The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Pope meets Zimbabwean cardinals
9.39AM, Fri Jul 1 2005

The Pope is addressing the Roman Catholic Cardinals of Zimbabwe as part of
their Vatican visit.

There is increasing hope he will use the moment to draw more attention to
the increasing plight of Zimbabweans at the hands of President Robert

Back in the UK there are more cases of failed asylum seekers being forced to
return to Zimbabwe despite claims they are in danger.

The deportation policy was described the Roman Catholic Archbishop of
Westminster as "deeply abhorrent".

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said: "The government of Zimbabwe appears to
be conducting a sustained, systematic campaign of terror against its own

"I share the frustration of all people of good will at this violation of
basic human dignity and of international law.

"The expulsion of hundreds of thousands of poor people from their homes,
leaving them to sleep in winter temperatures in the open air, is deeply
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Zim Independent

Second eviction wave hits Porta Farm
Ray Matikinye
THERE is a striking similarity between a visit to Zimbabwe by Queen
Elizabeth II 14 years ago for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
(Chogm) and the UN special envoy on Human Settlements, Anna Kajumulo
Tibaijuka's fact-finding mission to Harare this week.

Although the visits are of contrasting hue, both have caused an outcry over
the eviction of families from Porta Farm outside the capital.

Among the 1 500 families removed from the farm is 65-year-old widow,
Felicitus Chinyuku experiencing her second eviction. It has left her without
any possession other than her clothes and dishes.

Many of the evicted families, who have no alternative home to go because
they were of Malawian extraction and third generation Zimbabweans, said
police had told them only to take basic belongings. No one was allowed to
ferry building material they had salvaged from the debris of their former
homes out of the settlement.

"They told us when we get to Caledonia Farm we will have to leave our
furniture at the gate before entering the camp," said Ashton Shumba, a human
rights activist also evicted from the settlement. "We are not allowed to
take any electrical goods such as televisions into the camp. They said all
our furniture would be auctioned to raise money to feed us while we are

Officer-in-charge of the eviction and demolition, Assistant Commissioner
Maeresera who could not confirm the settlers' claims, said the relocation
would give the families a new start.

"They are going to live a better life than the type they were enduring here.
One makes a new start and has peace of mind when they know they have
permanent settlement. I think it is good that these people are relocated. No
one enjoys disrupting people's lives but the law has to be followed,"
Maeresera said.

"The government settled us here with promises to build us better houses,"
Chinyuku said. "It tried to evict us in 1995 and lost the case in the High
Court. And now they arbitrarily evict us. What type of life is this?"

"We do not want to go to Caledonia as we will die of diarrhoea," shouted one
irate boy above the din of complaints from the settlers.

Some of the people condemned the Caledonia life as not suitable for a family
as they will be separated.

Men are required to live on their own side of the holding camp separated

from their spouses and children.

"Most of us here originated from Malawi and we do not know where will go,"
said Hamilton Langton.

Chinyuku said: "It is better for them to kill us than chasing us like dogs
like this."

She has filed an urgent application with the High Court for a spoliation
order assisted by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on behalf of the
1 500 families. She says her life has been shattered.

"Who can believe them now after failing to provide us homes for the past 14
years?" she asked.

Lawyers from ZLHR, Otto Saki and Rangu Nyamurundira, tried in vain to halt
the evictions as hundreds watched their homes flattened.

Armed riot police on Wednesday demolished the sprawling settlement at Porta
Farm outside Harare where it relocated families from Mbare and Epworth away
from royal or public glare ahead of the 1991 Chogm.

The eviction which adds to a growing number of the homeless indicates
President Mugabe's continued defiance of international opinion. Demolition
of settlements continues in spite of the presence of UN representative
Tibaijuka who is assessing the situation on behalf of UN secretary-general,
Kofi Annan.

While Tibaijuka was holed up in a meeting with President Mugabe on
Wednesday, a human tragedy was unfolding about 20 km out of the capital as
earthmoving equipment rumbled through the dusty pathways of the sprawling
settlement, demolishing homes.

"We have been told that we will be transported to Caledonia Farm but we hear
conditions are worse there," Moline Kapfunde, who has been living at Porta
Farm camp since 1991, said. "Some of the people here escaped from that 'keep'
(a reference to the notorious war-time protected villages).

"We have been given until 6pm to move or risk our belongings being burnt,"
she bemoaned. Brought up by relatives when her mother died, she says he has
never known her father.

"I know no other home than this," says her age peer Freddie Mlauzi whose
late father was displaced from neighbouring River Garden Farm.

Sitembile Samaneka (29) of Malawian parentage came to Porta Farm at the age
of 15. Widowed three years ago, she looks after five children in addition to
her late brother's deaf and dumb son.

"I would rather they killed me here as they threatened earlier," she
lamented. "Where do I take all my dependants? I have never been to Malawi
and they insist I should go where I originally came from."

These are just a few of the thousands of displaced people Tibaijuka is
unlikely to meet.
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Zim Independent

Reshuffle to accommodate Mugabe minions
Dumisani Muleya
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe may soon be forced to undertake a mini cabinet
reshuffle or drop three ministers, hardly 90 days after appointing his new
team, to avoid illegally maintaining ministers who are not MPs.

Sources said Mugabe could be compelled to take these measures because his
initial plan to accommodate Small-Scale and Medium Enterprises minister
Sithembiso Nyoni as well as Harare and Bulawayo resident ministers, who are
also not MPs, in the proposed "stop-gap" Senate, were in disarray.

David Karimanzira is Harare's resident minister - not governor - while Cain
Mathema is Bulawayo's resident minister. But the two are not MPs.

In terms of the constitution all ministers should be MPs and those who are
not have three months to regularise their positions.

In two weeks' time Nyoni, Karimanzira and Mathema can no longer lawfully
remain ministers unless something is done to rescue their situation.

A source said Mugabe, who on Wednesday moved around permanent secretaries,
is likely to reshuffle his cabinet to resolve what one observer called an
"embarrassing situation which shows a lack of planning and disorganisation
on the part of the executive".

Mugabe initially thought by the time the grace period for his ministers to
become MPs expires the upper house of parliament would be in place and he
would appoint them legislators.

However, efforts to revive the Senate, abolished in 1990, have run into
serious problems which delayed his agenda.

"The problem is that this Senate issue is intertwined with Mugabe's
succession plans," a source said.

"This has slowed down progress because he wants to ensure he gets things
right. Otherwise, his plans will come unstuck."

Sources said the draft Senate Bill had been formulated after a long debate
on the principles. The cabinet committee on legislation yesterday discussed
the Bill, due to be presented to cabinet on Tuesday. The Bill is expected to
be gazetted next week and be debated by the public for at least 30 days as
it deals with a constitutional amendment.

The parliamentary legal committee needs 26 days to scrutinise the Bill but
there is controversy raging as to whether a constitutional issue should be
considered by the body or not.

Zanu PF does not want the Bill to go before the legal committee because this
will slow down the process. Opposition Movement for Democratic Change MPs
are said to be opposed to plans to railroad the Bill.

The initial proposal was to have a five-year Senate with 65 members with the
proposed 10 administrative provinces having five members each but the number
has been increased to 66 to give Zanu PF a "two-thirds majority" in both

Zanu PF's claimed two-thirds majority in the House of Assembly is currently
under a court challenge. Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has virtually
admitted that the ruling party's claims of an absolute majority were false.
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Zim Independent

Fuel prices: analysts warn of dire consequences
Eric Chiriga
THE increase in fuel prices is inflationary and will worsen the economic
crisis, analysts have said.

The three-fold increase in the fuel prices will make the targets set by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, more difficult to attain.

