The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Zimbabwe civil society groups seek help to oust Robert Mugabe

APA-Nairobi (Kenya) Zimbabwe's civil society organizations on Saturday asked
the African Union to put concerted political pressure on President Robert
Mugabe to resign from office over the long standing political and economic
crisis which has led to an ever-deepening humanitarian emergency in the

The civil society groups also called on the Kenyan government together with
other African leaders to intervene in the Zimbabwe crisis where millions are
currently facing food shortages worsened by a cholera outbreak that has
killed thousands.

Addressing the press in Nairobi, the spokesman of the CSOs, Reverend
Nicholas Nkarunza said that more than 2,700 people have died of cholera in
the country and that half the population is facing the threat of famine,
with thousands of people having been displaced.

Nkarunza said that they have already met with Kenya's civil society groups
and they hope to meet with African diplomats in the country and urge them to
exert political pressure on Mugabe to resign from office.

  JK/daj/APA 2009-01-24

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Human Rights groups raided while Zim children are still not at school

You would think that with cholera and hunger and a fast collapsing economy
Zanu PF would be finding its resources stretched very thin, struggling to
contend with crisis after crisis. How do they cope.? Easy. By simply
ignoring the details that inflict misery and hardship on the people, and
concentrating them in the areas that heap more misery and hardship on the

The Counselling Services Unit in Harare was raided on Thursday - not for the
first time. The CSU has for years dealt with trauma victims, medical and
psychological conditions and their very good work on behalf of the people of
our country has made them a target. I was told that the day before they were
visted, ZimRights had been raided, and apparently ZLHR (Zim Lawyers for
Human Rights) were next on the list.

In the meanwhile, misery grows in our society.

Children should now be at school, but our schools have yet to open. Against
a background of virtually no schooling last year because of continuous
absences from teachers and the disruptive elections in March, our nation's
12 year olds sat to write their Grade 7 exams (these are the  exams that
mark the end of their primary education and the start of their secondary

But where are their results? Efforts to obtain Grade 7 results are met with
"we don't know" from the various school authorities. Apparently the 2008
Grade 7 exams have not even been marked yet.  I was told that in the absence
of results, secondary schools will instead use a school report from the
middle of the last term of last year to use to evaluate Form 1 applicants.

But the struggles for our young children don't end there. The school uniform
for one high school in Harare will cost just under US$400. How can a parent
be asked to spend that amount of money when they can't even be sure if their
child will be asked to leave the school when the Grade 7 exams are finally
marked and revealed (if they ever are)?

And if the school fees go into US currency?  How many children will be on
the streets, their parents unable to afford the US based fees?  We must
remember that hundreds of thousands of children in the rural areas missed
most of last years schooling due to the fact their schools were taken over
for March 29th elections and then never re-opened as they had become the
Zanu PF youth militia and army torture camps for the remainder of the year.

These children are our future economy. You would think Zanu PF efforts would
be being put towards addressing these sort of issues, and not disrupting the
work of human rights activists. But they are the party of violence anbd
suppression and no solutions, and that's why the people want them out of
power and on their bike peddling off into the horizon as soon as possible.

This entry was written by Harare activists on Saturday, January 24th, 2009
at 12:09 pm

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MDC vows to stage demo in defiance

January 23, 2009

By Mxolisi Ncube

JOHANNESBURG - The South African branch of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) insists that it will hold a demonstration ahead of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) extra-ordinary summit, to be held in
Pretoria Monday, despite having been denied permission by the authorities.

The SADC summit is a desperate effort by the SADC leaders to salvage
Zimbabwe's national unity government, which is poised on the brink of a
stillbirth due to a protracted fight for key cabinet posts between President
Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the mainstream MDC.

The unity government, prescribed by the SADC after Zimbabwe's ill-fated
elections last year, has been described by many as the only way to solve
Zimbabwe's ever-worsening humanitarian crisis.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, MDC SA spokesman, Sibanengi Dube,
said that his party also intends to petition the SADC leaders to remove
former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, from mediating in the
Zimbabwean crisis.

