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Political leaders meet to chart new national vision for the country

By Tichaona Sibanda
17 July 2009

Political, business, civil leaders, church leaders and the academia began a
two day workshop in Harare Friday, aimed at developing and adopting a
comprehensive national vision for the country.

Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said speakers highlighted the need
for the country to cultivate an enduring foundation for genuine

'Speaker after speaker challenged the inclusive government to ensure the
observance of justice and the rule of law. There was general consensus the
country finds itself at the crossroads of institutional weakness because of
the lack of cohesive national vision,' Muchemwa said.

For the first time since the formation of the new government the workshop
brought together leaders in government and those from the emerging
opposition parties like ZAPU led by Dumiso Dabengwa and Simba Makoni's
Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai gave the keynote
speech, while Vice-President Joyce Mujuru and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur

Other leaders present were Edgar Tekere, the former leader of the now
defunct Zimbabwe Unity Movement, former ZANU PF strongman Enos Nkala and
leaders from ZANU Ndonga. Members of the clergy from the Christian and
Muslim denominations were in attendance. Nigel Chanakira represented the
business sector, while several academics were also expected to address the

Muchemwa said those from the political divide felt the past government
perennially lacked the ability to plan the country's future with

Muchemwa added; 'For instance Dumiso Dabengwa said the past government
failed to appreciate the importance of long term planning in achieving
national self reliance, economic strength and political stability.'

The former Home Affairs minister in Mugabe's cabinet said his assessment
arose out of historical experience of the post independence era, where
successive national plans and strategies for development where shelved in
government offices and had now gathered dust.

It was generally agreed that in setting an agenda for the attainment of a
national vision the inclusive government must address quickly the issue of
creating an enabling environment, to revive the economy.

Muchemwa said delegates to the workshop called on the government to tackle
the social crisis of unemployment and food scarcity, to improve the overall
productive capacity of the economy and rural development.

'There was also agreement that social issues must also be integrated into
our national vision. Other speakers said the various social problems
plaguing our society must be tackled with determined will,' Muchemwa said.

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PM berates Mugabe for abuse of power

July 17, 2009

By Raymond Maingire

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday berated President Robert
Mugabe over his failure to accept electoral defeat and for his alleged abuse
of the country's security forces.

"I envisage a Zimbabwe where political leaders are elected to serve the
people and not their own interests, where incumbents stand down gracefully
if they lose an election," Tsvangirai said.

He was presenting his keynote address at a two-day workshop called to
identify a Shared National Vision that would be pursued by the country for
the next 30 years.

He said, "I envisage a country where the people's rights to determine their
own future and as well as who governs them is so deeply entrenched in our
society that it becomes as normal and natural as breathing.

"A country where the police protect our people and the sole responsibility
of the army is to defend our borders in times of natural disaster."

Tsvangirai was referring to the current political environment in Zimbabwe
where President Mugabe muscled his way back to power after a humiliating
defeat to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader in Zimbabwe's
Presidential elections last year.

Following his defeat, Mugabe deployed the army to the country's rural areas
to punish villagers for voting him out of power.

Between 200 and 300 mostly MDC supporters were killed in the ensuing two
month orgy of political violence. The police were barred by their partisan
superiors from investigating the offences.

"As a leader," Tsvangirai said, "I want my role to be determined in terms of
the country I govern rather than the party I represent.

"I want the people to be more important than any one party.

"I dream of a society where membership rights are based on the broadest and
simplest of categories such as birth and citizenship and where courts
religiously defend equally the rights of any individual that qualifies under
those determinants.

"Where we will all have equal access to wealth and the protection of our
laws based on the deep and abiding tolerance for our differences as much as
deep and abiding affection for our similarities.

"I want patriotism to have no part in party politics but rather transcend
all party issues.

"I want membership of political parties to be no more divisive and dangerous
than membership of a football club."

Tsvangirai who has received praise from other countries for his relentless
resolve to restore democracy to Zimbabwe said he longed for a society where
Zimbabweans were united by their ability to respect one another's individual

"No one has the right to determine exactly what is meant by sovereignty or
who is more patriotic and more deserving of access to our nation's riches
and resources," he said.

Vice President Joice Mujuru and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara also
presented their addresses while making appeals for Zimbabweans to unite.

In his address, Mutambara urged Zimbabweans to create a shared value system
that would outlive individual political parties and politicians.

"Zimbabwe is bigger than Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe is bigger than Morgan
Tsvangirai and of course bigger than yours truly," he said.

He said Zimbabweans should invent a shared national vision where successive
governments will find it hard to change abruptly.

This he said could also involve the role of the country's citizens living in
the Diaspora.

The workshop also brought together opposition party leaders Simba Makoni of
Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn, Dumiso Dabengwa of Zapu, former Zanu-PF secretary
general, Edgar Tekere who led the now defunct Zimbabwe Unity Movement, and
Tsholotsho North legislator Jonathan Moyo among others.

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Teachers' union lashes out over meager salary adjustment

By Alex Bell
17 July 2009

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has lashed out at the
government's marginal civil service salary adjustment, which will see civil
servants receive a monthly wage of an estimated US$140, calling the increase
'insulting' and 'unacceptable'.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti, in his mid-term fiscal policy review
on Thursday, increased the civil service wage bill by 41% to US$48 million
monthly from US$34 million, to meet the salary adjustment. Biti said the
government, with effect from this month, would review the salary structure
of civil servants, taking into consideration the need to differentiate
between grades of service.

