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MDC in fierce debate on way forward

January 7, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - The mainstream Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is locked in a
conundrum over whether or not to join the all-inclusive government under the
power-sharing framework brokered by the regional bloc, SADC.

Fierce debate was raging among the MDC Standing Committee members meeting in
Johannesburg starting Wednesday, an authoritative party source confirmed to
The Zimbabwe Times.

The party was pondering over the dilemma of whether to join government or
walk away.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is now in South Africa, was meeting with
members of his Standing Committee including his deputy, Thokozani Khupe,
chairman Lovemore Moyo, secretary general Tendai Biti, spokesman Nelson
Chamisa and exiled party treasurer Roy Bennett.

Organising secretary Elias Mudzuri was also in South Africa, together with
Women's Assembly chairperson Theresa Makone and Youth chairperson Thamsanqa

A source said the dilemma of the MDC was that if they walked away from the
September 15 SADC-brokered deal, they would leave ordinary Zimbabweans naked
in a blizzard that can only bring death or pain.

Also, walking away from the deal would be playing into Zanu-PF's hands,
which would want the deal to fail, especially if the MDC were to be blamed,
but with disastrous consequences for the country.

The MDC Standing Committee was expected to come up with recommendations on
the way forward by Friday. Our source said it will be one of the most
difficult decisions for the MDC since it was formed in 1999.

While the Standing Committee had noted that Zanu-PF was capitulating, there
was emerging consensus that there was need to step up pressure until all
outstanding issues had been resolved.

The party had noted that Tsvangirai had received his passport which was
handed over to him in Gaborone by the South African Ambassador on Christmas

At least 30 of the 42 political detainees that Tsvangirai had demanded that
be produced before New Year's Day had been brought to court. But the party
was demanding that they continue pressuring President Robert Mugabe's regime
to produce 12 other MDC activists that remain held incommunicado.

The party had staunchly refused to compromise on the issue of equitable and
fair sharing of Cabinet ministerial portfolios. The party has rejected
attempts by Zanu-PF to seize the lion's share of powerful ministries and
relegate the MDC to the role of junior partner when it won the only credible
elections held in March last year.

The MDC Standing Committee had also rejected outright the sharing of the
Home Affairs ministry, according to a source privy to the ongoing

The Standing Committee had also demanded five governors' appointments,
saying this was non-negotiable.

While Parliament will resume sitting on January 20 to debate and vote on the
Constitutional Amendment No 19 Bill and the new legislation to set up the
National Security Council, the MDC has said it will not co-operate, if the
outstanding issues are not agreed and in place.

Mugabe is threatening to constitute a new Cabinet by end of February whether
the MDC leader likes it or not. The Zimbabwean leader has asked Tsvangirai
to give him names of people to fill the MDC's 13 Cabinet slots in the new
government even before resolving the points of disagreements with the MDC.

Mugabe has also invited Tsvangirai to be sworn in as Prime Minister. But
Tsvangirai has declined the invitation, arguing he cannot be part of the
government until all outstanding issues have been resolved. The leader of
the smaller MDC faction, Professor Arthur Mutambara, who met Mugabe at State
House last week Wednesday has already submitted names of his nominees and
now displays signs of impatience at the Tsvangirai's slow space.

The Zimbabwe Times was informed that there were differences in the Standing
Committee on the way forward.

"The debate is going on, but I can tell you the president is under intense
pressure to walk away from this thing," said our MDC source.

"Both arguments for and against joining the new government are justified.
What is the point of walking away when we won the elections? At the same
time, what would joining a new government as a junior partner achieve? That
is the predicament."

Outgoing Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who is also Zanu-PF lead
negotiator at the talks, has said Zanu-PF would not succumb to what he
called the opposition's arm-twisting tactics.

Chinamasa claimed the MDC was playing hard ball to appease its alleged
Western principals, who want, so he says, a power-transfer not

Those who want the MDC to walk away argue that an MDC involvement in Mugabe's
government as a junior partner would only serve to legitimise his regime and
would not unlock desperately needed international financial support.