"We want this opportunity to tell the world and the SADC Heads that Thabo
Mbeki should not be allowed to continue mingling in the affairs of Zimbabwe
against the wishes of the Zimbabweans," said Dube.

"Zimbabweans have the right to reject his further mediation efforts in as
much as his own party declined his continued leadership."

However, the opposition party members might be arrested for holding the
demonstrations, after both the Tshwane Metro police and a local magistrate
turned down the MDC's request for permission to hold the demonstration.

Dube was fuming yesterday, describing the authorities' refusal to grant them
permission as shocking.

"The Provincial leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in SA
is dismayed by the Tshwane Metro police's failure to give the party a go
ahead to stage a massive demonstration in Pretoria," he said.

"No reason was given by Metro police chief events Inspector De Kok. We
approached a Pretoria magistrate, Nair, seeking an urgent permission to
protest, but our application was turned down again. No reason was supplied

"Denying millions of Zimbabweans an opportunity to show case their cause to
SADC heads is shocking. We expect the SA government to support Zimbabweans
in their struggle against Mugabe dictatorship.

"I suppose anybody should be allowed to demonstrate if his/her life is in
danger. Zimbabweans are being butchered, kidnapped, detained without charge,
starved (scotched earthly policy) and deported from Zimbabwe by the Mugabe
regime, but some SA government departments still see no reason to accord us
an opportunity to demonstrate," added Dube.

He, however, said that the MDC would still go ahead with the demonstration,
because it had already mobilized resources.

"We have already hired dozens of buses to ferry thousands of people to the
venue of the meeting," said the MDC spokesman. "Numerous other progressive
organisations including South Africans are lined up to participate in a rare
display of unison.

"Zimbabweans do not have the luxury of waiting anymore as the dictator makes
its mind. We can't afford to continue starving, denying our children their
right to education and health as Mugabe needlessly cling to power. SADC
should accept that they have failed to deal with the problem in Zimbabwe and
allow other partied to be involved. We are however intending to go ahead
with the demonstration."

However, a political analyst told The Zimbabwe Times Friday that the MDC
should just pull out of the talks if it felt that it was being unfairly
treated, than clashing with the South African laws.

"If they have been denied permission to demonstrate and they still go ahead
and do it, then they are creating enmity unnecessarily," said the analyst,
who requested not to be named as he has close links with the MDC.

"Instead, they should just pull out of the talks if they feel that they are
not being listened to. Why demonstrate against something that you still
remain part of. They are just going to qualify themselves as the bad boys of
the deadlock".

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Red Cross warns it may stop Zimbabwe cholera relief activities as funds dry

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) The International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned Saturday that it may be forced to stop
cholera relief activities in Zimbabwe unless additional funds are found
within the next four weeks, APA learns here.

The IFRC's Zimbabwe cholera appeal was launched on December 23 last year,
calling for 10.2 million Swiss francs or US$9.2 million.

The appeal is however about 60 percent under-funded, the organization said.

The head of the IFRC team in Zimbabwe, Tony Maryon, said the organization
would be forced to stop its relief effort in Zimbabwe unless additional
funds are made available within the coming month.

"As it stands now, we won't be able to continue our operations beyond the
next four weeks," Maryon said.

The IFRC warning came as the World Health Organization reported an upsurge
in the death toll and prevalence of cholera cases.

At least 2,773 people have died from the usually treatable disease since the
outbreak started in August 2008 while about 50,000 cases have been recorded.

Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) secretary general Emma Kundishora also
said more funds were required to enable more volunteers to reach affected

Red Cross volunteers are helping communities with clean water, sanitation,
treatment facilities and cholera awareness campaigns.

"But we need the funds to go the last mile," Kundishora said.

  JN/daj/APA 2009-01-24

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Daily cholera update and alerts, 23 Jan 2009

 Full_Report (pdf* format - 125.3 Kbytes)

* Please note that daily information collection is a challenge due to communication and staff constraints. On-going data cleaning may result in an increase or decrease in the numbers. Any change will then be explained.

** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may occasionally result

A. Highlights of the day:

- 1368 cases and 59 deaths added today (in comparison 1380cases and 65 deaths yesterday)

- 54.4 % of the districts affected have reported today (31 out of 58 affected districts)

- 88.7 % of districts reported to be affected (55 districts/62)

- New areas having outbreaks: Samambwa(Kwekwe)

- Cumulative Institutional Case Fatality Rate 2.2%

- Daily Institutional Case Fatality Rate 1.9%

- Bindura denotifes 105 cumulative cases after data cleaning exercise.

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Zanu-PF food taskforce plunders grain

By Moses Muchemwa

Published: January 24, 2009

Bulawayo (ZimEye) - A Zanu-PF controlled food taskforce has plundered
thousands of tones of mealie-meal and maize in Bulawayo at a time when
residents are sleeping on empty stomachs.

Sources revealed that the Zanu-PF taskforce was working using a group of
helpless millers to swindle the GMB of large quantities of maize.

The dubious food taskforce is said to be asking for over 70 percent of the
maize and mealie-meal from the small millers. Revelations are that the
Zanu-PF food taskforce was making a killing by selling a 10kg bag of
mealie-meal for 60 Rands or US$6. The majority of Zimbabweans cannot afford
to buy mealie-meal because they have restricted access to foreign currency,
leaving the corrupt Zanu-PF members to benefit at the expense of many.

"Members of the taskforce are grabbing 50 tonnes of mealie meal and go on to
sell a 10kg bag for R50. That explains that they are making a killing," said
the source.

The sources said the taskforce, which is chaired by the Bulawayo Provincial
administrator, Leonard Ncube, was responsible for the disappearing of from
the state-run Grain Marketing Board.

The Zanu-PF cronies are believed to be trading the stolen maize at the black
market where the commodity fetches the scarce United States dollars.

Pressed to ask about the vanished maize, Ncube confessed that there was a
lot of corruption within his taskforce and the millers. He arrogantly blamed
the millers for diverting maize to the black market.

"I can tell you is that a lot of robbery is taking place and there are also
loopholes in the programme," Ncube said.

In Bulawayo, retail shops have gone for over six months without mealie-meal.
The food taskforce last supplied shops with mealie-meal and maize in June
when the ageing President Robert Mugabe desperately tried to lure voters in
the shameful 27 June presidential.

The United Nations agencies say more than half of Zimbabwe's population face
starvation due to poor economic policies by the Zanu-PF government.

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Olds murder case yet to be finalized eight years later

Saturday, 24 January 2009
BULAWAYO - Human rights groups have criticized the long delays in
prosecution and processing of cases at the Bulawayo High Court including the
case of two war veterans accused of murdering white farmer Gloria Olds eight
years ago.

Delay in trying cases or passing judgments have a negative impact on
how the public perceives the country's justice system, while it also
amounted to violation of rights of suspects who are entitled to justice over
a reasonable period of time, said Irene Petras, director of the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

"The delays in handing judgment and finalizing cases is having a
negative impact on the way the justice system is perceived and for a case to
drag for seven years before the courts is quite a long time," she said.

Olds, 72 years old at the time of her murder, was killed in a hail of
bullets at her farm and her body was found in a pool of blood next to three
of her dogs that were also shot dead by the killers.

She was the mother of Martin Olds, a white farmer who was also
murdered by war veterans in 2000 at his farm.

Two war veterans, Albert Ncube and Robert Nyathi, were arrested in
2001 on allegations of kidnapping a farm worker and for the gruesome murder
of Olds at the gates of her Silver Stream Farm in Nyamandlovu district,
outside Bulawayo.

The two were initially charged in 2001 and have been appearing in
court since then but nothing has happened as the case has been postponed

The case is however included amongst cases that will be heard at the
Bulawayo High Court during the 2009 legal year.

Nyathi and Ncube have pleaded not guilty to the murder charge leveled
against them.

