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Barack Obama plans tough action against Robert Mugabe

US President Barack Obama is considering a push for new UN sanctions on
Zimbabwe in an attempt to topple Robert Mugabe.

Last Updated: 4:05AM GMT 28 Jan 2009

Mr Obama and his senior Africa aides have discussed taking the issue of
Zimbabwe to the UN Security Council and starting an intense diplomatic
effort to persuade Russia and China to get on board, according to reports.

A senior aide present at the discussions told the Times the goal would be to
pass a series of "strong" sanctions, including a ban on arms sales and
foreign investment. They also want to expand significantly the number of
ruling Zanu-PF party officials subject to sanctions.

After Mr Mugabe was accused of rigging the elections to stay in power last
July, China and Russia, who have significant financial interests in
Zimbabwe, vetoed moves to impose UN sanctions.

Mr Obama and his aides believe that Beijing and Moscow can now be persuaded
at the very least to abstain when the issue of sanctions comes to another

"It is predicated on China and Russia going along and this Administration
will certainly undertake a new round of constructive diplomacy with Russia
and China on a whole range of options," the aide told The Times. "It will
depend on an arc of Obama diplomacy in the coming months."

Pressure on China and Russia will also be coordinated with Britain and
France at the UN. "To get even an abstention would be a tremendous victory,"
the aide said.

A key figure in any new approach will be Susan Rice, Mr Obama's UN
ambassador, who was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the
Clinton administration and is a Zimbabwe expert.

"Susan is extremely aware of what is going on in Zimbabwe and she feels very
strongly that there is a tremendous miscarriage of justice in that country
and that it has to end," the aide said. "Once she has her feet on the ground
she is going to turn her attention to this issue."

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Morgan Tsvangirai 'to enter power-sharing government' with Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has decided to enter a unity government with President Robert Mugabe, a senior advisor to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader said on Tuesday night, after months of deadlock over the country's power-sharing deal.
Morgan Tsvangirai - Morgan Tsvangirai returns home to Zimbabwe for last ditch negotiations
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai arrives at Harare International Airport Photo: REUTERS

The move comes despite fears that Mr Mugabe will use the arrangement to draw in and marginalise the MDC, as he has done to other opposition groups in the past.

Mr Tsvangirai has consistently refused to join a coalition with Mr Mugabe, who retains strong powers as president under the power-sharing agreement, unless MDC figures are given key cabinet posts, especially the home affairs ministry, which brings control over the police.

But Mr Tsvangirai is under immense pressure from regional leaders to join the government after almost 3,000 Zimbabweans have died of cholera, millions need food aid, and the economy is in a spiral of collapse. Earlier this week a regional summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Pretoria said that he should be sworn in as prime minister within a fortnight.

The MDC issued a statement yesterday saying the summit's conclusions "fall far short of our expectations", but a source close to the negotiations said Mr Tsvangirai believed he had no alternative but to "give it a try".

He would return to Harare on Wednesday, the source said, ready to be sworn in as prime minister, subject to the MDC's national council endorsing the decision on Friday. Sources in the Zimbabwean capital said he would have majority support at the meeting.

But some of Mr Tsvangirai's closest lieutenants fear that the power-sharing deal has echoes of the Unity Accord of 1987, when Zanu-PF merged with Joshua Nkomo's Zapu organisation and effectively swallowed it whole.

Despite Mr Tsvangirai coming first in the first round of presidential polls in March and MDC depriving Zanu-PF of a parliamentary majority for the first time since 1980, some observers believe that Mr Mugabe and Zanu PF's determination to retain their grip on the levers of power leaves the MDC with no choice but to implement the power-sharing agreement.

Until now, the opposition has been demanding that its concerns be resolved before it would share in the responsibility for running the country. Only two weeks ago Mr Tsvangirai, who has a history of U-turns, was insisting that outstanding issues had to be concluded before the government was formed, so that it could be effective as well as inclusive.

"We will only be in a government which has the potential to be functional," he said then.

George Sibotshiwe, Mr Tsvangirai's spokesman, said last night that no final decision had been made. "It's something that he's still looking through," he said, but added: "Tomorrow he will be very specific and clear on that."

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Top MDC official says Tsvangirai will go into government 'next week'

Posted to the web: 28/01/2009 03:34:11
A TOP official from Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) has said he expects the party's national council to give the
green light to Morgan Tsvangirai to join President Robert Mugabe in a unity
government when it meets on Friday.

After a day of confusion on Tuesday which highlighted divisions within the
MDC in the wake of a time table set by regional leaders for the formation of
a power sharing government, the MDC's Policy Coordinator General Eddie Cross
said concessions given by Mugabe at a SADC summit in Pretoria went "a long
way to meeting our requests".

Answering a question from a Zimbabwean on online discussion group, Cross
said: "I have had a look at the agreement and think it goes a long way to
meeting our requests. I think MDC will accept this deal and that MT (Morgan
Tsvangirai) will go into government next week."

Confusion reigned on Tuesday when the MDC issued a statement which appeared
to reject a SADC communiqué released at the end of an extraordinary summit
of the regional grouping, despite Tsvangirai's approval of the document
after marathon meetings.

