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Amid chaos, Mpofu backs off on fuel

Zim Standard


      FACED with the prospect of a devastating fuel crisis that could
cripple the whole country, the government has backed off from a
controversial plan to ban fuel coupons, The Standard confirmed yesterday.

      The government had given coupon holders two weeks in which to redeem
them, creating a wave of panic among oil companies, fuel dealers and garages
who rushed to redeem their coupons.

      There were chaotic scenes on the streets, as thousands of commuters
sought transport to work. Many workers walked long distances after failing
to secure transport on Thursday and Friday.

      Sources said the crisis at most garages prompted the government to
reconsider its decision on the coupons, now rated by industry and commerce
as the most convenient way of accessing fuel for 77% of motorists.

      Quizzed by business people at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce (ZNCC) breakfast meeting in Bulawayo, Industry and International
Trade minister, Obert Mpofu alleged his statement had been misinterpreted.

      The government was not scrapping the system altogether. He said,
instead, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) would be solely
responsible for the retailing of fuel and would continue to service those
who failed to redeem coupons within two weeks.

      "We are streamlining the usage of coupons through NOCZIM," he said.
"All the fuel should be accessed through NOCZIM because we want to make it
easier and user-friendly for everyone who has genuinely brought fuel into
the country."

      Mpofu said anyone with problems redeeming the coupons should contact
his ministry, NOCZIM or the Ministry of Energy and Power Development.

      He said the government wanted to monitor the importation of fuel, as
the deregulation of the sector had resulted in the emergence of a number of
unscrupulous dealers.

      Business leaders said yesterday they believed the government was
reconsidering its position on the matter after holding meetings with the

      Callisto Jokonya, president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries, said there was no need for the private sector to panic.

      "We know the repercussions and have made representations to the
taskforce and we appraised them of both the pros and cons of the problem.

      "We can comfortably say the issue is under consideration and business
must not resort to keeping fuel in their houses as this might result in a
national disaster".

      Charles Chiponda, vice-president of the Matabeleland chapter of the
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce said: "We had a meeting with Minister
Mpofu yesterday and he promised to look into the issue.

      "He said he was aware that some large companies have many coupons and
he assured us they would be given time to relinquish them provided they
provide proof that they are genuine and need their case to be genuinely
looked into.

      "He said the two weeks is just a guideline."

      It emerged later the government had not only backed off on the coupons
ban, but had also reversed its planned ban on the importation of basic

      This followed an uproar by people who now rely on cross-border trade,
for their livelihood.

      According to statutory instruments 137 and 138 of 2007, the
importation of beef, butter, cooking oil, milk, cheese, sugar, tea, wheat
flour, ice cream, fertilizer, cotton lint and hides and skins without a
permit would have become illegal on I August.

      Individuals and companies wanting to import them would have to be
first cleared by Mpofu's ministry.

      But Mpofu said he had "recalled" the statutory instrument because it
had caused "a lot of confusion'".

      "I have recalled it," he said, "so that I can study it and see how it
affects our people. We will consult before it is implemented. It is actually
an old instrument, which was discussed a long time ago and was only brought
back this month.

      But Mpofu said the government would continue its price blitz. He
singled out Matabeleland businesspeople, threatening they would bear the
brunt of the blitz because the region was the "hotbed" of the regime change

      According to Mpofu, Bulawayo leads the list of businesspeople picked
up during the blitz - 115 (awaiting verification), followed by Matabeleland
North, 288, and Harare, 201.

      "It is very painful to state this fact," Mpofu said. "We had a lot of
visits to Bulawayo by people like (former United States ambassador to
Zimbabwe) Christopher Dell who were spending a lot of time here.

      "Their agenda was to remove the government through other means which
were not legal."

      A number of businesspeople challenged Mpofu, saying most of them had
been arrested for petty offences such as keeping expired soft drinks without
price tags.

      They said in Harare goods worth billions of dollars were recovered
from residences and at factories, yet there were fewer arrests.

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Food crisis: a disaster waiting to happen

Zim Standard

  ESTIMATES are that in the first
three months of 2008 - an election year - 4.1 million people, a third of the
population, will require food aid. Most of it will be provided by the United
Nations, but so far, the government is said to be in a state of "denial",
refusing to make the obligatory appeal to the UN.

      From Bulawayo, The Standard's Bureau Chief, KHOLWANI NYATHI,
chronicles the story of a disaster waiting to happen.

      BULAWAYO - Sixty-year-old Dorothy Ndlovu sits on the dusty pavement
outside a tuck-shop in the sprawling suburb of Cowdray Park, looking at
hordes of people jostling for maize meal.

      She is among the first to join the queue at 5AM after concerned
neighbours tipped her that the shop - one of the few serving the suburb of
more than 10 000 - would receive supplies of the now rare commodity.

      "I am too old for that," says Ndlovu, who looks after seven orphaned
children. "Besides, I haven't had a decent meal in the last two days and
where will I get the energy?"

      She says she doesn't remember when the family last had three square
meals a day. She is afraid the last 5kg bag of sorghum meal she bought from
a World Vision Zimbabwe (WVZ) shop would run out soon.

