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Zimbabwe sets March 29 for presidential, parliament elections; opposition had wanted delay

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: January 25, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe has set national elections for
March 29, according to a presidential proclamation issued Friday that
angered the opposition, which had called for the vote to be put back until
constitutional disputes were settled.

The proclamation was published by the state printer in Harare, though it was
not publicized by the state broadcaster, the country's sole radio and
television station, in its daytime news bulletins Friday. The proclamation
also dissolved parliament, which was already in recess and not due to
reconvene until April, in preparation for the vote.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change had demanded more
constitutional and electoral reforms before the election, and said polling
should be delayed until June to allow for its demands to be met. Mugabe,
though, had insisted national elections would take place by the end of

Friday's proclamation "is an ambush," said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa,
calling on regional leaders to intervene. South African President Thabo
Mbeki was chosen by the Southern African Development Community, or SADC, as
chief mediator last year to try to resolve Zimbabwe's deepening political
and economic crisis through dialogue between Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party
and the opposition.

"We are supposed to be having dialogue, yet this is a slap in the face of
SADC, of African solutions to African problems," Chamisa said. "Mugabe is
undermining this process. The issue of date (of elections) was supposed to
be made by mutual agreement between the opposition and the regime."

Ronnie Mamoepa, spokesman for South Africa's foreign affairs ministry, said
his government had not been informed the date had been set.
Chamisa said the South African-mediated talks had been deadlocked over
constitutional issues and an election date.

"Before this is unlocked, Mugabe runs away from the negotiating table and
mischievously announces the (election) date," Chamisa said. "Surely it is an
act of madness."

Skirmishes between the opposition and police earlier this week had increased
fears there would be little chance of free and fair campaigning ahead of

State television on Friday quoted police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena as
accusing the opposition of threatening unrest on the scale of "what has been
happening in Kenya."

At least 700 people have died in political unrest after disputed
presidential elections in Kenya in December.

Zimbabwe opposition supporters heading on foot to a rally addressed by
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday were dispersed police who
fired tear gas and charged at the crowd.

Bvudzijena said 15 opposition protesters were arrested and fined on
Wednesday after admitting to an offense of "criminal nuisance."

He alleged they "provoked innocent people" on the streets by dancing,
chanting, throwing stones and waving political placards at passers-by after
a court had barred them from marching. While the march was barred, the court
had approved the rally.

Wednesday's protest had been the first test of reforms to ease security and
media laws negotiated by the opposition in the South African-mediated talks.
Campaigning had been severely restricted in the past under sweeping public
order regulations.

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Zimbabwe Crisis Resolution Process Cut Short By Mugabe Election Call


By Carole Gombakomba
25 January 2008

After 10 months of negotiations, talks between Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF
party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change seem at a dead end
and two South African initiatives in the past week to revive them have been

Meanwhile, President Robert Mugabe's announcement late this week setting a
date of March 29 for presidential, general and national elections appeared
to sweep aside the opposition’s objections saying the South African-mediated
talks should be allowed to reach a conclusion and resulting accords be
implemented before the elections.

A protest organized this week the MDC faction of Morgan Tsvangirai intended
to test whether the government would respect an amended Public Order and
Security Act easing restrictions on public gatherings was crushed by Harare

Tsvangirai told his supporters later that President Mugabe had failed the

These developments raise the question of whether the South African-mediated
talks launched by the Southern African Development Community in March 2007
in response to surging political violence in Zimbabwe have been entirely in

The Tsvangirai faction of the opposition is threatening to boycott the
elections, citing what it considers bad-faith negotiating by ZANU-PF in the
talks and the unlikelihood that the elections coming up in nine weeks can be
considered free and fair.

But the MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara says it is ready to contest the
elections, regardless of the issues still outstanding in the South
African-mediated talks.

Civic groups including the National Constitutional Assembly, the Crisis
Coalition of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network say
conditions prevailing in the country reflect the “ineffectiveness” of the
limited reforms set in the talks.

