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ZANU-PF, MDC, to begin substantive talks

By Services | AFP
     Updated: July 20, 2008 12:17

Zimbabwe, Harare--Parties in Zimbabwe have reached consensus on
holding substantive crisis talks, a UN representative said Sunday, while
sources said the agreement may be signed within 24 hours.

The United Nations' special representative to Zimbabwe, Haile
Menkerios, said the draft had been agreed to by President Robert Mugabe and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, which was "at least a first step".

"There is a draft which we are informed the two negotiating parties
have agreed to but the two principals, that is Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai,
would have to sign," he told South African public radio.

"It hasn't been signed yet, but once that is done, once you clear the
way or the basis for the talks, then the actual talks begin."

Sources within the ruling ZANU-PF and opposition Movement for
Democratic Change say the agreement could be signed in the next few days.

"We expect that there will be movement on the talks either Monday and
at the latest Tuesday," a government source close to the talks told AFP.

A senior MDC official said on Sunday: "We are expecting that this
thing will be signed tomorrow."

The movement towards fully-fledged negotiations came after a series of
meetings involving rival parties, mediator South African President Thabo
Mbeki, Menkerios and African Union commission chairman Jean Ping.

The memorandum of understanding was to be signed last Wednesday, but
Tsvangirai backed out as he pushed for other players to be brought into a
mediation process led by Mbeki.

The MDC and Mugabe's ZANU-PF began preliminary talks last week aimed
at establishing a framework for substantive negotiations.

Mugabe won a one-man presidential run-off last month, widely denounced
as a sham after Tsvangirai pulled out of the race due to a wave of deadly
attacks on his supporters.

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AU hopeful Zimbabwe rivals will sign talks deal Monday

Yahoo News

Sun Jul 20, 9:40 AM ET

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - African Union commission chief Jean Ping expressed his
hope Sunday that Zimbabwe's ruling party and the opposition would sign a
deal within 24 hours to begin fully-fledged talks.

Ping met President Robert Mugabe, opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) chief Morgan Tsvangirai and a separate MDC faction on Saturday to prop
up efforts to solve the country's political crisis, an AU commission
spokesman told AFP.

"He (Ping) is hopeful that a memorundum of understanding, which will outline
the talks agenda and ground rules, will be signed tomorrow (Monday) with the
MDC being part of it. Tsvangirai has given assurance of this," said
Elghassim Wane.

The memorandum of understanding was to be signed last Wednesday, but
Tsvangirai backed out as he pushed for other players to be brought into a
mediation process led by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The MDC and Mugabe's ZANU-PF began preliminary talks last week aimed at
establishing a framework for substantive negotiations.

"Progress is definitely being made towards a resolution of the crisis in
Zimbabwe...," an AU official said on condition of anonymity.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Sunday told the BBC that Tsvangirai
was willing to meet Mugabe in South Africa.

"He told me that his team will be going to Pretoria for these preliminary
talks. Depending on how they progress, he's ready and willing to meet with
Mr Mugabe out there in Pretoria."

Zimbabwe's political crisis deepened last month when Mugabe defied
international calls to postpone a presidential run-off marred by widespread
violence, and was predictably re-elected by a landslide.

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Zimbabwe opposition wants Mbeki to address concerns


Sun 20 Jul 2008, 12:26 GMT

By Stella Mapenzauswa

JOHANNESBURG, July 20 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition MDC will not sign an
accord leading to talks on ending the political crisis until mediator Thabo
Mbeki, South Africa's president, has addressed some concerns, a party
spokesman said on Sunday.

Sources in the Movement for Democratic Change said on Saturday that MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai might sign the document as early as Monday so that
talks could begin on ending an impasse with President Robert Mugabe's ruling

Mugabe easily won re-election on June 27 in a second-round poll from which
Tsvangirai pulled out, citing violence against his supporters by ZANU-PF

On Sunday Tsvangirai's spokesman, George Sibotshiwe, said the MDC leader
would not sign until Mbeki, criticised for his failure to help end the
stand-off, ironed out concerns with parts of the memorandum, which sets out
guidelines on substantive negotiations.

"I think in principle the decision is to sign the document. We are committed
to the dialogue process," Sibotshiwe told Reuters.

"Our executive and council have already gone through the document and have
raised their concerns with the facilitator ... the onus is on the
facilitator to ensure that those things are sorted out in order for the
signing to happen within the required time."

Asked whether a signing was likely on Monday, Sibotshiwe replied "I cannot
answer that. (Mukoni) Ratshitanga, the spokesperson for President Mbeki, is
the only person who can respond to that."

Ratshitanga said he was not aware of any plans for Mbeki to travel to
Zimbabwe "any time soon" and declined to comment on what concerns the MDC
had raised.


The MDC has refused to recognise Mugabe's overwhelming victory in the
controversial June 27 vote.

The stalemate has dented hopes of halting an economic crisis in Zimbabwe
widely blamed on the policies of Mugabe, in power since independence from
Britain in 1980.

The meltdown has shown itself in record inflation of well above 2 million
percent, chronic shortages of basic food and other commodities, and
extremely high unemployment.

Mugabe blames the crisis on economic sabotage by Western enemies he says
have supported the MDC as revenge for the government's seizure of
white-owned farms for blacks.

Critics say Mbeki's mediation efforts have made no progress because his soft
diplomacy is slanted in Mugabe's favour.

Tsvangirai won Zimbabwe's first-round presidential vote in March. Official
figures showed he did not get the absolute majority needed to avoid a
second-round election, but the MDC insists its leader won outright the first

On Sunday Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said he expected the MDC and
ZANU-PF to sign an agreement this week for talks to take place in South
Africa which he hoped would lead to a safe exit from power for Mugabe.

"Robert Mugabe is an embarrassment to the African continent," Odinga told
BBC television. "He lost an election and refused to move on." (Additional
reporting by Cris Chinaka in Harare; Paul Majendie in London; Editing by Tim

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Preparing for the likely consequences

July 19, 2008

By John Robertson

AS increasingly inappropriate and unhelpful business conditions have evolved from the severely corrupted election process and as the authorities became increasingly contemptuous of the needs of suppliers and their customers, we in the business sector have had to become extremely defensive and shrewd to survive.
Many stayed the course by remaining a jump or two ahead of the political challenges, others were obliged to take a conciliatory route to remain in operation, but very nearly all surviving companies have suffered severe shrinkage. Very few now have the stamina to withstand yet more abuse.

However, the severely flawed electoral process has thrust upon Zimbabwe’s long-suffering population a result that seems certain to , impose even more damaging conditions. As the ruling party’s blatantly displayed posture proved conclusively during the election re-run, its claimed right is to demand obedience from the whole population, the business sector included.

In this regard, the business sector has always been seen as a particularly irritating problem, but as compliance has been more successfully pressed from Zimbabwean companies, the ruling party has convinced itself that it is the extent of foreign ownership of local companies that constitutes a threat to its absolute power.

This has already generated legislation designed to ensure that indigenous Zimbabweans will gain controlling interests in every company, but the higher-profile companies should now be considering pre-emptive measures to deflect what might happen next.

In response to the almost universal rejection of the election results, proposals from abroad are claiming that economic sanctions must be imposed to ensure that foreign-owned companies cannot support the Mugabe regime. Although such ideas might be well-intentioned, they are unlikely to prompt any change in political direction. More seriously, the party could all too easily turn them into political capital for use against the whole business sector.

As business activity is already severely inhibited and very few companies are profitable, these sanctions proposals, however vague or oblique, could become threats to any susceptible company’s financial survival. But whether or not any given business is on the edge, the ruling party is likely to respond to this threat of real sanctions by imposing on them even more controls, or possibly by nationalising those companies of more strategic importance.

From the business standpoint, the argument is clear: such sanctions will damage the interests of the affected companies’ employees and clients, most of whom are Zimbabweans who do not deserve to be caught in the crossfire of clumsily directed penalties, and they will prejudice each company’s equally blameless shareholders, whether they are Zimbabwean or foreign.

