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EU agrees to tighten Zimbabwe sanctions

Afrol News, Norway

afrol News, 17 July - An agreement to toughen sanctions against Zimbabwe
next Tuesday by the European Union Ambassadors has been reached, diplomats

Under the new agreement, businessmen backing the Zimbabwean government would
be slapped with sanctions, the first time in history.

A meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels next week is expected to
endorse the new sanctions. More than 130 individuals have been slapped with
the bloc's visa bans and an asset freeze.

However, the EU now wants to add about 40 others, including security
officials of Zimbabwe, to the list. Those accused of involvement in the
election violence and business figures bent on backing the Mugabe regime
would be mainly targeted for the new sanctions.

Five companies could also be slapped with sanctions, diplomats said.

On Monday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans to seek more
sanctions from the EU against officials of the Zimbabwean regime.

British and its allies - the United States and France - were shocked last
week after Russia and China vetoed against an arms embargo, travel bans and
assets freezing of Zimbabwean officials, defending that the blocked motion
would contradict diplomatic efforts to solve Zimbabwe's political crisis.

"I think it is difficult to justify the vetoes that were put on the
Zimbabwean resolution by both China and Russia," Mr. Brown told a news
conference in London.

"I think it is very hard to defend taking action when we know that we have
got an illegitimate government that is holding power through violence, that
is arresting people and putting them as political prisoners, incarcerating
them, and a government that seems determined to hold onto power.

"That's why I regret what China and Russia did. Russia in particular had
supported what we were proposing at the G8."

By staff writer

© afrol News

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Zimbabwean opposition body meets to discuss talks with Mugabe

Monsters and Critics

Jul 17, 2008, 13:27 GMT

Harare - The process toward negotiating an end to the Zimbabwean crisis was
expected to inch forward Thursday as the top body of the main faction of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was due to meet to decide
whether to enter into talks with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU(PF) party.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai's faction of
the party, confirmed that the party's national executive was to 'assess the
progress on the negotiated settlement front.'

This included a 'memorandum of understanding' setting out the aims and
negotiating positions of the two parties, he said.

The signatures on the document of the leaders of Tsvangirai's MDC, the
smaller faction of the party led by robotics professor Arthur Mutambara and
Mugabe are expected to signal the start of substantive talks.

However, Tsvangirai's MDC has told the other two parties that it was still
waiting for 'clarification' on its demand that the African Union (AU) be
involved in the talks.

An answer will only come on Friday, after a meeting in South Afirca between
President Thabo Mbeki, the Southern African Development Committee-appointed
mediator between the three parties, and AU Executive Director Jean Ping.

The main MDC faction has openly expressed its dissatisfaction with Mbeki's
mediation, accusing him of bias towards Mugabe,and has insisted on 'expanded
mediation' involving the AU, a position rejected by ZANU(PF).

Moves towards a resumption of negotiations began shortly before the
controversial run-off presidential elections on June 27,as Tsvangirai
withdrew from the race over a three-month wave of violence, and left Mugabe
the 'winner' of a one-man poll that was universally dismissed as

Details of the memorandum of understanding have not been released, but
sources close to the talks said it was drawn up in South Africa last week at
a meeting of representatives of the three parties.

In the document, the three groups assert that negotiations should lead to
'an inclusive government,' to economic stability, the establishment of peace
and security across the country and an end to the climate of acute political

However, the differences in the positions of the MDC factions and ZANU(PF)
expressed in the memorandum are so wide that observers believe there is
little hope of agreement being reached in the two- week life of the
negotiations established by the document.

The MDC factions insist on an end to the state-sponsored violence that has
claimed over 100 lives since the 84-year-old Mugabe lost the first round of
elections on March 29 and the MDC inflicted on ZANU(PF) its first defeat in
national parliamentary elections.

They also demand the release of the estimated 1500 MDC officials under
arrest, and a resumption of humanitarian aid that was stopped by the regime
on June 5.

ZANU(PF)'s chief point is the 'irreversibility' of the regime's
'revolutionary land programme,' in which nearly all 6000 white-owned farms
in the country were seized and purportedly handed over to blacks as a form
of restitution for land occupied by white settlers who started arriving in
the territory 118 years ago.

Significantly, the document does not mention either the establishment of a
government of national unity involving the three parties and pressed for by
the South African government, or of a transitional authority to run the
country while the parties draft a new constitution leading to free and fair
elections, a position insisted on previously by the MDC.

The memorandum also declares that the negotiations will be held in strict

'The positions are so far apart, and ZANU(PF) in the past has given no
indication of good faith, it's difficult to see how negotiations can lead
anywhere,' a Western diplomat said.

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Opposition Holds Out for Second Mediator in Talks


By Delia Robertson
17 July 2008

Morgan Tsvangirai, the founding president of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, has put on hold a preliminary agreement that would
pave the way for formal talks with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF. VOA's
Delia Robertson reports from our southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg.

Morgan Tsvangirai is holding out for the appointment of a second mediator
appointed by the African Union to work alongside South African President
Thabo Mbeki who is acting as mediator during formal negotiations with Mr.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF. Mr. Mbeki was last year mandated by the Southern African
Development Community to mediate talks between the MDC and ZANU-PF.

An African diplomat close to the preparatory talks told VOA that Tsvangirai
believes that the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping,
promised to appoint a second mediator. He says Tsvangirai expects this
appointment to be announced following a meeting Friday between Ping and Mr.
Mbeki in Pretoria.

But the African diplomat tells VOA that the African Union has made no such
commitment, that the decision of the AU summit last month to endorse the
mediation of Mr.. Mbeki as mandated by the Southern Africa Development
Community, still stands.

The preparatory talks are expected to produce a preliminary agreement which
will govern formal negotiations between both factions of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change and ZANU-PF.

In addition the agreement is expected to include, at Tsvangirai's request,
an interim commitment on the cessation of violence during formal talks.
Despite the fact that violent attacks against opposition supporters have
decreased, they still occur. Just this week a large funeral was held for an
MDC driver who was brutally tortured before being killed.

When formal talks get under way they are likely to focus on the
establishment of a transitional Government of National Unity and the
positions in that government of opposition leaders, including Morgan

The MDC holds the view that Tsvangirai should head any transitional
government, while President Mugabe wants the MDC to recognize his
re-election as president of Zimbabwe in a controversial election last month
which was boycotted by the MDC.

Analysts say that any formal agreements will have to win the support of the
security establishment in Zimbabwe, which is widely believed to be the power
behind Mr. Mugabe.

Independent analyst Chris Maroleng tells VOA the mediator will have to find
a way to reassure this group that they will not be held accountable for
their actions by a future transitional government.

"I believe it is the insecurity that is felt by these elements in the state
security apparatus that has created a behavior in them which makes them
active spoilers when faced with the prospects of change. Because they might
feel that the cost involved in a transition would result in a loss of
status, a loss of access, and indeed possible prosecution if a transition is
to occur," said Maroleng.

It is possible that if, following his meeting with Mr. Mbeki, the African
Union's Jean Ping is able to reassure Morgan Tsvangirai that Mr. Mbeki can
manage the mediaiton on his own, the signing of the preliminary agreement
could take place within days. If so, formal talks may get under way as early
as next week.

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SADC tribunal reserves judgement in Zimbabwe farmer appeals

Monsters and Critics

Jul 17, 2008, 15:42 GMT

Windhoek - Lawyers for the Zimbabwean government walked out of a court in
Namibia Thursday after a group of white farmers brought an urgent
application before the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
tribunal, asking it to act against President Robert Mugabe's regime for
harassing them.

The SADC tribunal, which is based in the Namibian capital Windhoek, had
ordered the Zimbabwe government not to interfere with Mike Campbell or 77
other white farmers pending the outcome of their case, in which they are
challenging their eviction under Mugabe's controversial land reform

On Wednesday, the court heard submissions from the farmers and the
Zimbabwean government on one part of the farmers' case dealing with a
Zimbabwean law that bars them from contesting their evictions through the
courts. The farmers say the law violates the SADC treaty, to which Zimbabwe
and 13 other countries in the region are signatories.

On Thursday, the tribunal heard an urgent application by the farmers to
refer Mugabe's government to an upcoming SADC summit for violating an
injunction granted by the court in the farmers' favour.

The tribunal had ordered the government not to harass or evict the farmers
until their case was heard.