      It is the same story in almost every household in her neighbourhood.
Evicted by the government during the notorious Operation Murambatsvina -
which the United Nations says left nearly one million people countrywide
homeless and millions others without a source of livelihood - hundreds of
destitutes have found shelter in this new suburb.

      Some faith-based organisations have been providing food handouts to
the victims of the so-called clean-up operation but even they say donor
fatigue might soon force them to wind up operations.

      "There is no light at the end of the tunnel," said Pastor Ray Motsi of
Churches in Bulawayo (CIB). "It's becoming more difficult for us to source
food for our people as the numbers are increasing and I personally believe
there is someone out there who is trying to make sure that we don't succeed.

      "That's the tragedy of the whole situation." CIB has been looking
after victims of the clean-up operation for the past two years.

      The council warns that mass starvation is looming among urban dwellers
unless aid agencies scale up their intervention programmes.

      "We feed children under the age of five and those enrolled under our
Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) programmes but the numbers keep increasing
every day," said a council official at one of the feeding centers. "Very
soon we will fail to cope."

      Shortages of the staple maize meal are no longer uncommon in Bulawayo
and the southern region, in particular, in the aftermath of a 95% crop
failure during the 2006/7 season.

      The country's second city of about 1.5 million people has gone without
regular maize meal supplies for nearly a month.

      In the last three weeks, shops have stopped selling maize meal
altogether in response to the government price blitz to force businesses to
revert to prices obtaining on 18 June.

      The government has already declared 2007 a drought year but is yet to
send a formal appeal to the United Nations to allow it to institute an
international appeal for assistance.

      According to a Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET), Zimbabwe
is facing its worst food shortages, yet with this harvest having only met
just above 30% of national requirements.

      FEWSNET is a United States Agency for International Development
(USAID) network which monitors hunger, food availability and shortages
across the globe.

      In its latest food outlook report on Zimbabwe covering the period from
March to July, the network said widespread crop failure caused by poor
rainfall and a long-running economic crisis had combined to drastically
slash food production in Zimbabwe.

      The UN World Food Programme (UNFP) says because of crop failures in
the southern provinces and escalating poverty in both rural and urban areas,
around 2.1 million people will face serious food shortages by the third
quarter of this year.

      It says the number of people at risk will peak at 4.1 million in the
first three months of 2008 - more than a third of Zimbabwe's estimated
population of 12 million people.

      The world body also notes in its report that an estimated 352 000
tonnes of cereals and 90 000 tonnes of food assistance will be required to
meet their basic food needs.

      The most affected provinces include Masvingo, Midlands and
Matabeleland North and South. Three districts in Matabeleland South last
week said the response by donors for urgent food assistance had been
disappointing, sparking fears of a major crisis.

      Angeline Masuku, the Matabeleland South governor, who early this year
appealed to the government to declare her province a disaster area to help
mobilise urgent food aid refused to comment on the worsening situation,
referring questions to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

      The government is yet to declare the province a disaster area making
it difficult for potential donors to mobilise international support.

      But GMB, acting chief executive officer, Samuel Muvuti, contends that
the parastatal has enough maize stocks to feed the whole nation and
attributes shortages to transport problems.

      He said the parastatal is moving grain from the northern parts of the
country because in the south, crops were almost a write-off. "There is a lot
of maize in the country," Muvuti said.

      In Matabeleland South, the San community who still survive as hunter
gatherers, are reportedly the most affected by the crisis. Acting Tsholotsho
District Administrator, Lydia Ndethi-Banda, warned recently that the San
would die of hunger if donors did not intervene urgently.

      "They now survive on wild fruit and some of it may be poisonous,"
warned Moses Dlamini, a villager at Mgodimasili, west of Tsholotsho business

      Meanwhile the government scoffed at food aid pledges by the United
States and Canada last week, saying it was meant for opposition parties.

      Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the Minister of Information and Publicity, told the
state media that the two countries were "trying to turn the people against
the government" by making the pledges.

      Canada donated US$3.3 million to the WFP, which will help the agency
scale up its operations in response to the food crisis. On Tuesday, the US
also announced that it would provide 47 000 tonnes of food assistance to the

      "WFP is extremely grateful to the Canadian government for this very
timely contribution to our Immediate Response Account, which will allow us
to buy maize now so that we are ready to begin distributing it in September
when tens of thousands of Zimbabwean families will start to run out of
food," said Thomas Yanga, Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa in a

      Announcing the release of the aid, the US State Department said the
government's ongoing price blitz, forcing businesses to roll back prices,
had worsened the food crisis.

      "The regime's reckless attempts to address self-imposed hyperinflation
have resulted in the arrest of at least 2 000 businesspeople, widespread
hoarding and profiteering by police and government officials, and shortage
of basic staples," the department said in a statement.

      "Its irresponsible economic policies will only worsen inflation,
unemployment, growing food shortages, and poverty."

      The Minister of Agriculture, Rugare Gumbo, said the government was
still carrying out an assessment of the food situation before making a
formal appeal to the UN, but the world body warned last week that time was
running out to send out appeals.

      Zimbabwe requires about two million tonnes of maize for annual
consumption but estimates show that this year Zimbabwe harvested a mere 400
000 tonnes of maize, the country's main staple.

