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Chihuri bans political meetings

January 2, 2009

By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO - Police have banned all political gatherings in the country
claiming that the current political situation  is volatile  and has
potential to disturb the peace.

In a circular to all officers commanding provinces Commissioner-General
Augustine Chihuri said that all political gatherings had been banned
indefinitely because of the volatile political situation in the country.

The circular dated 29 December 2008 also advised the police to be on high
alert and to monitor all activities which might be carried out by  some
people under the guise of  celebrating Christmas and new year.

Part of the circular read, "Please be advised that with immediate effect all
political gatherings have been banned because of the political situation in
the country. The ban will be lifted once the situation on the ground has

"Other gatherings which are not political need to be monitored very closely
since some rogue elements might take advantage of the festive season to
undertake criminal activities which might disturb peace in the country.

"In areas where the cholera outbreak has claimed several lives it is in the
interest of the police to ban all gatherings be (they) social or political."

The police have also advised  the public to report any suspicious activities
which might be taking place in their communities.

Although Chihuri could not be reached for comment yesterday an officer
commanding a province who requested anonymity yesterday confirmed the
development adding that police officers have since been barred from taking
off or leave days.

"We have also been advised to ensure that no one goes on leave since the
situation is volatile".

The blanket ban on political meetings has widened the rift between Zanu-PF
and the MDC putting prospects of establishing an all inclusive government
into jeopardy

Sources within the police said the directive to ban all political activities
comes against the backdrop of the claimed assassination attempt on Air Force
commander Perrence Shiri early this month.

Shiri, a former freedom fighter who commanded the infamous Gukurahundi
campaign in Matabeleland, was allegedly shot in the arm by unknown gunmen
while driving to his farm in Shamva. While officials were uncharastically
quick in announcing the alleged shooting no further details of the mystery
shooting have been made public.

The government has attempted to associate the  MDC with the alleged

President Robert Mugabe's government, now desperate to remain in power, has
also accused the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai of training militants in
neighbouring Botswana in preparation for the overthrow of government.

The MDC and the Botswana government have vehemently denied the allegation
from Harare. The Botswana government has pledged to assist SADC undertake a
fact finding mission to investigate the allegations.

More that 50 civic and opposition activists are currently in prison after
being abducted by state security agents on charges of engaging in military
training in Botswana to overtrow president Mugabe's government.

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Mutambara, Mugabe meet

Local News
January 2, 2009 | By Metro Staff Writer
President Robert Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change formation leader
Arthur Mutambara held a meeting to discussion the formation of the
long-delayed a unity government, according to sources.

Mr. Mugabe and Mutambara met on Wednesday evening just before the expiration
of a January 1 deadline set by Tsvangirai in issuing an ultimatum demanding
the release of detained activists, failing which he pull out the MDC from
the power-sharing talks.

Mr. Mugabe and Mutambara according to sources discussed issues including the
composition of the cabinet in the proposed unity government, and that they
concluded that there could be no forward movement without Tsvangirai's
participation in further meetings and eventually in the long-mooted
"all-inclusive" government.

Mutambara MDC faction Secretary General Welshman Ncube confirmed that
Mutambara and Mugabe discussed the issues blocking the formation of a

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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai Urged To Return From Botswana To Re-Engage Talks

By Blessing Zulu
01 January 2009

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change
formation leader Arthur Mutambara have urged MDC founder and prime minister
designate Morgan Tsvangirai to return to the country from Botswana, his base
for the last several weeks, to reopen discussions on forming a long-delayed
a unity government, sources said Thursday.

Political sources said Mr. Mugabe and Mutambara met late Wednesday before
the expiration of a Jan. 1 deadline set by Tsvangirai in issuing an
ultimatum demanding the release of detained activists, failing which he
threatened to ask his party to end power-sharing discussions.

Sources in the government and the opposition said Mr. Mugabe and Mutambara
discussed issues including the composition of the cabinet in the proposed
unity government, and that they concluded that there could be no forward
movement without Tsvangirai's participation in further meetings and
eventually in the long-mooted "all-inclusive" government.

Secretary General Welshman Ncube of the Mutambara MDC formation told
reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the opposition
formation party leader and Mr. Mugabe examined the issues blocking the
formation of a government.