The government this week increased the price of fuel by 300% in response to
the rise in world oil prices from US$27 a barrel to more than US$60.

Petrol now costs $10 000 a litre, up from $3 600 while diesel is now costing
$9 600 a litre, up from $3 800.

Eric Bloch, economic analyst and advisor to Gono, anticipates that by
year-end inflation will be between 180-200%.

This is contrary to Gono's revised inflation target of between 50-80% by the
end of the year.

Initially, the central bank had put its forecast at 20-35%.

Zimbabwe's inflation currently stands at 144,4%, one of the highest rates in
the world.

Another economist, Witness Chinyama, said the fuel price increases would
result in an increase in costs of production at micro level.

"The burden of the fuel price increases will be passed on to the final
products," Chinyama said.

He said that the percentage increase in product prices would be much higher
than the percentage increase in the fuel prices.

"It will be inflationary because the fuel shortage is going to continue
despite the increase in price."

He said people are already buying fuel from the parallel market at prices
more than the recently gazetted and this translates into higher basic
commodity costs.

"The government will then introduce price controls and companies will be
forced to reduce output," he said. Chinyama said the country is losing a lot
of man-hours as people spend a lot of time in fuel queues.

"This whole issue should be tackled within the framework of the issue of
foreign currency shortage," Chinyama said.

The country is facing a severe foreign currency shortage and before the
increase in the oil prices, the government was struggling to raise foreign
currency to import ample fuel for the country.

The foreign currency auction can only raise about US$44 million a week while
US$62 million is spent on fuel importation.

Inspite of the price hike, Petroleum Marketers of Zimbabwe ruled out any
immediate availability of commodity.

Despite the inflationary effect, the fuel price increase will also have
ripple effects on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), economic growth and other
economic fundamentals.

Although the commodity is still scarce in the country, a number of service
stations in the central business district have already effected the new

The increase in the world price of oil will also exacerbate the shortage of
foreign currency in the country.

Employees' representative body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
also said that the price increases would have a serious adverse effect on
the working populace.

"While there is consensus on the need for the adjustment of fuel prices in

line with international oil prices, the ripple effect of the three fold
increment goes back to haunt the workers who are experiencing transport
problems, due to the acute shortage of fuel," Wellington Chibebe, ZCTU
secretary general said.

Chebebe said the transport situation will not improve, further exacerbating
the plight of workers as the increase will trigger drastic increases in
prices of basic commodities.

"ZCTU feels that the increases should have been staggered over a period of
time for workers to adjust to the constant increase of transport costs and
basic commodities," he said.

The fuel shortage became complicated over the past two months.

Zimbabwe requires 2,5 million litres of diesel and 2 million litres of fuel
every day.

As the shortage bites, Zimbabwe has now allowed truck owners to ferry
stranded commuters to and from work. City residents spend hours in transport

Rural buses have also been directed to ferry the stranded commuters to their
work places.

Energy and Power Development minister, Mike Nyambuya said the fuel prices
would be reviewed regularly to take into account international and regional
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Zim Independent

Govt heightens efforts to mislead UN
Dumisani Muleya/Augustine Mukaro
GOVERNMENT is intensifying efforts to mislead United Nations
secretary-general Kofi Annan's special envoy who is assessing the impact of
the urban demolition blitz which has triggered a huge humanitarian crisis.

Since it was announced that Annan would be dispatching to Zimbabwe Anna
Kajumulo Tibaijuka, executive director of the world body's housing agency
UN-Habitat, government has been making frantic efforts to give the
impression that it has launched a massive reconstruction project to build
houses for more than a million people affected by the sweeping crackdown -
to be completed by the end of next month.

The hectic damage limitation exercise - which civic groups and analysts have
described as a gigantic fraud - include claims of allocation of thousands of
residential stands, building of houses, creation of thousands of jobs, and
establishment of transit camps for refugees - all underwritten by a $3
trillion reconstruction fund.

The smokescreen is apparently designed to cover up the disastrous impact of
the crackdown. Human rights and civic groups say at least 200 000 homes have
been destroyed, displacing over a million people. Many are still sleeping
out in the open across the country.

Thousands of the refugees are now being kept at "transit camps" like
Caledonia Farm while alternative homes are supposedly being sought. At least
300 000 school children are said to have been thrown out of school. Six
people have died since the crackdown began more than four weeks ago.

Apart from protests by Zimbabwean civil society, including lawyers and
churches, the demolitions have sparked outrage in the international
community, including the United States, the European Union, the Group of
Eight (the world's richest nations), and the Commonwealth from which
Zimbabwe withdrew in 2003.

Fearing the dire consequences of "Operation Murambatsvina" attracting
international censure, especially by the United Nations Security Council,
government embarked on a damage-control exercise in a bid to repackage a
disastrous demolition crackdown as a development initiative.

The visit by the UN envoy is a diplomatic escalation of the issue and a sign
of grave concern in the corridors of power at the UN headquarters in New

After discussing the demolition crisis in the Zanu PF politburo and central
committee last week, as well as in cabinet, authorities made panicky
attempts to give the impression that the situation was under control.

President Robert Mugabe put in place an inter-ministerial committee, which
Tibaijuka met yesterday, and "building brigades" to spearhead the claimed
reconstruction exercise which came unstuck at Whitecliff Farm after the High
Court this week ruled that the project was illegal as the land was private

The purported reconstruction campaign - Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle -
was hastily announced ahead of Tibaijuka's arrival on Sunday.

This was crudely designed, civil society critics say, to pull the wool over
her fact-finding team's eyes.

Vice-President Joseph Msika officially launched the rebuilding campaign at
Whitecliff on Wednesday, the same day Tibaijuka was meeting Mugabe to
discuss the issue - and as Porta Farm was being cleared of its inhabitants.
But Msika was doing so unlawfully in view of the High Court interdict.

Mugabe claimed he had wanted to implement the "clean-up" exercise before the
March 31 general election but feared it would be misconstrued as an assault
on opposition strongholds.

However, there is no evidence of him promising a "clean-up" after the
election during the campaign. Had he done so, he would have won even fewer
votes than he got in the urban centres. What has been clearly recorded is
Mugabe's complaints about urban voters, whom he has called names, rejecting
his party.

Government claims that at least 10 000 residential stands will be allocated
at Whitecliff Housing Development to accommodate those displaced by its
destruction of "illegal structures", informal businesses and the black
market economy.

Although Mugabe says government has set aside $3 trillion, sources said this
sort of money simply doesn't exist.

Diplomatic sources said this week Tibaijuka was unlikely to be misled
because she had a good briefing from United Nations agencies in Harare both
before and after coming to Zimbabwe.

Tibaijuka has met UNDP resident representative Agostinho Zacarias and UN
agencies, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the
International Organisation for Migration, World Health Organisation, World
Food Programme, United Nations Development Fund for Women and Unicef - the
United Nations Children's Fund.
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Zim Independent

Govt's reconstruction plan dealt a blow

GOVERNMENT'S "reconstruction" plan was this week dealt a major blow after
the High Court declared illegal the on-going allocation of stands and
building of so-called "model houses" at its flagship project on Whitecliff

The ruling came as government was making frantic efforts at reconstruction
in view of the United Nations special envoy's visit to assess the impact of
the demolition campaign.

The High Court on Wednesday ruled that government had no right to allocate
stands and build sample houses on Whitecliff Farm because it was
privately-owned land.

This threw into doubt the so-called Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle,
launched by Vice-President Joseph Msika this week.

Whitecliff, together with three other peri-urban farms, has been subdivided
into residential stands to build houses for more than a million people
displaced by the "clean-up" campaign. More than 9 500 stands have been
allocated at Whitecliff.

