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China defends veto of Zimbabwe resolution


Sat 12 Jul 2008, 3:52 GMT

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Saturday that sanctions against Zimbabwe's
government would "complicate", rather than ease, conflict in the troubled
African country, defending its decision to veto a proposed U.N. resolution.

The Western-backed resolution would have imposed an arms embargo on Zimbabwe
and financial and travel restrictions on President Robert Mugabe and 13
other officials, and authorised a United Nations special envoy for the
southern African nation.

But on Friday, five U.N. Security Council members -- including veto-holding
Russia and China -- opposed it, sinking proposed sanctions that condemned
Mugabe for gaining re-election through violence and intimidation.

China's decision to block the sanctions may bruise relations with Western
powers weeks before Beijing hosts the Olympic Games. China also faces
international pressure over Sudan, where international prosecutors are
pursuing arrests for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry's chief spokesman Liu Jianchao was quick to
defend the veto as right for Zimbabwe.

"Under present conditions, passing a sanctions resolution against Zimbabwe
would not help to encourage the various factions there to engage in
political dialogue and negotiations and achieve results," Liu said in a
statement on the Ministry's Web site (

"On the contrary, it would further complicate conditions in Zimbabwe," Liu
said, adding that China's call that the African Union (AU) be given more
time for mediation was ignored.

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai withdrew from a June 27 presidential run-off poll, citing attacks
on his supporters by pro-Mugabe militia.

The MDC and Western powers branded Mugabe's landslide re-election a sham.

In Zimbabwe, the opposition on Friday accused government security forces of
murdering a polling agent in fresh political violence that could undermine
talks in South Africa.

"The international community should provide constructive help" for South
Africa's and the AU's mediation efforts, Liu said. "Avoid adopting actions
that could have a negative effect on the atmosphere for dialogue.".

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Valerie Lee)

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West suffers historic defeat as China and Russia veto Zimbabwe sanctions

The Times
July 12, 2008

James Bone in New York and David Robertson
Britain's diplomatic strategy in Zimbabwe collapsed last night in an
historic defeat for the West in the UN Security Council that will have
repercussions across Africa and beyond.

Russia and China wielded their veto to kill a resolution imposing UN
sanctions on President Mugabe and his inner circle in a defining vote in the
15-nation council.

Sir John Sawers, the British Ambassador to the UN, said: "The people of
Zimbabwe need to be given hope that there is an end in sight to their
suffering. The Security Council today has failed to offer them that hope."

Russia declared that it was casting its veto to prevent the council, under
the influence of Western members, from meddling in the internal affairs of a
UN member state.

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"We have seen an effort to take the council beyond its charter prerogative,"
Vitaly Churkin, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, declared. "We believe such
practices to be illegitimate and dangerous, leading to a realignment of the
UN system. This draft is nothing but the council's attempt to interfere in
the internal affairs of a member state."

China, which supplies arms to Harare, said that the Zimbabwe crisis did not
constitute a threat to international peace and security, over which the
council had jurisdiction.

"Internationally, to use or threaten to use sanctions lightly is not
conducive to solving a problem," Wang Guangya, the Chinese Ambassador to the
UN, said.

Britain and the United States forced the draft resolution to a vote because
they counted on the support of the nine members needed to secure adoption.
In a dramatic show of hands, the draft did indeed earn the requisite nine
votes to pass, with five against, but was not adopted because of Russia's
and China's block. South Africa, Vietnam and Libya also voted against, while
Indonesia abstained.

The showdown heralds a chilling of international relations as Russia and
China resist growing UN intervention in other repressive regimes, such as
Burma, and it represents a shift in the balance of power at the top table of
diplomacy. Russia, China and developing nations are flexing their muscles
after Western dominance since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"China and Russia have stood with Mugabe against the people of Zimbabwe,"
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Ambassador, told the council. "This resolution
would have supported the courageous efforts of the Zimbabwean people to
change their lives peacefully through elections."

The statements by Britain and the US reflected their anger days after
President Medvedev of Russia agreed a tough statement at the G8 summit in
Japan threatening sanctions against Zimbabwe. Sir John read out the G8
statement promising further steps, including "financial and other measures
against those individuals responsible for the violence." He described the
Russian action as irresponsible.

Mr Khalilzad went further, calling the Russian veto a "U-turn" and
suggesting that it raised questions about Russia's "reliability as a G8
partner", hinting that it might be ejected from the elite club of leading
industrial nations.

The UN resolution would have imposed an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and clamped
a worldwide asset freeze and travel ban on Mr Mugabe and 13 of his henchmen
accused of orchestrating election abuses in the June 27 presidential run-off

It would also have required the UN to name a special representative to act
as a mediator in Zimbabwe.

Britain hoped that the resolution would step up the pressure on Mr Mugabe
and his closest aides and sideline the discredited mediation efforts by
President Mbeki of South Africa.

Last night's defeat left British policy in disarray. "With the vetoing of
this resolution, we need to look for a new way forward," Sir John said.

Even in the absence of international sanctions, a growing number of Western
companies are pulling out of Zimbabwe. Among others, Shell, the Anglo-Dutch
oil giant, has announced its withdrawal.

Companies operating in Zimbabwe have been under fire for remaining in the
country and the British Government has suggested that they could be forced
to leave.

Tesco said that it would no longer source food from Zimbabwe, while WPP, the
advertising agency, is in the process of selling its business, which is
part-owned by a relative of Mr Mugabe.

Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and the mining corporations Anglo
American and Rio Tinto have decided to stay.

Whats the point of a UN if two of the darkest nations on the earth control
The west needs to get ready for war with the two for surely the two work
hand in hand for global control. Australia needs to be fortified against
China. Many christian prophecies tell of an asian invader in our region.

G.Gibson, Sydney, Australia

Enough is enough! Western athletes should not attend the next Olympic games.
A tough decision for the countries and much harder for the athletes but
surely there has to be a moral stand. A gold medal is not worth one human

Marc, Paris, France

Obviously the Russians are playing the spoiler due to their objections to
the U.S. Missile Shield. Watch for this to embolden the U.S. to circumvent
the U.N. in regards to Iran.

Bill, Ottumwa, Iowa

Tibet and Zimbabwe will both cast long shadows over the Olympics. Civilised
people will not be able to enjoy totally any sporting event they see on

Rosa Gillibrand, Brussels, Belgium

Two totalitarian governments vetoed a resolution calling for sanctions
against a totalitarian regime
What a surprise..

Bruce Northwood, Washington, D.C., USA

Every aggressive country believe they are rightfully exacting justice on
their victims, NATO has had no opposition for too long and forgot they are
not the ones to define right and wrong. I'm glad Russia and China could come
out and stop western countries from playing world police.

John, Ottawa, Canada

This is such bad news. How can we stand by and watch this happen to such a
lovely country like Zimbabwe. The UN has failed because China and Russia
prefer to defend arms interests and their own shameful regimes instead of
helping to create peace in this troubled country. Britain lead the way!

Dave, Manchester, UK

What did we expect? It seems clear that that there is consensus that a
government can do what it likes inside its own borders. Better a few
dismembered babies than the loss of this principle.

Charles, Charlottesville, USA

The sooner Russia is ejected from the G8 the better. Their corrupt
government stands against everything most people in the West believe in.
They have little regard for freedom, truth or justice and is no better than
Zimbabwe in repressing and silencing its opponents.

Jay Wright, Durham,

China and Russia in league with Zimbabwe ring true the age old adage: Birds
of the same feather flock together. Good show China and Russia!

Andy, Washington, DC, USA

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Africa? Screw it, says Irish journo

Friday July 11, 2008

Driving home tonight, I heard on the radio that China and Russia vetoed UN measures to punish Zimbabwe's brutish government. I thought ill of China and Russia, and thought ill too of South Africa, and all the other African nations, which aren't lifting a finger to challenge that sociopath Robert Mugabe.

Let's be honest: does anybody really think Africa is ever going to get better? Honestly? I don't. I think it will be nothing but misery, from here till eternity. I hope I'm wrong, and I don't believe that relieves we who have the resources from doing what we can to help the suffering there. But I don't think it's going to matter much in the grand scheme of things, because I see no evidence that the people of Africa have the wherewithal to govern themselves effectively. I think my great-grandchildren's great grandchildren will be faced with an Africa no different from what we have today, and they'll still be hearing 19th-century colonialism being blamed for the catastrophe.

Like I said, I don't think we in the West have the moral right to wash our hands of the ongoing catastrophe that is Africa. As a Christian, I can't go there. But that's not the same as thinking that our efforts are going to amount to much. I can see where the Irish journalist who wrote this shocking piece saying Africa's a lost cause comes from. Excerpt:

No. It will not do. Even as we see African states refusing to take action to restore something resembling civilisation in Zimbabwe, the begging bowl for Ethiopia is being passed around to us, yet again. It is nearly 25 years since Ethiopia's (and Bob Geldof's) famous Feed The World campaign, and in that time Ethiopia's population has grown from 33.5 million to 78 million today.

So why on earth should I do anything to encourage further catastrophic demographic growth in that country? Where is the logic? There is none. To be sure, there are two things saying that logic doesn't count.

One is my conscience, and the other is the picture, yet again, of another wide-eyed child, yet again, gazing, yet again, at the camera, which yet again, captures the tragedy of . . .

Sorry. My conscience has toured this territory on foot and financially. Unlike most of you, I have been to Ethiopia; like most of you, I have stumped up the loot to charities to stop starvation there. The wide-eyed boy-child we saved, 20 years or so ago, is now a priapic, Kalashnikov-bearing hearty, siring children whenever the whim takes him.

There is, no doubt a good argument why we should prolong this predatory and dysfunctional economic, social and sexual system; but I do not know what it is. There is, on the other hand, every reason not to write a column like this.


But, please, please, you self-righteously wrathful, spare me mention of our own Famine, with this or that lazy analogy. There is no comparison. Within 20 years of the Famine, the Irish population was down by 30pc. Over the equivalent period, thanks to western food, the Mercedes 10-wheel truck and the Lockheed Hercules, Ethiopia's has more than doubled.

Alas, that wretched country is not alone in its madness. Somewhere, over the rainbow, lies Somalia, another fine land of violent, Kalashnikov-toting, khat-chewing, girl-circumcising, permanently tumescent layabouts.

Indeed, we now have almost an entire continent of sexually

hyperactive indigents, with tens of millions of people who only survive because of help from the outside world.

This dependency has not stimulated political prudence or commonsense. Indeed, voodoo idiocy seems to be in the ascendant, with the next president of South Africa being a firm believer in the efficacy of a little tap water on the post-coital penis as a sure preventative against infection. Needless to say, poverty, hunger and societal meltdown have not prevented idiotic wars involving Tigre, Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea etcetera.

Broad brush-strokes, to be sure. But broad brush-strokes are often the way that history paints its gaudier, if more decisive, chapters. Japan, China, Russia, Korea, Poland, Germany, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 20th century have endured worse broad brush-strokes than almost any part of Africa.

They are now -- one way or another -- virtually all giving aid to or investing in Africa, whereas Africa, with its vast savannahs and its lush pastures, is giving almost nothing to anyone, apart from AIDS.

Harsh. But there's ugly truth here. What does one do with it? This guy would just as soon let nature take its course, no matter who dies. Like I said, I can't go there. But what does that mean, in the end? That we work to save who can be saved, in the face of the tragic truth that ultimately, helping Africa is like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the mountain?

Or is the pessimism, not to say cynicism, about Africa unwarranted? If it is, why? What evidence do you have for real hope in broad progress in Africa? I'm not asking rhetorically. I'm looking for a solid reason, or reasons, to refute this Irish journalist's stance.




This Irish journalist is very brave. He has spoken what many people (including myself) believe but dare not utter.

I personally am sick of hearing that we need to "do" something about Africa. I haven't seen any evidence that whatever we do has any beneficial impact.