To examine the results of the inconclusive talks, reporter Carole Gombakomba
of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to researcher Patrick Rankumise of the
Africa Institute of South Africa, a SADC specialist, and Executive Director
Farai Maguwu of the Center for Research and Development in Mutare, in
eastern Zimbabwe.

Maguwu offered the view that while the the so-called SADC process appears to
have failed, the Movement for Democratic Change was obliged to give them a

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Mugabe Announces Election Date as Political Rivals Disappear


By Peta Thornycroft
South Africa
25 January 2008

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe announced on Friday that general
elections will be held on March 29, when he will seek a sixth term in
office. Peta Thornycroft reports that on February 8, candidates will have to
register at the nomination court but there are likely to be only two
political parties there -- the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change.

In a presidential proclamation, the 83-year-old leader said that said the
elections would be held the day after the parliament in Harare is dissolved.

Zimbabwe's main opposition party had threatened to boycott the elections
unless it gets guarantees they will be free and fair. But, the MDC on Friday
stopped short of calling for a boycott, calling the announcement an "act of
madness and arrogance."

Recent elections have been characterized by violence against the opposition
and accusations of rigging - charges denied by Mr. Mugabe.

Several amendments to existing media, security and election laws became
effective January 11. These reforms were the result of negotiations that
began last April between the two main political parties - the MDC and the
ruling Zanu-PF - mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The opposition has demanded a new constitution, agreed to in the talks,
should be in place before the election and said polling should be delayed to
allow people time to understand the new laws.

Mr. Mugabe's announcement is more evidence that he has no intention of
allowing the new constitution to be implemented before the polls. And, while
new security laws came into effect on January 11, Zimbabwe police clamped
down hard on opposition protesters, beating them as they made their way to a
rally on Wednesday, following the brief detention of the founding president
of the country's political opposition Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe's Independent Media Monitoring Project said Friday in its weekly
report, the state press has violated new media laws on political reporting.

The joint parliamentary, and presidential and senate election will be held
while the country suffers from an economic meltdown with the annual rate of
inflation officially put at nearly 8,000 percent. Unemployment is at around
80 percent while basic foodstuffs such as cooking oil and sugar are now
either scarce or too expensive for ordinary people to afford. The World Bank
has said inflation is as high as 150,000 percent.

Mugabe blames the country's economic woes on a limited program of personal
travel sanctions imposed by the European Union and United States that target
only the ruling elite after they said he rigged his reelection in 2002.

Mr. Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in
1980, was confirmed as the ZANU-PF's candidate at a party conference held in
the capital Harare last month.

Zimbabwe political heavyweight and academic, Ibbo Mandaza tried to persuade
a former finance minister, Simba Makoni to stand against President Mugabe in
the poll. Mr. Makoni this week declined. Other opponents of President Mugabe
within Zanu-PF also dropped out, according to party insiders who asked not
to be identified.

Most Zanu-PF politician are financially dependent on special favors that
come with senior positions in the party, such as cheap fuel and foreign

Insiders in Zanu-PF say there was no one in the party prepared to risk
losing the financial perks by taking on President Mugabe. Few Zanu-PF
leaders have managed to create successful businesses or farm the formerly
white-owned land they have been given since 2000.

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'Mugabe has slapped Mbeki's efforts'


    January 25 2008 at 06:49PM

Harare - Zimbabwe's main opposition party described a decision on
Friday by President Robert Mugabe to call general elections for March 29 an
"act of madness" but stopped short of calling for a boycott.

"It's an act of madness and arrogance," Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) spokesperson Nelson Chamisa told AFP.

Chamisa said the announcement was a slap in the face to regional
efforts, led by South African President Thabo Mbeki, to mediate between the
MDC and Mugabe's ZANU-PF party on the framework for the joint parliamentary
and presidential polls.