In recent weeks, however, militia allied to Mugabe's Zanu-PF party have
invaded several of the farms. Campbell, the first of the farmers to turn to
the SADC tribunal last year, in a last-ditch bid to remain on the land, was
badly beaten along with his wife and son-in-law during an attack on his

The farmers are looking for the SADC tribunal to refer Zimbabwe's violations
of the injunction for discussion at the next SADC summit in mid-August, in
line with a provision of the SADC treaty.

After the five-judge bench dismissed the Zimbabwean state's request for a
postponement of the application, the government's legal team excused
themselves from the proceedings.

The tribunal reserved judgement Thursday on both of the farmers' appeals.

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Statement by the elders on the Zim crisis

July 17 2008 at 07:27PM


As the Elders meet in Johannesburg, in the wake of a Zimbabwean election that African observers deemed to be neither free nor fair, the people of Zimbabwe are living in an atmosphere of continued political violence, their economy is in a freefall, and uncertainty is a central feature of their daily lives.

This crisis of governance must not be allowed to continue, for human lives and livelihoods are at stake. We all have an interest in and all share a responsibility for its resolution.

The Elders therefore call for a speedy and robust mediation to resolve the political crisis, create a democratic and effective government and start a process of reconciliation and healing.

That mediation effort should have but one master: the Zimbabwean people. And they in turn should know that they have the support of the international community. They do not stand alone.

Progress requires certain conditions to which all parties must agree and upon which responsible parties must act;

  • The political violence must stop.
  • Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai must be able to enter into a dialogue on an equal footing, as two leaders.
  • Political prisoners must be released.
  • The duly elected Parliament must be convened.
  • Humanitarian agencies must be allowed to resume their work of assisting the people.
  • And the current interim Zimbabwean government must meet its responsibility to protect its citizens.

    The Zimbabwean people deserve security, true democracy and a process of reconciliation upon which lasting peace can be built. Set aside the political ambitions of a few, and work to achieve the aspirations of the Zimbabwean people.

    Let Zimbabwe return to its greatness and its rightful place in the international community.

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    China calls for dialogue over Zimbabwe issue

    Irish Sun

    Irish Sun
    Thursday 17th July, 2008

    Beijing, July 17 (Xinhua) China Thursday renewed its call for diplomatic
    dialogue and negotiations with Zimbabwe to solve the political and economic
    crisis in the south African country.

    'China insists political dialogue and negotiations are the only correct path
    to solve the Zimbabwe crisis,' foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told
    a press conference here Thursday.

    Jianchao made the remarks when asked to comment on the US' dissatisfaction
    on China's veto against a proposed sanction on the Zimbabwean government of
    President Robert Mugabe.

    'China and the US hold a different stance on this issue. I believe that the
    US side is very clear on China's attitude.' He said, adding that 'it is
    natural that China and the US have different opinions on different
    international issues.'

    China vetoed last week a US-drafted resolution in the UN Security Council
    that would have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe over the country's
    presidential run-off election in late June.

    Mugabe was sworn in president for another five years early this month
    following the run-off election he alone contested. Opposition Movement for
    Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai boycotted the election over
    attacks on his supporters.

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    Unlawful Combatants – ZANU-PF’s militia, foreign fighters & mercenaries
    By Phil Matibe | Harare Tribune
    Updated: July 17, 2008 12:57

    ZANU-PF militia. foreign fighters? mercenaries?
    Photo: Phil Matibe

    If recent eyewitness and newspaper reports about the existence of foreign fighters spearheading attacks against unarmed civilians in Zimbabwe are accurate and true, then the military junta has violated yet another United Nations Convention. It opens the Pandora’s Box into the underworld of guns for hire, warlords and war criminals.

    Major Protrais Mpiranya, the fugitive Commander of the Rwandese Presidential Guard Battalion at the time of the genocide in 1994, is reported to be living in Zimbabwe. Did he bring the feared Interahamwe and FDLR fighters, purveyors of genocide, with him?

    Scrutinising the above photograph of the more than 10 years old FJ70 Toyota Land cruiser, fitted with the wrong radial tyres for a four wheel driven vehicle, patrolling the streets of Harare, reveals the state of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and it’s fighting capability. The obvious unprofessional casual posture of the men in this particular unit is disturbing and poses a question as to their level of discipline.

    The soft-skinned vehicle, amateurishly retrofitted for anti-civilian militia purposes, has no practical application in an infantry unit on a modern battlefield. Note the platform on which soldier A is standing.

    Further observance of the above picture reveals that this mysterious unit is clad in new army fatigues. An ominous sign indeed, a unit comprised of men wearing new battle dress in the middle of the year.  The ZNA only issues new uniforms during initial recruitment or the beginning of the year; this is not January and these men are definitely not recruits. None of the soldiers pictured above are wearing berets, unit or rank insignia and yet are carrying high velocity AK 47 assault rifles in an urban area.

    Soldier B is wearing non-army issue sunglasses and is sporting a crude moustache. He is dangerously sitting on the backrest with his brand new boots perched on the seat. Facial hair is against uniform code and regulations, therefore not permitted in the ZNA except for Special Forces on deployment.  Soldiers C and D have obviously concealed their faces but note their clasped hands, an indication of a cold winter day. The carelessly unsecured AK 47’s on their laps demonstrates the absence of a palpable threat; these men are clearly on an offensive operation against unarmed civilians.   

    From the above synopsis and other military faux pas that this picture reveals, it would be reasonable to conclude that these men are foreign fighters or inadequately trained and poorly disciplined militias merely clad in ZNA uniforms.
    The United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 44/34, “The International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries.”

    Article 1 of the Convention defines a mercenary as follows:                                                        
    1. A mercenary is any person who:
    (a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;         
    (b) Is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar rank and functions in the armed forces of that party.   
    A UN document in 1973 said, “The use of mercenaries by colonial and racist regimes against the national liberation movements struggling for their freedom and independence from the yoke of colonialism and alien domination is considered to be a criminal act and mercenaries should accordingly be punished as criminals.”

    Fast forward to present day Zimbabwe and it is the liberation movement of yesteryear, struggling with the democratic aspirations of its people, which now use mercenaries to keep the masses who yearn for freedom subjugated and oppressed. The current low- intensity conflict at play in Zimbabwe shall soon evolve into a full-blown civil war when diplomacy and the off again on again “talking about talks talks” fails.

    Indeed if the remnants of the FDRL or Interahamwe, the African franchise holders for genocidal warfare or any other non-Zimbabwean actors are involved in the voter cleansing terror campaigns, then we are already at war.

    This is no longer an internal conflict but a well-planned war to protect a dictator at all costs.

    Phil Matibe
    Anti-Tyranny Taskforce

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    A day embedded with a ZANU-PF militia unit

    By Our correspondent | Harare Tribune
         Updated: July 17, 2008 11:34

    Zimbabwe, Harare- One of our Tribune/Zimdaily correspondent spent
    sometime in his home township of Epworth and sent us this report. Editing by
    Trymore MacVivo for the Tribune & Zimdaily.

    A torture camp

    "Are you sure I will be safe?"

    "Of course, I'm one of the sergeants in the unit. Just wear your
    ZANU-PF t-shirt and you will be fine," my childhood friend Samuel Mapuranga
    assured me.

    Passing off myself as a cousin of Samuel, I found myself two hours
    later at the local ZANU-PF militia base, torture base. A man lay sprawled on
    the floor, naked, inside one of the three main torture rooms.

    Zuze Sibanda, the leader of our local ZANU-PF militia unit, was
    standing over the man, a fan belt in hand, shouting above his voice,
    sweating, swearing. Zuze, tall and with the skin black as the underside of a
    cauldron (bhodho), was broad shouldered with a goatee. He was on leave from
    the ZNA, where he worked at Manyame Airbase.

    "Tell us, who else is a member of the MDC, huh? You have confessed
    that you are member of the MDC, but tell us, who are your comrades in that
    party?" The figure on the floor, his back bloodied from the beating he had
    received, moaned in pain, pleading with his captors to have mercy on his

    Zuze went into delirium, beating and kicking the MDC man on the floor,
    until the man stopped crying. Moses, one of the members of the unit, doused
    the unconscious MDC man with bucketful of cold water to revive him so that
    they could continue torturing him.

    The torture room was one of three now used by our unit, located in the
    compound that housed the local branch of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
    here in Epworth.