"I am, therefore, proposing to set aside an additional US$151 million
to year-end to support implementation of a modest pay structure which begins
to recognise grade, albeit initially across only limited differentiated
bands," he said. "In line with this, effective 1 July 2009, I propose to set
aside an additional US$14 million per month over and above the current US$34
million to support a review covering the period from July 2009."

A simple calculation of the money set aside for the salaries showed
that civil servants would each get an average of US$140 monthly. The workers
have since February been paid a US$100 allowance, which has not been nearly
enough to cover the basic needs of an average family in Zimbabwe. As a
result, teachers across the country have threatened a nationwide strike
calling for a wage increase of more than US$400 to fall in line with the
Poverty Index of US$454 a month. Earlier this year a strike was narrowly
averted after the Education Ministry offered last minute incentives to
teachers and a promised plan of action to improve salaries.

But since then, the leading teachers' unions in the country have both
threatened mass industrial action, because of what they have called the
government's lack of sincerity on the matter. The Zimbabwe Teachers
Association (ZIMTA) has said the government has until the end of the month
to improve salaries or its members will down tools. At the same time members
of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) have already taken to
the streets in the last week, as part of the union's 'Operation Friday'
campaign. The campaign has seen teachers boycott classes on Fridays, taking
to the streets to protest and hand over petitions to the Education Ministry
and Public Service Commission. The union has warned that more boycott days
would be imminent if the salary demands are not met, and is already set to
embark on protests to the offices of the Prime Minister and the President
next week.

PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou on Friday said the salary increment announced
by Biti is 'unacceptable' and falls far short of their calls for an increase
that is in line with the Poverty Index.

"Teachers have been patient for a long time but the government is obviously
not sincere in ensuring that its workers are paid real salaries," Zhou said.

Biti meanwhile said on Thursday that further reviews to the remuneration of
government workers would be made in the next budget.

Biti added: "Government is also urging public servants, including
pensioners, to exercise restraint on wage demands that are beyond the
capacity of the budget and the economy at large."

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Bennett denied permission to travel

July 17, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - The Zimbabwe High Court yesterday denied Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) Deputy Minister-designate, Roy Bennett, permission to travel to
South Africa on business.

Bennett approached the court on July 15 to seek a temporary suspension of
his bail conditions so that he would travel to South Africa. Bennett wanted
to travel to South Africa between, July 17 and 25, to wind up his affairs in
South Africa since he is preparing to take up a government post in August.

High Court Judge, Justice Francis Bere, dismissed Bennett's application to
travel saying it was not urgent and he had not followed the correct
procedure of going through the bail court to seek alterations to his bail

"We have lost the case but we will keep on fighting. This is a selective
application of the law in Zimbabwe like we have always known. I am now going
back to my farm and look after my crops," said Bennett in his response to
the judge's decision as he emerged from the court.

His lawyer, Harrison Nkomo of Mtetwa, Nyambirai and Partners, said he was
concerned by the judgement.

"I am really concerned about the ruling, its a mockery, there is no justice.
The evidence on the ground was apparently clear but the court found
otherwise, but its clear that as of July 15 the Attorney General office knew
that Roy wanted to travel. The decision leaves the mind boggling, but we
will appeal on Monday,"  Nkomo told reporters outside court.

Bennet was arrested in February upon his return from South Africa where he
had spent two years living in self-imposed exile due to the heated political
environment. During the time of his relocation to South Africa Bennett had
lost his Chimanimani Charleswood Estate and had just been released from
prison after he was sentenced to 15 months by a parliamentary court for
shoving Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

Chinamasa had said during parliamentary debate that Bennett's ancestors were
thieves and murderers who stole land and killed native Zimbabweans.

Bennett was arrested on the same day that President Robert Mugabe was
swearing in cabinet ministers at State House in Harare. He was arrested as
his flight was about to take off for Johannesburg from Charles Prince
Airport - north of Harare. After his arrest he was driven to Mutare where he
was later detained at Mutare Prison until the time of his release on a US$
5000 bail, with strict reporting conditions.

Bennett is one of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's choice of ministers to
the coalition government formed in February between Zanu PF and the two MDC
parties. This follows the signing of a Global Political Agreement (GPA) last
year in September.

Bennett intended to travel to South Africa to among other things meet
business associates some of whom are interested in investing in the country.

The court decision to bar him from travelling, was made barely a week after
a major international investment conference was held in Harare.

Bennett is a tea, coffee and horticultural products farmer. He is currently
running his farm in Ruwa just outside Harare.

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Biti lifts import duty on newspapers to mark start of media reforms

By Tichaona Sibanda
17 July 2009

Finance Minister Tendai Biti used his budget presentation on Thursday to
signal the government's intention to reform the media, by scrapping import
duty on newspapers.

The ZANU PF led government in June last year imposed an import duty on
foreign press, claiming 'hostile foreign newspapers' were coming into

An extraordinary government gazette published by the regime said foreign
publications, including newspapers, journals, magazines and periodicals,
were to be classified as luxury goods and would attract import duty at 40%
of the total cost per kilogram.