In briefings to journalists, MDC officials told of a major rift between
secretary general Tendai Biti and Tsvangirai. Biti, the officials said, is
rabidly opposed to any power sharing with Mugabe while Tsvangirai sees
strategic long term benefits in going into government.

The infighting in the MDC has created two groups, one loyal to Biti and the
other to Tsvangirai. Ultimately, Tsvangirai's popular appeal is expected to
carry the day at Friday's national council meeting, and a decision to join
government should be made shortly after, MDC strategists say.

Mugabe was pushed by SADC leaders into making a series of concessions,
including the reversal of all executive appointments he has made since a
September 15 power sharing deal with opposition rivals Tsvangirai and Arthur
Mutambara, who leads a smaller faction of the MDC.

The SADC communiqué sets a time-table for the formation of an inclusive
government, beginning with the passage of a Constitutional Amendment Bill by
February 5; the swearing in of the Prime Minister and his two Deputy Prime
Ministers by February 11; and the swearing in of Ministers and Deputy
Ministers on February 13 "which will conclude the process of the formation
of the inclusive government".

The power sharing deal will see Mugabe remain President while Tsvangirai
assumes the position of Prime Minister, with Mutambara coming in as one of
his two deputies.

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Chinamasa says Zanu-PF to forge ahead

January 27, 2009

PRETORIA, (AP) - A top Zanu-PF official said on Tuesday the party was
prepared to form a government on its own if the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) will not join it.
Patrick Chinamasa, spokesperson for Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, said the
government should be sworn in on February 13, as proposed by regional
leaders earlier in the day.

He said his party would give the opposition a few more days to decide
whether to join in a unity government.

Southern African leaders declared on Tuesday that Zimbabwe's rival parties
had agreed to form a unity government, but the opposition said this was not
the case.

In a communique, nine SADC leaders and cabinet ministers from four other
countries said a Zimbabwean prime minister - the post that MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai is earmarked for - would be sworn in on February 11 after
Parliament passes a constitutional amendment creating the post. Ministers
are scheduled to be sworn in on February 13, the statement from the regional
bloc said.

But Nqobizitha Mlilo, a spokesperson for the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), told the Associated Press that "the MDC has not agreed to go into the
government of national unity."

He said his party's leaders would meet on Friday to decide their next step.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, chairperson of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), told reporters that the opposition had
agreed to the coalition government.
"They will ensure that [the Constitutional amendment] is executed and they
will present themselves" to form a government, he said.

But an MDC statement released soon after said the summit's conclusions "fall
far short of our expectations".

In Harare, political scientist Eldred Masunungure of the University of
Zimbabwe agreed with the opposition that "this resolution doesn't resolve

He called it "a victory for Mugabe and Zanu-PF, but there isn't much for the
people of Zimbabwe to enjoy."

An opposition statement noted the summit had failed to address concerns
including the equitable sharing of Cabinet posts and the abduction and
alleged torture of opposition members by government security agents and

The MDC has consistently resisted pressure to join a coalition government,
in which it is agreed that Mugabe would remain president, until these
disputes are resolved.

The summit, however, agreed to Mugabe's demand that the MDC first enter into
government, and then resolve outstanding issues.

The leaders also sided with Mugabe in insisting that the rival parties
should share the cabinet portfolio of home affairs - important because it
oversees the police who have been accused of kidnapping and brutalising
opposition supporters.

Phandu Skelemani, the Foreign Minister of Botswana, which has been a lone
voice in the region in criticising Mugabe, said the suggestion of sharing a
ministry was "ridiculous".

Speaking in an interview with SW Radio Africa while the summit was taking
place, Skelemani said the Southern African bloc "is divided because we
simply don't put the people first but rather an individual".

He said the leaders "feel some kind of obligation toward Mugabe", though,
increasingly, some were speaking out in private.

Mugabe said earlier on Tuesday he hoped that the power-sharing agreement
with the MDC would lead to a "new chapter".

"We hope that this will open up a new chapter in our political relations in
the country and in structures of government," Mugabe told the state-run
television at Harare airport on arriving from the summit held in South

"We agreed that an inclusive government should be formed. Dates have been
stipulated for the various acts . starting with swearing-in of the top
people, the prime minister, deputy prime ministers and ministers," Mugabe

"We will look at the concerns that the MDC raised regarding governors and
other appointments."

Mugabe also said he hoped a parliamentary amendment would "lead to the
legalization of the agreement".

Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai are under pressure. Some of Tsvangirai's allies
say he never should have agreed to serve as prime minister under Mugabe,
while Mugabe is constrained by military and civilian aides who don't want to
give up power and access to corrupt gains.

Leaders at this week's summit appeared to ignore pressure from all fronts,
including Roman Catholic bishops of Southern Africa who called on them to
stop supporting Mugabe or accept complicity in a "passive genocide" of
Zimbabweans dying of hunger and disease.

The collapse of the water system in Zimbabwe, exacerbated by the crumbling
health-care system, has been blamed for the severity of a cholera outbreak
that has killed about 3 000 people.

The United Nations on Tuesday put the death toll at 2 971, with more than 56
000 people infected.

The global body said more than one person in every 20 who contract cholera
in Zimbabwe is dying. The usual mortality rate for large-scale outbreaks is
one in 100.

In the United States, State Department spokesperson Robert Wood said
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was reviewing what more the Obama
administration can do to help.