Several white farmers were murdered in the government-sanctioned farm
invasions that President Robert Mugabe defended as a demonstration of hunger
for land by war liberation veterans and landless black villagers.

Many of those who took part in the farm invasions and committed some
of the most gruesome murders and crimes were in fact young men and women
hired by Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party to harass white farmers and their
black workers in a bid to intimidate them into supporting the party in

Farm seizures are blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into severe food
shortages after the government displaced established white commercial
farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded
black farmers. ZimOnline.

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Gono splashes US$1M in Bribes Ahead of Presidential bid

Saturday, 24 January 2009 11:18 lovemore mazivisa

By Frank Kuwana
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono has spent a whopping
US$1million to bribe  public officials by dishing out a fleet of top of the
range motor vehicles and plasma TVs for his personal public relations
exercise at a time the nation is profusely yearning for wise investment and
a sound economic policy.

 Gono is reportedly sprucing up his image as he prepares for a Presidential
bid in fresh elections.

 Gono has previously said he has no Presidential ambitions, but an informed
source told The reporters Gono was busy consolidating his power through
bribes, patronage and targeting potential rivals.

 Gono recently published a book he called " Zimbabwe's Casino Economy". Most
holders of public office only publish books or memoirs after they complete
their terms.

 The  source pointed that the book was laying ground work for Gono to build
a solid resume and profile to suit the high office. The plan was started
with the help of Prof Jonathan Moyo who assisted Gono to award himself a

 Gono is rumoured to be the most protected man in Zimbabwe after President
Robert Mugabe.

 An impeccable source in the financial intelligence department of the RBZ
has confirmed to reporter that Gono has a fleet vehicles that encompass
Vigos, Mercedes Benz, BT 50 trucks and and others popularly known as Toyota
'Mahindras' in Zimbabwe (Mahindra is an Indian clone of a Toyota) that are
parked at the basement of the central bank as well as the RBZ Sports Club.

 The vehicles are waiting to be allocated to the lucky beneficiaries that
play to his gallery of patronage.

 The source claimed Gono is preparing to enter the Presidential race in
fresh elections that are likely to follow the collapse of the GNU talks.
Gono and his backers some who sit in the Joint Operations Command are
planning to impose Gono as a candidate in the next election when they hope
the opposition would have been weakened.

 "The magnitude of Gono's abuse of resources is quite stunning. Can you
believe it only last week, he gave a preacher of a local church a Mercedes
Benz saying that he was impressed about how he had addressed the
congregation," said the RBZ source.

 Late last year, Gideon Gono allocated Mercs to mere journalists that
include the deportee Ceasar Zvayi and Robert Mugabe's drum beater Munyaradzi
Huni at a time ZINWA and the City of Harare were wallowing with lack of
resources to buy water treating chemicals and medication to arrest Cholera.

 Gono, who is also rumoured to be clandestinely seeing the ZIFA chief
executive Henrietta Rushwaya has reportedly bought her a top-of-the-range
car at a time Zifa was struggling to pay its Brazilian coach.

 According to the RBZ source, the fleet of vehicles are meant for media
practitioners that give Gono positive coverage in these economically
turbulent times, chiefs that support Mugabe and other notable figures in the
Military Junta now running Zimbabwe with Mugabe as their front.

 Tonderai Mukeredzi, who deputises Kumbirai Nhongo as RBZ spokesman had not
furnished feedback on the enquiry of his boss' fleet of vehicles as promised

 Prior to the chaotic 2008 March harmonised parliamentary and presidential
elections, Gono allocated BT50 trucks to the so-called strategic parastatals
of the Herald, ZBC, ZESA, ZINWA and TELONE to dust up their services as a
way of bribing the electorate into voting for Mugabe.

 The Toyota 'Mahindra' was specifically reserved for the central
intelligence for the purposes of abducting the enemies of ZANU PF.

 These are some of the vehicles used to abduct Jestina Mukoko, a leading
human rights activist and many MDC members and supporters.