But from 1st August, the inclusive government will remove all duty on
imported newspapers. Biti told Parliament that access to information is
'essential to enhance decision making in the global village'.

In order to encourage the development of Information Communication
Technology (ICT), he said he was therefore proposing to reduce rates of
customs duty on computers, printers and telephone handsets and newspapers
with effect from two weeks time.

Since government imposed the duty The Zimbabwean, an independent weekly
printed in South Africa, has had to pay them 3,6 million rand.

Wilf Mbanga, its UK based editor, told us he was absolutely delighted that
the minister has seen sense and removed the duty. 'The import duty very
badly affected us. You will recall we were sending 200,000 copies into
Zimbabwe on Thursdays, but we had to cut back from that down to 60,000 and
for The Zimbabwean on Sunday we cut back from 60,000 to 50,000,' Mbanga

'It was a major climb down for us, we lost a lot money and our sales went
down as well,' he added.

The Zimbabwean has suffered direct interference as well. In May last year, a
month before the presidential re-run, suspected security personnel hijacked
a truck delivering copies of the weekly, beat the drivers, and set fire to
the truck with 60,000 copies of The Zimbabwean on Sunday inside.

Observers say government's intention to impose import duty was to obstruct
influential weeklies like The Zimbabwe and The Mail and Guardian. Zimbabwe
has two dailies, both controlled by the government after the only
privately-owned daily was harassed, bombed and finally shut down nearly five
years ago.

There are no private radio or television stations and for an alternative to
the official line most Zimbabweans turn to foreign based independent radio
stations like SW Radio Africa and regional newspapers, mostly from South

ZANU PF Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa blamed SW Radio Africa and The
Zimbabwean for causing Robert Mugabe's historical defeat in last year's
presidential vote.

Recently the defence minister was at it again, asking cabinet to consider
banning The Zimbabwean and its sister publication, The Zimbabwean on Sunday
for allegedly 'undermining the inclusive government and fomenting hatred
against security forces.'

But his assertions were swiftly rejected by his colleagues in Cabinet, who
scoffed at the suggestion of banning newspapers at a time when the new
government is supposed to be considering opening up media space. He was
reportedly told that if there was any newspaper that should be banned, it
should be the Herald, as it was the chief culprit in undermining the
inclusive government.

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Zimbabwe economy seen hostage to anti-reform lobby

Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:48pm BST

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's new investment incentives may help efforts
towards economic recovery, but analysts say the country will not prosper
without radical political reforms.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced a raft of import tax cuts for fuel,
capital goods and raw materials in a mid-year budget review on Thursday and
called on the new unity government to put the battered economy on a path to
sustainable growth.

"The measures announced by the minister are very welcome, but on their own
they are not going to help much," said John Robertson, a leading economic

"There are serious political issues over farm invasions, private property
rights and governance that need to be sorted out by politicians to build up
investor confidence," he said.

Biti said a unity government formed by President Robert Mugabe and his
arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai in February to try to ease a severe crisis had
planted seeds for economic growth.

The Zimbabwe economy was expected to grow by 3.7 percent in 2009 after
collapsing by about 70 percent, while inflation was seen at 6.4 percent by
year-end, he said, down from 500 billion percent in December 2008, according
to IMF estimates.

Mugabe, 85 and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, says the
economy has been sabotaged by powers opposed to his seizures of white-owned
farms for landless blacks.

Biti, who is a member of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
also said the new administration needed to convince investors that it can
survive and will respect human and private property rights.


In what appeared to be an indirect attack on Tsvangirai, who as prime
minister has been defending his working relations with Mugabe as "cordial,"
Biti said the credibility of the unity government was at stake and the
principal leaders had to respect the global political agreement that brought
them together, "not only in having tea together."

"We can come up with beautiful policies but if there is no confidence the
economy will not grow much or go far," he said in his two-hour budget review

Western donors told Tsvangirai during a three-week fundraising trip to the
United States and Europe last month that they will only come to Zimbabwe's
economic rescue when it creates a democracy and improves human rights after
decades of what critics call repressive one-party rule under Mugabe.

Tsvangirai told his Western hosts that there was no longer any systematic
political violence in Zimbabwe and angered some of his supporters by
dismissing as "isolated incidents" new invasions of white-owned farms by
members of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. Critics called it a desperate bid for

Zimbabwe says it needs about $10 billion (£6.1 billion) for its emergency
short-term economic recovery programme and has so far only managed to raise
just over $1 billion, mostly in lines of credit from other African

Biti says the government is still negotiating with many countries over aid,
including China.

Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said while the economy was starting to
show signs of recovery, it remained fragile and vulnerable to politicians.

"I agree with those who say the Zimbabwe economy is a hostage of politics, a
hostage of those in government resisting reforms," he said.

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Zimbabwe government announces plan to buy up worthless currency

Business News
Jul 17, 2009, 10:29 GMT

Harare - Zimbabwe's government will 'buy back' the moribund Zimbabwe dollar
from the population to bury the virtually worthless money, Finance Minister
Tendai Biti has announced.

Presenting the half-year national budget to parliament in Harare on
Thursday, Biti also said civil servants, who have been receiving allowances
of 100 dollars a month since February, would receive a pay rise from July.