And here's another heretical thought: It appears that Zimbabwe was better off as Rhodesia, under Ian Smith's rule, and that South Africa at least in some respects was better off under apartheid (now it's the rape capital of the world). As always, the caveat: racism is a terrible thing. But what exactly are we supposed to do to help native Africans take responsibility for their own countries, and for entering the modern world? They rape little children because they think sex with a virgin immunizes them from AIDS, for God's sake. And while we always hear about how terrible the United States was for allowing slavery, we rarely hear about the actual slavery that still goes on in some African countries.

I don't have any answer, but I am definitely becoming numb to all the requests for help, especially when accompanied by the pretensions that the West is at fault for Africa's condition.

Put me in the "don't much care" camp. Except for South African minerals, and (perhaps) Angolan & Nigerian oil, I don't see how Africa materially impacts US national interests. So why should we care what happens there?

As for food makes more sense for us to send these to the Mideast, East Asia, & Europe (in that order) - i.e., "oil/manufactures-for-food" - before sending any to Africa.

I don't disagree, but leaving Africa alone is not going to happen. There are just too many natural resources. As they get scarcer in the rest of the world completion for those in Africa will become increasingly fierce.

Wow. I have to say, I feel pretty stupid for giving Doctors Without Borders money after reading this. I've often thought the thoughts the author writes, but I never dared let them follow through to this sort of conclusion. And indeed, my motives for giving to MSF are purely selfish in the end-- I just want to feel like I did _something_ to help alleviate the suffering, just a tiny bit. In the end it's useless, whatever suffering is removed will be replaced with worse suffering down the line. When I was younger and didn't really know much about Africa except that it was a cesspool for AIDS and civil wars and child soldiers and the horrible diamond trade, I'd sometimes think we should just nuke it all and put them out of their misery...

Some people may not be capable of self-government.

On the other hand, Frankish thuggery dominated Europe for centuries, until they (maybe) got over it.

Perhaps the unsentimental Chinese will make a go of it.

Mont D Law, the Chinese are already all over Africa. There are regular reports on the BBC as well as Marketplace (NPR). Maybe if we former French-Anglo-American powers can't make heads or tails of it, the ChiComs will.

That said, I refuse to give up hope. I am not allowed to. But we do need to do some real, out of the box thinking.

No cause is lost. No effort is useless.
We do what we do.
We find a foothold, no matter how small. Groups like the Heifer Project and the Grameen Bank have shown how small, targeted investments can make dents.
Yes, sometimes it feels like being that bird sharpening its beak on the mountain at the end of the world.
But then, I think, Christ must have felt like this. Confronted with overwhelming crowds of the sick, possessed, and troubled, he didn't throw up his hands. He helped those he could.
We must do the same.

to help or not?
perhaps there is an answer coming...
in the possible world financial meltdown in the next few years...
which would most likely bring much more starvation to the poorest places...
there may be a vast population correction coming to Africa...
almost overwhelming to think of all the individual tragedies...
in the long run, African quality of life may improve...
as I've heard it asked...
why does God hate Africa so much?

prosperity faith hope love joy peace to all...
Forgive God...

Unfortunately, culture is destiny. And it's horrifically difficult to change a culture.

Lest this discussion venture into Dr. Shockley territory, let me emphasize that we're talking culture, not necessarily race or eugenics. I don't know that you can say that the culture of the hardest-core, Scots-Irish-descended redneck enclaves in the American South is in any way superior to that of the wackiest sub-Saharan African basket case.

Both are deeply dysfunctional, just different in some ways.

And lest we think that failed states, failed cultures and a population incapable of self-government is merely an African phenomenon, I would submit it's probably the worldwide rule, as opposed to the exception.

Furthermore, I think we could convincingly argue for failed civic cultures being present in at least several areas of the United States.

Rod, I think you know where I'm going here.

You write:

"Let's be honest: does anybody really think Africa is ever going to get better? Honestly? I don't. I think it will be nothing but misery, from here till eternity. I hope I'm wrong, and I don't believe that relieves we who have the resources from doing what we can to help the suffering there. But I don't think it's going to matter much in the grand scheme of things, because I see no evidence that the people of Africa have the wherewithal to govern themselves effectively. I think my great-grandchildren's great grandchildren will be faced with an Africa no different from what we have today, and they'll still be hearing 19th-century colonialism being blamed for the catastrophe.

"Like I said, I don't think we in the West have the moral right to wash our hands of the ongoing catastrophe that is Africa. As a Christian, I can't go there. But that's not the same as thinking that our efforts are going to amount to much. I can see where the Irish journalist who wrote this shocking piece saying Africa's a lost cause comes from."

Couldn't you have replaced "Africa" with "Louisiana" (our home state) and have what you wrote make just as much sense? The difference between Africa and our homeland is not in principle but, rather, in degree. Perhaps most of that lies in the ameliorative nature of our long-tortured state's having been brought by Thomas Jefferson into what would become the richest and most powerful nation the world has ever seen.

Still, we have a state that has chronically demonstrated itself to be incapable of maintaining a First World democratic government. Still, we have levels of poverty that routinely are the worst (or close to it) in the nation . . . and nothing EVER has made a dent in that ever since the U.S. goverment has collected such demographic data.

Ditto educational achievement, ditto poor public-health outcomes and ditto public corruption and violent crime.

Even in the wake of a physical and psychic shock like that of Katrina, little has changed, and there is little sign of pending significant change.

"Let's be honest: does anybody really think Africa is ever going to get better?" you write. "Honestly? I don't. I think it will be nothing but misery, from here till eternity."

To what degree can folks like us say this about Africa but NOT about our own homeland, which happens to have been American territory for the past 205 years? It's ugly truth, and it frickin' eats me up -- even having been gone from there for 20 years. But by what evidence could we say otherwise about our own home, given its history and given how it still struggles despite being surrounded by unprecedented riches and national might?

Listen, I grew up in Baton Rouge as the white, blue-collar son of a white, blue-collar worker, for whom blue-collar was a big step up over stuff like sharecropping and the WPA. Furthermore, I am the son of a mother who never finished school and, for me, to whom -- may God have mercy on my soul for saying this -- weekly calls home just as well could be staticky international calls to a satellite phone set up in an Ethiopian village. Calls home to someone who inhabits our country, as it happens, but who does not inhabit the world as we educated slicksters know it.

If you get what I'm saying.

It's all about culture. I now live in a state (and part of the country) where the prevailing culture has allowed it to prosper and establish honest, relatively efficient and effective self-government.

I come from a state where that wasn't -- and isn't -- the case.

Once again, the difference between our home and the basket cases of Africa isn't in the principle but, instead, in the degree.

And if anybody in this wealthy, advanced society can speak for the likes of Africa -- to whatever degree any American or Western European can -- maybe it's the likes of us.

My mind, the state's history and the Las Vegas oddsmakers tell me Louisiana (for example) is hopeless. My heart, however, can't yet completely give up on it and say "Leave the bastards to their own devices, and Darwinian processes will eventually solve the problem."

How about you?

I really should have kept my promise to myself not to read Rod again after your post about the tattooed bride.

The key claim of Myers' argument, so called, is that African men are uniquely promiscuous. That claim is false. See Wellings et. al. "Sexual behaviour in context: a global perspective" for evidence that non-African men have significantly more sexual partners in their lifetimes than African.

It's a mistake to attempt to argue people out of a conviction they've arrived at by non-rational means. Those who believe that that (black) African men are psychotic sex predators are not going to give that belief up in the face of evidence. (Those, like Rod, who believe that Africans, unlike other human beings, are incapable of rational self-government are another useful case in point.) is the evidence useless then? No. It severely restricts the ways in which this tendency can be expressed.

I write as a black African Catholic.

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US pillories South Africa over rejection of UN Zimbabwe sanctions



The United States on Friday launched a scathing attack on South African
President Thabo Mbeki after Pretoria's UN envoy voted against targeted
sanctions against Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad spoke after China and Russia vetoed a US
draft resolution in the UN Security Council that would have imposed a travel
ban and an assets freeze on Mugabe and 13 of his cronies as well an arms
embargo on the Harare regime.

South Africa, along with Libya and Vietnam, voted against the US draft which
received the support of nine of the council's 15 members.

"We are surprised by what appears as Mbeki appearing to protect Mugabe while
Mugabe uses violent means to fragment the opposition," Khalilzad said. "I
think he (Mbeki) is out of touch with the trends inside his own country."

"We are concerned, but we are encouraged by the trends that we see inside
South Africa," he added.

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Hague war tribunal closes in on fugitives

China Post

By John J. Metzler, Special to The China Post
Saturday, July 12, 2008

THE HAGUE -- I saw my first convicted war criminal -- up close and personal
in The Hague. The man, Milan Martic, has been convicted of murder,
deportations, plunder, torture, attacks on civilians etc., during his tenure
a Serb official during the Yugoslav conflicts in the early 1990s. The
setting was the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
where since 1995, a legal process has been meticulously prosecuting a wide
range of the accused stemming from the conflicts in Bosnia/Herzegovina,
Croatia and Kosovo.
Milan Martic was a big fish in the small but toxic pond of the Krajina, an
ethnic Serbian canton of Croatia. From the early 1990s he served as
President and Minister of Defense in the rump-regime "Republic of Serbian
Krajina." He forcibly displaced Croat Catholic and other non-Serb Muslim
populations through the use of a spider web of "special police forces" and
paramilitaries, one group known as "The Wolves of Vucjak." Though convicted
after an eighteen month trial and sentenced to 35 years in prison, I saw
Martic during his appeal process during which five international judges sat
in consideration.

The ICTY was established by the U.N. Security Council, and since 1995 has
exercised a mandate to "Prosecute and try those responsible for serious
violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of
former Yugoslavia since 1991." The breakup of Yugoslavia saw some of the
most abominable crimes committed in Europe since the end of the Second World
War -- mass executions, torture, rape and plunder.

The Tribunal has indicted 161 people for serious violations of international
humanitarian law. Only three remain at large; the notorious Radovan
Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, and Goran Hadzic. Of the others, 54 have been
sentenced, 10 acquitted, 24 currently on trial, 11 at pre-trial, and 36 had
indictments withdrawn, or are deceased. Most notorious of the prisoners has
been Serbia's leader Slobodan Milosevic who was captured in 2001, and tried
in the Hague, but died of natural causes in March 2006 before any verdict.

First and foremost this international process is focused on bringing justice
to the victims of the brutal ethnic cleansing which became the heinous
hallmark of the Milosevic regime. The survivors have the chance to reassert
their voice for justice. These are not just faint but haunting calls from
the mass graves of Srebrenica, the siege of Sarajevo, or the ruins of
Vukovar, but voices, empowered, steadied and strong who can confront the
accused in a court of law in the Hague not the Balkans.

The ICTY prides itself not only as holding leaders accountable ranging from
a Head of State (Milosevic) to mid-level military operatives. "The question
is no longer whether leaders should be held accountable, but rather when
they can be called to account," adds a document. This important step in
international justice serves as clear warning from the Balkans to the Sudan
and Zimbabwe.

Moreover, according to court officials, "Convicted leaders can't hide behind
a group. Importantly this shields ethnic communities from blame and
contributes to promoting reconciliation in former Yugoslavia. Importantly,
the Court does not establish group or community guilt, but wisely focuses on
the specific perpetrators of the crimes. Two-thirds of the defendants are

A key element according to court officials, is delivering "fair and
expeditious justice," through a transparent system. Sixteen permanent
international judges and 27 ad litum judges are divided among three Trial
Chambers and one Appeal Chamber. Though not established as a permanent
court, the costs have skyrocketed from US$25 million in 1995 to US$311
million in 2008. Contributing member states, especially Japan, the U.S., and
European Union want an end strategy.

Since 2003, there has been a plan to close the Tribunal by 2010. Sources
state that trials should finish this year; this may seem unlikely given the
pace of procedure, process and justice. While trials and appeals should end
by 2010, it appears the very nature of this system could lag longer -- 
especially if Mladic and Karadzic are caught. There have been no indictments
since 2004.