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'Ncube's rights violated'

Zim Standard


      THE "sex scandal" involving Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube was
"well-crafted to divert the people's attention from the real crisis facing
Zimbabwe", human rights organisations said yesterday.

      They castigated the way the state media handled the story, saying they
violated Ncube's right to privacy and a fair trial.

      Ncube, a fierce critic of President Robert Mugabe's government, is
being sued for $20 billion for alleged adultery with a married woman,
Rosemary Sibanda.

      Her husband, Onesimus Sibanda, is suing Ncube for $20 billion.

      The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said it believes the
drama was a "diversionary tactic".

      It said it was aware of the "underhand tactics" used worldwide to
silence human rights defenders.

      These included character assassination and the use of hate speech or
propaganda to de-legitimize the work of those who exposed human rights

      "The recent attempts to draw the public's attention away from the
problems bedeviling our society must be exposed for what they are," the ZLHR
statement said.

      It said Ncube was being victimized for his fierce criticism of
misgovernance, corruption and state-instigated human rights violations.

      The Archbishop has been outspoken against the Gukurahundi massacres,
Operation Murambatsvina and the continued socio-economic and political
crisis, blamed on Mugabe's administration.

      The Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT) of South Africa said in statement it
believed the alleged scandal was an attempt by Mugabe's regime to "smear"
the good character of the Archbishop.

      "The actions of the Mugabe regime and its Central Intelligence
Organisation are reminiscent of the Apartheid Security Police during the
dying days of apartheid in its efforts to cling to power," said the trust.

      In Harare, ZimRights castigated Mugabe for finding Ncube guilty before
he had appeared in court.

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Government begs for UK support

Zim Standard


      MASVINGO - A provincial governor last week virtually begged the
British embassy to provide funding for the revival of Zimbabwe's tottering
education system.

      Relations between the two countries hit a new low this month with
President Robert Mugabe accusing the British of playing a role in the
alleged attempted coup by military officers against his government.

      But the Masvingo governor, Willard Chiwewe last Wednesday seemed
unmoved by this accusation as he begged for help from the embassy.

      In a speech read on his behalf by Masvingo district administrator,
James Mazvidza, at Victoria Primary School, Chiwewe said the education
sector had not been spared by the harsh economic environment in the country.

      He said the shortage of textbooks, especially in the rural areas, was
contributing to the decline in education standards as examination results
have been in "a free fall" over the past few years.

      "We appreciated the gesture made by the British embassy of investing
in the educational sector of Zimbabwe," Chiwewe said. "The quality of
education has gone down and we appeal for more support, especially to the
needy schools in the rural areas where shortages of educational materials
are a cause for concern."

      The British embassy donated 7 500 textbooks to five rural schools in
Masvingo worth $500 million to curb the shortage of the highly needed
material in the schools.

      Chiwewe said the shortage of materials, especially textbooks, was a
major contributor to the declining standards of education.

      He said in the rural areas an average of eight students was sharing
one textbook.

      "The donation of these textbooks is essential in our efforts to revive
the once prosperous sector. Schools in the rural areas are experiencing
serious shortages of textbooks to the extent that eight pupils share a
single textbook," he said.

      Speaking at the same function on behalf of the embassy, the director
of the British Council, Rajiv Bendre, said his country would continue to
support the needy people of Zimbabwe, especially in the educational sector.

      "Our objective is to offer support to the needy in Zimbabwe and we
will continue to help improve the quality of education through the
British-Zimbabwe Community Partnership Programme which has set aside over 40
million pounds for the whole country," he said.

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Gunda died "mysterious" death: widow

Zim Standard

  By Nqobani Ndlovu

      BULAWAYO - The family of an army officer buried at Heroes' Acre last
month now says he died a "mysterious death", reinforcing speculation the
former commander of the Presidential Guard was "liquidated" for his role in
a botched coup attempt.

      There have been persistent allegations that the 1 Brigade commander,
Brigadier General Paul Armstrong Gunda, was among military officers involved
in a failed plot to topple President Robert Mugabe.

      Officially, his death was announced as the result of an accident
involving his car and a goods train near Marondera.

      He was declared a national hero, but the results of a postmortem on
his body have not been made public.

      Gunda's wife, Rangarirai Tatenda, on Friday hinted the family did not
believe the official explanation that her husband died in an "accident".

      In an advertisement in the Bulawayo State newspaper, The Chronicle
last Friday, marking the 29th day of his death, she said: "It's now 29 days,
honie, since you left me and the kids alone. Your mysterious train accident
left me with no words.

      "Give me strength to carry on. I loved you: I still love you and will
forever love you till we meet again."

      Efforts to get her to elaborate her claims yesterday were futile as
the family was said to be holding a two-day "vigil", which began on Friday
and ends this morning in Victoria Falls in the late general's memory.

      Seven civilians and serving army officers were arrested last month for
allegedly plotting a coup against Mugabe. They are all still in custody.

      They allegedly wanted to replace the aging veteran leader with Rural
Housing and Social Amenities minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

      Several senior army officials, including Gunda, were implicated in the
plot, but the government has not made a public statement about their alleged
house arrests.

      Mugabe last week said his detractors in the West had failed to
convince the military to topple him.