The details of the pay increases would be announced by the public service
commission, he said. Details of the Zimbabwe dollar 'buyback' would also be
announced in due course, he said.

Shortly after its formation in February, the new coalition government headed
by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai suspended
the use of the Zimbabwe dollar.

At the time, it took about 50 trillion Zimbabwe dollars to make one US
dollar and the inflation rate was being estimated in 15-digit figures.

The US dollar and the South African rand were declared legal tender in its

Biti said the move to buy back notes still in circulation aimed to 'put a
tomb stone on the grave of the corpse (the Zimbabwe dollar)' and ensure that
all transactions were conducted in hard currency.

Biti also announced that spending by the cash-strapped coalition government
would be around 20 per cent higher than forecast in 2009, with the extra
funds coming from foreign grants.

Instead of 1 billion dollars, the government now expects to spend 1.22
billion dollars, 970 million dollars of which it expects to raise in taxes,
Biti said.

The government has forecast the economy to grow by 3.7 per cent this year.

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Zimbabwe to increase government spending

By Tony Hawkins in Harare

Published: July 17 2009 01:07 | Last updated: July 17 2009 01:07

Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe's finance minister, on Thursday announced a 39 per
cent increase in government spending, including a 20 per cent rise in the
public service wage bill, thanks to aid pledges of around $500m.

Presenting what was effectively his second budget since being appointed in
February Mr Biti reaffirmed his commitment to a balanced budget with no
government borrowing during 2009.

Total spending will increase from $1bn in the previous budget in March to
$1.39bn - 39 per cent of GDP compared with 30 per cent previously. Although
the minister announced a raft of mostly minor tax cuts, his revenue target
for the year was unchanged at $1bn, leaving a gap of $391m (11.2 per cent of
GDP) to be funded by donors.
The minister painted a picture of on economy that was beginning to recover,
predicting GDP growth of 3.7 per cent this year - the first since 1997.
Inflation - which peaked at several billion per cent last year - is forecast
at 6.4 per cent by December, fractionally below his previous estimate.
Growth will be driven mostly by agriculture which will expand 24 per cent
this year largely due to the doubling of maize production to 1.2m tonnes
following excellent rains. But mining output, hit by the global recession,
will fall 11 per cent, while tourism will start to recover with a growth of
2 per cent.

Mr Biti, a member of the fractious national unity government that brought
together Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change in February, revealed that the banking system, whose deposits were
effectively wiped out by hyperinflation last year, now has balances of some
$700m. But lending was depressed at $263m which he blamed partly on the
"extortionate, usurious" interest rates being charged by the banks. He said
that of 28 banks, 15 had met the central bank's new minimum capital
requirements of which three were marginally short and 10 were

Revenue figures show that the country is hugely reliant on indirect taxes -
39 per cent of revenue coming from VAT and 31 per cent from customs duties.
Corporate tax has brought in only 2 per cent of the total so far this year
while the share of personal income tax is 16 per cent. On the spending side,
61 per cent of the budget goes to civil service wages, at a flat rate of
$100 per month regardless of seniority or experience. Mr Biti said he would
use some of the increased public sector wage bill to introduce some
progression into the salary structure.

The main tax changes were reductions in fuel taxes and import duties,
especially on inputs used by manufacturers, while the 3 per cent royalty on
gold production suspended five years ago has been re-imposed. Taxes on
tobacco products, wines and spirits were increased, but personal and
corporate income taxes were left unchanged, though Mr Biti promised to
restructure and simplify company tax in his 2010 budget.

Businessmen were broadly pleased with the budget and relieved that some of
the tax burden has been shifted to the donors.

The minister said it was important to continue "to water the green shoots of
recovery that have sprouted in the economy". More important, he added,
Zimbabwe must not allow "politics to decapitate and uproot" this recovery in
the making, a clear reference to the ongoing friction within the government
of national unity

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UZ set to reopen early next month

Posted: Fri, 17 Jul 2009 12:51:22 +0200
The biting water crises that had crippled operations at the University of
Zimbabwe has finally been contained and the institution is set to reopen
early next month, Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura has announced.

The biting water crises that had crippled operations at the University of
Zimbabwe has finally been contained and the institution is set to reopen
early next month, Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura has announced.

University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura has confirmed
that the university will resume business on the 3rd of August after being
closed for almost 6 months due to water shortages among other challenges.

Professor Nyagura said the university has managed to install nine boreholes,
four of which are powered by electricity. He said all the boreholes have
since been connected to the water mains and will feed entire institution
except the hostels.

Commenting on the payment of fees and accommodation, Professor Nyagura said
students are expected to pay their fees before the opening date.

He stressed that all students will have to look for accommodation elsewhere
as there is no water in the halls of residence.

"Students in the Humanities department are expected to pay US$404, those in
the Sciences department are to pay US$504 and US$674 for those in the
Veterinary Science Department," he said.

The University of Zimbabwe was officially closed on the 6th of February
after the water crises had reached unmanageable labels.

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Gvt to eradicate political violence

Posted: Thu, 16 Jul 2009 14:47:44 +0200
The government has made a big step to eradicate political violence by
dedicating the 24th to 26th this month as a period when the three Principals
of the GPA are expected to lead the nation in renouncing political violence
in the best interests of National Healing.

