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Inflation to peak at 800 percent in Zimbabwe

Xinhua 2006-01-25 01:38:41

          HARARE, Jan. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwe's annual rate of inflation
is expected to reach a peak of between 700 and 800 percent in the first
quarter of the year before it starts to rescind, the ReserveBank of Zimbabwe
has said.

          Presenting the 2005 fourth quarter monetary policy statement
onTuesday, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Gideon Gono, said
inflation was expected to reach levels of below 500 percent by June and
forecast to end the year between 220 and 230 percent.

          The central bank now expects to reach two digit inflation levels
next year and not this year as earlier predicted, he added.Inflation stands
at 585.8 percent as at December last year. Gono called for a comprehensive
and holistic framework to burst the inflation bubble.

          Among targeted areas to win the anti-inflation battle were
reducing money supply growth, strict adherence to the budget by government,
full utilization of productive land distributed under the land reform
program and tightening of interest rates.

          "In order to burst the inflation bubble that is threatening to
reverse the gains made over the past 24 months, there is need for a
comprehensive, holistic framework that significantly reduces money supply,
align fiscal expenditures to budgeted levels, as well enhancing productivity
across all sector so the economy," he said.

          With the food component contributing about 32 percent of the
inflation basket, it was critical for the nation to produce adequate food
through utilization of land and water resources for irrigation.

          Last year's drought forced the nation to rely on imports from
neighboring countries such as South Africa. Inflation reached an all time
high of 622.8 percent in January 2004, declining to 124 percent in March
last year before the trend started to reverse.

          Among the major inflation drivers were high money supply
growth,drought, decline in foreign currency earnings, the surge in
international oil prices, introduction of new taxes late last year and
continued adjustment of commodity prices. Enditem

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Graft threatens Zimbabwe economic recovery


January 24, 2006, 15:30

Gideon Gono, Zimbabwe's central bank governor, launched a bold attack on
graft today, saying that corruption, especially among influential officials,
threatened to derail economic recovery efforts.

"The rot is just so widespread and deep-rooted one doesn't know where to
start from and stop, but start we must, urgently," Gono said in prepared
remarks for the central bank's quarterly monetary policy statement.

Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, launched an anti-graft campaign in
2004 which critics said was an attempt to divert attention from the
country's deepening economic crisis as it left out officials from his ruling
Zanu(PF) party.

Graft-busting drive
The graft-busting drive led to the arrest of mostly senior bank executives
and the subsequent closure of some financial institutions which the central
bank said were not in a sound financial position. Most executives have since
fled the country.

Chris Kuruneri, the former finance minister, was the highest ranking
official to be arrested and is on trial for illegally taking money outside
the country - a deal which Gono sanctioned during his tenure as head of a
local commercial bank.

"Our observation as Monetary Authorities is that we are, as Zimbabweans,
fast losing our integrity and sense of economic justice and fairness as a
people, right across the board," Gono said.

He hailed the setting up of an anti-corruption body last year, adding that
the central bank would be collaborating with the commission. The Reserve
Bank had declared an amnesty for people who had "erred and strayed
economically in the past", he said, urging the government to do likewise.
But Gono said cases before the courts would not be withdrawn. - Reuters

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Zimbabwe must rebuild ties: Gono


      Zimbabwe says it will continue to repay its debt to the International
Monetary Fund

January 24, 2006, 19:30

Zimbabwe must rebuild its ties with the international community and tackle
graft to achieve a sustained economic recovery, Gideon Gono, Zimbabwe's
central bank governor, said today. In a prepared monetary policy statement,
Gono also said the country would continue to repay its debt to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) despite what he described as "mixed
reactions" in the country.

"This national sacrifice, painful as it is, is an indispensable pill that we
have to take so as to avert the far-reaching adverse effects of being
alienated from the community of nations in the financial world," he said.

"As Zimbabwe, we cannot go it alone, and it is imperative that we seek to
work with other international business partners, particularly those that see
the virtues and sincerity of our efforts and wish us well," he said.

Struggling economy
Once the breadbasket of the region, Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk by a third
during six years of recession, with unemployment now estimated at 70%,
inflation in triple digits and chronic shortages of fuel, food and foreign
exchange. Gono said corruption, especially among influential officials, had
to be tackled if the economy was to recover.

"The rot is just so widespread and deep-rooted one doesn't know where to
start from - but start we must, urgently. Our observation as monetary
authorities is that we are, as Zimbabweans, fast losing our integrity and
sense of economic justice and fairness as a people, right across the board,"
he said.

Zimbabwe's economic crisis has been worsened by the withdrawal of aid by key
donors who cited policy differences with Robert Mugabe, the president,
especially his controversial seizures of white-owned commercial farms for
blacks. - Reuters

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Harare still has long way to win IMF support despite payments

Zim Online

Wed 25 January 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's chances of winning back International Monetary
Fund (IMF) support appear slim despite frantic efforts by the government to
pay off its debts to the multilateral body, analysts have warned.

       As a team from the IMF arrived in Harare yesterday for talks with
Zimbabwean officials, local economic experts were ruling out resumption of
financial assistance any soon, saying the debt repayments would fail to mask
worsening economic conditions on the ground.

      Harare economist James Jowa said notwithstanding the payments, the IMF
was likely to be much more displeased by the government's apparent lack of a
comprehensive and resolute programme to tackle the full range of problems
underlying Zimbabwe's economic crisis.

      "For starters the Zimbabwe government has been groping in the dark
without any defined development policy, a situation that has contributed to
the worsening economic climate," explained Jowa.

      At the time of their last visit in September 2005 to assess Zimbabwe's
economic performance, the IMF team had predicted that the country's
inflation would end close at about 400 percent at the end of the year.