If the MDC pulls out, proponents of this view argue, an exacerbated
legitimacy crisis would consign Zanu-PF into deeper isolation - both at home
and abroad - and thus impair its ability to function effectively to sustain
its arbitrary rule.

The other view is that there is absolutely nothing to be gained by walking
away because Zanu-PF would continue to rule the country, looting State
resources and sustaining the economy through its ad hoc policies such as
dollarization of the economy and minting cash with reckless abandon.

Political analysts warn that if the MDC walks away from the power-sharing
deal, it will be voluntarily choosing to banish itself to the political
wilderness where it risks redundancy and disintegration.

It also risks being pulverised to pulp by the regime which has already
framed banditry charges against it. Political analysts say pulling out would
not work because Mugabe no longer really cares about the issue of popular
legitimacy as he has been ruling regardless.

Political commentator Ronald Shumba said the MDC should remember that there
was a lot of opposition to the MDC, and suggestions for civil disobedience
would be disastrous for the party.

"We have many opposition people more opposed to the MDC than to Zanu-PF,"
Shumba said. "The other problem is that the MDC is fighting a former
liberation movement.

"It's always difficult in that kind of environment to abandon dialogue in
favour of civil resistance and defiance despite how difficult that decision

He said Zanu-PF and the MDC were employing the same entrenched negotiating

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Zimbabwe opposition activists face death penalty over bombings

Seven members of Zimbabwe's opposition could face the death penalty after
being charged with involvement in bombings last year.

Last Updated: 7:00PM GMT 07 Jan 2009

The seven members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who were
formally charged and pleaded not guilty, are among rights activists and
opponents of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party detained in recent
weeks on what the opposition has said are trumped up charges designed to
crack down on dissent.

The seven accused were charged with terrorism, banditry and insurgency, and
could face the death penalty if convicted.

They include Gandi Mudzingwa, an adviser to the MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, and Chris Dhlamini, the MDC's head of security.

Their lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, told the judge that the charges were
"ridiculous and scandalous".

He also called two doctors who testified that the accused had been beaten
while in police custody and had serious injuries.

Mr Muchadehama asked the judge to allow the defendants to be further
examined outside jail to determine whether they had been tortured.

Prosecutors argued that the two doctors' testimony was not credible. The
judge is expected to rule on Thursday on the request for further medical

The charges stem from two minor blasts in the main Harare police station and
a botched bombing of a highway bridge and railroad line west of Harare last

Several opposition activists accused of involvement had been acquitted
earlier, and police have said the bombs at the police station may have been
planted by disgruntled officers, possibly to destroy incriminating evidence.

In a separate case, another group of detainees has been accused - but so far
not formally charged - of attempting to recruit fighters to train in
neighbouring Botswana to overthrow Mr Mugabe's regime.

Leaders of neighbouring countries and international rights groups have said
the charges are baseless.

The opposition says the various plot allegations have been fabricated amid
an increasing clampdown on dissent, and could be used as an excuse to
declare a state of emergency.

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Lawyer discloses kidnappers' names

by Wayne Mafaro Thursday 08 January 2009

HARARE - A team of government spies, police and military intelligence
officers were behind the kidnapping and torturing of civic and opposition
activists in Zimbabwe over the past two months, a top lawyer disclosed on

The lawyer, Alec Muchadehama - who is representing seven opposition MDC
activists accused of plotting to overthrow the government - disclosed in
court the names of some of the state agents which he said he had
"established through recollections of (his) clients".

The activists were kidnapped from their homes, work or other places and
their lawyers say they were severely tortured by state agents in a bid to
force them to admit to plotting or carrying out bombings as part of a
military campaign to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's government.

The seven MDC activists are part of more than 30 civic and opposition
activists, including leading human rights defender Jestina Mukoko, accused
of plotting to overthrow Mugabe. They deny the charge.

