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Brown: I'll stay away from summit if Mugabe goes

The Sunday Times
July 15, 2007

Christina Lamb
GORDON BROWN will refuse to attend a forthcoming summit of European Union
and African leaders in Lisbon if Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is

During a meeting at No 10 last week the prime minister warned his Portuguese
counterpart, Jose Socrates, currently president of the EU, against inviting
the Zimbabwean leader to the summit.

"Can you imagine if Gordon and Mugabe are together in the same room?" said a
British minister, recalling embarrassing shots of the 83-year-old dictator
shaking hands with Jack Straw at the United Nations in New York and Prince
Charles at the Pope's funeral in Rome.

"You can be sure Mugabe will get himself photographed shaking Gordon's hand.
There's no way that's going to happen," the minister added. "If it means the
meeting cannot go ahead, so be it. It's already been delayed for years."

Portugal took over the rotating presidency of the EU this month. It
announced that improving relations with Africa would be a priority, with the
first EU-Africa summit in seven years in December. The last attempt to hold
such a meeting in 2003 was cancelled because of Mugabe.

This time the Portuguese have refused to exclude Mugabe from the guest list,
despite an EU travel ban on the Zimbabwean president.

Glenys Kinnock, a Labour MEP, warned that the Lisbon summit could offer
Mugabe a chance to "gloat and strut" on the international stage while his
people suffered at home.

The Portuguese seem to have succumbed to pressure from the African Union,
whose members threatened a boycott if Mugabe was not invited.

On his first trip after assuming the EU presidency, Socrates travelled to
Ghana for an African Union meeting where he was told its 53 members should
decide who to send.

"Today, it is Zimbabwe," said Aziz Pahad, South Africa's deputy foreign
minister. "Tomorrow it could be us."

Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, is brokering talks between Mugabe's
government and opposition. But he is said to be losing patience after
members of the ruling Zanu-PF boycotted the talks for the third time last

On the other side, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has been
unable to patch up a damaging split.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's economy worsens by the day. Millions face impending
famine because of harvest failure in the south. Shops and factories across
the country have closed and thousands of business-men are behind bars amid
chaos caused by the regime's so-called Operation Slash Prices.

In a novel way of dealing with inflation, believed to be up to 15,000%, the
government has sent militias into shops, forcing managers to cut prices by
more than half. Often the so-call-ed price inspectors then sweep up the
goods themselves, suggesting this may be a way of keeping the security
forces "on side".

The price cuts saw crowds descend on shops to pick up bargains such as
television sets for £12 or fast-vanishing commodities.

At Afro Foods in central Harare, riot police with dogs were used to control
a stampede of more than 5,000 who gathered because it was the only shop in
the capital where cooking oil was still available.

Price inspectors had discovered the consignment imported from South Africa
and ordered shop managers to sell the cooking oil for one tenth of its
previous price. Among the crowds, in a priority queue, were several hundred
members of the army, police and prison service.

By the end of the week, 2,776 shop owners and business executives had been

Police have also arrested hundreds of bus drivers and impounded their buses
for overcharging, stranding thousands of workers.

The operation has led many shops to close rather than face massive losses.
It is almost impossible to find basic commodities such as bread, flour,
maize meal, salt, sugar, milk and fuel.

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A country in crisis

The Hindu, India


What should be done about Zimbabwe? The question becomes more urgent by the
day as the country slides ever deeper into chaos. Its economy has collapsed,
and inflation is officially running at 4,500 per cent - the highest rate in
the world ? 2; though the estimate of independent financial institutions is
that it is actually closer to 9,000 per cent.

The people are starving. They are subject to violence and oppression at the
hands of Robert Mugabe's government.

No rule of law

For all practical purposes, that government is a terrorist regime. Few
citizens are able to express their opposition. One of those who has done is
the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, who has appealed to
Britain or any "strong" power to come to his country's aid. The plea is
poignant, and understandable, but it has to be recognised that any
intervention initiated by the U.K., as the former colonial power, would be
likely to make matters worse.

There is clearly a major humanitarian problem. There is also, however, a
major political problem - for the U.K., as indicated, but also for Zimbabwe's
neighbours, and notably South Africa. At the most basic level, the influx of
refugees from Zimbabwe is putting a strain on South Africa's economy. The
problem, however, is far wider than that. The situation is a serious
challenge to the African Union, whose leaders are under pressure to take
action in response to human rights violations and Zimbabwe's failure to
follow the rule of law.

Weak response

So far the response of African leaders has been weak, but there are
indications that increasing pressure is being put on Mugabe. The Zimbabwean,
a weekly newspaper published in the U.K., by a distinguished and greatly
experienced Zi mbabwean journalist, and circulating widely within Zimbabwe,
has just reported that President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa is working
behind the scenes to bring about a transitional government of national
unity, drawing in Mugabe's party and the opposition, Movement for Democratic
Change. The paper quotes highly-placed sources as saying that "Mbeki hopes
to accomplish the very difficult mission of convincing President Robert
Mugabe to step down in exchange for a guarantee of indemnity from
prosecution for alleged crimes against humanity".

Realistically, there are obvious limits to what any outsider can achieve.
Recognition of that underlay the discussion last week at an unofficial, but
widely representative, conference in London which examined what role the
Commonwealth might play in encouraging a solution. The fact that the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is to take place in Uganda later
this year is a reminder that exploring the possibility of a Commonwealth
role makes sense. The experience of Commonwealth pressure in helping to
bring about the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa is an indication
of what might be achieved.

Ways to help

An important element of the Commonwealth's involvement with apartheid South
Africa was the role of the so-called "eminent persons group", which played a
major part in bringing about change by persuasion rather than confrontation.
At last week's conference, no one was under any illusion that setting up
constructive discussion with Mugabe would be easy. There was, however, a
widespread feeling that preparations can, and should, be made for positive
action when the political situation in Zimbabwe changes. An eminent persons
group could again be a useful vehicle.

There will be a huge need for help - through the provision of training and
advice in the building of democratic institutions, the re-building of the
economy, the re-establishment of a proper legal system, the strengthening of
civil society, to name but some. There will certainly be a need to achieve
effective reform of land ownership, which has been a major issue in
Zimbabwe, and Southern Rhodesia, as it previously was, since the 1920s.

In any approach to the Zimbabwe problem there would be one great advantage
in a Commonwealth initiative, namely, the fact that it could be distanced
from both the "colonial" problem implicit in any British action, and the
"African" problem which in effect limits what Zimbabwe's immediate
neighbours can do.

Role for India

In this connection, India could be a key player. India's Election
Commission, for example, could be a useful model for a new democratic system
in Zimbabwe, and India's strong and vibrant media might be a focus for
training the new cohort of journalists who will certainly be needed as the
country moves out of crisis to reconstruction.

There was no false optimism in last week's London discussions, but a
definite feeling that the Commonwealth could play a useful part in that

Bill Kirkman is an Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College Cambridge, UK. Email
him at:

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Visible Echo

Saturday 14th July 2007

Dear Family and Friends,
Shoe polish, dishwashing liquid and light bulbs were the three most
plentiful products in a major supermarket in my home town by this weekend.
This isn't a little family shop on the corner, its a branch of a national
supermarket chain with outlets in most towns and cities around the country.
Almost none of the basics of daily life are available a fortnight after
enforced price cuts. Imagine trying to run a home, school or institution
with no rice, flour, maize meal, margarine, meat, milk or eggs. No salt,
sugar, biscuits, porridge, dried fish, dried beans or powdered milk. No
soap, candles or matches - and this at a time when electricity cuts are
occurring daily and last for 15 hours at a time.

Behind the great mountains of shoe polish there are other products too but
mostly not items in regular use and even their stocks are dwindling fast.
These goods stand in long and plaintive lines, side by side along the front
of the shelf, remove one and you can see the back wall - a visible echo
shouts at you!

Mid week it was announced that the licences of all private abattoirs had
been cancelled and that all slaughtering and meat supplies had been taken
over by the virtually defunct government owned Cold Storage Commission. In
Marondera the CSC has been completely closed for at least the last five
years but on Thursday hundreds of people jostled outside their premises. It
was mayhem: the first meat in the town for a fortnight. No one questioned
what conditions were like inside the buildings which have stood deserted all
these years. No one asked if fixtures and fittings had been replaced, if the
buildings had been fumigated, if corroded pipes had been changed. No one
even asked to see the paperwork proving that the premises had been checked
by Health Inspectors or if the buildings had been declared hygienic and fit
to handle meat for human consumption. It was utter chaos and the local
department of Health said nothing and did nothing.

Towards the end of the week almost 2000 businessmen around the country had
been arrested for not cutting their prices. Most buses and public transport
vehicles had stopped operating as fuel supplies ran out and transporters
were ordered to charge prices way below their costs. The government price
cutting task force have now announced that medicines are next in line to
have prices cut and a cold panic is spreading amongst people on life
preserving medicines - as supplies of drugs run down and are not replaced,
how will they survive?

Zimbabwe is on a knife edge and everywhere you look there is a potential
crisis unfolding. Queues containing many hundreds of people form rapidly as
a rumour circulates. Perhaps there is sugar, salt or flour and suddenly
people are running to line up at the back of supermarkets, outside locked
butchery doors, in alleyways, along pavements. The lines this week have
contained more people than most of us have ever seen before. Four people
standing abreast and then four behind them and so on and the mass goes
around the corner, around the block and back on itself again. This is what
80% unemployment looks like, and also the face of the collapse of a country
which just seven years ago was a major regional food exporter.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy
Saturday 7th July 2007

Dear Family and Friends,
Zimbabwe has been engulfed in a macabre and tragic frenzy this week and
frankly, it beggars belief. Across the country what has been called a
"Taskforce" has been unleashed by the government to force shop owners and
businesses to cut their prices by 50%. The price cut enforcers are army men
in camouflage clothes, police in uniform and large numbers of youth
militia.They go from shop to shop and simply pick on items they want reduced
: SLASH THAT PRICE, is the phrase we are hearing again and again and then
products have to be sold for less than they were purchased for. Shop owners
who refuse to cut the prices face arrest and having their goods seized. Some
have been assaulted, others had their premises trashed and windows smashed.

