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MDC-T Demands Joint Forces Control

Thursday, 08 January 2009 20:28

THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC is now demanding that the police, army
and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) be placed under the effective
control of parties to the inclusive government agreement after the security
apparatus has of late been used to target MDC members and human rights

This comes amid reports from South Africa - where the MDC-T is holding
a strategic meeting - that the party was seriously contemplating a walk-out
of the power-sharing talks if outstanding issues arising from the September
15 2008 pact were not immediately resolved.

President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of the smaller
formation of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara, last September agreed to form a
power-sharing government, sparking hope Zimbabwe could finally emerge from a
decade-long crisis.

But the agreement brokered by former South African President Thabo
Mbeki immediately stalled with Mugabe and Tsvangirai haggling over control
of key ministries.

In a letter to Sadc chairperson and also South African president,
Kgalema Motlanthe, Tsvangirai accused the police, CIO and army of
undermining the implementation of the global political agreement.

He said in other countries that have undergone transition, security
organs were the first to appreciate the need for change of direction.

"This has not been the case in Zimbabwe," Tsvangirai wrote on December
29. "Given the fact that our national institutions (police, CIO, army) have
been selectively used to target MDC and other activists it is only
imperative that these security apparatus be placed under the effective
control of parties to the agreement. In effect, the CIO as well as elements
of the army such as military intelligence have become actively involved in
undermining this agreement."

Under the disputed allocation of ministerial portfolios, Mugabe was to
take charge of the army and the CIO and co-manage the police under the
Ministry of Home Affairs with Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai's letter came after Mugabe last month invited him to return
home from his self-imposed exile in Botswana and be sworn in as prime
minister, but the MDC leader spurned the offer and insisted he would not
join the unity government until the dispute over ministerial posts had been

The opposition leader also wrote to Mugabe on December 28 last year
complaining about the actions of state security organs.

"In view of past and recent events where our members have been
subjected to abductions and torture by the state security organs (police,
CIO and army), it is imperative that these institutions be controlled by all
parties to the agreement," Tsvangirai told Mugabe. "Of particular concern is
the role of the security apparatus in actively undermining the agreement. We
have therefore lost the little confidence and trust in you being solely in
charge of any security apparatus."

He said the construction and composition of the National Security
Council was of utmost significance to his party.

"Legislation regarding the operations, control and funding of the
security services by the National Security Council has to be enacted prior
to the formation of the inclusive government," Tsvangirai told Mugabe.

In the letter to Motlanthe, Tsvangirai complained that Mugabe and Zanu
PF had committed with impunity a number of breaches, which undermined
confidence in the formation of the unity government.

He cited the abductions and torture of his party activists and
individuals from civil society andá "fabricated allegations of banditry
training" against the MDC-T as some of the breaches of the all-inclusive

Tsvangirai said ministerial portfolios remained inequitably allocated
and that Mugabe had unilaterally appointed provincial governors, central
bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and that
there was still no agreement on the constitutive composition of the National
Security Council.

Tsvangirai said: "In giving legislative effect to the global political
agreement, the 19th (Constitutional) Amendment redefines the roles and
powers of the president, prime minister and cabinet when they discharge
their executive authority.

"Cde President, I believe you have previously correctly stated that:
'Both President-designate Mugabe and Prime Minister-designate Tsvangirai
need to be sworn in to give effect to their positions, otherwise no one
derives any legitimacy without it'.

á"I therefore find the letter by Mr Mugabe in reference to my
appointment to be both unprocedural and prejudicial to the relationship
between the president and prime minister."

Tsvangirai suggested that the only way forward to save the unity
government deal would be for Motlanthe to convene a confidential meeting
between him and Mugabe.

Motlanthe, the opposition leader said, should be the mediator because
the MDC-T's relationship with Mbeki has "irretrievably broken down".

"In view of the foregoing, I respectfully submit that the only way
forward, given the divergent views of approach to the formation of the
inclusive government, would be to convene a confidential meeting in South
Africa between Mr Mugabe and myself under your chairmanship in order to
hammer out all the outstanding issues before parliament can discuss and pass
the 19th Amendment which will form the legal authority of the global
political agreement," Tsvangirai wrote.

Mugabe has since said he would appoint a new cabinet by the end of
next month and already met Mutambara and deliberated on the formation of a
new government.

Mutambara reportedly told Mugabe that his party would not be party to
a government which did not include Tsvangirai.

Meanwhile, reports from Johannesburg confirm that the MDC has been
meeting since Wednesday to decide whether to continue with power-sharing
negotiations with Mugabe.

Sources in the party said Tsvangirai was under increasing pressure to
abandon the talks and press for fresh presidential elections under
international supervision.


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Court Decision Threat To Unity Deal

Thursday, 08 January 2009 20:23

THE Supreme Court will on January 22 decide the fate of the
all-inclusive government deal between the country's three main political
parties after the leader of the minority Zimbabwe People's Party (ZPP),
Justin Chiota, sought the nullification of last March's presidential poll.

Chiota's application came after the Supreme Court ruled on August 1
2008 that his disqualification by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
from contesting the presidential election was illegal.

The ZEC had barred Chiota and the president of the United People's
Party, Daniel Shumba, from the election for allegedly filing their
nomination papers out of time.

In a notice of hearing, the Supreme Court said Chiota's application
will be determined on January 22.

Chiota, an advocate and businessman, wants the court to declare null
and void the March election and order a fresh poll within 90 days; and also
to bar and interdict President Robert Mugabe and the leaders of the two MDC
formations, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, from proceeding with
talks to constitute an inclusive government.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara signed a unity deal on September 15
The deal is yet to be consummated with Zanu PF and the MDC-T still
haggling on how to share power equitably.

ZEC chairman George Chiweshe, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and independent
presidential candidates in the March poll, Simba Makoni and Langton
Towungana, were cited as respondents in Chiota's application.

Chiota wants an order declaring that "the holding of the election for
the office of the President of Zimbabwe on the 29th March 2008 is null and
void and is hereby set aside".

The draft order being sought by Chiota says: "It is declared that the
subsequent announcement of the results of the said election, the holding of
the run-off on the 27th June 2008, the declaration of the 2nd respondent
(Mugabe) as the winner thereof and his subsequent swearing in and assumption
of office is null and void and is hereby set aside."

The ZPP president wants the court to declare equally void the holding
of talks between the three main parties to constitute a new government based
on the results of the March and June elections.

"The 2nd, 3rd, and 6th (Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara) respondents
be and hereby (are) barred and interdicted from proceeding with the ongoing
talks meant to constitute a government for the Republic of Zimbabwe," reads
the draft order Chiota is seeking.

Lawyers said Chiota was in good stead to win the case given that the
Supreme Court ruled last year
that he should have contested the presidential election.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said the refusal to accept Shumba
and Chiota's nomination papers by the ZEC was unlawful in terms of the
country's election law.

Chief Justice Chidyausiku said in terms of Section 46 (7) of the
Electoral Act a candidate who is within the nomination court at close of
business was entitled to have his nomination papers accepted by the court
and no one was arguing that they were not in the court.

Shumba and Chiota argued that the refusal by the Nomination Court to
accept their papers violated their rights to freedom of expression and
association, which are protected by the country's supreme law.
But the ZEC sought to dismiss the constitutional case by the two
leaders as frivolous and vexatious saying it was improperly before the


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No Government Without MDC-T - Mutambara Faction

Thursday, 08 January 2009 20:21
THE smaller formation of the MDC headed by Arthur Mutambara this week
insisted that it will not be party to a government of national unity that
excludes the Morgan Tsvangirai faction.

Speculation has been rife in political circles that Mutambara and
President Robert Mugabe would form a government without the MDC-T after the
robotics professor recently suggested that Tsvangirai was a puppet of
Britain and the United States.

Mutambara recently met Mugabe and deliberated on the need for the
urgent formation of an inclusive government.

The 84-year-old Mugabe said a new government would be in place by the
end of next month.

Edwin Mushoriwa, the spokesperson of the Mutambara faction, told the
Zimbabwe Independent that his party still stood by its position that it will
only enter into an all-inclusive government involving all the three
political parties.

"Our position has not changed. The agreement signed by the political
leaders clearly indicates that it can only be consummated when all the three
political parties are involved," Mushoriwa said. "There has been talk that
President Mugabe has reached an agreement to form a government with
Mutambara, but that is not true."

He said the party was agreed with some of the demands Tsvangirai wants
to be met before the new government is appointed.

Mushoriwa further dismissed claims in some sections of the local media
that Mutambara and Mugabe would share ministerial portfolios initially
allocated to Tsvangirai.

"The allegations are false and there is no way that could happen. The
all inclusive government will only become effective once Constitutional
Amendment Number 19 has been passed and the amendment is the one that
creates the posts of Prime Minister and his deputies. How will Mutambara
become a deputy without the Prime Minister?" Mushoriwa asked. "There are two
options - either the Bill passes through parliament and the posts are
created or the Bill is rejected and the posts are not created and there will
be no inclusive government to talk about."

Zimbabwe has been without an effective government since the March 2008
harmonised elections, which failed to produce a clear presidential election
winner between Mugabe and Tsvangirai resulting in a run-off on June 27.

Tsvangirai pulled out of the race citing violence against his
supporters, but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission went ahead with the
one-man poll which Mugabe won by over 85%.

The run-off was widely condemned as a sham, prompting Sadc and the
African Union to force Mugabe to enter into talks with Tsvangirai and
Mutambara for power sharing.