      The IMF estimate, at the time considered by some as too pessimistic,
was however exceeded by the situation on the ground, with Zimbabwe's
annualised inflation ending 2005 at more than 585.8 percent.

      Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, part of top officials
who shall hold meetings with the IMF team this week, yesterday announced
inflation was set to reach an all time high of 800 percent in March but said
the rate would drop to about 230 percent by year-end.

      The exchange rate of the Zimbabwe dollar has also moved in sympathy
with the general health of the economy, with the official rate depreciating
from around 26 000 against the United States greenback at the time of the
last visit in September 2005 to about 98 000 to the American unit yesterday.

      The slide in the official exchange rate has failed to boost inflows of
foreign currency into the official market. The bulk of the hard cash in
circulation is traded on a thriving parallel market where the US dollar
fetches as much as Z$150 000.

      The foreign currency crunch has seen shortages of essential
commodities such as food, fuel, electricity and essential medical drugs
worsening in Zimbabwe in the last few months.

      Meanwhile, the old issues of disagreement with the international
community - including the IMF - such as human rights violations by Mugabe's
government and the failure to uphold democracy and the rule of law remain

      An economic analyst with a Harare stock broking firm said: "After
these payments we obviously no longer expect Zimbabwe to be expelled from
the IMF but, all the same, the situation on the ground does not augur well
for the country in terms of its ability to come back into the IMF fold."

      Group economist at the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group David Mupamhadzi
concurred saying under the IMF's Conditions, Zimbabwe was obliged to repay
money loaned to it. But Mupamhadzi said restoration of full relations with
the Fund would depend "on the government's level of commitment to implement
(all) their recommendations."

      Zimbabwe has made surprise payments to the IMF since August 2005 and
remitted a total of US$169 million last year alone. This brings the total
repayment since January 2004 to US$196.6 million.

      The latest payments were US$10 million paid in December and US$5
million deposited into the IMF account last week just as a team of officials
from the Fund were heading to Harare for routine Article IV consultations.

      The consultation comes in the run-up to a meeting of the IMF's
executive board scheduled for March and at which the board had indicated it
would review Zimbabwe's case again.

      After the payments Zimbabwe, which in September made a surprise US$120
million payment to block the IMF board from recommending its expulsion, now
owes the Fund about US$14 million in the General Resources Account (GRA). It
is arrears to the GRA that lead to expulsion.

      The southern African country also owes an additional US$125 million
under the low-interest Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PGRF), to
leave its total debt to the IMF at US$139 million. - ZimOnline

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Harare residents' group to sue council over uncollected garbage

Zim Online

Wed 25 January 2006

       HARARE - A civic group that fights for better governance in the city
of Harare says it will next week sue the Harare city council over
uncollected garbage which is posing a serious health hazard to residents.

      Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) spokesman, Precious
Shumba, said his association was already collecting affidavits from
residents in preparation for the court case.

      The association wants the courts to force the commission which is
running Harare to collect garbage and attend to burst sewer pipes especially
in the poor suburbs of the city.

      "CHRA will no longer sit back and watch the illegal commission cause
more unnecessary deaths and expose residents to an unhealthy living
environment," said Shumba.

      Harare is being run by a commission headed by Sekesai Makwavarara
after the government fired opposition Movement for Democratic Change mayor
Elias Mudzuri and his councillors three years ago.

      Shumba said at least 98 percent of Harare was littered with
uncollected refuse resulting in cases of cholera being recorded in the city.

      At least 14 people, including five in the capital Harare, died of
cholera last month while more than 200 people were treated for the disease.
Cholera spreads easily in unhygienic conditions.

      Harare, like most cities and towns in Zimbabwe, is in an advanced
state of decay after six years of a severe economic recession many blame on
President Robert Mugabe's wrong policies and mismanagement.

      The city's transport fleet which used to remove refuse is also
grounded because of a serious shortage of fuel gripping the country. -

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Zimbabwe radio bosses charged under tough laws

Mail and Guardian

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      24 January 2006 05:58

            Five directors of an independent radio station in Zimbabwe were
charged on Tuesday with breaching the country's controversial broadcasting
laws, a media watchdog told Agence France-Presse.

            "Members of the board of directors for the Voice of the People
(VOP) radio station appeared in court today on charges of contravening the
Broadcasting Services Act," said Nyasha Nyakunu, spokesperson for the Media
Institute of Southern Africa.

            Arnold Tsunga, Millie Phiri, Isabella Matambanadzo, David
Masunda and Nhlanhla Ngwenya arrested on Tuesday and briefly detained at
Harare's main police station.

            They were accused of possessing and operating transmission
equipment without a licence.

            A magistrate's court in Harare released them on a bail of four
million Zimbabwe dollars ($44,4) bail and ordered them to report back to
court for remand on February 10.

            Under the strict broadcasting laws passed in 2001, radio
stations are required to register with a government-appointed board.

            A breach of the laws attracts a five-million-dollar penalty or a
jail term of up two years.

            John Masuku, the director of the VOP radio station, was arrested
on similar charges last year and released after four days.

            On December 15, plainclothes police ransacked the radio
station's offices in central Harare, arrested staffers Maria Nyanyiwa,
Takunda Chigwanda and Nyasha Bosha and held them in cells for four days.

            VOP broadcasts into Zimbabwe on shortwave from its transmitter
in Madagascar. Its offices were firebombed in August 2002.

            The shortwave radio station is one of only two independent
broadcasters which have managed to circumvent Zimbabwe's repressive media
laws by using transmitters outside the country to carry their programmes on

            Most of VOP's programming is in Zimbabwe's two main languages -- 
Shona and Ndebele -- placing it among the few independent media able to
reach the large rural population who have no access to newspapers.