      He was speaking at the burial of yet another top army general,
Brigadier General Fakazi Muleya at the Heroes' Acre.

      Muleya was the third general to be buried at the shrine inside a month
after Gunda and Brigadier General Gideon Lifa.

      Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the Minister of Information and Publicity was not
immediately available to comment on the Gunda family's message.

      The widow of another national hero buried at the Heroes' Acre, Pamela
Tungamirai, once hinted in a similar advertisement that she thought her
husband had been poisoned.

      Josiah Tungamirai died after what was described as a long struggle
with a kidney ailment.

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When 'the village' comes to the city

Zim Standard


      THERE is a popular vernacular saying among young urbanites that goes:
"Handiende kumusha nekuti hakuna magetsi; kumusha kwacho kuchatouya kuno."

      Loosely translated it's: "I will not go to the village because there
is no electricity. The village will have to come here."

      For Harare's Hatfield and Highfield high-density suburbs, that cryptic
"putdown" of the village has become stark reality.

      For the past three weeks, residents of Western Triangle and
Engineering, the poorer sections of Highfield, have been without

      It has been two months for Hatfield residents. They have been told
they are one of the 135 areas on the waiting list for new transformers.

      Residents say the tardy response shows the power utility is not taking
the crisis seriously and this has spawned corruption.

      Most residents in Highfield now use firewood for cooking and lighting.

      Apart from that, they also have to contend with with water shortages.

      To relieve themselves, they now resort to the open spaces nearby.
Others use the bucket system, dumping the contents in the bush, because
their toilets cannot flush without water.

      The "village" has finally come to the city.

      Mbuya Khuzwayo, a Highfield resident since the early 1960s, said this
was the first time such lengthy power cuts have hit one of Harare's oldest

      Now in her late 70s, Mbuya Khuzwayo, said the current water and power
crisis reminded her of the old days, growing up in the rural areas - no
electricity, no running water - you fetched it from the wells, and your
lavatory was definitely the bush, any bush.

      "They (the auth-orities) have forced us back to that era, although we
are supposed to be in the city," she said as she tended her sick husband.

      They are both now unemployed and physically infirm. They cannot afford
firewood or paraffin every day. A bundle of wood costs $50 000. For the
whole week, they would need $350 000.

      But if they were using electricity, they would need only $100 000 for
the whole month.

      "It's a fortune to us. We cannot afford it," she said.

      Sharmine Zengeni of Western Triangle said she had to throw away all
the perishables in her refrigerator after they went bad because of the power

      "Initially, I thought it would only last for a day or two; so I kept
my meat in the fridge. I realised the power would not be restored when it
was already too late," said Zengeni, as she prepared lunch on a fire outside
her house.

      The wood she used had not dried completely and it was difficult to
make her out through the cloud of smoke.

      When she did turn to look at us, we noticed red, swollen eyes and the
tears streaming down her cheeks: a portrait of the anguish the young woman
was enduring as she prepared food with firewood that had not dried up.

      "We go through this every day," she said through the tears. "It's
worse in the morning when there is dew and the kids need to rush to school."
She forced a smile behind the cloud of the choking smoke, probably at the
mention of her children.

      At times, the children go to school without bathing and breakfast
because of the power cuts.

      Macleod Zengeni, a cross- border trader, said he had brought five
litres of paraffin from South Africa.

      "I knew back home there was a problem, so I brought paraffin. I had to
hide it in my luggage to avoid detection at the border," she said.

      Residents tell of how, one day, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(Zesa) technicians visited the area and promised to come back and rectify
the problem within hours.

      They never did.

      Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira recently attributed prolonged power
cuts to vandalism by residents, who he alleged stole the vital oil from the

      "We have a major problem with transformer oil theft. The public is
advised to help, as vandalism is costing us heavily," Gwasira said.

      As if the absence of power was not enough as a problem to the
attainment of good, healthy city life, running water is also very erratic.
Then there is the refuse, which piles up every day. It too is a huge health

      The toilets are blocked, spilling raw sewage into the littered
streets, where children spend most of their time playing "house".

      Other residents shun their own toilets.

      "We use our friend's lavatory across the road in Glen Norah," said
Clifford Munjoma of Zororo area. "But at night we use buckets."

      What is happening in Highfield is a microcosm of many residential
suburbs in Harare. The absence of electricity, running water and piling
garbage has turned Harare, once described as the "Sunshine City", into a
huge, stinking village, sitting on a disease outbreak time bomb.

      Combined Harare Residents' Association (Chra) spokesperson Precious
Shumba has, on several occasions, called on residents to stop paying rent or
refuse fees until service provision has improved.

      It appears the situation is getting worse.

      It's now richly ironic for the young urbanites to quip "the village
will have to come to the city".

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Zanu PF forcing teachers off schools

Zim Standard

  By Nqobani Ndlovu

      BULAWAYO - Zanu PF supporters and war veterans in Matabeleland North
have allegedly embarked on a campaign to intimidate village heads and
teachers suspected of being Movement for Democratic Change activists ahead
of next year's elections.

      One school in Nkayi District is reportedly facing closure after the
ruling party activists forced the entire staff to seek transfers to other
schools, accusing them of being MDC supporters.