A deal was clinched last September, but immediately ran into problems
over allocation of key ministerial portfolios and other key government


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Squabbles Widen Mavambo Cracks

Thursday, 08 January 2009 18:14
SERIOUS divisions have reportedly rocked former Finance Minister Simba
Makoni's political movement over allocation of resources and the failure to
immediately transform the movement into a fully-fledged party.

Impeccable sources in Makoni's Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn movement said
trouble has been simmering since October last year when the former Zanu PF
politburo member was accused by his provincial executives of retarding
progress in launching the political party.

According to sources the executives, led by the three Matabeleland
provinces, nearly revolted against Makoni during a meeting of the national
coordinating committee in Harare on October 27.

"The executives accused Makoni of slowing progress in transforming the
movement," a senior founding member of the movement said. "They accused him
of being too academic in launching the party.

The meeting was tense with provinces telling Makoni point blank that
they were prepared to walk away from the movement and form a party
independent of him."

The sources said the party - to be known as the National Alliance for
Democracy - was supposed to be launched in August last year, but Makoni
continued to postpone its inception arguing that there was need to come up
with a sound constitution and policies.

Apart from accusing Makoni of delaying the launch of the party, the
provinces reportedly accused him of refusing to distribute vehicles donated
to the movement before the March 29 presidential elections.

Makoni contested the March 29 presidential election as an independent
candidate against President Robert Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
an independent contender Langton Towungana.

He came out a distant third in the election in which Tsvangirai
out-polled Mugabe, but failed to garner the 50 plus one vote percent to
assume the presidency.

Makoni, the sources said, was of the opinion that the near- revolt
against him was being orchestrated by the movement's convener Ibbo Mandaza
and national mobilisation coordinator Kudzai Mbudzi.

Mandaza and Mbudzi, the sources said, were accused by Makoni during
the meeting of allegedly influencing the provinces to turn against him.

This week, Mbudzi declined to comment on the problems in the movement,
while efforts to speak to Mandaza and Makoni were in vain.

"I am not at liberty to discuss what is happening in the movement,"
Mbudzi said. "Speak to Makoni and Ibbo."

Before the latest upheavals, the three Matabeleland provinces had
threatened to pull out of Makoni's movement. Bulawayo, Matabeleland North
and South provinces wrote to Makoni threatening to quit over the way the
movement was being run.

In a letter to Makoni, the inter-provincial steering committee said it
was dismayed by the manner in which its contributions to the formation of
the party had been handled by the Harare office.

"We would like to remind you that we are equal human beings and that
we were ill-treated for a long time under similar circumstances, and cannot
live to repeat this," the letter said.

"We have seen the superiority complex displayed by individuals at 'the
head office' which is run like a family outfit and are very unhappy to be
part of this, and particularly detest the arrogance, lack of foresight and
leadership that has so far been displayed."

The letter warned that failure by the Mavambo head office to deal with
issues of concern raised by the steering committee could lead to the
severing of ties.

"We request audience with you (Makoni) before the national
consultative conference to discuss the issues (stated in the letter). If
this is not possible, we shall have no option but to announce (an) immediate
suspension of the relationship between ourselves and the head office and we
shall proceed with the development of the party in the direction and pace
that we feel shall be beneficial to our supporters," added the letter. -
Staff Writer.

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State Agents Raid Scout Camp

Thursday, 08 January 2009 18:11
HEAVILY armed soldiers and state security agents at the weekend
reportedly raided an outdoor adventure camp in Ruwa on suspicion that it was
a military training base for bandits intending to topple President Robert

Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that a large team comprising
police officers, Central Intelligence Organisation agents, Air Force of
Zimbabwe personnel and military police descended on Kudu Creek camp in
armoured vehicles with a helicopter hovering overhead.

"It was a full-scale military exercise," one observer noted.

The camp is known for training boy scouts and young Christian groups
in adventure activities and personal development.

The team of security agents, the sources said, arrested the campsite
owner John Naested and two white farmers - Angus Thompson and Brian Baxter -
who live close by.

Naested reportedly served in the Rhodesian army.

A close friend of Naested told the Independent that it was strange
that the security forces mistook the camp for a military training ground.

He said: "The place is just a small holding that runs between Ruwa and
Arcturus road. Naested runs the place like a leadership training course for
high school students. School children from a number of schools come for
camps in leadership training courses. Even local schools send their students
for training. There are many outdoor activities. It is just an outward bound

He said a large military contingent raided the Kudu Creek camp on

"I am informed that Naested and the other two white farmers were
picked up at 1am. I am not sure where they were taken to, but it is
suspected that they were split up possibly between Borrowdale and Highlands
police stations," the friend said.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said he was not
informed of the raid.
"I am not aware of such an incident," Bvudzijena said.

The government last year claimed that the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC
was recruiting youths for military training in Botswana with the aim of
ousting Mugabe from power.

More than 40 MDC and human rights activists have since been arrested
in connection with the alleged planned banditry activities.

Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko was abducted by state
agents and spent 19 days in solitary confinement before being charged for
allegedly recruiting bandits to oust the Zanu PF government.


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Mukoko Recounts CIO Torture Ordeal

Thursday, 08 January 2009 17:49
STATE secret service agents allegedly assaulted, tortured and detained
human rights activist Jestina Mukoko in solitary confinement for 19 days to
coerce her to admit recruiting youths for military training in Botswana to
dislodge President Robert Mugabe from power.

In an affidavit lodged with the High Court narrating events that took
place after Mukoko was abducted in the early hours of December 3 from her
Norton home, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) director said her captors
wanted to link her to the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC.

The government claims that the MDC is recruiting youths to undergo
military training in Botswana in a move orchestrated to topple Mugabe.

Minister of State for National Security Didymus Mutasa has since
admitted in the High Court that Mukoko was in the custody of the Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

In the damning affidavit, Mukoko claimed she was kidnapped by six men
and a woman who did not identify themselves and was denied access to her
spectacles and prevented from dressing.

"I was not wearing anything other than a night dress," she said. "I
had no undergarments and other personal and medical requirements."

The former television news anchor alleged that she was forced by the
state spies into a Mazda Familia vehicle and ordered to lie low on the seat
of the car.

"Immediately a woollen jersey was put across my face, covering my
eyes, nose and mouth (and) as a result I had problems breathing and almost
suffocated," Mukoko said.

She said the vehicle drove off in what she suspected to be the Harare
direction for about 40 minutes before reaching its destination.

By then, Mukoko claimed, she was disoriented.

She said a woman among the CIO operatives gave her a pair of plastic
sandals and a dress and was kept for an hour before being taken to an
interrogation room.

In the room, Mukoko said, a female agent asked her male compatriots to
leave and provided her with underwear.

"I could not see the outside world through the windows. I was not
allowed to look outside," she alleged. "Every time that I wanted to use the
ablutions, I had to knock for a lengthy time and someone would come and had
to cover my eyes with a blindfold and lead me to the toilet."

Mukoko alleged that on the first day of the kidnapping she was
interrogated by five men and a woman who wanted to know more about the ZPP,
its board members, founding organisations of the project and where it was

"Soon thereafter the line of questioning changed and I was now being
accused of recruiting youths to undergo some form of military training and
links with people at Harvest House (MDC headquarters). I denied the

The beatings then started.

"Firstly I was assaulted underneath my feet with a rubber-like object
which was at least one metre long and flexible, while seated on the floor.
Later I was told to raise my feet onto a table and the other people in the
room started to assault me underneath my feet," Mukoko alleged. "This
assault lasted for at least five to six minutes. They took a break and then
continued again with the beatings."

Mukoko said she was further interrogated and asked if she knew of a
police officer, Ricardo Washeni, who visited ZPP offices late last year.

She said she replied in the affirmative and told the CIO operatives
that she referred Washeni to Broderick Takawira, a ZPP official.

Mukoko said that she was also asked about the people she knew at the

The interrogators allegedly took a break and returned a few hours
later and "were all visibly drunk", and some of them started assaulting her
and at the same time grilling her, she said.

Mukoko said she was questioned about her connections with the
Counselling Services Unitá and in particular Fidelis Mudimu, a nurse at the

Mudimu was also accused of recruiting youths for military training.

On December 6 Mukoko said her captors provided her with new
undergarments and sanitary pads before she was blindfolded and bundled into
a car and driven for about two hours to an unknown destination.

At that destination, about 10 people who were introduced to her as law
officers interrogated her.

One of the interrogators, Mukoko alleged, told her that she was going
to suffer and had to make a choice of either becoming a state witness in the
military training case or "become extinct" as no prosecutions would take

The ZPP boss said she was also grilled on her meeting with the
Elders - former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, ex-United
States president Jimmy Carter, and children's ambassador Graca Machel - in
South Africa in November.

The Elders were barred from entering Zimbabwe on a humanitarian
mission by the government and ended up meeting political parties and civic
organisations in South Africa to get an appreciation of the humanitarian
crisis in the country.

Mukoko claimed that the interrogators told her that they were not
bound by the law stipulating that any accused person should appear in court
within 48 hours of his or her arrest.

After the gruelling encounter with the interrogators, Mukoko was
returned to the detention room and kept in solitary confinement until
December 8 when she learnt that Takawira and another employee of the ZPP,
Pascal Gonzo, were also abducted and were being interrogated.

The same day, Mukoko claimed, she was questioned and told that one of
her officers at ZPP had confessed that Mudimu worked with the organisation.

Five days later, Mukoko said she was asked to sign a statement, which
among other things, narrated the ZPP staff retreat to Botswana, including
the names of individuals they met in the country.

"The interrogators also compelled me to disclose in the statement all
the names of the board members of ZPP and staff members. I listed all. The
last part of the statement wanted me to agree to knowing and recruiting this
ex-police officer Ricardo Washeni (which) I denied," Mukoko said.