The government has made a big step to eradicate political violence by
dedicating the 24th to 26th this month as a period when the three Principals
of the GPA are expected to lead the nation in renouncing political violence
in the best interests of National Healing.

In an inter-party political agreement declaration gazzetted by government,
the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration has been
authorized to embark on National Dedication program.

President Robert Mugabe has declared the 24th to the 26th of this month as a
period which all Zimbabweans at home and abroad should publicly renounce,
reject and report all forms of political violence as the government moves to
restore peace and stability in the country.

Outlining the contents of Extraordinary Gazzette, the three co-ministers of
National Healing, Cde John Nkomo, Mrs. Sekai Holland and Mr. Gibson Sibanda,
spoke with one voice on the need for all citizens to take the 24th to the
26th July as a first step of a long and demanding journey to dedicate
themselves to God in the country's effort to build a peaceful Zimbabwe.

In the government Extraordinary Gazette, the President appealed to all
political parties to take this opportunity to refrain from inciting
hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred.

He also implored the government to ensure the safety return of all
Zimbabweans desirous of returning from the Diaspora.

Traditional chiefs and faith based leaders at all levels have been requested
to seek the cleansing of the land from the curse of conflict and bloodshed.

Chairperson of the Organ on National Healing Cde John Nkomo warned all
political activists inciting violence to stop the practice as the law will
take its course without fear or favor on any found wanting.

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Jo'burg to resettle hundreds sheltering in church

      WILSON JOHWA  Published: 2009/07/17 06:18:16 AM

THE City of Johannesburg plans to move about 700 refugees and homeless
people living in squalid conditions in the Central Methodist Church to an
unused building in downtown Johannesburg.

But the removal faces a delay as the Salvation Army, approached by the city
to manage the centre, is yet to commit itself. "At this stage we have no
real involvement except that we're negotiating on running the centre for
them," Salvation Army spokesman Capt Garth Niemand said yesterday.

He said renovations to the old Moth Hall in Noord Street were not complete.
But indications were that it could soon take in the first 280 people,
peaking at 600 in about two months. "They have done a lot of work quickly;
they are very eager to get this off the ground," said Niemand.

Since the police clean-up in the area earlier this month there have been
about 3000 people living in the church. "They were chased off the streets,"
said Bishop Paul Verryn of the Methodist Church. The extra pressure forced
the church to open up new spaces previously not available to the homeless.

The planned removal would happen without consultation, Verryn said. "There
was absolutely no consultation with us at all."

The Methodist Church became a centre of refuge as the political situation in
Zimbabwe deteriorated in the past few years.

City authorities would not comment on the planned relocation this week. "I
don't have details; the relocations are done by the province," said
spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane. Fred Mokoko, the spokesman for local
government MEC Mpetjane Lekgoro, was not available to comment.

Most people sheltering in the church are Zimbabwean, followed by homeless
South Africans, then Malawians.

" There is something happening in Malawi because suddenly there is an
increase in the number of Malawians," said Verryn.

He acknowledged the existence of tensions in the building, including between
Zimbabwe's Shona and Ndebele ethnic groups. "It is a place where humanity
meets, and because of congestion it is going to be a place of tension."

Overcrowding around the church has turned the area into an eyesore, and
brought complaints from business owners and lawyers in the adjoining Pitje
Chambers. In March, they applied for a court order aimed at forcing the
Johannesburg municipality to remove the multitude of loiterers.

Lack of ablution facilities has given the area a strong stench.

Verryn acknowledged the existence of a gang of criminals seeking shelter in
the church.

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Zim talks are a joke, says NGO

From The Star (SA), 16 July

Peta Thornycroft

Harare - Zimbabwe's pro-democracy organisations have labelled this week's
start of consultations for a new constitution a "farce". Many are
considering pulling out of the chaotic process, which they say has been
sabotaged by Zanu PF. The most important NGO to attend "under protest",
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, issued a strong statement yesterday
saying it was assessing whether to pull out of the talks. The first session
of the All Stakeholders Constitutional Conference on Monday was violently
disrupted by some veterans from the liberation war and Zanu PF members,
including two cabinet ministers. The sabotage of the opening ceremony at the
Harare International Conference Centre appeared to have been carefully
planned and staged. If Zimbabwe's human rights lawyers, who have valiantly
fought in the Zanu PF-dominated courts to free political prisoners, do
withdraw, insiders say they will be followed by a flood of pro-democracy
groups. Irene Petras, a director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said
her organisation had analysed the list of delegates to the
constitution-making process, and more than 40 percent were politicians or
belonged to politically aligned organisations. Many other delegates were
civil servants. She added that the administration of the run-up to the
conference had been so chaotic that the rights lawyers had only discovered
through a newspaper article that they were allowed eight delegates - out of
4 000 - 48 hours before the start on Monday.

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Cholera Epidemic Over, but Zimbabwe Still in State of Alert


      By Ish Mafundikwa
      17 July 2009

The cholera epidemic that hit Zimbabwe late last year is now officially
over. But humanitarian groups warn the onset of the rains later this year
could trigger another outbreak. Efforts are underway to avert more deaths
from the disease.