Yet, I still can't believe "only" 161 people were substantially and clearly
involved in the widespread horrors of the Yugoslav wars. So closing the
books on indictments and the process does, after all, allow many to get away
with murder. There is no death penalty and life sentences are few.

Importantly, the ICTY has a deeper purpose -- to develop international law
and to prove that efficient and transparent international justice is indeed
viable. The Hague is significant too; home to the International Court of
Justice, the famous World Court which reigns from the Peace Palace. And not
to forget that a Dutchman, Hugo Grotius the "father of international law,"
began to codify such universal concepts -- that was in the 17th century.

John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and
defense issues. He can be reached at

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Mugabe to take over women's league

July 12, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Zimbabwe's First Lady, Grace Mugabe, is apparently on the verge of
entering the political arena in her own right as leader of the Zanu-PF women's

Mugabe's imminent take-over of the powerful Zanu-PF women's league from
Oppah Muchinguri has reportedly angered several senior members of the ruling
party's. The Women's League is one of the pillars of President Mugabe's
political support. He also draws support from the party's Youth League and
the war veteran community. Muchinguri took over the leadership of the Women's
League from the original First Lady, Sally Mugabe, after her death in 1992.

Grace Mugabe, 44 and Mugabe's junior by 40 years, has three children by the
President - two of them born while Sally Mugabe was still alive. She married
Mugabe in a flamboyant ceremony soon after the former First Lady died after
a long battle with kidney failure. She has a fourth child from a previous
marriage to Stanley Goreraza, now posted to Beijing as a diplomat.

Sources close to the First Lady say President Mugabe was particularly
impressed by the prominent role played by his spouse during the fiercely
contested campaign for the June 27 presidential election re-run.

She criss-crossed the country with her husband, drumming up support for the
84-year old Zanu-PF leader. She addressed several rallies and dolled out an
assortment of gifts to women in the impoverished rural areas. She told one
public gathering that her husband's nemesis, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of
the Movement for Democratic Change would never see the inside of State
House. Tsvangirai subsequently pulled out of the race, leaving Mugabe to
stand as the solitary candidate. Officials claimed he won the election by a

The sources said the First Lady was likely to be appointed to the portfolio
of minister responsible for women affairs.

"Anybody appointed to lead the Zanu-PF women's league automatically becomes
the minister responsible for women affairs," said one source. But another
source said it was most likely the ministry of women affairs would be
reduced to a department led by the First Lady.

"Grace has now joined politics full time and she is about to take over the
Women's League," said a senior member of the Zanu-PF women's league.
"Oppah is very angry and depressed but there is nothing she can do about

Muchinguri, the second highest ranking former Zanla female combatant after
Vice President Joice Mujuru, is reported to have fallen out of favour after
she allegedly failed to effectively mobilise the Women's League behind
Mugabe during the March 29 harmonised polls. Mugabe lost the election to
Tsvangirai while Zanu-PF was defeated by the MDC - its first electoral
defeat since independence in 1980.

Powerful in her own way, Muchinguri holds the key to the circumstances
surrounding the death in a vehicle accident of former Zanla commander,
Josiah Tongogara, in a car accident on the eve of Zimbabwe's independence.
Muchinguri is the only surviving person who was in the car with Tongogara.

Muchinguri herself lost her parliamentary seat in the March 29 parliamentary
election in the Mutasa Central constituency of Manicaland Province.

"The President no longer has faith in Oppah so he wants to replace her with
his wife," said a Zanu-PF women's league official.

The sources said some top Zanu-PF women's league members had reportedly
approached President Mugabe and told him they had been impressed by the
performance of the First Lady during the June 27 election campaign. One of
those that reportedly campaigned for the First Lady to take-over the
leadership of the Zanu-PF's women's league is Nyasha Chikwinya, a former
legislator in Harare, and an outspoken member of the Zanu-PF women's league.
She could not be contacted to confirm her alleged role in the affair.

Of late, the First Lady has enjoyed unfettered coverage by the State media,
especially the national broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

During the funeral of veteran broadcaster, Ambuya Miriam Mlambo, in Harare
last week the First Lady was granted unlimited air time on radio and
television. She was also accorded prominent coverage in State controlled
newspapers, especially The Herald.

Her imminent take-over of the women's league is set to create fresh
bickering within Zanu-PF as some members appear to oppose the move.

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Comment: Don't Forgive And Forget

Zim Independent

Friday, 11 July 2008 10:24
ALL good things are possible," Zanu PF told us ad nauseam during the
election run-off campaign last month.

But that was evidently a mirage. Zanu PF is incapable of delivering
anything except bromides designed to calm a restive population. It offers no
practical policies to ensure economic recovery and sits upon its coerced and
battered majority with proprietorial satisfaction as if that was the chief
function of its existence.

If it has a policy at all, it is one in which the MDC will be required
to ask others for help. But that doesn't stop it oafishly insulting its
would-be rescuers. The old rule that when in a hole, stop digging, evidently
doesn't apply here.

The MDC headed by Morgan Tsvangirai is obviously aware of the task
government expects of it and has very sensibly declined to assist. President
Mugabe referred on his return from Egypt to the irreversibility of land
acquisition. Government spokesmen have also demanded the closure of
"hostile" radio stations and the lifting of sanctions as matters for early

They need to be disabused of these concerns at an early stage. A land
audit is top of the MDC's agenda which the public endorsed in the March
election. This is designed to uncover multiple-farm ownership and illegal
seizures. To leave land in the hands of a criminal cabal with no interest in
farming whatsoever would be a betrayal of clear electoral undertakings.

The MDC has gone out of its way to reassure legal beneficiaries. All
that is needed here is an impartial and forensic survey.

As to "pirate" radio stations, they are a direct product of the
government's failure to honour the Supreme Court ruling eight years ago
striking down ZBC's choking control of the airwaves. ZBC has been used as a
tool of partisan propaganda, and, leaving aside unprofessional journalism,
its hate language is a blatant violation of its public mandate and more
recently of Sadc electoral rules.

Mugabe appears to think the opposition can magically wish away the
sanctions that were imposed in 2002 as a direct response to political
violence and electoral manipulation.

Even as he was demanding relief on this front, suspected Zanu PF
militia gangs in Ruwa and Gokwe were punishing refugees from political
violence. The terror teams have continued to terrorise villagers and to set
up illegal roadblocks on country roads. At the same time the body of MDC
employee Joshua Bakacheza was found burnt and mutilated on a farm in
Beatrice after an extensive search. The MDC says that brings the total to

Sanctions will now be tightened. That is the price we all pay for the
greed and brutality of people who cannot let go of power.

Mugabe has been celebrating his "victory" in the run-off. But even the
most obtuse supporter will know in their heart of hearts that this was a
pyrrhic victory. It was obtained by cruelty and manipulation. Now we have to
face the consequences: international isolation with even Zimbabwe's one-time
friends refusing to recognise the outcome; empty shelves as production
falters and factories close; and a bitterly divided nation most of which is
certainly not saying "Thank you" for the punishment meted out to them.

Apart from the pain of political retribution, there is the agony of an
inflation rate spawned by a regime that thinks it can spend its way out of

The MDC, despite its pronouncements, will soon end up at the
negotiating table. But it should bear in mind the way its deal with Zanu PF
on the Electoral Act, Posa and Aippa in January provided a harvest of
thorns. They escaped a manipulative photo opportunity on Saturday designed
to assist Thabo Mbeki at the G8. There will be other traps along the way.

But when the time comes to talk, we will want to know that political
prisoners have been released and political villains prosecuted. And that the
media is not being abused by one party at the expense of another. If there
is to be healing it cannot be on the basis of forgetting all that occurred
since March 29. Justice is also paramount.

More than ever now we need an economic recovery plan that is not
hostage to the crocodiles among the political leadership; a public media
that permits a diversity of views; public service chiefs who are
professional in the execution of their duties; a court system that hasn't
been suborned; security establishments that serve and protect the public;
and a constitution that protects everybody from arbitrary powers.

The 28-year dictatorship is passing into history. Its institutional
failure is palpable. We must all help it on its way.

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Candid Comment: Fine, but MDC and PF-Zapu worlds apart

Zim Independent

Friday, 11 July 2008 10:26
IF I were asked for a simplistic cause of our national crisis, I would
say we are responsible.

By the same token, the solution lies with us. That is if we didn't
have too many people lending us a shoulder, and watch us luxuriate in our
victim status.

I have been accused of supporting or defending South Africa's Thabo
Mbeki's handling of the Zimbabwean crisis. Either way, I have no other
defence than simply that we have no reason as a nation to outsource
solutions to our problems and blaming those trying to help us. No foreigner
can have a better interest in our welfare than ourselves. Nelson Mandela has
cleverly warned of "a leadership failure" in Zimbabwe, and that's what is
being tested now.

After the March 29 and June 27 elections we have once again contracted
a persona called the "international community" to deal with our crisis while
we cast aspersions on those we feel are not doing enough to deal with our
problem - Robert Mugabe.

Every suggestion for Zimbabweans to sit down and talk is sneered at
while every foreign proposal, including a military invasion, is warmly
embraced. We have lost faith in our ability to do anything for ourselves and
believe aliens know better and have the financial and human resources to
sacrifice to deliver democracy to Zimbabwe.

Of late, debate has been about the options open to us after Mugabe was
re-elected, however controversially so. Legally, it's a fait accompli. Sadc
is divided. The African Union is dithering. The international community,
happily, is making all the noises we love to hear.

Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai have adopted predictable positions.
Mugabe wants recognition; Tsvangirai can't confer the legitimacy. The debate
then is whether we look inwards or outwards for a solution. For the majority
in the opposition and civic society movement, there is need for foreign
"intervention". That has tended to inform the hardline stance against
dialogue between Zanu PF and the MDC, together with an exaggerated fear of
becoming another PF-Zapu.

The rejectionists claim the opposition won the presidency on March 29
and it is time for MDC hegemony. To them, the law is an ass.

I agree with those who counsel caution in discussing either a
government of national unity or a transitional authority with Zanu PF. It is
inevitable that Zanu PF, now having seized the other centre of power, will
seek to manipulate the process.

A transitional authority by its definition is a stop-gap measure while
institutional changes are being made to our body politic. That might include
a new constitution and a redefinition of the role of the police and the
army, and the essence of national service training.

I don't understand the mechanics and structural requirements of a GNU.
Tsvangirai says the issue is not about power-sharing, but democracy. In his
view, given the violence in the country, it is hard to find common ground
with Zanu PF. Yet Zimbabweans have to
negotiate a way out. I see a very limited role for
outsiders because we shall have to live with the consequences.

My anxiety with a hastily crafted GNU is the danger of creating a
behemoth which leaves us with a one party state. It is a possibility. But I
disagree with facile parallels being drawn between the MDC and what happened
to Joshua Nkomo and PF-Zapu. The objective conditions on the ground have

For one, between 1983 and 1986 over 20 000 ordinary
civilians are estimated to have been killed while the same cannot be
said of the period from the MDC's formation in 1999 to today. I can't
understand the pressures on the MDC to equate the situation to that
genocidal catastrophe which forced the PF-Zapu leadership to capitulate.

Whether by hindsight people think Nkomo sold out or was cheated by
Mugabe, the reality is that he didn't have as much leeway as Tsvangirai has
to extract concessions from Mugabe. An ethnic minority was encircled in a
dark corner of the country, they were being massacred and did not have a
voice. A mean killing machine was let loose to mow down everything in its
path because it could "not differentiate who was a dissident or not" by
language, name or party affiliation. The CCJP's protests were brushed aside.
The popular refrain was: "Hit them hard."

For those in denial, the 100-day Rwandan genocide which killed over
800 000 in 1994 has convinced me that it is possible for a hated ethnic
group to be wiped off the face of the earth while the "international
community" examines the correct protocols, especially where there are big
powers involved.