"We're just very concerned about the behaviour of Mugabe," he said. "It
appears to us that the regime has no interest in its own people ."

The European Union on Monday added 62 individuals and companies to a
blacklist, freezing assets and barring travel to those who funnel money to
prop up Mugabe and his clique.

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Zimbabwean schoolchildren suffer as teachers strike

January 28, 2009

Jan Raath in Harare
Most schools in Zimbabwe stayed closed yesterday on the first day of term,
presaging a second year in a row of almost no education for the country's

Buses taking children to school were perhaps quarter-full, and those
children that did attend, found few or no teachers, as the country's
teaching force continues with an unofficial strike. The exceptions were
well-heeled private schools, and a few government schools attended by the
children of the ruling elite.

"I didn't send my daughter to boarding school today because I know the
teachers are not going to come," said Rosa Denga, a Harare housewife. "I
would be paying for bus fare and uniforms and everything, and then would be
told to come and collect her because there is no school. Now she is going be
sitting at home for God knows how long."

Zimbabwe was renowned for having Africa's finest education system, producing
literate, competent school and university graduates who are now sought after
in other African countries they have fled to in the wake of the country's
economic collapse. In 2000, 92 percent of children were attending primary
school but the figure is estimated to have dropped below 25 percent.

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Teachers' reluctance to come to school was reinforced last week when they
received their monthly pay - an average of Zimbabwe dollars 31 trillion
(yesterday about US$1). "The workers have neither the financial resources to
travel to work nor to sustain themselves," said Tendai Chikowore, president
of the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association.

The beginning of the term was deferred three weeks ago until yesterday,
despite warnings from education unions and parent bodies that the system was
in chaos and it would make no sense to begin. Results from last year's final
examinations - the few that were taken - have still not been released after
markers went on strike. The education ministry is ignoring appeals from
unions and parents that teachers be paid in foreign currency, so most
schools have no schedules of fees.

Wealthy private schools - many of them with children from the elite of
President Mugabe's ZANU(PF) party - were ready to start on the original
opening day, but were ordered them to stay closed. Headmasters and staff
that defied the ministry were threatened with arrest.

Last year Zimbabwean schoolchildren had 27 full days of schooling, the rest
lost to strikes, teachers being sent on duty as election officials in two
separate elections, and then a wave of political violence in which more than
20 teachers were murdered on suspicion of backing the pro-democracy Movement
for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

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Zimbabwe's Education System Crippled on First School Day

By Peta Thornycroft
27 January 2009

Very few teachers turned up to work on the first day of Zimbabwe's 2009
school year. They are being paid in Zimbabwe dollars and their salary will
not buy a single loaf of bread. Education had been President Robert Mugabe's
finest achievement, but now most children at government schools have no

Last year nearly four million children at government schools had only 23
consecutive days of education. It is going to be much worse in 2009 if the
first day of the school year is anything to go by.

Most of Harare's schools were closed on the first day, which had been
postponed for two weeks as 2008 examinations had not been marked. They have
still not been marked.

At a high school in a high density southern Harare suburb, Zengeza 2, the
headmaster arrived and left after a few hours. He said parents had been
asked to pay about $10 US for the term, but only 10 out of 1,000 pupils'
parents had paid.

At Chaminuka Primary School in St. Mary's, 25 kilometers south of Harare, a
caretaker said not a single pupil had attended in the past six months, and
he expected it would be no better this year.

A 12-year-old orphan girl, called Tatenda, has finished her fourth year at
school and her education has now stopped because she does not have any
money. She was begging for money with three friends in a Harare suburb.

"I live with my grandmother. There is no anything to go to school, there is
no food, there is no clothes, there is no anything to give to me. I finished
grade four, there is no money, Madam, please everyday I am coming here to
beg for help. There is no going to school, no going to school, for me, no
going to school," she said.

The headmaster of Dungwiza Primary School, south of Harare, said he did not
bother to withdraw his salary from the bank last week as it is worth
nothing. He said he was a graduate and was surviving by selling clothes on
the streets.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions President Lovemore Matombo says parents
were asked to pay fees to government schools in foreign currency and that
once a government loses faith in its own currency it has also lost its
sovereignty. He says there is literally no education going on in Zimbabwe,
just as there is no health care either.

Progressive Teachers Union President Raymond Majongwe says few children went
to schools on opening day across Zimbabwe.

He says there is serious confusion countrywide at schools where teachers
last salary was 26 trillion Zimbabwe dollars, or less than one U.S. dollar.
Most goods and services are now priced in U.S. dollars.

Majongwe says estimates are that only 60,000 teachers are left in Zimbabwe.
He said they had voted with their feet and left the country.

He says the government has wasted scarce foreign currency importing
expensive agricultural equipment for Zanu PF supporters, while children went

A parent who had come to see whether his child's school had opened went away
disappointed. He said the problem was teachers' poor salaries. "For schools
to be open it needs teachers, so the children are coming to school, but the
teachers are not here, so the government must act on this issue, addressing
the teachers problems."

In the wealthier suburbs north of Harare there were also problems, but not
as serious. At Highlands Primary School only four out of 25 teachers turned
up for work on the first day of term.