    A student

    Someday in 1993 when I was a naïve grade six student out at Batanai
    Primary School, one of the three primary schools in the suburb then, our
    headmaster told us that the following day, a Wednesday, the school was going
    to be closed.

    As kids, always out to avoid going to school, we cheered the awesome
    announcement. But the headmaster quickly added that: "You will all still
    have to wear your uniforms and go to Domboramwari Business Center." There
    were puzzled looks on everyone's face.

    "Oh, don't lose heart. The President, Cde. Robert Mugabe is visiting
    Epworth, and you all have to be there to greet him and listen to him speak,"
    the headmaster explained, speaking with his mission school English.

    Indeed the following day, Robert Mugabe came to Epworth to a hero's
    welcome, as was the norm then. Epworth was an impoverished suburb about 15
    kilometers south east of Harare. Forgotten by Mugabe's government since its
    'founding' in 1982, the shanty town had no running water, electricity, roads
    and other amenities that make of a normal suburb.

    With my friend Samuel, who lived close to our house, we attended
    Mugabe's unofficial rally that was staged in an open space between the local
    clinic and the police station. I remember Mugabe giving one of his usual

    He talked about morality: "If you rape women, girls, then it is
    correct for us to cut your manhood." He made several promises to the
    thousands of people who had come to witness him speak, residents of Epworth.
    "We will provide you with electricity, water and properly constructed
    houses. This is our mandate as a government of the people. We should be able
    to do all these things, providing you with infrastructure, within two years

    He continued speaking, with the crowd cheering at each promise he
    made. Samuel and I, we set with other school children at the front, merely
    two meters away from where Mugabe stood. His eloquence, dress style had us
    wide eyed with awe and envy and suspense. I remember thinking: "When I grow
    up, I want to be President Mugabe!"

    This is work

    Though the run-off election is over, and Mugabe is firmly in power,
    political violence against members and activists of the MDC continues
    unabated, especially here in impoverished townships of Harare.

    After witnessing the torture of the MDC member, the seven of us,
    decked out in flamboyant ZANU-PF regalia, we left our torture camp at the
    police station on the hunt of one of the prolific MDC activists in Epworth.

    It was around 2 am in the morning when we reached the MDC man's home.
    When we were told that he wasn't home, we burnt his house to the ground. We
    left his wife and child crying and trying to put out the raging fire on
    their house we had set on fire.

    Other members of our ZANU-PF militia unit, despite assurances from
    Samuel, still looked at me with suspicion, even after I have shown my true
    colors by participating in their campaign of violence.

    "It's not good to bring in more people into the group, without
    consulting us," Zuze sulked, stroking his loaded AK-47, issued by the
    Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) to all commanders of ZANU-PF militia across
    Harare. The bayonet of the rifle glinted menacingly in the moonlight, for
    the suburb, despite Mugabe's promises fifteen years before, still had no
    electricity or running water. Mugabe had failed to deliver.

    Earlier on, I had asked Samuel why his ZANU-PF militia unit was still
    active, when the elections had passed. He had chuckled and said. "This is
    work for us now. The RBZ, through ZANU-PF, pays us every week." He also
    explained that the party wanted them to continue to be active, until all MDC
    people had been eliminated. "We have to cut the head of the snake, to make
    sure it doesn't come back to haunt us again. This is our mission, we have to
    complete it."

    One of the demands of the MDC in the ongoing talks has been that
    ZANU-PF, in a show of good faith, should dismantle and disband all ZANU-PF
    militia units operating across the country. But ZANU-PF, though Mnangagwa,
    has refused to accept that demand.


    Samuel, my friend, now taking part in one of the most active ZANU-PF
    militia units in Epworth, admitted to me that he wasn't doing the evil
    'things' against other people because he loved it.

    "No, I don't like killing people or throwing people into the Pond. But
    this is my only source of income, so I have to do it. I will do anything
    that ZANU-PF asks me to do." The Pond is a former quarry now filled with
    dark water, with a diameter of about 100 meters. Nobody knows how deep it
    is, some say it goes down forever. Frustrated with life, residents of
    Epworth in the past have gone to the pond to commit suicide. The ZANU-PF
    militias here, since the beginning of April, have also been using the pond,
    throwing murdered MDC activists, members ,into its dark depths.

    Samuel also indicated that he was not a member of ZANU-PF.

    "Yeah, I'm not a ZANU-PF person. But I need the money to support my
    family." Like hundreds of thousands of other young men in Zimbabwe, Samuel
    had failed to find a job right after finishing A-level. And now, in order to
    survive, he is being used by ZANU-PF.

    Apparently, it appears ZANU-PF, by destroying the economy, was
    creating a pool for its foot soldiers. Had the economy been in a sound state
    and everybody had a job, no rational young men would join ZANU-PF militia

    A ZANU-PF official, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity,
    admitted that the core objective of ZANU-PF was to beat the MDC leadership,
    membership, into submission.

    "Once that is done, we will form a government of national unity with
    them, in which ZANU-PF is the dominant power," he said without remorse.

    "If that was not our objective, why would Mnangagwa refuse to accept
    the dismantling of the ZANU-PF militia?"

    We are used to this

    These days in Epworth, it appears wherever one looks; there are
    ZANU-PF people. Or rather, the ZANU-PF fashion-winter collection-is en
    vogue. Everyone is wearing ZANU-PF regalia now, be it a bandana, a t-shirt
    with a picture of Mugabe raising his fist or one that says "100%

    The women, not to be outdone by their men folk, dress in head scuffs,
    shawls, and dresses bearing images of the Mugabe.

    "But, why are you wearing these, are you a ZANU-PF member?" Mai Dube
    clapped her hands in delight, laughing at my question.

    "No, I'm not a member of ZANU-PF. I wear these .these," she pointed at
    a Zambia she had tied around her hour-glass waste "as a form of protection.
    Everywhere I go, people respect me when they see me wearing ZANU-PF items.
    Besides, the ZANU-PF militias don't touch me when I'm wearing this."--Harare
    Tribune News/Zimdaily

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    MDC Violence Victims Press Charges Against Perpetrators

    SW Radio Africa (London)

    17 July 2008
    Posted to the web 17 July 2008

    Tererai Karimakwenda

    We received reports from the Chiredzi area that some MDC supporters and
    officials who were forced to flee their homes ahead of the Presidential
    runoff election have now returned, and are reporting the names of those who
    victimised them to the police.

    Chiredzi farmer and activist Gerry Whitehead said it also appears that
    ZANU-PF is abandoning the thugs that the party hired to commit brutal acts
    against MDC supporters, ahead of the Presidential runoff election on June
    27. Supporting the perpetrators while they are facing criminal charges would
    link ZANU-PF to their activities, something the regime is keen to avoid. In
    addition the party cannot afford to pay for their legal representation.

    This strategy of abandoning those who do the 'dirty work' is not new to
    ZANU-PF. The Mugabe regime has always used desperate unemployed youths and
    some war vets to intimidate, assault and torture those perceived to be
    enemies of the state.

    Whitehead said in some cases the police are actually investigating the
    reported crimes, something that has become unusual in Zimbabwe. He said: "At
    least 90% of the police officials want to do the right thing but they are
    really frightened."

    One of those who seems to have been abandoned by ZANU-PF is a police chief
    who was second in charge of the government's "Operation Maguta" in Chiredzi.
    Whitehead did not disclose his name but he said the police chief is facing
    rape and murder charges. So far he has not received any support from ruling
    party officials and is reportedly very frightened.

    Some of the victims who have identified those who attacked them say they are
    being intimidated in order to drop the charges. But according to Whitehead
    none of the victims in the Chiredzi area have withdrawn their cases.

    The outspoken activist encouraged those who are being intimidated to report
    that to the police as well. This will serve as a warning to future
    perpetrators of violence that they will be prosecuted as individuals for
    their actions, and that they cannot count on ZANU-PF to protect them.

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    AU Commission Chief Expected to Meet Mbeki Talks Friday

    SW Radio Africa (London)

    17 July 2008
    Posted to the web 17 July 2008

    Violet Gonda

    Jean Ping, the African Union Commission chairperson, is expected to meet
    with President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa on Friday to discuss the ongoing
    talks between ZANU PF and the two MDC formations.

    Mbeki has been the sole mediator on the Zimbabwe crisis and the MDC is
    insisting that an additional mediator be appointed to work with the SA
    President, who is accused of favoring ZANU PF.