She claimed that at that point one of the interrogators went out of
the room and returned with gravel which he spread onto the floor and asked
her to pull up her clothes and kneel on the gravel.

"The interrogations continued whilst I was kneeling on the gravel,"
Mukoko alleged.

On December 14, a medical doctor examined Mukoko after she had
complained that her allergies were getting worse. She was also further
interrogated on the ZPP retreat to Botswana and her connection to Mudimu.

She claimed that she was forced to give evidence on camera.

Eight days later, Mukoko's captors handed her over to the police Law
and Order section's Chief Superintendent Magwenzi at Braeside Police Station
before she was blindfolded and driven to Highlands Police Station and later

On December 23 the police recorded a warned and cautioned statement
from her on camera and she was told for the first time that she was facing
charges of attempting to recruit people for military training.

She was later taken to her Norton home where the police searched for
her laptop and after failing to find it, seized an old computer, audio tapes
from her past work as a journalist and computer information storage disks.

For the first time in 21 days she saw members of her family.

The following day she was taken to court and charged with eight other
MDC activists.

Her lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, then approached the High Court and
Justice Yunus Omerjee ordered the immediate release of Mukoko and her
co-defendants on the basis of a previous court order declaring their
detention for more than 48 hours illegal.

The state appealed against Omerjee's order to the Supreme Court and
Mukoko and her co-accused were kept in custody.

On Tuesday, Mukoko lodged an urgent application in the Supreme Court
challenging the constitutionality of her continued detention on charges of
plotting to overthrow the government.


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Patients Fork Out Forex, Health System Comatose

Thursday, 08 January 2009 17:45
BRIAN Towanda sits with his wife on a sofa counting down the days to
January 15 - the day his spouse's gynaecologist said she would deliver their
first child.

Not even the political stalemate between President Robert Mugabe and
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on the formation of a unity government, the
cholera epidemic and food shortages can drown Towanda's excitement.

"Very soon I am going to be a father!" he declares excitedly.

As he looks at his wife's huge tummy, he smiles wondering who the baby
whom they have already named Chido would look like - him or his wife.

Their wish is to have the baby delivered at a private clinic that they
believe has the requisite resources - medicines, hospital equipment and
experienced staff - but the idea of not having foreign currency to meet the
bill dampens his joyous fantasies.

Towanda, an accountant, bemoans that he cannot afford to give his
unborn child the best treatment he had wished for.

In December he was paid through his bank $34 billion plus a 20-litre
fuel coupon which he sold at US$15.
When he consulted a private hospital in the Avenues, Harare, Towanda
was asked to fork out US$500 as a maternity registering fee.

The figures send shivers down his spine. He wondered what the
Goodwills Masimirembwa-led National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC)
was doing to keep prices of goods and services in check.

Towanda decided to register his wife with a public hospital, the Mbuya
Nehanda Maternity wing at Parirenyatwa, which was last year closed for a
while due to shortages of resources like drugs, equipment and staff.

The hospital reopened recently after non-governmental organisations
chipped in with funds and after it was given the green light by government
to charge in foreign currency.

Towanda was told to pay US$300 as registration fees and for delivery
of his wife - an amount he can hardly afford.

Charging in foreign currency in public health institutions will worsen
the plight of the poor.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa said the government had allowed
public hospitals and clinics to give patients the option to pay in foreign
currency if they so wished. He said this did not mean the health
institutions were no longer accepting local currency.

"What we have said is that our patients should continue paying in
local currency, but in the event that they opt for foreign currency, we are
to go by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe regulations," Parirenyatwa said. "The
idea is meant to facilitate a smooth flow of services while the patient
receives treatment from the health care provider."

However, in reality the hospitals are not interested in local

Towanda prays that his wife has a normal birth with no complications
that would result in a prolonged stay at the hospital as charges are roughly
pegged at US$70 per night for admissions.

He hopes that the baby will not be born through a caesarian operation
as that would require an extra US$150.

At least he is assured that his baby will not be premature as it would
have resulted in him forking out US$5 daily for the use of an incubator.

A recent visit to Parirenyatwa by the Zimbabwe Independent showed no
signs of improvement in health delivery.

Long grass has become a common feature outside the hospital - an
indication that caretakers have long since abandoned the place. Fears are
high that the unkempt hospital grounds have become breeding areas for

There is now little activity at the hospital that used to be very

Noticeable were dark corridors with no lighting as well as dirty
floors and dumped bed linen in some wards. One would be forgiven for
likening the situation to a scene from a horror movie. It is very rare to
bump into a nurse, more so a doctor, in the corridors of the hospital.

At Mbuya Nehanda the tiles that used to be bright and clean have lost
their lustre while some of the hospital bed linen is no longer suitable for

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) chairman
Douglas Gwatidzo said paying in foreign currency at government hospitals
showed that the government no longer had confidence in the local currency.

"The reason why the government made that announcement is that people
were finding it difficult to get the Zimbabwe dollar, however the
announcement to me shows that there is now a gradual acceptance of no
confidence in our local currency," Gwatidzo said. "It's a pity that
Zimbabweans are made to suffer as the foreign currency is beyond the reach
of many. Life is going to be difficult. We have not seen the worst. As long
as there is no manpower there is no health delivery system."

Meanwhile, Unicef this week said as long as there is no urgent move to
guarantee availability of safe water, sewage reticulation and refuse
removal, the cholera epidemic was not going to disappear any time soon no
matter the efforts put in place so far.

Unicef information officer Tsitsi Singizi said latest statistics show
that cholera has claimed over 1700 lives since its outbreak in August last
year. More than 34 300 cases of the epidemic were also recorded.
Fifty-nine deaths and 731 new cases of cholera have been reported
since Monday.

She said: "The cholera situation in Zimbabwe remains dire. We continue
receiving reports of fresh cases and the fatality rate is still high at 5%,
more than the internationally accepted threshold.

"Yet we are also happy that coordinated efforts are beginning to yield
results as cases and deaths go down in some affected areas."

International agencies like Oxfam - with partners Mercy Corps,
Africare, Practical Action, Zimpro, Lead Trust, DachiCare and Christian
Development Aid - have deployed engineers, public health promoters, gender
and HIV specialists to seven provinces where they are responding to the
cholera crisis.

An Oxfam spokesperson said assessments of water quality conducted by
the organisation in Norton, Chegutu and Kadoma indicated that 75% of water
samples from unprotected wells were contaminated with faecal coliforms.

The spokesperson said: "The degree of contamination is highest in
Maridale and Joburg suburbs of Norton where the population draws water from
wells and use a pit latrine system. Results of the analysis are being used
to chlorinate water sources at the respective locations."

The organisation has so far reached almost 250 000 people with hygiene
promotion messages and distributed hygiene kits to 37 147.

Apart from constructing and rehabilitating a number of boreholes,
Oxfam has delivered 245 000 cubic meters of water to Chitungwiza, Mbare,
Budiriro and Glen View to ensure that communities and Cholera Treatment
Centres in those areas have access to clean and safe water.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society has sent emergency disaster kits to
hard-hit areas like Karoi and Kariba.
Some parts of Karoi are said to have gone without power for two weeks
and this has greatly affected the water supply in the small town.

Magunje growth point and Bikita are some of the rural areas that have
been hard hit by cholera and need immediate attention.


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New Year, Same Old Problems For Economy

Thursday, 08 January 2009 18:36
THE stiffest challenge the Zimbabwean government will face this year
is achieving the main objective of "restoration of economic stability and
growth" in an economy which has shrunk by 60% within a decade.

The country's long and uninterrupted period of economic decline is set
to persist this year as hope for an all-inclusive government, which is
expected to form a platform for economic recovery, seems to be fading with
both the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations and Zanu PF to

Over the past 10 years the economy has been cruising in reverse gear
courtesy of skewed economic and political policies.

The immediate economic challenges facing the country are companies
failing to open, corruption, price distortions, dollarisation and foreign
currency shortages.

Zimbabwe, the spirit of whose citizens has been shackled by
shortsighted economic policies, appears to be travelling on the highway to

With an inflation rate estimated to be more than 10 times the official
231 million % and financial chaos at both government and street level, the
local currency has become a joke to many Zimbabweans.

Economic analysts say opening new business in Zimbabwe would be
extremely difficult, as it required foreign currency which is not readily
available on the market.

In November last year Zimbabwe was ranked 153 out of 178 countries in
a 2008 World Bank report on "Doing Business" which looks at how regulatory
environments influence the operations of business.

It was ranked lower than war-torn spots such as Iraq, Sudan, the West
Bank and Gaza which were placed 142nd, 144th, and 118th respectively.

The report analysed 10 stages of a business's life which were starting
a business, dealing with licences, employing workers, registering property,
getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders,
enforcing contracts and closing a business.

The 10 indicators, which are used to analyse economic outcome and
identifying reforms that have been successful and why, are then factored
into the main index, "Ease of Doing Business" in which Zimbabwe has fared

On starting a business, Zimbabwe was placed at position 143rd, proving
that the regulatory environment governing the entry of new businesses was
burdensome, according to the report. The ranking could drop further if there
is no visible economic turnaround.

Zimbabwe's rank on the index of protecting investors was 107 and
according to the report, this means the country has poor corporate
governance practices, high corruption and weak internal systems in most

"To document the protections investors have, Doing Business measures
how countries regulate a standard case of self-dealing - use of corporate
assets for personal gain," the report stated.

Independent economist John Robertson said Zimbabwe's economic revival
depends on formation of a unity government.