 However, reports say most senior officials in parastatals parked their
personal cars and instead diverted the BT50 trucks into their personal use
with free-for-all fuel courtesy of RBZ. Mugabe went on to lose the elections
but refused to pave the way for the MDC.

 Alson Mufiri, head of public relations and marketing functions of RBZ rural
banking however confirmed that the central bank had received reports of
"abuse" of the BT50 trucks prior to the March 2008 elections and were

 Reports also say Rueben Barwe and Judith Makwanya were each allocated a
BT50 truck for the elections at a time the then news editor Patrice Makova
was going on foot.

 Gono has made bribery his key weapon with Judges and Magistrates being
given plasma TVs and SUV trucks in addition to Mercedes E280.

 The media has not escaped either as the Herald, ZTV and other state news
organisations have been "allocated" cars directly from the RBZ boss office .

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Clean water efforts continue in Zimbabwe

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press
Published: January 24, 2009

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Curious residents of a crowded, impoverished Harare
neighborhood gathered to watch Red Cross workers from around the world try
to get a city water treatment center running Saturday.

Restoring supplies of clean water is key to stopping a cholera epidemic that
has killed more than 2,000 since August. Medical experts fear the waterborne
disease has yet to peak.

In Harare's Glenview neighborhood, water was pumped from the treatment
center's reservoir into Red Cross tankers, where it was purified before
being distributed. Meanwhile, technicians were checking the center's
equipment and preparing chemicals brought in by the International Federation
of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Officials said they hoped to have
the center operating by Monday.

"We are looking forward to having supplies of clean water here," said
Glenview resident Veronica Kushama. "We've gone for a long time without
fresh water. We are so grateful."

Ivan Usmiani, a 35-year-old water technician from the Croatian Red Cross,
was overseeing an international team that included Zimbabwean volunteers in
Glenview. He said he would soon be able to hand over the operation to

"The team that is working under me is very positive," Usmiani said.

The U.N. said Friday the number of cholera cases recorded since August
reached 50,003 on Thursday. The death toll through Thursday was 2,773.

At a briefing in Geneva Friday, Dr. Tammam Aloudat, a Red Cross health
emergencies expert, said the number of cases could go beyond the "nightmare
scenario" peak of 60,000 the U.N. health agency predicted a few weeks ago.

The U.N. said that despite a huge international campaign by aid agencies and
donors, supplies of clean water are erratic, many cholera treatment centers
lack food and medicine and Zimbabwean doctors and nurses struggle to get to
work, in some cases because their salaries don't cover bus fare.

The Red Cross federation said its response was being hampered by lack of
funds. In December, it appealed for about $9 million for what it expected to
be a seven-month fight against cholera in Zimbabwe. Donors have come up with
only about 40 percent of that.

"Progress is being made and we need funds to go the last mile," Kim
Stamdilu, spokesman for the Zimbabwean Red Cross, said Saturday.

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Troubled Zimbabwe Losing Bright Spot

Fear of Government Unrest Under Mugabe Leaves Town of Victoria Falls

By Karin Brulliard
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, January 25, 2009; Page A01

VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe -- This hamlet is swathed in lush emerald jungle, a
serene place that is 500 miles from political turmoil in the nation's
capital but seems a galaxy apart.

And then there is the attraction for which the town is named, one of the
world's Seven Wonders: the mighty Victoria Falls, a mile-long, 350-foot-high
cascade best seen from here in Zimbabwe, residents insist -- not from across
the chasm in Zambia.

All of which mattered not a whit to Manhattan resident Michael Marsh on a
recent morning. He stood on the Zambian side, his baseball cap damp with
waterfall spray, and offered a list of reasons why he passed on the view
from Zimbabwe.

"I didn't even consider going across the border," said Marsh, 70, a retired
dentist who was staying with his wife, Andrea, 67, in a tony lodge outside
the Zambian falls town of Livingstone. "Starvation, cholera, desperation, an
irrational dictator. I'd love to be able to support the people, but I can't
support the government."