            Zimbabwe has four radio stations and one television station all
controlled by the government.

            Media and rights groups have condemned laws invoked to shut down
independent broadcast stations as an instrument to enforce a state monopoly
on the airwaves. - Sapa-AFP

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Zimbabwe bank unveils new range of bills

HARARE, Zimbabwe
Associated Press Writer

JAN. 24 12:35 P.M. ET Zimbabwe is introducing a new range of bills that will
more than double the value of the largest bank note to help reduce the piles
of money needed in routine cash transactions in the stricken economy, the
central bank announced Tuesday.

Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank, said a 50,000 Zimbabwe dollar
bill, worth 52 US cents (43 euro cents), will be released Feb. 1, with a
whole new range of bills to follow later in the year.

The biggest note currently in circulation is for 20,000 Zimbabwe dollars,
worth 20 US cents (16 euro cents). With inflation running at 586 percent,
that note buys only half a loaf of bread and is no longer sufficient for a
local daily newspaper.

Gono did not provide additional details about the new bills in a review of
fiscal policy broadcast on state television.
Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed since the government began seizing
thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to blacks in
2000. Years of drought have compounded the country's difficulties. Inflation
is soaring and the value of the currency plummeting.

Stores, restaurants and other businesses have frequently appealed for notes
of up to 500,000 Zimbabwe dollars (US$5; euro4) or one million Zimbabwe
dollars (US$10; euro8) to reduce the bagfuls of notes needed for routine

Shoppers carrying bundles of currency bound with elastic bands, known as
"bricks," that do not fit in purses or pocket books, are a common sight.
There are no coins in circulation.

Gono said the central bank was taking steps to curb the depreciation of the
Zimbabwe dollar by linking it to the volume of currency traded daily with a
2 percent cap.

In October, the central bank abandoned a fixed exchange rate of 26,000
Zimbabwe dollars to the U.S. dollar, allowing the rate to fall to 96,000
last week, a rapid fourfold devaluation that spurred inflation.

Gono warned inflation was expected to peak at between 700 percent and 800
percent in March and urged the nation "not to panic."

He said the only cure for hyperinflation was greater productivity and the
eradication of rampant corruption. He also blamed ill-disciplined government
spending, profiteering and inefficiency in public utilities, which pushed up
taxes and municipal charges.

Gono urged authorities to crack down on lawlessness on farms, which has
disrupted production, and said Israeli experts had been hired to investigate
smuggling of minerals, including gold, one of the nation's main foreign
currency earners.

The central bank also plans to appoint a body to investigate "corporate
governance" that will include retired executives, retired Judge George Smith
and David Phiri, a former governor of the central bank of neighboring

"There is rampant dishonesty in the economy ... This cancer needs to be
stopped now," Gono said.

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Economist predicts more gloom as Gono announces monetary policy


      By Violet Gonda
      26 January 2006

      Reserve Governor Gideon Gono made some changes to the exchange rate
policy when he announced his quarterly monetary review statement Tuesday,
but economists say it's not sustainable by itself.

      Gono admitted that Zimbabwe had no attractive investment plan. He
spoke about the very serious levels of corruption, the lack of production on
farms, the high levels of inflation and the issues destabilising the
economy, such as the high interest rates and the shortages of foreign
currency. He announced that exporters will convert 17% of their money on the
open market rate in what is said to give them a slightly better exchange

      But economist John Robertson said although this may give some relief
to exporters, there is a need to dramatically increase the volumes of
production of goods for export. He says this is essential as for years we
have generated an economic environment which is unattractive to new
investment. The Zim dollar itself has been plunging and this week crashed to
an all time low. Analysts say this is the biggest single drop since the
financial crisis began in Zimbabwe 6 years ago. Z$1000 is now worth just one
American cent. It's trading at Z$150 000 to the US$ on the black market
compared to the official rate of Z$90 000.

      Robertson predicts that the Zim dollar can go down much further to as
low as Z$500 000 to the greenback.

      He said inflation is causing the problems but added that inflation
itself is caused by political changes that have been inflicted on the
country since the land reform programme.

      Although the government has refused to admit that the chaotic land
reform programme contributed to economic crisis, Robertson says, "the main
reason we are not producing is that skilled farmers were taken off the farms
and replaced by mainly inexperienced people. And the government is not yet
accepting that this was a bad mistake, blaming it on things like drought."

      The economist says unfortunately we are not deserving of support from
international lenders because Zimbabwe has not taken the right steps to
address the causes.

      Meanwhile an IMF team is on a fact finding mission in the country,
meeting with government and industrialists to discuss the financial crisis
and look for evidence that the claims made by Gono and the Minister of
Finance are true. Robertson said, " The IMF will find some difficulties
believing some of the claims that were made by these officials because we
have not addressed the basic causes of the problems."

      In his view the economic problems will only be solved when we change
political decisions.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Chinese Products Are Killing Southern Africa - Kasiamhuni

The Post (Lusaka)

January 24, 2006
Posted to the web January 24, 2006

Tabitha Mvula in Bamako

SOUTHERN Africa Peoples' Solidarity Network coordinator Patricia Kasiamhuni
of Zimbabwe has expressed concern that the region has become a dumping
ground for the Chinese market.

At a meeting on debt repudiation at Maison des Jeunes yesterday, Kasiamhuni
said Chinese products were killing southern Africa's manufacturing industry.

"Southern Africa has become a dumping ground for the Chinese market and our
local manufacturing industry has been replaced because we do not have the
finances to come up with or sustain our manufacturing industries,"
Kasiamhuni said.