Businessman Edward Nyanyiwa owns Whitecliff through his company, Eddies
Pfugari Properties (Pvt) Ltd, and has held the title deeds to the property
for the past eight years. In a ruling that could deal a huge blow to the
government's plans, the High Court said the allocation of stands and the
sample houses built at Whitecliff were illegal and should be stopped.

High Court Judge Justice Mary Gowora issued a provisional order barring
government from allocating stands and constructing sample houses on the

Through his lawyers Scanlen & Holderness, Nyanyiwa had argued in his urgent
court application that the allocation of stands and building of sample
houses was illegal and should be stopped immediately.

Nyanyiwa cited Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo as the first
respondent, saying his decision to distribute stands on private property was

In her judgement Justice Gowora said the allocation of stands and building
of sample houses at Whitecliff was "illegal and wrongful".

The provisional order said the stands given to 9 500 people whose names were
published in the state media was "invalid" and should be reversed.

"It is declared that the allocation of residential stands and construction
of sample houses by the respondents (Chombo) and officers under them at the
applicant's property called the remainder of Whitecliff, situated in the
district of Salisbury, measuring 1065,7090 hectares, held under deed of
transfer No 10444/2000, is unlawful and wrongful," said the order.

"In the event that the respondents or one of them have commenced allocating
stands, it is ordered that such allocations are invalid and are of no force
or effect," said the order.

The court also ordered government to demolish sample houses it had
constructed at Whitecliff.

"In the event that the first respondent has constructed sample houses or any
structures on the applicant's property, the first respondent is hereby
ordered to destroy such structures within 48 hours of being served with a
copy of this order."

The order means that the people whose names were published in the state
media cannot take up their stands. Nyanyiwa has owned Whitecliff since 1998.
He had started developing residential stands on the property when war
veterans, at the instigation of politicians, settled on it at the peak of
the land invasions in 2000.

Government has been at pains to point out the benefits of Operation
Murambatsvina, launched four weeks ago amid destruction of shanty homes and
property, as a plan to restore order in Zimbabwe's urban areas. The
operation has provoked an international outcry over the humanitarian crisis
it has created.
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Zim Independent

Mugabe's pattern of repression

Dumisani Muleya

THE ongoing government-sponsored demolition blitz on shantytown homes,
"illegal structures", including office blocks, and the black market is
reminiscent of Zanu PF's long record of political repression.

While all sorts of theories have been unfurled to explain the repressive
behaviour of the state towards its citizens, one thing is clear: the
crackdown is evocative of government's well-documented history of reckless
abuse of power and autocratic tendencies.

Whatever the real motive of President Robert Mugabe's government, this time
round Zanu PF has only succeeded in reinforcing its credentials as an
authoritarian administration malevolently abusing state authority.

As appalling as this might be, there is nothing surprising about it. Soon
after coming to power in 1980 on the crest of a wave of popular support,
Zanu PF - one of the main forces in the broad liberation movement against
colonial rule - embarked on an aggressive power consolidation drive that
later degenerated into dictatorship.

The main target of Zanu PF repression at the time was the major opposition
party, PF Zapu. Then, as now, Mugabe suffered from a siege mentality and
paranoia which bred repression. Because he was not in firm control, he
seemed to fear losing his grip on power.

In the process, Mugabe developed institutions of command and support, such
as a partisan state bureaucracy, monolithic party and politicised security
agencies to back his rule.

This was driven by an exaggerated and almost irrational fear of Zapu and its
functionaries in state institutions, especially the army, and the desire for
untrammelled power which led to costly violent overreactions to any signs of

Mugabe himself has described his overreaction to the Zapu "problem" through
Gukurahundi massacres as an "act of madness".

Even though the campaign had ethnic overtones, it was largely about a brutal
struggle for power and Zanu PF's declared vision of a one-party state. Zapu
was the main stumbling block to Mugabe's socialist one-party state

Zanu PF leaders were locked in a wretched Marxist-Leninist pretence, the
mobilising ideology during the struggle, which soon evaporated as the party's
true colours began to show. The demolition campaign further shows how Zanu
PF's egalitarian dream has disappeared without trace.

This political pattern of Zanu PF repression - going back to the
pre-Independence era - also manifested itself again after the ruling party
suffered a humiliating electoral defeat during the constitutional draft
referendum in 2000.

Instead of responding to the reversal graciously, Zanu PF, which has no
established democratic temperament, angrily reacted with a society-wide
repression through chaotic farm invasions.

This spawned political violence and killings of more than 100 people, mostly
opposition MDC supporters, bombing and closure of newspapers, arrests and
harassment of journalists, purges of professional judges from the bench,
attacks on and cooption of civil society organisations, and lashing out at
real and perceived state enemies.

The land invasions and the concomitant, sustained political assault had
racial overtones. As he did during the long-running onslaught on Zapu and
its supporters, Mugabe during the land reform campaign rallied his followers
to launch a race war, saying:

"You must strike fear into the hearts of the white man, make them tremble,
our real enemies!"

Up to 15 white farmers were killed during the farm seizures. At least six
people have died during the current demolition campaign. The difference
between Gukurahundi and the land grab on the one hand and the demolition
campaign on the other is that the international community has voiced grave
concern this time round.

During the 1980s, the international community, especially Britain under the
Conservatives, turned a blind eye to the civilian massacres.

The current destruction of shacks, informal sector market stalls, tuck
shops, hair salons, shebeens, flea markets, vegetable markets, home
industries, urban home gardens and closure of offices fall well within a
well-established pattern of repression.

Before the newly independent Zimbabwean state which was emerging from a
protracted armed liberation struggle could settle down and set itself on a
reconstruction and development path, the new form of conflict broke out, in
all probability at the effective instigation of those in power.

Manipulating genuine teething problems of the new government, which could
have been resolved differently without massacres, Mugabe and his regime
invented the pretext of a mortal dissident threat and deployed the North
Korean-trained Five Brigade to the Matabeleland killing fields for a
five-year butchering campaign.

The ill-advised and grisly crackdown on a handful of army deserters, who had
run away largely because of internal clashes in the army between Zanla and
Zipra forces during the choppy integration period, claimed 20 000 civilian
lives, unleashing far-reaching consequences on the national psyche and body

What is happening now is simply a manifestation of similar Zanu PF
tendencies in a different form. If there is anything Zanu PF has been
consistent in, it's undoubtedly repression.

Due to social dynamics of the time and also by political design, Zanu PF
developed a parochial and intolerant form of nationalism shaped by an
eclectic mix of class, ethnic and ideological interests and contradictions.

That is why in the current ethnic, nepotistic and regional ordering - which
undermine democratic accountability and transparency - in state institutions
and the professional bureaucracy are commonplace.

This is the trouble with Zimbabwe and it distinguishes great African
nationalists like Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere from the likes of

Professor Brian Raftopoulos last month wrote in the context of the
demolitions that Zanu PF's uncanny brand of nationalism has grown
increasingly "intolerant of diversity and insists on uniformity of outlook",
something that leads to the "simplistic dichotomies of citizen/alien and

"Hence the anti-urbanism (Operation Restore Order and Murambatsvina) that
has become one of the hallmarks of the ruling party's authoritarian
nationalism, as it repeatedly located national (identity) authenticity in
the rural population," Raftopoulos said, "and hurled insults at the
'totemless strangers living under the spell of an urban ill-wind'."

Raftopoulos said this view - which was publicly aired by Mugabe and a Zanu
PF MP in parliament last week - showed "a good deal of continuity with the
colonial state in this characterisation of urbanites who, under settler
rule, were seen as temporary residents in cities tolerated as long as their
labour is required".