"We should not expect much if the country's two political parties do
not find common ground. It is a tall order for the new government, which
among other things will be faced with a cocktail of problems in trying to
restore property rights, boost production in all sectors of the economy,
increase foreign currency inflows and have assess to balance of payment and
revive all the service sectors," said Robertson.

Robertson said nothing could be achieved if Zanu PF wanted new
elections, which requires a lot of money which government did not have.

Economist Brain Muchemwa said the year had started on a bad note.

"There is a lot of confusion, from the political front, business,
health and the education system. The situation on the ground does not
inspire confidence or hope in any investors. The economy is now dollarised
and only those companies and individuals who can access foreign currency
will survive," Muchemwa said.

If the unity government is to materialise, MDC will come in to a
government which is virtually broke and heavily indebted with a foreign debt
of over US$6 billion and a domestic debt nearing US$20 quadrillion.
The domestic debt figure means every Zimbabwean is personally indebted
to the tune of about $142,8 billion.

According to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, the
manufacturing sector is operating below 30% and all major sectors of the
economy are depressed.

The Zimbabwean dollar is projected to continue losing value against
major currencies as there is no production to back up economic policies.

There is also going to be a problem of price controls and distortions,
and the relevance of organisations like the National Incomes and Pricing
Commission (NIPC).

Zimbabwe's currency is now worthless from hyperinflation, its
financial institutions in total disarray while its world-class farming
estates lie idle and tourism infrastructure is grossly underutilised.

Inflation shows no sign of declining. With inflation at 4% it takes 18
years for a currency to lose half of its value, using the rule 72
recommended by the International Monetary Fund.

At 100 000% it takes about nine hours and 20 minutes for $100 to lose
half its value.

And with inflation at 231 million %, if you delay your shopping by
half an hour you have effectively lost 90% of the value of your money.

This means if one goes out to buy a loaf of bread and is 10 cents
short, by the time they rush home to collect the 10 cents and return to the
shop, the price of bread will probably have increased nearly four times.

As all structures continue to decline there is likely to be an
increase in corruption this year.

Zimbabwe was last year ranked as the 14th most corrupt nation out of
180 countries surveyed by Transparency International (TI) due to the
breakdown of formal procedures and structures at most institutions that are
operating in an unstable economic environment.

TI Corruption Perception Index (CPI) measures the perceived levels of
public sector corruption in a given country and is a composite index,
drawing on different expert and business surveys.

The 2008 CPI scores 180 countries (the same number as the 2007 CPI) on
a scale from zero (highly corrupt) to 10 (highly clean).

Zimbabwe, which was ranked 166th had a score of 1,8 on the CPI scale,
indicating that the country was slowly heading towards the highly corrupt

The country's confidence level was ranked between 1,5 to 2,7 out of
the possible 10 marks.

Commenting on strengthening oversight and accountability on Zimbabwe's
rating, TI chairperson, Huguette Labelle said whether in high or low-income
countries, the challenge of reining in corruption requires functioning
societal and governmental institutions.

"Poorer countries are often plagued by corrupt judiciaries and
ineffective parliamentary oversight. Wealthy countries, on the other hand,
show evidence of insufficient regulation of the private sector, in terms of
addressing overseas bribery by their countries, and weak oversight of
financial institutions and transactions," said Labelle.

"Stemming corruption requires strong oversight through parliaments,
law enforcement, independent media and a vibrant civil society," Labelle


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Who Wants It If It Is Not A Greenback?

Thursday, 08 January 2009 18:33
MONEY stands out as one of the most ancient inventions in the history
of mankind.

Although it has assumed many forms since then, its purpose remains
unchanged: to facilitate convenience in transacting.

Prior to its use, societies depended largely on the physical exchange
of commodities. The main weakness of this system, known as barter, was that
it called for a double coincidence of wants.

Anything that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services
can be called money. To economists, for something to be called money it
should act as a medium of exchange, unit of account and store of value.
However, our local currency has in recent times rapidly lost all of these

Over the past year, the nation has had to transact using different
modes of payments. The ever changing monetary system has prompted many calls
for the use of a more stable foreign currency, preferably rands or US
dollars. Dollarisation, as it is called, has its problems but the obtaining
dearth of confidence in the Zim dollar justify adopting it. (We will explore
the concept of dollarisation in our next article)

In early 2008, goods and services sold in the formal market were being
paid for in Zim dollars using electronic transfers, cheques and cash.
Informally, nonetheless, some transactions were already being consummated in
foreign currency. The suspension of electronic money transfers, on
allegations of system abuse by foreign currency dealers, saw the business
transaction model changing to simply cheques and cash.

The lifting of the suspension failed to make up for the lost
confidence in the use of electronic money. Already most economic agents were
opting for cash and foreign currency to cheques and transfers.

At the same time barter trade became rife. The most common commodity
used in barter arrangements was fuel coupons. Schools, especially those that
are privately run, demanded fees in fuel coupons.

Some manufacturers and suppliers only accepted payment in coupons. As
the coupons became increasingly acceptable, some employers began to
remunerate their workers in fuel coupons. This temporarily provided some
relief to the weary workers because they would sell fuel coupons for US
dollars or use them as payment for goods and services. Initially, the
coupons were quite valuable.

A litre was being redeemed for as much as US$1.50 implying that a 20
litre coupon would fetch US$30. Few coupons would cover monthly basics
because then goods and services were still reasonably priced in US dollars.
Coupon prices hastily came off as a result of the global slump in oil prices
and the increasing volume of fuel coupons in the market. The benefits of
holding fuel coupons, outside fuelling the cars, quickly vanished as their
values in hard currency terms plunged.

Already there are worries, negligible though for now, that there could
be more coupons than the fuel in the country. This, if it is true, will
impact negatively on the fuel coupon "monetary" system. Remember the same
fate which hit the gold standard after it was discovered that there were
more promissory notes than gold to back them. Many were left with worthless
pieces of paper.

These concerns, together with the approval of some merchants to sell
commodities for foreign currency is prompting growing advocacy for the full
dollarisation of the economy.

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Banks' Survival Threatened

Thursday, 08 January 2009 18:29
SEVERAL banks have opened the new year under severe stress amid
reports of numerous branch closures and job cuts reportedly triggered by the
near full-dollarisation of the bartered economy.

Information gathered revealed that at least five banking institutions
have scaled down operations in frantic efforts to save their institutions
from the unprecedented economic meltdown.

The crisis in the financial sector has, according to bank officials,
hit most leasing and loan finance employees hard.

Banking sources told businessdigest that Barclays Bank has retrenched
workers while Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) has suspended its casual
workers. FBC Bank, sources said, could soon close most of its branches
outside Harare's central business district.

ZB Bank has reportedly stopped ferrying workers to and from work after
citing viability problems.
"This could be the most challenging year for the financial sector,"
said a senior bank official. "There are no savings in local currency and
foreign exchange is scarce.

Introducing policy on complete dollarisation of the economy could save
banks in the short term. This will not disfranchise government as some
critics would argue - taxes would be paid in forex."

Apart from the viability problems, morale at most banks is low after
the financial institutions failed to pay workers in hard currency.

The sources said banking institutions could fail to survive the
current "over banked" environment that has rendered local financial
institutions incapable of financing the foreign currency starved
manufacturing sector.
Independent statistics indicated that bank assets value continue to
decline in real terms, sliding to an estimated US$50 million last year from
US$300 million in 2007.

This development, according to a report compiled by an independent
financial company KM Financial Solutions, could discourage exporting
companies from increasing export growth resulting in a sharp decline in
foreign currency reserves.

"A number of exporting companies are currently unable to access funds
from their foreign currency accounts within time scales they require.

This would in turn result in low confidence in the banking system,"
reads the report. With no lines of credit in place, virtually all banks
would fail to finance operations of blue chip companies like Econet whose
operations demand significant amounts of hard currency.

With inflation now estimated at over a billion percent, bank deposits
largely from companies and individuals will continue to diminish, relegating
the local currency to worthlessness.

Bankers Association President John Mangudya confirmed that most banks
were struggling to operate although would not disclose financial
institutions currently in trouble.

"I cannot comment on behalf on other banks," Mangudya said. "I am
still trying to get the finer details of the banking sector but like any
other sector, banks are going through a difficult moment.

The panacea to Zimbabwe's problems is production. We are in a survival
mode that is characterised by cost containment."

These problems, according to analysts, could restrict new players from
joining the financial sector.
Last year, TN Bank and Tetrad shelved plans to open a commercial and
merchant bank respectively over unclear reasons.

The Reserve Bank stipulated at least US$12,5 million (commercial
banks) and US$10 million (merchant banks) in hard currency for statutory
capital requirements.

The widespread circulation of foreign currency in the market has
eroded confidence in the banking sector and if measures are not taken to
correct to the situation, the banking sector is headed for collapse in the
not too distant future.

This comes after revelations from the banking sector that the Reserve
Bank had turned down an application by most banks to charge for services
such as chequebook fees and account operational costs in foreign currency.

The move is however likely to sound the death knell on the banking
sector as it would be difficult to sustain operations.

"We applied to charge for some services in foreign currency as
suppliers of cheque books, stationery and suppliers of services to banks are
charging in forex but the Reserve bank turned down the application," said
one bank official speaking on condition of anonymity.

John Robertson, a local economist says the small banks are already
feeling the pinch as they try to survive the "sick" economic climate and are
unlikely to survive.

He predicted that only the big banks would survive whilst the new ones
will be forced into mergers, subsequently leading to the closure of some
bank branches.