And so it was that once-thriving Victoria Falls lost two more tourists to
its once-desolate northern neighbor, a continuation of a trend that
illustrates the reverberations of Zimbabwe's boom-to-bust economy and
chaotic politics under President Robert Mugabe's 28-year reign and, many in
Victoria Falls say, the power of bad press.

"Livingstone has become a success because of what's happened in Zimbabwe,"
said a Zimbabwean executive with a tourism company that operates on both
sides of the falls, expressing an opinion that many in Livingstone do not
dispute. "There's no way, to the extent that it has grown, that it would
have happened without the downturn here."

Ten years ago, Victoria Falls hotels were often full amid a tourism gold
rush, and guidebooks were advising those in search of a less theme-park feel
to head across the Zambezi River into Zambia. Livingstone -- named for
British explorer David Livingstone, the first European to see the falls -- 
was an undeveloped nook in a country that had abandoned communism a decade

Then Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms, triggering the collapse of
Zimbabwe's agricultural economy and widespread international condemnation.
The years since have been marked by disputed elections marred by violence
and repression, inflation that has skyrocketed past 231 million percent and
shortages of food and currency.

Now Zimbabwe, a former tourism mecca, is the subject of many Western
nations' travel warnings. Tourism revenue dropped from $777 million in 1999
to $26 million in 2008, according to figures from Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank,
which are considered the most reliable. The World Economic Forum, relying on
sunnier data from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, predicts the industry will
contract more than 1 percent annually for the next decade.

"The tourism sector has suffered because of the bad publicity we have
received from our enemies," said Karikoga Kaseke, chief executive of the
tourism authority, referring to the Western nations that Mugabe's government
blames for its problems.

Whatever the reason, Zambia saw an opening and began marketing its side of
the falls, sometimes as "Victoria Falls Livingstone." Big hotel chains
arrived, and risk-averse corporations moved conferences there. National
tourism revenue doubled to $176 million from 1999 to 2006, according to
government statistics. The Livingstone Tourism Association says the number
of hotel rooms in the town has swelled from 700 to about 1,900 in the past
eight years.

"Initially, it was a negative for us," Tanya Stephens, a longtime
Livingstone resident who manages the new Livingstone branch of the South
African Protea Hotel chain, said of Zimbabwe's slide. "Then Zambia started
to go out and say, 'You can still see Victoria Falls. You can come to
Zambia, the safe side of the falls.' "

January is in the off-season, and the global recession has slowed tourist
traffic, but even now Livingstone feels like a town in the midst of a an oil
boom. Footpaths along the waterfall were humming on a recent weekend, and
recently opened and in-progress guesthouses marked the landscape. Another
big hotel and a supermarket were under construction. A new, tourist-friendly
pub on the main drag is "very busy in the evenings," taxi driver Evans
Mumbuaa said.

Across the river in the center of Victoria Falls was a shuttered bar and a
lonely square. Tourists must bring cash -- preferably U.S. dollars or South
African rand -- to pay for warm sodas at the partially lighted grocery
store, because ATMs no longer dispense Zimbabwe's worthless currency.

"They didn't have any postcards in the nice hotels!" said German retiree
Ruth Burchardi, who was sipping coffee near a guesthouse pool. She said she
knew nothing of Zimbabwe's political situation until friends told her she
was crazy to have booked a trip there.

Down at the falls, the few tourists were mostly from other African nations.
Among the exceptions were two German engineers on a journey through Southern
Africa by four-wheel-drive. But they had been warned that a road trip into
Zimbabwe would invite hassles from police, so they came just for the day,
with a tour guide from across the border in Botswana.