During the 1980s period, infighting in the army and apartheid South Africa's
"Total Onslaught" strategy gave government the excuse to commission
Gukurahundi excesses whose impact on the country's political and democratic
development has been disastrous.

Zanu PF has polished the art of inventing threats to mobilise the people
around a particular self-serving issue as a pretext to assert authoritarian

The low intensity civil war of the 1980s, which had its genesis in
the rough formation of the new nation-state, was one such invented crisis.

Usually the formation of a nation-state requires unity, but sometimes it is
adversely affected by ethnic, tribal, regional, or religious factors when
certain groups balk and refuse to give support to the political leadership
of the new state.

This is where the test of leadership comes in. Some leaders use statecraft
to forge unity while others fashion out a highly centralised system and use
instruments of coercion to come up with forced unity in fear.

Despite his leadership failures, Zambia's founding president Kenneth Kaunda,
as well as Mandela and Nyerere, albeit in different circumstances, managed
ethnic and racial diversity and their inherent contradictions much better
than Mugabe whose legacy is damning.

Mugabe's legacy includes a collapsed economy, a sea of poverty, and a
politically and ethnically divided nation.

This overshadows his achievements in social services, education, health,
infrastructure, and broad socio-economic advancement of the hitherto
marginalised majority.

As the International Monetary Fund pointed out this week, Operation
Murambatsvina has simply compounded Zimbabwe's plight.

In the end, history will without fail judge Mugabe and Zanu PF harshly.
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Zim Independent

Wake-up call from delusional dreams
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) team which was in the country last
month has painted a grim picture of the Zimbabwean economy. The immediate
future does not look anything like the bright sunny uplands we have been
promised by those in power. The IMF staff mission statement released this
week not only demonstrates the continued free-fall of our economy but is a
significant assault upon the integrity of budgetary projections by both
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa last year and of Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono who as recently as May claimed the economy was turning a corner.

The IMF said Gono's policies of consumer subsidies will fuel inflation.
Output is expected to decline further. Murerwa's 28% growth projection for
agriculture and 3% in GDP are now revealed to be mere mirages - which is
what we said at the time of his budget. Even Gono's revised GDP target of
2-2,5% is unlikely to be achieved.

The IMF said foreign currency shortages were expected to intensify and the
budget deficit will likely bloat.

The picture presented by the IMF is very different from the Nirvana we were
promised in the pre-election period. And Operation Murambatsvina will simply
compound existing problems, the Washington bankers say.

The government stratagem at the time needed a well-scrubbed and unsullied
face to stage the "turnaround" plan. Gono was the answer. We warned Gono at
the time that he was being invited to a political mangling in which his
person would be used to authenticate the Zanu PF fantasy that glory days
were nigh. The governor, as energetic as ever, has stuck to his guns albeit
in the face of mounting problems. His credibility is at stake.

"Failure is not an option" has been the rallying point of his thrust against
inflation, corruption and low productivity in the manufacturing and
agricultural sectors. But will this be his swansong? In May, Gono was forced
to revise his inflation forecasts from the initial target of 30-50% to
50-80% by year-end. His policy has suffered major losses on this front and
even the revised targets do not look realistic seeing as the cost of
virtually everything has gone up.

Gono in May unveiled hugely subsidised financing packages for the
agricultural sector and for exporters. This the IMF has said will "fuel a
sharp increase in money supply, and hence inflation", ironically his number
one enemy.

There are other inflationary pressures. Fuel went up by 300%, school fees
from $500 to $500 000 a term (no need to calculate the percentage increase
here) and rentals have shot up by at least 300%.

The cost of all basket goods has also soared sharply together with phone
charges and medication. No amount of manipulation of statistics can mask the
fact that inflation is fast heading north and is set to breach the 200% mark
by year-end. Politicians' overzealous war cries of recovery suddenly went
silent after the election, leaving Gono as the lone crusader. He is now
exposed and all attention is on him. The people want him to explain the
crippling fuel shortage, the rising prices of groceries, the shortage of
bank notes and rocketing inflation.

The problems sit snugly on his lap while politicians are now busy executing
Operation Murambatsvina, a smart sideshow which has left the economy
smarting even more. The IMF has said the operation "threatens to worsen
shortages and contribute to lower growth, and aggravate inflation pressures".
It is a question of the government pretending to be solving a problem when
in fact it is hurting the economy with every move.

The IMF is of the belief that the problems bedevilling the economy stem from
lack of a comprehensive plan to tighten monetary policy and lower the fiscal
deficit. The IMF says steps should be taken to introduce a unified,
market-determined exchange rate. There should also be structural reforms to
remove price controls and restore private sector confidence.

This means Gono's voluminous monetary policy documents and the government's
economic plans are not working and our authorities should stop pretending
that they are.

The IMF statement is a serious indictment of those claiming to run this

Like the IMF, we have always maintained that there cannot be a recovery so
long as Zimbabwe remains a pariah state in the community of nations. But our
rulers seem to enjoy this rogue reputation and are quick to justify their
every obtuse move.

We face expulsion from the IMF and the consequences will be dire for the
country. This does not appear to prod President Mugabe and his team to wake
up from the delusional dream that no one can run this country better than

"A rebuilding of relations with the international community is a critical
part of the effort to reverse the economic decline," the IMF says. But is
anyone listening amid the ruckus of Operation Murambatsvina?
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

The ant and the grasshopper

VERY recently I received an analogous fable, the origin of which is unknown,
but the analogy to recent Zimbabwean history being so apposite as to merit
its publication. The fable is a revised version of a moralistic story of

An ant and a grasshopper lived in the same field. During the summer the ant
works all day and night bringing in supplies for the winter, and he prepares
his home to keep him warm during the cold months ahead.

Meanwhile, the grasshopper hops and sings, eats all the grass he wants and
procreates. Come winter, it gets bitterly cold and the ant is well-fed and
warm in his house, but the grasshopper has not prepared for winter, so he
dies, leaving a whole horde of little grasshoppers without food and shelter.

The moral of the story is of course, that one should work hard to ensure
that you can take care of yourself.

However, the updated version has a sequel:

The starving offspring of the grasshopper demanded to know why the ant
should be allowed to be warm and well-fed, while next door they are living
in terrible conditions without food and proper clothing. A TV crew shows up
and broadcasts footage of the poor grasshoppers, contrasting this with
footage of the ant, smug in his comfortable home with a pantry full of food.
The public is stunned. The print media is inundated with bitter,
recriminatory letters. Thousands demonstrate in the streets of the capital.
How can it be, in this beautiful field, that the poor grasshoppers are
allowed to suffer so, while the ant lives in the lap of luxury?

In the blink of an eye, the African Grasshopper's Union is formed. They
charge the ant with "species bias" and claim that grasshoppers are the
victims of 30 million years of green oppression. They stage a protest in
front of the ant's house and trash the street. When interviewed by the TV
crews, they state that if their demands are not met, they will be forced
into a life of crime. Just for practice, they loot the TV crew's luggage and
hijack the van, smash street lights and vandalise the ant's home.

The Take and Redistribute Commission justifies their behaviour by saying
that this is the legacy of the ant's discrimination and oppression of the
grasshoppers. The demand that the ant apologises to the grasshoppers for
what he has done, and that he makes amends for all the other ants in history
who have done the same thing to the grasshoppers.

People Against Grasshopper Abuse and Distress state that they are starting a
holy war against ants. Leading politicians appear on the eight o'clock news
and say that they will do everything they can for the grasshoppers who have
been denied the prosperity they deserve by those who have benefited unfairly
during the summer.