Getting to the core of the matter, it seems that it is the absence of acceptable alternatives that has brought economic sanctions back into the debate, even though all virtually agree they will have little effect on the intended target, Zimbabwe’s ruling party rather than Zimbabwe’s general population. If that is the fact, then much more effort has to be put into formulating the needed alternatives.

While the business sector works on, or waits for a breakthrough, it remains with the pressing challenges of finding ways to fend off sanctions. Exemptions for some companies might be won by preparing detailed accounts of activities that prove sanctions would be inappropriate. Whether or not a specific company succeeds, its directors would also be able to use such documents to argue that they have tried hard to remain in business, that their commitment to Zimbabwe cannot be questioned and that in no way were they in support of sanctions.

Similar exercises can be carried out to persuade local officials that further interference in the company’s affairs from any source, local or foreign, will cause unhelpful repercussions. Existing evidence can be used to show that skills shortages will be worsened, efficiency will decline, employment and training will fall, deliveries of goods to local and export markets will drop, competitive edges previously enjoyed will dissipate rapidly and shrinking tax revenues from profits, employment and customs duty will aggravate the government’s difficulties as well as those suffered by companies.

If, despite these problems, government decides it can continue imposing controls, but keep any business afloat by making it dependent upon subsidies, low-cost loans or other less obvious forms of patronage, the authorities should be advised that they will be guaranteeing the continuation of high inflation.

The reasons why some effort will have to be put into spelling out all these issues is that, having regained its dubious ascendancy after its humiliating performance in the parliamentary as well as the presidential elections, Zanu PF can be expected to put considerable effort into consolidating its authority to prevent the re-occurrence of any such challenge. As pressures mount from the many countries that have declared the elections illegitimate, the party is likely to increase its campaign to suppress all possible sources of internal dissent.

Far from readily accepting the need to change unpopular or damaging policies, the party appears determined to renew its efforts to enforce them and to suppress dissent and dissenters by every means possible. However, the problems are certain to become more severe because not one of the policy choices is making a helpful difference.

Scarcities of foreign earnings stem from the loss of exports after the closure of the commercial farming sector, but this policy decision is still being defended. It and its many secondary effects continue to impact on manufacturing, commerce and the financial services sector, and because of government’s efforts to impose controls on exchange rate movements, the did considerable damage to mining and tourism as well.
It was falling capacity to service debts, not sanctions, that disqualified the country from access to credit and it was increasingly restrictive business conditions, not sanctions, which brought investment inflows almost to an end.

The sum total of all these meant that thousands of skilled people left the country to find more secure work. The problems experienced in the disabled productive and service sectors were soon being mirrored in the declining deliveries of service from the power, water and communications infrastructure as well as the social services led by health and education.

All of these made the country even less attractive to investors, and because they led directly to the shortages of goods, jobs and foreign exchange, and to the damage to social services and the formerly efficient infrastructure, all of these issues that need to be carefully described to employees to prevent their being misled by Zanu PF propaganda.

With Zanu PF now hoping that the elections are out of the way, it appears to have nothing to offer that will have any prospect of alleviating any of these profound difficulties. No support will be forthcoming before a legitimate government has been elected and shown an eagerness to accept reasonable policies. Meanwhile, the ruling party might be expected to try repackaging its image and rearranging its personalities in an effort to give the appearance of having made at least some of the needed changes.

A possible early development could be an announcement that Robert Mugabe is to retire and his appointed – not elected – successor will approve extensive policy revisions after claiming to have held extensive consultations with businesses, foreign governments, international development agencies and all other concerned bodies.

However, its first efforts seem likely to be to extract from all local entities the compliance and obedience it believes it was due, but did not receive during these past elections. Many of these are certain to impact upon business, as producers and retailers will be the most suitable target for accusations of economic sabotage and exploitation of the masses through rising prices.

The businesses that best survive what might become the most unpleasant onslaught yet will be those that are best prepared with detailed production and procurement costings and that have fully supportive workforces whose understanding of the challenges prevents them from making unfair accusations against their employers.

Those companies that are well prepared will have written evidence of every advice of price changes, every application for foreign exchange to purchase capital goods or raw materials, every response to supply or pricing queries, whether from other businesses or government, and comprehensive details of labour costings, welfare commitments and interactions with labour unions.

In circumstances such as those that now confront the Zimbabwean business sector, most of the private sector will find itself on the defensive most of the time, mainly because government will be trying to deflect blame from itself. But some caution will have to be exercised in the efforts to prove to clients and staff, to suppliers and shareholders, where the blame really lies.

The ruling party’s recent behaviour has recently invited and received many adverse international reactions, some of which have gathered momentum because of the sheer absurdity and the arrogant defence of unworkable ideas that can now be seen to have served only to make a few people prosperous at the expense of millions of people who have been plunged into poverty

The business sector’s efforts to deflect sanctions must capitalise on this change by making more serious efforts to press for alternatives now that external Ministries of Foreign Affairs are under pressure to show that their countries are becoming more than just passive critics.

Perhaps the strongest argument is that the business sector should not be expected to shoulder the full weight of costly, but largely ineffective economic sanctions when the problems relate to human rights and political legitimacy. The distinctly legal and political dimensions of the issues call for legal and political answers, and these should not be permitted to threaten the livelihoods of employees or employers.

However, this approach calls for the establishment of powerful and universally supported legal institutions that can successfully challenge the conduct of any government and bring to account any individuals who can be shown to have disregarded the rights of their own citizens.

Zimbabwe is not alone in suffering from the fact that certain people can abuse their power without running the risk of becoming answerable to anyone. It is this fact that has to change, and the business sectors of any affected country should not be forced to carry the burden of damaging sanctions for lack of the needed legal procedures that could overcome the real problems.

Hopefully, protests couched in these terms will help vulnerable companies in Zimbabwe to avoid even more ominous threats. As the country moves into the third quarter of the year, it remains trapped in rapidly deteriorating business conditions that are likely to translate into very much more serious shortages of all basic requirements and an even more rapidly declining capacity to sustain production, distribution or employment levels.

As the repercussions of these worsening conditions are likely to lead to social unrest and to even more violent repression, it must be hoped that the challenges will receive urgent attention from those countries that can bring their influence to bear on those claiming the right to govern the country. And as sanctions will do nothing to alleviate the difficulties, every effort must be made to ensure that they are not imposed.

In the table shown (click graph to enlarge), an attempt has been made to illustrate the pace at which the momentum behind the current inflation rate will carry the country into totally unmanageable territory. The very much faster rate of decline in the Zimbabwe dollar exchange rate during June is allowed for and the assumption is that, with nothing to slow this down, a similar rate will be maintained through July.

However, the annual inflation forecasts for the next few months are shown to move up very sharply and this is because the price freeze imposed a year ago held the Consumer Price Index almost static for these months in 2007.

I have left in place my earlier assumption that increasingly desperate attempts will be made by the end of the third quarter, and this is in the belief that the rates of inflation will cause most economic activity to grind to a halt. Government might be expected to remove nine zeros from the currency before much longer, but that will not overcome any basic problems.

The only help that could make a quick difference would be a substantial foreign currency loan that would reduce the scarcity premium on hard currency purchases and lower the costs of imports, but the achievement of the falling monthly inflation figures shown will depend upon the adoption of much more penetrating policy changes and more generous assistance. By then, it will hopefully be fully deserved.

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ZANU-PF to take over foreign firms

By Trymore Magomana | Harare Tribune
     Updated: July 20, 2008 14:02

Zimbabwe, Harare--The illegitimate ZANU-PF government, led by Robert
Mugabe, is gearing up to take over foreign owned firms in an operation
similar to the calamituous fast track land reform programme.

As happened in the chaotic land reform programme, it is widely
expected that ZANU-PF big wigs will be the main beneficiaries of the firm
take-overs. The move is Mugabe's backlash against foreign pressure on him to
stop violence in the country.

"We will identify the potential partners and the companies that could
be taken over," Paul Mangwana, the minister in charge of "economic
empowerment," told AFP, citing a recent economic reform.

He said British investors held stakes in at least 499 Zimbabwean
companies while 353 firms have shareholders from other European countries. A
recent act came into force aimed at "indigenisation" -- boosting local
ownership of companies.