She said there was need to go to mobilise people and explain to them what
was going on in their countries.

She said there was a need for civil society to come up with strategies that
would help leaders at the African Union and groupings such as SADC and
ECOWAS deliberate issues affecting Africa effectively. She said South
African capitalists were being used to oppress Africa. And Jubilee South
member Njoki Njehu of Kenya said debt has continued to be a tool of control
and domination used by the international financial institutions to take over
other countries' economies.

Njehu said across Africa the burden of debt was incapacitating African

"Debt accumulates even if we service it. It is a tool of oppression because
creditors continue to lend us and debt also increases," she said.

Njehu also said privatisation had been used to declare countries

"They said privatisation would fight corruption but privatisation itself
increases corruption because we are forced to sell at cheap prices and very
few people benefit from privatisation. Poor people no longer have access to
privatised services," she said.

Njehu added that whereas it was argued that trade liberalisation gave Least
Developed Countries access to goods, markets gave access to a small number
of people mainly those at the top.

"Liberalisation like privatisation has not delivered as it gives access to
foreign markets and that is why we are calling for trade justice where there
will be equal treatment. We can see that conditionalities have not allowed
us to provide subsidies to our farmers like the US does," she said.

Campaigner on Africa and EPAs Peter Custers from the Netherlands said
globalisation continued to lead to high levels of poverty and wondered why
the North insisted on liberalisation.

He said in future some countries would loose 70 per cent of their income
earned through taxation due to importation of foreign goods.

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Zimbabwean crisis heightens

African News Dimension

      Tuesday, 24 January 2006, 8 hours, 44 minutes and 37 seconds ago.

      By Rodrick Mukumbira

      No fuel has been sold anywhere legally in the country for over four
months, as the Zimbabwean government has no foreign currency needed to
import it with analysts saying it has run out of ideas of reviving the
crumbling economy. A drive through the country now requires one to carry in
a boot a couple of jerry cans of fuel obtained from the black market. While
the metallic snakes at gas stations have disappeared, Zimbabweans still have
to queue for maize meal and sugar showing how deep a country, which was once
regarded southern Africa's breadbasket, has sunk.

      BULAWAYO - The latest phrase being coined in Zimbabwe is about
vehicles breaking down due to "shock" after being refilled with cheap fuel
from registered gas stations.

      While the joke reveals the cynical nature of how Zimbabweans are
coping with an over five years crisis, the symbol of the country's economic
decay - the long snaking queues from gas stations have long since

      No fuel has been sold anywhere legally in the country for over four
months, as the government has no foreign currency needed to import it and
analysts say it has run out of ideas of reviving the crumbling economy.

      A drive through the country now requires one to carry in a boot a
couple of jerry cans of fuel obtained from the black market.

      While the metallic snakes at gas stations have disappeared,
Zimbabweans still have to queue for maize meal and sugar showing how deep a
country, which was once regarded southern Africa's breadbasket, has sunk.

      The few items that can still be obtained in supermarkets now require
piles of the already useless Zimbabwe dollars.

      The United States dollar, which fetched Z$6,000 in January last year,
is now worth Z$79,000 with inflation having reached 585 percent at the end
of the year.

      Consumer watchdog, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), says the
cost of buying groceries in Zimbabwe increased almost 10-fold in 2005, a
year it described as "agonising" year for Zimbabwean consumers, with the
price of a loaf of bread rising by 1,157 percent throughout the year.

      The runaway prices have caused living standards to plummet, especially
since unemployment has risen to 80 percent with salaries not matching the
inflation rate which the government put at 502 percent at the end of 2005.

      "Things have never been this bad, but we are getting accustomed to the
crisis," said Naison Mabhena, a 36-year-old police officer.

      In its 2005 end-of-year report CCZ urged Zimbabwean engage in "lawful
informal trade, small-scale business and other income-generating activities"
in the face of the difficulties, which are also affecting people with jobs.

      According to CCZ, a family of six currently requires an equivalent of
US$147 a month to get by. But civil servants like Mabhena and his
counterparts in the teaching and nursing fraternity typically earn monthly
salaries equivalent to $40.

      While the informal employment sector is now a thing of the past
following the controversial May 2005 clean-up campaign, Operation
Murambatsvina (local Shona language for remove dirty), Mabhena supplements
his salary by operating an illegal stall that sells soap, sugar and

      During his spare time, Mabhena crosses into Zimbabwe's southern
neighbour, Botswana to buy these items for resell, but has to bribe customs
officials at the border to be allowed to import the items into the country
without any import duty.

      "I know I should be an example of a custodian of the law, but I also
have to survive," said Mabhena.

      Some are however not lucky to have other sources of income. Take
Takesure Matarire, a 40-year-old security guard. He is making US$15 a month
in a country where people have to cough up for health care and education.

      "I will have to withdraw my two children from school," said Matarire.
"What I am earning is not even enough to feed them and I have no other

      "It's a miracle that I took my family through 2005. I wonder if I will
do the same this year."

      Zimbabwe's economy has now been in sharp decline for six years, with
severe fuel and food shortages contributing to the sky-high inflation.

      Since 2000, more than 4,000 white-owned commercial farms have been
seized and distributed to landless peasants. To date, only a few hundred
remain in the hands of commercial farmers and this has resulted in the gross
domestic product being reduced by half to almost US$4.3 billion.

      With the collapse of the agricultural sector, there is little to
export and thus little prospect of solving

      the foreign-currency crisis.