The result of it all, inevitably, is rapid collapse and many goods and foods
have now become completely unavailable including all the staples which were
already difficult to find such as flour, oil, sugar, salt and maize meal.
Joining the list now are most other normal household products in daily use
such as soap, candles, matches, milk, eggs, margarine, rice, bread and the
list grows longer by the hour and day. As the prices are ordered down hordes
of people with bagfuls of money swarm behind and buy up all the stocks.
Shops are displaying signs announcing that only one of each item may be
purchased but entire gangs are moving around in dozens and just cleaning
everything out.

This week in my home town, all types of meat have become completely
unavailable as butchers were ordered to sell for less than half the price
they had paid to abattoirs. One supermarket in the centre of the town was
empty of all goods by mid week, another two were not far behind - both
saying they expected to be out of business in the next few days - a week at
most. In both of these outlets there were aisle after aisle of completely
empty shelves. It was heartbreaking to see pensioners and desperately poor
people looking for bargains but finding none and then looking for basics and
finding none of those either.

Outside a major wholesaler, groups of young men stood around waiting for the
"militia taskforce" to arrive so that they could buy up everything as the
prices were slashed. The car park was nearly full of luxury vehicles -
pajero's, twin cabs, SUV's. even a Lexus - all filled with men talking
incessantly on cellphones and women in tight jeans and artificial hair -
their vehicles already bulging with 'slashed price' goods, many pulling
trailers also stuffed to overflowing.

I went to one almost empty supermarket and stopped near a young policeman in
a pick up truck without number plates that was loaded to the hilt with
'slashed price' goods. It was a bitterly cold morning and a barefoot and
slightly retarded man was sitting on the tar shaking and shivering with
cold. He stretched his hands up to the policeman and said: "Chingwa"
(Bread). The policeman ignored him and turned away, calling out cheerfully
to another young policeman, also in uniform, who was staggering out with
more booty. Again the shivering and barefoot man asked for bread but they
both ignored him. I could not stop tears filling my eyes and although I had
virtually nothing left I bent down and folded a note into his hand; he
clapped his hands in thanks and as I stood up I caught the eye of the young
policeman. There was no compassion or empathy there, just arrogance. For a
moment I remembered how it felt after the farmers and their workers had been
thrown off and someone had helped me when I was utterly desperate. He had
said to me: There but for the grace of God go I. Now there are so many more
in that place of need.

All week as the situation has deteriorated people have been comparing what
is happening now to shops and businesses with what happened to farms. A huge
crisis seems just a few days or perhaps a couple of weeks away, as stocks
dwindle, warehouses empty and we simply run out of food. As I write this
letter the government are continuing to applaud the price cuts and say they
will take over the businesses that close down.

Please keep the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans, particularly the old, sick,
handicapped, frail and unemployed in your prayers in this most shocking
Until next week, with love, cathy

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A letter from the diaspora

Friday 13th july 2007

Dear Friends. 'It's like a lunatic asylum where the inmates have taken
over'. This was one of the descriptions I read of the situation in Zimbabwe
as the economic madness unfolds. Any Zimbabwean following the news from home
this last two weeks from the safety of the diaspora must have wept and
shaken their heads in utter disbelief at what they were hearing and reading.
Gangs of armed police and Gezi Boys roaming around the towns and cities and
forcing shop owners, often at gunpoint, to reduce their prices by 50%; top
businessmen arrested for failing to comply and companies being threatened by
the President with the words, 'Produce or we'll take you over'. I read
somewhere that a lawyer acting for the businessmen and company directors
said his phone was ringing every thirty minutes with desperate calls for

Of course, goods leapt off the shelves as the inevitable happened and the
public descended on the retail outlets like a swarm of locusts, snapping up
everything in sight convinced they were getting bargains whereas in reality
they were being taken in by one enormous con trick. With absolutely no
regard for basic common sense, the government had directed that goods must
be sold at less than the cost of production. It was all beyond belief. My
local Asian newsagent here has a cousin-brother who is a businessman in Zim
and we often talk about things back home. I told him it would be like
someone coming into his shop and ordering him to halve the prices on
everything. He stared back at me, his face a study in disbelief, unable to
comprehend what I was telling him but he should have remembered the ways of
dictators: his wife's family had all been thrown out of Uganda by Idi Amin.

The contrast between what is happening back in Zimbabwe and the 'normal'
life we live here in the diaspora could not be more marked. As chaos
engulfed the streets of Harare and Bulawayo and the other towns and cities,
I sat in the summer sunshine at an open-air cafe drinking a cappuccino and
chatting with my daughter who is visiting me for a few days. She was born
and grew up in Zimbabwe though she hasn't been back for thirteen years. Like
my newsagent friend she can hardly believe what I'm telling her. She has an
MBA and runs a large organization so she knows about how businesses work in
a 'normal' society. ' It's madness' she keeps saying, 'It can never work'
but then you don't need an MBA to realise that, it's not rocket science as a
one-time Zanu politician used to say!
As we sit there in the sunshine drinking our coffee and reading our
newspapers, people walk past doing normal things like going to the shops or
meeting friends for lunch and we are both remembering how life used to be
back home when things were 'normal'. Now, everything has been turned upside
down; all the things we used to take for granted have gone. In Zimbabwe, the
abnormal has become the normal, a life of incredible hardship and suffering
where every day is a struggle just to survive as Mugabe's government quite
deliberately reduces the population to Stone Age scavengers.

Why is he doing it, why is Mugabe destroying the country he took over in
1980? The country that was described as 'the jewel of Africa' whose people
had the highest literacy rate, the best qualified workforce and the
brightest prospects on the continent? Can he who likes to be thought of as
the father of the nation not see the suffering of his people, can he not
hear the cries of the children?
I think about it as I sit with my daughter thousands of miles away from home
and I wonder if life will ever be 'normal' enough to attract the millions of
people in the diaspora to return to the beloved homeland. For myself, I know
that when I left two years ago, I said I would never return while Mugabe and
Zanu PF were still in power. I suspect it's the same for many of us in the
diaspora. We count the months and the years and we wait while an
octogenarian clings onto power and drags the whole country down with him,
like a terrible vengeful spirit bent on destroying what he cannot have and
leaving only ruin and desolation any future leader.

How long can Zimbabwe's agony last? How long before the pent-up fury of the
Zimbabwean people bursts out in a storm of rage that will destroy everyone
and everything in its path? Perhaps only then will Thabo Mbeki and the
African Union finally understand that they should have listened to the cries
of the suffering people instead of the serpent words of Zimbabwe's dictator.
Ndini shamwari yenyu. PH.

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US to expel Zanu PF chefs' children

Zim Standard


      THE United States government will this year deport all children of
senior government and Zanu PF officials once legislation designed for this
specific purpose is signed by President George W Bush, the outgoing US
ambassador told The Standard in an exclusive interview last week.

      Ambassador Christopher Dell said the processing of the deportations
was already at an "advanced stage".

      Dell, who recently foretold the imminent collapse of President Robert
Mugabe's regime due to the economic crisis, said the deportations were
likely to take place before the end of the year.

      "This (it will happen) year. Watch out in the next few weeks," he

      It is estimated that more than 300 children of government and Zanu PF
officials are enjoying "First World" health services and education abroad.

      In contrast, their counterparts, mostly children of poor, often
unemployed and marginalised Zimbabweans, are dying in hospitals because of
an acute shortage of drugs.

      Others, fortunate enough to be in school, attend classes in tobacco
barns or under trees.

      Dell, the feisty diplomat threatened with expulsion from Zimbabwe by
Mugabe himself, leaves the country today after the end of his tour of duty.

      He is expected to take up another posting in Afghanistan this month.

      Dell said the decision to deport children of ruling party's bigwigs
now awaited Bush's Presidential proclamation.

      "It's a decision the President has to make. It requires the
Presidential power of a proclamation," Dell said.

      The envoy, in his three years as the US ambassador, has provoked
Mugabe into openly warning him of dire consequences for his blunt criticism
of the government's intolerance of dissent.

      Dell could not say whether or not the Bush administration had already
identified the children, but sources said they already had the names,
residential addresses and universities the children attend.

      "What is left is for Bush to give the go-ahead by signing the law and
they will pounce on them," said the source. "The authorities (Zanu PF
officials) know it and they are panicking."

      The confirmation of the looming deportations come at a time when "Fair
Deal", a campaign by Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to identify and help
facilitate the expulsion of the chef's children, is said to be gathering

      The campaign - an initiative launched by Zimbabweans in the USA,
Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe - is designed to boost
the "smart sanctions" imposed on Mugabe and his colleagues.

      In a report earlier this year, the International Crisis Group (ICG)
recommended that in order to put pressure on Mugabe to solve the Zimbabwe
crisis, the European Union and the USA could apply travel sanctions on the
family members and business associates on the travel list.

      It also recommended that the EU and the USA could cancel visas and
residence permits of family members of senior government officials.

      Meanwhile, the Combined Harare Residents' Association (Chra) last week
asked the European Union (EU) to place commissioners running the affairs of
Harare on the travel ban list alongside Zanu PF officials.

      Acting CHRA chairperson, Israel Mabhoo, said the commissioners should
"be punished for their involvement with a rogue regime that thrives on
subverting the people's constitutional rights".

      Mabhoo said the letter would also be delivered to the ambassadors of
the USA, Australia and New Zealand in Harare, urging them to apply the
travel restrictions.

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Price blitz: Alarm bells toll for investors

Zim Standard

  By Davison Maruziva

      LAST Thursday, Makro supermarkets in Harare and Bulawayo were raided
by the so-called price monitors. The supermarket chain is South

      The invasions were routinely reported to their headquarters. On
Friday, a top-level delegation led by the Deputy Police Commissioner Godwin
Matanga visited the supermarket in Harare.