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Farmers want court to order govt to uphold Tribunal ruling

by Patricia Mpofu Wednesday 28 January 2009

HARARE - A group of Zimbabwean white farmers have appealed to the country's
High Court to direct the government to uphold a ruling by a regional
Tribunal that forbade seizure of their land under a controversial farm
redistribution programme.

The appeal to the High Court comes as President Robert Mugabe's government
has sanctioned fresh farm seizures in recent weeks in open defiance of the
Tribunal ruling.

David Drury, one of the lawyers representing the 77 white farmers, told
ZimOnline that they had initially attempted to file an urgent application
seeking the Harare High Court to formally register and recognise the ruling
by the Tribunal, which is an arm of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC).

Once the Tribunal judgment is registered with the High Court it would make
it more difficult for Harare to ignore the ruling. But the court turned down
the application saying the matter was not urgent, according to Drury.

He said: "A second application for registration by Collin Cloete by way of
an ordinary court application has been lodged under HC 33/09. Papers in
opposition have not been received and the time limits to do so have expired.

"The Attorney General's Office intimated verbally, though not officially in
writing, that they intend to oppose the registration, the reasons for doing
so are yet to be articulated."

The Tribunal ruled last November that Mugabe's programme to seize
white-owned land for redistribution to landless blacks was racist and
illegal under the SADC Treaty.

The regional court found that the group of farmers who approached it had
been denied access to courts in Zimbabwe, while ordering Mugabe's government
not to evict the farmers and that the Harare administration compensates in
full those it had already forced off farms.

However Mugabe's government, which under the SADC Treaty is required to
uphold decisions of the Tribunal, has ignored the ruling while top
government officials and supporters of the ruling ZANU PF party have
continued to evict white farmers.

In addition, Zimbabwe's Deputy Chief Justice, Luke Malaba, two weeks ago
publicly criticised the Tribunal ruling and said the regional court lacked
jurisdiction to hear the application by white farmers, in the clearest
indication yet Harare will not abide by the ruling.

Commenting on Malaba's statement Drury said: "The fact that Justice Malaba
has seen fit to comment on the judgment by an international court who
applied international customary law considerations, is considered
unfortunate by certain lawyers and academics as it seeks to pre-empt pending
relief sought domestically, and more particularly in the High Court
concerning the registration."

Out of about 4 500 white commercial farmers in Zimbabwe in 2000, only about
300 remain on farms after Mugabe evicted the rest and parcelled out their
land to blacks, most of them supporters of his ZANU PF party and government.

Mugabe has defended the chaotic and often violent farm seizures as necessary
to correct a colonial land tenure system that reserved most of the best
arable land for whites while blacks were banished to arid and poor lands.

But critics say Mugabe's cronies - and not ordinary peasants - benefited the
most from farm seizures with some of them ending up with as many as six
farms each against the government's stated one-man-one-farm policy.

In addition, critics blame farm seizures for plunging Zimbabwe into severe
food shortages after the government failed to support black peasants
resettled on former white farms with inputs, skills training and funds to
maintain production. - ZimOnline

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Business urges Gono to pay gold miners

by Andrew Moyo Wednesday 28 January 2009

HARARE - Major business organisations in Zimbabwe last week took aim
at Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono demanding that he
pays all outstanding funds to the country's gold mines so they could be able
to resume production.

"He was told to pay the mines," said a source speaking on condition of
anonymity. "We told him that if these mines were paid they would be able to
resume production and the country will generate the foreign currency we need
to stabilise the Zimbabwe dollar," the source added.

Zimbabwe's gold mining sector, one of the country's biggest foreign
currency earners, has collapsed because the RBZ has diverted payments to
fund government expenditure.

The RBZ, through Fidelity Printers and Refiners, is the only entity
permitted by law to buy the precious metal from the country's 354 registered
gold producers, that include 21 primary, 252 small-scale miners and 81
custom millers.

Under a special pricing facility that the RBZ says is meant to support
producers but which miners say pays below market price, producers are paid
for 55 percent of the deliveries in foreign currency.

The remainder is paid in local currency but the central bank has
frequently defaulted on payments starving mines of cash to pay workers and
import chemicals, machines and spares.

The Chamber of Mines last September appealed to President Robert
Mugabe to intervene on miners' behalf and order the RBZ to pay US$25 million
for gold bullion delivered to the central bank.

The gold producers also blamed delays in payment for "reversing the
trend" of gold production, which at peak surged to 27 metric tonnes in 1999.

Sources said Gono was told at the meeting that the country's deepening
economic crisis was an offshoot of his shortcomings and told to cede other
duties to relevant organisations to stop the rot.

Gono also came under heavy attack over his habit of printing money
which has fuelled inflation, according to sources.

Last week's meeting was attended by the Chamber of Mines, the Bankers
Association of Zimbabwe, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries and the
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce.

Permanent secretary in the ministry of finance William Manungo and
senior executives of leading companies also attended the meeting.

"We resolved that the country uses all the foreign currencies on the
market together with the Zimbabwe dollar until such time when the local
currency's value is restored. We will then gradually do away with the
foreign currencies," said a company executive who was at the meeting.

In his new rescue plan, Gono is understood to be mulling adopting the
South African rand as an anchor currency for the near worthless Zimbabwe

Once a model African economy, Zimbabwe is in the grip of an
unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis that is marked by world
record inflation of more than 231 million percent, poverty and a cholera
outbreak that has claimed close to 3 000 lives since August.