The MDC and Tsvangirai are not under the same threat which PF-Zapu and
Nkomo faced in the 80s - extermination. The world has since opened its eyes
to the reality of Zimbabwean politics. The MDC has the media to tell its
story. NGOs and civic society, which back in the 1980s were few, weak and
pliant, have now sprouted and taken on a more adversarial role against human
rights violations.

PF-Zapu and Nkomo were completely alone and of no more than fleeting
interest to a world still dazzled by Mugabe's novel policy of
"reconciliation" with white Rhodesians so soon after a gruelling
independence war. This was neatly balanced with his blistering attacks at
the UN on the evils of apartheid in South Africa while he quietly launched
on a shameless three-year career of savagery against erstwhile
comrades-in-arms in Matabeleland.

In short, the MDC has more leverage to hammer out a more balanced deal
than Nkomo could ever dream of under the jackboot. Now it is Mugabe on the
facade watching an economy implode in his face who is weaker. It is Mugabe
under the jackboot, not necessarily of the MDC, for, behold on the sunset
horizon, scorned and full of fury, an elephantine beast not unfamiliar and
fair, slouches towards the bastions of the Republic.

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MDC Govt In Exile Not The Way To Go

Zim Independent

Friday, 11 July 2008 10:04
IN the latest issue of Time magazine, Samantha Power - the author of A
Problem from Hell and a former adviser to Barack Obama - proposes a radical
solution for the crisis in Zimbabwe. Her solution needs a thoughtful reply,
because in my opinion it's dangerously misguided.

Power rose to fame by proclaiming the importance of preventing
genocide in failed and failing states, and her book (subtitled America and
the Age of Genocide) is focused on that hellish problem. But she wouldn't be
so important were she not a formative adviser to Obama's still-evolving
worldview. Her book has lengthy chapters on Cambodia and Rwanda, among
others, but its real focus has been the shattered remnants of Yugoslavia,
where President Clinton and Nato intervened with force in the 1990s.

In her Time essay, Saving Zimbabwe, Power counterposes what she calls
two extremes: "hand-wringing ... multilateralists" who want to use diplomacy
and "constructive engagement" to deal with Robert Mugabe and
"consequence-blind militarism by zealous moralists who call for regime
change by force". Thus, she neatly sets herself up as the Goldilocks of the
happy middle.

In a nutshell, Power's plan is for the Zimbabwean opposition to "set
up a government-in-exile and appoint ambassadors abroad - including to the
UN". That would force the United Nations to choose between Mugabe's
representative and that of the opposition of Morgan Tsvangirai. She wants to
challenge the world to take sides between countries that support the March
29 vote that was won by the opposition and countries that accept the rigged,
June 27 action by Mugabe to perpetuate his rule.

One by one, those African and Western leaders who claim to be
disgusted with Mugabe should announce that they bilaterally recognise the
validity of the March 29 first-round election results, which showed the
opposition winning 48% to 43%, though the margin was almost surely larger.
The countries which do would make up the new "March 29 bloc" within the UN
and would declare Morgan Tsvangirai the new President of Zimbabwe. They
would then announce that Mugabe and the 130 leading cronies who have already
been sanctioned by the West will not be permitted entry to their airports.

If "the UN" is disaggregated into its component parts, Mugabe's
friends will be exposed. "June 27" countries will be those who favour
electoral theft, while "March 29" countries will be those who believe that
the Zimbabweans aren't the only ones who should stand up and be counted.

Sounds good, right? But here's the problem. Not every country in the
world is ready for an all-in showdown over Zimbabwe. Many countries in
Africa, including South Africa, are worried about the political, economic,
and military consequences of forcing the issue.

This week, at the G-8 meeting in Japan, Western leaders found
themselves pitted in direct opposition to African leaders over Zimbabwe.
Here's the Toronto Globe & Mail on the subject: "Group of Eight leaders
yesterday pushed the heads of African nations to take strong steps toward
forcing Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe out of power, exposing divisions
between major developed countries and Africans, who raised fears that
tougher action might tip the volatile country into civil war ....

"African leaders expressed frustration with the situation in Zimbabwe,
but also called for caution. Last week, a split African Union conference
opted not to censure Mr Mugabe."

The union's leader, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, told reporters
that the Africans believe the solution is a government that includes Mugabe
and the opposition.

I'd say that Africans' fears of civil war (and close-to-genocidal
bloodletting that could follow) are realistic. And it's by no means clear
that Russia, China, and other world powers who are suspicious of US and
Western efforts to topple regimes they don't like would go along with Power's
plan. So her plan to carve up the world into "March 29" countries and "June
27" countries is a recipe for disaster, and it could result in creating
animosity, division, and bloc vs bloc rivalries that could undermine the
possibility of diplomatic solutions for the war in Iraq, the showdown over
Iran's nuclear programme, the North Korea issue, and others.

Power says correctly that the situation in Zimbabwe involves
"ruthlessness and savagery". But it hardly rises to the level of genocide.
(That doesn't stop Nat Hentoff, a libertarian, human rights activist who
writes for the Moonie-owned Washington Times from calling Mugabe "the Hitler
of Africa" and describing him as "satanic.") If her idea works for Zimbabwe,
why not apply it to a couple of dozen other countries around the world? What
if the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood declared itself a government-in-exile for
Egypt, Syria, and Jordan? Why not back the Cuban-American National
Foundation as a government-in-exile for Cuba? Why not apply it to the Stans,
to Russia? Why not back efforts by revanchists in Taiwan to declare
themselves the legitimate government of China? (Oops, we tried that for a
while, didn't we?)

Though Power is motivated not by imperial designs but by a moral
imperative, her solution for Zimbabwe is the perfect example of democracy
promotion run wild. The long-suffering people of Zimbabwe will eventually
get justice. Mugabe is in his mid-80s and won't be around forever, and when
he dies the military gang around him is likely to disintegrate.

In the meantime, perhaps Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and other African
leaders can damp down the violence by persuading Mugabe and Tsvangirai to
accept a coalition government. Til then, let's not make things worse.

By Robert Dreyfuss: A columnist for the US Nation Newspaper

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Moment Of Truth For African Democracy

Zim Independent

Friday, 11 July 2008 10:01
Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro's
briefing to the Security Council on the situation in Zimbabwe on Tuesday:

I WOULD like to thank council members for this opportunity to brief
you on the situation in Zimbabwe. I have just returned from the African
Union summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, where I conveyed to the leaders the
secretary-general's message that the crisis in Zimbabwe represents a "moment
of truth" for democracy in the continent.

Today I would like to convey to this council that the Zimbabwe issue
also poses a challenge to the world. When an election is conducted in an
atmosphere of fear and violence, its outcome cannot have a legitimacy that
is built on the will of the people. Consequently, the principle of democracy
is at stake.

Zimbabwe's flawed elections produced illegitimate results. The
seriousness of the situation and its possible consequences has the potential
to affect regional peace and security in profound ways.

Since the last briefing to the Security Council by
Under-Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe, Zimbabwe held a presidential election
with only one contender: incumbent President Robert Mugabe, who sought his
sixth term in office. You will recall Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was declared the winner (of the first round) with
47,9% of the vote. As you are aware, this result was not enough to avoid a
run-off. Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-off, arguing that state-sponsored
violence, intimidation and the killing of over 80 of his supporters made
free and fair elections impossible.

Despite calls for the election to be postponed until proper conditions
were in place, including by Secretary-General Ban (Ki Moon), second round
elections were held on June 27. Unlike in the first round, this time there
were no national observers on the ground as both the Zimbabwe Electoral
Support Network (Zesn), which had covered the first round in a very
efficient manner, and the NGO, Lawyers for Human Rights withdrew, citing the
lack of minimum conditions to operate.

The lack of national observation stripped the elections of a critical
measure of transparency and credibility. However, missions from the Southern
African Development Community (Sadc), the African Union and the Pan-African
Parliament were present on the ground. Anticipating increased tensions in
the second round, regional groups had substantially augmented the number of
observers for the second round.

Sadc more than doubled its contingent, deploying over 400 observers,
compared to 163 in the first round; the African Union deployed over 60
observers, compared to just under 20 in the first round; and the Pan-African
Parliament deployed 30. The United Nations provided logistical and technical
support to Sadc efforts to increase observation in the second round.

The observers included parliamentarians of both ruling and opposition
parties, members of civil society and civil servants. I would like to say a
word of appreciation for the work of these observers, many of whom were
themselves intimidated and harassed in the conduct of their duties and
showed commendable courage.

On election day, observers reported many irregularities. A serious
example is that voters were required to report the serial numbers of their
ballots to Zanu PF officials, rendering the concept of anonymous voting
utterly meaningless. Some people spoiled their ballots in protest - spoilt
ballots accounted for 5,1% of the total votes.

Voting took place on June 27 and official results stated that
President Mugabe won with 85,5% of the votes. He was inaugurated on June 29
and subsequently travelled to Egypt to participate in the African Union

It is of note that the three African observer missions issued
unequivocal condemnations of the electoral process and its results. The
Pan-African Parliament observer mission said the "elections were not free
and fair" and "conditions should be put in place for the holding of free,
fair and credible elections as soon as possible, in line with the African
Union declaration on the principles governing democratic elections".

The Sadc mission said the process leading up to the presidential
run-off election did not conform to its principles and guidelines governing
democratic elections. In addition, it stated that the elections did not
represent the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

Finally, the African Union observer mission also concluded that the
election process fell short of the accepted African Union standards, citing
the violence in the run-up to the elections and the lack of access to the

These observations clearly indicate that the electoral process leading
to the declared re-election of President Mugabe was seriously flawed. This
profound crisis of legitimacy is further compounded by the paralysis of
state institutions. There is currently no functioning parliament. Civil
society has been silenced and intimidated. The economy is crippled, with
annual inflation reaching 10 500 000% by the end of June, unemployment being
over 80% and severe shortages of food and basic services exist. There is an
urgent need to restore the rule of law and to start building public

It is clear Zimbabwe will have to go through a political transition
bringing together its people around a common project. It will also need a
process of national healing and reconciliation that should include
wide-ranging and participatory national consultations.

Recognising the country is deeply divided and that the political
future of Zimbabwe depends on a transitional arrangement promoting national
unity, both Zanu PF and MDC have accepted a dialogue towards a negotiated
settlement. Talks are ongoing, under South African mediation, to press for
an urgent solution to the current political impasse. President Thabo Mbeki
has been actively consulting with the concerned parties and is reported to
be working towards a direct meeting between President Mugabe and MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai.

In my meetings with the African Union Commission Chairperson, Jean
Ping, and other African leaders, some of whom expressed fear of seeing the
situation deteriorate further, I expressed my appreciation for their efforts
so far and my hope that they would remain fully engaged in helping the
people of Zimbabwe.

The creation of a government of national unity, as a way forward,
enjoys broad support in the region. In their declaration, the African Union
called on Sadc's efforts to be continued and strengthened by the
establishment of a mechanism on the ground to support the mediation efforts.

The secretary-general strongly supports this recommendation and calls
for a speedy establishment of such a mechanism. I also reiterate the
secretary-general's offer to put all the means at the UN's disposal at the
service of Sadc and the African Union to strengthen the mediation process.

While the willingness of the parties to talk is encouraging, the
secretary-general remains gravely concerned that the situation could
deteriorate further, with violence spreading across the country and its
effects spilling over to the region.

Secretary-general Ban also remains very concerned about the
humanitarian situation in the country. If unattended, the food shortage
could leave 5,1 million people at grave risk. The secretary-general
therefore calls on the authorities in Zimbabwe to immediately lift
restrictions on humanitarian activities. He also urges them to offer
immediate protection to people currently located at the Ruwa transit centre,
who were relocated from the South African embassy where they had taken

As the world mobilises to support a peaceful solution to the crisis
and to help Zimbabwe back on a path to democracy, stability and development,
it is the urgent responsibility of the government of Zimbabwe to protect its
citizens and to cease immediately all forms of violence. The victims of the
violence experienced in the past weeks deserve justice. Those who perpetrate
crimes must be held to account. The United Nations stands ready to play its
part in supporting such a process.