"Mugabe has slapped SADC's (Southern African Development Community)
commitment and President Thabo Mbeki's efforts to try and amicably solve the
crisis," said Chamisa.

"Mugabe has jumped the gun. As for the MDC I cannot pre-empt our
position whether we will participate or not as the national executive meets
within a week or so to make a decision." - Sapa-AFP

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Farmers group says to challenge land seizures

Zim Online

by Simplicious Chirinda Saturday 26 January 2008

HARARE – A Zimbabwean commercial farmers’ group says it will continue
to explore all legal avenues available to secure justice for white farmers
after the Supreme Court dismissed an application by a farmer who was
challenging the seizure of his property.

The largely white Justice for Agriculture (JAG) said it was not
surprised at all by the ruling by the Supreme Court last week adding that
there were still other jurisdictions that farmers could approach in search
of justice.

Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court last Tuesday dismissed an application by
William Michael Campbell challenging the seizure of his farm in Chegutu
district. The court ruled that Harare acted within the law to acquire the

The farmer last year took his case to the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) Tribunal after his lawyers complained that the Supreme
Court was dragging its feet in dealing with the case.

”We remain determined to finding a lasting and just solution to the
crisis currently facing the agricultural sector. As we speak farmers are
holding meetings with a view to mount a joint application at the SADC

“But we are going to appeal first to the Tribunal, then the African
Commission on People’s and Human Rights, the European Court and finally at
The Hague,” said JAG President John Werswick.

Last Wednesday, Lands Minister Didymus Mutasa said the government was
ahead with plans to seize the Chegutu farm despite an appeal at the Tribunal
by Campbell blocking confiscation of the property.

Harare’s land seizures have resulted in the majority of the about 4
000 white farmers being forcibly ejected from their properties without being
paid compensation for the land which Mugabe argues was stolen from blacks in
the first place.

The land reforms have however plunged Zimbabwe into severe food
shortages after the newly resettled black farmers failed to maintain
production. - ZimOnline

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Zim admits promise of bumper harvest has failed

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

25 January 2008 03:06

      The realisation of promises by the government of Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe of a record crop yield during this summer's farming
season will not be met, the country's agriculture minister admitted on

      In October, the government declared that the summer would result
in "the mother of all agricultural seasons", which would reverse the record
of poor food production over the last five years, break the economic crisis
ravaging the country and restore economic prosperity.

      "The season has not been as spectacular as we had expected,"
Minister Rugare Gumbo said in Friday's edition of the state-controlled
Herald. He admitted for the first time that the government had failed to
supply enough fertiliser to farmers, but also blamed heavy rains.

      "I would like to acknowledge the shortages of top-dressing
fertilisers [applied later in the season to grown plants]," he said, while
the Herald referred to "the little fertiliser" that had been used when
planting began at the start of the season.

       Until 2000, Zimbabwe was one of two African countries -- with
South Africa -- that consistently produced harvests that met domestic demand
and surplus for export to famine-stricken African countries.

      However, international agencies say that a violent campaign led
by Mugabe of seizures of land owned by the country's white commercial
farmers wrecked the agricultural industry and set off an economic collapse
that includes hyperinflation now estimated at about 50 000%.

      Late last year, the government launched a dramatic agricultural
mechanisation plan that included spending $25-million to import 1 000 new
tractors as well as combine harvesters and modern agricultural implements
and overseeing the local production of 50 000 ox-drawn ploughs and

      Gumbo also announced that the government had "secured enough
seed, fertiliser, agricultural implements and fuel" to guarantee "massive
output" that would restore "our status as Southern Africa's breadbasket".

      However, at the beginning of the season, farmer organisations
complained that fertiliser and fuel were impossible to obtain, except for
senior ruling-party bosses. Seed companies said by mid-December, when most
planting should have been done, only 65% of the seed required had been

      In recent weeks, allegations of corruption have emerged in the
country's Parliament over the issue of contracts for the import of tractors,
while human rights agencies said two weeks ago that ruling-party officials
were using the ox-drawn ploughs as a bribe ahead of national elections due
in March, and distributing them only to farmers who could produce
ruling-party cards.