A power-sharing agreement clinched in September and seen as the best
opportunity to save Zimbabwe's crumbling economy, has stalled over control
of key Cabinet positions and senior government appointments, leaving the
once prosperous country hovering on the brink of total collapse.

Southern African leaders resolved after a marathon summit in South
Africa on Monday that Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party and the opposition
should form a unity government outlined under the power-sharing agreement.

But the Morgan Tsvangirai-led opposition MDC party said the regional
summit had failed to address its grievances over implementation of the deal,
raising fears it could refuse to join the unity government. - ZimOnline.

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Despite International Relief Surge, Zimbabwe Cholera Epidemic Proves Tenacious

By Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye
27 January 2009

The cholera epidemic ravaging Zimbabwe gave no sign of relenting this week
with the death toll rising by 102 fatalities in 24 hours to 2,971 in
statistics compiled by the World Health Organization as of Monday, and with
weeks of rainy season ahead, authorities said.

The total number of cases rose to 56,123 in the latest WHO cholera update.
The cumulative death rate nationally was 5.3%, well over the 1% considered
normal internationally. The U.N. agency cited a cumulative "institutional
case fatality rate" of 2.1%, and a daily or current institutional fatality
rate of 1.2%, closer to the international norm.

On the other hand, the proportion of "community deaths," those occurring
outside treatment centers, has been steadily rising from about 45% at the
end of December to nearly 61% in the latest WHO statistical update,
suggesting the epidemic is taking a heavy toll among residents of isolated
communities without ready access to treatment centers.

From Geneva, WHO Communications Officer Paul Garwood told reporter,
Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that in response
to the persistence of the epidemic his organization is intensifying efforts
to contain the deadly disease.

Zimbabwe-based WHO Local Representative Custodia Mandlate said cholera cases
are likely to surge as the rainy season picks as more cases are reported
from urban and rural areas.

Mandlate added that her organization is particularly concerned at a rise in
deaths of cholera victims who succumb in their communities before they can
reach treatment centers.

As of Monday the greatest number of new cholera cases were reported in
Harare's Budiriro suburb, followed by Shamva, Guruve and Mbire, all in
Mashonaland Central province.

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Hunger Strike Day 6: Disappointment and disregard

Kumi Naidoo
Founder and co-chair, Global Call to Action Against Poverty

Posted January 27, 2009 | 03:42 PM (EST)

I began yesterday, hopeful that the leaders of Southern Africa would
demonstrate the integrity to lend a hand to the people of Zimbabwe, but by
the end of the day I was proven wrong.

We gathered - 500 concerned citizens - on the steps of the Union Buildings,
to call on SADC to step up political pressure, acknowledge the humanitarian
crisis, stop abductions and torture, and to release detained activists.
Above all, we were there to appeal to the consciences of SADC leaders to
acknowledge that Mugabe's regime has a direct role in the crisis in
Zimbabwe, and that the most important voices in Zimbabwe spoke on March 29,
2008 -- those of the people.

Amidst the rallying hundreds, the placards, speakers, singing and dancing
there was a genuine hope for change - a real belief that individual citizen
actions could help Southern African leaders see the difference that they
could make to the Zimbabwean people. The dithering and quiet talks between
diplomats must stop. And we believed that the tipping point was coming.

Buoyed by the hopes of the people on the Union Building steps, seven of us -
including my colleague and friend, Nomboniso Gasa- tried to peacefully and
respectfully present a Memorandum to the Extraordinary Session called by
SADC, to try to address the situation in Zimbabwe. The Memorandum is a
document that has been jointly written by a broad range of civil society in
Southern Africa, united in its call for an end to the needless suffering of
the Zimbabwean people.

The manicured gardens of the Presidential guesthouse could not have been
more starkly removed from the reality of the hardships that most face daily
north of the border -- or the reality of most within our own borders, for
that matter. We waited patiently to present our Memorandum, but no SADC
representative was forthcoming. We were instead asked to remove ourselves
from the grounds and when we suggested an alternative arrangement -- to be
accompanied by police to present our memorandum, we were forcefully denied.

Until then, the police were very helpful, directing us to the location of
the summit and trying to accommodate our demands, but the reality was that
the police were carrying out orders. It is their job to ensure the security
of the SADC talks -- which, according to SADC, includes denying the access
of Southern African citizens to their leaders. Though there were one or two
police officers who did not treat myself and fellow activists with common
respect -- especially with the clear manhandling of the Nomboniso by a few
male police officers -- the police were not the ones to blame.

As I was being bundled into the back of the police van after six days
without food, my most overwhelming emotion was one of profound
disappointment. Disappointment with SADC - its lofty ideals of civil society
empowerment are clearly only paper promises. Disappointment with the South
African government - a nation built on the foundations of a grassroots
movement for freedom and justice. And ultimately, disappointment with the
inertia surrounding the political process to ease the crisis in Zimbabwe,
which represents an implicit acquiescence to the current impasse.

It is tragic that the SADC leaders were unwilling to receive an appeal from
a broad cross-section of Southern African civil society which called for the
end of human rights violations humanitarian intervention, and justice for
the people of Zimbabwe. By not receiving this simple letter, they are
undermining their own stated commitments on the role of civil society in
building a strong Southern Africa.