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Zimbabwe Cricket Slammed Over Pull-out

Zim Independent

Friday, 11 July 2008 10:46
ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC)'s pullout from next year's World Twenty20
tourney in England has been met with strong disproval, with many inside
Zimbabwe cricket saying the move was far from being a cricketing decision.

Both ZC and the International Cricket Council (ICC) have come under
fire for the compromise deal.

The decision was made at the ICC executive meeting in Dubai last week
by three ZC directors, chairman Peter Chingoka, his deputy Tavengwa
Mukuhlani and legal expert Wilson Manase.

ZC later said in a statement: "The Zimbabwe Cricket delegation to the
International Cricket Council (ICC) Annual Conference has decided to
recommend to its board that its team withdraws from the ICC World Twenty20
tournament in England next year.

"In arriving at the recommendation, the ZC delegation was influenced
by the need to look at the bigger picture in the interest of Zimbabwean
cricket and cricket in general. The delegation was also aware of the British
government decision not to allow its bilateral series in England in 2009 to
go ahead, and the possibility of that government refusing to grant visas for
the Zimbabwe cricket team to take part in the World Twenty20 tournament."

The England Cricket Board, alongside Cricket South Africa, two weeks
ago cut bilateral ties with Zimbabwe Cricket in response to the worsening
political situation in the country. But the World Twenty20 event was a
standalone as it strictly fall under ICC jurisdiction, and England would
have been sanctioned if Zimbabwe were not allowed to participate. They faced
the possibility of losing the tournament to another country, and all the
commercial gains that come with such a prestigious event.

But a face-saving decision by the Zimbabwe board elite, with support
from influencial forces such as the Board of Control for Cricket in India,
saw Zimbabwe pulling out but standing to cash in on the proceeds from the

Richie Kaschula, a former Zimbabwe player, selector and administrator,
said the decision set a dangerous precedence for the game.

"How can we pull out when our players have right to participate?" he
asked. "Once again our players have suffered because of the administration.
They have suffered because ICC has failed to deal with Zimbabwe Cricket and
tackle the real issues. It wouldn't have come to this. Our players will lose
match fees and exposure, and for some of them it was the only World Cup they
were ever going to play in. Why is it that these kids have to carry the
burden all the time?

"Will the ICC ever make cricket decisions? It is all about covering
their backs. If England stood to lose the hosting rights over Zimbabwe then
so be it. If there are issues with Peter Chingoka and his board why is it
they've not been dealt with by the ICC? Now our players will not play
because of political decisions.

Players who looked forward to be part of exhilarating shorter-version
jamboree slammed the pullout, saying it deprives them of a once in a
lifetime opportunity.

Said a regular national side player who spoke on anonymity: "Was this
a financial decision? Zimbabwe Cricket's core business is playing cricket.
Are we compromising not to play cricket in exchange of a few dollars?
Questions must be asked why we are so keen on preserving full member status
when we are not playing cricket."

By their standards, Zimbabwe had a remarkable showing in the inaugural
event in South Africa last September, posting a sensational five-wicket win
over Australia in their first match.

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Trade, not aid, is what Africa needs

By Njoroge Wachai | Harare Tribune News
     Updated: July 11, 2008 17:49

G8 Summits are fast becoming synonymous with Africa's miseries. It's
almost predictable that at the top of the agenda of every G8 Summit is how
Africa is dealing with the triumvirate issues of poverty, political
instability and disease. In the 2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, it
was Darfur. In this year's Summit in Japan, it was a threat to impose
sanctions on Zimbabwe for holding a fraudulent election and suppressing the

Actually, it has become fashionable, prior to and during these
summits - forget what happens when they're concluded - for G8 leaders to
pledge tens of billions of dollars to help Africa fight poverty. These are
usually in the form of aid and debt cancellations.

During the Gleneagles Summit, G8 countries pledged, with much fanfare,
to double aid to Africa by 2010. This was after a sustained and highly
publicized international campaign by celebrity musician Paul David Hewson,
a.k.a Bono, and music producer Bob Geldof's Debt AIDS Trade Africa (DATA),
that rich countries extend their hands of "generosity" to Africans.

Some G8 leaders, I guess out of shame, did offer to forget and forgive
debt to a select group of African countries. Thanks to them, some African
countries' debt burden has been lessened. At least some progress has been
made on this front. Countries such as Tanzania and Ghana have been
redirecting funds that could have been spent servicing foreign debts to
social programs, with some remarkable success.

But there has also been grumbling about the pledge to increase aid to
Africa. The African Progress Panel 2008, which monitors fulfillment of G8
pledges, has a pugnacious report (PDF) that asserts that, "the pledge to
double assistance to Africa by 2010, made at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in
2005, is not likely to be fulfilled." The report claims that out of the $25
billion in additional aid pledged to Africa in 2005, only $3 billion has
been made available. Japan, Italy and France have been singled out for doing
particularly little to fulfill their pledges.

This year's G8 Summit, which just concluded in Japan, has revisited
the aid issue. The rhetoric is as it was in 2005. G8 leaders have announced
a $60 billion package to help Africa fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and
tuberculosis. Place your bets on whether this latest pledge will be
fulfilled or will remain just a pledge. Which belies the question: Why do
African countries keep pushing for aid that rich countries are reluctant and
unwilling to give? Isn't there an alternative?

Africa's fixation with foreign aid is amazing. Foreign aid isn't
freebie stuff. It goes without saying that rich countries are lethargic
about passing their money to Africa, because it doesn't make economic sense
to do so. Those of us who live in these rich countries can't understand this
notion of rich countries "giving" money to Africa.

The Americans, Britons, Canadians or French don't give money away for
free. Were this the case, those of us Africans who live here would be very
prosperous. We'd be receiving subsidized housing, education and medical
care. There'd be affirmative action laws in these countries to help
qualified Africans land high-paying jobs so that they might, in turn, invest
back home in agriculture, health care and education, the darling sectors of
the donor community. Immigration laws would be as friendly toward Africans
as they are toward Cubans, Liberians, Vietnamese and, yes, Europeans.

After all, these are the same Africans whom G8 countries are dying to
help. They're the same folks who come from the continent where men, women
and children go without food; where millions of children die of preventable
diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrhea; and where children
learn under trees because there's no money to build classrooms.

African leaders, out of their foolishness, believe wrongly that rich
countries are philanthropic entities flush with cash to dole out to poor
countries. That's why they, or their representatives, are always in Western
capitals with begging bowls.

The idea that foreign aid will move Africa out of poverty is a fairy
tale. Look at the policy governing food aid in the U.S, for example.
Congress demands that all food aid be procured from American farmers,
shipped by American-registered ships, and distributed by U.S.-based relief
organizations. What this means is that virtually all the money the U.S.
earmarks for food aid remains within the U.S. Relief organizations and the
shipping industry have been lobbying hard to oppose any change in the status
quo. In the meantime, dependency syndrome continues to take its toll on
African countries that find themselves unable to produce enough food for
their populations.

It's high time African countries realized that foreign aid comes with
too many strings attached to be considered a good weapon to fight poverty.
Donor countries disburse aid thinking first and foremost of their own bottom
lines; after all, they have taxpayers to be accountable to. For instance, we've
had cases where donor countries give out money for infrastructure
development in African countries, but demand that those projects be
undertaken by their own construction companies at a cost specified by them.
These countries also dispatch their own astronomically well-paid "technical
assistance experts" to oversee these projects. They end up gobbling the
biggest portion of "donated" funds, with the remaining morsels going to the
corrupt high and mighty in the countries they serve. No wonder that Africa
is still right where it was fifty years ago, when the concept of foreign aid

Trade, not aid, is what Africa needs. Rather than make promises of
more aid for Africa, rich countries should increase the volume of trade with

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RBZ removes cheque limits
  Saturday, July 12, 2008

Business Editor

Cheque limits have been removed with immediate effect and both companies and
individuals can now once again issue cheques of any amount so long as there
are adequate funds in their bank accounts.

Over the past few years the maximum value of a cheque has been fixed by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, with the latest limit being $900 billion but the
bank has now returned to normal practice.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono last night said this was in
response to representations by the transacting public.

He urged banks to continue managing risks associated with high value
cheques, particularly for items going through the Clearing House and also in
light of the numerous payment streams available.

It was also critical that customers ensured their accounts were adequately
funded before issuing cheques.

Cases of cheque fraud involving large amounts of money have previously been
unearthed but more stringent monitoring by banks could deal with the

The removal of the cheque limit follows the review of the cash limit to $100
billion last week, a figure now believed to have been overtaken by
continuous price hikes.

Dr Gono has previously said he will review cash limits as and when the need

Comment from a correspondent - Banks will soon have to print wider cheques
to accommodate all the zeroes.....

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A letter from the diaspora

12th July 2008

Dear Friends.
Article 21(3) of the United Nations Charter on Human Rights declares. "The
will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this
will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections."

The key word there is 'genuine'. Did the Presidential runoff on June 27
constitute a 'genuine' election? With massive intimidation of the opposition
beforehand and only one candidate it is hard to see how anyone can claim
that the result reflected the 'will of the people which is the basis of the
authority of government.' Election observers from the AU, the PAP and SADC
were unanimous that the conditions for free and fair election simply did not
exist. The haste with which Robert Mugabe declared himself president even
before the results had been announced was a clear indication to the nation
and the world of his contempt for the democratic process and international
opinion. In effect, he was challenging the world to recognise him as
President for another five years.

Speaking on July 9th Bright Matonga declared, " The people of Zimbabwe made
a decision on June 27 and that decision has to be respected." With more than
100 killings, over 1500 MDC activists in prison, 5000 polling agents missing
and at least 20 elected opposition MPs either in prison or in hiding, it was
no surprise that the western powers should state categorically that they did
not recognise Robert Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe. Now the UN is locked
in fierce debate on what to do about Zimbabwe. The invasion of Iraq has
shown that military intervention against dictatorships does not solve the
problem in the long term and only causes immense human suffering for the
general population. The imposition of sanctions appears to be the only
answer. Not general sanctions against the Zimbabwean people but sanctions
aimed specifically at the clique of top military men surrounding Mugabe and
keeping him in power. There are thirteen of them and a draft UN resolution
has named and shamed them. They are the men who have ruthlessly set about
maintaining Mugabe's grip on power by nothing less than the total
extermination of the opposition in an onslaught of violence that includes
rape, murder and horrific torture.

All week long the papers here have been analysing whether or not sanctions
work. Paul Vallely writing in The Independent (10.07.08) argued the pros and
cons of sanctions to deal with rogue regimes. They certainly helped to bring
down the apartheid regime in South Africa - something Thabo Mbeki chooses to
forget - and since military intervention is unlikely what other option is
there to deal with a regime that has earned the revulsion of the rest of the
world? Sanctions and an oil embargo could certainly immobilise the military
force that is keeping Mugabe in power. On the other side of the argument,
Vallely points out that for sanctions to work everyone has to abide by them.
That is the weakness of the pro-sanctions argument. Sanctions busting by
Mugabe's allies - and he still has some - will destroy the effectiveness of
the measure.

