "enough
is enough", or Archbishop Desmond Tutu's condemning South Africa's loss of
moral authority for blocking firmer UN action.

But then we have to ask ourselves what more is the UN likely to do other
than posture. It is so riddled with political division, competing
self-interest and a West rendered indolent by fat living and post-colonial
inhibition, that it is a mere machine for the passing of resolutions.

The EU is no better - indeed, perhaps even more resolute in its
disinclination to act as a united front against any outrage.

Look at its mainly abject performance in Afghanistan from which springs at
least some terrorist threats to European cities. As for the Commonwealth,
black Africa - as Tutu implies - could have sorted out Mugabe years ago. But
it won't because he is one of them, and so, ironically, the consequences of
their racism is visited on their poor black fellows in Zimbabwe, robbing
them of their reasonable prospect of a better life in a potentially rich

And, surrounded as he is by acquiescent black states, Mugabe is still
sufficiently sane to recognise that military options against him are
strictly limited - if they exist at all.

I mention all this because in this uniquely hypocritical season of New Year
resolutions, let us not compound our insincerity by cosily calling for
action to end Mugabe's - or any other African leader's - affront to our
blessed basic freedoms.

The New Year will not end the world's great pregnant pause over Zimbabwe. It
will just extend it, convince Mugabe of his impregnability this side of his
descent into the hell he so richly deserves, and leave the already useless
UN, Commonwealth and EU looking ever more impotent.

If we are not prepared to remove him, we should shut up.

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Floods prompt Mozambican authorities to issue red alert warning

Africa News
Dec 31, 2008, 15:40 GMT

Maputo - Heavy rains have forced Mozambican authorities to issue flood
warnings and urge people in flood-prone areas to abandon their residences

The warning is aimed at preventing a repeat of disastrous flooding last year
that forced more than 100,000 people to seek safety.

The country is facing its worst rainy season in decades. Rains and flooding
have so far inflicted serious damage on infrastructure, property and field
crops. Several villages have become isolated from the rest of the and
authorities say there are no signs of rain letting up in the near future.

On Wednesday, heavy rains continued to fall into three major river basins,
the Zambezi, Pungue, and Buzi. The central region, parts of southern
Mozambique and the tourist resort province of Inhambane have also been hard

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country are in danger of being
affected by the floods.

Mozambican Meteorology Institutes Spokesperson, Mussa Musafa, told dpa
Wednesday that the rainy season has just began. Musafa added the worst is
still to come, especially in the lower lands where most people prefer to
stay to care for their crops and cattle.

'We are predicting rains over the normal levels. This will go on for a
longer period until March, because we are still in the middle of the rainy
season', he said.

Rains have washed out a major highway between Morrombene and Maxixe, leaving
thousands of motor vehicle en route either to Maputo or the northern part of
the country stranded.

Some villages have been cut off from the rest of the country. The situation
is especially dire in the village of Mussurize, which has also been hit by a
cholera epidemic. Traveling to the village requires a journey through
Zimbabwe, which has been hard hit by cholera.

The situation in the village has been described as chaotic and
deteriorating. Reports say people lack food, medicine and shelter.

Further north, in the Zambezi basin, authorities are on alert as the Cahora
Bassa dam continues discharging enormous amounts of water downstream
following the rains in the region. The extra water could affect all
downstream regions.

Sergio Moiane, administrator of the Buzi basin, said today on national
broadcaster Radio Mocambique that the river banks have surpassed their
normal levels, with surrounding lands under three to four metres of water.

'Today, the rain has reduced, but we continue to warn people living near the
basins to be cautious in order to avoid emergency, which would require
another effort to evacuate people, a problem that should have been solved by
now, given the tremendous effort made earlier this year,' he said.

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