The World Health Organization says more than 4,250 people died from cholera
and more than 98,000 people were infected during Zimbabwe's last rainy
season. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
have described the recent outbreak as the worst in Africa in 15 years.

Tsitsi Singizi, spokesperson for the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF,
told VOA that while the scale and numbers may be unprecedented the outbreak
was nothing new.

"Over the last six years Zimbabwe has been experiencing a cholera outbreak
every year," he said. "The historic pattern of cholera warrants almost a
preparedness plan every year to respond to cholera."

Singizi says one of the reasons for the poor response to the outbreak last
year was the near collapse of the public health system. She says this has
largely been remedied with the support of donor and humanitarian
organizations who are paying allowances to medical personnel. Zimbabwe's
minister of health, Doctor Henry Madzorera, says this has ensured that most
health workers have returned to work.

"In spite of the poor salaries and working conditions we find that most of
our health workers are back at work now," he said. "The health care delivery
system is now many, many times better than it was in August last year when
the outbreak started."

Globally, cholera outbreaks usually occur in rural areas. But the epicenter
of last year's epidemic was the capital city Harare. Other urban centers
were also hit hard. Infrastructure in these centers was so degraded that the
authorities failed to provide safe drinking water and streams of raw sewage
flowed in some residential areas.

Tsitsi Singizi said UNICEF is concerned that the sanitation and water
problems have not yet been resolved. Since the epidemic, the U.N. agency has
sunk more than 200 boreholes in areas in Harare and elsewhere that have not
had running water for a long time.

Dr. Madzorera said local authorities are working frantically to ensure that
the sewage and water infrastructures are rehabilitated before the rains. The
health minister said the Ministry of Finance has given Harare $17 million
government to fix Harare's water and sanitation infrastructure.

Dr. Madzorera said even though the epidemic is over, Zimbabwe is in what he
described as a state of alert. He said the cholera command and control
center still meets every week. He said Zimbabweans are being educated on how
to prevent cholera and encouraged to use a range of water purification

The international community is also helping. In addition to the boreholes,
UNICEF is providing some urban authorities with water purification
chemicals, providing hygiene kits to schools and replenishing stocks of
rehydration kits. The World Health Organization has also started training
community cholera surveillance teams to help in the early detection of, and
response to, a fresh outbreak, if that happens.

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Widespread food shortages looming

Photo: IRIN
Food aid on its way
JOHANNESBURG , 17 July 2009 (IRIN) - Large-scale food assistance to Zimbabweans could start in the next few weeks, according to a USAID situation report released on 16 July.

Zimbabwe's April 2009 harvest, although considerably better than in previous seasons, was still 680,000 tons short of the national requirement. Initial estimates in a crop report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) are that about 2.8 million people will need food assistance in 2009/10.

At the height of the 2009 lean season - the few months prior to harvest - nearly seven million people required food aid, a figure that gradually escalated from the FAO/WFP June 2008 projection that about 5.1 million Zimbabweans would suffer food insecurity.

Approximately 600,000 vulnerable people are currently receiving food aid, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance.

However, economic conditions have changed since 2008 and foreign currencies, such as the South African rand and US dollar, have replaced the Zimbabwean dollar, making private-sector imports of cereals easier.

"FAO estimates private sector commercial imports for 2009/2010 of approximately 500,000mt, lowering the forecast deficit to 180,000mt," said the USAID situation report.

"Although food security in Zimbabwe has improved in 2009, relief agencies predict the need for a large-scale food assistance programme starting in August or September, when food stores from the April 2009 harvest will likely be exhausted."

WFP spokesman Richard Lee told IRIN a Vulnerability Assessment Committee would survey Zimbabwe's food requirements in August "to give a better picture" of the country's needs and the options available, which "may not be just straight food assistance".

He said private-sector imports would alleviate Zimbabwe's food shortages but, like the rest of the southern African region, the availability of food did not mean that people could afford to pay for it.


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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How to get donor funds to the needy - analysis

Photo: IRIN
Waiting for donor funding
HARARE, 17 July 2009 (IRIN) - That Zimbabwe needs aid is a given - its battered population has experienced widespread food shortages, hyperinflation and a devastating cholera epidemic - but so far the stumbling block of trust in the institutions responsible for handling money has proved bigger than need.

The formation of a unity government in February 2009 between President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was welcomed by the country's major donors, the United States and the European Union, but did not lead to their lifting targeted sanctions against the ZANU-PF elite, or open the floodgates to billions of dollars in aid.

Analysts say donor community doubt in Mugabe's sincerity surfaced soon after the Global Political Agreement, which paved the way for the unity government, was signed in September 2008.

Within a few months, Mugabe re-appointed Gideon Gono as Governor of the Reserve Bank, despite protests from the MDC that this was in flagrant disregard of the agreement, which requires consensus on such appointments.

Gono was at the helm of the central bank when Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate ballooned to more than 200 million percent officially, while unofficially being estimated in the trillions of percent, but it was his admission of dipping into private accounts for foreign exchange that destroyed any credibility the governor might still have had with donors.

Turf wars

Since then a turf war has raged between the MDC and ZANU-PF over who would disseminate donor funding, with ZANU-PF alleging that the MDC would use funds to advance its interests ahead of an expected election in the next few years, and the MDC claiming that if money were channelled through Gono it would disappear into ZANU-PF coffers.