Inside the country, Zanu PF apologists have descended as always to the
politics of race. Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the Minister of Information claims in
The Herald, that all this is nothing more than 'international racism' and
'an attempt to impose a government on the people of Zimbabwe.' His side
kick, Bright Matonga, never shy of playing the race card, despite having a
British wife, says the west "wants to undermine the AU and President Mbeki's
mediation because they think only white people think better. It is an insult
to African leaders." And what of the African leaders themselves? Sanctions,
they say, will only harm Zimbabwe; Thabo Mbeki of course agrees. He has a
short memory; it was the ANC who called for sanctions against the apartheid
regime. While the debate rages on at the UN, Mbeki conveniently convenes a
meeting of Zanu PF and the MDC just in time to assure the rest of the world
that there is no need for sanctions since talks are already underway to form
a Government of National Unity. No surprise to learn the Mugabe will
continue to head that government and the MDC will be swallowed up. The
sickening picture of a smiling Arthur Mutambara shaking hands with Mugabe at
State House tells Zimbabweans very clearly how this is going to go but the
people are not fools; they have every reason to know that Mugabe and Zanu PF
are not to be trusted. Mugabe and his political soul mate, the chosen SADC
negotiator, Thabo Mbeki, share the same mindset: Africa's liberation was won
through the barrel of a gun and no mere cross on a ballot paper can change
that. Meanwhile the killing, raping and burning continues. There are an
estimated 200.000 people displaced because of the violence. "It is the MDC"
says Nicholas Goche, "who committed the violence to create sympathy to
coincide with the G8 give the impression that there is increasing
political violence and that people are still being beaten, but all that is
false." At the UN the Zimbabwean delegation warns that sanctions "will push
Zimbabwe towards a civil war." Zimbabweans know very well that it is not
sanctions that 'will push the country towards civil war' it is Mugabe's own
militia and war vets under the control of the military who are already doing
that. Sanctions, if universally applied, would make it impossible for these
criminals to travel outside the country or access their vast fortunes salted
away in foreign bank accounts. The imposition of a strict arms embargo would
mean that the regime was no longer be able to buy arms to kill their own
countrymen and women.

In the light of near-universal condemnation from the world community, Mugabe
can no longer claim that all is well in Zimbabwe and not all his racist
ranting can make it so. What Zimbabwe needs is an honest, impartial
negotiator to help solve the impasse. While Thabo Mbeki drones on about how
only Zimbabweans can solve their own problems, his every moves demonstrates
his own partiality, even to the extent of rejecting a UN negotiator to help
solve the problem. Since the sham election of June 27 thousands more
Zimbabwean refugees have flooded into South Africa and still this stubborn
man cannot bring himself to admit that he has utterly failed to bring an end
to the crisis. Even the world football body FIFA has warned South Africa
that holding the 2010 World Cup is in doubt if the situation is not brought
under control in Zimbabwe. Nothing moves Mbeki. One has to wonder what it
is, apart from the so-called Liberation Credentials, that tie him so closely
to Robert Mugabe and his disgraced regime. Perhaps if we knew the answer to
that question we might be a step nearer to finding a solution. How much more
African blood has to be shed, how many more women have to be gang raped and
children be orphaned before Mbeki acts to stop the madness?
Yours in the (continuing) struggle. PH

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Mugabe in dilemma


Clemence Manyukwe Senior Political Reporter
. . . as time for talks runs out
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is in a serious dilemma over the appointment of a
new Cabinet as constitutional concerns emerge over the continued tenure of
ministers elected from the previous parliament that was dissolved in March,
under new legal provisions brought about by recent constitutional

Under Constitutional Amend-ment No 18, crafted through an agreement between
ZANU-PF and the Movement for Demo-cratic Change (MDC) under the aegis of
South African President Thabo Mbeki's mediation, the president can now
appoint only five people to the 93-member Senate, leaving the bulk of
ministers who lost in the March 29 election out in the cold.
In practice, President Mugabe would only appoint three members out of the
five senatorial seats as the other two seats would be reserved for
Vice-President Joseph Msika, who did not participate in the parliamentary
elections, and the person ZANU-PF would choose as President of the Senate,
possibly the party's national chairman John Nkomo.
In the event that ZANU-PF and the MDC agree on a government of national
Unity (GNU) that is being pushed by the African Union, even the ruling party
stalwarts risk losing out on the three senatorial seats as they are bound to
go to the opposition in a compromise deal, presenting President Mugabe with
a headache on how to save some of his trusted lieutenants from political
Ministers that lost in the March 29 poll, who now depend on a presidential
appointment to bounce back into Cabinet, include Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa, Agriculture Mecha-nisation Minister Joseph Made, Transport and
Communications Minister Chris Mushohwe, Information and Publicity Mini-ster
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Water Development Minister Munacho Mutezo, Mines Minister
Amos Midzi, Energy Minister Mike Nyambuya and Women's Affairs Minister Oppah
Others like Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo, Finance Minister Samuel
Mumbengegwi and Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere, lost in the ZANU-PF
Chigwedere is now a substantive village headman.
Former influential senators who either lost in the ZANU-PF primaries or on
March 29, and are now relying on appointment to the three remaining seats to
stage a comeback are Dzikamai Mavhaire, Vitalis Zvina-vashe and Sheila
Other members who campaigned vigorously for President Mugabe but also risk
being left out in the cold due to the limited number of seats that can be
doled out are war veterans chairperson Jabulani Sibanda and the former
ambassador to China and now the ruling party's media committee member
Christopher Mutsvangwa.
Mutsvangwa is tipped in some circles to land the Information portfolio.
Anxiety and tension is already heightening within ZANU-PF ranks as President
Mugabe remains ambivalent about whether to announce a Cabinet or wait until
the uncertainty shrouding participation by the MDC in talks to end the
current political stalemate has lifted, as Zimbabwe enters its second week
without a new Cabinet following the June 27 poll.
Pressure is also piling on the 10 appointed provincial governors on whether
they will retain their seats or fall by the wayside.
The nail-biting delay has the potential to trigger consternation among
supporters and the party faithful who have been jostling for positions
during the violent re-election campaign.
President Mugabe was sworn in for a sixth term ending in 2013 last Sunday,
following his June 27 victory in a presidential poll re-run boycotted by his
longstanding rival and winner of the first ballot, Morgan Tsvangirai, almost
three months ago.
The AU has proposed a government of national unity to break the political
stalemate creating a Catch 22 situation for the ruling party leader. If he
announced a Cabinet that excludes the MDC he would send wrong signals that
his party is uninterested in inter-party talks and kill off the initiative;
and yet if he drags his feet for much longer, further delays might be
interpreted as a slip of authority.
But as the president weighs his options over his next move, time is not on
his side.
Constitutional experts, quoting Section 62 of the supreme law, which
prohibits an overshot of more than 180 days between the last sitting of the
old Parliament - which sat on 17 January and the next expected session - say
the first session of the new Parliament must commence before 17th July.
Before the ceremonial opening of Parliament, MPs and Senators must be sworn
in, which means that by that time the President should have announced his
parliamentary appointees.
And as President Mugabe delays the appointment of a new Cabinet, concern has
been raised over the continued tenure of ministers appointed during the life
of the last parliament that was dissolved on March 29 in terms of Section
31E (1) of the constitution, which states that the offices of
Vice-Presidents, ministers and deputy ministers, fall away at the assumption
of office of a "new president".
In an interview yesterday, constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku said
even though the concern over the continued tenure of Cabinet was
"understandable, unfortunate" there is a 2004 Supreme Court judgment
(SC47/04) that says President Mugabe is not "a new president" but has merely
commenced "a new term of office".
"The constitution is very clear on the matter, unfortunately the Supreme
Court thinks otherwise. The state of affairs remains until someone takes up
the matter and convinces the Supreme Court," said Madhuku.

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Mbeki faces another Tsvangirai snub


Njabulo Ncube Political Editor

SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts in the Zimbabwe
political crisis seemed to hang by a thread yesterday with Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai digging his heels in,
insisting conditions in the country were still not conducive for dialogue.

The MDC yesterday said while it was committed to a negotiated solution to
the crisis, "a catalogue of acts of bad faith by ZANU-PF continues to poison
the environment for negotiations".
The party cited alleged murders, beatings and displacements of MDC leaders
and supporters, the denial of passports to Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti, the
party's secretary-general, and the continued publication of erroneous
reports "designed to fan the flames of political violence" in the State
Last week, Tsvangirai snubbed Mbeki, who had flown into Harare in a bid to
jump-start stalled dialogue between President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara, leader of the other faction of the MDC.
Tsvangirai told Mbeki he had been advised by the African Union (AU) not to
attend last Saturday's meeting without a representative from the continental
On Tuesday, Patrick Chinamasa, one of ZANU-PF's negotiators in the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) sponsored dialogue, claimed both
formations of the MDC were ready for talks.
"We have received communication from both MDC Mutambara and MDC Tsvangirai
that they are ready for a resumption of the inter-party talks," Chinamasa
was quoted in the state-owned daily The Herald as saying.
"The talks will resume sooner rather than later, but I obviously cannot tell
you what is on the table or when or where we will be meeting, as we do not
want to negotiate in public. The talks will be under the facilitation of
Mbeki," said Chinamasa.
But yesterday the MDC denied it was engaged in talks with ZANU-PF.
MDC sources said Mbeki, expected in Harare before the end of this week
together with African emissaries to follow-up on his proposed power-sharing
deal between President Mugabe and Tsvangirai that proposes the establishment
of a titular president and a prime minister, will most likely be snubbed
The sources cited alleged recent acts of violence in the Midlands province
and parts of Masho-naland. The opposition said it viewed the lack of
dialogue as "tragic".
Tsvangirai and his formation of the MDC are demanding that the AU, which
resolved that the June 27 presidential run-off was not free and fair to
produce a clear winner, appoint an envoy to assist Mbeki on a full time
basis in the mediation process.
The MDC accuses the South African leader of not being an honest broker.
Party insiders said the MDC has touted the names of Kofi Annan, the former
United Nations secretary general, and Cyril Rhamaposa, one of South Africa's
business magnates, who led a team of negotiators that ended apartheid in
"Our position remains consistently clear that there cannot be genuine and
serious dialogue as long as the issues that the MDC has raised as
preconditions to dialogue have not been satisfactorily met," George
Sibotshiwe, Tsvangirai's spokesman told The Financial Gazette by telephone
from South Africa.
Apart from the calls for cessation of violence attributed to ZANU-PF, the
MDC has also demanded the lifting of the suspension imposed on humanitarian
organisations, offering food aid and providing medical and other critical
services throughout the country and that Parliament and Senate must be sworn
in and begin working on the people's business.
"Dialogue is inevitable, but these conditions must be met. As we are
speaking President Tsvangirai is of the view these are still outstanding.
"For instance, violence is still going on and the negotiating team has not
been expanded.
"If President Mbeki lands in Harare today unfortunately we can't negotiate
with anyone.
"ZANU-PF has failed to address these issues," said Sibotshiwe.
He also trashed state media reports that dialogue between MDC and ZANU-PF
"will resume soon".
"It's all lies. The MDC unequivocally states the report is false and is a
figment of someone's imagination.
"The MDC is not aware of any dialogue that will soon resume," said
ZANU-PF insiders, speaking on condition they are not named, said Mbeki's
proposal of a titular president and prime minister, if genuine, would
certainly receive stiff opposition from hardliners in the party.
"In any case, we would need to call a congress to discuss the idea of a
government of national unity and have Parliament pass an amendment on the
establishment of a titular president and a prime minister," said a ZANU-PF
AU chairman and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and the AU Commission's
Jean Ping are also reportedly on their way to Harare after the G-8 Summit in
However, Ping's arrival was in doubt after he was taken ill in Japan over an
undisclosed aliment.

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RBZ issues capital directive to banks


Shame Makoshori Senior Business Reporter

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has directed financial institutions to
increase their minimum capital within three weeks to new levels which market
players fear could precipitate insolvencies in the sector.