State media reported meanwhile that companies heeding a call by world
powers for United Nations sanctions against President Robert Mugabe's
government would be seized.

The Sunday News reported that the government was auditing companies
owned or partly held by Western shareholders, with a view to inviting other
foreign investors from "friendly" countries to take a share in them.

This move aimed to prevent investors from pulling out of these
companies after foreign powers called for tougher sanctions against Mugabe's
government, the newspaper said, in the wake of a disputed national election.

"In the context of growing Western hostility, the government is
planning to invite companies from friendly countries to move in and take
over those companies that will close down," the newspaper quoted a
government source as saying.

"Gone are the days of political or generalised invitations to
foreigners. We need to move a gear up and approach friendly countries with
sector-specific or even enterprise-specific proposals," said the source.

Investors from countries considered friendly, particularly from the
Far East, would be lined up in a bid to boost the economic stabilisation
process in the country, the report said.

The indigenisation law aims to give native Zimbabweans at least 51
percent ownership of the shares of public companies and other businesses,
the Sunday Mail state newspaper reported in March.

"The indigenisation and empowerment act became operational as of March
2008. The process of indigenisation is not going to happen overnight. It's a
process which will take a bit of time," Mangwana said.--Harare Tribune News.
Additional reporting by AFP.

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ZRP edits Herald copy

From Radio VOP, 20 July

Masvingo - Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesperson, wayne Bvudzijena is now
reportedly editing all violence related stories by the Herald, Radio VOP can
reveal. In an announcement that shocked other news editors gathered in
Masvingo, The Herald news editor, Isdore Guvamombe, who is also a former
freedom fighter, openly told workshop participants that the ZRP had demanded
to see all stories on violence and that they therefore, had to send them to
Bvudzijena for clearance before publishing. Guvamombe said while Bvudzijena
could not write copy like journalists, they just had to publish what he
would have cleared. The news editor said this had been done for security
reasons, probably explaining why MDC violence reports are never published by
the paper. Guvamombe said he would continue sending copy to Bvudzijena every
day and would only publish after the ZRP spokesman had cleared the violence
reports. Guvamombe said he did not expect any foul play in the write ups as
the ZRP was 'very professional'.

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Odinga says Zimbabwe opposition ready for talks


Sun 20 Jul 2008, 9:32 GMT

LONDON (Reuters) - Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on Sunday
Zimbabwe's main opposition was preparing to hold talks with President Robert
Mugabe's party.

He said he expected the two sides to sign an agreement this week for talks
to take place in South Africa and he hoped they would lead to a safe exit
from power for Mugabe.

"Robert Mugabe is an embarrassment to the African continent," Odinga told
BBC television. "He lost an election and refused to move on."

"I am told the parties have now agreed a framework for negotiation which I
am told will be signed in South Africa this week," he added. "I am
encouraging this kind of dialogue in the interests of the people of

"I am told these talks are going to take place in Pretoria and will be
chaired by (South African) President (Thabo) Mbeki but supervised by the
African Union and the United Nations representatives."

"If this happens then it is the first step in giving Mr Mugabe a safe exit,"
he added.

Officials from Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change said on Saturday
that leader Morgan Tsvangirai could sign an agreement as early as Monday to
start substantive talks with Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

The apparent breakthrough came after Thabo Mbeki proposed forming a team
drawn from African regional bodies and the United Nations to help him

The Movement for Democratic Change has refused to recognise Mugabe's victory
in a June 27 run-off vote held after Tsvangirai pulled out, citing violence
by ruling party militia.

Tsvangirai won the first round of the presidential election in March, but
fell short of the absolute majority needed to avoid the second ballot.

(Additional reporting by Cris Chinaka in Harare)

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Stage now set for signing of MoU

July 20, 2008

By Eddie Cross

I must say that the past week has surprised me.

Mr. Thabo Mbeki came home from his trip to the G8 summit in Japan in a
hurry. First he called for an immediate resumption of the dialogue between
the MDC and Zanu-PF - suspended after the debacle last year when Mugabe
simply put his foot down and said that he would not implement the agreement
thrashed out over nine painstaking months by the negotiating teams under Mr.
Mbeki's mediation. MDC was reluctant to begin "talks" but eventually agreed
to resume "talks about talks." These got under way on Friday last week and
after two days of fruitless arguing, the talks were suspended and the
negotiators returned home.

On Monday this week, the South Africans continued the dialogue and although
we know little of what went on behind closed doors, we understand that it
was a very rough session - almost physical at times. The result was a draft
"Memorandum of Understanding" which the South Africans then said - "sign
that - all of you".

By all accounts Zanu-PF were prepared to sign but the MDC led by Morgan
Tsvangirai stuck to its guns and said they would not sign nor begin
substantive talks until its preconditions were fulfilled. There was much
huffing and puffing about that - both in the state-controlled media here and
in South Africa where the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs dismissed the
MDC demands with several snide remarks in Pretoria.

On Thursday the MDC national executive was recalled to review the draft MOU
and after two hours of intense debate and several amendments, they agreed
that providing our preconditions for substantive talks were satisfied, the
would sign the MOU as a basis for full negotiations on a transitional
authority to run the country until a new constitution could be adopted and
free and fair conditions held - perhaps in two years time. I was astonished
by the terms of the MOU and said so to the President.

Now today (Sunday) the BBC has stated that following a terse announcement in
Johannesburg to the effect that Mr. Mbeki would be assisted in his mediation
role in these talks by both AU and UN representatives, MDC has announced
that we would sign the MOU on Monday. In fact behind the scenes there was
more to this than met the eye and I think most media have yet to fully
appreciate what in fact has transpired.

On Thursday the Chairman of the AU Commission, Mr. Ping, arrived in
Johannesburg and on Friday the SADC Organ on Security and Politics joined
him. In subsequent meetings, they thrashed out an agreement that paved the
way to the appointment of the AU and UN representatives and by doing so met
one of our key demands as a precondition for the talks. The other
preconditions were all covered in the MOU and had already been agreed by
Zanu-PF on Tuesday. These include a complete cessation of political violence
and the resumption of humanitarian aid on a non-political basis.

And so the stage is now set for full negotiations between the MDC and
Zanu-PF. The first step in this process will be a short, but highly
significant meeting between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai - the first
such meeting
since this crisis began 10 years ago. Following this meeting to agree on the
basis for the negotiations, locale and timetable, the leaders will sign the
MOU. At this point I would imagine that the MOU would become a public
document and be available to everyone via the Press and other media. When
this happens I forecast shock and trepidation in Zanu-PF circles and
astonishment and delight everywhere else.

It represents a full climb down by Mugabe and his cohorts made even more
significant by the fact that nowhere does it mention that Mugabe is the
President of Zimbabwe. In fact we really do not have a government at the
moment - not even a caretaker one as the winners of the March election have
yet to be sworn in and the subsequent "election" of Mugabe as President has
not been accepted by any of the major multilateral organisations involved -
the SADC, the AU and the UN. Far from taking Zanu-PF forward, the sham
election held on June 27 has simply compounded their problems and

Once the MOU is signed I expect the full negotiations to begin immediately
at a secure location and with the full team of mediators present. Our own
team is now being selected and appointed and will include both technical
experts and politicians. Theirs is a very tough assignment and nobody inside
or outside the country is putting any money on a reasonable outcome.

Skeptism is almost universal.

This time my own money is on an outcome that we can live with and start the
long process of stabilizing and reconstructing our battered economy. The
reasons are quite simple - Zanu-PF is at the end of the road, Mr. Mbeki and
his associates want this crisis resolved and those with the resources to
help us put Zimbabwe back together again have a very clear understanding of
what they will accept in terms of a political solution that qualifies us for
assistance. There is absolutely no point in negotiating a deal that is not
acceptable to the people with money - both in the shadowy world of finance
and investment and in the realm of bilateral donor activity.