"My girlfriend and my parents, they are worried. But we have got all our
food and drinks here, so we are fine," said Erik Theis, 35, patting his
backpack as he watched a bungee jumper plunge from the bridge that connects
Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Such comments bring grumbles from Victoria Falls tourism operators, who
bemoan negative headlines and stress that the nation's woes have largely
bypassed the town. Violence and political unrest are rare and have never
affected tourists, they say, and proximity to stocked shops in Zambia and
Botswana allow hotels and restaurants to offer first-rate menus and

But things are dire enough that the hospitality industry has had to keep the
town functioning. Operators interviewed in Victoria Falls said some
businesses take turns buying chemicals to treat the town's water supply, and
one outfit recently bought an engine for the trash truck.

More officially, several operators banded together three years ago to launch
a $150,000 campaign and Web site,, aimed at reclaiming
the town's good name.

Richard Chanter, who 10 years ago opened one of Livingstone's first
guesthouses, said that despite the benefits the town may have reaped from
Zimbabwe's tumble, his wish was for stability in the neighboring country.

"Not too many people in America can differentiate between the two places,"
he said. "In terms of overall marketing, surely it's better if the whole
region can be visited."

A special correspondent in Harare, Zimbabwe, contributed to this report.

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Ten trillion

Saturday 24th January 2009

Dear Family and Friends,
The ticking of Zimbabwe's time bomb is getting louder and faster by the day.
Power sharing talks have again collapsed; cholera is spreading and the death
toll rising; teachers, nurses and doctors are demanding payment in US
dollars in order to report for duty and the poverty of most families is
growing worse by the day.

There is now nothing you can buy in Zimbabwe dollars as even roadside
vegetable vendors have resorted to selling their wares in US dollars or
South African Rand. A handful of tomatoes, a bunch of onions, half a dozen
bananas or even a single, sweet, sticky mango - all are priced in American
dollars. If you don't have foreign currency you go hungry, it's as simple as
that. You also go sick, can't get a bed in a private hospital, can't have a
baby, can't get on a bus, can't get a passport, can't even buy a packet of
headache pills.

The only thing you can do with Zimbabwe dollars, if you can get them out of
the bank, is pay your telephone, water, and electricity bills. The
authorities running Zimbabwe continue to refuse to allow the utilities
companies to charge in US dollars and so the services they provide have
deteriorated to the point of almost complete collapse. Stick thin employees
at parastatals wearing threadbare suits continue to report for work while
everything around them falls apart. They have no stationery to invoice
customers, no receipt books, no ink for computers. They have no answers to
the increasingly angry queries from their customers such as why have
dustbins not been collected for eight months; when are blocked sewer pipes
going to be cleared, when are cavernous pot holes on the roads going to be
filled. These civil servants have little reason to go to work anymore and it
seems only a matter of time before they just don't bother anymore.

For people without foreign currency life has become a living hell. A
government teacher I met showed me her December pay slip. Her monthly salary
was 10 trillion dollars. The exchange rate on the day meant that in a month
she had earned just one US dollar. I asked her if she would be returning to
the classroom when schools re-open and she said no. She said the bus fare to
get to her school on the first day alone would cost her one US dollar, and
then how would she get home, what would she have to eat, how would she get
to school the next day.

Zimbabweans are looking to SADC and the African Union in the days ahead.
Surely soon they will have to say: enough suffering, enough death, enough?
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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Despair and Despondency

Saturday, 24 January 2009
by Eddie Cross
An immediate outcome of the meeting last Monday was nationwide despair
and despondency. On the street, the people have virtually given up any hope
that the political process will deliver a solution. At the same time they
are not looking elsewhere, just thinking about moving on to another country
where sanity might prevail.

It is the possibility of flight that has changed the character of
African conflict. Its implications are yet to be fully understood or
appraised. When failed by their leaders at home, increasingly Africans are
simply packing their bags. I saw a study this past week where a think tank
in the UK estimated that remittances from the UK to Zimbabwe alone, could be
running at over US$1 billion a year. If this is true, it puts a new
dimension on this issue - it shows that the actual Zimbabwe origin
population in the UK is much bigger than estimated and that they are sending
much more money home than we ever imagined.