Sources said the RBZ last week wrote to chief executive officers of all
commercial banks, merchant banks and discount houses, announcing new capital
thresholds and the accompanying stringent deadlines.
Banking institutions, whose minimum capital levels were last reviewed in
January 2006, could lurch into a fresh crisis as a result of the move,
industry players said, noting that the notice period given by central bank
was too short for the majority of the financial institutions.
When Gono last reviewed the minimum capital requirements for the banks,
these were marked in US dollars but matched against the ruling exchange rate
of $30 000 to the greenback, which fell away after the liberalisation of the
exchange rate in May.
But besides contending with a moving exchange rate in determining their new
capital levels, banks will also have to contend with increased US dollar
levels in the new capital levels pegged by the RBZ.
Information obtained by The Financial Gazette indicated that RBZ governor
Gideon Gono directed that the new minimum capital requirements for
commercial banks would be increased from US$10 million to US$15 million.
Merchant banks had their new capital thresholds increased from US$7,5
million to US$10 million.
RBZ officials who spoke to The Financial Gazette on condition of anonymity
because they were not authorised to do so, said banks had long been warned
to start mobilising fresh resources to meet higher capital levels.
They said this had been adequately spelt out in the last monetary policy
statement issued by Gono in April.
However, in that statement, Gono had indicated banks would be forced to meet
new minimum capital requirements with effect from September this year.
"We continue to call upon financial institutions to closely monitor their
capital levels, not only in adherence to regulatory requirements but as a
proxy for the challenging macroeconomic environment," Gono said.
It was not immediately clear why the date had been moved forward by the
central bank.
Some industry players indicated that panic had already gripped some
financial institutions, with the possibility that many could plead for
clemency from Gono because they were unlikely to meet the new capital levels
within the stipulated time frame.
There was also a possibility of hastily arranged mergers to boost capital
levels by financials institutions with weaker balance sheets.
Stronger balance sheets act as the last line of defence in the event that
the banks run into cash flow problems.
Some financial institutions said this week they could approach their
shareholders first for additional capital. This would entail convening of
extraordinary general meetings (EGMs), where they would inform the
shareholders of the latest development.
However, there was likely to be a legal obstacle to this approach.
The 21-day deadline given by the central bank would make it difficult to
call for an EGM, as that would fall short of the time legally required for
companies to give shareholders notice to attend such important meetings.
The country has 14 commercial banks, five merchant banks, one finance house,
four discount houses and four building societies.
Gono said in April that despite the deepening economic crisis in the
country, the financial sector continued to exhibit stability and resilience
and was in a sound condition.

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Shortages persist despite escalating prices


Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor

SHORTAGES of basic goods have persisted in the stressed economy despite a
rapid escalation of prices, heightening tension among the country's restive

Most retail outlets around the capital were nearly empty, and the black
market, which has normally enjoyed abundant supplies of basic commodities,
was also grappling with a fresh wave of shortages.
Bread, the staple maize meal, sugar and cooking oils were unavailable from
both the official market and the black market, indicating the severity of a
deepening economic crisis likely to worsen due to a stand-off over the
results of the presidential election runoff of June 27.
Most supermarkets, particularly those in Harare's leafy northern suburbs,
had stocks of non-basic food commodities, the majority of them imported from
South Africa and Asia.
But these were so highly priced that they were beyond the reach of the
country's poor.
Estimates indicate that at least 80 percent of Zimbabwe's population is
classified as poor.
But even for the well heeled with loads of cash in their bank accounts,
shopping has turned into a nightmare because of an implosion of zeros on the
country's beleaguered currency.
Small groceries, and even restaurant lunch, is gobbling well over a trillion
Zimbabwe dollars.
Point of sale terminals (POS) were failing to process the transactions
because they could not be configured to process transactions with a large
number of digits.
POS machines in all supermarkets visited this week could only make single
transactions of $10 billion. Customers purchasing items costing a trillion
had to make 100 POS transactions of $10 billion, overwhelming cashiers who
looked exhausted and dejected.Customers spent long hours in the queues as
they waited for their turns to purchase on the POS terminals.
Maximum bank withdrawal limits were increased to $100 billion recently by
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), but this remained grossly inadequate to
meet daily cash requirements even for basic goods like vegetables, tomatoes
and onions.
The shortages escalated despite a raft of measures by the RBZ governor
Gideon Gono that were meant to spur the struggling manufacturing sector to
improve supplies in the economy.
The central bank liberalised the foreign exchange market to boost production
by allowing exporters to offload their receipts on the official market at
viable rates.
A local producer recently said the inbound supply chain remained
increasingly difficult to manage due to the shortage of foreign currency and
the failure of utilities.
Industrial operations have been ruined by frequent power outages, as well as
shortages of critical inputs that require foreign currency to import.
Imports could help significantly mitigate local production constraints if
adequate foreign currency was availed to the retail sector, market
commentators said.

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Zim agriculture now a disgrace


Nelson Chenga Staff Reporter

CIVIL rights leader, Martin Luther King had a dream. Flamboyant black
empowerment crusader Roger Boka had his too - a fantastic dream that burst
into reality with the force of a category five tornado.

Yet if he were alive today, Boka would agonise over how that dream turned
into a ghoulish nightmare.
How so? The world's largest tobacco auction floors are virtually empty!
And this is the height of Zimbabwe's summer crop marketing season. It is
nothing short of a weird paradox but that is the crude and cruel reality.
The amount of tobacco delivered to the expansive 20 000 square-metre
auctioning arena so far is so pathetic that it can make a dead man restless.
When the giant tobacco selling arena opened for the first time in 1997 there
was much hype as farmers delivered more than 2 000 bales of flue-cured
tobacco on day one.
When the floors opened for sales in May this year, farmers almost staged an
ugly riot over poor prices and there was no activity for days. Since then,
after the sales resumed and stopped only to restart again, just over 26
million killogrammes have been delivered at the country's three auction
floors. Overall, a mere 75 million killogrammes is expected from farmers by
the close of sales later this year compared to a seasonal flow of well over
200 million killogrammes before the year 2000.
Such is the dire state of not only Zimbabwe's tobacco sector, but of the
entire agricultural industry. It is in crippling limbo.
"Right now it's dark. You can't see the light at the end of the tunnel,"
says Jabulani Gwaringa, the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union director, trying to
forecast the country's grim agricultural future. But he believes that in
terms of food security Zimbabwe can recover in a single season if the
farmers, especially those in communal and A1 resettlement areas make
preparations in time, with timely access to inputs, because they have since
independence in 1980, supplied more than 90 percent of the staple maize to
the Grain Marketing Board.
Gwaringa, whose organisation represents the majority of the country's
farmers said: "The marketing season for farmers is the most critical. We
judge the success of a new farming season during the marketing phase of
crops. If farmers must properly prepare themselves, if you don't want them
to depend on handouts, they must access inputs as they market their produce.
At the moment, things are difficult because no seed house has yet released
any seed, for instance." The government plans to distribute handouts in the
form of inputs by the end of September.
If the French writer Victor Hugo was still alive, he probably would have
written another masterpiece on the plight of Zimbabwe's embattled farmers
and titled it: "Oh, Les Miserables," as a sequel to his first novel. So,
wither Zimbabwean agriculture? The nagging question refuses to go away.
Besides agriculture being crucial to Zimbabwe's food security, farming
should bring good returns for all the hard work farmers put into it , be
they communal or commercial. Many communal, small scale resettlement and
commercial farmers have already sold this year's produce and spent the cash
on items that have no bearing on the coming season while hyperinflation is
fast corroding the cash still in hand.
It is unfortunate that for the nation's many eager farmers, agriculture is
fast becoming a futile enterprise. At the tobacco auction floors farmers are
paid in part by cheque plus $200 billion in cash. Encashing their
multi-trillion-dollar cheques is a living nightmare.
"There are some retail shops that are very keen to accept our cheques, but
they double the price of any item we buy. It's a take it or leave it game.
They say by the time our cheques mature they will have devalued due to
inflation," said a farmer from Guruve who chose to remain anonymous.
"We are buying useless items that don't help us to continue farming just to
convert our cheques into cash. I would not mind the retailers doubling the
price if they were selling me fertiliser because it is a critical ingredient
in tobacco farming. But if you go around, there is no fertiliser and our
money is losing value every minute," he lamented.
Agriculture is essential to the country's economy. Key players have, with
little success, scratched their heads to figure out why the sector has
failed to perform given the huge injections of capital made by the
In February this year, the government distributed, among other things,
hundreds of tractors, ploughs; thousands of animal-drawn scotch carts,
harrows, grinding mills, generators, planters and cultivators; as well as
combine harvesters and diesel.
While these efforts to revive the ailing sector are commendable, some
farmers have accused the government of somewhat misplacing its priorities.
"If the government imported and supplied the local fertiliser manufacturing
industry with all the critical inputs such as potash required for fertiliser
manufacturing, would it not be cheaper and make more economic sense than
importing the fertiliser?" asked one industry expert who declined to be
"Agriculture used to generate a lot of foreign currency, but other sectors
such as mining and tourism propped it up too. So, is the government properly
channelling the little available foreign currency to the key areas that need
a little investment to make them tick again? There might be other
impediments, but internal co-ordination is lacking. Proper organisation is
lacking and mired in too much bureaucracy," the agricultural expert said.
He cited the involvement of the military, under the Operation Maguta
programme, as being absolutely unnecessary since there are structures in
place such as the Agricultural Extension Services and farmer organisations
that can perform better if empowered.
"A farmer will think twice before entering an army barracks to collect seed
or fertiliser. Why doesn't the government give these responsibilities to
those who have agriculture at heart? "Some politicians take advantage of
this disorganisation. They delay the distribution of inputs to farmers until
the people are desperate, just to gain political mileage."
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, extricating agricultural issues from
politics at present is impossible, as the two have become wedded in unholy
matrimony that has left millions on the verge of starvation.

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Catastrophe looms amid skyrocketing prices, empty shelves


Nelson Chenga Staff Reporter

IF Zimbabwe were a starved, dying animal in a drought-ravaged savannah,
vultures would by now be circling in low over the acacia bushes for the