      A report by the state agricultural extension organisation,
issued on Friday, cited widespread "stunting" of the crop of maize -- the
national staple -- around the country because of insufficient fertiliser.

      "The climate was very unpredictable as we received more rains
than we expected and this ended up affecting agricultural production," Gumbo
said. He urged farmers to use traditional fertilisers - cattle dung and the
soil of anthills - instead of chemical fertilisers.

      Every year since 2002, Western relief agencies have distributed
food around the country to avert widespread famine. The World Food Programme
estimates that four million people -- nearly half the population -- will
need to be fed in the next few months. -- Sapa-dpa

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Banking industry facing fresh cash crisis

By Tichaona Sibanda
25 January 2008

Customers thronged to their banks on Friday after reports suggested that
most financial institutions in the country were on the verge of collapsing
because of serious liquidity problems.

Reserve bank governor Gideon Gono claimed this week that major commercial
banks and other financial houses are facing a critical liquidity crisis
largely caused by unlawful speculative investments, which are now
threatening to ruin the stricken institutions.

Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us that several banks have this
week written to the Reserve Bank requesting unsecured loans after
experiencing serious cash problems as depositors’ money is tied up in
investments, real estate and foreign currency bought on the parallel market.

‘This is a mirror image of the crisis that rocked the country’s banks in
2004 and if it is not handled carefully it could lead to more woes for the
country’s banking industry,’ Muchemwa said.

He said banks are blaming skyrocketing operating costs, which are
outstripping income. The country is in the throes of an economic recession
characterised by high inflation which now hovers above 100 000 percent, high
unemployment, and chronic shortages of foreign currency, fuel and basic
goods like sugar, beef and the staple cornmeal.

The Zimbabwe Independent reports that information gleaned from within the
financial sector showed that this situation has triggered the panic.

It said all the banks — Barclays, Stanbic, Standard Chartered, CFX
Bank, Kingdom, NMB Bank, ZB Bank, MBCA, ZABG, FBC, CBZ, Agribank, ABC
Corporation, Genesis, Premier, Interfin and Renaissance, as well as building
societies such as CABS, Beverley, FBC BS and Intermarket — are in dire

‘The banks are facing liquidity problems because they cannot secure
cash applications from the Reserve Bank and have failed to pay their
statutory reserves to the central bank. Despite the bank printing up to $800
trillion to alleviate the cash shortages, banks are failing to collect their
cash requirements due to lack of security,’ the weekly paper said.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Concern over Pre-Election Environment

The Zimbabwean

Friday, 25 January 2008 13:10

For Immediate Release

25 January 2008—The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a
domestic election-monitoring and observation group in Zimbabwe, which in
December 2007 deployed 120 long-term observers countrywide, is concerned
with the current social and political environment as it relates to the
forthcoming elections.