"The big banks will not be affected that much because they have other
revenue bases. Some of them own properties in and outside the country so
they still have the revenues even when people stop depositing their money,
Robertson said.

Eric Bloch, another local economist says despite the unofficial
dollarisation of the economy, the banking sector is going to pull through
because only a few companies have access to the foreign currency and the
majority of them still deposit their local currency into the banks.

"The banks are still active because most companies don't have access
to foreign currency, so they are still using the banks," said Bloch.

He also predicted that the government would be forced to dollarise the
economy "soon", and that would give a lifeline to the banks as they also
join the foreign currency craze.

"It's inevitable. The government has no choice but to dollarise the
economy and it won't be long before we see rands and United States dollars
in the banks," Bloch said. "The Minister of Health and Child Welfare
recently announced that all state hospitals and clinics should accept
foreign currency as a way of payment and that's legitimizing dollarisation".

Most of Zimbabwe's financial transactions, from multi-national
transactions down to small transactions in the market are being carried out
in the US dollar, the rand or the pula.


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Stockbrokers Call For Dollarisation Of ZSE

Thursday, 08 January 2009 18:25
THE impasse on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has spilled into 2009
with stockbrokers now advocating for the local bourse to be dollarised as
investigations of alleged insider trading continue.

According to information to hand the stock broking community this week
advocated for the stock market to be dollarised so that it reflects the true
economic picture of the country and value of counters.

The stock market last resumed normal trade on November 17 after
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono read the riot act to banks that were using
fraudulent cheques to artificially inflate share prices.

The halt intensified after the country's Securities Commission ordered
stockbrokers to submit audited financial reports of their net worth by the
end of December 2008.

The commission warned broking firms they would be closed if they
failed to meet the deadline.

Contacted for comment ZSE chief executive Emmanuel Munyukwi could not
shed much light saying normal trade would resume when investigation on
various issues was complete and other demand looked into.

"There are still investigations being done (on the stock market) We do
not have an exact date as to when normal trade would resume, there are also
other demands that are being looked into," said Munyukwi.

Trades on the bourse are now supposed to be backed by a letter of
confirmation from a bank chief executive officer, something which Kingdom
Bank said would prove difficult to implement as CEOs already have their
hands full at the moment.

ZSE said it had observed acts of insider trading on the local bourse
which has caused some counters to inflate, depress or cause fluctuation of

In a statement to the Reserve Bank and Ministry of Finance signed by
Munyukwi and chairman Seti Shumba, the local bourse said it was
investigating all reported cases as it was a serious offence.

"The ZSE committee has also observed with concern that there are some
relatively large institutions which have capacity and strategic
macroeconomic information which is used to inflate, depress or cause
fluctuations in the prices of securities in breach of the Securities Act
(Chapter 24:25) Section 96 (2)," said ZSE.

"This is considered a very serious offence and will be subjected to
investigation in order to determine complicity under the securities Act,"
the stock exchange said.

The ZSE committee said it had not yet ruled on the issue of defaulting
members that were revealed by the Reserve Bank last year.

"It (activities on the stock market) was simultaneously escalated to
the public domain as the report was being brought to the attention of the
committee," the ZSE said.

The ZSE said the procedures as prescribed in Rule 11.01 for bringing
this issue, as well as other complaints about members, has not been varied
or waived.

"The ZSE committee has a primary duty to appraise the discovered
evidence and then set out to prove the breach. The committee must then
follow procedures as laid down in rules 11.01-11.12," said the ZSE.

The stock exchange committee said it would consider the question of
final re-admission of any defaulter in two different classes according to
rule 11.12 namely:

(i) Cases of failure arising from default of clients or from other
circumstances where no bad faith or breach of the rules and usage of the
exchange has been practiced.

(ii) Cases marked by indiscretion and by failure to exercise
reasonable caution on the part of the defaulter.
"The ZSE Committee will examine any such evidence provided in
investigating the matter through normal channels," the ZSE said.

The stock exchange committee also said it will call for all
participants to be subjected to interviews regarding the circumstances of
the alleged breach and weigh the evidence to establish the underlying
motives for suspicious conduct and behaviour by the members as innocent,
negligent or fraudulent.

"The quality of the evidence must be such that it is admissible in
open court so as to provide a successful prosecution and ultimate conviction
if the need arises," the ZSE said.

The committee said it shall ensure that the rules of natural justice
are applied and observed by taking all reasonable steps to ensure that every
person whose interests are likely to be affected by the exercise of the
functions is given adequate opportunity to make representations in pursuit
of fairness and any probabilistic outcomes in terms of the rules.

Commenting on purchasing and settlement risk, the ZSE said a precedent
was observed in the current difficulties in which bank cheques were

"This put the entire market at risk as there was no longer any
guarantee, even by the designated authorities in the bank that their own
paper and what they have signed for can be rendered disabled.

Therefore no other paper will be acceptable to stockbrokers for the
purchase of shares," said the ZSE.
The stock market was the safest form of investment last year, as they
were looking at value creation and convenience of investment.

The economy is now dollarised, and many companies no longer sell by
cheques or RTGS, and are demanding the scarce cash and foreign currency.
Hence the goods market is not easily a tenable alternative for households
and corporates with excess cash balances.

Therefore anyone with Zimbabwe dollars was faced with options of the
money market with negative real returns, the property market that needs
loads of money to enter or the convenient local bourse. That is why the
stock market was the preferred option.


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Mine Workers Threaten To Strike

Thursday, 08 January 2009 18:22
MINEWORKERS have threatened to down tools shouldá theyá receive their
next salary iná local currency, a development that could aggravate the
crisis in the country's major foreign currency earner.

Associated Mineworkers Union of Zimbabwe president, Tinago Ruzive told
businessdigest yesterday that mine workers will hold showdown talks with the
Chamber of Mines on Thursday where they will table their demand for all
mineworkers to be paid in United States dollars.

"We are meetingá with the Chamber of Mines of the 15th (January) and
are strategising how to convince them to pay workers in US dollars," said

"Mineworkers are reeling in poverty and are starving because they are
being paid in local currency when almost everything is being charged in US
dollars. The situation is quite bad. If we are not paid in United States
dollars, we will go on a collective job action," he said.

Ruzive however declined to disclose the figures they will be asking
for when they meet the Chamber of Mines.

The mining industry has over the past five years been reeling under
serious constraints, mainly in the gold sector because of the Reserve Bank's
failure to pay for gold delivered through its subsidiairy Fidelity Printers
since 2007.

The Reserve Bank is said to owe goldminers at least US$30 million
backdated to 2007.á The situation is so dire that one producerá told
businessdigest this week that they had delivered less than two and half
tonnes of gold last year.

Ruzive said that although they understood that the mining industry was
going through a difficult time, minersá deserved to earn a decent wage and
be able to come to work.

Should miners go on strike, they will join teachers and nurses who
have not reported for duty since late last year paralysing the health and
education sectors.

A mining industry player said that while they sympathised with the
plight of workers, their demands could not be met given the crisis in the
mining sector adding that the ultimatum was irrational.

He pointed out that with mining companies having scaled down their
operations this ultimatum would onlyá bring about the total collapse of the

Meanwhile employers are set toá meet the Reserve Bank governor Gideon
Gono next week in a bid to be granted permission to pay workers in foreign

Miners said they were worried that while the Zimbabwe dollar was the
legal tender, it was no longer being accepted for commercial purposes.

They argued that if they were to retain staff to sustain operations,
workers needed to be paid in foreign currency.

The growing chorus for salaries to be paid in foreign currency was
prompted by the near total dollarisation of the economy where most goods and
services are now being charged in hard currency. This has made the local
currency virtually worthless.

The dollarisation of the economy was instigated by the decision of the
Reserve Bank to license a number of service providers and retail outletsá to
sell in foreign currency under the Foreign Exchange Licensed Wholesalers and
Retail Shops programme.


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Harare World's Priciest City

Thursday, 08 January 2009 18:20
ZIMBABWE'S capital Harare used to be considered the world's most
expensive city for foreigners by the London-based human resources consultant
ECA International, but the human resources company stopped including
Zimbabwe in the ranking because of spiralling inflation there.

Harare, in principle still remained the most expensive city in the

With Zimbabwe now in a league of its own, Angola's capital Luanda is
now ranked the world's most expensive place for foreigners followed by
Tokyo, ECA International said on Wednesday.

Josephine Woolley the public relations director for ECA based her
comments on a recent survey by the consultant which compares a basket of 125
consumer goods and services commonly purchased by expatriates in more than
270 locations.

She said long delays at Luanda's port and damaged infrastructure
caused by an almost three-decade long war continued to inflate the price of
goods and services typically used by foreigners in the oil-and-mineral rich

"Luanda is still suffering from the aftermath of 27 years of war. It
remains dangerous, is difficult to move around safely, and it is hard to
source goods of a reasonable standard there because of a damaged
infrastructure," she told Reuters.

"These factors, along with inflation, have driven up the cost of
living, making it increasingly expensive for expatriates."

The end of the war in 2002 led to an investment boom by China and some
Western nations which has helped turn Angola into one of the world's fastest
growing economies. The boom also helped push prices to record highs.

Despite a recent sharp drop in world food prices, a litre of imported
milk can cost $3 while the rent of a small two-bedroom apartment can easily
fetch $7 000 a month in a city that was built for 500 000 but is home to
over five million people.

Analysts expect the cost of living in Luanda to remain high. The
economy is forecast to grow 11.8% in 2009 and inflation to remain above 10%,
government estimates show.

"Prices of goods for expatriates should remain high due to strong
demand," said Ricardo Gazel, a senior economist at the World Bank in Angola,
noting the bottleneck at Luanda's port.