    Meanwhile, the National Executive Committee of the Tsvangirai MDC met on
    Thursday for a briefing on the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
    agreed upon by the main political parties, but waiting for signing. The MOU
    lays out conditions for talks that are supposed to lead to a resolution of
    the crisis.

    It was impossible to get clarification on what was actually discussed by the
    executive committee. But party insiders say although the party agrees in
    principle with the draft MOU, fully-fledged negotiations should only start
    when demands for an end to state sponsored violence are met and there is
    clarification from the African Union on the issue of an additional

    Violence is continuing, although all three parties agreed to put a clause in
    the MOU for an immediate end to the violence. The Crisis in Zimbabwe
    Coalition reported that 14 MDC supporters were assaulted and villagers were
    forced to flee their homes in Headlands, Manicaland on Tuesday while more
    than 30 MDC youths were arrested for distributing fliers in Bulawayo on
    Thursday. Other members of the MDC executive committee gave reports on the
    level of violence in their areas during Thursday's meeting in Harare.

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    ZanuPF thugs to face charges for crimes against humanity

    By Alex Bell
    17 July 2008

    Senior Zimbabwean government officials may be charged with crimes against
    humanity if South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decides to
    investigate the content of a "torture docket", which implicates 18 ZanuPF

    The docket was submitted by the Southern African Litigation Centre in March,
    with charges relating to a police raid on the MDC offices in Harare last
    year. MDC officials were detained for days and subjected to torture,
    including mock executions and electric shocks. The party's president, Morgan
    Tsvangerai was also severely beaten and had to go to South Africa for
    medical treatment.

    Representatives at an Institute for Security Studies discussion on civil
    society's role in holding governments accountable, on Tuesday heard that if
    the NPA declined to investigate the matter, it would be accountable to the
    International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Max du Plessis, a South
    African law professor and a senior researcher at the ISS International Crime
    in Africa Programme told Newsreel on Thursday that because South Africa is
    party to the ICC statute, the country's Director General of Justice and
    Constitutional Development has a duty to report the NPA to the ICC if it
    decides to not to investigate the charges. The ICC's founding regulations
    require member countries to begin prosecutions as soon as a charge is laid.

    Du Plessis explained that the NPA might also delay making a decision to
    investigate the docket, and that the Litigation Centre would need to take
    into consideration the legal options available to them, including
    "initiating a court application to compel a decision from the NPA".

    Du Plessis added that South Africa has the capacity and jurisdiction to
    prosecute alleged international criminals who are in the country for crimes
    committed elsewhere, according to the Rome Statute, the treaty that
    established the ICC in 1998. This responsibility is applicable in this case
    as the ZanuPF officials implicated in the Litigation Centre's dossier have
    been known to travel to South Africa.

    Lawyers from several organisations on Tuesday also backed a move to urge the
    UN Security Council to refer the Zimbabwe crisis to the ICC to investigate
    further crimes against humanity. Du Plessis explained that since last year's
    attack on the MDC there have been significant developments in Zimbabwe and
    "further allegations of serious human rights abuses". Du Plessis said that
    these incidents "altogether may well form the basis for a referral to the
    ICC" but that this referral is "dependent on political sensitivities and
    conditions that pertain at the time of the request".

    SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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    Over 30 MDC youths arrested for distributing fliers in Bulawayo

    By Lance Guma
    17 July 2008

    Around 30 MDC youths in Bulawayo were arrested by police as they went about
    distributing the first edition of the party's provincial newsletter on
    Thursday. Our correspondent Lionel Saungweme says the youths were taken to
    the CID offices at the CABS building in the city, instead of the Central
    Police Station as is standard practice. The group, wearing MDC t-shirts,
    caused a stir in the city-centre as they handed out the newsletter to
    passersby. It had a message from the MDC leadership urging followers not to
    be cowed by Zanu PF intimidation. 'Our party remains committed to dialogue
    but Mugabe and Zanu PF continue a bully-game,' the newsletter said.

    A combination of riot and plain clothes police rounded the youths up and
    bundled them into a waiting truck. A number of them managed to escape during
    the commotion. Among those arrested was the MDC provincial youth chairman
    Themba Nyathi. The CID offices where they were taken are said to house the
    offices of the CIO Provincial Intelligence Officer. Saungweme said the venue
    of the detention was probably meant to intimidate the youths, since it was
    notorious for its secluded interrogation rooms and the use of torture by
    officers there. A policeman who took part in the raid told Saungweme that
    authorities were worried about the MDC being 'too visible' and the t-shirt
    wearing youths distributing a newsletter were doing exactly that.

    With the state-media running a campaign of misinformation about the ongoing
    Zanu PF sponsored violence, the talks in South Africa and other issues, the
    opposition is now trying to use party newsletters to give the correct

    Meanwhile Saungweme reports that the MDC offices in Bulawayo continue to
    receive a steady stream of refugees from Gokwe and Gutu, among other areas.
    Gokwe is said to be particularly bad in terms of political violence with
    ruling party militia sealing off the area from journalists, aid groups and
    human rights workers.

    SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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    Interahamwe 'Skills' Earn Them Sanctuary in Country

    The New Times (Kigali)

    16 July 2008
    Posted to the web 17 July 2008


    Rwanda has experienced distinct periods of turbulence and violence. To crown
    it all, in just three months during 1994, more than 1,000,000 people were
    massacred in violence and murder perpetrated against Tutsis.

    The army, a notorious group known as the Interahamwe and the presidential
    guard, all supported by media, led the vicious killings against the Tutsi.

    The Interahamwe particularly, were trained and equipped with special skills,
    to mercilessly torture and kill their victims.

    After the genocide, many of those killers fled the country. Some of them
    were traced and brought before ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for
    Rwanda based in Arusha -Tanzania). Those at large had to find a way to use
    their skills to survive while keeping away from justice.

    Failed states, with disorganized and cruel leaders, found their services
    very important and since they are a 'cheap labour', they immediately
    deployed them. I do not even agree when they call them- 'mercenaries' from

    The name does not reflect a true mercenary, for that matter a Rwandan one. A
    mercenary is highly paid in terms of cash, whereas the Interahamwe, are only
    blood thirsty cheap thugs.

    The recent developments implicating them in torture and murder of opposition
    members of Zimbabwe's MDC, should not take any one by surprise.

    The Interahamwe met the Zimbabwean soldiers during 'the great DRC' conflict
    that involved many countries. Different countries made different alliances,
    with the Interahamwe joining the Zimbabweans. This is when the two admired
    each other and their thirst for blood with love for human flesh being
    uniting factors.

    "There are an estimated 4,000 Hutu refugees living in Zimbabwe, some of whom
    took part in the genocide of Tutsis in 1994 There are between six and 10
    foreigners in each base, and there are 20 ZANU-PF bases in the two
    constituencies. People here live close to several borders and they know
    Portuguese from Mozambique and languages from Malawi and Zambia They do not
    speak any of those or English. The tongues are from much farther up north -
    Kenya, Uganda or Rwanda", reports Mr. Chitaka, MDC Manicaland chair-man.

    The Zimbabwean people being very far from The Great Lakes region fail to
    tell exactly the nationality of the Interahamwe and keep on calling them
    strangers. The people living within the SADC region know each and in some
    cases share almost similar languages.

    This background is enough to justify their suspicion and no one should try
    to belittle their fears, the way ours were belittled when the same bandits
    descended upon us.

    We can even reflect on the attack they made in Uganda when they killed six
    tourists, in 1999. This is on record!

    "Two attacks took place just weeks before the tourist killings.

    On February 20, 1999, a group of about fifty heavily armed rebels reportedly
    "hacked to death" five villagers near Kisoro town, about twenty miles away
    from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

    On February 17, 1999, a group described by the media as "Interahamwe
    militia," estimated at between fifty and one hundred and armed with AK-47
    rifles, reportedly attacked the border town of Ishasha, killing two people.

    Ishasha is only a few miles from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest", reports
    New-York based human rights watch dog, Human Rights watch.

    Just like in Zimbabwe's reported case you can see even in the Uganda tourist
    attack; Interahamwe could not be identified properly within their own a
    region. Therefore, it would not surprise me if they managed to hide and
    commit similar atrocities in Zimbabwe.

    The Interahamwe therefore, with their skills and a heavy criminal background
    will continue to support whoever will give them sanctuary or safe haven.