The organisation also expresses its disquiet with the manner in which
critical electoral processes such as voter registration and delimitation of
constituencies have been conducted.  The recent events in the country are
particularly worrying as they reflect a regrettable level of political
intolerance. ZESN is also disturbed to note that the aforementioned issues
that were discussed and agreed upon under the SADC initiated talks still
lack a concrete and positive implementation. When SADC appointed President
Mbeki in March 2007 to facilitate the talks between ZANU PF and MDC, the
main objective of these talks was to have an election whose outcome would
not be contested. More than ten months have elapsed since these talks
started and the electoral environment in Zimbabwe is still far from yielding
a result whose outcome would not be contested.ZESN condemns the police’s
heavy-handedness in dealing with the MDCs` Freedom March on Wednesday 23
January 2008. After initially sanctioning the march to go ahead, the police
later inexplicably declared the march illegal, arguing that they had
evidence that it would turn violent. They briefly arrested the opposition
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, but later released him without charge. The MDC
appealed to the magistrates’ court as provided for in the recently amended
security legislation and the court upheld the police’s arguments. This was
in stark contrast to ZANU PF`s “Million Men March” in December 2007 which
went on without hitches, with the police actually providing escort for the
marchers. The police’s conduct raises unnecessary tension and only helps to
fuel doubts whether the country is ready to hold a credible, free and fair
election.Investigations by ZESN have revealed that the electoral management
body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), is not taking voter
registration seriously. A visit to the district registration office in the
city centre in Masvingo by one of the officers intending to register as a
voter on Thursday 10 January 2008 yielded interesting observations on how
ZEC is treating the voter registration exercise. While one would expect
voter registration to be given prime importance and due priority given the
importance of elections and their imminence, the officer was told
registration is only done between 1400hrs and 1600hrs daily, hence he had to
wait for that slot if he was to be registered. The situation was even worse
at the Gutu Registrar’s office where the ZESN team was told no registration
was being undertaken due to unavailability of materials to expedite the
registration process.In Harare, despite ZEC’s claims of decentralisation of
the registration process, the ZESN team noted that the Registrar General
District offices were referring would-be voters to their Head Office at
Makombe Building in Harare for registration. This rather nonchalant approach
towards the voter registration exercise seems to be the modus operandi
guiding the operations of most of the Registrar General’s offices across the
country. In addition, the organization observed that the delimitation
exercise that was done by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission started late.
The preliminary delimitation report was only presented to the President last
week and hastily tabled before Parliament for noting on Thursday 17 January
2008. Parliament was immediately adjourned without debating the report.ZESN
is perturbed to note that there were no copies of the report for each Member
of Parliament for scrutiny; instead, there was only one copy that was
available for parliamentarians in the papers’ office in Parliament. This is
despite constitutional provisions in section 61A subsection (8) that mandate
the President to cause the document to be tabled for debate by parliament.
ZESN is concerned that the report will be finalized without any scrutiny by
the legislature rendering academic the recent reforms to the Constitution of
Zimbabwe brought in by Constitutional Amendment No. 18. Furthermore the
report and its contents have not been made available to the public and other
key stakeholders for comment or analysis.ZESN also noted the continued abuse
of state resources by ruling party parliamentarians and senators. This has
been done through the government’s farm mechanization programme as a
campaign tool. In Mutoko North people in the constituency were told that
farm implements (ploughs and scotch carts) were coming from the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and ZANU PF. Unscrupulous politicians in Mashonaland East
have also taken advantage of the farm implements distribution exercise to
launch their political campaigns. In Marondera, there were donations of seed
to women in the Mahusekwa Community by a ZANU PF senator who also allegedly
threatened and intimidated the people that the war veterans would deal with
them if they do not vote for the ruling party in March 2008. It is also
disturbing to note that some politicians continue to use food like maize and
beans as a vote-buying tool and heartlessly direct food distribution in a
partisan manner. ZESN therefore calls for an urgent refocus on the planning
that is needed if the elections are to be held successfully in March. It
also calls for urgent measures that would ensure an environment conducive
for the holding of free and fair elections to be put in place. It is ZESN’s
considered view that, politically and administratively, the situation is
inimical to the holding of credible, legitimate, free and fair elections. It
is also worrying to note that the date of the election is not yet known.
ZESN therefore urges the responsible authorities to ensure that the date to
be announced will take into cognizance the fact that there will be
harmonized elections hence there is need for ample time for logistical and
administrative preparations as well as the provision of adequate voter
information to avoid unnecessary confusion on voting day. ZESN hopes that
the ZEC will take it upon itself to satisfactorily meet its constitutional
mandate of conducting voter education in order to ensure that every voter
participates from an informed position.  It should also allow other players
to conduct voter education.ZESN calls on all stakeholders to create an
enabling environment for the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections.
It reiterates that, it is necessary for the government, ZEC and political
parties political parties to conduct the elections in a manner that conforms
to regional and international standards thus conferring legitimacy to the
resultant government

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Between the Lines

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

25 January 2008
Posted to the web 25 January 2008


The Zimbabwean government's move to ask two independent newspapers it had
banned to re-register is being viewed with much scepticism in local media

The Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday, both published by Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), were shut down by the government-controlled
Media and Information Commission (MIC) in September 2003 after they failed
to register under the controversial Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA).