Angola, which rivals Nigeria as sub-Saharan Africa's biggest oil
producer, was a major food exporter before a civil war devastated its
agricultural sector as well as its roads, bridges and communications.

Woolley said the Japanese capital had risen up the ranks in terms of
prices in the past year.

"A strong yen has made Tokyo the second-most expensive city in the
world, up from 13th position a year ago," she said. -- fin24.

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Comment: Nobody Safe In Zimbabwe

Thursday, 08 January 2009 17:39
RIGHTS activist Jestina Mukoko, who together with dozens of opposition
members is facing treason charges, has filed an affidavit in court detailing
the inhuman treatment meted out to her by state security agents.

Mukoko in her affidavit said she was abducted from her Norton home on
December 3 by six men and one woman and taken to an unknown destination
where she was tortured and interrogated by state security agents for
allegedly recruiting youths to undergo military training in Botswana.

She was also interrogated about the alleged involvement of the
Zimbabwe Peace Project in recruiting youths and funding their military

She said she was blindfolded, repeatedly assaulted and tortured
underneath her feet during her 19 days of abduction. She was handed over to
the police on December 22 and charges of banditry were brought against her.
Despite her apparent trauma, she has been denied medical treatment and
courts have not been helpful in upholding her right to freedom in the
absence of credible evidence against her.

We note with disgust that there appears to be a trend in which torture
and abductions have become routine practices by our security forces in the
execution of their duty.

It is even more disturbing to note that complaints which have been
lodged in the courts have not, with the notable exception of Justice
Omerjee, received due attention from the judiciary which has a mandate to
safeguard the Constitution and civil liberties.

Our government has over the years seen it fit to act outside the
Constitution in cases involving security matters. But the state's obligation
to protect liberties should be sacrosanct, as averred by human rights lawyer
Beatrice Mtetwa.

"If anybody has committed an offence the law is very clear - the
Constitution must not be suspended because there are state security issues.

"No law allows anybody to grab a suspect in their night clothes and
take them to an undisclosed location and spend weeks without your family,
lawyers or courts knowing where you are," said Mtetwa.

The condoning of such state excesses has created a culture of impunity
where the state is no longer embarrassed to bring to court suspects with
swollen faces and others limping due to beatings inflicted on the soles of
their feet, a well-known torture known as the falanga.

The abduction and alleged torture of Mukoko and other activists is an
emblematic and sad reminder of the dark side of the Zanu PF regime which now
appears impervious to criticism stemming from rights abuses.

It places Zimbabwe in a club of rogue states which routinely resort to
torture and other acts of brutality as measures of coercive control over a
disenchanted population.

The Zimbabwe government has not ratified the United Nations Convention
against Torture even though parliament voted to ratify it.

In any event, whether Zimbabwe is a signatory of the UN Convention
against Torture or not, torture remains a crime under international law and
must be frowned upon by the judiciary which has a duty to not only prompt an
investigation into suspected cases but to speak out against such excesses.

These alleged actions contravene Section 15 of the Constitution of
Zimbabwe which outlaws torture. Section 15 (1) states: "No person shall be
subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other such

Zimbabwe under international law has an obligation to criminalise and
to prosecute all acts of torture, including any act that constitutes
complicity or participation in torture. International law states failure to
prevent torture carried out by subordinates may entail criminal

The government has an obligation to continue to act within the
confines of the law notwithstanding the gravity of the case it is
prosecuting. And the judiciary has an obligation to uphold the basic rights
of Zimbabweans to freedom instead of swallowing the far-fetched claims of a
state that has repeatedly seen its treason cases collapse.

The incarceration of MDC officials in Bulawayo seven years ago on
charges connected to the death of Cain Nkala is one of the more shocking
cases of judicial inaction in the face of fabricated charges.

Justice Sandra Mungwira, to her lasting credit, eventually ordered
their acquittal when it became obvious they should not have been arrested in
the first place.

The absence of real political will to implement this very basic tenet
of the law - the assumption of innocence - has brought us to this sad state
of affairs where suspects disappear for weeks only to be brought to court
bearing marks of abuse at the hand of the state.

And the production by the state of a certificate to say national
security interests are at stake should be taken with a pinch of salt. The
state is not a disinterested party.

The latest case has exploded any pretensions by this regime that it
respects the rule of law. This is a loud declaration that Zimbabwe is well
and truly a rogue state in which nobody is safe and the absence of a robust
judiciary is taking its toll on civil rights.

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Candid Comment: Deal Leaves Tsvangirai Cornered

Thursday, 08 January 2009 17:35
THIS year started with no hope of an immediate implementation of the
global political agreement signed between President Robert Mugabe and the
leaders of the two MDC formations, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara,
on September 15 last year.

Tsvangirai has declined to be sworn in as prime minister of the
envisaged inclusive government insisting that there are outstanding issues
before the agreement can be consummated.

Among the sticking issues, according to Tsvangirai, are the
ministerial portfolio allocations, appointment of provincial governors and
the constitutive nature of the proposed national security council. He is
also concerned about the abduction, torture and illegal detention of his

Tsvangirai's refusal to take the oath of office has promoted
speculation in the official media that the opposition leader and his party
intend to walk out of the agreement in the hope that the economy will plunge
into chaos, forcing Mugabe to quit.

The MDC-T's leaders will meet in South Africa at the weekend to decide
whether or not to enter the inclusive government, but it may be difficult
for Tsvangirai to walk out of an agreement that he is party to, despite
growing international disillusionment with Mugabe's performance since the
pact was signed.

His only option is to push Zanu PF into a corner where they would have
to agree to new elections under international supervision so he can get the
chance to beat Mugabe once and for all.

Sadc has betrayed the people of Zimbabwe by failing to stand up to
Mugabe's delinquency after the sham June 27 presidential election run-off
that eventually led to the signing of the shaky unity government pact.
Equally, Tsvangirai and Mutambara have also been maladroit in so far
as the events leading up to the signing of the pact are concerned.

It was up to Tsvangirai and Mutambara and their respective formations
to formulate a united position and decide on who should be the principal in
any engagement with Mugabe and Zanu PF.

A divided opposition to Mugabe was always going to be good news to
Zanu PF.

It would be wrong to claim that Mugabe was responsible for the
opposition not getting its act together both before and after the March 29

Mutambara chose not to participate in the presidential election and
ordinarily he should be excluded from any discussions dealing with the
allocation of executive power, and yet he now finds himself a player - and a
critical one for that matter - in the contentious issues that remain.

Sadc and the mediator in the Zimbabwean crisis, former South African
president Thabo Mbeki, had no choice but to listen to the voices of Zimbabwe's
opposition leaders and regrettably there seems to be no trust among them.
Mugabe, being the incumbent, is the beneficiary.

Mutambara and his formation seem satisfied that the current outcome is
what the country needs. The MDC-T disagrees.

Because of the results of the parliamentary election, an opportunity
was created for a re-interpretation of what the people of Zimbabwe wanted to
see: an executive reflecting the parliamentary results or an executive
coming from the direct presidential election results.

When people voted on March 29 they surely had no idea that a vote for
a parliamentary representative would end up being manipulated as a vote for
who should be head of state.

By craftily investing in the terms of reference for the global
political agreement, it was possible for Sadc and Mugabe to box MDC-T into a
corner to the extent that very soon Tsvangirai would acquire the reputation
of a spoiler. Yet his party won both the presidential first-round poll and
the parliamentary contest. Mugabe only won the second round through an orgy
of violence.

By signing the inclusive government deal, MDC-T must accept
responsibility for creating this absurd outcome that now sees Mugabe taking
the moral high ground.

The pact is framed on the basis that Tsvangirai will never assume
unfettered executive power as long as Mugabe is alive. All he can hope for
is being a prime minister under Mugabe. Mutambara appears to be happy with
such an outcome, as he knows that if Tsvangirai were to assume unfettered
executive powers he would not be a beneficiary.

For self-interest, the outcome on the table suits Mugabe and

The real betrayal of Zimbabweans lies in the nature and composition of
the opposition forces. Given the current stalemate, Mugabe and Mutambara on
the surface have the majority but lack the legitimacy.

The inclusive government deal is the only route for Mugabe to restore
any residual legitimacy even among his own colleagues in Sadc and the AU.
They can now claim that the deal has the endorsement of not only the three
players, including Tsvangirai, but Sadc as well. It is a signed document as
is the Constitutional Amendment Bill.

The bottom line is that Tsvangirai cannot walk out of the pact. But he
should at least tell the country what his position is.


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Eric Bloch: Key Resolutions For 2009

Thursday, 08 January 2009 16:54
ZIMBABWE'S government is justifiably renowned for its failure to do
anything whatsoever timeously. Its reputation for tardiness is undoubtedly
merited, for it has unfailingly always done too little, too late (save and
except for its all too frequent, ill-considered, nationally destructive

Those it invariably does precipitously, without due consideration, and
when the appalling unforeseen consequences develop, it unhesitatingly
attributes responsibility and blame to others. With its deep-seated
convictions of omnipotence and infallibility, it cannot conceive of

With its unfettered ability to fail to do anything when it should be
done, it must be taken for granted that on New Year's Eve, when
traditionally one should resolve upon positive and constructive actions for
the year ahead, government failed to do so.

However, there is some substance to the old and trite maxim "Better
late than never", and therefore there is still opportunity for government to
make its 2009 resolutions.

The first of those resolutions should be a collective one for all in
government, and that is to act wholly and exclusively in the best interests
of Zimbabwe and its people, which would be diametrically opposite to all
that it has done heretofore.