The one feature of recent events that convinces me that this time Mbeki is
kicking for the posts is that he has demanded that the whole process is
wrapped up in two weeks. In fact, there is talk of a SADC summit of Heads of
State in mid August to receive a report on the talks and to consider their
outcome and any future role of SADC as a guarantor of the implementation of
the final agreement. I agree fully with this timetable, as our own economic
slide is now so fast that not many are going to survive the ride for much

Not covered in any of the talks so far or mentioned in any agenda is the
issue of just what is going to happen to the many monsters who have been
responsible for planning, managing and undertaking the violent repression of
the opposition in the past decade or more. Clearly there is no place for
these men and women of violence and corruption in any transitional

That is a key subject that the mediators will have to attend to and resolve.

(Eddie Cross is the policy coordinator for the Movement for Democratic
Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai.)

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Billions of rands could pour into Harare


    July 20 2008 at 11:32AM

By Fiona Forde

African Union commissioner Jean Ping held a round of secret talks with
President Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara in Harare on
Saturday in a bid to secure agreement on power-sharing talks due to get
under way in the coming days.

In his separate meeting with each of the party leaders, Ping appealed
to them to sign a memorandum of understanding that will guide a two-week
round of intensive talks to negotiate a political solution to the crisis.

The signing ceremony would take place in Harare and pave the way for
the talks to move immediately to a secret location in South Africa.

lthough Zanu-PF and the Mutambara faction of the MDC reiterated their
willingness to sign, Weekend Argus understands Tsvangirai outlined a number
of concerns that continue to pose problems for his participation.

"There are still a number of things we asked for that aren't there,"
he said.

However, he would not say when he would be in a position to join his
rivals at the table.

Ping told the party leaders he was meeting with them in his capacity
as AU commissioner and as the AU representative to the newly-appointed
reference group which Thabo Mbeki constituted on Friday.

The group is also made up of special representatives from the SADC and
the UN and is intended to interact with Mbeki's facilitation at a strategic
level on an ongoing basis as talks proceed.

Should the talks produce a negotiated settlement, Harare stands to
attract billions of rand in the near future from Zimbabwe's main donors.

Weekend Argus understands Britain has committed R15 billion, America
has pledged R11,4-billion, the United Nations Development Plan a further
R6bn and the European Union R3-billion, with more in the offering from a
number of other sources, all under the guise of a rescue plan.

From those four sources alone, Harare stands to attract at least
R35-billion in the near future, an enormous amount of money for a country
that has been miraculously staving off economic collapse for a number of

It is a sum that will be hard to ignore in the future talks.

The bulk of the money carries stringent conditions, however, and the
ultimatum that it will not be released until Mugabe steps down.

US officials have repeatedly said they are only willing to lend a hand
in a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe.

When the EU chief for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel,
announced his package some weeks back, he stipulated a similar condition,
saying that while the money would be available, it would only be committed
vis-a-vis "a post-Mugabe assistance plan in union with our African

However, it remains to be seen whether the world's superpowers would
consider a power-sharing authority of some sort, which seems increasingly
likely, rather than veto the prospect of stability.

What is also unclear are the intentions of the incoming US
administration and whether the future US president would be willing to
assist Zimbabwe, even with Mugabe in some ceremonial role.

This article was originally published on page 2 of Cape Argus on July
20, 2008

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Completely new approach to crisis needed

July 20, 2008
Jupiter Punungwe

ZIMBABWE is in deep crisis and the newswires are pregnant with news briefs
of current efforts aimed at reaching an accommodation between the MDC and

The assumption seems to be that once ZANU-PF and the MDC jump into the same
bed, then the Zimbabwe’s problems will be gone in a puff. When a child is
suffering from malaria sex between the mother and the father is not going to
cure the child. Zimbabwe is suffering from economic malaria. Even if Mugabe
and Tsvangirai hug each other like long lost friends today, that act is not
going to reopen the closed factories. It is not going to make fuel rain from
the heavens like manna. It is not going make bumper crops sprout overnight
like mushrooms on Zimbabwe’s parched farmlands.

In my view an agreement between the MDC and Zanu-PF is absolutely useless,
to the economically suffering Zimbabweans. The hope seems to be that once
the MDC and Zanu-PF are in the same bed, then the economy will be alright.
To me that is a false hope.

Firstly, I don’t think the MDC will be able to control Zanu-PF’s insatiable
appetite for corruption. I don’t believe the MDC will be able to stop those
guys from giving themselves free twin-cabs, tractors, grinding mills, diesel
and foreign currency. So long that is happening our fiscus will be burdened
with unplanned massive expenditure leading to inflation.

Secondly I don’t think the Western-controlled Breton Woods institutions will
relax their policies while Zanu-PF is still involved in governing Zimbabwe.
May I remind you that the Zimbabwe Democracy Act passed by the USA clearly
stipulates among its conditions that aid will not be restored to Zimbabwe
until “the rule of law has been restored in Zimbabwe, including respect for
ownership and title to property held prior to January 1, 2000″. A few
paragraphs down, the same Act adds to the above condition by stating “the
Government of Zimbabwe has demonstrated a commitment to an equitable, legal,
and transparent land reform program which should– (A) respect existing
ownership of and title to property by providing fair, market-based
compensation to sellers”.

In layman’s terms Westerners will not restore full aid to Zimbabwe until the
government has given white farmers back their farms or paid them full
compensation at market based values (let’s say about two hundred thousand US
dollars per farm multiplied by about 5000 farms. Remember many of the 4 000
farmers owned more than one farm). In short the likes of Bright Matonga,
Ignatius Chombo, Gideon Gono, Constantine Chiwenga would have to vacate the
often multiple farms they acquired or the Zimbabwe government would have to
find almost a billion US$ to pay off the farmers. Ladies and gentlemen,
betting that either of those two events will happen is almost like betting
that one’s own mother is still a virgin.

Thirdly, even Zanu-PF’s so called friends are not willing to trust them with
money. Am I the only one who has noticed that while countries like China and
Malaysia are willing to support Zimbabwe politically, none of them is
willing to make a substantial contribution to Zimbabwe’s state coffers.
Definitely China could afford to spare a couple billion US dollars if they
were willing to trust Zanu-PF with money. As far as I know all Zimbabwe have
to show for their friendship with China are a couple of rickety propeller
driven aircraft. China most likely gave them away because they couldn’t find
anyone to buy them.

I don’t blame the Chinese or the Malaysians for deciding to be wise with
their money. Even I would not be willing to give any government lots of
money when I knew that the first thing they were going to do is finance
luxurious lifestyles for senior government officials. After that they would
then siphon off much of the remainder through corruption. Twelve cylinder
Mercs (whether Brabus or not), fleets of luxury twincabs, free grinding
mills, free scotch carts, free tractors, to me, or anyone else in their
right senses, do not count as essential government expenditure in an country
where there are no drugs in hospital, there are no textbooks in schools,
teachers and nurses are earning less than US$5 a month, store shelves are
completely devoid of goods and most factories have long since been closed.

Fourth Zanu-PF have become very adept at trying to hide their corruption
behind the finder of socialism. Many programmes ostensibly designed to
‘cushion the poor’, really turn out to be little more than devious schemes
to line the pockets of well connected officials. Subsidized diesel and
subsidized mealie-meal have all led to a massive blackmarket for those
commodities and made a very few well connected individuals filthy rich while
the plight of the poor has gotten worse and worse.

I used to think that Zanu-PF were simply dump to try and follow socialist
policies where even nominally communist countries like China have turned
rapaciously to free market capital based policies. Now I know they were
simply cleverly hiding their corruption wolf beneath a socialist sheepskin.

The bottom line is that the Zanu-PF government is too corrupt, self-centred,
arrogant, unpredictable and outright ignorant for anyone, including their
friends, to trust them with money. So long as Zanu-PF is a senior partner in
any political arrangement that Mbeki and friends might dream off, nobody is
going to inject a meaningful amount of real money into the Zimbabwean
economy. Thus, it is very unlikely that meaningful economic recovery is
going to take place.