Though we were not arrested, we were driven in the police van back to the
Union Buildings where we learned that the police opened fire with rubber
bullets to disperse the singing crowd. Emotions were running high -- this is
not a light issue for most involved -- and there were some protesters who
refused to be held back. Ultimately, the force used was disproportionate to
the situation, despite the chaos. Thankfully, there were few injuries

Yesterday was a day of deep disillusionment.

My fast will continue for more than another fortnight, and my hunger has
been replaced with a thirst for change and justice. SADC leaders may have
turned us away, but they cannot ignore the hopes and demands of their

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Zimbabweans Said to be Unhappy About Divisions Within Opposition Party

By Peter Clottey
Washington, D.C
28 January 2009

Zimbabweans are reportedly expressing frustration over reports of growing
divisions within the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
about the way forward at the just ended power sharing talks with the ruling
ZANU-PF party.

The talks, organized by leaders of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) produced a comminunique, which was reportedly agreed upon
by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai paving the way for a unity
government. The communiqué suggested Tsvangirai would be sworn in as prime
minister in February, setting the stage for a unity government with the
ruling ZANU-PF government.

But some dissenting members of the opposition sharply differed with the
communiqué describing it as malicious assurances by the regional leaders
that the party had agreed to join President Robert Mugabe in a power-sharing

Political analyst Glen Mpani told reporter Peter Clottey that the opposition
MDC needs to get its act together.

"The latest development is the conflicting statements where we have got a
position come out of SADC where a communiqué came out of the meeting where
both parties were represented. That basically was indicating that there is
an agreement and the processes of forming an inclusive government or going
to b put into motion culminating in the appointment of Morgan Tsvangirai as
Prime Minister and the supporting of amendment 19," Mpani pointed out.

He cited reports of disunity within the Morgan Tsvangirai-led opposition
about the just ended SADC summit and how to resolve the Zimbabwe power
sharing impasse.

"We have also heard that there is the MDC position that put through a press
statement indicating that that was contrary to what they had agreed to. So
they still need to go to their National Council. And then there are rumors
that within the MDC there are now serious divisions in terms of what road to
take with the other faction. There are allegations that the other faction
agreed to this deal whilst others are against it. So, these are quite
conflicting remarks and it is not clear, which position that party has taken
regarding the recent SADC talks," he said.

Mpani said there was need for the opposition to take a holistic approach to
the power sharing agreement with the ruling ZANU-PF party.

"What is important is that we should step back and say, what were the
reasons why the MDC was refusing to get into this government? One it was the
issue of sharing of ministries, ambassadors, permanent secretaries and the
levels of repressions in the country. If one looks at the communiqué, there
is nothing that is shifted or there is no concession that has been made
other than a commitment that is not even decisive to say the issues of the
appointment of the reserving governor and the attorney general who would be
dealt with when there is an inclusive government," Mpani said.

He said the just ended summit does not bode well for the opposition MDC.

"So, this is a slap in the face of the MDC and Tsvangirai because what it
does is it entrenches the position of SADC. And it reinforces the position,
which Thabo Mbeki, Motlanthe and the other people or leaders have been
saying get into this inclusive government. So one would presuppose that SADC
meeting was simply meant to whip Morgan Tsvangirai into line," he said.

Mpani said it was about time the opposition dealt with its internal
political divisions.

"The conflicting reports are basically a problem that I think the MDC needs
to deal with as a party to say what our position is and what is our take?
But I think what is very important is that it is disheartening and
frustrating for the Zimbabwean who is within the country for them not to
know what is really happening. Secondly, one would want to believe that
Zimbabweans are not looking for a façade, they are looking for meaningful
change," Mpani pointed out.

The opposition has often accused President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF of
refusing to fully implement the power sharing agreement to help resolve
Zimbabwe's economic meltdown. It is also demanding that dozens of its
members that it said are arbitrarily detained or disappeared by state forces
in recent months be released before it can join any powering government.

Meanwhile President Mugabe's government said it is prepared to form a
government on its own if the opposition failed to join, a move, some say
would effectively undermine the success of the just ended SADC-sponsored
power sharing talks. Former Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said
the government should be sworn in on Feb. 13, as proposed by regional
leaders. He said his party would give the opposition a few more days to
decide whether it would join in a unity government or not.

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Tsonga Project: Assessing Gains of Commercial Farming  Nigeria


When the Kwara State Government invited the displaced Zimbabwean farmers to
the state for the Tsonga farming project, many thought it was another white
elephant exercise. But with the series of awards garnered by the government
on the success of the scheme, it means that it can never be ignored. Tunde
Sanni looks at the project, the initial knocks and the plethora of
awardsGovernor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State saw the golden opportunity in
good time when President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe drove away the white
farmers and their tractors from his country during the country's
controversial land redistribution policy. Saraki never failed to grab that