The newspapers had been critical of the ZANU-PF government. The Daily News,
set up in 1999, was believed to have the biggest circulation in the
country - around 100,000 - when it was closed.

Chinondidyachii Mararike, the chair of a special MIC committee, recently
told the official daily newspaper, the Herald, that they were waiting for
ANZ to submit its application, after being directed to do so by Information
Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.

"We are not there to ensure that ANZ is not registered, but to make sure
that the application is handled by the special board in a fair and just
manner," the Herald quoted Mararike as saying.

He said his committee was not "prejudging the ANZ application for
registration as a mass media service." Various court rulings in the past
have urged the government to reconsider its decision on the ANZ application
to register.

Not sincere

Takura Zhangazha, spokesman for the Media Institute of Southern Africa
(MISA, Zimbabwe chapter) claimed there was "absolutely no sincerity" on the
part of the government to bring back the ANZ titles as vibrant independent

"It's a political game. There is no way in which the two newspapers are
going to be given back their licences before the elections, as would have
been ideal to ensure balanced and diversified media coverage of the polls,"
Zhangazha told IRIN.

Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in March
2008, but the opposition has called for a postponement until June.

Zhangazha said the process of registering the newspapers would require at
least two months to complete, "but then, that would just be the elementary
stage, considering that the banned papers have a mammoth logistical task in
mobilising resources, recruiting staff, among other requirements, to ensure
a serious media project".

Attempt at reforms

South African president Thabo Mbeki has been asked by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) to hold talks between ZANU-PF and the two
factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in which
media reform prior to the elections has been one of the key issues.

The government has made some "concessions" during the talks. At the request
of the MDC, amendments to media laws were included; a move observers said
was an attempt by the government to bring credibility to the elections.

The MIC is to be reconstituted to include a chairperson and eight members
nominated by a parliamentary committee, rather than a membership put in
place by the information minister.

The amended Broadcasting Services Act now also provides for parliament to
put forward the names of people to run the Broadcasting Authority of
Zimbabwe (BAZ), which has refused to break the state-controlled Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation's monopoly of the airwaves since 2000.


The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) said it would "only believe the
government's overture to bring back the two papers when they hit the

Foster Dongozi, secretary-general of the ZUJ, told IRIN: "We have watched
since 2003, when several attempts were made by the two papers to resume
publication, but what is clear is that the government has used all its
tricks to ensure that the paper did not renew operations, even when the
courts ruled in favour of ANZ, and that makes us very sceptical."

Dongozi said the "window-dressing process" of inviting ANZ to apply for an
operating licence was the result of a political process, after pressure had
been exerted during the ongoing talks mediated by the SADC.

The ZUJ was also disturbed by the apparent preoccupation with the ANZ
newspapers, when two other newspapers had also been banned for allegedly
failing to comply with AIPPA conditions.

The Tribune was closed in 2004 for its failure to notify the MIC of
structural changes to the paper, while another fledgling newspaper, the
Weekly Times, after becoming increasingly critical of the government, was
also banned for non-compliance.

Lack of consultation

Journalists are also sceptical of the government's overtures to bring back
the ANZ newspapers, pointing out that they had not been consulted when the
amendments to the media laws were made. Matthew Takaona, the ZUJ president,
wrote to parliament in December 2007 to complain about the exclusion of his
organisation when the Amendment Bill was passed.

Although he hailed ZANU-PF and the MDC for acknowledging flaws in AIPPA
during their current talks, he said the union was "extremely disturbed by
the fact that none of the negotiators saw it fit to consult stakeholders in
order to come up with amendments that are owned by, rather than imposed on,
the media industry".