      While the United Nations says the crisis in Zimbabwe is because of
mismanagement by the government, the 82-year-old President Robert Mugabe,
instead puts the blame on sanctions imposed by Western nations following his
controversial seizure of white-owned


      More recently, the UN and Western nations have attacked the demolition
of thousands of homes and market stalls during Operation Murambatsvina, a
move strongly defended by the government as an urban renewal drive.

      Nevertheless, there has been no political fallout for President
Mugabe, who continued to be defiant as ever.

      A boycott by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party, currently embroiled in a major split, of the November 2005 senatorial
elections further consolidated Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union -
Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) 's hold to power.

      But the split in MDC, sparked by the decision by its leader Morgan
Tsvangirai to boycott the November 26 poll, has only helped to uplift
Mugabe's confidence.

      MDC legislator, Murisi Zwizwai, confirms that the wrangling in the
opposition has dampened Zimbabweans' expectations.

      "The opposition is in deep trouble and people feel lost due to the
infighting within MDC," said Zwizwai.

      Aid agencies estimate that 70 percent of Zimbabwe's 12 million
population now survive on one meal or less a day, while the UN World Food
Programme expects to feed some three million Zimbabweans next month.

      "We are sliding towards becoming a non-country," said economic analyst
Phylis Makwarimba.

      There are however no visible signs that Zimbabweans might revolt
against Mugabe's government.

      "The government has failed to anger us," said Tambudzai Makosi, a
52-year-old primary school

      teacher. "Look at the poor salaries we are earning, and more still
someone destroying the house you have build and you do nothing about it."

      The government is however well placed to crash any signs of dissent.
In 2005 it passed a law that allows authorities to confiscate the travel
documents of anyone deemed to be anti-government with the first victims
having been an independent newspaper publisher, a senior MDC official and
the leader of the country's trade union movement.

      Chiefs of the army, police and Central Intelligence Organisation have
been organised into a Joint

      Operation Command to stamp out any signs of dissent, in a move
analysts say is meant at ensuring that President Mugabe retains power until
2008 when he is expected to step down.

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Omar Bongo, Mugabe's inspiration?

New Zimbabwe



      Last updated: 01/24/2006 22:15:27
      THE historic ascendancy of Africa's longest head of state into yet
another term of office was one of the major global political happening of
the week. In Libreville, Gambia, Omar Bongo was sworn in for 7 more years in
power after claiming a landslide victory in the November 2005 elections.

      For the record, Gabon has been subjected to Bongo's uninterrupted stay
in power since 1967! He is now the world's longest serving leader only after
Cuba's Fidel Castro.

      The fact that this past week he was constitutionally granted another
seven years to extend his long distance record should most certainly have
attracted a lot of international attention. But alas, his swearing ceremony
was largely ignored by both the African and global media! Worse still it is
understood that at least 20 African leaders witnessed the event, including
South Africa's Thabo Mbeki. There were also reports that the leaders would
also conduct a mini-summit in Libreville in preparation for the big summit
that is due to be held in Sudan soon.

      The big political development in Gabon was in fact completely
overshadowed by another spectacular event in West Africa.

      To many political observers and analysts of the political dynamics and
the democratic trends of Africa, the story of Ms. Elena Johnson's elevation
to the presidency of Liberia was the most dramatic story of the week. Indeed
the whole continent was almost brought to a standstill as Africa witnessed
the inauguration ceremony of its first ever female Presidency. From an
engendered perspective, it was natural to see that many advocates of women
empowerment in African politics regarded her crowning moment not merely as a
personal achievement for Johnson but a decisive moral victory for women and
politics in Africa.

      The hype about the rise of women to the highest echelons of political
power and influence was further punctuated by the good news that Chile had
also elected its own first female President on Tuesday 17th January. This
development also served to further inspire hopes and more expectations that
at last the world is beginning to accept the reality of the need for
powerful female politicians.

      In Harare, it was left for Joice Mujuru to rebut suggestions that she
was also now even more determined to take over after Mugabe. Mujuru
responded by saying if both the ruling party and the people of Zimbabwe
threw the national leadership gauntlet at her, she was more than ready to
take the riskful challenge. She further reminded the nation, that as a
willing servant of her people, she has always been available for any kind of
national duty. In other words such duties did not preclude her from taking
the challenge of the national leadership mantle. The week's events further
underlined the possibility that Zimbabwe might soon join the growing ranks
of countries led by powerful matriarchs.

      Here in South Africa, the events in both Liberia and Chile were sadly
overshadowed by the fallout from the female Vice President's holiday trip to
Saudi Arabia. As the world witnessed the colourful event in Monrovia,
Phumzile Mlambo-Ncuka was too busy involved in a vicious public relations
dogfight with both the opportunistic opposition parties and the rabid South
Africa media. Ideally, it could have been nicer for her to fly to Liberia
but understandably, she was still suffering from the jet lag caused by the
public outcry of her 'gravy plane' to Arabia last month. In the end, it was
left for the patriarchal President Thabo Mbeki to fly over to the ceremony
on behalf of South Africa.

      As for President Robert Mugabe it is likely that he was more
interested in the unfolding events in Gabon than in Liberia. His interest in
the rise of Johnson could have been in so far as to remind him of the
possibility of his successor being yet another female President in the form
of Mujuru. However as far as the events in Libreville were concerned, Mugabe
would have been more comfortable with the fact that it was not a leadership
change that had occurred there. He was likely to be at ease with the fact
that it was an incumbent going through a public renewal of his lease.

      Even more critical for Mugabe, the continued stay in power for Bongo
is likely to inspire him to ignore calls from detractors for him to retire
on the simple reason that he has overstayed in power. Further to that,
Mugabe is also likely to find solace in the fact that most of the global
community including the Western powers did not raise any public complaints
about Bongo's extension of his 38 year stranglehold of Gabonese power. In
other words, it is likely that Mugabe might find Bongo as a big source of
inspiration for him to also continue his unbeaten run in Zimbabwe.