The government drafts the Economic Equity for Greens and Disadvantaged Act,
retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The ant is fined for failing to
employ a proportionate number of green insects, and having nothing left to
pay back his taxes, his home is confiscated by the government for
redistribution. The grasshoppers vandalise the house, sell all the
furnishings, and destroy the previously productive vegetable beds.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing off the last of the ant's
food while the government house he's in (which just happens to be the ant's
old house) crumbles around him because he is too lazy and incompetent to
maintain it. Showing on the TV (which he and a couple of friends stole from
another ant), the Minister of Expropriation is standing before a group of
wildly singing and dancing grasshoppers, announcing a new era of "equality"
has dawned on the field.

The ant, meanwhile, is not allowed to work because he has historically
benefited from the field. In his place, ten grasshoppers only work two hours
a day and steal half of what little they actually harvest. When winter comes
again and not enough food has been harvested, they strike and demand a 400%
increase in wages, so that they can buy more food, which now has to be
imported, because the grasshoppers were not productive enough to produce
enough food.

The ant packs his things and emigrates to another field, where he starts a
highly successful food company and becomes a millionaire by selling food to
the country where he came from.

Yet another sequel develops. The world at large, although aware that the
destitution of the grasshoppers is self-created, nevertheless sympathises
with their hardships and distress. Nations galore support the intent of the
World Food Programme to ensure the survival of the emaciated grasshoppers.
They wish for no recompense from the government of the grasshoppers, but
they do require that the food they will donate will be distributed to all in
need, irrespective of political persuasion, and without corrupt enrichment
of any who will carry out the distribution. The grasshoppers' government is
appalled. How dare others dictate to them? What right do intending donors
have to place conditions upon their caring largesse? That is abuse of the
nation's independence! That cannot be tolerated!

If that be so, let the donations be rejected, even if many grasshoppers will
die, and misery will be the lot of almost all! And so, the nation of
grasshoppers become evermore emaciated, decimated and debilitated, whilst
their government steadfastly denies culpability, attributing all blame to
the ants and to the world at large.
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Zim Independent


Terminal insanity setting in at Herald House?
SOME things are almost impossible to define. At least that's what came out
of Chen Chimutengwende's interview with Caesar Zvayi in the Herald on

He couldn't tell us whether his is a ministry or a department. In the end
the words were used interchangeably despite Chen's own protest that those
who said his ministry was a department did so out of ignorance, by "jumping
to conclusions .without asking him or the president".

As to what the Public and Interactive Affairs ministry or department
actually does, he said this would soon be evident from its activities. These
include nation-building and promoting dialogue between government and the

He said: "Public and interactive affairs in terms of this department involve
dealing with the government's public relations and communication with the
public through interactive activities which means holding meetings and
functions of different types where stakeholders and government departments
and ministries can meet and discuss the issues at stake."

What? Who convenes the meetings? Who raises the issues at stake and to whom?
When there are no such issues what does Chen and his staff of 14 do at the
office? Apparently, only Chen and President Mugabe know the answer.

Asked what value he thought his ministry or department would add to the
lives of Zimbabweans, Chen said they handled "all petitions and complaints"
directed to the president and intervened "on behalf of government in matters
that are deemed urgent" and require "special resolution". What do readers
make of that?

Why does an elected president need to be insulated from direct interaction
with his electors? And what interventions has Chen made, for instance, on
behalf of the government's tsunami disaster victims currently camped along
the banks of the Mukuvisi River in Mbare without food or clean water and

Asked if they would set up offices in the provinces Chen said no, because
they will be working "through the offices of other ministries".

"One of the first meetings we want to organise is a meeting of farmers where
they can meet Agribank people, Zinwa people, Arex people and the governor's
office to discuss their problems, procedures, complaints and so on," he

What are their parent ministries doing? What problems do the farmers face
that call for Chen's intervention?

What challenges had he faced since taking office, he was asked? Well,
getting vehicles and finding offices. But "soon", he would be "on the go".
He didn't say where.

Did that involve kwasakwasa, ventured an intrepid Zvayi.

Only once every six months, the minister reflected. But this wasn't really a
conscious decision. "When it happens, it happens."

Look out, because when it happens it's "total war", Chen warned.

Sounds like another Murambatsvina!

We don't know how the expression about shedding crocodile tears came about,
but there is no better example of it than deputy Information minister Bright
Matonga blowing hot and cold about Zimbabweans facing deportation from the
United Kingdom. Britain's Home Office plans to deport Zimbabweans who
entered the country illegally or on false claims of persecution.

British prime minister Tony Blair said this would be done "on a case by case
basis", not indiscriminately as claimed by Matonga.

"These people (Zimbabwean asylum seekers) were invited and misled and used
by Mr Blair," Matonga claimed. "Now that they have abused and tortured them
they deport them. It's hypocrisy, it's madness from our point of view."

Is there a Zimbabwean who has a copy of the invitation from Blair? We would
be happy to reproduce it verbatim for purposes of the record.

Matonga appealed to what he called the "international community" for a mass
outpouring of more crocodile tears against the racially-inspired barbaric
deportation of Zimbabweans. Could anything be more barbaric than a
government destroying people's homes and sources of livelihood without
giving them an alternative?

But then hypocrites are well-known for their selective amnesia. Matonga
forgot to disclose that the first story in the saga was about Zimbabweans
refusing to be deported to Zimbabwe because they would be persecuted here.

Most of them said they would rather starve to death in the detention camps
than return to Zimbabwe. Isn't that a more damning indictment? Why will they
not return home if their government is so concerned about their welfare? The
reason is because this is the same government that turned them into economic
refugees in the first place. It is the same government that in March this
year denied them the right to vote.

There was also an interesting letter in the Herald on Tuesday concerning
urban agriculture. Senior Assistant Commissioner Edmore Veterai set the ball
rolling by claiming urban agriculture had been banned in Harare. He didn't
say where the order had come from but warned the police would enforce it
firmly and even destroy any crops planted in violation of this order.

The following day there was a reversal. There was no such ban.

Then on Tuesday came Shingirayi Mushamba's protest letter in defence of
urban agriculture which he said contributed immensely to urban food security
and was an "emerging economic sector".

"The link between urban agriculture, soil erosion and water pipes being
blocked is spurious," fulminated our urban agriculture advocate. There was
sufficient legislation through which government could regulate these
activities, he said, citing the Environment Management Act, the Regional
Town and Country Planning Act and the Urban Councils Act.

Where was he and his laws when Zanu PF "mushrooms" sprouted riotously across
town? Does he have any explanation as to how all the hills around Warren
Park and Kambuzuma have been denuded? These are the same delusional war
veterans who want to become a law unto themselves and cry foul when their
illegal projects are destroyed. Surely if he is such a keen farmer the
country should benefit from his talent in the right place. What is he doing
in town?

'The Secretary-General is following this with keen interest," we are told.

UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka was speaking on Sunday after arriving in
Harare. She was doing her best to be diplomatic.

"We are here at the request of the Secretary-General," she said, "to assess
the situation here after the government accepted our coming and we want to
see how we can work together to put things in a way everybody would want to
have them."

So are things at present not in "a way everybody would want to have them"?

Our government has told us repeatedly that this is what people wanted; that
the demolition of homes, destruction of livelihoods, and long walks home at
night are just the tonic Harare needed.

Ms Tibaijuka said: "We are here for some days and actually government will
take us around."

Of course they will. They will take her for a ride!

All sorts of "reconstruction" sites will be on display with building
brigades bustling away as the "new Harare" emerges from the ashes of the

Exactly why people had to lose their shelters and their possessions without
legal notice or suffer deportation to rural homes will be explained in terms
of urban renewal. Everyday the state media have been running stories such as
"National housing scheme underway" and "Demolitions create jobs". Then there
is the totally delusional Operation Garikai where NSSA will be quickly

The official line is that all the destruction the country has witnessed over
the past few weeks has been a necessary bitter pill.