      Matanga was accompanied by senior police and army chiefs and
high-ranking officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.

      Later, in interviews with The Standard, officials at Makro's Harare
supermarket said they were asked by Matanga and his delegation who had told
them to slash prices.

      But this was a classic case of the confusion Zimbabweans now know: the
right hand not knowing what the left is doing.

      The South African company must have absorbed the invasion of their
supermarkets with alarm, justifiably so.

      Was their investment safe? Images of the 2000 land invasions must have
flickered darkly in their minds. That aberration had put to rest any
assumption that the government of President Robert Mugabe had any regard for
the sanctity of private property.

      The supermarket invasion may have sent its own sinister message to the
foreign investor. The security of that investment could be subject to the
vagaries of political expediency.

      The panic by the top-level Zimbabwean police, army and Zimra
delegation seems to have been triggered by the alarm in South Africa to the

      The tills have been ringing non-stop ever since the government,
frightened almost out of their wits by a Doomsday prophecy from the outgoing
US ambassador, ordered prices to revert to those at 18 June 2007.

      US Ambassador Christopher Dell, who leaves today at the end of his
tour of duty, predicted Mugabe's government would not last until the end of
the year because "historically, no government in the world has survived a
five or six-digit inflation. Zimbabwe is already enjoying that figure".

      As happened in May 2005 when the government feared a mass uprising and
unleashed Operation Murambatsvina, the government's knee-jerk reaction was
populist move - ordering a sector-wide price slash enforced by the mass
arrests of business leaders - nearly three score by the weekend.

      The country's largest supermarket chains, OK and TM, saw waves of
shoppers clearing all stocks in sight. By the end of last week, empty
shelves had become commonplace.

      Unable to digest what had hit them OK offered the following reaction,
from Albert Katsande: "OK Zimbabwe has fully complied with the government
directive and we continue to engage with our suppliers, and the Ministry of
Industry and Trade."

      Even that compliance did nothing to save the chain's chief executive
officer, Willard Zireva, from arrest.

      TM's Mike Oakley told The Standard: "We at TM are committed to and
have implemented the directive on price stabilisation and continue to bake
and vigorously pursue stock replenishment so as to meet consumer needs."

      There were warnings that forcing businesses to reduce prices by 50%
would drive them out of business and fuel unemployment. But the government
was not listening. Like wildfire, the invasions spread.

      The fear of arrest hung over the shop-owners' heads like the Sword of
Damocles, as they looked on helplessly. Some complied with the order to
exhaust their stock so they could close shop.

      "We cannot be arrested for empty shops," said one terrified foreign
shop owner. Workers were being sent home to await the uncertainty of the

      But the poor don't keep enough cash to make the purchases that were
noticed countrywide. Banks were allowing maximum cash withdrawals of only
$1.5million for individuals but by Wednesday this was raised to $10 million.

      Clients in a long bank queue near Africa Unity Square were ready with
an explanation for the government's change of heart.

      A client behind me - his head wrapped in bandages for wounds from a
recent skirmish for basic commodities - swore the increase in maximum cash
withdrawals was really to serve the interests of the elite. They had the
money to pay for the loaded trolleys they were pushing.

      He was probably right. By Thursday reports from Bulawayo, Harare,
Marondera and the Midlands suggested a frightening pattern: The latest 4x4
vehicles staked out upmarket retail outlets just before the arrival of price
control monitors. Once they arrived it was a free-for-all.

      While some bought the goods for their families, most of the 4x4
brigade seemed out for a quick buck. Several police officers were arrested
for profiting from the chaos: basic commodities disappeared from shelves,
but re-appeared on the parallel market.

      Analysts likened the government action to the 2000 land invasions:
they spawned more poverty and food shortages.

      The question the government has not answered is what will happen when
the manufacturing sector stops production because it cannot afford to import
either raw materials or stocks that require foreign currency?

      Government- threatened wholesale take-overs, industry commentators
said, were only effective on a limited scale.

      Some of the wholesalers raided last week are foreign-owned. The
price-slashing would drive away investors.

      Makro may still be around, but for how much longer?

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Zanu PF old guard want Makoni out

Zim Standard

  By Our Correspondent

      MUTARE - A group of Zanu PF stalwarts is said to be orchestrating
Simba Makoni's ouster from the party after he reportedly told an
international forum of President Robert Mugabe's imminent departure from

      Zanu PF sources said the action against Makoni was likely to be taken
before a special congress to settle the contentious succession issue.

      This will effectively deny Makoni the opportunity to present himself
to the party membership as a presidential hopeful.

      Those campaigning for Makoni's ouster include politicians clamouring
for Mugabe to continue in power, despite mounting economic and political
problems now apparently beyond the control of the octogenarian leader.

      Makoni, a former finance minister, is widely seen both at home and
abroad as one of the best suited individuals to take over from the aging but
defiant Mugabe.

      Highly-placed sources said the heavyweights want Makoni suspended from
the party for comments he made while in South Africa, that Mugabe would be
made to step down before the end of the year.

      "These old men want to suspend Makoni from the party," a senior Zanu
PF official from Harare Province said. "They are saying he was not supposed
to talk about sensitive party matters in a foreign country."

      Sources said those eager to thwart young promising party politicians
like Makoni include Didymus Mutasa, Nicholas Goche, Eliot Manyika, Oppah
Muchinguri and Saviour Kasukuwere.

      There was no immediate comment from Mutasa, the ruling party's
secretary for administration.

      The sources said Mugabe was also angered by Makoni and was determined
to ensure he was punished.

      Makoni allegedly told delegates attending the World Economic Forum in
Cape Town, South Africa last month that the ruling party was on the
threshold of re-launching itself.

      Makoni, the only senior Zanu PF official invited to the forum, told
delegates that change was imminent within Zanu PF and the country as there
was now a consensus within the party that a rebuilding process had to take
place in Zimbabwe.

      The process would culminate in Mugabe stepping down, Makoni reportedly

      Information and Publicity minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, branded him a
"sell-out" similar to the infamous Rhodesian Selous Scouts.

      "In any revolution there are sell-outs," Ndlovu said. "Some of the
Selous Scouts were blacks. You would expect that a member of a party would
know what channels to use to air their grievances if they do not see eye to
eye with the leader of their party."

      But last week Makoni hit back by telling the media: "I have
contributed more to this country than those who now claim to be custodians
of what it means to be a Zimbabwean. To mask poverty and the misery of our
people can never be what determines patriotism."

      Attempts by pro-Mugabe loyalists to have Makoni ousted from the ruling
party coincide with reports linking Makoni to a Zanu PF party faction led by
former army commander Retired General Solomon Mujuru.

      Zanu PF sources said Makoni is tipped to take over the leadership of a
new and reformed Zanu PF because of his "highly respectable profile".

      He had Mujuru's full backing, the sources said.

      Mujuru is said to lead a Zanu PF faction made up of individuals
considered to be moderates, who include academics and business people.

      But if Makoni were suspended from the party he would then not be
eligible to present himself as a presidential hopeful at a crucial
conference in December.

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Prices blitz: millers warn of closures

Zim Standard

  By Kholwani Nyathi

      BULAWAYO - The southern parts of the country have been hit by a
critical shortage of maize-meal at a time when most alternative foodstuffs
have disappeared from shop shelves, after the government forced wholesalers
and retailers to roll back prices.

      Grain Millers' Association of Zimbabwe members in the southern region
told The Standard they last received regular maize supplies from the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) almost a month ago.

      They said the shortages had been worsened by the government's ongoing
controversial price blitz, which has been extended to producers of packaging

      The GMB blamed the shortages on the need to move maize from the
northern to the southern region, where harvests were almost a write-off last

      On Thursday afternoon, the GMB Bulawayo depot received limited
supplies of maize, which millers said was not enough to sustain their
operations for more than two days.

      They said the supplies would do little to ease the shortages.

      "Since last week our trucks have been queuing at the GMB depot," said
a miller who requested anonymity, "waiting for maize deliveries and it's
only today that they have started distributing maize.

      "But this is only a drop in the ocean because people will be forced to
hoard maize-meal as they anticipate the situation to get worse."

      A small-scale miller at Sipepa business centre in rural Tsholotsho
said most millers in rural Matabeleland would be forced to wind up
businesses because of the government's price reduction blitz.

      "We have unsuccessfully lobbied the GMB to allow the National Railways
of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to offload maize in strategic areas along the railway line
from Zambia so that we cut down on costs," the businessman said. "With these
new controls it is going to be very difficult for us to continue milling
because we will be operating at a huge loss."

      Bulawayo residents who spoke to The Standard said the current maize
meal shortages came at the wrong time as they could not find alternatives
such as rice and samp from the supermarkets.

      Others said they were now relying on relatives from as far as Harare
to send them maize-meal.

      But GMB acting chief executive officer, Samuel Muvuti, insisted there
was enough maize to feed the whole country.

      "There is a lot of maize in the country and we are moving a lot of it
to Bulawayo," he said. "Maybe the delays are caused by the fact that we have
to move the maize from the north."

      The government ordered retailers to slash the price of maize-meal from
about $240 000 for 10kg to $49 216. Zimbabwe recorded a huge maize deficit
during the last agriculture season and is battling to import enough grain to
feed the country.

      Last week, Malawi announced it was exporting 400 000 tonnes of maize
to Zimbabwe, 600 000 tonnes less than what Harare had been expecting.

      The huge maize deficit has been blamed on the government's chaotic
land reform programme seven years ago, which displaced many productive

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. . .As business plans audit

Zim Standard

  By our staff

      BULAWAYO - The business community will this week launch an audit of
the impact of the government's ongoing price reduction blitz, which last
week saw many traders shutting down after widespread looting.

      The audit comes amid signs that the government is losing control of
the so-called crack teams now leading the looting of shops.