Nigeria is not the only African country that wooed the 4,000 white farmers
who had been displaced, but through Saraki's first move, the country won the
'bid' for the farmers. There were overtures on the commercial farmers from
Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi. The governor admitted sending emissaries to woo
the farmers for the country and his state.
The new farmers were settled on a land leased arrangement for 25 years
around the new farming community of Tsonga village, an underdeveloped region
of the gentle green hills near the state's northern border.  But the locals
apparently ignorant to the actions of the governor resisted and boasted that
the farmers would never be settled in their community. They vowed never to
allow the white farmer a breathing space in their community, calling them
neo-colonialists who, under the guise of commercial farming wanted to
colonise them the second time.
They also feared that the Zimbabweans would steal their land, introduce
South African-style apartheid, and exploit their resources. But Saraki was
able to convince the local communities on the gains of the agricultural
project. He said, "A small number of farmers cannot come out and colonise
1.2 million people in Kwara State. If we had a Nigerian who had the
expertise and who can do it, it would be a different matter. No matter what
we do in Nigeria, if we don't improve agriculture we are not going to fight
The initial minor fight later on turned bloody as the locals employed the
services of their hunters and other marksmen to repel the farmers and of
course the agents of the government, which included the police who were
deployed to bring the situation under control. Saraki soon retreated to a
new strategy, a strategy of financial collaboration and incentive, which
included employment of the locals by the farmers as well as handsome
financial payback for those who would be displaced by the white farmers.
With the apparent irresistible incentive, the stiff opposition of the locals
soon became tampered and gradually, the governor, with the aid of the
village monarch, Haliru Yahya, a world-class medic started winning the
restive locals to their side and with that began an agricultural revolution
that has continued to bring more laurels to the state and his person.
The arrowhead of the opposition against the project, Alhaji Muhammad Ndagi,
the Galadima of Dumagi, with the Saraki new onslaught, at a press briefing
rallied his community behind the scheme and apologised for the negative
attitude to the project and pledged his full support for the commercial
farming scheme. The Galadima of Dumagi however urged the state government to
fulfill its own side of the agreement by paying compensation promptly to
those who gave up their farmlands.
Dumagi was one of the villages in Tsonga district that contributed land to
the project. Before the Ndagi press briefing at the time, the displaced
farmers had received various sums of money as compensation totaling N86
million in the first phase. N35million compensation was paid for the second
phase of the settlement, apart from the farmers being provided alternative
land nearby to continue farming.
The alternative farmlands were prepared for cultivation by the state
government, which also provided the affected local farmers with seedlings,
fertilisers and chemicals at a cost of about N60 million. The governor gave
out free bicycles to the displaced farmers, while others benefited from free
training on mechanised farming from agric extension agents. The goal of the
governor is to use the farmers to kick-start Nigeria's moribund agricultural
Led by Allan Jack, the farmers with their wives started arriving in Tsonga
in batches. However, jolted by Mugabe's action, one of the evicted farmers,
Dan Swart, had told newsmen how he and four other white farmers left
Zimbabwe to start another life in Nigeria. "I had a tobacco farm in Zimbabwe
that employed about 450 people, but I was chased away two years ago. Then we
were given the offer to come to Nigeria."
Though the country has an abundance of fertile land, her citizens have found
out that successive government complacence, as a result of the discovery of
oil in the Niger Delta, has relegated farming to a scandalous second
position, necessitating in the importation of some food items into the
country. The last time Nigerians laughed on the dawn of agricultural
revolution was during the Operation Feed the Nation policy of the General
Olusegun Obasanjo regime.
An attempt by the succeeding Shehu Shagari administration with the
introduction of the Green Revolution only witnessed a legacy of corruption
and misplaced priorities as the principals in the ruling government of the
defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) were only interested in the monetary
release rather than the success of the policy.
With the dearth of mechanised farmers, hordes of retired military and
political office holders who had the capital to invest came into mechanised
farming, while peasant farmers tilled majority of the nation's farmlands.
The peasant farming groups don't have the capital for mechanised farming or
the ability to raise credit from banks.
Saraki who recovered from the hiccups posted by the locals boasted, "in
about 10 years' time, Kwara will be the backbone for Nigeria's agricultural
drive and we need to have commercial farmers to do that.
"We thought those Zimbabwe farmers don't want them. I'm sure they'd rather
stay in Africa than go somewhere else. So we sent someone to talk to them."
The plan was to have 15 Zimbabweans moving to Kwara this month. They will
initially live in the bush in tents while they build their homes.  Then, as
the months' progress, more farmers and their families should fly out with
the calculation that within a decade, as many as 100 farmers could be based
in Kwara.
"I hope in about 10 years' time our airport will be busy and young chaps
coming out of university will think about going into farming. Banks will
invest in the agricultural sector. And Kwara will be the backbone for
Nigeria's agricultural drive," said.
With the fear that the farmers might not be able to get the financial muscle
needed for the project, Saraki soon mobilised the then Federal Government to
the aid of the farmers. With loans of up to $250,000 to get started and
50-year leases, they each established commercial farms of 1,000 hectares.
The white farmers are planning to add dairy, beef, cattle and to grow fruit,
flowers and vegetables for export to Europe. He took the farmers to Aso Rock
where Obasanjo, himself a mechanised farmer before the travails and gains of
life received the farmers with fanfare and even promised his administration
total support for the project.
The agrarian environment wore a political look the day Obasanjo led the
federal team to the community and from then on, all forms of hostilities and
rejections against the project ceased and the commercial farming project
which a year on at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with
the white farmers, had its name changed to Kwara State Commercial
Agriculture Project (KWACAP).
The former president put the blame for the poor investments in agriculture
in Nigeria on the commercial banks that he noted "are not really prepared to
understand what farming entails in terms of financial support. He appealed
to banks to see how the rural areas can be activated, can be made to create
jobs, can be made to develop." He canvassed a summit of governments,
farmers, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks on how to
generate financial support for serious farmers at the affordable interest
rate. All categories of farmers, he said, "must be supported".
Obasanjo who spoke moments after a tour of the farms praised the
accommodating and hospitable nature of the host communities and commended
them for rising above primordial sentiments, in spite of the misleading
insinuations at the initial stage. "What else could be the essence of land
if not for productive use?  The former president hinted that plans have been
concluded by the Federal Minister of Agriculture to build 25,000 tonnes
silos for the storage of grains in Kwara and neighbouring states and pointed
out that the effort will go along way to remove the seasonal nightmare of
incessant waste of farm produce as a result of lack of storage facilities.
"The present generation of farmers is too old to carry on the rigorous
business. Thus, there is an urgent need for successor farmers to inculcate
new ways of doing things, modern ways of doing things," Obasanjo said.
Saraki at the occasion admitted that the commercial farming project was a
high-risk initiative to "create employment and reduce poverty, by first
boosting food production and developing the small and medium scale
agro-allied industry. The initiative became expedient in view of the fact
that 75 per cent of our people in formal employment are in the civil
service. Kwara State is dangerously dependent on Federal allocations for
running the government and propagating social development."
He said company and income taxes generated in the state is just about 20 per
cent of the state's annual earnings, which further emphasises the precarious
financial position of the state.  He predicted a situation where street-side
electronic shops and sellers of household items would enjoy more sales,
therefore indicating their knock-on effects of this project.
The project has the capacity to generate immense opportunities. Saraki
however hinted that "learning and transfer of skills to our local farmers"
are part of the many benefits of the new initiative.