The unity government wants US$8 billion to kick start the once prosperous economy. Unemployment levels are estimated at 94 percent, while up until the April 2010 harvest seven million of Zimbabwe's 11 million population survived on emergency food aid.

To break the deadlock, the unity government created an Aid Coordination Policy (ACP) in the hope of reducing suspicions and providing a credible vehicle for donors to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, without any nagging doubts that the money might not reach the right people.

''With the creation of the new aid policy we are sending a very loud and clear message to the donor community that we now have in place a policy and an environment in which Zimbabwe is ready to receive money and spend it on the people''
Agreement on the policy did not come easily - ZANU-PF cabinet members rejected it three times before coming on board - and is seen by analysts as one of the few compromises made by Mugabe's party. It is designed to evade party political rivalries, while ensuring transparency and consensus.

The aid policy falls under the ministry of finance, controlled by the MDC, but the co-opting of ministers from ZANU-PF to be party to decisions on the allocation of funds helped smooth the way, political commentator and businessman Paddington Japajapa told IRIN.

The ACP will see donor funds channelled to the Multi Donor Trust Fund and allocated by the Cabinet Committee on Aid Coordination (CCAC), as well as other subordinate support structures such as the Aid Technical Committee, the Government Development Forum and the Aid Coordinating Unit.

Tsvangirai chairs the Cabinet Committee on Aid Coordination, comprised of the two deputy prime ministers, Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe, and other MDC and ZANU-PF ministers.

The ministers for economic planning and investment, local government, public works, justice, national state security, finance, international cooperation, industry and commerce, and foreign affairs are also members of the Cabinet Committee on Aid Coordination. Decisions on the allocation of funds to ministries, departments or sectors will be by consensus.

Gorden Moyo, a minister of state in the prime minister's office and member of the CCAC, told IRIN that the committee would engage with the donor community in development planning, and help the government and the donor community align their activities to reduce duplication. Above all, accountability will be emphasized.

"With the creation of the new aid policy we are sending a very loud and clear message to the donor community that we now have in place a policy and an environment in which Zimbabwe is ready to receive money and spend it on the people," Moyo told IRIN.


Japajapa said the establishment of an aid coordination policy made sense, as the political parties were still haggling about the continued stay of the reserve bank governor.

"The aid policy has many positives, in the sense that while politicians are still fighting over outstanding issues, they have seen the importance of continued engagement with the donor community," he told IRIN.

''The aid policy has many positives, in the sense that while politicians are still fighting over outstanding issues, they have seen the importance of continued engagement with the donor community''
"The ZANU-PF side has also been ready to compromise because they realize that donors want to channel their money through a credible institution; on the other hand, if the committee is able to work in harmony, then it may reduce suspicions among the politicians."

Ernest Mudzengi, another political commentator, believed the suspicions and lack of trust between the political parties were too deeply entrenched, and that bickering could hamstring the coordination aid policy.

"Since September 2008, when the Global Political Agreement was signed, very little has been agreed upon by the different political parties," he noted.

"They may all be represented in the Cabinet Committee on Aid Coordination, but the culture of arguing and bickering is likely to go ahead among politicians, possibly to the detriment of the ordinary people, who still yearn for genuine, effective leadership."


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Zimbabwe dispatches: no coincidence

Updated on 17 July 2009

By Channel 4 News

Waiting for a lunch time meeting to start, the conversation amongst the
guests showed vividly just how abnormal life in Zimbabwe still is, writes

The most prominent topic was the recent conference concerning the drawing up
of a new constitution for Zimbabwe. One man, who had an eye witness account
of the attempted registration of over 4000 delegates, described the process
as "pandemonium".

There was a maze of bureaucracy with forms needing stamps, signatures and
initials from a number of different officials - each of who had long queues
of people waiting to see them and the lines moved at a painfully slow speed.

At the end of the day set aside for registration, less than 300 delegates
had been processed.

The next day when the conference should have started, the "pandemonium" of
Sunday became "utter chaos". Some accredited delegates said they couldn't
even get in because the place was already full to bursting with people
sitting in the aisles and standing against walls.

Another said that security was very slack and hundreds of people were
streaming into the venue without being checked and it was clear that
something untoward was about to happen.

One senior delegate described how Zanu PF supporters and war veterans tore
up leaflets and drowned out the attempted opening speech by singing
revolutionary songs, shouting Zanu PF slogans, throwing water bottles and
upturning plastic chairs.

"This country was won by the gun, not the constitution," was one of the
slogans being shouted and that in itself was damning evidence.

  Whenever there is something important going on in the country the phone
lines collapse, STD dialling codes between towns stop working and emails
bounce back.
Another of the guests at our at our lunchtime meeting had received a text
message from an eye witness at the Harare conference venue saying that
"hooligans" were on the rampage and there was no way they would be talking
about a new constitution that day.

Sure enough the police broke up the conference and shortly afterwards the
finger pointing and blaming began. Despite numerous eye witness reports by
independent journalists who had witnessed the uproar, ZBC TV and Radio news
bulletins repeatedly said that disruptions had been caused by
representatives of trade unions, the MDC and other groups opposed to Zanu

For the rest of Monday police were thick on the ground everywhere - even in
towns 100 km away from the capital city.