      In a bizarre case, riot police on Friday repelled suspected police
officers who tried to loot Jaggers Store in Bulawayo.

      In Harare, anti-riot police unleashed dogs on fellow policemen and
soldiers last week as members of the uniformed forces jostled with civilians
for scarce cooking oil on sale at a city shop.

      At the corner of Park Street and Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, there were
chaotic scenes as thousands of people besieged Afro Food, a retail shop
selling cooking oil slashed to $80 000.

      A Standard photographer who captured the chaotic scenes, Boldwill
Hungwe, was arrested and beaten up by the police. He was later released
without charge.

      But the mayhem continued as police fought running battles with an
unlikely group in broad daylight: their own colleagues, soldiers and prison

      There were four large queues: uniformed forces, civil servants and two
for civilians.

      A large consignment of cooking oil had been discovered by a crack team
of inspectors on Monday.

      Civilians laughed and cheered as police dogs were set on soldiers and
police officers. One woman police officer fell down as a huge Alsation
pursued her. She was saved from a severe mauling by her colleagues.

      In Bulawayo, a number of furniture shops were forced to shut down
temporarily, after their stock was wiped out in the wake of visits by the
now dreaded price monitoring teams.

      But most businesspeople refused to make public statements on the
clampdown, saying they were still in a state of shock.

      Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) vice-president, Obert
Sibanda told The Standard the audit would seek to establish the number of
companies unlikely to recover after the clampdown.

      "We will only know the impact of this exercise next week after an
assessment is completed, probably on Monday," Sibanda said.

      He said the chamber had resolved to centralise to Harare the handling
of distress calls from members targeted during the operation.

      The business community has so far refused to criticise the operation,
with some saying they feared government reprisals, similar to those against
white commercial farmers who resisted the land invasions.

      But a number of businesspeople in Bulawayo were overwhelmed after
hordes of people invaded their shops and bought merchandise at give-away

      At the South African-owned Makro, shoppers offloaded 30 tonnes of
imported washing soap as it arrived, before cleaning up the store of
television sets and deep freezers.

      "This is looting and there is no way we can restock," said one of the
shop managers.

      The Minister of Small to Medium Development Enterprises Development,
Si-thembiso Nyoni's husband, Peter Baka Nyoni, dragged to court by the
so-called crack teams, told a public meeting on Thursday his fast food shops
faced a bleak future.

      "The consequence of these reductions is that manufacturers and
retailers will not be able to replenish their stocks," Nyoni complained.
"The exercise has been very hostile to many businesspeople."

      Nyoni, a chicken farmer in Matabeleland South, said stock feed was now
in short supply as the taskforce tried to stop bulk buying.

      Businesses were also hit hard after the so-called crack teams tried to
stop service stations from selling fuel to residents who subscribe to the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Direct Fuel Import (DFI) scheme.

      "I had fuel coupons worth 100 British pounds but the taskforce has
since last Saturday been barring the service station from giving us the
fuel," said Brilliant Mhlanga, a lecturer at the National University of
Science and Technology. "This shows that the government no longer has
respect for property rights and it is also a sign of dereliction of duty by
policy makers."

      Meanwhile, a senior police officer admitted at a Small to Medium
Enterprises workshop in Bulawayo last week that some members of the
so-called crack teams were looting shops and warned businesspeople to double
check their identities.

      "It is advisable that if you have any queries on the inspector's
credibility you should take down the person's details on the identification
card and if it is a police officer take down the force number," Mthokozisi
Manzini-Moyo, a crime prevention officer warned.

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European Commission donates to children

Zim Standard

  By bertha Shoko

      THE European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Department (DG ECHO) has
boosted support to a programme to improve the protection of orphaned and
vulnerable children across Zimbabwe in the past year with a US$800 000
donation to Unicef.

      The contribution has improved the lives of orphans and vulnerable
children (OVC) through: enhancing peer education; outreach to vulnerable
young people by youth volunteers; HIV/Aids awareness, prevention and the
risks faced by adolescent girls and provision of basic emergency non-food

      "This support from the EC's Humanitarian Aid Department has ensured
well-organised and proficient use of aid, and thus we reach a greater number
of Zimbabwe's children," said Unicef's representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Festo

      "With growing problems and limited funds, it is vital we get maximum
impact with every penny we spend - that's what this does."

      The contribution of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid
Department is a unique donation, as it also includes nationwide coordination
of activities within the nutrition and water and sanitation sectors.

      Training on Code of Conduct and prevention of sexual and gender-based
violence had also been conducted with humanitarian workers. This will
further enhance the protection of Zimbabwe's orphaned and vulnerable

      The funds came at a time when many families and communities continued
to struggle with the consequences of a diminishing economy and access to
basic services, the aftermath of successive years of drought and the impact
of the Aids pandemic on children.

      Zimbabwe has the world's highest percentage of children orphaned by
the pandemic and despite falls in HIV, still has the world's fourth worst
HIV/Aids prevalence rate.

      Commenting on their efforts and support to Zimbabwe's orphaned and
vulnerable children, the head of the European Commission Delegation,
Ambassador Xavier Marchal said: "This support addresses the urgent care and
protection needs of orphans and other vulnerable children. We will continue
to do so in these times of great

      The funding also includes a youth programme that encourages and trains
young people to buoy their communities by working alongside home-based
carers for the chronically ill and orphans. Young People We Care volunteers
help households in their communities, most of them affected by HIV/Aids, by
growing food, doing household chores and playing and comforting young people
in these households.

      Since 2004, the EC and its Humanitarian Aid Department have donated
8.15 million euros through Unicef's programmes. The funds have been directed
to households with chronically ill adults and orphans and vulnerable

      Ambassador Marchal noted that total funding given through Unicef in
just the past two years for long-term programmes stands at 4.55 million

      In August 2006 the EC donated 3.75 million euros to Unicef to improve
water and sanitation facilities, including hygiene education, which will
benefit 660 000 rural Zimbabweans.

      Additionally, earlier this year, 800 000 euros were donated to combat
the exploitation and lack of birth certificates for children.
      In addition to this current emergency programme (of 600 000 euros),
between 2004 and 2005, the EC Humanitarian Aid Department funded 3.6 million
euros through Unicef, benefiting a total of more than 300 000 orphans.

      These programmes have boosted activities which provided water and
sanitation services, secondary care in households that are hardest hit by
Aids, care and mitigation activities for OVC and the coordination of the
water and sanitation and nutrition sectors.

      "These funds mitigate many of the hardships facing Zimbabwe's most
vulnerable children," said, Kavishe. "On behalf of the children in rural
communities of Zimbabwe, I would like to thank the European Commission as
well as its Humanitarian Aid Department for this generous support."


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150 seek asylum in Botswana

Zim Standard


      BULAWAYO - One hundred and fifty Zimbabweans have sought political
asylum in Botswana since the beginning of the year, as state-sanctioned
violence against government opponents continues unabated, The Standard has

      Botswana has been home to thousands of Zimbabwean economic refugees,
particularly since the land invasions of 2000 plunged the economy into its
worst crisis since independence.

      Along with South Africa, Botswana is one of the neighbouring countries
hardest hit by an influx of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants, who are regularly
deported back to their country.

      A spokesman in President Festus Mogae's office, David Sediadie, told
the media in that country last week the Zimbabwean asylum seekers were being
held at the Dukwe refugee centre in northern Botswana, awaiting the
processing of their applications.

      "This is a very sensitive issue," he said, "but I can confirm that we
have received applications for political asylum from 150 Zimbabweans so

      Despite a number of protests by Botswana MPs over its handling of the
Zimbabwean situation, the Botswana government has so far refrained from
criticising President Robert Mugabe's government openly.

      A number of Batswana MPs several months ago called for the government
to shut down its embassy in Harare.

      The government continues to deport hundreds of Zimbabwean economic
refugees every month. The illegal immigrants quickly find their way back
through undesignated entry points.

      In the past, Zimbabweans escaping political repression at home have
sought asylum in the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New

      But these countries have tightened their immigration laws.

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Magistrates duck Chikafu trial

Zim Standard

  By Caiphas Chimhete

      FORMER Manicaland area prosecutor Levison Chikafu, charged with
corruption and fraud, was last week further remanded to next month after
magistrates recused themselves from the trial.

      The trial was last month moved from Mutare to Harare after Chikafu
complained he would not get a fair trial in Mutare due to political

      Chikafu, who has prosecuted senior government officials, was last week
further remanded out of custody to 20 August.

      Harare regional magistrate Lillian Kudya remanded him because the
State was not ready and there was no magistrate to preside over the case.

      Soon after the remand Chikafu, who was not represented, said he
understood the magistrates' predicament.

      A number of magistrates, including Kudya, have recused themselves from
presiding over the matter.

      Last month Masvingo provincial magistrate, Herbert Mangate, who was
presiding over the trial in Mutare, asked to be taken off a case involving
the top public prosecutor, without giving reasons.

      But sources said some government officials were pressuring him to
convict Chikafu.

      Chief magistrate Herbert Mandeya, through his secretary, could not
comment, demanding questions in writing.

      The State is alleging that Chikafu destroyed court records and enabled
undeserving suspects to obtain bail.

      It also alleges that Chikafu and a prison officer, Wilson Sengu,
solicited money from two murder suspects, Terrence Katsidzira and Richard
Muparutsa, with promises that he would facilitate bail for them.

      Chikafu, who has denied all the charges, ruffled feathers when he
charged Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick
Chinamasa with attempting to defeat the course of justice.

      Chinamasa was accused of attempting to put pressure on a key witness
in a case against the Minister of State for Security, Didymus Mutasa.

      Chikafu took up the case after other prosecutors recused themselves,
fearing to prosecute Chinamasa, effectively their boss.

      Chinamasa was subsequently acquitted.