Takaona complained that the amendments to the various laws provided for the
establishment of a statutory media council, whose task was to ensure ethical
conduct among media practitioners, despite the fact that the ZUJ's move to
establish a voluntary body had been rejected by the government. "Statutory
regulation of the media has never worked in any democratic society," he

Under the new AIPPA the validity of newspaper licences has been extended
from two to five years, but Takaona said there was no need to impose a limit
on the validity of the licence.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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Zim Dollar Tumbles Again

The Zimbabwean

 Friday, 25 January 2008 12:00

HARARE - THE Zimbabwe dollar has taken a sharp decline on the parallel
market most likely as a result of the hiked cash withdrawal limits.

 Indications are that the US dollar is now trading at $5,5 million, Rand $1
million and Pula $1.1 million on the parallel market.
Last week the US$ was trading around $4 million and rand
$3,5million.Analysts have attributed the depreciation to the new cash
withdrawal limits of $500 million introduced last week by the central bank.
Depositors now prefer to hold their cash given the inflationary environment
and difficulties of withdrawing their cash in the past three months.
 To hedge the value of their cash, individuals have therefore resorted to
the forex market creating buying pressure.
The hiking of minimum investments by stockbrokers and fund managers has also
contributed to the flight to the parallel market as few investors want
exposure in unit trusts.
Meanwhile the Zimbabwe dollar has been appreciating on the fair value market
(Old Mutual Implied Rate) due to the weakness in the Old Mutual Price on the
The decline in the counter's share price on both the LSE and JSE has failed
to offset the appreciation.
It now looks certain the OMIR and the parallel market rate are now set to
converge. It remains to be seen however, if the OMIR will trade at a
discount to the parallel market rate as has been traditionally the
We however anticipate that the parallel market will self correct following
this steep rise in rates

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CHRA local government weekly update

25 January 2008,


This is the first edition in 2008 of the local government weekly updates
that CHRA sends to you. CHRA will continue to provide accurate and up to
date information on the goings on in local governance. This article will
therefore not be restricted to issues affecting Harare in the past week but
the whole of January 2008.

Electricity woes

The power situation in Harare worsened in the month of January as Mozambique
cut supplies to Zimbabwe. The situation was further compounded by power
exports to Namibia for debt servicing. This resulted and renewed load
shedding programs that have disrupted normal life in Harare. Eskom South
Africa has also cut supplies to Zimbabwe owing to increased demand due to
World Cup construction activities.  Others speculate that power cuts from
South Africa come after failed attempts by President Thabo Mbeki's` failure
to pressure Mugabe to agree on a new constitution. The cuts are that's part
of the pressure being exerted from Pretoria. This also led to heavy water
cuts as water plants could not pump in water for residential and industrial

On Saturday 19 January the power situation got even worse as the entire
nation was plunged into darkness following what ZESA described as systems
disturbance originating from Zambia. The entire nation was in darkness for
well over 18 hours. Although power was restored in City centers and other
critical points like hospitals most residential suburbs went on for over 24
hours without power. Business came to a stand still as most shops and
offices were closed. Even communication was difficult as network was
disturbed. The electricity problem continues and it seems Harare is yet to
get darker as there is no solution in sight.

Government setup a taskforce to assist ZESA to deal with the power problem.
The taskforce has recommended that the Ministry of Finance should consider a
duty waiver on all power equipment like solar panels, generators etc. This
is a welcome development as most Zimbabweans are now sourcing alternative
sources of power generation as ZESA fails to deal with electricity woes.