      This then could be bad news for many of the long suffering Zimbabwean
masses who are more than desperate to see him step down from office. It is
going to be even more frustrating for the four million plus Zimbabweans now
living abroad, most of whom have always hoped for a quick return home. But
their preferred condition that they will only return after Mugabe goes
appears to be still very far from being fulfilled.

      The reality that all Zimbabweans need to face is that Mugabe is going
nowhere, anytime soon. But if the events in the nation's opposition ranks
are anything to go by, then Mugabe is most likely to attend the opening
ceremony of the 2010 Soccer World Cup here in Johannesburg as the official
head of state in Zimbabwe! The nightmare of Mugabe's continued stay in power
is a horror that might only end when Zimbabwe lifts the 2010 World Cup
Soccer trophy!!! Unless if there is a sudden unexpected turn of events in
Zimbabwe, Mugabe is likely to continue following the trail of the continent's
pacesetter, Omar Bongo in the long distance political power marathon race.

      Daniel Molokele is a Zimbabwean Human Rights Lawyer who is based in
Johannesburg. He can be contacted at

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Zimbabwe tariff rates increased by GSM operators

Published in Telecomworldwire on Tuesday, 24 January 2006 at 18:12 GMT
Copyright (C) 2006, M2 Communications Ltd.

Tariff rates in Zimbabwe have been increased significantly by two GSM
network operators in the country.

Some call charges have reportedly increased by up to 200%, which compares to
an unofficial local annual inflation rate of around 600%.

International calls will be charged at around USD2 per minute when converted
from local currency, while the average income for Zimbabweans is under
USD2000 per year. Econet subscribers are now expected to be charged around
USD0.03 per SMS message, when converted from local currency.

According to NetOne, the tariff rates have been forced by price increases
established by the landline monopoly, TelOne, which has to route most calls
via Canada following the loss of its connection to South Africa in 2005.

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Derailment Obstructs Limpopo Line

Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)

January 24, 2006
Posted to the web January 24, 2006


Traffic is once again suspended on the Limpopo line, the railway between
Maputo and Zimbabwe, following a derailment on Friday night, according to a
report in Tuesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias".

The line suffered badly earlier in the month due to the torrential rains
that fell across southern Mozambique. On 7 January traffic was suspended
because at six different spots, between Mabalane and Combomune, in Gaza
province, mudslides had either buried the track, or had swept away
embankments and ballast, leaving the line hanging in mid-air.

Emergency repairs were carried out, and the line was reopened on Friday.
However, the very first train to use the line derailed in Chicualacuala
district, 470 kilometres north of Maputo, at about 23.00 on Friday night.

According to the rail and port company, CFM, this derailment had nothing to
do with damage caused by the rains or with the repairs. It happened 100
kilometres north of the nearest stretch of the line that had been repaired.

A CFM team has travelled to Chicualacuala to investigate the causes of the
derailment. Putting the locomotives and wagons back on the tracks, and
repairing any damage to the line was estimated to take three to four days.

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Pro-senate leaders in showdown

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Jan-24

AS the date for the MDC pro-senate camp congress set for next month nears, a
showdown is looming between the opposition party vice president Gibson
Sibanda and deputy secretary general Gift Chimanikire after the latter
declared his interest in contesting the presidential post.

Chimanikire interest in the top post comes on the heels of claims by Sibanda
that he was now the MDC president following the "dismissal" of Morgan
Tsvangirai from the post by members of the pro-Senate camp.
In an interview with The Daily Mirror yesterday, Chimanikire declared his
interest in contesting the post at the congress set for the last week of
Tsvangirai's camp will hold its own on March 17. Declaring his interest in
the post, Chimanikire said: "I am going to contest the post of the president
at congress. Ko kutyei? (Why should one be afraid?).  I have since made my
intentions known within the party. "
The Mbare legislator said there were processes to be followed such as the
nomination of presidential aspirants by the party's provinces.
"The nominations will come from various provinces and the names would be
submitted to the secretary general three weeks before congress," he said.
While Sibanda was unreachable for a comment, reliable sources said the
deputy president was looking forward to be elevated at congress.
"He will definitely contest the post of the president of the MDC especially
considering that he is the current legitimate leader of the party," a source
Meanwhile, Chimanikire has dismissed as wishful thinking word that the
pro-senate faction had in vain tried to lure top Zimbabweans living in the
Diaspora for leadership posts.
There were rumours that the camp tried to court business mogul and Econet
boss Strive Masiyiwa, former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri and Arthur
"We have also heard those rumours but that is wishful thinking. Those living
in the Diaspora do not have the credentials - they do not have the spine to
stand the hit of Zimbabwean politics because they ran away from the
political environment that we are experiencing today," Chimanikire said.
This is the first time that the Mbare legislator has openly declared his
interest in the top post since the October 12 breakout from the Tsvangirai
Chimanikire was the most verbose in his attack on Tsvangirai following the
fall out caused by differences on the Senate polls, which the pro-senate
camp contested and lost to Zanu PF.
Tsvangirai was against participation and held rallies across the country
urging opposition party supporters to shun the polls.
Some of the campaigns degenerated into violence and when the pro-senate
faction visited South Africa recently, they said if they were to reunite
with Tsvangirai, he should first condemn the violence he allegedly
perpetrated against their supporters.
If Sibanda and Chimanikire go ahead to contest the presidency of their
faction, observers say, it could lead to tension within the camp and weaken
It remains to be seen which faction between the two commands more grassroots
support, when the two separate congresses are held.