Parliamentary Chief Whip Joram Gumbo of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party said a
three-way meeting of principals is essential at this point in the
power-sharing process,which waslaunchedSept.15withapoliticalaccordbuthas
since stalled.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC grouping offered no
objections to the meeting conducted by Mr. Mugabe and Mutambara, but said
the dominant MDC grouping at this point needs to see ZANU-PF put some real
concessions on the table.

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Zimbabwe Rights Lawyers Say Detained Activists Still Denied Medical Care

By Jonga Kandemiiri
01 January 2009

Zimbabwe human rights defenders representing Peace Project Director Jestina
Mukoko and dozens of opposition activists accused of plotting a coup said
Thursday that their clients have not yet received medical care as ordered by
a high court judge on Wednesday.

The court ruled that Mukoko and more than 30 Movement for Democratic Change
activists should be sent to Avenues Clinic in Harare or that doctors of
their choosing should come to the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where
they are being held.

Lawyer Andrew Makoni told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that even a two-year-old child being held in remand with his mother
needs urgent attention because state agents harmed him during his mother's

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Ebola kills 2 Zim soldiers in DRC


Published: Friday 02 January 2009

ZIMBABWE - HARARE - Two Zimbabwean soldiers have been killed by the deadly
Ebola virus that has killed 11 people in western Congo, reports said.

A total of 35 people have been infected in Kaluemba, Western Kasai province,
where the epidemic began in late November, Congo Health Minister August
Mopipi confirmed yesterday.

Zimbabwean soldiers who have been deployed to the DRC to reinforce Joseph
Kabila's shaky defence lines against rebel leader, General Laurent Nkunda,
have succumbed to the disease.

The army is keeping the cases under wraps.

Our source said: "This information has been classified."

DRC reports say suspected cases of the highly contagious disease identified
in Congo had infected two Zimbabwean soldiers who both died within 24 hours.

Laboratory tests in both Gabon and Congo's National Institute for Biomedical
Research confirmed Ebola in the 11 deaths, a report said.

Efforts to obtain comment from the army were futile.

Ebola kills up to 90 percent of the people it infects and is spread through
direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person or with
contaminated objects.

The disease can lie dormant for up to three weeks before flu-like symptoms
set in.

It then starts attacking internal organs, causing bloody diarrhea and
vomiting and death from massive blood loss.

Last year, Ebola killed at least 187 people in the same region of Congo.

Area villagers have recently been reported diarrhea and vomiting of blood,
said Olivier Chenebon of the Belgian charity Doctors Without Borders.

The charity is monitoring 102 people who have been in contact with the
infected "because it is possible they could contract the disease and infect
others," Chenebon said.

There are serious fears over Zimbabwean soldiers stationed in DRC who were
deployed to repel a massive ground attack by General Nkunda's army.

An Ebola outbreak in 1995 killed 245 people in the Congolese village of

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Only a military invasion can save Zimbabwe

January 2, 2009

After Iraq the West will blanch at the prospect, but it must find the
political will for action to help this dying nation
Martin Fletcher
Long after you leave Zimbabwe images linger in the mind, harrowing and
ineradicable. An emaciated old woman making "soup" from weeds for her
orphaned grandchildren; desperate parents foraging in the bush for a handful
of desiccated berries; young men defying crocodiles to catch a handful of
tiny fish in the Zambezi; the corpses of cholera victims trussed up in black
plastic sheeting; the ubiquitous and debilitated Aids victims; perfunctory
funerals in Harare's cemetery while, all around, fresh graves are dug.

The pathetic attempts to grow vegetables on scraps of common land; the
queues desperate to withdraw a few pennies from banks before their money
loses all its value; the listlessness and despair of a crushed and broken
people, the anguish of priests, doctors and aid workers overwhelmed by this
tsunami of suffering...

There are other images, too. Of once bountiful farms plundered then
abandoned by Robert Mugabe's cronies, fields vanishing beneath the
encroaching bush; of Zanu (PF) fat cats and their playboy offspring speeding
around Harare in sleek Mercedes, or stuffing themselves in restaurants; of
opponents beaten, tortured and killed; of Mr Mugabe and his profligate wife
holed up in their heavily guarded estate, oblivious to the misery of their
people, while Western NGOs inadvertently prop up a pernicious regime by
providing the rudimentary services - food, water, healthcare - the failed
state can no longer deliver.

"Enough is enough," Gordon Brown declared as the West worked itself up into
one of its periodic lathers last month. But no one, it seems, is prepared to
contemplate the one guaranteed means of removing Zimbabwe's President:
military intervention by a multinational force.