The country has survived many food crises ever since independence, but it
seems the worst looms.
Shop shelves are empty. Unrelenting inflation is whipping prices of meagre
foodstuffs available into a faster and more furious gallop.
The Ministry of Industry and International Trade, after writing to the
manufacturing sector on Tuesday last week, summoned the captains of industry
the next day over the empty supermarket shelves.
No comment was available from the Ministry and the Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries. The Financial Gazette however, undertook its own investigations.
"The situation is dire. It is quite stressful and we are under a lot of
pressure from consumers," confessed Bramwell Bushu, the chairman of the
National Bakers' Association, whose members are closing shop daily as bread,
the country's second most essential food commodity after mealie-meal, has
vanished from supermarket shelves.
"There is no wheat and we have very little flour left to last maybe one
week. Most bakeries, roughly about 70 percent, have closed shop.
The remainder are producing once or twice a week. Available flour on the
black market is selling for anything between US$25 and US$35 per kilogramme
and most bakers do not have that kind money to buy stocks," said Bushu in a
telephone interview. There has been no indication as to when flour will be
available on the formal market.
Meanwhile, the National Incomes and Pricing Commission's recommended bread
price set at $400 million per loaf has long been overtaken by events,
leading to bakers experiencing what Bushu described as massive "capital
erosion or capital decay".
For instance, the cost of yeast per standard loaf of bread is now twice the
stipulated price of a loaf of bread.
Like victims of severe haemorrhage, the bakeries are left with no choice but
to capitulate.
Desperate to extricate itself from probably the worst food shortages since
independence in 1980, the government has promised to import 690 000 tonnes
of grain from neighbouring South Africa, just enough to plug the yawning
grain deficit.
The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) says it has since received 340 wagons of
imported maize at its depots in Mutare, Rusape, Marondera and Harare and has
been 'frantically' working on the distribution logistics.
But where is the grain?
The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) acknowledged that some
grain had arrived.
"The maize is being rationed between millers and drought relief programmes,"
said Tafadzwa Musarara, the GMAZ national chairman.
He, however, pointed out: "Additional stocks are required to cause visible
product availability in the shops."
The milling sector requires a minimum of 35 000 metric tonnes of grain
weekly to produce mealie-meal, stockfeeds, and other products.
Said Musarara: "The grain shortages have caused adverse effects as the
milling sector is now experiencing record low capacity utilisation levels.
Millers are redeploying funds from other investments to pay operational
"Some millers are concentrating on salt and oil production to generate
income to sustain wages and salaries."
As millions of Zimbabweans eagerly await the maize-meal to become available,
supermarket shelves continue to be empty. The prices of the few available
food items are way beyond the reach of the starving majority.
A loaf of bread, only available on the black market, sells for anything
between $40 and $50 billion.
The price of grain has smashed through the $200-billion barrier for a
20-litre bucket on the black market.
And, like victims trapped in quicksand, Zimbabweans are fast being swallowed
by the daily shift in the prices.
A food-hoarding stampede before the June 27 presidential run-off elections,
triggered shortages and further pushed the country on the brink of collapse.
At the height of the stock-piling spree, Harare Province, including the
metropolis, was receiving a paltry six percent of its normal grain inflow at
a time when imports had dried.
The household stocks, if any, are however, now dangerously low.
"My brother, we are barely managing to eat enough to keep body and soul
together," said Percival Sibotshwa a Harare clerk who now skips his lunch to
stretch his salary that has been seriously eroded by galloping inflation.
Two meals are a luxury nowadays.
In mid-May this year the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono
bemoaned: "The devastating fangs of the global food crisis are biting and
cutting into the livelihoods of every household across the globe, especially
among the vulnerable members of society."
However, for Zimbabwe the government's decision to discontinue donor food
aid after President Robert Mugabe declared that no one would starve in the
country has further exacerbated an already highly precarious situation.
But what happened to Zimbabwe's once upon a time enormous capacity to feed
itself as well as its neighbours far beyond its borders?
Every farming season since 2000 has had its own mixed grill of problems
ranging logistics, shortages of fuel, seed, fertiliser and chemicals.
Consequently, a May 2006 United States Department of Agriculture report thus
concluded: "As a result, the country was poorly prepared for the 2005/6
farming season."
But the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation
(FAO) has occasionally come out with its guns blazing and criticised the
Zimbabwe government's land reforms since 2000 as flawed and partly
responsible for the present food crisis.
And ever since the 2000 farm invasions led by veterans of the country's
1970s war of liberation that prompted the government to further fast track
its land reforms Zimbabwe has experienced unprecedented devastating
consecutive poor harvests. Scarcely one month after the 2007/8 harvests
gloomier dark clouds of hunger have menacingly hovered on the horizon.
In a special report on Zimbabwe's Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission
last month the WFP and FAO wrote: "Land distribution in Zimbabwe since
Independence in 1980 has remained highly skewed.
"In July 2000 the 'fast track' resettlement phase was launched to speed up
land acquisition and resettlement.These activities and processes have
severely disrupted farming activities as many resettled farmers lack access
to capital and other inputs or need time to settle down, contributing to
severe under-utilisation of land resource and low production."
And following yet another disastrous summer season millions of Zimbabweans
continue to scrape the base of their fast emptying barrels eagerly awaiting
the much talked about imported grain that the Zimbabwe government has
How long it will take, is anyone's wild guess.

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Zim's top wildlife rehabilitation park faces closure


Simpiwe Piliso

ZIMBABWE'S largest wildlife rehabilitation park is under threat of closure
as management struggles to source funding and food for the 220 animals.

Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage, which is home to injured and orphaned
animals, this week barely had enough meat for its 32 lions, seven leopards,
a pack of wild dogs and hyaenas.
The grain, fruit and other feed for the centre's two black rhinos, duikers,
baboons, vervet monkeys, kudus and steenbok are also depleted.
"Every day is a struggle to keep this place going. And it's not only food
that's in short supply," said Chipangali director Kevin Wilson.
Apart from fuel that now costs US2 per litre in Zimbabwe,the price of
vehicle parts are also exorbitant. Wilson, who relies on his Toyota Hilux
bakkie to fetch animal feed donations from farms, recently replaced four
wheel bearings at a cost of R1570 each. The same parts cost about R250 each
in South Africa.
"The list of expenses just goes on and on and on. A lot of Zimbabwean
farmers who used to assist Chipangali with food and donations are now living
in Zambia and South Africa and have moved on with their lives," said Wilson.
There are only about 600 white farmers left in Zimbabwe, down from 4500
eight years ago when the government mounted a brutal campaign to seize
white-owned farms.
Last Sunday, shortly after President Mugabe was sworn in for a sixth term
after an election boycotted by the opposition, several white-owned farms
were ransacked and families assaulted.
John and Judy Travers, the owners of Imire Safari Ranch, were accosted by
suspected war veterans who demanded they shoot three impala for the the
former fighters to eat.
Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said
when the couple refused, the war veterans threatened to torch the ranch.
"They were extremely aggressive and John eventually had no option but to
shoot the impala. The invaders left with the impala, saying that Imire was
at the top of their list and they were going to take it," said Rodrigues.
On Wednesday, some of the men returned and told the couple to leave. "It is
a foregone conclusion that, if the invaders succeed in evicting the
Traverses, all the animals will be slaughtered within a very short space of
time," said Rodrigues.
Economists this week said a loaf of bread costs 150 times more now than it
did during the first round of the elections on March 29. Four out of every
five Zimbabweans are unemployed and many battle to stave off malnutrition
amid chronic shortages of meat, bread and other foodstuffs.
Last week, hotel operators told the Sunday Times that tourism figures in
Bulawayo had plummeted. Chipangali workers said there had been no "paying
visitors" in almost a month.
"One of our biggest expenses is feeding the carnivores," said Wilson. Each
lion is fed 10kg of meat every two days.
Wilson said they often receive calls from farmers wanting to donate a dead
cow. "But it's not really free," he said, because it costs the centre dearly
to fetch the carcass with their bakkie, which has more than 650000km on the
Last Thursday, some of the park's enclosures appeared neglected, with weeds
and overgrown shrubs and grass abounding. The electric fence around the lion
enclosure did not function.
The 35-year-old park gained international recognition for its wildlife
studies and captive-breeding programmes. Princess Diana was a patron of the
Chipangali Wildlife Trust from 1983 until her death in 1997. The Diana,
Princess of Wales Memorial Fund donated money to Chipangali to erect a
children's centre that is used to teach youngsters about nature conservation
and the very wildlife that is now being wiped out by poachers.
Last November, National Geographic reported that some of Zimbabwe's private
game ranches were stripped of game.
Using extracts from a report released by the Zimbabwe Conservation Task
Force, the magazine reported that 90 percent of the animals had been lost
since 2000, while the country has seen an estimated 60 percent of its total
wildlife population killed by either poachers or farmers to help ease
economic woes.
For its study, the task force gathered information from 62 game ranches, 59
of which reported losses, including 75 rare black rhinos and 39 leopards.
Other losses included 9500 impalas, about 5000 kudus and 2000 wildebeest.
Alongside plummeting wildlife numbers, Zimbabwe has seen massive
deforestation and the neglect of national parks.
The task force also revealed that the country had 620 private game farms
before the land seizures began, but only 14 remain.

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Ironic twist to violent election campaign


Staff Reporter police make follow-up arrests for crimes committed before run-off
MASVINGO - Only a few weeks ago, they were all powerful - erecting
roadblocks, forcing people to sing liberation war songs, maiming and in some
cases murdering unlucky victims - all in the name of securing a ZANU-PF

Now, they have fallen back to mother earth with a thud. They are now living
at the mercy of their former victims.
It is back to reality for the unemployed rural youths, who were instrumental
in waging violent campaigns in the run-up to the second round of elections
held on June 27.
The mostly ZANU-PF youth militia, who in some instances were beating up
friends and relatives from their neighborhoods after accusing them of
supporting the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), face revenge from the
people they were harassing.
And, in a sad twist of irony, the police are said to be making follow-up
arrests for crimes committed during the violent campaign arresting the
youths in an operation code named 'Waitumwa Nani?' (Who sent you?).
Some of the revanchist youths say they have nowhere to turn to, as the
politicians who were mobilising them to perpetrate violence, are nowhere to
be found.
"The police are arresting us saying we were breaking the law and nobody had
the right to instruct us to do that. Most of my friends have been arrested,
while several others have fled homes as they are the target of attack from
the relatives of those people that they killed or beat up during the
campaigns," said one youth who was operating from a base at Mupandawana
growth point.
"We were so foolish as to beat up our neighbours and relatives. Now they are
not willing to help us if we have a genuine problem. We feel we have been
The MDC claims more than 86 of its supporters were killed after the initial
March 29 polls that the party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai outpolled the
ZANU-PF presidential candidate and incumbent, but failed to garner enough
votes to prevent a run-off.
Sources within the police force revealed that they are arresting all those
involved in lawlessness during the campaign period, regardless of their
political affiliation.
"There are reports of numerous arrests of youths who were beating up people
and taking away their possessions during the campaign period. No one is
spared from this operation, code named 'Waitumwa Nani?' including those
youths from ZANU-PF party," said a police source.
Some of the cases, the source added, involve ZANU-PF youths who were taking
away villagers' livestock and slaughtering them at their bases, while others
involve assault and murder."
"The youths are saying they were sent by ZANU-PF bigwigs, but these
politicians deny ever sending the youths. Some of the cases we are handling
involve revenge attacks from the people the youths were assaulting during
the run-up to the polls," said the source.
In the small mining town of Mashava, where an MDC activist was allegedly
brutally killed after he was castrated by known ZANU-PF youths, the
relatives of the deceased are threatening to take the law into their hands.
Similar incidents have been reported in districts like Zaka, where two MDC
activists were burnt to death at the party's district offices, as well as in
During the violence-riddled presidential election campaign in 2002, some
youths also suffered the same fate of being discarded after the "dirty" work
had been done. But while many of these idle youths realised that they were
used as political pawns, as they got nothing out of it except hate and
ridicule from their respective communities, others never learnt anything.
Suspected ZANU-PF militias are believed to have severely assaulted a
maverick chief last week, leaving him hospitalised, as post election
retribution takes a toll in the province.
But the assault has been disguised as a boundary dispute with a neighbouring
Chief Makore (48) was admitted at Gutu Mission Hospital where he is
receiving treatment after sustaining serious injuries.
Last week acting officer commanding Masvingo Police, Assistant Commissioner
Mekia Tanyanyiwa said seven youths had been arrested for assaulting the
chief over a boundary dispute dating back to 1980.
Although Chief Makore could not be contacted for comment, villagers privy to
the violence say the seven assailants went to his homestead and beat him up
accusing him of being linked to the MDC.
The assailants have since been arrested and are awaiting trial.
The police referred further questions to national spokesperson, Assistant
Commissioner Oliver Mandipaka, who could not be contacted for a comment.
Chief Makore angered ZANU-PF bigwigs after he led a high powered delegation
to President Robert Mugabe early this year to protestagainst ZANU-PF losing
Gutu South candidate, Shuvai Mahofa, who has been the legislator for the
area since 1985. Chief Makore, together with other chiefs and village heads
from the area, were rallying support behind another ZANU-PF candidate,
arguing that Mahofa had failed to meaningfully develop their area ever since
she became their Member of Parliament.
They later made an about turn when pressured by the ruling party, and
subsequently 'silenced' after the chief received a vehicle from government.
"Forget about the boundary issue with Chief Chikwanda that has been much
touted about. There is more than meets the eye," said a source in Gutu.
"Chief Makore is accused of being loudmouthed despite being given a car and
being on ZANU-PF's payroll. Yet sometimes he was critical of the system.
That is why he was assaulted," added the source.
The matter, as been twisted to involve a boundary dispute after Chief Makore
allegedly went on to install village heads in neighbouring Chief Chikwanda's
While the long-standing boundary dispute between the two chiefs spans two
decades, sources said the real issue at play was the alleged MDC link that
led to the assault.

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