      Chikafu dominated the headlines when he pushed for the police to
arrest Central Intelligence Organisation agent, Joseph Mwale, for allegedly
petrol-bombing a vehicle carrying two opposition Movement for Democratic
Change party activists, Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya, in the run-up
to the 2000 general election.

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Drugs price shock for the sick

Zim Standard

  By Caiphas Chimhete

      MOST pharmacies have increased the price of drugs, some by over 200%
in the past two weeks, pushing them beyond the reach of ordinary patients
and making a mockery of efforts by the government to control the price of
basic commodities.

      People who spoke to The Standard last week said they were shocked by
the sudden increase in the prices of drugs.

      Even the prices of anti-retroviral (ARVs) drugs are beyond the reach
of ordinary people with HIV and Aids.

      Basic drugs such as flumel, which cost $80 000 are now $250 000,
Brufen (common pain killer) went up to $390 000 from $114 000.

      At a pharmacy in Warren Park, Norethusteroine, which was going for
$290 000 in some pharmacies in the city centre was being sold at $900 000.

      Other drugs that have gone up include Nephedipine for hypertension,
insulin for diabetes as well as antibiotics such as Amoxyllin and

      Christine Tsvarai of Warren Park said she failed to buy Brufen tablets
for her mother who suffers from a severe headache.

      "I buy these tablets regularly but I was shocked when I was told that
they are now going for $390 000. Why should painkillers be that expensive?"
she said.

      Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with Hiv/Aids president
Benjamin Mazhindu, urged the government to slash the prices of ARVs as well.

      "I also want a situation where all our members are able to access
ARVs. I can't say much now because I am still to see if the government has
also directed the reduction of prices of ARVs," he said.

      Most HIV/Aids patients are now unable to buy the drugs from the
private pharmacies. Between 300 000 and 500 000 need ARVs in the country but
only 60 000 are accessing them under a government roll-out programme.

      The government, in a desperate move seen by some as a vote-catching
gimmick but by others as a genuine attempt to cushion the people against
rising prices, recently announced a 50% slash in prices of basic

      Some retailers have responded by withdrawing the products from the

      The president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe (PSZ) Ishe
Nkomo said all pharmacies must abide by the government's directive to slash

      "We got a circular and all our members have slashed prices. They have
reverted to price levels obtaining as of 18 June," said Nkomo, whose society
has over 150 members.

      But when The Standard told Nkomo that it had just visited the
pharmacies and prices were still high, he said: "It might be that other
pharmacies are slow in adjusting their prices."

      The Cabinet task force on Price Monitoring and Stabilisation
chairperson Obert Mpofu could not be reached for comment.

      Galloping inflation, now hovering 4 500%, and a scarcity of foreign
currency have crippled the country's health sector, creating shortages of
drugs and medical equipment.

      A huge percentage of qualified medical personnel have also migrated in
search of better salaries and living conditions.

      In what analysts describe as populist move, the government recently
ordered all companies to revert to prices as of 18 June.

      Even parastatals such as the Air Zimbabwe, NetOne, TelOne and the
Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) have reverted to the old pricing

      But analysts say the price controls were a recipe for an economic

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Blueprint for dairy industry revival planned

Zim Standard

  By Jennifer Dube

      PROFESSOR Ntombizakhe Mpofu of Lupane State University is to lead a
four-member team in compiling a blueprint to resuscitate the dairy industry,
in the doldrums for the past 17 years.

      Mpofu, chairperson of the university's department of agricultural
sciences, was elected at a recent National Dairy Symposium in Harare.

      Other members include Dairibord Holdings Limited's Theodora Nyamandi,
Ajs Kirk, chairman of the National Association of Dairy Farmers and Bothwell
Makodza, acting director of the Ministry of Agriculture's division of
livestock production and veterinary services.

      The team is expected to compile a blueprint based on resolutions
adopted at the two-day symposium.

      The symposium resolved to increase milk production from the current 90
million litres a year to 150 million litres in the short term and 240
million litres by 2010.

      Currently, milk production is on the decline, having tumbled from a
peak of 256 million litres in 1990 to a paltry 90 million litres last year
and this year.

      According to Dairibord Holdings group chief executive, Antony
Mandiwanza, a massive drop in the dairy herd from 191 000 cows in 1990 to 33
000 at present largely accounted for the decline in milk production.

      Mandiwanza said the number of milk producers dropped from 514 in 1990
to 278, while that of registered milk processors tumbled from 90 to 34 in
the same period.

      Mandiwanza said the massive drop was depriving the country of a
potential US$65 million from dairy exports. The symposium concluded that the
blueprint should enable the adoption of a holistic approach for a successful
revival of the dairy sector.

      Importing more cattle alone would not be the solution as the sector
faced a plethora of inhibitive factors, chief among them land insecurity and
price disparities, the symposium said.

      The government recently launched a livestock restocking programme to
increase the national dairy herd by 20% a year.

      Although welcoming the restocking exercise, participants noted that
the industry was facing numerous other constraints which needed immediate
attention for a quick revival of the sector.

      It is understood that the reduction of land under dairy farming
contributed to the industry's current misfortunes as an estimated 80% of
current dairy farmers had their farm sizes forcibly reduced since the
inception of the government-orchestrated land reform exercise of 2000.

      There was a general concern that most of the remaining land was
unbankable as most farmers had no security of tenure.

      A call was also made for the establishment of a pricing system that
would encourage the growth of the sector. It was suggested that
self-regulation of the sector be allowed or an independent body like the
National Economic Consultative Forum be brought into the existing pricing
model which is largely biased towards government.

      Mandiwanza said: "Zimbabwe currently has the highest cost of milk
production yet the prices are not reflective of that. This is a challenge
which needs to be addressed if viability of the sector is to be ensured".

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NSSA shelves health scheme

Zim Standard


      BULAWAYO - The National Social Security (NSSA) has suspended the
proposed National Health Insurance Scheme which was set to be launched on 1
July "due to resistance over its unpopularity", it was confirmed last week.

      The scheme was set to be launched in accordance with Statutory
Instrument 129 of 2007 of the NSSA (Accident Prevention and Workers'
Compensation Scheme) (Prescribed Matters) (Amendment) Notice, 2007 (No.8)

      Amod Takawira, NSSA acting general manager said the scheme was
suspended because there was "need (for the NSSA) to consult first as we
believe that it was not sold out to the country's workers, hence widespread

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Zim Standard

  THE departure last week of the head of what at one time was one of
the most successful government enterprises, the Agricultural and Rural
Development Authority (ARDA), was long overdue.

      Ever since Dr Liberty Mhlanga retired, ARDA has consistently remained
on its death bed. The previous minister in charge of agriculture must
shoulder the blame for benign negligence in the oversight exercised over the

      The tragedy is that the MPs in whose constituencies the 25 ARDA
estates are dotted across the country, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee
on Agriculture, and the opposition all apparently saw nothing wrong with the
unprecedented collapse of activities at the estates.

      ARDA was intended to prove, among other things, leadership in how
agriculture could become a critical vehicle for development. Instead, it
pioneered disaster and will provide fertile material for case studies by

      Little men strode like the giant Colossus, as if the earth on which
they walked owed its very existence to them, while every ARDA estate around
them went to the dogs. Estates like Nyamazura were given up for
resettlement - an admission of utter failure! Particularly irksome was
failure to at least maintain what was inherited.

      In this part of the continent, ARDA could easily be a vehicle for
demonstrating that with rapid expansion in agriculture, growth and poverty
reduction can be attained. In fact, ever since independence, the various
schemes run by the parastatal could have formed the nucleus of clusters
working with adjacent farmers through technical support and farming
expertise - a model far removed from the chaotic nonsense that has landed
this country with food deficits.

      In the early 1980s projects such as Sanyati provided examples of the
far-reaching possibilities ARDA estates had in transforming rural
communities and providing a magnate for other businesses to invest in the
respective areas.

      The potential for empowering rural communities, creating opportunities
and transforming lifestyles makes the collapse of the projects under the
parastatal criminal.

      In relieving the head of the parastatal of his duties on the basis of
poor performance and mismanagement, the new Minister of Agriculture appears
to have signalled his impatience with under-performers. In this country the
more the propensity to bungle things, the more secure one is in his
position! The Minister, in this, is demonstrating he will not give succour
to incompetence.

      There are several other parastatals under his ministry whose
performance is not much different to ARDA's. He needs to wield the axe.
Taxpayers expect results, not excuses for failing to deliver. Those who fail
must understand that failure has a price.

      The changes at ARDA provide a precedent for resolving the perennial
crises at the oldest institution of higher learning in the country - the
University of Zimbabwe.

      Last week's summary eviction of students from the campus on the eve of
end of semester examinations and at half an hour's notice demonstrates
insensitivity and a dearth of creativity.

      Universities are centres for learning and critical inquiry. They
should never be arenas for combat with riot police.

      Among those evicted from the campus are students who come from outside
Harare and have no relatives in the capital, and those who apparently had
paid the additional $1 million the UZ is demanding.

      The authorities should have billed the students for the next semester.
However, an administration that believes disrupting students' progress is an
option vindicates the view that the wrong people have been entrusted to run
the country's oldest institution of higher learning. ARDA's case shows what
should happen to such people.

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Killing the corrupt may be extreme, but it works

Zim Standard

  sundayopinion by Bill

      THE Chinese have executed corrupt officials before the latest
government-sanctioned murder - as the anti-death penalty league would call
it - of another top official involved in the marketing of deadly drugs which
killed people.

      He was alleged to have allowed to be marketed drugs which had been
corrupted deliberately by the manufacturers, apparently with his connivance,
in exchange for kickbacks.

      For this heinous crime, they killed him.

      There is no profit in debating capital punishment as a deterrent here.
There is very little evidence that putting human beings to death for killing
other human beings - except in self-defence or during a war - will deter
others from doing so.