Muchadehama, who was able to give mostly the last names of the state agents
he accused of torturing his clients, said those who victimised his clients
included operatives of the spy Central Intelligence Organistaion he
identified as Maganga, Marasike Chitate alias Chigure, Mhlanga, and

Other state agents named by Muchadehama were a police superintendent
Tendere, Chief Superintendent Chrispen Makedenge, detective Muuya, detective
inspector Elliot Muchada, Chief Superintendent Magwenzi, detective assistant
inspector Namupachira, detective inspector Mpofu and another police officer
identified only as Chitambo.

An officer from the military intelligence directorate identified as
Matambanadzo alias Aunty Daisy was also among state agents named in court.

"They either did the actual kidnappings or were accomplices or accessories
after the fact," said Muchadehama, who promised to reveal more names as the
case progresses.

Muchadehama said the kidnappers stole foreign currency, mobile phones, fuel
coupons and many other expensive gadgets from their victims.

"The abductors also stole the accused's money comprising of USA dollars,
South African rands, fuel coupons and cellphones. To date these have not
been recovered," he said.

The civic and opposition activists were detained in filthy and smelly cells
at various police stations, being given little or no food at all in addition
to being tortured, according to Muchadehama. - ZimOnline

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Daily cholera update, 07 Jan 2009

 Full_Report (pdf* format - 204.9 Kbytes)

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

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

1- Highlights of the day:

- 709 cases and 26 deaths added today (in comparison 1080 cases and 21 deaths yesterday)

- 40 % of the districts affected have reported today (22 out of 55 affected districts)

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

- All 10 of the country's provinces are affected

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Zimbabwe cholera epidemic death toll stands at 1,778: WHO

GENEVA (AFP) - Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic has claimed at least 1,778 lives
since August last year with the number of diagnosed cases rising to 35,931,
the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

On Tuesday the organisation reported 1,732 dead and 34,306 suspected cases
of the water-borne disease.

United Nations aid agencies have been warning for weeks that the number of
cases could top 60,000, with the impending rainy season likely to facilitate
the spread of the disease.

All 10 of the country's provinces have been hit, according to UN statistics,
which remain incomplete because of a lack of local medical personnel and
communications problems.

Zimbabweans are also struggling against hyper-inflation, severe food
shortages and chronic political instability.

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US report condemns Zim on cholera

Moses Mudzwiti
Published:Jan 08, 2009

THE number of Zimbabweans who have died from cholera is more than five times
the accepted international norm, secret US government documents reveal.

a.. At least 1700 people have succumbed to the easily-treatable water-borne
disease since August.

"The currently reported case fatality rate of 5.3 percent in Zimbabwe is
substantially above relief agencies' accepted norm of 1 percent," said the
documents authored by the US bureau for democracy, conflict and humanitarian
assistance office in the capital Harare.

The confidential documents in possession of The Times also reveal that the
Zimbabwe government does not have money to pay health workers.

A team of US health experts reports that: "Zimbabwe's healthcare system
remains unable to cope adequately with the outbreak due to collapsing
infrastructure, lack of salaries for medical staff, and inadequate food and
soap for medical staff and patients."

Zimbabwe has declared the cholera outbreak a national emergency and
requested assistance in cash and kind from regional neighbours in SADC.

Countries that have responded include South Africa, Botswana, Namibia,
Tanzania, Libya, Venezuela and the US, who provided substantial donations of
equipment, food and medication.

US experts, who have been monitoring the outbreak, found that: "Many high-
density urban areas lack clean water for months at a time and residents
obtain drinking water from contaminated shallow wells."

According to relief agencies, the breakdown of Zimbabwe's water, sewage and
sanitation systems due to ageing and poorly maintained infrastructure is
exacerbating the spread of cholera.

The report, which was written last month, also revealed that US experts
brought in to help tackle the devastating outbreak are still waiting for
work permits.

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Oxfam America awarded $1 million for cholera response in Zimbabwe

BOSTON — International relief and development agency Oxfam America has been awarded $1 million by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to respond to a deadly cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe. The funding will support Oxfam's work to help 135,000 people have access to safe water and sanitation facilities and reduce the spread of the disease in addition to supporting community awareness efforts.