Although it would vigorously deny it, each and every action of
government over the last 10 years has been politically motivated, the
objective being perpetuation of absolute control of Zimbabwe, or intent on
self-benefit of those in government or nepotistically connected to them, or
founded upon distorted, self-effacing misconceptions as to the causes of
Zimbabwean ills.

But there are many other resolutions which, if government genuinely
cares for those that it "governs", should be made. Space constraints
preclude itemising all, but to aid those who deceptively believe that they
are the democratically elected rulers of Zimbabwe, some of their 2009
resolutions which should now be made are:

His Excellency President Robert Mugabe, who recently publicly declared
that "Zimbabwe is mine!" should forthwith recognise that Zimbabwe belongs to
all Zimbabweans, irrespective of political affiliation, race, tribe, gender,
and that (as is the case in all countries with viable economies),
non-Zimbabwean investors are also welcome, will not be prejudiced or
oppressed, and their investments will be protected.

The Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP),
Augustine Chihuri, should resolve that police will always honour and respect
determinations of Zimbabwean courts, including orders for the immediate
release of persons in police custody; that there will be intensive efforts
to contain the fast-growing tendency of the traffic police to extort foreign
currency bribes, with equally intensive efforts to ensure that the police do
not resort to beatings and assault upon anyone, and in particular, upon
those perceivedá to be opponents of government.

ZRP's reputation has been grievously tarnished by a minority who
increasingly pursue the public with corrupt demands and threats and, on
occasion, brutality. The 2009 resolution must be to strive to restore the
ZRP's past repute.

The Minister of Industry and International Trade, Obert Mpofu, needs
to resolve that economic regulation is counterproductive and destructive
when pursued to excess; deregulation should be the prevailing policy, the
failures of excessive command economy policies having been a primary
contributor to Zimbabwe's near-total economic collapse.

The scathing dismissal of "textbook economics" initiated by the
president but echoed by many ministerial sycophants not only overlooks that
some have considerable substance, but also that those economics have had
innumerable proven successes.

The Minister of State for Security and Land, Didymus Mutasa needs a
multitude of resolutions including that he, and the government he
represents, will from now onwards have unequivocal respect for property
rights and bilateral agreements.

He should resolve to dispose of the racist chip on his shoulder
against all non-black farmers, and recognize that Zimbabwe has more than
enough land to accommodate those of all races who have a genuine wish to
work the land productively, matched by requisite agricultural skill. And he
must resolve to recognise determinations of regional tribunals and courts,
for Zimbabwean membership of regional entities is spurious if it
self-selectively ignores the agreed legal infrastructures.

Zimbabwe's Minister of Foreign Affairs should resolve that 2009 will
herald a new era in which Zimbabwe will strive to reconcile with many of the
international community that it has unhesitatingly alienated and rebuffed.

Without in any manner being subservient to others, but founded upon
equality, Zimbabwe must become a reciprocally cooperative member of the
international community, containing its tendency for vituperative
castigation and misplaced attribution to others of blame for that which
Zimbabwe has afflicted upon itself.

Zimbabwe's near-failed "Look East Policy" needs to be replaced with a
"Look North, South, East and West Policy", founded upon harmonious
communication and collaboration.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s resolutions for 2009 must include
real determination and intent to make good, speedily, the funds diverted
from exporters' and others' Foreign Currency Accounts, stated to be "loans"
to RBZ although the "lenders" were given no determination whether or not to
make such loans, and virtually no terms and conditions of the loans such as
repayment periods, interest rates and security have been given by the
borrower that unilaterally availed itself of the foreign currency resources.

Similarly, it must be resolved that from now onwards all payments due
by the RBZ to gold producers and tobacco growers will be timeously made,
that exchange control bureaucracy will be eradicated and all applications
and submissions speedily processed.

The cabinet needs to resolve that its profligate spending will cease
forthwith, with state expenditure being intensively contained to levels
within available means, and targeted towards the nation's most critical and
essential needs.

A very positive first step would be for the cabinet to recommend to,
and urge, the president, to restructure the cabinet to a much smaller size,
with a concomitant reduction in the Zimbabwe monolithic governmental

Concurrently, the cabinet should resolve that it will now urgently
pursue public/private partnerships, bringing about meaningful privatisation
of Zimbabwe's plethora of parastatals, almost all of which are
under-capitalised, have derelict and failing infrastructures and markedly
fail to meet the needs of the country.

Most of all, the cabinet resolution should be that from now on its
focus will be upon effective deeds instead of fruitless talks, and that
forthwith it will put the Zimbabwean people and their wellbeing foremost and
above all else.

These are but a few of the governmental New Year resolutions that
would transform Zimbabwe and accord it the glory and success it could so
easily have were government to have the will and resolve. Past performance
suggests that there is little prospect of such a spectacular governmental
transformation, and yet self-preservation may finally provoke government to
resolve upon that which is needed.


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Muckraker: A 'retreat' Worth Making Permanent

Thursday, 08 January 2009 16:48
President Mugabe has embarked upon his annual holiday, we are told. Or
"retreat" as it is now called. Just when we thought there was no going back!

Vice-President Joseph Msika will be acting president.

Let's hope this means less of that noisy motorcade which guzzles up
the nation's scarce fuel resources while abusing motorists who get in its

Muckraker has been told that the vehicles in the motorcade, headed by
Zim 1, get filled up at the Reserve Bank, not the CMED. Gideon Gono, who is
in charge of national forex procurement, makes sure our leaders are properly
looked after. He doesn't stand there holding the fuel pipe himself but you
can be sure he knows what each vehicle gets.

The problem is the source of this largesse is, like everything else,
in sharp decline.

Zimplats, which provides the bank with hard currency, is a victim of
the global downturn. The market for platinum is shrinking. New projects in
Selous have been shelved as revenue dries up. This means less money for

But does it mean less for the president's motorcade, that
advertisement for all that is extravagant and arrogant in our midst?

We seriously doubt it. Something will be found to keep those wheels
turning even if Gono has to dig into his piggy bank. It just means less for
everybody else.

Meanwhile, Muckraker is seeking confirmation of where young Bona is
studying. We think it is Hong Kong which combines a British education with
Chinese protection. But it could be a neighbouring state.

A Hong Kong education does not come cheap, we are told. And then there
are the costs of accommodation and close security. It may mean another call
on Gideon's pipeline!

We were intrigued by remarks made by Nathaniel Manheru in the Herald
edition of December 27.
Firstly it was interesting to note that his elder brother's
"inquisitive brood", who he describes as serving him "a few hard balls"
(tough questions), are all living in the diaspora. Clearly Manheru's
patriotic appeals cut no ice within his own family! And nor, it would seem,
have they persuaded South Africa's new leadership that Zimbabwe is the
victim of a Western conspiracy.

President Mugabe had been vindicated in his portrayal of the MDC's
Morgan Tsvangirai as a minor player in the regional scheme of things, we are
told. The British are the real key to success, not their surrogates.

Manheru writes for a captive press, one that is not remotely a
á"public" entity despite its claims, and which conceals news it finds

So it may be useful for the public to know exactly what views the
South African leadership have been expressing of late.

Firstly we had President Kgalema Motlanthe telling the press at Union
Buildings on December 17 that he didn't believe Zimbabwe's far-fetched
stories about the MDC engaging in terrorist training in Botswana.

"We do not believe that," he said. "We do not think there is any
substance to the allegation. But of course the Zimbabwean authorities would
cite an explosion at a police station and that kind of stuff to actually
claim the government of Botswana could train the MDC cadres."

So clearly Zimbabwe's official line doesn't extend beyond the Limpopo,
whatever Manheru might think.

Then we had Jacob Zuma speaking recently on the subject of Zimbabwe.
He said the situation here was "utterly untenable".

And in remarks to the ANC's national executive committee calculated to
cause mortification in the ranks of Zimbabwe's sclerotic leadership, Zuma
said in as much as he could no longer call defectors to the recently
launched Congress of the People (Cope) "comrades", he could also not call
Zimbabwe's ruling party and its leaders "comrades".

That was a hugely significant admission, given Zanu PF's claims to
have persuaded the South Africans of the righteousness of their cause, but
one the Herald swept under its copious carpet.

The NEC statement that followed Zuma's address was equally forthright.

"The reported cases of abductions and detentions without trial (in
Zimbabwe) test the very fabric of the liberation we fought for in this
region of Africa," it said.

Again, this went unreported in the official press despite the obvious
fact it was of interest to Zimbabweans.

These few examples last month show the extent to which the state media
is abusing its daily monopoly.

And have you noticed how contributors from Canada and Australia are
dominating the commentary columns of the Herald? The government press seems
to have run out of local contributors, although we can't wait to see what
dividends the British Council's lavish sponsorship of Olly Maruma produces!

And what will it take to get Reason Wafawarova to step foot in this
country? None of these ultra-patriots show any inclination to actually come
home. Australia is much more comfortable. And you can say what you like
about the government there without being abducted.

Meanwhile, South Africa's Sunday Times published an editorial on
December 28 that might also be of interest to our readers. The pain South
Africans went through in 2008 was nothing compared to what was, and still
is, happening in neighbouring Zimbabwe, the editor wrote.

"The dictatorial habits of ageing despot Robert Mugabe have pushed
that country to the edge of the precipice. Zimbabwe is a collapsed state.

"What pained us most is the role played by South Africa under the
mediation of Mbeki. The irony is that while Mbeki sought to shape his
presidency on the principle of African renewal, he did the opposite by
ensuring that the Harare dictator clung to power through brute force."