    In their own 'mad environment' I cannot fail to say that they are
    succeeding, not only, to help others in need of their 'special services'-to
    kill, but also to evade justice, until natural death comes their way.

    Furthermore, it is unfortunate to note that the new host - I mean the one
    making headlines today (Zimbabwe), is setting a very bad and dangerous
    precedent in the SADC region, by knowingly harbouring these fugitives from
    justice. It is indeed an insult to the pain suffered by the people of

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    The Inventor of Smart Genocide

    Thursday, 17 July 2008 15:02
    Mugabe: The Inventor of Smart Genocide
     Mugabe is a thug with a strategy to commit mass murder:

    By Sihlangu Tshuma

    EVENTS unfolding in our motherland Zimbabwe can only be portrayed in
    calamitous terms. After the sun set of the Mugabe epoch, and when Zimbabwe
    wakes up from this nightmare the world will be impelled to alter its
    language to accommodate evil ingenuity of the Mugabe sort.

    The modern politician excels in the way he or she chooses his words,
    because some words attract responsibility to act. When the events in Darfur
    unfolded many looked upon the then US Secretary of State, Collin Powell and
    Kofi Annan to pronounce the word genocide.

    There was international frustration, as these men, invested with so
    much authority, hesitated to mention the g-word. Rwanda teaches us that,
    while those in positions of considerable influence vacillate to confront
    vice, precious lives are lost.

    The Zimbabwean people have been made a spectacle of the whole world.
    Once again the world's attention is beckoned to the situation in Zimbabwe.
    If one was to be modest with language, one would still call it a holocaust.
    According to a study carried out to ascertain the impact of the doctors'
    strike in Zimbabwe, 60 000 people have perished to date.

    The survey says most of these deaths could have been prevented. At a
    time when the custodians of the world's authority are economic with terms,
    Zimbabwe has deteriorated into a land of the dying. I submit that the
    actions of the Mugabe regime will trigger a major paradigm shift in dealing
    with genocidal incidents.

    Mugabe's addiction to power has cost Zimbabwe, a generation. This is a
    man who will hold on with tooth and claw despite the alarming loss of lives.
    He will not hesitate to render his countrymen homeless if that would weaken
    the opposition.

    He will feed his supporters and starve those who oppose him. He
    probably knows that for the Gugurahundi atrocities he is a dead man walking.
    The fate of Saddam Hussein is one that every dictator dreads privately. As a
    candidate for The Hague, Mugabe and his henchmen seek to immunise themselves
    by continual dominance.

    The world has a picture of a dictator who is an uneducated, ugly army
    general, in military regalia, with a heavy accent. In contrast Mugabe is an
    educated and sophisticated brand of a dictator. Once the beloved adopted son
    of the West who patronised their palaces. I am sure that even Queen
    Elizabeth could not imagine this eloquent African could check in The Hague
    one day. After Mugabe is gone the annals will credit him as the author of a
    smart genocide.

    Surely no-one suggests that Mugabe is responsible for the AIDS
    pandemic. But he is the brainchild of self-indulgence at the expense of
    equity. The Zimbabwean people have been denied the benefits of the
    achievements made in the treatment of HIV.

    The health delivery system is in a state of collapse owing to the
    crumbling economy. The government has abandoned its people in the struggle
    against AIDS and the cost of the anti-retrovirals is beyond the reach of
    many. The great strides in the treatment of AIDS, has seen lives being
    prolonged for decades.

    Unfortunately because of Zanu PF's obsession with power, they would
    rather talk politics and propaganda with their heads in the sand. They
    pretend to be oblivious of the plague and the affliction all around them.

    The evils of the Mugabe regime have always been understated. This is a
    regime which massacred at list 20 000 people in Matabeleland and Midlands.
    In the early 80s Mugabe became so paranoid with the opposition, which stood
    in the way of his ambition to establish a one party state. He unleashed the
    wrath of Korean trained 5th Brigade who excelled in torture and murder.
    Mugabe in his own words describes it as "a time of madness which should not
    be repeated again". After incurring losses in the referendum and in the
    parliamentary elections, Zanu PF invented a killing machine - the Green
    Bombers, with a licence to beat and terrorise people into submission.

    Young people were recruited and brain bleached. The practise of using
    children for military purposes is a common practice is rife in most African
    conflicts. The Zanu PF despots refer to some of their fellow citizens as
    'weed'. It is clear if you look at it through the brazen mouth of Mugabe's
    lieutenant Didymus Mutasa, who once said "we would be better off with only
    six million people with our people who support the liberation struggle. We
    do not want these extra people."

    Words like philanthropy, altruism are mandarin to Mugabe's regime. The
    world watched with disbelief as the bulldozers tore through the dwellings of
    our fellow countrymen. Infants and invalids were exposed to deadly elements.
    Mugabe gloated that "it had always been a long cherished desire."

    The mere mention of genocide attaches the obligation for the
    international community to intervene. The fall out of Somalia, when the
    Americans got their fingers burnt and the ongoing fiasco in Iraq, nations
    have become lethargic in responding to genocides. There is an indisputable
    disparity in the response rate to African hot spots in comparison with the
    rest of the world.

    Genocide Watch President Gregory Stanton modelled the progression to
    full blown genocide in eight stages. He says it evolves from
    classification-dividing people into "us and them", then extermination and
    later, denial. In the light of this model the Zimbabwe crisis bears every
    hallmark of a man made cataclysm. This is not the sort of a catastrophe that
    one can observe from the comforts of a hotel room. One needs to live in a
    high density suburb of Zimbabwe for just a week. That is where you find the
    people who are over laden with the brunt of tyranny.

    The Mugabe regime has presided over a world record breaking economic
    meltdown. The death rate is unprecedented for a country which is not at war.
    3 500 people die every week from AIDS and other reasons which stem from the
    collapse of the economy. This number dwarfs the death toll in Baghdad. The
    government has to account for the decline of the population. Demographic
    projections expected the population of Zimbabwe to have reached 18 million
    in 2007. A whole generation could be obliterated. Zimbabwe is a land where
    the elderly accompany the hearses bearing their young to an early grave.
    This regime has succeeded in turning Zimbabwe into a death house.

    The unyielding arrogance of the Zimbabwe government to the concerns of
    the doctors has put its citizens on death row. 60 000 people have perished
    since the doctors went on strike some two months ago. Most of these deaths
    could have been prevented. The strike highlights the collapsing state of
    Zimbabwe's public health service - once seen as one of the best in Africa.
    As a novelty in Zimbabwe, the haves and the have nots are now singing from
    the same hymn sheet. The state of the health delivery system does not
    discriminate between the rich and the poor. The blood bank has run dry. A
    well to do family looked helplessly as their son bled to the point of death.
    The hospital could not supply enough blood. The family combed the length and
    breath of the country for a pint of blood in vain.

    One does not need be sensational about what is happening in Zimbabwe.
    The situation on the ground speaks for itself. The authoritarian's hold to
    power is unrelenting and remorseless. It is obvious why Mugabe is so
    generous to Mengistu Haile Mariam. Birds of a feather flock together. Mugabe
    cannot afford to extradite Mengistu, he is not in the business of teaching
    his successors how to deal with dictators.

    The silence of the world, while the nation of Zimbabwe wastes away, is
    ominous. The peace loving peoples of Zimbabwe feel betrayed by those they
    call friends around the globe. The world is fed up with leaders who come
    late on the scene and try to atone for their sins of omission by saying, "if
    only we had known better." The echoes of President Clinton's voice can still
    be heard. Speaking on his visit to Rwanda. He said, "All over the world
    there were people like me sitting in offices who did not fully appreciate
    the depth and the speed with which you were being engulfed by this
    unimaginable terror."

    The state of affairs in Zimbabwe has evaded the comprehension of the
    world's leaders. The world is waiting to see blood flowing and amputees
    running amok on the highways and byways of Zimbabwe, to call it a genocide.
    Walking along the streets of Bulawayo, the second largest city, you may not
    see people wielding machetes. You may not hear any gun shots. But if you go
    and spend a day at the West Park Cemetry you will see the evidence of a
    smart genocide.

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    MDC activist murdered in Buhera

    Thursday, 17 July 2008 15:04

    REUBEN MUTEWE (38) from Muteve village ,Ward 16,Chief Nyashanu in
    Buhera was brutally torture on 31/06/08 at Bedza torture base by armed ZANU
    PF militias and paratroopers led by Patrick Chimbare,Enos Chimbare and Funny
    Mambare.Reuben was MDC Muteve Branch chairman since its formation in 1999.