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Zimpost increases domestic charges

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Jan-24

THE country's premier postal service company, Zimpost (PVT) Ltd, has
increased its domestic charges by 38 percent from January 13 this year.
Zimpost public relations manager, Loveness Chikozho, told The Daily Mirror
that the domestic rates were hiked from $18 000 to $25 000 for letters,
printed matter and post cards weighing up to 25 grammes.
The charges increase with the weight of the letter or parcel to be
Chikozho said the increases were in line with the inflationary environment
being experienced in the country.
"You will appreciate that in an inflationary environment like ours, there is
need for businesses to constantly review their tariffs in order to keep
abreast with the cost of production so as to continue providing quality
service," she said.
Chikozho added that Zimpost would review its tariffs from time to time in
order to meet increasing costs.
She said due to rapid changes in customer needs, Zimpost introduced a
variety of innovative products and services for the convenience of its
"In order to move with time regarding electronic mail (e-mail), the
organisation took advantage of this new dimension in communication services
to introduce One Stop Communication Centres in major cities of the country,"
she said.
The communication centres cover Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo
while there are plans to roll out these countrywide including rural areas.
"The centres at Harare Main Post Office and Bulawayo Main Post Office
provide internet services, e-mail services, phone shops, fax and
photocopying service, under one roof.
The other centres provide all the other services save for Internet and
e-mail services, which will be introduced soon," she said.

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Government to introduce rural junior councils

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

From Anna Chibamu in Bindura
issue date :2006-Jan-24

THE government will soon introduce junior councils in rural areas, the
Deputy Minister of Youth Development and Employment Creation, Saviour
Kasukuwere said at the weekend.
Speaking during an inaugural ceremony for the Bindura Junior Council,
Kasukuwere said the rural councils would be expected to raise awareness on
government policy on youth developmental programmes.
"We want to have junior councillors in all districts of Zimbabwe to develop
their leadership skills. Leaving the rural youths in some national
activities results in poor development of their areas," he said.
Currently, junior councils are found in cities and towns.
"We want patriotic citizens and we expect you children to be role models
among yourselves," he urged the Bindura Junior Council.
Kasukuwere said he was not happy with Bindura senior councillors, he accused
of failing to put in place recreational facilities for children.
Speaking at the same occasion, Senator for Bindura and Shamva, Betty Chikava
urged the youths to protect themselves in the wake of HIV and Aids.
"Let us lift up the spirit of our nation in trying to support our colleagues
in need of help especially those who are orphaned," she said.
 She urged the newly crowned Junior Mayor, Simbarashe Masango to tackle the
issue of the underprivileged society.
"Children are the future.  If we forget them in whatever we do, then we
remain stagnant. We want youths to have a platform to represent their
problems," she added.

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Diasporans to apply for police certificates in foreign currency

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Jan-24

THE POLICE have announced that people living in the Diaspora wishing to
apply for police certificates would this year be required to do so in
foreign currency.
In a statement police spokesperson, Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka
said diasporans would have to pay US$25 or its equivalent for such a
service. "The fee is US$25 or equivalent and the money is to be deposited
into the Officer Commanding CID Standard Chartered Bank, Highlands Branch
Account Number 0100216046400 in the country they are domicile," read part of
the statement. The police spokesperson said telegraphic deposit slips should
be attached to the fingerprints and the police application form (ZRP 137).
He said applications received without proof of telegraphic deposit slip
would not processed.Mandipaka said while police passed death messages,
counselling, lifting of fingerprints for vetting processes and issued out
police certificates as a community  service, members of the public were
required to pay a nominal fee. Such services, said Mandipaka, used to be
provided free of charge in the past.

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MDC President meets student leaders


Harvest House


Tel 091 940 489   email

The MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai today met the Zimbabwe National Students
Union (ZINASU) and the Student Executive Council (SEC) of the University of
Zimbabwe at the party's headquarters in Harare.

The meeting was held at the request of the student leaders. Among the issues
discussed at the meeting was the continued threat to the democratic movement
in the country by this regime, the government's continued harassment of
student leadership and the welfare of students at tertiary colleges.

The President called on all democratic forces in Zimbabwe to work together
in the context of the broad alliance of civic groups seeking an end to the
current political and economic crisis, spawned by the inept and corrupt
government of Zanu PF. The President reiterated the need for a new national
Constitution that will usher in a new democratic dispensation characterized
by freedom, justice and prosperity for all Zimbabweans regardless of race,
creed, tribe or religion.

In turn, the student leadership expressed their solidarity with the MDC
under the leadership of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai because of the historical bond
between the student movement and the party struggles. The students also
requested Mr Tsvangirai to continue to use his influence and power to
improve the conditions in institutions of higher learning. The students also
requested the President to continue to champion the cause of the oppressed
majority in Zimbabwe.

Those who attended the meeting were the SEC  president  Hentchel Mavuma,
vice president Collen Chibango, information and publicity secretary Mfundo
Mlilo, secretary-general Garikai Kajau, legal secretary Wellington Mahohoma,
the president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union , Washington Katema,
the leadership from Harare polytechnic, Belvedere teachers college, Harare
Institute of Technology and Bulawayo and Mutare Polytechnics.

The President reiterated his commitment to the struggle for a new Zimbabwe
characterized by autonomy of tertiary institutions, academic freedom and
better learning environment for all students regardless of their family

Mr Tsvangirai informed the students that the MDC was now geared for its
annual Congress which would usher in a rebirth of the party and country.