      Teachers and general staff at Ngwalade primary school in Nkayi were
forced to seek transfers after they failed to attend a recent rally
addressed by Sithembiso Nyoni, the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises

      Since 2000, Zanu PF has lost consecutive parliamentary elections and
the 2005 Senate polls in the area to the MDC.

      Nyoni who has lost a series of parliamentary and Senate elections in
different Bulawayo constituencies is reportedly eyeing the seat.

      Abedinico Bhebhe of the MDC is the MP for the impoverished

      Sources said the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) had
deployed its agents to spy on teachers suspected of having opposition links.

      The Standard established that in Nkayi the ruling party had barred the
commissioning of two classroom blocks by the British Embassy at two schools
in Matabeleland North, claiming it would "damage the party's reputation".

      The local parliamentary Constituency Information Centre had invited
the British to help fund the construction of classroom blocks at Gababi and
Sembewule primary schools in Nkayi.

      The district education officer for Nkayi Jabulani Mpofu and the
district administrator, Nosizi Dube, confirmed the teachers were seeking
transfers from Ngwalade primary school, citing intimidation.

      Commenting on the hand over of classroom blocks, Dube said the
government had blocked the commissioning because they were not "properly

      "The education office does not know about the classroom blocks, as the
proper channels were not followed," she said.

      Bhebhe said the political atmosphere was now "charged", with Zanu PF
officials targeting opposition activists.

      "There is heightened intimidation of MDC sympathizers in the area,"
said Bhebhe, deputy spokesperson for the Mutambara faction.

      "We cannot tolerate a situation where our schools are left with no
teachers by overzealous Zanu PF supporters who have also barred the
commissioning of the classroom blocks

      "At the same, chiefs in the area are threatening to kick out village
heads accused of MDC links," Bhebhe said.

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New CD4 machine cheaper alternative

Zim Standard

By Bertha Shoko

      A German company has developed a new CD4 count test machine which
could drop the price of the test from about US$40 to US$2.

      The effect could be to make the treatment of HIV and Aids more
accessible to the poor. The invention is already being used in more than 420
laboratories in the developing world, most of them in remote areas.
      There are already 19 machines being used in Zimbabwe.

      Accessing HIV treatment continues to be a major challenge for many
resource-strained countries such as Zimbabwe.

      But numerous developments on researches into the fight against the
pandemic have become a major source of hope for many people.

      According to the most recent "AIDS epidemic update" (UNAIDS, December
2006), 39.5 million people in the world are living with HIV, 24.7 million in
Africa and 8.6 million in Asia.

      In 2006, 2.8 million adults and children were newly infected with HIV
while 2.9 million died due to AIDS-related illnesses. In Zimbabwe, at least
1.8 million people are living with HIV and Aids while 5 000 people die each
week of Aids-related causes. Initial diagnosis of HIV infection - using HIV
rapid tests - is available in most areas at affordable cost. For monitoring
of disease progression, two different diagnostic tools are used, namely the
CD4 count and viral load

      HIV preferentially targets CD4 cells, resulting in a reduction in the
number of these cells in the peripheral blood. Most treatment guidelines use
a threshold of 200 CD4 as an indication for starting antiretroviral therapy
(ART). Once treatment has been initiated, it is recommended that the CD4
count be monitored, at least four times a year, for the lifetime of the
patient. In Zimbabwe and in many other developing countries, the standard
measurement of CD4 count has been a method developed by the Americans, the
flow cytometry. A few years ago, the World Health Organisation estimated
that the cost of one such CD4 count in Africa was on average about US$40,
but a German company, Partec, has developed machines that are cheaper but
"are still able to do the job".

      Last week, at the recent Aids Expo at Harare Gardens, a stand
belonging to Partec became a major attraction as members of the
      public and many People Living With Aids (PLWAs) rushed to hear about
this latest development.

      Partec's spokesperson Roland Gohde told Standardhealth that since the
early 1990s there has only been one flow cytometry system available for CD4
counting in the developing world, the Becton Dickinson's FACSCount. Gohde
said this was mostly placed in capitals and major cities.

      "The rcently developed CyFlow system is the first competitive
alternative and could dramatically reduce the CD4 test cost to only US$2,"
he said. "In numerous scientific evaluations, clinical validations, and
independent comparative studies, it has been shown that the quality of the
diagnostic data from the far more affordable test is at least as good as the
conventional method. "Because of the availability of this low-cost CD4 test,
the average cost of all CD4 counts on the market decreased from $40 in 2002
to approximately $10-15 in 2006."

      According to a clinical study conducted by the University of Zimbabwe
recently, the cost of CD4 count is as high as US$65 because one system has
dominated the field for years without any competition.The new machines by
Partec can also test CD4 count cell in HIV infected children whereas the old
system could not.

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How hay basket helps with HIV diet during power cuts

Zim Standard

  By Bertha Shoko

      "TIRED of constant power cuts, eating cold food and spending money on
paraffin or firewood every other day to get that just one hot meal? Then,
look no further, 'cause the solution to all these problems has arrived  with
the latest and newest invention called the hay baskets!"