    He was abducted from his home on the fateful day of 31/06/08 byarmed
    militias who accused him of mobilising people in the area to vote for MDC in
    the March hamonised elections.They attacked him using machetes,axes and iron
    bars.He sustained deep cuts ,internal injuries, broken legs and ribs.They
    left him for deaduntil he was taken to Murambinda Hospital by a well wisher
    the following day.He was admitted at the hospital until his death on
    12/07/08.There was no medicine at Murambinda resulting to his painful death.

    He was brought to Mutare Provincial Hospital for post-mortem by
    Assistant Inspector Tafirenyika and Constable Gandini from Buhera Police
    Station.The post-mortem confirmed that he died of excessive  bleeding and
    cloating of blood and punchered lungs.

    Meanwhile MDC suspects that 100 of its supporters may have been killed
    in Buhera alone.Investigations are in progress.

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    Defending thuggery

    Columbus Dispatch

    Despots in Zimbabwe, Sudan can count on China and Russia for support
    Thursday,  July 17, 2008 3:05 AM

    British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was reported to be surprised and
    disappointed on Friday when China and Russia used their veto power on the
    U.N. Security Council to block tougher sanctions against Zimbabwe.
    Disappointment is understandable. But surprise? This isn't the first time
    that Russia and China have used vetoes to protect a brutal regime.

    Because the Security Council can't act without unanimous consent of the five
    permanent members, the Sudanese government has been able to avoid additional
    sanctions as it continues genocide against several tribes in its western
    Darfur region. An estimated 300,000 people have died, and another 2.5
    million have been driven out of their homes and into refugee camps in an
    orchestrated campaign that includes terrorism, rape and torture.

    China and Russia are looking after their business interests, and repression
    and slaughter don't factor into their bottom lines. China is one of
    Zimbabwe's best trading partners. Russia sells weapons to Sudan.

    The sanctions that were voted down on Friday would have placed a worldwide
    travel ban on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his cronies, frozen the
    regime's assets -- even those stashed in Switzerland -- and banned sales of
    military equipment and weapons to the country. These all would have hit
    Mugabe where it hurts.

    Now, because of Russia and China, Mugabe will continue his intimidation
    campaign to keep himself in power. His thugs rigged his re-election runoff
    in late June. They continue to murder opposition members.

    The people want change, and no wonder. Where agricultural products used to
    be a thriving export for Zimbabwe, Mugabe reduced his nation to chronic
    hunger by seizing white-owned farms and distributing the land to his
    supporters, destroying agricultural productivity. This and other economic
    blunders have destroyed the economy and produced unemployment of about 80

    Inflation has hit so hard that the country can't print money quickly enough
    to keep up: The highest denomination now being printed is a 50 billion
    Zimbabwean dollar note, which is worth about $1. Factories and banks are on
    the verge of collapse.

    Russia argues that this is not a matter of international security, but
    that's specious. Zimbabwe's unrest and economic collapse concern the entire
    world. The situation there is hurting Zimbabwe's neighbors. Millions of
    refugees have fled to South Africa.

    Mugabe is choking the life out of his country and its people. The United
    Nations is impotent when it's needed the most.

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    An economy in crisis


    The Associated Press

    July 17, 2008 at 9:50 AM EDT

    HARARE, Zimbabwe - Official inflation soared to 2.2 million per cent in
    Zimbabwe - by far the highest in the world - and has shot as high as 70
    million per cent in the past year for some basic goods sold on the black
    market, the state central bank said Thursday.

    Worsening shortages of basic goods, and the deadly political and economic
    turmoil surrounding the national elections March 29 and a disputed
    presidential runoff vote June 27, helped spur the spike in inflation in
    recent months.

    The last announcement of official annual inflation, in February, put the
    rate at 165,000 per cent.

    Zimbabwe Reserve Bank Gov. Gideon Gono announced the new figure of 2.2
    million per cent at the launch of a program to sell subsidized food through
    selected shops and a system of coupons issued to the needy, state radio
    reported Thursday.

    Zimbabwean street vendors are on their way to a market in Harare July 10,
    2008 (Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images)

    The central bank also released a schedule showing what it called distortions
    in prices caused by black market trading and profiteering by businesses.

    It said laundry soap on the black market went up by 70 million per cent,
    cooking oil by 60 million per cent and sugar by 36 million per cent - far
    higher than the official inflation rate of 2.2 million per cent calculated
    by the Central Statistical Office on basic goods subject to price regulation
    and price increases approved by state National Prices and Incomes

    It acknowledged that private consultants calculated overall real inflation
    closer to 12.5 million per cent. The bank attributed black market inflation
    to shortages of hard currency that pushed the black market exchange rate to
    at least 90 billion Zimbabwe dollars for a single U.S. dollar, compared to
    the official bank exchange of 20 billion to dollar.

    It said a 4-pound bag of sugar cost about 20 billion Zimbabwe dollars - $1
    U.S. - at the government's fixed price, and 90 billion on the black market
    $4.50 at the bank exchange rate, or $1 at the black market exchange - in a
    country where unskilled workers earn up to 200 billion Zimbabwean dollars,
    about $10, a month.

    However, few have jobs: unemployment has reached 80 per cent.

    The price of scarce gasoline has soared, along with commuter bus fares that
    often exceed monthly earnings, forcing workers to walk to their jobs, or
    sell vegetables and other goods on the streets to make up the shortfall.

    The economy was a key concern in the first round of presidential voting
    March 29, when opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat longtime leader
    Robert Mugabe and two other candidates but did not win the 50 per cent plus
    one vote necessary to avoid a runoff.

    Mr. Tsvangirai later pulled out of the runoff because of a campaign of
    violence against his supporters. Mr. Mugabe went ahead with a June 27 vote
    widely denounced as a sham. Mr. Tsvangirai's name was kept on the ballot and
    Mr. Mugabe was declared the overwhelming winner.

    Launching the subsidized food program on Wednesday, Mr. Mugabe said basic
    commodities subsidized by the central bank were to be distributed across the
    country, enabling an average family to pay just 100 billion Zimbabwe
    dollars, about $5, for a basket of items - including cooking oil, the
    cornmeal staple, flour and soap - that would last a month.

    At present, a single loaf of bread costs nearly 100 billion Zimbabwe

    It was not immediately clear how the central bank would finance the
    subsidies, with health and other public services already facing collapse
    because of lack of state funding.

    Mr. Mugabe said profiteers who abuse the scheme will face jail, the
    state-run Herald newspaper reported Thursday.

    "It is our responsibility to stand in defense against threats to the welfare
    of our communities, particularly in the areas of food availability and
    accessibility to other necessities," Mr. Mugabe said.

    "We don't want people behind bars. ... We would want our prisons to be empty
    than full but, alas, just now they are brimful and we don't know what to
     do," Mr. Mugabe said, according to The Herald, a government mouthpiece.

    The launch of the scheme at a warehouse in southern Harare where subsidized
    goods were stored, including many imported basics, follows several
    government announcements about plans to open "People's Shops" to ease
    economic hardships and cushion the impact of hyperinflation.

    Food shortages have left shelves bare in most established stores and
    supermarkets. Many factories hard-hit by the economic crisis have shut down,
    and remaining manufacturers operate at below 30 per cent of their capacity,
    according to the private Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries.

    Self-sufficient in cooking oil, soap, toilet tissue and other products as
    recently as 2006, Zimbabwe now imports such goods mostly from Egypt, Iran,
    Malaysia, China and neighboring South Africa.

    Independent civic groups, meanwhile, report cheap goods already distributed
    earlier this month to designated shops in provincial towns being sold only
    to buyers carrying ruling party membership cards.

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    A worthless currency

    Jul 17th 2008 | JOHANNESBURG
    From The Economist print edition

    The local dollar is fast shrivelling away

    WITH prices doubling every few days, Zimbabweans now spend huge amounts of
    time and energy preventing their meagre cash resources from completely
    evaporating. Trying to catch up with galloping hyperinflation, now
    officially running at 2.2m per cent a year and at least four times faster in
    reality, the central bank has been printing ever bigger denominations. But
    it is outrun by galloping prices: at last count, the most valuable banknote
    available was for 50 billion Zimbabwean dollars, now worth barely 70
    American cents on the black market, and the stock of Zimbabwean dollars is
    dwindling. Local cash could become scarcer still, now that the German
    company that was providing Zimbabwe with paper to print its banknotes has
    cancelled its contract; the Zimbabwean monetary authorities are likely to
    turn to a less specialised supplier. Meanwhile, people do not even bother to
    pick up notes of hundreds of thousands on the pavements of Harare, the
    capital. At independence in 1980, the Zimbabwe dollar was more valuable than
    the American greenback.