Hon Nelson Chamisa, MP

Secretary for Information and Publicity

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MDC UK District Meeting

----- Original Message -----
From: "bhekimpilo ngwenya" <>
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 1:56 AM
Subject: M.D.C.-UK. DISTRICT MEETING[22 . JAN .06]

The meeting last Sunday{22nd}went on well in
Leceister.It with utter disgust and disappointment to
note that falsehoods have been flighted in the
media.We as the youth have been closely monitoring the
intricacies within the Movement for Democratic
Change,particularly in the United Kingdom.

We would like to confirm as the M.D.C-UK,Youth that
there was a massive represantation of branches and the
supporters.It is  no exaggeration that the venue was
filled to capacity.The meeting was done with maturity
and reflected re-commitment among Zimbabweans to
tackle Mugabe and his regime head-on.Resolutions were
made based on the agenda.Vacant positions created by
the defection of some members were filled.The outcome
was a dynamic executive structure, composed of:

Mr Silence Chihuri -CHAIRMAN
Mr Jeffrey Masango -VICE-CHAIRMAN
Ms Sipho Nkala -SECRETARY
Mr Njabulo Ngwenya -VICE.SECRETARY
Mr Chris Nkala -TREASURER
Mrs Sehlile  Khumalo -WOMENS CHAIRLADY
Mr Bhekimpilo Ngwenya -YOUTH SECRETARY

The M.D.C remains a people's movement with values
based on democracy and solidarity.Society, the media
and the public in general need to respect
institutions, the constitution and protocols of
procedure.It is up to to us as zimbabweans to decide
what we want.We are for a leadership that caters for
all zimbabweans,which is neither tribalistic nor
regional and upholds principles of a political

We shun corruption,indoctrination and we are against
incompetent leaders.It is unfortunate that the media
in the diaspora has taken the unethical route of the
state-media back home. It has become biased and has
become a platform for lampooning each other and
causing confusion.To clarify, Mr Washington Ali was
suspended from the party prior to his group's
defection,for his failure to account for thousands of
pounds worth of party cards.Matthew Nyashanu was not
constitutionally elected and yet he has the audacity
of making malicious falsehoods in the media.No wonder
why they choose to follow individuals and not the
party.We cannot entertain such people bent on
confusing the masses.
As much as it has been rumoured that Mr Isaac Matongo,
is due to visit the UK within the next few weeks,it is
within their mediocre political framework and
signifies unsound leadership.As the M.D.C.-UK,
District we will not deal with such.As the youth we
remain committed to the sruggle in Zimbabwe and are in
agreement with the resolutions made in Leceister.The
meeting gave everyone hope  and inspiration in
fighting Mugabe's regime.We will not resort to
desperate,cheap politics like Mr Ali and his
bunch.They chose what they wanted and we will no
castigate them for that but we urge them to desist
from their irresponsible commentary and frequent
frivolity.We wish them well as the enemy is  Robert
Mugabe and his tyranny.

We would like to urge Zimbabweeans to be vigilant as
the struggle is far from being over.Our next M.D.C-UK,
District meeting will be held in Manchester on the
26th of February and will commence at 13:00hrs at a
venue to be announced in due course.It is up to each
and everyone of us to change the current situation in

Mr Bhekimpilo Ngwenya

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Deepest felt Appeal

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 10:07 PM
Subject: Deepest felt Appeal

I had so much high hope on almost everything I was
doing in life. To see MDC takeover the reigns in
Zimbabwe real meant everything and a complete change
to me. Unfortunately, unfortunately and very very
unfortunately. I still don't believe things have gone
the way they have. I so much want to be told that I'm
having nightmares. I'm so bitter right now I don't
know what to do, say or who to talk to.
How can people we trusted so much be so selfish,
arrogant and naive? This is first degree betrayal.
Where you people in Politics for personal gains or for
the real reasons that every Zimbabwean and world
Plse Chamisa stop embracing nonsense, confusion and
above all hatred amongst people of Zimbabwe. What's so
wrong in calling a spade a spade? I think the whole
MDC Executive and senior members have dismally failed
to execute the task they were entrusted to do by the
people of Zimbabwe. Its a very wise thing to accept to
fail and allow others to give it a go. I think Zim
still has very intelligent, smart, uncorrupt and
talented people who will put the interest of the
people and their country before theirs. I think the
modest thing for Tsvangirai and his Executive is to
resign not destroy the hopes of so many people. If
Tsvangirai real cared about people at all, this is
right time to show it, instead of mudslinging, showing
us your pride and personal egos please put the nation
first and stop playing wrestling at the expense of the
paid a life time price for this party to be where it
is today and it will be a serious crime to see that
burns in to smoke and disappear into the thin air
because of the likes of Tswangirai and his Executives.
The Idiot called Mugabe has already done more that
enough share of damage to the country and its people,
please have mercy we don't want any more. Please MDC
Executive Refrain, Reconsider and Resign. Do Not Split
MDC because together as a United MDC we can still find
our strength, voice, will, courage and trust amongst
us to oust the Evil and heartless regime of Mugabe.
Chamisa do not buy favours by lying in support of
certain individuals, if you sacrifice your moral
values, principles and personal dignity  for the sake
of elevation, which will only benefit you as an
individual and put vulnerable innocent kids,
defenceless and burnt out old people that u claim to
represent please rethink and restart. You are a young
man with plenty of feature, plenty of potential there
are millions young Zim young man who are looking up to
you. Please be an Honest, Trustworthy and Reliable.
Being a real leader comes with a lot of
responsibilities and don't always look at the
incentives. Real leaders don't play Quick fix tactics
especially when it involves their people. Don't
involve yourself in dirty and corrupt games of
desperate and ignorant individuals, This might ruin
your future.
United we Stand Strong and Divided we fall apart.
Many more where that came from!
Joe B. Sifuya   

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