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On This Day: Mugabe calls on whites to stay in Rhodesia
January 28, 2009

“Robert Mugabe returned today from five years in exile and told a tumultuous rally of his supporters that there would be no more injustice based on race and colour. He emphasised that there would still be a place for private farmers and that only underutilised and abandoned land or land owned by absentee landlords would be used to resettle peasants.”

The Times, January 28, 1980

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Zimbabwe: Signs of a failed State

The failare of the GNU talks in Pretoria yesterday will only mean that the variable mentioned below will continue to worsen.

In order to forstall additional deaths, its is time now for the international community to intervene in the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.


  • Current Zimbabwe population is estimated at 9 million, half of what it should have been had everything been okay.
  • 3000 deaths per weeks, mainly from HIV/AIDS, and sometimes cholera
  • Men have a life expectancy of 37,  and that of women is at 34
  • 15% of the 15-69 age group are living with HIV/AIDS
  • About 25 000 reportedly leaving the country every month, mostly to South Africa and Botswana


  • More than 80 000 teachers have left the teaching profession over the last ten years.
  • Of school teachers present, 85% are temporary teachers, mostly Green Bombers, the unqualified youth militia
  • Last year, school children attended 27 days of the full academic year, the rest of the days lost through strikes by teachers.
  • About 20% of school children attended school in 2008.
  • 40% of teachers didn't come to school last year.
  • Colleges have been closed several times, and right now they are still closed.
  • College students have been on strike protesting against the dollarization of education.
  • National Exam results from last year have not been released, ZIMSEC saying it is still 'capturing' the results


  • More than five currencies are being used as legal tender in Zimbabwe, from US dollars, South African Rands, Euros, Botswana's Pula and Mutare even Mozambique's Meticals
  • About 95% of the adult labour force is unemployed
  • The Zimbabwe dollar, which loses it value hourly, is now worthless. As of today, it was trading at US$1 for ZW$31 trillion
  • Nobody knows the country's inflation rate. It has been estimated at over 6.5 QUINDECILLION NOVEMDECILLION percent.
  • Fuel shortages, Cash shortages, etc are the order of the day.
  • Electricity supplies, for domestic use, now appear stable, thanks to the collapse of the industrial sector.
  • The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has been closed, indefinitely.


  • a cholera outbreak has claimed the lives over over 3000 people, and affected over 60 000. Cholera death in rural areas are unknown, where the malady has taken hold in the last two weeks.
  • Doctors are on indefinite strike demanding better wages.
  • Several regional hospitals have closed, including Chiredzi General Hospital
  • Most hospitals have not basic drugs
  • Clinics and hospitals are now charging in foreign currency
  • Medical Insurance no longer working


  • About 7 million survive on food aid
  • This agric. season has been written off
  • More than half the seized land now lies idle
  • The Zimbabwe Army being fed on Elephant meat

National Security

  • State agents now abducting people everyday.
  • MDC rallies banned.
  • Reports of banditry
  • Soldiers running riot, clearly a sign that some of the soldiers are not under anybody's control


** Stats compiled from Reuters/AFP/Times Online/Harare Tribune/Herald/AP/Zimbabwe Times/ZimOnline/WHO/UNICEF

*** Compiled by: Thomas Shumba, Tawanda Takavarasha, Pretty Ncube, and Trymore Magomana

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