Shaking our heads in despair at how Zimbabwe seems to be going nowhere, how
predictable these outbursts are and how Zanu PF just don't seem to have
changed their mindset or behaviour at all, the conversation turned to the
collapse of email and internet connections this week.

Every day emails are bouncing back in their hundreds. A message to
subscribers from one ISP reported that the problem seemed to be coming from
Tel One - the government controlled telephone provider.

"The timing of this is very suspicious," someone remarked. Whenever there is
something important going on in the country - be it an election, a political
crisis or some other major drama - the phone lines collapse, STD dialling
codes between towns stop working and emails bounce back.

There's nothing subtle about it and coincidence is not a word we use.

Everyone nods in agreement and at that moment the lights overhead flash,
flicker and then stay on. The latest power cut, only nine hours today, has
just come to an end.

The kettle starts to hum, tea making gets underway, laptops are plugged in
and finally we get down to the business at hand in our lunchtime meeting.

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A letter from the diaspora

17th July 2009

Dear Friends.
"The lion called Zimbabwe is about to roar." declared Nelson Chamisa when he
heard that the Minister of Finance had lifted the import duty on cell phones
and computers. Chamisa was talking about the effect freeing up
communications would have in the rural areas where every son of the soil
would have a cellphone and access to the world wide net of information
technology. It's hard to believe that people who are barely surviving will
be rushing out to buy the latest model computers and cellphones when they do
not even have electricity most of the time - if at all. I have been trying
to reach a cellphone in Murehwa for a week now only to be told, the number
you have dialled cannot be reached. 'Pigs might fly' seems a more
appropriate metaphor but the 'lion' image has a nice poetic ring about it.

The events of this last week, however, suggest that the only roar we are
likely to hear is from the mob that invaded the Constitutional Stakeholders'
Conference on Monday 13th July. The noise made by the likes of Joseph
Chinotimba and his bunch of so-called war veterans was certainly enough to
drown out the voice of reason. The BBC captured the whole debacle on camera
and watching it just confirmed my worst fears that this charade of a Unity
Government could ever succeed in the face of such blind intolerance and
stupidity. Blood and bullets seems to be the only language they understand.
Speaker Lovemore Moyo had no chance and was forced to sit down as the mob
chanted and hurled missiles at the official delegates. It was all there on
the BBC video including one memorable shot of Minister Tendai Biti as he
remained firmly in his seat while most of the other delegates fled from the
chaos in the hall and the police stood by.

The fact that the three principals to the GPA did not turn up at all surely
suggests that they knew in advance what was going to happen. So who gave the
go-ahead to the rowdy demonstrators? Are we really supposed to believe that
Ministers and Zanu PF MP's, war veterans and the police themselves acted
without their Dear Leader's approval? It is no secret that Mugabe is in
favour if the Kariba Draft Constitution that gives him unlimited tenure;
neither he nor his followers want a new constitution. After the Rumble at
the Rainbow Towers was all over, Mugabe predictably expressed his
'abhorrence' at what had happened and Prime Minister Tsvangirai said he
could only agree with what the President had said. As the Zim Independent's
Muckraker commented "He (Tsvangirai) seems to be doing an awful lot of that

Meanwhile, the MDC activist, who tried to restrain the Zanu PF MP Patrick
Zhuwawo from beating up another MDC MP, is in prison while Zhuwawo, of
course, walks free. He is the President's close relative, after all. It is
all sickeningly familiar to Zimbabweans and even the most naïve of us have
to admit that this Unity Government is going nowhere fast. Robert Mugabe is
still firmly in the driving seat and, even if it means taking the whole
country over a cliff into the abyss, he will not budge. Unlike The
Zimbabwean in this week's editorial, I cannot find it in my heart to give
Mugabe the benefit of the doubt - again. "For the sake of our beloved
Zimbabwe, we are always prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt." says
the editorial. Surely that is stretching credulity too far? Is it not time
to face the facts head on and admit that this so-called settlement has been
a terrible mistake, for Zimbabwe and all her people. Yes, there has been a
short-term advantage in the improving financial situation but in terms of
human rights, media freedom and justice for all there has been almost no
progress. Is it really in Zimbabwe's best interest to allow this 85 year old
man to be given the benefit of the doubt again? This is the man who has
repeatedly demonstrated over nearly thirty years his contempt for the
democratic process, who has time and again rigged elections, denied the
voice of the people and caused immense human suffering. What other reason do
we all have to be here in the world-wide diaspora, if it is not Robert
Mugabe's intransigence?

For me, there was a tiny glimmer of hope this week that perhaps the light is
beginning to dawn in the minds of some of the MDC 'partners' in this Global
Political Agreement. It was enlightening to hear in Minister Biti's
Supplementary Budget Statement this week the following comment, "I urge our
principals to ensure the credibility and integrity of the GPA is respected
not in terms of having tea together." Apparently, the ZTV, acting on the
directive of George Charamba, the Presidential spokesperson, decided to
black out Biti's budget statement and show a cartoon instead. Was it an
animal cartoon, I wonder, where the lion was roaring at a bunch of silly
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.

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