      The Chinese regime, being atheist, has no qualms in dealing with
murderers, especially those in key government institutions who do wrong for

      There is much official and unofficial corruption in China today. Much
of it is fuelled by a new brand of greed, itself spawned by a burgeoning

      The get-rich-quick bug has bitten so many ordinary Chinese most will
not hesitate to sacrifice their remaining morals for a new stretch-limo
direct from Detroit, or a 30-bedroom mansion in the classiest suburb of

      Although Africa seems to be in love with many things Chinese -
including the cheap, in both price and quality, zhing-zhong products - that
country's formula for tackling corruption has not caught on among our

      Take Zimbabwe: there is official and unofficial corruption, otherwise
the economy wouldn't be in this deep, stinking hole of deprivation.

      The government may use sanctions, greedy captains of industry and
equally greedy foreign currency dealers, as scapegoats. But, right from the
beginning, it was a selfish, corrupt, greedy, cruel and uncaring government
which made the fatal mistakes which led to this hell on earth the people are
now trudging through, eternally.

      The government's attitude towards official corruption was always
anchored in Zanu PF cronyism.

      If you were in the party, and plundered billions of State funds, there
was a good chance you could get away with it.

      If, like a number of mostly young, go-getting and fearless
entrepreneurs, you incurred the wrath of the party mandarins by not shouting
the party slogan loud enough to bring the heavens down, and instead
whispered mild criticism of The Leader and The Party, then they hounded you
out of the country.

      They lumped you with The Enemy and called on everybody, including the
ancestral spirits, to shun you and your clan, like the plague. They might
even contrive to take over your businesses, on some feeble pretext, as they
are doing now with the businesses of, again young people, in this latest
Wild West confrontation over prices.

      Someone very high up in the government committed the initial blunder
which plunged the economy into the present quagmire. It was at the very
beginning of independence.

      If Zanu PF, which controls the government like a puppeteer, had set
the pace in dealing ruthlessly with corruption then, we would not be in this
stinking hole today.

      The rot started when most of the people just out of the bush decided
they had to "catch up". Some amassed wealth illicitly, their excuse being
they were fighting for freedom while others were making money.

      This culture of justifying corruption became so ingrained in the
leadership only when it was too late did President Robert Mugabe speak of it

      By then the dastardly deed had been done. He himself had people close
to him at whom accusing fingers were being pointed.

      Execution for corruption then might have been extreme, but probably
justified. But the "see no evil, hear no evil" alternative adopted landed us
in the shit-hole we are in now - so despised by most of the world our
leaders ought to publicly hang their heads in shame.

      Or do the honourable, Japanese thing - Harakiri.

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'Mugabe's victory will be achieved through terror'

Zim Standard

  sundayview by Judith

      AFTER these elections (1-2 July 1985) I received a letter from Mohamed
Kellou, who had been Algeria's first ambassador to Zimbabwe, asking for more

      We had become close friends and he had helped soothe our way through
Zimbabwe's first heartbreaks by relating his own experiences of the grim
inevitability of, as he put it, the "children of revolution eating one

      Now his diplomatic career over, he was practising law in Algeria and
France, but remained deeply interested in Zimbabwe. I replied:

      Yes, Chris Andersen is the only non-Zanu PF member of the Cabinet. By
the time of the elections he had broken away from the Rhodesian Front and
then from the IZG, was thus acceptable to the Prime Minister and stood
successfully as an Independent. Yes, you unerringly put your finger on our
Prime Minister's major - as he sees it - problem by saying that you wanted
to know about what you call his "successful but non-sufficient victory" to
achieve his goal of a one-party state.

      He was furious that CAZ won 15 seats and therefore can deprive him of
the 70 seats he needs in Parliament to change the Constitution and implement
a one-party state.

      Let me tell you about a friend of mine, Dr Isaac Nyathi. He is an
economist trained in the Soviet Union, and was Zapu representative to
Scandinavia, then joint chairman with Dr Bernard Chidzero, now our Minister
of Finance, on joint Patriotic Front/Unesco surveys of the future of

      Nyathi ran Nitram, a company set up to promote the welfare of Zipra
ex-combatants and was arrested with (Dumiso) Dabengwa and company, charged
with treason, found innocent, detained, released about a month ago, and
couldn't get work since.

      He had the courage to stand in these elections against Dr Callistus
Ndlovu, who left PF Zapu to join Zanu PF maybe two years ago and was almost
immediately appointed a Minister as a reward by our Prime Minister.

      Nyathi and Ndlovu stood against each other in our "free and fair"
election in Bulilima-Mangwe constituency which centres on Plumtree, near the
Botswana border. They are cousins. Callistus got 923 votes and Isaac got 31
334. Callistus has now been appointed again as a Senator by (Robert) Mugabe
and is a minister - with less than one thousand votes?

      The Prime Minister Robert Mugabe now gives the impression that he is
Zimbabwe and anyone who voted against his party voted against Zimbabwe. He
has his own six seats to appoint to the Senate. One of them was held by
Denis Norman, former Minister of Agriculture. He has been sacked. Mugabe
gives him praise for the wonderful work he did "but . . . as the farmers
voted for CAZ" he is punishing them for this by casting off Denis Norman.

      So, you ask, how can the Prime Minister achieve the one-party state
without his seventy votes in Parliament? He will do it through terror. This
was unleashed through the Harare high-density suburbs and other parts of the
country just as soon as the election results were announced.

      He made a speech, broadcast in Shona, "Goborai zvigutswa!" stating
that loyal people should stump the fields and tear the weeds from their
gardens. So hundreds of men and women went on the rampage, burning, looting
and attacking whom they thought were members of "minority parties". People
were killed.

      One man a UANC Bishop Muzorewa supporter, who was terribly beaten,
managed to crawl into the shell of his destroyed house, got paraffin, poured
it over his body, set himself alight. Dead, at last, as ordered by Mugabe.

      Now all the people from the high-density suburbs are being required to
buy Zanu PF membership cards just as were all the people from the rural
areas devastated earlier by 5 Brigade.

      After the elections the Prime Minister announced that all those who
were not Zanu PF in the civil service would be "rooted out" and in my own
work it has become clear that even integrated groups of ex-combatants are
suffering raids to "root out" former members of Zipra. One group from a
co-operative in Harare was yesterday called in by CIO for questioning. Quite
deliberately, I think, they were taken through a room where they say two of
their comrades had been beaten to a groaning pulp.

      I got another message this morning about three others... But you
multiply these messages from all over, and all I can do, Mohamed, is answer
your question about "the non-sufficient victory" through the Lancaster
House. Mugabe's eventual victory will now be achieved through terror . . .

      One day our Prime Minister himself maybe a victim in need of help but
at present he is the one steering us toward unmitigated disaster. He has
appointed Enos Nkala as Minister of Home Affairs. Nkala loathes Joshua
Nkomo. This puts Nkala in charge of the police and the dreaded PISI - Police
Internal Security and Intelligence - which was created under his
predecessor, Ushewokunze. Simbi Mubako, who held the post of Home Affairs,
was switched with Nkala - Mubako is now Minister of National Supplies. I
shouldn't think Mubako is very happy.

      The Prime Minister has said that he is not against the Ndebele. He
says that only Dr Nkomo and Zapu are the enemies. Nkomo has had all his guns
removed, and his bodyguards arrested. At the opening of Parliament he went
up to the Prime Minister to shake hands. The PM didn't rise from his seat.
Then Nkomo greeted everyone else. I think he is trying to be reconciliatory
as is, I think, Smith's party, the CAZ. It's just such a pity that Smith is
still around himself.

      Nkomo was reported in The Sunday Mail of 7 July 1985 as saying that
the election results have been a tragedy and indicate that Zanu PF rule over
the past five years has divided the country into tribal and racial groupings
with, as things stand now, the Coloureds and Indians finding it difficult to
fit anywhere . . .

      He said there had been serious manipulation of the voting figures, but
even so, Mugabe's Zanu PF didn't get one seat in Matabeleland and Nkomo was
asked why. He replied forthrightly that the killings and torture perpetrated
in the region had made people react by voting against the party which
perpetrated these evils.

      I am fortunate to be bound in work which is, or should be, totally
demanding. I enclose a news clipping which will give you an idea of what the
Zimbabwe Project is doing. We never really intended to be so presumptuous as
to try and reconcile members of the three former armies (two liberation and
one Rhodesian) but we don't discriminate in our training schemes and our
work has been important in helping comrades from Zanla, Zanu PF and Zipra,
PF Zapu, to get to know each other and work together.

      The co-op mentioned in this clip, Pfungwa Imwe, represents the
ex-combatants taking a giant step forward themselves by having former Zanla,
Zipra and Rhodesian in their organisation, but that was their triumph, not
ours although it's true that we managed to help.

      Excerpt from Judith Todd's latest book, Through the Darkness, A Life
in Zimbabwe, available from

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ZEC must protect people's rights to enrol and vote

Zim Standard

  THE on-going voter
registration exercise should, ideally, be the first step towards ensuring
popular participation in governance issues by all citizens who are 18 years
and above.

      When implemented transparently and with wide consultation, the
exercise should form the basis on which a country can build or consolidate
its mutation into a full democracy. This therefore, requires that the
exercise of registering new voters and updating of information on those
already registered be a transparent, thorough and democratic endeavour
absolved from the pitfalls of negligent workmanship, electoral chicanery or
any cosmetic and superficial "renovations" that seek to portray the system
as normal when, in fact, it is not.

      Voters' rolls are a fundamental component of any voting system. Rolls
constitute the official list of electors and are prima facie evidence of
electors' right to vote. Registration procedures, therefore, need to strike
the right balance between the need to be rigorous to ensure integrity of the
rolls, and the need for flexibility to ensure that peoples' rights to enrol
and vote are protected.

      Thus, there is a delicate balance that must be maintained to ensure
both the franchise of all voters and to prevent voter fraud. A thorough and
fair registration exercise would avert cases of electoral fraud such as the
Harare South electoral fraud case, which Margaret Dongo won in the high
court in1995.