This would explain where all the foreign currency that keeps this
country going, is coming from. It explains why many more people are not
actually dying from the present crisis in terms of hunger, malnutrition and
It also explains why the regime in Harare prints money to buy foreign
currency on the street in such quantities and then uses the resulting hard
cash to buy luxury items and food or to send abroad to secret bank accounts.

The total population of Zimbabwe is certainly now down to below 9
An astonishing figure when you know that it should have been close to
double that had conditions remained the same as had existed at the time of
independence in 1980. Some of the decline can be explained by millions of
deaths due to the deteriorating situation here, but even more by the flight
of millions as economic refugees. The most popular destinations being South
Africa and the UK followed by the USA and Canada and then Australia and New
Zealand. And I am not talking about white African migrants.

I am convinced that the authorities in South Africa have little
understanding of the implications of this massive human migration. Half of
the population of Somalia and the Sudan has left their homeland. Millions of
Congolese are on the move and if this migration is not slowed down, it has
the potential to drown the social and economic systems of South Africa.

There is the upside in terms of skills and experience with thousands
of migrants now occupying key roles in their destination countries. I
personally know of men and women who have quickly assumed top positions in
their new homelands. The problem is that this just reinforces the collapse
of the societies they are fleeing and makes recovery and growth more
difficult to sustain.

So when the SADC leadership gather outside Pretoria on Monday, a great
deal is at stake. It's not just about power sharing. It's about acting
decisively to bring to an end a political and economic crisis that has
plagued the region for over two decades. The fact that SADC clearly backed
the position of the Mugabe regime at last weeks meeting in the face of
overwhelming evidence and rationale, is a real indictment of African
leadership. They were not even acting in defence of their own interests, let
alone the interests of the long-suffering Zimbabwe people.

As for the Zanu PF and the Junta in Harare, they continued to behave
as if it was business as usual. There was no change in the propaganda that
pours out of the Ministry of Information via the print and electronic media;
there was no let up in the spurious allegations about the MDC sponsoring
terrorism. Those abducted and disappeared in recent attacks were still not
seen or heard from and we fear the worst. Those being charged with treason
are still in custody. Food is being interfered with and directed on the
basis of political affiliation, agricultural farm invasions and the theft of
private property continue in the face of the SADC Legal Tribunal rulings.

One of the most bizarre aspect of the past week was the leaking of a
paper prepared by Gono, the illegally appointed Governor of the Reserve
Bank, where he sets out plans to adopt the Rand as an anchor currency and
suggests that mineral and other high value exports could generate up to
US$1,2 billion a MONTH. His figures and rationale show no understanding of
the scale of the crisis we are in or the remedies required. The astonishing
thing is that this buffoon is actually taken seriously in Zanu PF circles. I
am sure the officials in government departments do not give this sort of
rubbish any credence - but they are not directing our affairs. Another of
his astonishing ideas is a 30 per cent export tax!

In the meantime, Rome burns. Cholera infections (official only) are
now nearly 50 000 with reported deaths at over 3000. Aids deaths continue at
about 3000 a week, human flight at whatever figure you want to estimate -
but not less than 25 000 a week. Deaths from TB, malaria, child deaths and
death of women in childbirth run at another 1000 or so a week. It is a
silent genocide and Graca Machel said it best this past week when she
slammed SADC leadership for standing by and doing nothing, in fact making
the situation worse by not acting to support democracy, the rule of law and
all international standards of human and political rights.

One of the worst centers for cholera and the town with the highest
death toll (18 per cent of all infected) is Chegutu, about 100 kilometers
from Harare to the south. This past week a fellow MP told me that he went to
the local hospital to try and get an impression of what was going on. All he
found was an empty shell - every thing that could be moved had been stolen,
there were no staff on duty and the complex was abandoned.

Another colleague stood up in Parliament and said he had just visited
a relative in the local Prison. He detailed conditions in both the remand
section and in the main prison itself. Hundreds of prisoners ill with
cholera, little or no treatment available, dead bodies left in the cells for
days and food rations down to 25 per cent of "normal". It was a chilling
statement and was received in complete silence by the House.

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