      This line has not been borrowed from the popular South African
out-surance or insurance advertisements on Digital Satellite Television but
were the words that greeted many of us as we arrived at the display stand
put up by one organisation at an Aids Expo which ended last week at the
Harare Gardens.

      Organised by one Roger Jeffrey from Tibatane/Sibambane consultancy
firm with the support of the National  Aids Council (NAC) the Aids Expo was
the first of its kind in Zimbabwe. The exhibition saw more than 30
organisations involved in HIV and Aids work gathering to show the public the
various interventions with which they are involved to help mitigate the
effects of the pandemic.

      The exhibition was also desi-gned to get these organisations to be in
touch with each other so that they could network and see how they could
complement rather than duplicate their work. It was at this exhibition that
Standardhealth came across this "hay basket", an invention of the Aids
Counselling Trust (ACT).

      According to Patricia Mudzimuirema from ACT, the hay basket was
developed for use mostly by people living with HIV and Aids (PLWAs). She
said for anyone wishing to beat the electricity cuts, the hay basket was a
welcome development.

      "What the hay basket does is that in the absence of electricity PLWAs
are still able to have that hot meal or cup of tea before they can take
their medication or Antiretroviral drugs.

      "When you cook food with the hay basket the advantage is that it doesn't
lose its nutrients because it is not subjected to the high temperatures on
the stove or the fire or paraffin stove.

      "We want everyone to have this, but we recommend it for those living
with HIV because of the importance of good nutrition and warm food to take
with medication for these people who have vulnerable immune systems and are
prone to disease," she said.

      The organiser of the Aids Expo, Roger Jeffrey told Standardhealth he
was happy with the various networking opportunities available to the small
organisations at the exhibition.

      He said: "There are some very small organisations that are making
outstanding contributions in the HIV and Aids fight but are limited by lack
of funding because they lack exposure. We hope this expo gives
      them the much-needed contacts."

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Mtetwa to sue over police assault

Zim Standard


      BEATRICE Mtetwa, president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe is suing the
police for the savage beatings she endured in May at the hands of
gun-totting and truncheon-wielding officers.

      She has yet to quantify the damages she suffered when beaten up in
broad daylight at an open area in Harare's Eastlea suburb.

      Mtetwa was picked up, along with other lawyers, Chris Mhike, Colin
Kahuni and Terence Fitzpatrick after they attempted to present a petition to
Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

      The petition registered their concerns over the arrest of human rights
lawyers Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni.

      Mtetwa's lawyer, Harrison Nkomo of Mtetwa and Nyambirai, last week
wrote to Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri notifying him of the
impending legal action.

      "We are, by copy of this letter advising of our client's intention to
sue in terms of the provisions of Section 6 of the State Liabilities Act
Chapter 8;14 as read with Section 70 of the Police Act. Please treat this
letter as the requisite notice," wrote Nkomo.

      "We are in the process of quantifying our damages and in the meantime,
we will be grateful if you advise us of your attitude towards liability."

      The letter was copied to the Minister of Home Affairs and the Civil
Division of the Attorney-General's office.

      Speaking earlier about her ordeal, Mtetwa said she and the other
lawyers were picked up at the Government Complex along Samora Machel Avenue
and bundled into a police truck. They were taken to an open area opposite
Eastview Flats in Eastlea.

      "We were dragged out and told to lie down on our stomachs. The whole
thing appeared unreal . . . and batons started raining down on us."

      Mtetwa said she was beaten up by a bearded woman she could easily
identify. "She told me takarwa hondo isu. She is the one who did the damage.
I could only cover my head as she beat me up on my back, my stomach, my
arms, my buttocks."

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Cement shortage looms after price blitz

Zim Standard


      BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe faces a cement shortage following a cement
manufacturing giant's decision to stop production for the local market in
protest against the government order to roll back the prices.

      Authoritative sources said last week Portland Holdings Limited (PHL)
had ceased production after incurring huge losses when they sold the cement
at pre-June 18 levels, as ordered by the government.

      The largest cement producer is part of South Africa's Pretoria
Portland Cement (PPC).

      Production was reported to have been hampered by high input costs and
unrealistic prices which led to a temporary shutdown of operations at one of
their subsidiaries, Colleen Bawn.

      Colleen Bawn has stopped supplying clinker, an important component
used in the manufacture of cement to its cement plant, Portland Holdings
Limited (PHL) in Bulawayo.

      This has led to the loss of jobs for contract workers at the
manufacturing plant at PHL as operations at the plant have ground to a halt
in the absence of clinker.

      There are now fears more workers could lose their jobs.

      Sources indicated Colleen Bawn was now supplying clinker to its South
African-based arm, Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) for the manufacture of
cement. Zambia is also being supplied with the product.

      "Reduced profit due to price cuts and unrealistically low retail
prices has forced the manufacturing company to limit its production of
clinker for export to countries such as South Africa and Zambia," said an
official at the company.

      "More than 100 contract workers were laid off last week as the
manufacturing company suspended production of clinker to Portland Holdings
Ltd in Bulawayo."

      Officials at Colleen Bawn referred inquiries to John Lawne, the head
of Bulawayo's Portland Holdings Limited, but he refused to comment on the
impact of the recent price slashes, referring questions to the managing
director in South Africa.