"Although there are divergent views over the manner in which the operation
is being carried out and although many people have lost their homes," the
Sunday Mail declared, "the ultimate goal of the exercise has been widely
accepted as noble."

Has it? We rather thought it was an unparalleled public relations disaster -
something that the government has been quick to recognise judging by the
number of ministerial interventions on foreign radio and television

The international media has been quick to draw comparisons with Pol Pot's
assault on urban centres in Kampuchea in the 1970s.

This is an obvious exaggeration. While our revolutionary regime has
described urban-dwellers as "trash", it hasn't yet resorted to targeting
people wearing glasses!

But no amount of pretence about this being a "clean-up" exercise will
convince the inhabitants of our teeming cities that this was meant for their
benefit. It was meant first and foremost to reassert the authority of an
unpopular regime that, following its failure to win a single urban seat in
the March election, resolved to reverse national demographic trends.

Urban voters will now be placed under the jurisdiction of chiefs and village
headmen where they can be better supervised. But is this the way to win
hearts and minds? We doubt it.

Kofi Annan has been looking for an entry point to Zimbabwe for a number of
years. Such was the scope of the recent urban tsunami and the pressure on
President Mugabe from his regional friends that he finally found a way in.
Much will now depend upon the Tanzanian lady. Her technical team suggests
the intention to undertake a thorough and professional survey despite the
expressed bias of her president who stated that the mass dispossessions were
OK with him.

Let's hope she refuses the government's offer of transport and finds her own
and is not taken in by the building brigades. Where have they been all these
years? And who was the Non-Aligned Movement ambassador who told Foreign
Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi that in his country they had a whole
ministry responsible for bulldozing people's homes? We wish these diplomats
of despotism would stop giving our government ideas.

Will the Information ministry have a word with Nathan Shamuyarira about
doing media interviews. Very simply he is not up to it any more.

Last Friday night it was embarrassing to hear him speaking on BBC World
about people living in homes made of paper and cardboard, as if they were
committing some sort of offence. And he must allow the interviewer to get a
question in. He thought that by ignoring the interviewer and rambling on, he
could win the argument. In the end the studio sound technicians turned him
off so the interviewer could get his question in. At which point Shamu
complained that he hadn't heard the question because he was still talking at
the time!

It was a disaster! And the Zimbabwean authorities just looked bad. Asked
about the possibility of social conflict, the learned author said the only
social conflict in Zimbabwe was caused by "people like you"
(the interviewer) who supported the MDC.

That's as good as it got!

Well done to Amnesty International for the speed with which they responded
to the African Union's negligent comments on Zimbabwe.

An AU spokesman had said that if the Zimbabwe government said it was
restoring order by its actions, "I don't think it would be proper for us to
go interfering."

To which AI swiftly replied: "The people of Zimbabwe are being sold out - in
the interests of a false 'African solidarity'. This conspiracy of silence
amongst African leaders is fuelling a human rights catastrophe for the
people of Zimbabwe. African solidarity should be with the people of Africa -
not with governments responsible for grave human rights violations."

As that exchange reveals, Operation Murambatsvina has, if nothing else,
focused the world spotlight on Zimbabwe and the implications of misrule.

The London Independent referred to "a deadly nexus of Aids, starvation and
depopulation of the cities that is sending tens of thousands to a silent
death in rural areas".

The statement by the Catholic bishops published in this paper last week
("cruel and inhumane") was their strongest since they lost their voice over
the Gukurahundi report.

And we were interested to hear Sister Patricia Walsh holding forth with
great passion on the horrors of Murambatsvina on Carte Blanche. She appears
to be less shy now than she was last week!

Readers who have been enjoying the rather antiquarian debate between
Muckraker and Nathaniel Manheru over flags in recent weeks will have been
pleased to see another flag - the white flag of surrender - hoist over
Herald House last Saturday.

But what a graceless capitulation.

Muckraker was walking tall, his "small head thrust into the misty skies" as
he gloated over his knowledge of Rhodesian flags, Manheru sulked.

"(Muckraker) is happily learned, and mastering and pasting dates on
Rhodesian symbols is for him education for living. What the hack (sic) if I,
the proud son of Manheru, got Rhodesian symbols wrong? So what? Who except
Rhodesians profit from its accuracy?"

There you have, stated very plainly, the underlying ethos in the state
media, and indeed at Munhumutapa Building where this looks as if it came
from. Journalists who get their facts wrong can do so with impunity so long
as they brand their critics "Rhodesian" or claim it was in the interests of
the Silver Jubilee.

All very convenient, you understand!

Finally, congratulations to the Herald for giving us the funniest story of
the week with its claims that Zimbabwe's enemies are "doctoring" the weather
to "induce drought conditions in a bid to arm-twist the region to capitulate
to the whims of the world's super-powers". The foreign press will have a
field day with this one.

"Overt and covert machinations" by Britain have given credence to the
conspiracy theory, the Herald, in all seriousness, tells us. Needless to
say, no serious evidence was provided.

"Those who the gods wish to destroy they first make mad," it used to be
said. Are we seeing signs of terminal insanity at Herald House? No wonder
the Features Writer didn't put his name to the story!
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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo


LAST week our editorial criticised business and religious leaders' timidity
in challenging damaging government policies and their failure to speak out
on issues of national concern. The feedback from readers was mixed although
a large number of callers and those who sent e-mails felt leaders in
industry were a big let-down.

We were also blamed for allowing business leaders to get away with "criminal
complicity" with our errant rulers.

TA Holdings chairman Shingi Mutasa in the diversified company's 2004 annual
report, has proved he is different. He stood tall in articulating a huge
problem in the fertiliser manufacturing industry where one of TA's
subsidiaries, Sable Chemicals, has been a victim of ill-thought-out
government policies.

In the second half of last year, Mutasa said, when international prices of
fertiliser were firming, "Sable attained a shameful distinction of losing $9

To avoid paring Mutasa's lament, I will quote in full a few paragraphs from
his statement.

"These losses," he said, "arose because of a government freeze on the price
of domestically manufactured ammonium nitrate in the midst of triple-digit
inflation. Meanwhile, government permitted the importation of fertiliser at
ever-increasing prices . . ."

"Some officials in government," he continued, "seem to believe that Sable's
answer to the pricing problem is for the company to borrow from the
Productive Sector Fund. I believe that causing the company to borrow without
the capacity to repay the loan is irresponsible and poor corporate

I hope central bank governor Gideon Gono saw this statement.

Manufacturers do not necessarily require loans but simply want government to
allow them to charge prices commensurate with production costs. Mutasa
reminded the government about the importance of the fertiliser industry.

"No country has raised its agricultural productivity without a strong
domestic fertiliser industry. I speak strongly because of the total
disregard by some authorities to the economic imperative and resultant
social impact of their actions. Voluntary economic activity in an industry
is not enduring if that industry loses money.

"Profits in an industry are a signal from society that members of that
society approve of the allocation of resources to an industry for the
production of goods or services for that industry."

Mutasa said by forcing Sable to operate at a loss "through sustained refusal
of the Ministry of Industry and International Trade to allow Sable to raise
its prices to match the prices of imported ammonium nitrate and inflation,
the government was sending a long-term signal to Sable to cease operations".

Here is a bold statement from industry that the government - especially the
misnamed Ministry of Industry and International Trade which at the time was
headed by Samuel Mumbengegwi - is killing industry under the guise of
protecting the consumer.