"This funding will help save lives and prevent further suffering to hundreds of thousands of people in Zimbabwe," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. "With the oncoming rainy season, an already devastating cholera outbreak could become catastrophic unless issues of unsafe water and sanitation are addressed."

The funding will enhance Oxfam's existing response by providing safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. In addition, the initiative will sensitize community members to effectively identify the disease and instruct them to seek immediate treatment when it occurs, and teach them how to prevent contamination to others. Lastly, the funding will also support community members initiating their own community based Cholera Early Warning Systems to collect data and identify potential risks to their water sources to reduce the spread of the disease.

"Immediate treatment for those affected, and the implementation of prevention measures, are critical to helping stop the further spread of this disease in Zimbabwe," said Chip Lyons, director of Special Initiatives in the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Oxfam's long-standing track record of responding to international emergencies make them well positioned to not only provide relief, but also to establish a foundation for community awareness around prevention."

"Not only will this award be used for immediate response, but it will also be used for prevention," said Ransom Mariga, head of Oxfam America's program in Zimbabwe. "This is especially important for the many people in Zimbabwe who are hungry and for whom cholera would be lethal."

Cholera is a water-borne disease. This outbreak is a result of the breakdown of health, basic water and sanitation services and has already killed over 1,600 people since August and infected over 33,000 around the country, according to the World Health Organization. Zimbabweans are desperately short of food, health care, clean water and safe sanitation. In addition to the cholera outbreak, at least 3.8 million people do not have enough to eat – going without food for days at a time. Oxfam has been responding to the humanitarian emergency through food distribution and limited water and hygiene work.

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Journalist charged with acts of banditry

January 7, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - A magistrate's court on Wednesday charged freelance photojournalist
Anderson Shadreck Manyere with alleged acts of banditry for contravening
sections of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Manyere, who appeared before Harare Magistrate Olivia Mariga on Wednesday is
being charged together with six alleged Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
activists under Section 23 (1), (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Act, which criminalises acts of insurgence, banditry, sabotage or
terrorism or alternatively Section 143 of the same Act which relates to
aggravating circumstances in relation to malicious damage to property.

These charges arise from his alleged illegal possession of the 47 rounds of
9mm ammunition allegedly found in his wardrobe. The defence counsel denies
the charge describing it as bordering on "silliness and senselessness".

The State accuses Manyere of having been involved in the bombings of the
Criminal Investigations Department Headquarters in Harare, Manyame River
Bridge in Norton on November 17, 2008 and Harare Central Police Station on
November 20, 2008.

Manyere, who first appeared before the Harare Magistrates Courts on December
24, 2008 together with Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) director and prominent
human rights activist Jestina Mukoko ending growing speculation on their
whereabouts and safety reportedly went missing after he took his vehicle to
a garage in Norton about 40km west of Harare on December  A ZIMBABWEAN
magistrate court on Wednesday charged freelance photojournalist Anderson
Shadreck Manyere with alleged acts of banditry for contravening some
sections of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Manyere, who appeared before Harare Magistrate Olivia Mariga on Wednesday is
being charged together with six other alleged Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) activists under Section 23 (1), (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification
and Reform) Act, which criminalises acts of insurgence, banditry, sabotage
or terrorism or alternatively Section 143 of the same Act which relates to
aggravating circumstances in relation to malicious damage to property.

These charges arise from his alleged illegal possession of 47 rounds of 9mm
ammunition found in his wardrobe. The defence counsel denied the charge
describing it as bordering on "silliness and senselessness".

The State is accusing Manyere of having been involved in the bombings of the
Criminal Investigations Department Headquarters in Harare, Manyame River
Bridge in Norton on 17 November 2008 and Harare Central Police Station on 20
November 2008.

Manyere, who first appeared before the Harare Magistrates Courts on 24
December 2008 together with Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) director and
prominent human rights activists Jestina Mukoko ending growing speculation
on their whereabouts and safety reportedly went missing after he had taken
his vehicle to a garage in Norton about 40km west of Harare on December 13,
2008 until his appearance in court on December 24 2008.