Water crisis

Water problems continue to bite Harare with areas that were previously not
affected now getting water cuts. The water shortages are also exacerbated by
the power cuts that have hit the nation. In Hatcliffe residents have gone
for three months without water, in Masasa and Hatfield residents went for 4
weeks without water only getting it early this week. There were fears of
Cholera outbreaks as the situation got out of hand. In Mabvuku and Tafara
residents continue to be dogged by water problems as Cholera continue to
affect residents. In Marlborough and surrounding areas residents now collect
water from nearby burst pipes and streams.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) reports that major dams are
about 95 percent full with mot of them over spilling. It is ironic in this
situation then, to continue having water cuts. The shortage of chemicals has
also meant that ZINWA cannot pump sufficient water to feed into Harare.

Road maintenance and environmental management

Roads in Harare have become a menace and driving is proving difficult. There
are potholes large enough to be gullies and the Commission running the City
of Harare is intransigent in fixing the situation. CHRA has been receiving
desperate complains from residents who are finding driving difficult. Harare's
roads are in a pathetic state. The City has slowly sliding into a slum as
there is little or no cleaning being done. Residents complain that refuse
removal is not being done and formal and informal dumping sites are
flourishing with dirty. This is a potential breeding ground for disease
causing organisms, especially during the rain season.

While the City has started its grass cutting program, CHRA continues to
receive calls from residents who complain about tall grass that is
disturbing traffic and also a potential ground for criminals to hide.

Falling houses in Epworth and Mukuvisi settlements
Several houses in Epworth and Mukuvisi settlement are reported to have
fallen down as the heavy rains continued for the greater part of December
and January. In Epworth several houses have collapsed and some on the verge
of collapse. In an area called Kwajacha within Epworth water logging has led
to over thirty (30) houses falling down. (Note that the number could be more
than 30, the CHRA team could not navigate some of the muddy roads but
Epworth residents claim there are over 100 houses that have fallen down).
Residents living around the Mukuvisi River are also crying foul as the rains
have destroyed their homes. Most of the houses, built on mud and plastic
shacks were visibly falling apart while some had already fallen down.
Residents in this area told the CHRA team that sometimes the rains pound
them at night and they have to sleep in the open waiting for the day to come
and rebuild. Residents in this area are also victims of Operation

It is evident that the state of service delivery has collapsed in Harare.
CHRA continues to urge residents through its local district offices to come
up with action plans that address their local problems. Residents are urgent
to vote responsible leaders who are accountable to the people. CHRA will
continue to demand quality municipal services and promote accountable and
transparent local governance systems through its various programs.

Farai Barnabas Mangodza
Chief Executive Officer
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
145 Robert Mugabe Way
Exploration House, Third Floor
 Landline: 00263- 4- 705114

Contacts: Mobile: 0912638401, 011443578, 011862012 or email, and

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Zuma says West’s interference stalling progress in Zim

Zim Online

by Own Correspondent Saturday 26 January 2008

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) President
Jacob Zuma has said interference by the United States (US) and major
European states was hindering efforts to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the annual meeting of business
and political leaders in the Swiss resort town of Davos, Zuma said the
interference bordered on racism by the US and European countries.

“The US and the Europeans tell us what we need to do and tell (President
Robert) Mugabe. That undermines our efforts,” said Zuma who was last
December elected the new ANC president.

South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki has since last April been leading
regional efforts to broker a settlement between Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF
party and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party.

Mbeki two weeks ago said he was still confident of pushing the two political
foes to sign an agreement that political analysts say is key to hauling
Zimbabwe from a bitter eight-year political crisis.

Zuma said he would not change Mbeki’s approach in handling the Zimbabwe
crisis if he assumed the reins as president of South Africa next year.

“I'm not sure I will do anything fundamentally different," said Zuma. “Maybe
it would be a question of style.”

Major Western governments are said to be unease over Mbeki’s “quiet
diplomacy” approach towards Zimbabwe and have been pushing for a much more
radical approach in reining in Mugabe.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic recession that has manifested
itself in the world’s highest inflation of over an estimated 24 000 percent,
rampant unemployment and poverty.

Mugabe blames the economic crisis on sabotage by Western governments that he
says are out to remove him from power. - ZimOnline

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