The situation at Sable is symptomatic of government's poor agricultural
policies throughout the production and support industries. It is not
surprising that the situation at Sable is being replicated at seed houses.
Seed Co and Pioneer have not only been forced to charge sub-economic prices
but have also been forced to market their products through the Grain
Marketing Board.

Mutasa's statement dispels the myth that the central bank has been creating
that its PSF money and other cheap loans will revive industry. Key to
industries like Sable is being allowed to respond to market forces and
matching the import parity price for imported fertiliser.

Only warped policy makers can cook a policy that kills the local industry -
responsible for producing a key agro input - and then uses scarce foreign
currency to import the same commodity. How do Mumbengegwi and his comrade in
Agriculture Joseph Made defend this economic sabotage? How does Tony Blair
come into this butchery of the economy?

I also foresee another catastrophe in the making in the agricultural sector.
Gono in May said he would dish out trillions worth of cheap money to farmers
in a grand plan to revive agriculture. But there is Made waiting in the
wings to kill off any recovery to be achieved from this capital investment.

Farmers will still not be allowed to market their output freely. They will
be forced to sell their crops at below cost and still be required to repay
the loans. I am looking forward to this observation being proven wrong this
time next year.

By the way, fertiliser shortages still abound because the pricing issue has
still not been resolved and there is no foreign currency to import

Mumbengegwi is no longer in the system and the new minister in charge of
industry must stand up to the challenge of restoring viability. Industry
knows exactly what is required. It wants the space to run business. It is
not government's role to run business, especially our government whose
record at parastatals speaks for itself. That is why we are where we are

It is no wonder the IMF mission that was in Harare last month painted a
bleak picture of Zimbabwe's future. The IMF recommends a recovery package
which should include "structural reforms, such as the removal of
administrative controls, to ease shortages and restore private-sector

Price controls and Operation Murambatsvina are not part of that package!
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Zim Independent


It's time for people's 'Operation Chibvapo'

SEVERAL years ago, the Great One had "a moment of madness" that resulted in
the death of so many people and destruction of people's lives and

Twenty years later he is having another one. Somebody help us.

Let's start "Operation Chi-bvapo". If all those people walking to work from
Chitungwiza start singing, and those from Kuwadzana, Warren Park, Glen View,
Highfield, Mufakose, Kambuzuma and Dzivaresekwa all do the same, then we
walk and meet at Africa Unity Square, we will be able to do something while
the police are busy elsewhere.

Arauna Marumika,

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Zim Independent


Why the silence?

WHAT is being done to make the regional and international community fully
aware of the scope of the tragedy that is unfolding in Zimbabwe - a totally
man-made tragedy?

What is being done to get national and international organisations and
leaders to speak out, and to start taking serious measures against this
inhumane regime?

To their great credit, the Catholic bishops have recently added their voices
to those who have condemned what is happening. What is being done to shame
those who still remain silent into speaking out?

Has the Vatican been urged to speak out? After all certain senior leaders in

Zimbabwe claim to be Catholics. Is there a Papal Nuncio in Zimbabwe? If so,
why has he not spoken out?

A lady recently elevated to high office takes pride in wearing a Salvation
Army uniform on Sundays. Does the Salvation Army take pride in having
high-profile members directly associated with such inhumanity directed
especially against the poor?

If it does, then the Salvation Army must have totally abandoned everything
that it once stood for, and forgotten why it was established. If not, why is
it so conspicuously silent when the poor so desperately need all the support
they can get?

If there is one single Christian in Zimbabwe who is not prepared to speak
out against this tragedy then they have absolutely no concept of the
Christian message.

If there is one single human being, of whatever religion - or of no
religion - in Zimbabwe who is not prepared to speak out against this tragedy
then they have no idea of what being human should mean.

If we are incapable of effectively organising our own people, the least we
can do is to work tirelessly to ensure that the maximum amount of
international and regional pressure is brought to bear, both from
governments, organisations and individuals.

Is the Broad Alliance ensuring that the international community is fully
aware of the scale of what is happening here?

Is the African Union, and all its members, being made aware that it is not
wealthy white farmers who are now the targets and victims, but rather the
poorest of black Zimbabweans - Zimbabweans who have been made poor by the
policies of this destructive regime?

Does anyone seriously believe that this regime will stop its relentless
campaign of victimisation and terror? If they can carry out their
destructive policies in the high-density townships without any reaction, is
there any doubt that they will do the same everywhere else?

Are there still some who think that they will be safe by remaining silent,
or by paying "protection money", or that living in Glen Lorne or Highlands
will protect them from what has been happening in Glen View and Highfield?

"First they came for . . . and I didn't speak up . . . Then they came for
me - and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Pastor Niemoller's famous statement should be the watchword, not just for
the silent cowardly majority of ordinary individuals, but - more
importantly - for leaders of nations and organisations who not only can
speak with more authority but also with much less risk of victimisation.

Given the known sympathies, and silence in the face of suffering, of the
Anglican Bishop of Harare, I am now ashamed to admit that I was baptised an

RES Cook,

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Zim Independent


Ari Ben-Menashe does it again
By Brian Hutchinson and Graeme Hamilton
ARI Ben-Menashe is back in business. A former spy and international arms
dealer, the Montreal resident recently tried to incriminate Zimbabwe's
opposition leader in an alleged presidential assassination plot.

Now the self-described "man of infamy" is using a Canadian government
Website to promote his latest venture. Ben-Menashe is chief operating
officer of Albury Grain Sales, a commodities brokerage that was registered
last year in Montreal.The company has obtained a free listing on Industry
Canada's "Strategis" Website, which helps "buyers and sellers connect".

While the Industry Canada listing contains unverified information about
Albury, it offers no insight into Ben-Menashe's controversial past.For
decades, he has raised eyebrows with unsubstantiated tales of international
intrigue and political subterfuge; his business dealings, meanwhile, have
led to bitter accusations and lawsuits.Alexander Vassiliev just had his own
experience with Ben-Menashe. "I e-mailed him in April, and that's how it all
started," says Vassiliev, vice-president of Sonox International Inc, a
Florida-based food export company.

"Now we're in the hole, big time." Vassiliev says that Albury agreed to
arrange a US$33,6-million shipment of soybeans to a Sonox partner in
Uzbekistan.Ben-Menashe maintains that Sonox "defaulted" on its contract with
his company. Whatever the truth, the soybeans never materialised, and
Vassiliev wants his US$336 000 deposit returned.

"I wish I had known about this person and the things he is supposed to have
done," says Vassiliev. "It looks like we are one of the latest victims."

Born in Iraq and educated in Israel, Ben-Menashe's life story could have
been torn from the pages of a paperback thriller. Fired from Israel's
intelligence service in 1987, he claims to have spent the next two years as
a secret advisor to Yitzhak Shamir, then Israel's prime minister and to have
sold Israeli airplanes to Iran. Israeli officials have consistently denied
the account.

Ben-Menashe says he arranged the transfer of an $8,5 million "donation" from
Israel to a major Australian political party.It was payment, he said, for
illicit arms trading. In 1993, after Israel refused to renew his passport,
and his application to settle in Australia was denied, he married a Canadian
woman and moved to Montreal's affluent Westmount district.

He made more headlines three years ago after taking a lucrative "advisory"
position with Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe.

Ben-Menashe claimed that Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe's Movement
for Democratic Change party, soon approached him, asking for help in a bid
to "eliminate" Mugabe.

To bolster his astonishing claim, Ben-Menashe produced a grainy videotape of
meetings he held with Tsvangirai in London and Montreal, where the alleged
assassination talks took place. The tapes were handed over to Zimbabwean
authorities.Most international observers believed Tsvangirai had been
framed; nevertheless, he was charged in Zimbabwe with treason, a crime
punishable by execution, and went to trial in 2003. Ben-Menashe was the
prosecution's star witness.