On the other hand the MDC cannot be trusted to make much effort come up with
policies and strategies that are aimed at meaningfully alleviating the
plight of the ordinary Zimbabwean. There is no doubt that the MDC have
financially profited from the politics of opposing Zanu-PF. If there is no
Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe, it is very unlikely that organisations like the
Westminster Foundation will continue pouring millions of pounds into the MDC’s

In other words for the MDC leadership to be able to continue globe-trotting
around the world in private jets, living in umpteen star penthouse
apartments in the posh suburbs of rich cities like Johannesburg, Zanu-PF has
to remain safely in place in Harare. A number of senior MDC officials have
openly gloated that Zimbabweans are going to suffer much more now that
Zanu-PF are entrenched for another five years. What they do not add is that
millions will be flowing into their own pockets because of Zanu-PF’s
presence in Harare.

In other words it is futile for Zimbabweans to continue looking to the MDC
for meaningful change in Harare. Yes, they will keep a steady stream of
anti-Mugabe rhetoric flowing. However Zimbabweans should not expect
meaningful action or concessions to change the status quo. The reason is
simple, if the status quo changes the MDC will not be guaranteed access to
foreign funding. However, to expect the MDC to openly admit that is
something akin to expecting Zanu-PF to openly admit that they rig elections.

My conclusion in view of all this is that while current efforts to ’solve’
Zimbabwe’s problems are very high profile and hogging the news limelight,
they are going nowhere really. However, the situation for ordinary
Zimbabweans is getting worse and worse. Therefore, we need a different
grassroots oriented approach to solving Zimbabwe’s problems.

What needs to be debated is the starting point and public objectives of that
grassroots approach. Personally, I think Lovemore Madhuku’s NCA has good
public platform to be the starting point of such a grassroots approach.
However, the NCA would have to broaden their focus to include issues of
economic prudence as well. I also think we need sober minded and mature
thinking young men like Brian Kagoro to be involved in such efforts. We need
people who will have the people in mind, not people who wish to use the
people’s plight to line their pockets.

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Zimbabweans use blogs, text messages for info

The Guardian

AP foreign
Sunday July 20 2008

Associated Press Writer

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - The photographs of the tortured body of an
opposition official are blurry but chilling.

Posted on the ``This is Zimbabwe'' blog, they show charred, lacerated limbs
and blank eyes staring out from the face of the official, Gift Mutsvungunu,
frozen in a death grimace. A note accompanying the pictures says the picture
quality is bad because the photographer was shaking with fear.

Increasingly, Zimbabweans are going online and using cell phone text
messages to share stories of life and death in a country where independent
traditional media have been all but silenced, and from which reporters from
most international media have been barred.

``Any organization or NGO working in the area of promotion of free
expression is at risk,'' Bev Clark, one of the founders of the Kubatana
blogging forum, said via e-mail. ``Zimbabwe is encased in fear.''

Harare-based Kubatana is a network of nonprofit organizations that runs a
blogging forum. The forum relies on 13 bloggers in Zimbabwe, who e-mail
submissions to an administrator who posts them to the site. The network also
reaches beyond the Web by sending text messages to 3,800 subscribers.

Zimbabwe's bloggers are mainly opposition activists whose themes range from
HIV/AIDS to the country's economic meltdown to President Robert Mugabe's
thuggery. The underground networks can be forums for unsubstantiated rumor,
but they also provide valuable independent information and can even make

In late June, the ``This is Zimbabwe'' blog started a letter-writing
campaign against a German firm that was supplying paper for the sinking
Zimbabwean dollar. After about a week, the international media picked up the
story and the company, Giesecke & Devrient, announced it would stop dealing
with Zimbabwe.

Another typical posting simply lists names of victims of political violence,
each accompanied by one sentence on how the person was beaten to death.

In many cases it's impossible to tell who is doing the postings because the
risks are so great. Government eavesdroppers are believed to be roaming the
Web and intercepting cell phone calls, especially after a law was passed
last year allowing authorities to monitor phone calls and the Internet.

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said the legislation was modeled
after counter-terrorism legislation in America and the U.N.

``Those who have something to hide should be very much worried, but those
who have nothing to hide should not worry,'' he said.

Only the state-run TV and radio stations and The Herald, a government
newspaper, provide daily news in Zimbabwe. There are no independent radio
stations broadcasting from within the country. Journalists without
hard-to-come-by government accreditation find it hard to operate.

The government grip on the media tightened in the lead-up to last month's
presidential election run-off, in which Mugabe was the only candidate after
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai dropped out because of violence against
his supporters.

That leaves the Internet and cell phones. Internet World Stats, an online
organization that compiles statistics on Internet usage worldwide, estimates
1.3 million Zimbabweans - about 11 percent of the population - were using
the Internet as of March 2008. According to the CIA World Factbook, 832,500
Zimbabweans, or 6.7 percent of the population, had cell phones as of 2006.

For those who are online, near-daily power outages, followed by power
surges, can make the Web an inconsistent means of communicating and
gathering information. Cell phone service is also inconsistent at best; it
can sometimes take hours to send text messages.

SW Radio Africa, a station based outside London that broadcasts into
Zimbabwe, sends texts to 25,000 listeners a day, and they are adding about a
thousand numbers each week.

Gerry Jackson, an exiled Zimbabwean journalist who started SW Radio Africa,
said the text messages are their most popular service. And it's not just

The radio station has a local phone number in Zimbabwe so listeners can send
text messages or leave voicemail messages without long distance charges, and
then someone from the station can call them back.

``One of the guys was calling back a woman who had said the youth militia
were after her,'' Jackson said. As he was on the phone with her, someone
broke down her door and started beating her, and all he could hear were

``It's very frustrating sitting at this distance and watching your country
be destroyed at every conceivable level,'' Jackson said.

Eight years ago, Jackson won a court battle in Zimbabwe's Supreme Court to
run an independent radio station - but it was shut down by armed gunmen just
six days after its launch. She fled to London, where she started SW Radio
Africa in 2001.

Radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe from outside are forced to
broadcast on multiple frequencies to avoid being jammed by the government.

A recently imposed import duty on newspapers charges a 40 percent tax for
independent voices like the newspaper The Zimbabwean, published abroad and
shipped in and available on the Web.

The Zimbabwean's publisher, Wilf Mbanga, said weekly circulation has dropped
from 200,000 to 60,000 and the paper has stopped publishing its Sunday

``We are not going to be defeated,'' said Mbanga, who continues to publish
using donations from international humanitarian organizations.

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Mbeki is 'stumbling block' to mediation

Mail and Guardian

      JASON MOYO AND MANDY ROSSOUW - Jul 20 2008 06:00

The Movement for Democratic Change has insisted that without the African
Union's involvement, and at least another mediator in addition to President
Thabo Mbeki, "talks about talks" between Zimbabwe's two largest parties will
not go ahead.

Despite reports that Mbeki was to travel to Harare this week to witness the
signing of a "framework agreement" for inter-party discussions, Mbeki's
spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga, confirmed that the trip did not take

Zimbabwe's state media had announced that a deal was close, while Zanu-PF
and the two MDC factions were said to be ready to sign on a "memorandum of
engagement" setting the terms for formal dialogue.

But positions changed repeatedly. At one point both sides were said to have
dropped all preconditions, while reports from insiders later suggested they
remained worlds apart.

On Wednesday the MDC was adamant that Mbeki remained a stumbling block in
the mediation.

"We have no confidence in him," said an MDC spokesperson. "He wants to
create the impression that talks are going ahead before big meetings [such
as those of the G8 and United Nations]. He wants to make it look like there
is progress."

Further impediments are self- styled president Robert Mugabe's demand that
the MDC recognise him as Zimbabwe's legitimate leader and that the MDC
denounce Western sanctions.

The MDC has also demanded that all violence stops before talks are held.

According to an official familiar with the process, both sides want the
talks to be held as soon as possible and not to be drawn out needlessly.

But both parties realise that they remain poles apart. The two-week
timetable initially discussed to finalise a deal is "far too unrealistic",
the source said.

The source emphasised a further fundamental difference between the
parties:the MDC believes a solution lies in discussions leading to a
transitional government with a limited mandate and life. At a meeting this
week the party and a coalition of its civil society allies decided it should
be two years.