It was also interesting to note George Charamba's claim that he could
not comment on Nicholas Goche's meeting with Sydney Mufamadi in South Africa
recently "as that was a party issue while I am a government spokesperson".

But that doesn't stop him styling himself as "Comrade" in the Herald
and wearing ruling-party regalia at Zanu PF functions! So why has he
suddenly decided to make a distinction between government and party? Who has
said what?

Econet's "smart business partna-ship" is proving less than smart for
the cellular company's customers.
On New Year's Eve, arguably the busiest day of the year in terms of
cellular traffic as people send greetings to each other, Econet's system
went offline for most of the day and then resurfaced as a US dollar

Some customers were informed of the changeover but many weren't.

Customers holding Business Partna access cards which they had bought
for $50 million found they now contained just a few (US) cents, although it
has to be said the conversion rate wasn't too bad.

Econet, which boasts it is "inspired to change your world", certainly
changed many people's lives by creating havoc in the telecoms sector over
the New Year. Many customers without US dollars were seriously disadvantaged
by not being able to seek help from their companies, closed for the holiday.

"Scratching off the panel implies total acceptance of the Business
Partna terms and conditions", the access cards say.

Surely, that applies as much to Econet as it does to the customer? Why
could Econet not wait until the nation was back at work on Monday before
depriving them of their means of communication? How user-friendly is that?

Their access cards state clearly "use before 31.12.2009".

By the way, subscribers on the 023 (Telecel) network are able to
access other people's cellphones in the region and overseas, a service not
available to 0912 (Econet) customers.

Do you recall all those puff pieces in the local press about Econet
rolling-out new networks? A golden dawn beckoned for subscribers, we were
led to believe.

We said at the time cellular companies should first improve their
existing service before expanding their networks, but nobody listened.

Econet should undertake a survey of customer perceptions of the
company's service after the New Year's Eve debacle. It could be instructive.

Meanwhile, amidst collapsing service delivery in all sectors of the
economy, the collapse of the nation's postal service has gone unnoticed.

Do you remember those postmen on bicycles who provided a reliable
service for so long? Now that delivery has been farmed out to a motorised
outfit the whole system has broken down with the predictable excuse of "no

Christmas cards have gone missing as have bank statements and other
documents. Anything coming from South Africa or overseas most likely won't
be delivered for several weeks. As soon as they built the international
sorting office on the Airport Road mail delivery began to grind to a halt.

Reliable postal delivery was something we took for granted for so
long. Not any more! Here we have another parastatal hiking charges but
failing to provide a basic service.

Part of President Mugabe's leave will be spent outside Zimbabwe, we
are told by the state media.
George Charamba, wearing his government hat, told the Sunday Mail:
"This is more of a retreat than an actual leave.

The president is very busy reflecting on new structures that are
needed to deal with the economic sanctions against Zimbabwe as well as
working on structures of an inclusive government which must come soon."

Yes, but will he be doing this from a beach in Malaysia or a farm in
Zvimba? And why does he think he can introduce new structures to deal with
sanctions when none of his other counter-measures have worked?
Getting rid of all that dead wood in cabinet may help. But any attempt
to bring in another truckload from his own party could be fatal to the
nation's health.

We also note in passing that the state is only "rolling out" its
"national awareness campaign" now, more than three weeks after Mugabe said
cholera had been "arrested". This hardly smacks of decisive governance.

And should everybody in Tuesday's front-page Herald pic be grinning
for the cameras when this is such a serious matter? The current toll stands
at 1 732, over double what it was on December 11 when Mugabe said the
disease has been brought under control.

Zanu PF's propagandists have meanwhile been asking why a presidential
run-off in Ghana was acceptable in Western eyes and not in Zimbabwe?

The answer couldn't be more obvious. The run-off in Ghana was seamless
and peaceful. Candidates were able to debate issues on TV in a forthright
and vigorous way -- indeed some would say too vigorous at times.

There were no abductions or murders of opposition activists. There
were no "no-go" areas for opposition candidates. There was a large measure
of confidence in the work of the electoral supervisory commission which
released results promptly. Senior military personnel did not make dangerous
political pronouncements while the police were seen as mostly impartial as
were the courts.

That's why Ghana's election attracted relatively little attention. The
Ghanaian election in no way "mirrored" the election in Zimbabwe, as Caesar
Zvayi would have us believe. The run-off in Zimbabwe was described as a
"sham" not just by "Westerners" but by all who witnessed it. That is why the
region has prevented Mugabe from forming a government on his own, as if he

Is it appropriate for the editor of the Herald to permit
correspondence in the paper's "Letters" column that describes Tsvangirai as
"immoral, corrupt and obnoxiously repugnant"?

Is this the sort of language which should be encouraged in our public
press? Does it promote democratic diversity or simply place national
discourse in the gutter?

Can you imagine the battery of legislation that would be wheeled out
if anybody described Mugabe in those terms in the back seat of a commuter
omnibus? The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act would be immediately
brought into play.

There is no such law in Ghana. And the candidates in the recent
election said very much what they liked about each other.

Finally, can Arthur Mutambara please enlighten us as to when and where
Jendayi Frazer made the comments he attributes to her regarding Tsvangirai?
("Inconvenient truths about the West and Zimbabwe"). The Herald published
excerpts from the article on Monday. Muckraker has the full text.

The US embassy can find no trace of the remarks. And the language used
seems unlikely. We would hate to think he is just making it up as he goes

And there are of course no invasion plans beyond the fevered
imaginings of certain prelates and prime ministers.á As it is, Mutambara
gives a hostage to fortune which the usual jackals were quick to pounce on.

In particular it would have been helpful if the Herald had published
his remarks on what might happen if the clamour for Mugabe to go became a
reality. What is it the Chinese say about being careful what you wish for
because it may come true?

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Editor's Memo: Time For A Show Of Real Leadership

Thursday, 08 January 2009 16:42
WHEN President Mugabe bellowed "pasi ne MDC" at his party's conference
in Bindura last month, he merely confirmed our worst fears: that his
keenness on seeing the success of a unitary government with the MDC had worn

The damning slogan is reserved for his enemies, opponents and elements
which he regards as undesirable. Tsvangirai and his MDC party have always
been regarded as undesirable appendages of imperialists.

The tone Mugabe set in Bindura has erased any hopes of a workable
political settlement with the opposition and with it, 2009 can turn out to
be even more of an annus horribilis than 2008 as long as the gulf between
Zanu PF and the MDC is not bridged.

That rift has opened even wider amid state allegations that the MDC is
fomenting armed rebellion to topple the ageing strongman. The pieces have
started to come together.

Mugabe has started to wheel out the evidence of MDCá "treason".
Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko and dozens of MDC abducted by
state functionaries last year now stand accused of plotting to topple the

The state is also alleging that the activists were culpable in the
bombing of police stations and railway lines late last year. This is
notwithstanding statements by police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri
that the bombings were an inside job.

Here is wily Mugabe playing victim again. And when he is in this mode,
he is at his most dangerous. He will now use this phony state of siege to
justify drastic action against the opposition.

We recall the Cain Nkala saga in which the MDC was portrayed as a
murderous party and then Tsvangirai's treason trial which both collapsed in
court. The incidents were both designed to weaken the MDC while at the same
time diverting attention away from the failure of the Zanu PF

It is not surprising therefore that Mugabe has launched an assault on
the opposition while at the same time putting up a fašade of a magnanimous
and charitable leader extending an invitation to the opposition to ride on
his threadbare wagon. He knows the futility of riding alone.

He wants to ride with a weakened Tsvangirai. That way, he thinks he is
guaranteed gaining the ascendancy which he failed to win through the ballot

But gaining legitimacy is a different kettle of fish. And in the event
of an early election, Mugabe knows that his chances would perhaps be
brighter against a traumatised MDC.

In its current state, the opposition has already started to display
sure signs of weakness. Tsvangirai and most senior leaders of the party are
outside the country - they say to organise - but arguably in exile.

The current Jestina Mukoko saga is most likely to keep the leaders
away. Meanwhile the party cannot properly organise on the ground. State
agents have launched activities to destabilise the party at all levels.

Tsvangirai's MDC appears rudderless at the moment. It should be said
that the MDC leadership is playing right into Zanu PF's grand plot.

The party is weakening with each passing day that Tsvangirai and his
colleagues stay out of the country.
Conditions on the ground now point to two possible outcomes.

A weakened MDC could be dragged into the unity government kicking and
screaming by the strong arm of the state. The terrorist plot would be used
as the stick to force compliance. In this scenario, the party would cede
powers to Zanu PF and reverse gains garnered from the March polls.

The second possible outcome is a frustrated MDC walking out of the
dialogue with Zanu PF and refusing to support the passage of Amendment
Number 19 when the Bill is brought to parliament later this month.

Mugabe would then dissolve parliament and call for fresh polls. As
long as Tsvangirai stays away, it would be a huge task for him and his party
to win. He cannot rely on public discontent alone to upstage Mugabe in an
election. He is required here to lead his party.

The two scenarios are both favourable to Mugabe who is still more than
determined to hang on to power despite his inability to rescue the country
from the morass he has created. Mugabe's continued occupation of the throne
is manifestly not the tonic required to put right this economy.

The agreement between the two parties was the best option available
for Zimbabwe but that opportunity is fast waning. In South Africa this
weekend the MDC leadership is scheduled to deliberate on a way forward.

They have two clear options: to bite the bullet and join Mugabe in a
government that is abusing power and accusing the party of treason or to
tear up the agreement with Zanu PF and face an election in which they will
be at a profound disadvantage. Both options carry serious risks for
Tsvangirai. But that is the nature of politics. It is time to demonstrate


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