Nothing else has worked. Mr Mugabe has shown not the slightest intention of
honouring his commitment to share power with Morgan Tsvangirai and the
Movement for Democratic Change. South Africa has singularly failed, despite
repeated international exhortations, to exert real pressure on Mr Mugabe to
step down. Thabo Mbeki, its former President and the Southern African
Development Community's mediator, has been downright complicit in sustaining
the regime.
There will be no popular uprising against Mr Mugabe - three million of
Zimbabwe's best citizens have fled the country and the rest are too weak,
cowed and preoccupied with survival. A palace coup is improbable - the
leaders of Zanu (PF)'s bitterly feuding factions appear to recognise that if
Mr Mugabe falls, they all do. There have been no repeats of the riots by
underpaid soldiers that briefly raised hopes last month. Some advocate a
fuel blockade, but that would merely compound the suffering of ordinary
people while the regime would undoubtedly find ways to circumvent it.

Which leaves military intervention - an idea from which, after Iraq, the
world instinctively and understandably recoils. But is it really so
unthinkable? You could equally well argue that if there were ever a case for
regime change, for using military power to better the world, Zimbabwe is it.

First, it is eminently feasible. No great force would be required. The
Mugabe regime, like a tree hollowed out by termites, is just waiting to be
toppled. It is sustained by security forces whose middle and lower ranks are
almost as penniless, starving and demoralised as the citizens they are meant
to suppress. You see numerous soldiers and policemen hitchhiking on the
highways, and in the privacy of a car they readily voice profound
disgruntlement. It is inconceivable that they would fight to defend the
regime, even if they had the weapons, fuel and transport. Most would melt
away at the first sight of a foreign force. Any fighting would probably be
over within hours, and the bloodshed would be minimal.

Second, there is a popular and legitimate government waiting to take over.
Nobody seriously disputes that Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC comfortably won the
presidential and parliamentary elections last March despite all Zanu (PF)'s
violence, intimidation and vote rigging.

Third, it is immoral for the world to stand by, wringing its hands, in the
face of such manifest evil. The 2005 UN World Summit agreed that the
international community bore a responsibility to protect populations from
genocide and other atrocities when their own governments failed to do so.
What is happening in Zimbabwe is not far short of genocide.

More than half the population would starve were it not for Western food aid.
Life expectancy has plunged to 39 years - the lowest in the world. Aids,
cholera and other diseases sweep away the chronically malnourished. While
the regime loots what is left of Zimbabwe's wealth, a third of the
population has been driven out, 90 per cent of those that remain are
jobless, and the currency is rendered worthless by an inflation rate
measured in quintillions of percentage points. Any opposition is ruthlessly

The arguments against military intervention are easy to predict. It would
set a precedent. South Africa would object. If Zimbabwe, why not Sudan or
North Korea? Intervention would smack of Western imperialism. To which the
answers are, in turn: I hope so; tough; because Zimbabwe is doable; and that
any intervention force would have to include African troops. Kenya, Botswana
and Zambia have all denounced the regime. Even Ethiopia might be tempted by
the prospect of capturing its former President, Mengistu Haile Mariam, who
lives there as Mr Mugabe's guest despite being convicted in absentia of

Once inconceivable, military intervention is still only a remote
possibility. The political will does not exist. Already world attention has
been diverted by Gaza, and Mr Mugabe - the "old crocodile" - has survived
another crisis.

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Africa has to rise up to save Zimbabweans
Friday, January 02 2009


THE year 2008 has ended with the Zimbabwe political crisis remaining
unresolved. The political quagmire in that southern Africa nation has
generated diverse reactions from the international community. What is not
debatable, however, and should not be further politicized is the critical
condition of that nation's socio-economic and political life, now burdened
with the cholera outbreak which has killed an estimated 1,600 people.

Some political analysts have pointed an accusing finger to the West for what
they see as its interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe,
particularly its perceived partisanship in the wake of the government's land
redistribution reforms aimed to favour the blacks.

Other analysts have put the blame squarely on President Robert Mugabe, under
whose rule his country has witnessed a blatant abuse of power and human
rights. They say Mugabe and his government have only ended up plunging the
country into a deep crisis with the poor bearing the brunt.