      The voter registration should be premised on the principles of
inclusiveness, fairness, comprehensiveness, and flexibility to extend dates
of registration in order that the process caters for all would-be voters.
The exercise should include the process of verifying potential voters, and
entering their names and other substantiating information on a voters list.
For the registration to be fair, comprehensive and inclusive, potential
voters must be aware of the registration process and have reasonable
opportunity to complete it.

      It is in this context that Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) should
have ensured that the office of the Registrar of Voters comes up with an
updated voters' roll before any registration of new voters was undertaken,
and such a list should have been availed to all stakeholders for inspection
and thorough scrutiny. This is important in two ways. Firstly, because it
defies logic to just add new voters on a list that is already corrupt and
littered with glaring inaccuracies.

      Secondly, because an updated voters' roll at the beginning of the
exercise would provide guidelines as to the actual number of registered
voters in the country, and if used with other citizen registers from the
Registrar-General's office, could provide valuable information on the number
of people eligible to vote but are not yet registered. These would form the
target group for the voter registration exercise and provide justification
for the time needed to undertake the exercise and the amount of human
capital needed to effectively carry out the programme.

      In South Africa, before the 2004 general election, the Independent
Election Commission (IEC) came up with updated statistics on the number of
people eligible to vote in the election (27 million people), those
registered to vote (20.5 million) and the target for new registration (6.5

      This also happened in Zambia during the registration exercise for the
2006 election. The Electoral Commission of Zambia revealed the numbers of
voters who they targeted during their registration exercise. Such statistics
are invaluable for planning purposes in terms of how many people to deploy
and the amount of time needed to complete such an exercise. Apart from
enabling planning, the statistics would give the process an aura of

      As it is with our situation, no one knows the target group of the
on-going exercise, the amount of people projected to benefit from the
exercise and whether the cut-off date of 17 August 2007 is feasible with
regards to the number of people intending to register.

      As for Zambia again, upon completion of the registration exercise, the
Commission also publicised the number of the actual voters they had managed
to register and the statistics of those who had just checked their names and
registered as new voters.

      The above recommendations could have been considered had ZEC embarked
on widespread consultative meetings with stakeholders prior to the
commencement of the exercise.

      In the on-going registration exercise, broad consultations should have
taken place between the election management body, the ZEC, the Registrar of
Voters' office and all stakeholders. Consultations could have tried to
harness ideas, complaints, expectations and recommendations on how the
exercise could be effectively undertaken from members of the public, civic
society, political parties and other regional bodies whose experience of
running similar exercises could be invaluable.

      To enhance such consultation, the updated voters' roll should be
available to all interested stakeholders, in particular, political parties.
This could have led to proper time and human resource allocation so that the
process could be as smooth and effective as is possible.

      Already, visits made by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
to Nyachuru and Copley schools in Mazowe district of Mashonaland Central
province have revealed technical hiccups that could have been avoided had
consultative meetings and projections on the number of new voters been
carried out prior to the exercise. Registration was observed to be slow
owing to the shortage of national identity card waiting passes as well as
bad weather that affected the taking and processing of pictures for the
identity cards.

      The ZESN observer team also observed long queues at most of the
centres visited, raising genuine concerns as to whether all these people
could be registered before the team moves on to the next centres. In some
cases, like Rusvingo in Highfield, the voter registration team was not even
available on 4 July 2007 as advertised in the Herald 16 June 2007.

      In spite of the noted problems in the way the current exercise has
taken off, there is need for the process to be effectively communicated to
all potential voters so that they can seize the opportunity and be

      There are a number of ways that ZEC and the Registrar-General's office
could use to raise awareness and interest in the registration process but
these could have been more effective if the real numbers and groups targeted
were known. To begin with, all the centres advertised could have been open
everyday until 17 August 2007 as opposed to the current situation where the
centres are open for two to four days before the registration teams move on.

      In other words, the teams should be permanently stationed at one point
from day one until the exercise is completed on 17 August. This would
translate to about 60 days during which constituents could be registered.

      Other ways that could be used include registration using state
agencies for instance, people could automatically be registered to vote when
they go to get new national identity cards, renew their passports or when
they go to get drivers' licences.

      Considering the current economic hardships, it is not a far-fetched
idea that door-to-door voter registration should be undertaken in light of
transport costs to the centres provided and the length of time required to
complete the registration process. This is despite current efforts of mobile
registration centres getting out to the people.

      A lot of people are pre-occupied with basic survival and do not have
time to spare to ensure they register at the provided centres. Thus,
door-to-door registration, especially during weekends, could ensure a lot
more people would get registered. Indonesia carried out such a voter
registration exercise in 2003 for the 2004 election and tremendous
participation in the election was recorded. Other countries, like South
Africa, have considered the use of Information and Communication
Technologies (ICTs) for instance, e-registering and have recorded
significant efficiency in the registration exercise.

      However, it should be emphasized that compulsory registration does not
translate to compulsory voting and this message should be made available to
the voters.

      Election Day registration is also one of the various strategies that
have been tried in the US with significant success. Voters are allowed to
register on Election Day just before they cast their vote. The argument for
Election Day registration is that voter registration deadlines limit voter
participation since many countries close registration 20-30 days before an
election yet many voters do not take interest in elections until a few weeks
or days before Election Day when political parties do most of their
advertising and the races inevitably become tight.

      Six states, in US, have enacted legislation allowing voters to
register on Election Day. These states also allow voters whose names were
improperly excluded from, or never added to, the rolls to correct the errors
and vote on the same day. For African countries this is an avenue, which is
still worth considering.

      While it is plausible to employ strategies that would enhance voters'
participation in the registration exercise, it should be incumbent upon ZEC
to explore ways that would raise political efficacy among would-be voters
that they see need to participate in the political processes obtaining in
the country.

      Massive information campaigns and advertising should be employed to
raise interest and ensure citizens register as voters. Civic bodies
interested in voter education and public out-reach programmes should also be
play a part. Further, in the absence of repressive laws like the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA), grassroots movements such as youth
organisations could also be harnessed to ensure awareness on the need to
register is raised.

      However, all these strategies can only be effective if the targeted
groups are known, hence the need for a thorough inspection of the voters'
roll and provision of statistics on the current registered voters, those
eligible to vote and those targeted by the registration exercise.

      It remains the sole responsibility of ZEC to ensure that the voters'
roll that we take to the harmonised presidential, parliamentary and
senatorial elections in 2008 is a credible one and that people are
conscientised enough to see the importance of taking part in the
registration exercise. But as it stands, the exercise and the circumstances
it is being undertaken in, cannot guarantee that there will be balance
between the need to be rigorous to ensure integrity of the voters' roll, and
the need for flexibility to ensure that peoples' rights to enrol and vote
are protected.

      Produced by Zimbabwe Election Support Network. Comments and views
about this article can be sent to: or

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Zim Standard Letters

Open letter to First Lady, Grace Mugabe
      THIS letter is addressed to you as the First Lady of this country. You
are responsible for everything happening to us and whatever fate befalls
your husband, will befall you and your children.

      As a mother, do you ever sympathise with other women who are
brutalised by your husband's storm troopers? While you are ensconced in your
Borrowdale palace, perpetually warmed by uninterrupted electricity, do you
ever spare a thought for the poor people huddled in the open because your
husband ordered the demolition of the only places they called home?

      I am sure that while you are reading this article, you are tucking
into a sumptuous meal while the majority of Zimbabweans go hungry.

      Your children attend the best schools and you do not feel the pinch of
being unable to raise the school fees. They go to school in new uniform.
But, your counterparts are struggling to send their own children to
ill-equipped schools, with no teachers, wearing yesteryear uniforms or
tattered clothes.

      As a family do you ever discuss the ill-treatment of an entire nation?
You ought to play a significant contributory role in the decision the
President makes. At least, he must ask and listen to you. I wonder how you
can go to bed and sleep peacefully, given what's happening in our country.

      Zimbabweans hope you can use your advice to persuade the President to
desist from persecuting the people of Zimbabwe.

      Your silence in the face of the atrocities being visited upon
Zimbabweans is unholy. Please find time to pray to God for guidance. The
future remains gloomy if as the First Lady you remain indifferent. Show the
whole world that you have a voice the President can listen to because
everyone else has failed.

      If you manage to make headway in persuading your husband, you will
have earned the gratitude of the whole nation. Do not ever allow the
President to listen to and associate with the Women's League of Zanu PF
because the whole lot would like to stick a knife behind your back. Most of
the evil advice given your husband comes from this group of mindless,
hip-swinging Amazons.

      Have you visited your home area lately? I doubt you ever have time for
that now. However, people in your home area are suffering just like the rest
of us.

      Try to visit your home area incognito and hear first hand how your
husband has devastated this once beautiful nation. Do not confine yourself
to your Borrowdale Palace; go out and see how the rest of the country lives.

      You may not be aware of the widespread horror in our society. Naked
evil has overtaken normal life in our country and everyone is living in fear
of your husband's government. Children are dying at birth because of
ill-equipped hospitals.

      Doctors and nurses tell frightening stories of the horrific injuries
they attend to after innocent people are brutalised by your husband's
government. As a mother, you have the power to stop this assault on

      Be Graceful


 No Dell, hyper-inflation no catalyst for regime change
      HEARTFELT commiserations go to the US Ambassador, Christopher Dell, as
he leaves Zimbabwe empty-handed. No regime change; no return of "his" land.
But, Chris, did you have to take it out on ordinary Zimbabweans?

      Across the land we are increasingly dependent for our power supplies
on generators, candles and the axe. It's disastrous on the pocket; tragic
for the environment. It is well known that the US advocates privatising
utilities such as water and electricity, but isn't this taking it a bit far?

      It is not the Zimbabwe way to "live on our knees", especially where
that would have meant leaving Kondozi Estate in full production, with the
country still dependent on the kith and kin of Western imperialists, such as
. . . um . . . er . . . Edwin Moyo. Zimbabweans prefer to die on their feet.
Our people, Comrade Minister Joseph Made, to whom we have restored stolen
land and equipment, will keep the country self-sufficient in wheat, generate
forex to enable Zesa to operate efficiently, as well as fund out-growers.