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Prospects For Zimbabwe Unity Government In February Slim - Observers


      By Blessing Zulu
      07 January 2009

Southern African regional leaders are pushing hard for a national unity
government to be launched in Zimbabwe and President Robert Mugabe has
announced he intends to do so in February, but some political sources doubt
this can be accomplished on schedule.

The leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change formation headed by
party founder Morgan Tsvangirai was meeting Wednesday in South Africa to
discuss the situation. MDC sources said Mr. Mugabe must put an equitable
power-sharing deal on the table before MDC lawmakers will a constitutional
amendment to be tabled in parliament this month.

The MDC wants to see a meeting between Mr. Mugabe and Tsvangirai to resolve
outstanding issues including the composition of the cabinet and other key

But sources in Pretoria say a key aid to power-sharing mediator Thabo Mbeki,
Sydney Mufamadi, is organizing a meeting of negotiators "soon" to agree
appointments of governors, ambassadors and permanent secretaries, leaving
the naming of ministers to the principals - Mr. Mugabe, Tsvangirai and rival
MDC leader Arthur Mutambara.

Political analyst Pedzisayi Ruhanya told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the MDC is within its rights to demand that the
global political agreement signed by those principals on Sept. 15 be
followed to the letter.

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Zero'd out

If I asked you to tell me, right now off the top of your head, how many
zeroes there are in a trillion or a quantillion, could you do this? Don't
turn to Google (the vast majority of Zimbos do not have Google to turn to),
take a guess first.

Zeroes are a big topic of conversation. Despite the fact we've been dealing
with zeroes for such a long time, people are still confused. One friend
commented that he was never taught these kind of numbers in school. Another
friend has said that it goes up in 1000s - e.g. a billion is one thousand
million, a trillion is one thousand billion. What comes next though? And can
anyone tell me if a zentillion exists? "Forget quadrillions," one friend
quipped, "Zentillions will be here soon". I'm not sure if the figure even
exists or if he's winding me up.

Another friend who started work on Monday said to me he felt as if he was
starting a brand new job, and that was his first day when he didn't have a
clue what was going on. The numbers he was working with a couple of weeks
before the holiday period are something completely different now.

"What did you do" I asked.

He replied: "I just gave up and played solitaire on my computer all day".

OK. so here's my next mind-boggler. If you are quoted 10 Trillion for a
service today, how many zeroes is that now? When you have that figure in
your mind, please add back the thirteen zeroes removed by Gideon Gono's
decrees over the years. How much is 10 Trillion dollars plus thirteen extra
zeroes, and what is the name for that figure?

Now imagine trying to write a check for that amount - squeezing all the
zeroes into the tiny little space provided in a cheque. No wonder Gono has
had to drop zeroes! The debate now is whether our Reserve Bank genious (so
brilliant he was offered a job at the World bank - ha ha) will drop more
zeroes or just give up and let people trade in forex, which they are doing
now anyway.

I have very little doubt that most people reading this post will have zero
idea what 10 Trillion is worth in a real-life context. Neither do I, but as
a Zimbabwean I can't just shake my head in disbelief (although we all do all
the time); to survive, Zimbabweans need to know what 10 Trillion is worth
today - in real-life terms (what will it buy?), and we also need to know
what it is worth in real money terms (is this a lot of money or not?).

For example, I can tell you that on Monday, 120 billion would buy 100 South
African Rands. In the supermarket, R10 would buy a loaf of bread.

So going back to the mind-boggler ten Trillion.

  1 Rand is 120,000,000,000,000 / 100 = 1,200,000,000 (= Z$1,2 Billion)
  Ten trillion = 10,000,000,000,000 / 1,200,000,000 = Rands 8,333.00

Or . ten Trillion will buy you 833 loaves of bread.