The octogenarian leader has the unfortunate record of taking his country to
enviable heights and in a twist presiding over its descent into despondency
and corporate failure, they say.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Zimbabwe has the shortest
life expectancy of 37 years for men and 34 years for women; and at 25 per
cent, the one with the highest percentage of orphans in the world. Inflation
is now running into trillions.

Africa must not allow this sad situation to go on unchecked since it is
directly related to the nation's turbulent political run.

The country came close to peace when opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won the first round of voting in
the last presidential election but refused to take part in the run-off for
alleged intimidation. He later accepted the power-sharing deal negotiated by
former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The good chance for peace has been squandered as the anti- Mugabe elements
constantly accuse the country's strongman of insincerity in executing the
spirit and letter of the reconciliation pact.

It is, indeed, sad that Mugabe himself has not done much to allay the fears
about his design to perpetuate his tenure. Instead he has declared with an
air of authority that ''Zimbabwe is mine!''

That is a bad categorical statement from a man who claims to have waged a
guerrilla war to emancipate his people.

At 84 years of age and having ruled his country for almost three decades,
Mugabe cannot claim monopoly of wisdom in the leadership of Zimbabwe. The
country cannot survive under the shadow of Mugabe's past honours. He needs
to relinquish power now.

As we respect the sovereignty of other nations and their right to
self-determination, no ruler has the right to mismanage his country's
chances of recovery and expect the rest of the world to fold its arms.

Zimbabwe's ugly political and economic situation and the poor conditions of
its citizens transcend narrow and sentimental considerations. The human
family should save it from total collapse.

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Zimbabwe: 'ugly, horrendous'

Issue 7607 - 2 January, 2009

by Pat Ashworth

THE Bishop of Harare, Dr Sebastian Bakare, has voiced a "litany of
chal­lenges" of problems that are destroy­ing Zimbabwe. In a pastoral letter
to Zimbabwean Anglicans, issued on Christmas Eve, he writes:

"Cholera, hunger, HIV/AIDs, lack of health care, homelessness,
unem­ployment, poverty, corruption, kid­nappings, callousness, harassment,
you name it. . . All these challenges rob us of an opportunity to have a
meaningful and purposeful life.

"As I write, some families are nurs­ing their relatives who are
suffering from the effects of cholera expecting them to die any time, others
stay indoors, unable to come out from their houses because of the
unbear­able stench of sewage flowing in front of their doorsteps, while
still others are burying their dead. We hear of a horrific case where one
family lost five children in 36 hours."

Dr Bakare describes it as "an ugly and horrendous situation". Such
feelings of hopelessness and dejec­tion can challenge faith in God, he
acknowledges, but "can also lead us to deeper understanding of the
help­lessness, powerlessness, dejection, and pain that Jesus had to bear on
our behalf". God has not abandoned Zimbabwe, and the Lord does not fail his
chosen, he assures his people.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has renewed his attack on South Africa for its
lack of action against Mr Mugabe, and repeated his call to the international
community to remove him by force if he refuses to step down voluntarily. A
"new doctrine of responsibility to protect" had to be invoked, he told BBC
Radio 4 in an interview last week.

Mr Mugabe "needs to be warned, and his cronies must be warned that the
world is not just going to sit by and do nothing," Dr Tutu said.

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Between Mugabe and the exit door