He caused a sensation inside the Harare courtroom, where he angrily clashed
with defence lawyers. Judge Paddington Garwe described Ben-Menashe as a
"rude, unreliable and contemptuous" witness.In his judgment last autumn,
Judge Garwe found that "nowhere" in the Ben-Menashe videotape was there "a
direct request made by the accused . to assassinate the President".
Tsvangirai was acquitted.

Back in Canada, Ben-Menashe faced other difficulties. Police in Montreal
arrested him in 2002 and charged him with assault, following complaints from
his wife and mother-in-law.He was eventually acquitted, but subsequent
divorce proceedings have been acrimonious. His business affairs unravelled.
A private company he founded in Montreal was put into bankruptcy after being
sued by at least 10 different parties in several developing-world countries.

Carlington Sales Canada Corporation was accused of pocketing large payments
for shipments of grain and other foodstuffs that allegedly never
materialised. According to statements of claim and affidavits filed in
Quebec court, Carlington required customers to provide 10% deposits, ahead
of shipments.The deposits were to be held in trust. It was alleged the money
was instead split among Carlington employees, including Ben-Menashe. Most of
the lawsuits were eventually settled out of court.

But Ben-Menashe's American partner, Alexander Legault, was ordered deported,
thanks to unrelated fraud charges he faced in the United States.Among other
things, Legault is alleged to have participated in an illegal investment
scheme in
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Zim Independent


Zim slips in corruption rankings
Godfrey Marawanyika
ZIMBABWE has slipped further into the league of the most corrupt countries
in the world, moving to 114 out of 146 on a score of 2,3, Transparency
International has revealed in its annual report.

In 2003 Zimbabwe was ranked 106th.

The scores reflect perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by
business people and country analysts. The scores range from 0
(highly-corrupt) to 10 (highly-clean).

Botswana is the only sub-Saharan African country with a better ranking with
a score of 6 and ranked 31st.

South Africa is seen as one of the "cleanest" countries in Africa with a 4,6
score and is ranked 44th.

Out of the 25 countries with the lowest Corruption Perception Index (CPI),
nine are in Africa.

Mauritius is ranked number 54 with a score of 4,1 while Tunisia is at number
39 with a score of 5.

The worst rated nation in southern Africa is Angola on number 133 with a 2,0
score tied together with the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the

Oil-rich Nigeria is the most corrupt country in the world. It occupies the
144th slot with a 1,6 score.

Transparency International said Zimbabwe's economy has been persistently
stripped of its assets by corruption in the private and public sectors.

It said that over the past years the chaotic land reform process that led to
the virtual collapse of the agricultural sector has driven the crisis.

"This in turn precipitated a chain reaction as Zimbabwe ran out of basic
commodities such as fuel, foreign currency and foodstuffs," TI said.

"With an inadequate legal infrastructure to contain the problem with formal
structures, the result has been a parallel, informal market that is a haven
for corrupt activities. Substantial amounts of local and foreign currency
have been externalised illegally. Observations on the ground suggest that
corruption has drastically increased over the past year and it is being held
officially responsible for the socio-economic conditions that have
bedevilled Zimbabwe since the late 1990s."
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People's Daily

      Zimbabwe's opposition lawmakers booted out

      Two lawmakers from Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) were on Thursday ejected from Parliament house for "disobeying
orders" in a debate on a major housing demolition campaign of the
government, local newspaper the Herald reported on Friday.

      MDC's Thembinkosi Sibindi was shown the door for "disrespecting "
Sabina Mugabe from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic
Front (ZANU-PF), while another MDC lawmaker Blessing Chebundo was ejected
for "continuously interjecting."

      Deputy Speaker of Parliament Edna Madzongwe threw out the opposition
legislators when the House was debating a motion on the clean-up exercise,
which saw thousands of illegal housing structures torn down all over the
country. Sibindi had shouted at Mugabe saying, "grandmother you have grown
too old."

      This happened when Mugabe interjected MDC's Edward Mkosi, who was on
the floor debating the motion. Chebundo was ejected out of the House after
he had continued interjecting when the ruling party's Kennedy Matimba was

      Last week, Madzongwe also threw MDC lawmaker Gift Chimanikire out of
the House for "disobeying orders."

      According to western media, the government's clean-up exercise has
left thousands of poor people homeless. The United Nations has sent Anna
Tibaijuka to Zimbabwe to assess humanitarian impact of the clean-up
campaign. She held talks with President Robert Mugabe and visited areas
affected by the campaign.

      The government has defended the clean-up campaign, saying it stems
crimes, and it was set aside money to build new homes.

      Source: Xinhua

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Business Day

Mbeki in new bid to kickstart talks with Zimbabwe's MDC
Jonathan Katzenellenbogen and Hopewell Radebe


PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki said yesterday he would soon try to restart his
stalled mediation efforts in Zimbabwe and would be holding talks with the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) this weekend.

Following SA's endorsement of this year's parliamentary elections, the MDC,
which saw the poll as flawed, said it would not take part in the South
African-led initiative to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis and said Mbeki was
not an "honest broker".

MDC spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi confirmed the meeting, saying the party
would be represented by its president, Morgan Tsvangirai, and
secretary-general Welshman Ncube.

Mbeki's offer, announced at the African National Congress (ANC) national
general council meeting in Pretoria yesterday, comes days before the Group
of Eight (G-8) summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, where Zimbabwe will be one of
the main topics.

It also comes in the wake of condemnation of Zimbabwe's mass evictions by
the US, the United Nations (UN) and Britain.

Opposition parties and nongovernmental organisations have alleged the Zanu
(PF)-led government is punishing urban voters for spurning it in the past
three general elections.

ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe said it seemed the MDC has realised
SA had a constructive role to play in helping Zimbabwe to reach an amicable
political solution. He said the MDC's rejection of SA as a facilitator had
been "childish".

He said the meeting would probably seek to find ways to resuscitate talks
between the ruling Zanu (PF) and the opposition. Mbeki's efforts to restart
the talks are seen as a response to calls by G-8 host and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair for Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries to deal with the

Asked if the MDC would accept a new role for Mbeki, Themba-Nyathi said, "We
hope this is not a G-8-inspired action by the South Africans."

"It would be useful (for any talks)," for SA to condemn the mass evictions
of informal settlements and traders that have taken place over the past
seven weeks. However, he did not insist that this would be a pre-condition
for talks.

"As far as we are concerned the South African government will have a lot of
work to do so that whatever they kick start becomes meaningful," Themba-
Nyathi said.

The African Union has also refused comment on the campaign, calling it an
internal matter.

He said, "Zanu (PF) have taken advantage of SA's solidarity to lead SA and
the world down the garden path.

"We have not had any robust statements from SA regarding the events that are
taking place."

About three-hundred people had been killed, two babies had been crushed
under debris by collapsing walls, six had died from pneumonia, and well over
1,5-million were without accommodation, he said.

"That to me should have meant a strong condemnation or to seek an
explanation from the Zimbabwe regime, but we hear nothing but silence and
that kind of silence is taken by Mugabe as support for the cause," he said.

"The world is changing. Africa is in the midst of massive change for the
better. So it remains a tragedy that Zimbabwe is moving with determination
in the wrong direction.

"This is the moment for everyone to urge the government of Zimbabwe to
embrace democratic and humane values."

The South African government, however, could have difficulties dealing with
a focused MDC with a united approach and strategy on how to bring about
change in Zimbabwe.

The party accepted last week that it had experienced serious political
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