    It may seem odd that the local currency is still used at all. From Z$25
    billion to the American dollar at the beginning of this month, the cash
    exchange rate had jumped threefold within a fortnight. In restaurants or
    shops, prices are still quoted in local currency but revised several times a
    day. Salaries are paid in Zimbabwean dollars, still the only legal tender. A
    minibus driver taking commuters into Harare every day still charges his
    clients in Zimbabwe dollars-but at a higher price on the evening trip
    home-and changes his local notes into hard currency three times a day. The
    local money is losing its relevance.

    Zimbabweans spend their local dollars as fast as possible or change them
    into hard currency on the black market. A parallel system is thriving in
    back offices and parking lots. Ronald was a civil servant but became a money
    dealer about a year ago to feed his family. He now makes about $100 a month,
    whereas his former colleagues earn the equivalent of less than $2 a month,
    enough to buy two loaves of bread. On a recent trip, this correspondent
    changed money from a central-bank employee running an illegal
    foreign-exchange business in his own office.

    With a strict daily limit (currently less than $1.40) on bank withdrawals,
    people shun banks as much as possible and are returning to a cash economy.
    Petrol and rents are now charged mainly in American dollars or South African
    rand, but since some landlords have been taken to court, rents are
    increasingly often paid for in groceries. People buying overpriced cooking
    oil or sugar on the black market, since those items have long vanished from
    shops due to official price controls, are charged more if they pay in local
    dollars. Petrol coupons have become a virtual currency.

    John Robertson, a local economist, reckons that the informal economy has
    probably become larger than the formal one. Though estimates are fuzzy, he
    believes that money sent by Zimbabweans abroad to friends and relatives at
    home, which used barely to register on Zimbabwe's foreign-exchange radar
    screen, now accounts for probably a third or so of the country's
    foreign-exchange inflows.

    Turning to foreign exchange or barter is what you would expect in countries
    that have had inflation of more than a few hundred per cent a year. At the
    height of its inflation crisis, shops in Argentina were no longer able to
    price their goods. In some cases, Peruvians started using lavatory paper,
    then in short supply, as currency. But Zimbabwe holds the dubious
    distinction of being the only country in the world today that is suffering
    from hyperinflation: that is, prices are increasing by more than 50% a
    month. It has not yet reached Hungary's level after the second world war,
    when inflation peaked at 42 quadrillion per cent a month. But it could yet
    get there.

    In May, the central bank decided to let the exchange rate, until then fixed
    at a grossly overvalued rate of Z$30,000 to the American greenback, float on
    the interbank market. For a short while, the rate settled at a level close
    to the black market's. But very few ordinary people can obtain foreign
    exchange from banks; most still use the black market to get rid of their
    Zimbabwean dollars. So the legal and parallel rates have again grown apart.
    People sending money or groceries to relatives in Zimbabwe still use
    informal channels.

    Hyperinflation can usually be tamed within a few months, provided
    authorities stop spending money they do not have and no longer turn to
    printing presses to cover for it. But the damage lingers for years.
    Argentines held about 60% of their bank deposits in foreign exchange three
    years after the high inflation of the late 1980s was over, compared with
    less than 10% before the crisis. In Peru and Bolivia, over 80% of bank
    deposits were held in hard currency three years after the countries'
    inflation crises.

    Reform will eventually come and prices will stabilise in Zimbabwe,
    especially if President Robert Mugabe is replaced; but the local dollar will
    never be the same. Some people have suggested that a reformed Zimbabwe
    should become part of the rand zone, but so far neither the South Africans
    nor Zimbabwe's battered opposition have sounded keen on the idea.

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    See what a Hexdecillion looks like



    SWRadio Africa had a story on inflation on their website yesterday:

    The country’s official inflation rate hit 2.2 million percent on Wednesday. Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono revealed the new figures in Harare but a respected economist believes the rate could be as high as 15 million percent. Zimbabwe’s annual rate of inflation is the highest in the world.

    SWRA point out that “with the Zim dollar losing about 100 billion dollars a day to the UK pound, it won’t be long before we start counting in Quadrillions”.

    They had this image on the front page, showing what a hexdecillion looks like.

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    War Vets, Militias Clash

    HARARE, July 17 2008 - Six people were left nursing serious injuries
    after violent clashes between veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s independence
    struggle and Zanu PF youth militias in Mbare over the distribution of
    benefits for backing President Robert Mugabe's recent disputed re-election.

    This comes in the wake of reports that in Manicaland, villagers
    continue to bear the brunt of political violence, with scores having fled
    their homes to live in the mountains as ZANU PF supporters continue to
    attack those suspected of having voted for the opposition Movement for
    Democratic Change elections in March.

    According to an official from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, which
    has been monitoring and documenting the effects of violence before, during
    and after the elections, the clashes were over a flea market promised by
    Mugabe during his campaign.  It is understood the militias failed to agree
    on the distribution of stands at the flea market amongst the youths and war

     "The 60 Zanu PF youths clashed with 20 war veterans in Mbare over an
    illegal flea market promised as a reward for the violent campaign towards
    the run off. Six people were injured," said the official.

    The names of the six injured could not be immediately established. War
    veterans' chairperson, Jabulani Sibanda said he was not aware of any members
    of his association having been involved in the scuffle with the youths.

    After the announcement that Mugabe had lost the presidential race to
    Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC in March, war veterans and youth militias
    embarked on a violent campaign. They said the elections had been "held under
    unfair conditions of sanctions" and also claimed after the announcement that
    the MDC had won, some white former commercial farmers were seen returning to
    farms meant for the resettlement of blacks. The claims were however disputed
    by the MDC and the Commercial Farmers' Union.

    Of late, there has been an increase of cases in the number of ZANU PF
    supporters fighting amongst themselves, most over the distribution of
    benefits for campaigning for Mugabe.

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    African civil society warns of looming low intensity war in Zimbabwe

    xinhua  2008-07-17 17:00:20

        NAIROBI, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Africa's independent think-tank that
    promotes policy research on governance and peace on Thursday warned of a low
    intensity war in Zimbabwe that is uniquely linked to the country's election

        The detailed study, compiled by the Africa Policy Institute's
    (API) in Nairobi in partnership with the Democracy and Governance program of
    the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), identifies the sources of
    political violence to extend beyond ZANU-PF's youth militias, war veterans,
    the army, police and intelligence structures.

        Zimbabwe held presidential run-off on June 27 as scheduled despite
    the withdrawal of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. In the elections,
    President Robert Mugabe won landslide victory.

        According to the report, the newest addition to the Zimbabwe
    crisis is the retaliatory violence of the opposition Movement for Democratic
    Change (MDC), which seems to escape the attention of regional and
    international players.

        The API report, "Saving Zimbabwe: an Agenda for Democratic Peace,"
    recommended bold and decisive actions to be taken by the African Union and
    the Southern African Development Community (SADC)to minimize and eventually
    eradicate the culture of political violence in Zimbabwe.

        This will create a context, which will be conducive to a
    negotiated settlement of the crisis. Speaking in Nairobi, Peter Kagwanja,
    API President and a director of democracy and governance at HSRC, said an
    extremely volatile situation and retaliatory violence would worsen the
    Zimbabwe situation.

        Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a March 29 election but failed to
    win the absolute majority needed to avoid the second ballot.

        Kagwanja said that the MDC had no option but to uphold its
    commitment to a peaceful democratic process.

        "This report notes that the Zimbabwe's electoral crisis points to
    the need for a continental strategy of dealing with post-election crises,
    setting Africa ablaze, from Kenya to the Democratic Republic of Congo,
    Ethiopia to Egypt," said Kagwanja.

        "The report strongly recommends that the AU considers establishing
    a continental Electoral Commission along the lines of its Human and People
    's Rights Commission, and an Electoral Court to tackle complex cases like
    that of Kenya and Zimbabwe," said Kagwanja.

        The API report also called for the expansion of South African
    President Thabo Mbeki-led AU/SADC mediation as the best instrument for
    resolving the crisis.