      You maintain that Zimbabweans are poorer today than at Independence
because media tyranny under Zanu PF prevented us being open with ourselves
about flaws in the way land reform was implemented.

      Was the media free under Ian Smith? Did the Rhodesia Broadcasting
Corporation not refer to the freedom fighters as CT's (communist terrorists
in the pay of the Eastern bloc) until they began to believe their own
propaganda? Were the Catholic Bishops given free rein on the air waves, or
were they demonised as communist fellow-travellers seeking violent regime

      The Rhodesia Herald was subject to such shameless pressure to parrot
its master's voice that the editors felt compelled to leave gaps on its
pages to demonstrate where the government censors had been at work. Are the
Herald editors today driven to such drastic protest? Of course not! Call
them lily-livered lickspittle if you will. But accuse them of dancing to the
tune of foreign powers? Never!

      Come on, Chris, do you seriously want us to believe you aren't rubbing
your hands with glee to see the law of unintended consequences being played
out daily before our eyes? Price controls . . . fixed exchange rates . . .
empowerment of the already powerful. If criticism of government had not been
so stridently equated with being a stooge of imperialists, we would today be
showing that equity and productivity are not mutually exclusive goals.

      Inflation of 1 500 000% a catalyst for regime change in Zimbabwe,
Dell? Not in a thousand years! The advantage of throwing 80% of your
employable population into the informal sector is that firewood vendors are
far less likely to revolt than factory workers.

      John Anthony Bennett


 Law entrenches racism

I note with some concern the latest attempt by the
legislature to cause division between the races and enrich the ruling elite.
The Indigenisation Bill sets up another slush fund and takes away various
rights from those who are not considered before this law to be "indigenous".

      We will now have "Zimbabweans" and "indigenous Zimbabweans". Just as
George Orwell had "all animals are equal but some animals are more equal
than others."

      Indigenous in the Oxford dictionary means someone who is "born" in a
particular place. An "Indigenous Zimbabwean" in the act is "any person who
before 18 April 1980 was disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the
grounds of his or her race". That was 27 years ago, of course, so many of
those that fell into that category will be long dead.

      The definition of "indigenous" then goes on to say that "any
descendant of such person" (that was disadvantaged) is also privileged
enough to be defined as an "indigenous Zimbabwean". And so, over the last 27
years, there will be children and grandchildren and soon there will be great
grandchildren and great great grandchildren that will be categorised as
Zimbabweans who have more rights than other Zimbabweans who were also born
and bred in post independent Zimbabwe.

      What the legislature fails to comprehend is that everyone in Rhodesia,
whites (believe it or not) included, were disadvantaged in some way or
another on the basis of their race in the days of the war. Since 1980 there
have also been many people disadvantaged on the basis of their race -most
notably those from Matabeleland in the mid-1980s.

      The question is: "Why are we always looking back and creating unwieldy
legislation that is only going to result in resentment, inefficiency,
corruption, skills loss, investment loss and litigation?"

      By shackling ourselves to a past of racialism we continue to guarantee
a future of racialism in Zimbabwe. I can guarantee that in the end, both
"Zimbabweans" and "Indigenous Zimbabweans" will be the losers. But I can
also guarantee that there are those precious few who are looking at Barclays
Bank, Rio Zim, Zimplats and others with the same gleaming eyes of
covetousness as they viewed the farms.

      What these people fail to take into account is that covetousness goes
against the law of the Tenth Commandment.

      Ben Freeth

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Revenge of the culled elephants

The Sunday Times
July 15, 2007

Christina Lamb, Livingstone, Zambia
THE British and American tourists dismounting elephants on the banks of the
Zambezi were all agreed: the elephant-back safari had been the highlight of
their African holiday. There was a chorus of "oohs" and "aahs" and a rush
for cameras as an eight-month-old baby elephant that had followed them,
gambolled clumsily in and out of her mother's massive legs.

But behind the picture-book scenes a war is under way. Many people in Zambia
and other parts of Africa are living in terror of elephants, which are
becoming increasingly aggressive. Scientists believe they may be seeking
revenge for the culling of their parents.

The once sleepy town of Livingstone is now a front line in a growing
conflict between elephants and humans competing for habitat. The settling of
people closer and closer to the national park, combined with an influx of
elephants from across the border in Zimbabwe, where economic collapse has
led to unbridled poaching and empty waterholes, produces almost daily

At the office of the Zambia Wildlife Authority, a large blackboard on the
wall is chalked with recent incidents of elephants in villages, sometimes
marked "threat to life".

"We are working flat out," says Fritz Mubanga, senior wildlife police
officer, who has worked there for 12 years. "Almost every day we're having
to send an officer to stay somewhere until the elephant moves on. A few
years ago there was nothing like this."

Villagers are not only losing their crops but in some cases their lives.
Last year Jacqueline Lyamba, 25, and her two-year-old daughter, were killed
in Nakatindi township while her six-year-old son crouched behind a bush in
terror. On the other side of the border in March a British mother and
daughter were trampled to death on holiday in Hwange national park. Last
month an elephant overturned a truck on the highway.

"I see it as my mission to convince the world that elephants are horrible
things to live next door to," says Dr Loki Osborn, a biologist and member of
the Human-Elephant Conflict Working Group of the World Conservation Union.

"Westerners have this romantic vision of elephants. If you live in a place
where there aren't any you love them, but if you live somewhere where they're
a menace you hate them."

Now, with Osborn's help, locals are trying to fight back with an unlikely
weapon ? chilli.

"Chillis are to elephants what garlic is to vampires," he explained. "Give
them a whiff and they will dance around like cartoon characters, flaring
their ears, shaking their heads, blowing out air and trumpeting."

His organisation, the Elephant Pepper Development Trust, based in
Livingstone and funded in part by the US Wildlife Conservation Society,
promotes the use of chilli to drive hungry elephants away from crops.

"Their whole trunk is coated with a mucous membrane, and elephants have 100
or 150 times better sense of smell than humans," he says. "Their eyesight is
very poor and they get all their information through their trunks. So when
they breathe in even very small amounts of capsicum that you get when you
burn a chilli, their whole trunk is stimulated and it drives them crazy."

A self-confessed elephant fanatic, Osborn got the idea when he heard about a
Vietnam veteran in Montana with a grizzly bear problem who had tried to find
an alternative to guns. He developed a capsicum aerosol and in 1991 Osborn
took it to the Zambezi valley where he was astonished by the reaction.

Since then he has taught thousands of farmers to plant chilli pepper buffer
zones around their fields and to make what he calls dung-bombs from
ground-up peppers mixed with elephant dung. When these are burnt, they emit
spicy smoke.

"It's like tear gas to elephants," says Roy Kaanga, a farmer, his hands
black with chilli grease he is using to oil a string fence around his crops
as a first line of defence. Round the edge of his fields are chilli bushes.
Drying on the ground are some briquettes of fresh elephant dung that he has
collected and mixed with pounded chilli.

"If an elephant comes near, it runs like a jet," he laughs. He turned to
chilli in desperation in 2005 after nights when as many as 50 or 60
elephants rampaged over his land, destroying maize and vegetables.

The traditional methods of banging pots and pans, setting off firecrackers
and lighting fires had all failed. "Now I light these bombs at 10pm and they
burn for eight hours and Mr Kaanga is safe and can rest with my beautiful
family till morning."

Although some fear the technique drives the elephants on to other farms, it
is winning converts across Africa. Desperate farmers in Tanzania, Ghana,
Gabon, Congo, Botswana, Moz-ambique, Namibia and Swazi-land are all adopting
the technique as are Asian countries with elephant problems, including
India, where it has been taken up by tea estates in Assam.

Osborn's trust promises farmers it will purchase any chilli grown in defence
of their fields. The best is used to make pepper sauce; the rest goes for
the dung bombs.

At the trust's small office Audrey Siasale comes in with a sack of chilli
and a seven-month-old baby on her back. The sack is weighed out at 26lb. She
receives £6 and smiles broadly.

"I will use it to buy a school uniform," she says. "I would have to grow
four times as much wheat for the same money."

Asked if she likes elephants, she shakes her head. "No, I think we should
kill them," she says. "I see tourists taking photos of elephants but I don't
think they are attractive ? they kill people and do lots of damage."

The deep fear of elephants is not unfounded. Scientists say they are
attacking humans, each other and other animals more than before. In 2005
guards in South Africa's Pilanesberg national park shot three young male
elephants that had killed 63 rhinos and attacked tourists in safari Jeeps.

Gay Bradshaw, a psychologist at Oregon State University, believes that this
"hyper-aggres-sive" behaviour is due to posttraumatic stress syndrome
brought on by a combination of habitat loss and culling to control the

"It's a cry for help," she says. "Their unprecedented behaviour is the
result of chronic and traumatic stress. I think it's evidence of

Elephants are highly social animals and studies have shown that a young
elephant will stay within 15ft of its mother until it is eight. The male
elephants that killed the rhinos all saw their families culled when young.
"If the infant elephant experiences trauma such as witnessing the death of
the mother, the brain is affected," says Bradshaw.

At the wildlife office, Mubanga has never heard of posttraumatic stress but
is sure of one thing. "If you're shot in the leg you'll definitely be
annoyed and you won't forget even when the wound is healed," he said. "It's
the same with elephants."

The problem is exacerbated by an increase in elephant numbers. Herds in
southern Africa have rebounded since elephants were declared in danger of
extinction and a ban on ivory sales was imposed in 1989. Zambia has seen
numbers rise from 7,000 to an estimated 30,000.

"The basic management of elephants is out of sync," Osborn argues. "People
believe elephants are near extinction. In fact it's the other way round ?
they're recolonising parts of southern Africa where they haven't been for
100 years."

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