      The MD, Trevor Barnard confirmed from South Africa where he was
meeting with Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) officials, the price cuts had
"heavily affected" their operations.

      But he said operations at Colleen Bawn "have been halted due to a
breakdown of equipment". He refused to take more questions.

      Meanwhile, the government has been forced to withdraw charges against
businesses it had dragged to court for defying its order to roll back prices
after it emerged that they were charged before the prices became law.

      Companies which were first brought to court at the inception of the
blitz, charged under the Statutory Instrument 142 of 2007, had charges
against them withdrawn on Tuesday after plea after it emerged that they were
charged prior to date when the instrument became law.

      This came out at the appearance before Bulawayo Magistrate Loveness
Chipateni of companies and directors dragged to court on charges of failing
to comply with a government directive on price cuts.

      According to Chipateni, the taskforce pounced on the companies and
their directors after the Minister of Industry and International Trade,
Obert Mpofu, announced the slashing of the prices, but before it had become
law on 6 July.

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EU, China bid for Africa markets

Zim Standard


      AHEAD of the second EU-Africa summit in December, the European
Commission has adopted a proposal presenting key flagship initiatives
embodying a new approach to relations to be deliberated at the indaba.

      The policy initiatives will be put forward by the future Joint
EU-Africa Strategy to be deliberated by both the EU and Africa at the summit
in Lisbon, Portugal.

      In a news release the European Commission said: "The Joint Strategy,
to be adopted during the second EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon in December, will
outline a long term shared vision of the future of EU-Africa relations in a
globalised world."

      The European Commission policy initiatives embody partnership in
energy; climate change; migration, mobility and employment; democratic
governance; and political and institutional architecture.

      The Joint Strategy aims to strengthen the EU-Africa political dialogue
so as to bring the EU-Africa partnership beyond development co-operation by
opening up the EU-Africa dialogue to issues of joint political concern and
interest. It envisages to bring partnership beyond Africa by moving away
from a focus on Africa matters only and openly address European and issues
of global concern and to act accordingly in the relevant fora to make
globalisation work for all.

      The joint strategy sees partnership beyond fragmentation in supporting
Africa's aspirations to find regional and continental responses to some of
the most important challenges. It also looks at partnership beyond
institutions in ensuring a better participation of African and European
citizens, as part of an overall strengthening of civil society in the two

      EU and African countries are locked in negotiations for the reciprocal
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). African, Carribbean and Pacific
(ACP) countries used to enjoy unilateral trade preferences with the EU for
almost three decades under the Lomé Conventions. The Fourth Lomé Convention
was replaced by the Cotonou Agreement in 2000, which extends these
unilateral trade preferences up to the end of 2007.

      Negotiated World Trade Organisation (WTO) compatible reciprocal trade
agreements, EPAs, will replace the current non-reciprocal preferential trade
regime. These EPAs have to be concluded by no later than the beginning of

      EU and China are tussling over the control of African market following
heavy investments by Beijing into the continent.

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Rand, Zimdollar: Politics first - SA

Zim Standard


      STANDARD Bank Group, a South African financial giant, has poured cold
water over the ambitious proposal for Zimbabwe to get rid of its worthless
currency and be brought into Southern Africa's rand monetary union.

      The group said in a comminique that political reform was a
prerequisite for Zimbabwe before any efforts to bail it out of its
seven-year economic meltdown could be considered.

      The communique to its subscribers said adopting Zimbabwe, despite the
ongoing political crises, would be an ernomous expense to both the region
and South Africa, given that the country's economic rot hinged on the
"ongoing political decay".

      "As the dire economic situation in Zimbabwe has political roots, any
economic recovery plans that are proposed for the country would have to
follow extensive political and economic reforms that return the economy on
the path towards macro-economic stability.

      "For the adoption of a state that has the characteristics of a
war-torn country would be an enormous financial cost to the region and South
Africa in particular, as it would imply a draw down of its foreign reserves
and impact on its current account position."

      The bank said any debate on bringing Zimbabwe into the CMA would best
take place once there was some semblance of convergence between the country's
financial indicators and those of the region, a situation which would
require a resurrection of the real economy -which will only occur once
property rights are restored.

      The bank's call comes amid the Harare government's plans to further
undermine property rights through a planned forcible seizure of at least 51%
shareholding from all foreign-owned companies.

      In 2000, the government violated property rights through its farm
invasions and is currently cracking down on business under its price
monitoring campaign.

      Earlier this month, South Africa's Sunday Independent newspaper
reported that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was working
on a plan to include Zimbabwe into the rand Common Monetary Area (CMA),
currently comprising South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.

      Joining the CMA would imply the pegging of the Zimbabwe dollar to the

      For this to take effect, all Zimbabwe would have to do would be to
effectively surrender control of its monetary policy and foreign exchange
regulations to the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

      This would imply the complete elimination of quasi-fiscal activities,
removal of price controls, exchange rate liberalisation and tightening of
fiscal policy.

      It was also speculated that the plan would see the central banks in
South Africa and Botswana injecting huge amounts of funds into the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) thus solving, among other economic problems, the
prevailing foreign currency crunch.

      But SADC has since distanced itself from the report, saying it was
still working on a study on the Zimbabwe's economic situation hence had not
proposed any support package yet.