In continuing talks during this period the MDC will demand the drafting of a
new Constitution and preparations for fresh elections monitored by the
United Nations and other international observers, including the Western
monitors banned by Mugabe.

By contrast, Mugabe is said to favour a more permanent arrangement that
yields some power to the MDC but allows him to see out his five-year term
without having to face the electorate.

While Mugabe has expressed openness to talks, he has also been keen to
project the view that he can go it alone.

On Wednesday he launched a programme to provide cut-price basic goods to the
poor, saying "we are continuing with our programmes of empowerment, just as
we promised our people we would do once they gave us a new mandate to
continue serving them".

But few believe he would risk forming a government on his own. He has
ignored a constitutional deadline to swear in the new Parliament and name
his Cabinet, a development many have see as a clear indication he is
prepared to accommodate the MDC in his new government.

According to legal watchdog Veritas, Parliament should have been sworn in by
Tuesday, six months to the day after it was dissolved ahead of the March
election. But the group said "the consequences of non-compliance with the
deadline are not spelled out in the Constitution", a fact that Mugabe's
legal advisers would have known.

Indeed, Mugabe has little room to wriggle out of talks.

Mbeki has kept up the pressure by permanently stationing a team in Harare to
drive the process. In addition, Mugabe is keen to shore up shaky regional
ties, while being aware that the composition of Parliament -- no party has
an absolute majority -- makes it impossible for him to rule without
accommodating the MDC.

There appears to be some agreement, albeit tacit, in Mugabe's inner circle
that they have lost all control of the economy and that a deal with the MDC
holds out the best chance of restoring economic stability.

They believe, however, that any political concession will have to come
through constitutional amendments which must be passed in a package rather
than one by one.

In terms of accommodating MDC leaders in government, Mugabe could be swayed
to make concessions. But he will not let go of the two most powerful
portfolios, defence and policing.

The deal-breaker for Zanu-PF will be if the Western world slaps further
sanctions on the ruling elite. The party also says it will not entertain
discussions on the land issue.

The only arrow left in Zanu-PF's quiver is the "legality" Mugabe claims by
being elected" in the June 27 poll. He refuses to concede that he is
negotiating from a weaker position.

At the same time, the MDC has moved away from its earlier challenge that
"those who claim a mandate to rule should go ahead and rule". It also
realises it has little option but to talk.

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SADC to ensure progress on Zim situation


July 20, 2008, 08:30

The SADC Ministerial Committee on Politics, Defence, and Security has
resolved to re-affirm the Zimbabwean mediation process led by President
Thabo Mbeki.

At a meeting in Durban, the committee said it was working hard to ensure
that there's progress on the Zimbabwe situation ahead of the SADC Summit in
South Africa next month.

The Committee has also welcomed the move to include representatives of the
African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to assist in the mediation.

SADC Executive secretary Tomaz Salomao says it's important to help overcome
the challenges in Zimbabwe in a very responsible and constructive manner.

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Britain gives 9m pounds for food aid to Zimbabwe

Afrique en ligne

Harare, Zimbabwe - Despite frosty political relations, Britainannounced S
aturday it would give ex-colony Zimbabwe 9 million poundssterling for food
aid to millions of people facing starvation in thecountry.

In a statement, the Department for International Development said themoney
would be administered by the Worl d Food Programme, a UnitedNations food
humanitarian agency. An estimated four million people in Zimbabwe are facing
food shortagesas a result of excessive rains and lack of farming inputs such

Long running political instability in the country has also
affectedagricultural production. "The ongoing political problems in Zimbabwe
should not divert our gazefrom the continuing humanitarian disaster.

By the end of 2008, up tofive million men, women and children could be
facing severe hunger andmalnutrition," UK Secretary of State for
International Development,Doughlas Alexander, said in the statement. He said
the food aid, to be fin a nced by the United Kingdom, wouldtarget vulnerable
groups in Zimbabwe, particularly in rural areas.

Separately, Britain's Department for International Development said itwould
spend another 44 million pounds in Zimbabwe on food and otherhumanitarian
assistance, including HIV and AIDS treatment, to Zimbabwethis year.
Relations between the two countries have been frosty for years overland
reforms and alleged human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

Harare - 19/07/2008


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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 19th July 2008

A very busy Vigil during which we met Myo Thein, Director of Burma
Democratic Concern, to discuss plans for a joint demonstration outside the
Chinese Embassy in London on Friday 8th August.  This is the day on which
the Beijing Olympics gets underway and is also the 20th anniversary of
8/8/88, the day the Burmese military regime killed more than 3000 peaceful

We both want to target China for vetoing resolutions in the UN Security
Council about the plight of our peoples.  We hope to be joined by
representatives from Tibet and Darfur who have been equally badly treated
by the rapacious and callous Chinese.  The theme of our demonstration
outside the Chinese Embassy will be the 'Genocide Olympics'. Our view is
that the medals for this new Olympic competition have already been
stitched up by China, Russia and South Africa who have repeatedly voted
against human rights resolutions on Tibet, China and Zimbabwe.

Myo Thein's brother is a political prisoner in Burma who has been
partially paralysed by torture. We would just add that on previous
demonstrations outside the Chinese Embassy we have always been welcomed by
the Falun Gong and hope to have them on board with this protest as well.

As the situation deteriorates in Zimbabwe we get more harrowing tales. In
the last week stories have appeared in the media about new levels of
depraved brutality in Zimbabwe: eyes plucked out, tongues cut out . . . .
.  The media are a bit late on this story - anyone following the Vigil
diary will see we reported this on 28th June. Because we are in telephone
contact with our relatives all the time we learn what's happening on the
ground much quicker than is reported in the media.

The Vigil was pleased to see that Mozambique has set up refugee camps for
Zimbabweans. We believe the international community should finance refugee
camps in all the countries neighbouring Zimbabwe to provide shelter for
our starving, tortured and sick families forced to flee the hell-hole that
Mugabe has made of  our country. We hope that the European Union will
provide this money instead of supporting SADC governments who help Mugabe
such as Malawi and South Africa etc.

The Vigil was very well-attended with people going to great trouble to be
with us.  For the second week in a row we had someone from distant

For latest Vigil pictures check:

FOR THE RECORD: 190 signed the register.

Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday 2nd August, 2 - 6 pm Venue: Argyle Street
Precinct. For more information contact: Ancilla Chifamba, 07770 291 150,
Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137 or Jonathan Chireka, 07504 724 471.
Protest outside the Chinese Embassy. Friday, 8th August.  More information
as plans develop.
Zimbabwe Association's Women's Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am - 4
pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street,
London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For
more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open
Tuesdays and Thursdays).

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Zimbabwe, the same old dirty tricks

- BY PIERRE SCHORI 20/07/2008 (MaximsNews Network)

UNITED NATIONS - / MaximsNews Network / 20 July 2008 -- On June 26, 2008, Mr. Mugabe´s official newspaper, The Herald, tried to twist the truth when they claimed that I, as the head of the EU election observation mission during the 2002 presidential elections, was expelled from Zimbabwe because I had violated my “visa condition”.

The truth is that the Zimbabwe government thought that I had a tourist visa, and therefore stated that as a tourist I could not be in the country on a “political” mission. I had however a six-month visa for multiple entries, issued by the Zimbabwean embassy in Washington.Therefore, after having tried in vain to force me to sign a document that I was a tourist, they had to confiscate my passport, then stamp in a new visa, dated the day before! Thus I was in the country illegally!

One reason for the harsh action taken against the EU mission was probably that we had, in MR. Mugabe´s view, been too efficient, in the 2002 parliamentary elections, when I also led the EU observation. In 2002, as this year, the President ´s own future was at stake and therefore any method to stay in power was used.

 In the article Mugabe beyond the pale: Not the way to govern Zimbabwe , written just after my expulsion in 2002, the reader can see that the same methods that Mr Mugabe ´s thugs are using now against their fellow countrymen were in fact also practised in 2002. In that year, the EU foreign ministers, basing their action on the information provided by their ambassadors in Zimbabwe, other international observers and the mission ´s fact-finding during the week it was able to work, declared the elections not to be fair and free and Mr. Mugabe´s government in violation of the Cotonou agreement. The EU thus imposed targeted sanctions on the President and some of his collaborators.