Friday, 02 January 2009 00:07 Anonymous

The deadlock between President  Robert Mugabe and the opposition  Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has, rather
unfortunately, fractured the protracted efforts aimed at ending the
escalating crisis in Zimbabwe.
When, on September 15, 2008, Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU), with the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, acting
as facilitator, many people across the globe thought a new page in the
socio-political history of Zimbabwe had been turned. They saw the MOU as a
depiction of the duo's sensational climb-down from their prolonged obdurate
stances and stringent preconditions to dialogue in the numerous inter-party
negotiations that had attracted stinging criticisms across the globe.
The fact that Mugabe agreed to sign the MOU was regarded as an indication of
his willingness to deal a deathblow to the Zimbabwean political debacle and
economic hemorrhage.
In the same vein, many people thought the handshake that took place between
Mugabe and Tsvangirai when the two met for the first time in a decade
symbolised a new dawn for Zimbabwe, which had been precariously plagued by
multifaceted turmoil for years.
From Harare to Bulawayo, Chitungwiza to Victoria Falls, excitement over the
talks had gladdened the air. For some Zimbabweans, the talks filled them
with nostalgia, as their thoughts strolled back to the early years of
President Mugabe's administration, when he was, for them, a symbol of hope,
liberation and African determination.
However, months after the signing of the MOU, the situation in Zimbabwe has
not improved. If anything, it has only worsened.
At present, Zimbabwe's economic trauma has reached its all time peak-a
situation which makes mockery of the government's interventionist
introduction of the 100 billion Zimbabwean dollar note to cushion the
spiralling economic quandaries. Apart from the currency's historic slide,
the government also has to worry about the general economy, which is
presently riding on the crest of persistent hyperinflation.
In addition to the food and fuel scarcity ravaging the country, the
inhabitants also have to grapple with the spreading cholera epidemic that
has already claimed more than a lives, although the government has
repeatedly viewed the cholera claims as a ploy by the West, particularly the
United States and the United Kingdom, to invade Zimbabwe and oust him.
Recently, many African leaders have begun asking Mugabe to quit, but he has
remained defiant in the face of their hard-hitting criticisms. But what the
suffering masses of Zimbabwe need now are not mere barrels of criticisms
targeted at Mugabe. What they actually need is a combined pragmatically
proactive effort that would speedily resolve the crisis and restore normalcy
to the land, even if it means ousting the president who seems to be the
political juggernaut perpetuating the stalemate.
Aggrieved by the lacklustre response of African nations, especially South
Africa, to the crisis in Zimbabwe, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Desmond Tutu,
recently launched a scathing attack on South Africa, accusing the country of
betraying its legacy of freedom by not standing up to Mugabe and addressing
the crisis head on by toppling Mugabe.  Fears have indeed been raised in
some quarters that Mugabe has overstepped his bounds and would no longer be
offered immunity from prosecution if he eventually chooses to resign.
However, we, at Business Day, believe that diplomatic efforts still need to
be intensified with the view to negotiating a less cumbersome exit for him.
Although we hope that diplomatic steps could still be taken to address the
Zimbabwean debacle, we hope that the negotiations will not reach a stalemate
or be reduced to a mere political talk show, flavoured with elitist
Rather than inflating their egos to the detriment of the citizenry whose
interests both of them claim to be protecting, we implore Mugabe and
Tsvangirai to strive towards the pursuit of the common good and the
entrenchment of democratic ideals in Zimbabwe, for the betterment of all
Zimbabweans. Rather than furthering the polarization apparent in the
socio-cultural and politico-economic fabric of the nation, they should
endeavour to work together to fashion out a society anchored on equity,
justice and peace.
Putting aside Mugabe's role in the politico-economic servitude of Zimbabwe,
and mapping out a smooth exit for him, would serve as a lubricant for the
talks meant to issue in a new era for Zimbabwe.
What is increasingly becoming obvious is that Zimbabwe without Mugabe seems
to be the most substantially realistic avenue towards restoring political
stability and economic sanity in the country, a land once heralded as the
food basket of Southern Africa and widely courted as the esteemed political
bride of many diplomats across the globe.
In the event of Mugabe's exit, we urge that his successor must guard against
being used as a puppet, and should endeavour to protect and foster the
intrinsic and extrinsic interests of Zimbabweans in particular and Africa at

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Comment from a correspondent

Dear Sir,

I read your online newspaper every day because I have some very dear friends in Zimbabwe.

One thing though - WILL YOU PLEASE STOP REFERRING TO THE MDC AS THE OPPOSITION? THEY ARE THE DULY ELECTED GOVERNMENT. GET IT RIGHT !! The mad, bad, sad, mendacious, mephitic, esurient mugabe may, with the help of his thugs, have prevented the MDC from taking office, but that does not alter the fact that it is the Zanu PF which is now the opposition. For a paper like yours to keep banging on, incorrectly, about the MDC being "the opposition" gives, albeit unintentionally I trust, a smidgin of legitimacy to the genocidal sociopath mugabe.

Under the Westminster system of government and law, to which Zimbabwe theoretically suscribes, the MDC is the GOVERNMENT since it has a parliamentary majority, and that deluded cretin mugabe is opposition leader.


Let's all hope for a year in which mugabe and many of his henchmen find themselves locked up in the Hague for the remainder of their worthless lives.

[Sometimes I feel like throwing in the towel.... is it worth spending countless hours doing this, with no pay, no time off, and feedback like this?  I hope most readers understand that I am simply reproducing other people's views, not my own.  B]

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