Is ten trillion a lot of money then? Well, yes it is, because who goes out
and buys 833 loaves of bread at a time? But the only way I know its a lot of
money is because I labouriously worked it out and I needed it in loaves of
bread and Rands to make it meaningful. I confess that my maths is appalling
and I'm not feeling to confident that I have worked it out correnctly, even
now. And I used my computer's calculator. I kept counting and re-counting
the zeroes on my screen to be sure I hadn't tapped in one too many noughts.
A slip of a finger makes a world of difference! I have friends who can do
this in their heads while standing in a shopping aisle. I bow to them and
call them geniuses - especially since the figures then are not nice numbers
but could be something like Z$ 1,63 billion - aaaaarrrrgghhhhhhhhhhh.

Going back to the bread example. if one loaf costs R10, then it means that
that single loaf of bread costs Z$12,000,000,000 which is Z$12 billion. Or
does it?

It is very very important to always remember the thirteen zeroes Gono has
lopped off. This simple fact means that a loaf of bread ACTUALLY costs
Z$120,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. I think (I'm groping in the dark here)
that that means a loaf bread now costs us Z$120 Sixtillion. (Is there such
thing as Sixtillion - please feel free to correct me in the comments!)

Not many people buy 833 loaves of bread but occasionally a (rich) person
might want to buy themselves a new computer, or a car. Imagine how many
zeroes that would generate if quoted in Zim dollars! Fortunately, most
people aren't receptive to using Z$ anymore - but the sad thing is that for
every day we deal in the sensible values of Rands and US Dollars marks yet
another day where we witness the death of the Zim dollar, relentlessly
smashed into the pieces by stupid economic polices and incompetence. (When I
asked a street vendor how much her wares were a couple of days ago, she
responded quickly and confidently - in Rands).

Here's the real mind-boggler: in 1980, immediately after Independence, we
had parity and Z$1 = £1. Just imagine spending 120 Sixtillion Pounds on a
loaf of bread. It is simply unimaginable. But the economy, under the
management of Zanu PF over the last 28 years, has been dropped to these
unimaginable, incomprehensible levels, and with it we've witnessed massive
poverty and social collapse. All the investment in health and education
during Zanu PF's 28 years in power have not translated into a thriving
economy and a nation of prosperous happy people. Any good they have done in
the time they have been in charge is being wiped out along with the Zimbabwe

The Zim dollar true value these days rests in the way it usefully measures
the Zanu PF led government's failures.

Zanu PF must go. Anyone who thinks that Zimbabweans are being unreasonable
or unfair to demand the end of this regime must please ask themselves how
willing they'd be to pay 120 Sixtillion POUNDS for a loaf of bread. My guess
is that they would also want a new government to take over, and the sooner
the better.

This entry was written by Hope on Wednesday, January 7th, 2009 at 9:54 pm

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Mugabe continues to fail Zimbabwe
Alanna Wallace  Jan 07, 2009

Alanna Wallace expresses her concern for Zimbabweans as they face a deadly cholera pandemic with an apathetic leader

Mugabe continues to fail Zimbabwe
LACKADAISICAL LEADER - Mugabe has shown disinterest in the humanitarian needs of his country.

Footage of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe emerged last month that displayed his inadequacy as a leader. “Zimbabwe is mine,” he stated, after he blatantly explained that there was no cholera in the country.

He blamed the recent cholera pandemic on colonialism and mainly Britain, even going as far as to say allies of colonialism had started the pandemic as an excuse to overthrow his government.

Mugabe’s failure is at the heart of the pandemic, and each individual that perishes is the victim of his heartless, thoughtless reign. His ruthless reign over Zimbabwe, his backwards thinking and his egotistical methods have had detrimental results for the country he claims to love, and those surrounding it.

Dictatorship and anarchy in Zimbabwe have been a lethal combination thanks to Mugabe’s neglect.

Mugabe is more intent on pushing cholera under the rug while he fights opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai for more power. He neglects the fact that countless engineers and healthcare workers have gone on strike and are not responding to his nation’s collapse.

The BBC, which has been banned from reporting in Zimbabwe, calls the pandemic the result of a “cocktail of failed services.” As sewage systems fail, access to clean water plummets and sanitation services remain nonexistent for an overwhelming number of Zimbabweans, cholera spreads like wildfire.