         While the mediation may draw from international expertise, it must
    retain its African essence and character, and work to achieve an executive
    power-sharing arrangement with definite timeframe and monitoring tools.

        Upon the signing of the peace deal, the API also noted that the
    SADC should embark on implementing the recommendations of its executive
    secretary on a Zimbabwe Economic Recovery Plan while ensuring a buy-in from
    all parties involved, regionally and internationally.

        At the heart of the economic recovery plan there will be need for
    a Zimbabwe land reform strategy to deal with the land question, involving
    Britain, which has historical obligations to Zimbabwe arising from the
    Lancaster House Agreement.

        The 35-page report also recommended that finance ministers of SADC
    and regional finance institutions, such as the Development Bank of Southern
    Africa, and African Development Bank, spearhead the financing of the
    recovery plan.

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    Bulawayo Councillors Convene First Meeting Since March Elections

    SW Radio Africa (London)

    17 July 2008
    Posted to the web 17 July 2008

    Tichaona Sibanda

    The MDC dominated council in Bulawayo convened their first ever meeting in
    the city on Thursday since they were elected into office on the 29th March
    during the country's harmonised elections.

    The Tsvangirai MDC controls the council after winning a majority of 23 out
    of the 29 seats contested in March. But after they were sworn into office
    last month, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo barred them from
    convening or carrying out any council duties.

    The MDC went to the High court to have this ban overturned and on Thursday
    the court ruled in their favour and granted them permission to resume their
    civic duties.

    Reggie Moyo, the MDC secretary for Bulawayo province, said that immediately
    after the judgement a full council meeting was convened to elect the new
    mayor and deputy for the city.

    Moyo said Thaba Patrick Moyo the MDC ward 22 councillor in the city, was
    expected to be confirmed as the new mayor after he was overwhelmingly
    nominated for the top post. His deputy was expected to be Amen Mpofu, ward 2
    councillor in the city.

    'They are meeting in the chamber as a matter of procedure but the new mayor
    is going to be Moyo and his deputy Mpofu. We are very happy with High Court
    judgement, so now we should be able to start normal council business,' Moyo

    The lack of a functioning council was beginning to have a very serious
    negative impact on the day-to-day lives of the people in the sprawling city
    of Bulawayo, the second largest in the country.

    'Our immediate task as a council is to look at the city's infrastructure
    which has virtually collapsed. We need to urgently deal with the water
    shortages, the poor roads, the housing shortages and service delivery in
    general,' Moyo added.

    Apart from Harare and Bulawayo, the MDC also won control of Mutare, Masvingo
    Chitungwiza, Kwekwe and Chinhoyi.

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    Hands-off foreign policy a collapse of creativity

    International Herald Tribune

    By Howard W. French Published: July 17, 2008

    SHANGHAI: Think of it this way. The Olympic Games are in the bag. World
    leaders are lining up to attend the opening ceremonies, and even Nicolas
    Sarkozy of France, who made a brief stand over repression in Tibet, has
    fallen in with the crowd.

    It's as safe now as it ever will be to fly one's true colors, and in the
    last week, that's precisely what China has done, joining Russia in a veto of
    sanctions on Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and expressing opposition to a
    warrant sought by the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court for the
    arrest of the Sudanese president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

    Let's be clear for a moment about what this column is not. This is not an
    argument in favor of a boycott of the Olympic Games, in which China has
    invested stupendous sums, both in cash and cachet.

    It is also not an out-of-hand dismissal of China's long-held conservative
    views about the power of the United Nations Security Council, where Beijing
    enjoys a veto, to respond to the "internal" crises of other countries.

    What follows instead is a double expression of regret that China has
    summoned so little creative energy filling the huge void that one encounters
    in the space that most major powers reserve for their foreign policy.

    Plainly spoken, as a global actor, China remains an essentially reactive
    force, one keen to limit the power or the range of action of others in the
    name of principles such as democracy, human rights and self-determination.
    In recent months, in response to international criticism over its ties with
    Sudan and Zimbabwe, with the Olympics looming, China had labored to put its
    best face forward, sending peacekeepers to its Sudanese ally in a largely
    symbolic gesture of acknowledgment of the crisis in the Darfur region of
    that country.

    Beijing also quietly downgraded its ties with Robert Mugabe, an erstwhile
    friend and client. What is happening in Darfur has often been described as
    an ongoing genocide. Mugabe, for his part, places new demands on our
    vocabulary. Genocide does not fit, but what does one call a leader who takes
    an entire country down with him?

    What the week's events suggest is a China that has coolly calculated that
    these modest gestures are enough, and that it is time to get back to
    business as usual, which means a foreign policy that remains mute about
    fires that burn on distant shores. And it is hard to read the words of Liu
    Jianchao, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, without feeling a
    blush of cynicism. The actions of the International Criminal Court "must be
    beneficial to the stability of the Darfur region and the appropriate
    settlement of the issue, not the contrary," he said.

    With the Olympics three weeks away, one wishes to hear from China what, in
    fact, it believes in. Is stability the be-all and end-all, or does Beijing
    actually have some useful ideas about what an "appropriate settlement" would
    be to crises in countries like Sudan and Zimbabwe?

    Questions like these go beyond the countries named. Everywhere they go,
    visitors to the Olympics will encounter the slogan, worthy of Madison
    Avenue, devised for the games: One World, One Dream.

    What kind of dream, pray tell? Is it a see-no-evil world where we place
    faith in the idea that minding one's own business will make for a better
    life; a place where the sovereign power of governments accounts for
    everything, and the power and rights of people for naught?

    One suspects here that giving a moral dimension to China's foreign policy
    would do more for the country's image and prestige than the creation of 100
    more of the pharaonic monuments of the type that have sprouted in Beijing
    with next month's big Olympic show in mind.

    It's easy enough, of course, for China to dismiss this kind of thinking as
    typical American criticism. America's own inconsistency on human rights
    issues often hinders its leverage and credibility on such questions. That's
    why the sounds coming from Africa itself - for example - these days are so
    important, and are worth listening to carefully.

    One of these new voices is Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the president of Liberia,
    who called herself part of the "new Africa" during a visit to South Africa
    this month, where she said she had come to "express my solidarity with the
    people of Zimbabwe as they search for solutions to the crisis in their
    country." The critical word here, of course, is "people."

    "In 1985, Liberia held a sham election that was endorsed by Africa and the
    world," Johnson-Sirleaf continued, explaining why such advocacy mattered.
    "Thirty years of civil war and devastation followed, with thousands dead and
    millions displaced. It need not have happened."

    I was in Liberia at the time, and witnessed the sham, and heard
    then-Secretary of State George Shultz endorse the results with a visit to
    the country. Years later, I would return to cover a war that killed as much
    as a tenth of the population, as the country all but disintegrated because
    of the stolen vote.

    Fresh on the heels of its own stolen election, the parallels to Zimbabwe
    today are compelling, and while China can take cover behind vague and
    dilatory formulations about the importance of sovereignty or the need for
    unimpeded negotiations between the players there, its hollow voice does
    nothing to advance the causes of peace and social harmony that Beijing so
    often proclaims.

    "Adopt a low profile and never take the lead," was Deng Xiaoping's advice to
    China's diplomats early in this country's reform era.

    After two-plus decades of booming growth and interests that extend into
    every corner of the world, an axiom like this sounds awfully self-centered
    and cramped. And for the people of Sudan and Zimbabwe, coming up with
    something more fitting to the times has become a matter of life and death.

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    Zim: Pressure mounts on Mbeki


        July 17 2008 at 07:21PM

    Fiona Forde and Hans Pienaar

    Pressure is mounting on Thabo Mbeki to negotiate a speedy settlement
    in Zimbabwe with Kofi Annan calling on him to accept the Zanu-PF chief and
    his MDC counterpart as equals, while church leaders from southern African
    call for immediate sanctions.

    "Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai must be able to enter into a
    dialogue on an equal footing, as two leaders," the former UN
    Secretary-General said during a speech last night at the University of South
    Africa (Unisa), in Pretoria, where he was conferred with an honorary
    doctorate in Literature and Philosophy. Progress can only be made when the
    conditions are right, Annan told the gathering.

    He said he was speaking on behalf of the Elders, the group that
    comprises Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter, in calling "for a
    speedy and robust mediation to resolve the political crisis" to put an end
    to "this crisis of governance, for human lives and livelihoods are at

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