Related publications
Bio author: Pierre Schori

A Swedish diplomat with vast experience in foreign affairs, development cooperation and peacekeeping operations, Schori served from 2005 until the beginning of 2007 as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of Mission in Côte d'Ivoire. He was Minister for International Development Cooperation, Migration and Asylum Policy, and Deputy Foreign Minister between 1994 and 1999. In 2000, Schori was appointed Swedish Ambassador to the United Nations, a position he held until 2004. He is the Director General de FRIDE.

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Gifts are being Given

Sunday 20th July 2008

Dear Family and Friends,
It's hard to believe that almost four months have passed since Zimbabweans
voted for an MDC parliamentary majority and gave MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai the most presidential ballots. It's like that day never happened
as 16 weeks down the line, the old order remains in place and we are stuck
in a state of leadership denial.

It's been a brutal four months that Zimbabwe will never forget. A time when
the country's leaders have bombarded us with hate speech, threatened us with
war and tried to make us believe that they are immortal and their rule
eternal. For the last four months we have been a population in a state of
mourning as a litany of horror has become our daily lives: murder, torture,
abduction, rape and arson.

And now, after all these weeks of abuse and before the soil has settled over
fresh graves, gifts are being given by the same people who threatened war.
Scotch carts, tractors, ploughs and cultivators are being handed out at
gatherings where everyone is waving little flags, wearing Zanu PF clothes
and dancing for the leaders.

It's hard to fathom that this can possibly be real: that people can be
cheering and ululating for farming implements before the tears for the dead
are even dry on our faces, before the results of our votes in the March
elections have been implemented, let alone accepted.

It seems to be of no consequence that the constitutional deadline for the
swearing in of MP's and Senators, the election of the Speaker of the House
and Senate and the ceremonial opening of Parliament have all been missed.

As I write this letter the leaves from the Msasa trees are falling thick and
fast. They are early this year and the sound of them raining down on the
roof gives notice of a new season about to start. The falling of the leaves,
like the wishes of the people, cannot be stopped - no matter how many gifts
are given.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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Between Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe

 July 20, 2008

                Chioma Iyke-Ani

They represent the two faces of Africa, a rich continent, wonderfully
endowed both in material and human resources but unfortunately and
ironically still gasping for survival. Nelson Mandela, who turned 90 on
Friday, represents everything that should be good about Africa; that is the
bright side of a troubled continent with an avalanche of demented leaders.
Robert Mugabe, also in his eighties, is the ugly face of a continent yet in
search of salvation but haunted by greedy and criminal leaders. Both African
leaders are currently receiving massive global attention, one for the good
reasons and the other for everything negative and reprehensible.

Mandela, the Madiba, has in the last one month arrested global attention as
the world rose in honour of the man who gave his life for the emancipation
of the Republic of South Africa. He turned 90 and there was stampede across
the world for participation in the events to mark his birthday. Born in a
troubled country caged by apartheid where the majority blacks were treated
as lesser humans and segregated against, Mandela put his life on the line to
fight against this inhuman treatment. He fought against the squalour
settlements created for the blacks, the make-shift schools constructed for
them and the different and dehumanizing laws made to perpetually keep them
in bondage and inferior. For these he was arrested and jailed for 27 years
at a time he was already in his fifties.

While in jail Mandela, remained defiant and turned down offers of the then
government to renounce violent protests for his freedom. I still remember
his remarkable reply through his daughter to the authorities that he will
rather remain in chains especially when majority of his brothers and sisters
were still in chains and haunted. He refused conditional freedom and hung on
in prison on behalf of his people. He was eventually released without
conditions when international pressure mounted on the minority leadership in
South Africa to embrace democracy and he walked out a free and proud man.

When the whistle was blown to return South Africa to democratic and
participatory government, Mandela became the obvious choice of the people
and he was elected the first post apartheid president of the Southern
African country. As a leader he was selfless, positive and laid the
foundation for an all inclusive government. At the expiration of the five
year constitutional first term, Mandela, fulfilled, voluntarily bowed out to
give way for the younger ones. He was not drunk with power and was not
infected by its allure. He was a man of moderation. He had a mission and
that was to see a free South Africa where all men and women will be treated
equally and where every South African will have equal opportunity to aspire
to any office in the land. With this achieved, Mandela felt fulfilled and
decided to leave the stage, a sign that he was not in the struggle for
personal glory but for the emancipation of the greater number of South
Africans. He believed in structures and not personalities and when he saw
that the structures had been built for a sustained peaceful and democratic
transfer of power in his country, he left.

Out of office, Mandela quietly minded his own business and never attempted
to influence the policies or the running of the government now in the hands
of his deputy. But when there is avoidable drift, he had always been handy
with an advice. He was satisfied with the role of an elder statesman and the
conscience of his nation. And even with the stress of the struggle and the
demands of the office when he was in power, he has lived to an enviable age
of 90. This is the doing of the Lord.

But in contrast to Madiba is Robert Mugabe, a power drunk old man who has
deliberately decided to plunge his country Zimbabwe and its people into
avoidable darkness. He shot into office in the eighties and has ruled the
Southern African Country for more than thirty years. And he wants to remain
there even when his people are no more interested in having him as their
leader. For Mugabe and his ilks in Africa (and they are many) power belongs
to one man who is all knowing and who must retain this power till death when
his son or relation is expected to take over.

Mugabe early this year went for re-election and lost, and not comfortable
with his defeat forced the Zimbabwean electoral body to suspend the
announcement of the election results in a bizarre manner that aroused public
outcry and condemnation. Working on the instructions of the old man, the
electoral body later announced that the election was inconclusive and that a
bye-election would be conducted. Throughout this period, the state security
were clamping down on real and imaginary opposition, killing innocent
Zimbabweans and creating a hostile environment to drive away the opposition.
The bye election was boycotted by the opposition and Mugabe ran unopposed
and was declared winner.

African leaders are finding it difficult to do something about the
Zimbabwean logjam because many are guilty of the same offence. Most African
leaders are the same if not worse than Mugabe. There is one in Kenya,
another in Sudan and Nigeria only recently survived one. That is the story
of the tragedy in Zimbabwe, a story of the ugly face of Africa, a continent
harassed by bad and criminal leadership. African leaders are the problem of
Africa, they are looters, and they kill to sustain themselves in office,
they are the real problem of the continent.

It is unfortunate that the international community is divided in the clamour
to sanction Zimbabwe. The position of China and Russia in all these is
disturbing and portends greater set back for Africa as some other crooks in
leadership will be encouraged to do worse things believing that the United
Nations Security Council will not have a consensus to sanction. But there is
hope that Mugabe will not escape justice if not now definitely in no distant
time. The story of Charles Taylor of Liberia is very instructive and also
that of the warlord in Sudan, the first sitting president to be declared a
wanted man by the International Court of Justice for genocide in Sudan.

Mugabe must be tried for his crimes against the people of Zimbabwe and if
found guilty should be jailed for life, although he has few years to live.
This will continue to signpost a new direction in Africa and also serve as a
deterrent to other criminal leaders lurking around and waiting to pillage
their countries. But Africa must remain grateful to the Madiba for the good
face he has given to the continent and as he savours his 90th birthday, I
join millions of his fans to wish him more strength and good health so as to
remain the conscience of Africa. Amanda!

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Africa struggles with democracy

  By Edmund Sanders
  July 20, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya - Election-related meltdowns in Zimbabwe and Kenya are stark
reminders of democracy's fragile foothold in Africa, experts say, despite
years of financial and diplomatic investment by the United States and other
Western nations.

A combination of challenges unique to the continent, including worsening
poverty and inconsistent international engagement, is blamed for fueling a
string of setbacks. After some progress in the early 1990s, once-promising
governments have regressed, particularly around election time.

"Overall, the continent has had a deflation of strong democratic leadership
in recent years," said J. Stephen Morrison, Africa director at the Center
for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "In some places we
are seeing that autocratic pseudo-democracies have formed."