Zimbabwe’s failed economy has led to drastic measures. While in the region last year, I came across a 50,000 Zim dollar note: a bill worth mere pennies. In Zimbabwe, currency exchange is done on the black market. A friend of mine working outside Harare says he immediately buys beer with his Zim dollars because beer will not depreciate in value. He then sells the beers to his co-workers for American dollars or the Euro. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

Drastic times, indeed. There has not been an outbreak of cholera since 1961, and it is widely seen as an ancient disease with a reputation and symptoms much like the bubonic plague. Cholera pandemics have occurred only seven times since 1816.

Zimbabwe’s open wound of economic collapse has been infected by cholera.

Still, Zimbabwe is no stranger to the disease. Cholera has been contained in Zimbabwe with few outbreaks in the past decade.

However, Zimbabwe’s decrease in leadership by Mugabe after failed elections and the creation of a power-sharing government have left the nation’s infrastructure in ruins.

Many would blame outside intervention in Zimbabwe’s history of riches to ruins. Some may argue that Mugabe’s hands are tied in the power-sharing mess that has been created by opposition parties not prevalent until this past year’s election.

However, the nation’s struggle with cholera is purely the result of a leader’s inability to act in a crisis situation. I refuse to believe that there is an outside power that is at fault for Mugabe’s blatant neglect for not only his nation’s economy but also for the people that relied on him to create a new Zimbabwe in the era after colonialism.

Contacts that I have in Africa say they are not afraid of the pandemic. However, many of them have water treatment available to stifle any bacteria.

So perhaps the cholera pandemic is a question of where one stands economically. Though Mugabe built his dictatorship on returning Zimbabwe to its roots and turning away from Rhodesia’s colonialist past, cholera now infects those the dictator promised to empower. Instead, those with colonial heritage remain healthy.

Mugabe’s vision of a prosperous Zimbabwe has become a failure, and he has no one to blame but himself.


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SA urged to take action against vigilantism

by Own Correspondent Thursday 08 January 2009

JOHANNESBURG - Representatives of refugees and migrants in South Africa on
Wednesday urged government to take strong action against vigilantism, amid
fears of a recurrence of last year's xenophobic violence.

Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (Cormsa) advocacy
officer Duncan Breen said the South African Police Service (SAPS) and
national government needed to take a position against vigilantism.

"South Africa's constitution provides for the protection of the rights of
all in the country yet its provisions are consistently undermined by
individuals who choose to take the law into their own hands," said Breen.

The call follows an incident in Durban at the weekend where a Zimbabwean,
Victor Zowa (25), and a Tanzanian, Omar Said (24), fell to their deaths from
a high-rise building trying to escape from a knife-wielding mob.

A 23-year-old Mozambican, who was also forced to jump from a window in the
building, survived and is in critical condition at a local hospital.

"The current lack of widespread condemnation of such attacks is extremely
concerning," said Breen, adding; "If we continue to fail to take a strong
stance against vigilantism, this violence will escalate and it is innocent
individuals that will suffer," he said.

Cormsa said it had written to the KwaZulu-Natal provincial police
commissioner requesting an urgent investigation into the Durban attack.

Last year hordes of South Africans attacked foreign immigrants in the
country's poor and often overcrowded slums accusing them of taking away
their jobs and women leading to the death of over 60 people countrywide and
leaving tens of thousands others displaced.

A local councillor said the recent attack in Durban was not xenophobic but
"a reaction of the community to crime".

But Omar Osman, chairperson of the International Refugee Service, disagreed,
saying the attacks were xenophobic because the mob did not target South
African criminals.

"If it was criminals they were after, why not go to each and every building?
Why are they only coming to buildings where foreigners live?

"Why when they enter do they shout for amakwerekwere?" he questioned.

Amakwerekwere is a derogatory term for foreigners used by South Africans.

However police said they had ruled out xenophobia and no arrests had been
made. - ZimOnline

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