In addition to disputed presidential elections in Zimbabwe and Kenya, where
longtime incumbents refused to cede power after their opponents declared
victory at the polls, last year's ruling party victory in Nigeria was
condemned widely as flawed. Uganda's president changed the country's
constitution to stay in power. Ethiopian government forces killed about 200
opposition supporters after a 2005 vote.

Although there have been democratic success stories, such as Ghana and
Sierra Leone, some observers see the coming years as a crucial period in
determining whether much of Africa will move forward in embracing democracy.

"The continent right now seems caught in the middle between the good cases
and bad cases," said Chris Fomunyoh, senior associate for Africa at the
National Democratic Institute, which promotes democratic reform around the

The Bush administration has been praised for sharply stepping up spending to
combat diseases in Africa, including about $19 billion on HIV/AIDS and $1.2
billion on malaria. But it has been less vigilant when it comes to
bolstering democratic institutions, analysts say.

Efforts to promote democracy in Africa largely have been confined to Sudan,
which is torn by a north-south war and a conflict in the Darfur region, in
which more than 200,000 people have died.

Indeed, after a flurry of support in the early 1990s, which helped usher in
multiparty systems and stronger institutions, the United States and other
Western powers have diverted their attention to the Middle East and Asia.

Zimbabwe's crisis is a prime example, critics say. President Robert G.
Mugabe long ago began leading his southern African nation toward economic
ruin and violent autocracy.

"We should have stopped Mugabe in his tracks years ago," said Johann
Kriegler, who led a panel that oversaw South Africa's first all-race
election in 1994 and is leading a commission to investigate Kenya's
electoral breakdown.

African leaders have long been reluctant to criticize each other lest their
own records be judged. But the presidents of Senegal and Zambia, along with
former South African President Nelson Mandela, recently have criticized
Zimbabwe's leadership.

Yet South Africa's Thabo Mbeki refuses to condemn Mugabe. And at an African
Union summit in Egypt this summer, Mugabe was met with only muted protest.

Limited international outcry after disputed polls in places like Nigeria
might have emboldened other African leaders, such as Mugabe and Kenya's
President Mwai Kibaki, experts said.

"There's been a certain amount of serial learning that has gone on,"
Morrison said. "Incumbents realize that some pretense to a democratic
process is all you need, combined with heavy-handed intimidation of the

After the 2001 al-Qaida attacks on New York and Washington, U.S. priorities
around the globe changed, with a greater emphasis on cultivating partners in
the Bush administration's war on terrorism. Such shifts in priorities might
explain why the United States took a softer approach in dealing with
Ethiopia's crackdown in 2005, according to Fomunyoh. A year later, Ethiopia,
with U.S. support, entered neighboring Somalia to crush a fledgling Islamic
regime that U.S. officials said was linked to al-Qaida.

"The U.S. should not get blinded by the global war on terror to the point of
overlooking other shortcomings," Fomunyoh said.

China's growing influence through investment in Africa has created another
roadblock to democracy, analysts say, providing an alternative to
governments not interested in political reform. In addition to buying
billions of dollars in oil and other natural resources, China is building
roads, bridges and other infrastructure in nearly every major African nation
without attaching Western-style conditions.

The Chinese have openly sold weapons to some of Africa's most controversial
governments, including Sudan. Early this year, a pro-government Chinese
newspaper said the violence in Kenya, in which nearly 1,000 people were
killed, was proof that Western-style democracy "isn't suited to African
conditions, but rather carries with it the root of disaster."

"China's role is giving a certain confidence to those who want to pursue a
model of a strong, central, non-democratic state," Morrison said.

Some African leaders contend that despite the setbacks, democracy is far
stronger on the continent than it was in the 1970s and '80s, when dictators
ruled with iron fists, often bolstered by Cold War enticements from the
United States or the Soviet Union.

"Although we have seen some disappointing developments, we should not lose
sight of the fact that progress has been made," said Kenya's Wangari
Maathai, who in 2004 became the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize. "These are problems arising because we have raised the bar."

In Kenya, she said, free speech and an open news media were unthinkable a
decade ago.

The continent and its people still struggle to overcome the effects of
European colonialism, she said, which exacerbated tribal conflicts by
drawing arbitrary national borders and setting an example of a supreme ruler
in the form of a colonial governor.

Maathai said it might take another generation before Africa produces true
democratic reformers.

"So far, what Kibaki and others in the ruling elite have done is, as the
democratic winds changed, they changed with the wind," she said. "But they
didn't change in their hearts."

Edmund Sanders writes for the Los Angeles Times.

.Zimbabwe: This year, President Robert G. Mugabe, once heralded as an
African freedom fighter, has silenced his critics with intimidation and
violence while his nation's economy has spiraled out of control. After he
came in second in the March presidential election, Mugabe's forces were
blamed for the killings of more than 80 opposition activists before a runoff
election. His opponent dropped out of the race, citing the political

.Kenya: In 2007, observers accused both main candidates of cheating in a
Dec. 27 election, but incumbent President Mwai Kibaki's hand-picked
electoral commission quickly declared him the winner, sparking nationwide
riots and tribal clashes that left more than 1,000 people dead.

.South Africa: In 2007, President Thabo Mbeki, now under fire for failing to
exert pressure on neighboring Zimbabwe's Mugabe, tried in December to retain
influence with an unsuccessful bid to remain head of the ruling African
National Congress after completing his maximum two terms as the country's

.Nigeria: In 2007, after losing a bid to change the constitution to allow a
third term in office, President Olusegun Obasanjo oversaw what the U.S.
State Department called a "deeply flawed" presidential election that cleared
the way for his party's candidate, Umaru Yar'Adua, to succeed him.

.Uganda: In 2006, President Yoweri Museveni, a former rebel leader who
assumed power in 1986 and is East Africa's longest-serving leader, pressured
the parliament to change the constitution to allow him to win another
five-year term. Critics accuse him of aspiring to be "president for life."

.Ethiopia: In 2005, after a disputed election, government troops killed more
than 200 protesters and jailed hundreds. The country is now bogged down in a
costly military campaign in Somalia.

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500 billion for one meal !

Commodity Online, India

2008-07-20 10:30:00  

HARARE : No, this meal is not hosted by Laxmi Mittal, Bill Gates or Warren
Buffet nor any other billionaires but the poorest of the poor in Zimbabwe.

As the Central Bank in Zimbabwe introduced a 100 billion note (Zimbabwean
Dollars), to counter its inflation, the meals have become pricier.

Now people in Zimbabwe are counting Zeros that its president Robert Mugabe
have showered on them. Many of them cannot count the number of zeros in
their annual inflation rate. Well, officially it is 2,200,000%.

"I think guns are easier to handle than these zeros," said a resident of
Harare resident Thomas Mabuki. The bread he used to buy last month for a
Z$10 bn is now costing ten times that.

"Window shopping here is out of question because the shopkeeper may snatch
the produce from you and re-label it with a new price. The prices are
increasing with seconds and minutes not days and months," Mabuki lamented.

Earlier this year, the Central Bank had introduced a Z$10 million note,
followed by Z$50 million. And now there is no count of what notes should be

To many, this may be a classic example of turning one of the richest
countries in Africa to the poorest country by a person who was once equaled
with Nelson Mandela is mysterious to the outside world, but for Mabuki, it
is clear.

"Wealth, greed and power made him worthless. He is not worth this loaf of
bread I have with me," he remarked.

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Email from Zim

Sent: Monday, July 21, 2008 2:15 AM
Subject: everything down!

Friends, everything is "down" at my place - electricity, water and even the
telephone yesterday!  We haven't had water except for one day in the last
two weeks, while no electricity since Wednesday pm and both look like
continuing more or less indefinitely.  So please forgive me if I don't reply
to your mails etc - and meanwhile picture me fetching water from the now
disused pool to flush the toilet, wash clothes etc - thankfully a neighbour
has a borehole so at least we can get some drinking water!

Praying for divine intervention - and for successful negotiations in the
next couple of weeks.  Please God be quick!!

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