      SARB governor, Tito Mboweni, said Zimbabwe was a long way from being
ready to join the rand monetary union.

      South African media reports said Mboweni cited the need for a very
high degree of macro-economic convergence which should include, among
others, a massive reduction of the inflation rate.

      All the CMA countries managed to make it to the union with a monthly
inflation of less than 10%. Zimbabwe's is more than 4 530%, although
independent analysts say it is much higher.

      But Standard Bank said there was great need for economically
supporting Zimbabwe.

      "The sheer proximity of the sinking Zimbabwean economy and the fact
that the region is experiencing the effects of a laggard neighbour supports
the argument to provide financial assistance to Zimbabwe but only once
credible political reforms occur.

      "The coupling of South Africa's capital base and the skills of the
Zimbabwe diaspora, which presumably returns following political and economic
reforms, has the potential of stimulating a catch-up process in the country
that would raise it and the region to economic prosperity over the long

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Bulawayo suffers twin shortages of water and maize while govt fiddles

Zim Standard


      THE government is determined to punish residents of Bulawayo for
rebuffing the ruling party during elections since 2000. That is why it is in
no hurry to address and deal decisively with the water shortages in the
country's second largest city.

      Last week Bulawayo City Council said Lower Ncema had dried up and as a
result residents could expect water to be rationed to three days a week,
meaning the other remaining four days families and businesses would be
without water supplies.

      This can only aggravate an already bad situation. Industries could
decide they have had enough and close down, throwing thousands of workers
out of work. On the other hand, having four days without water will increase
incidences of diseases, leading to unnecessary loss of lives.

      It is doubtful the government would have demonstrated such a tardy
response had the crisis affected Harare. As if to confirm this view, the
government said last week that it was considering connecting private
boreholes to Harare's water system while the crisis-ridden Zimbabwe National
Water Authority (Zinwa) plans drilling more boreholes in a bid to address
persistent water shortages affecting some of the suburbs in Harare.

      The incompetent handling of water pumping and distribution has only
degenerated during the past two years. However, the water problems in
Bulawayo date back to 1979 when the last dam was constructed in order to
serve the interests of a population estimated at 250 000. Bulawayo's
residents now exceed more than 1.5 million.

      There are two immediate steps the government could have undertaken if
it had any will to address the water crisis that has an enormous adverse
impact on industries and residents in and around the country's second
biggest city.

      There are nearly 80 boreholes drilled so that Bulawayo could draw
water from the Nyamandlovu aquifer. However, less than half of these are
operating. The boreholes were vandalised during the period of
government-sanctioned land invasions - some seven years ago.

      If there was any resolve on the part of the government and its
representatives in Bulawayo to act in the interests of the people, the first
step would have been to ensure that all the boreholes were fully
rehabilitated. If the government lacks resources but cared for Bulawayo, it
could have appealed to the international community. But as usual, the
government wants to wait until the number of people succumbing as a result
of the water problems has risen and there is international outcry at the
genocidal conspiracy. It will then spring into action, wrapping itself in
the mantle of a saviour!

      The impression is created that the government would rather diseases
reduced the level of opposition to its rule through deaths than to act and
therefore continue to support an electorate that rejects the State's
policies towards the western region in general but Bulawayo in particular.

      The second and more immediate step the government could implement if
it really cared about the population of Bulawayo would have been to speed up
construction of the Gwayi/Shangani Dam. If the government has no capacity to
undertake such a project the private sector has the expertise and given the
urgency of the matter, would work around the clock in order to avert an
imminent health and economic disaster.

      Government's neglect of Bulawayo - once the country's industrial hub -
has been responsible for the de-industrialisation of the city. To discuss
methods of combating Harare's water problems as if that is the priority
clearly sums up the government's general attitude to Bulawayo and
Matabeleland region.

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Revenge of Marxist-Leninists

Zim Standard

  sundayopinion by Bill Saidi

      COMMUNISM may be dead in most parts of the world, but there must be a
strong longing for it among many in the hierarchy of Zanu PF.

      At independence, the party's ideologues and apparatchiks were sorely
disappointed at their failure to immediately implement the avowed
Marxist-Leninist policies espoused so enthusiastically during the struggle.

      The economy, saddled with sanctions, was tied hand and foot to
apartheid South Africa.

      Moreover, there was the land issue, not to be touched until after ten
years of independence.

      Even the one-party system, seen as a priority prelude to the creation
of a truly communist regime was put on the back-burner, particularly as
PF-Zapu, the coalition partner in the first government, showed little
enthusiasm for it.

      Zanu PF chafed at the bit and when the occasion presented itself to
redistribute the land, the party grabbed it with undisguised relish,
unleashing its own version of the "collectivization" farm programme
attempted - with disastrous consequences - by one of the two communist
giants which backed the struggle, the Soviet Union.

      The political fallout was enormous, resulting in the Near-Doomsday
scenario the country faces today.

      But then came what could be called a plan of Mephistophelean genius,
with all the devilish hallmarks of a fanatical believer in the "dictatorship
of the proletariat", with a dash of the socialist credo of "the ownership of
the means of production by the people".

      First, the party would force Big Business to slash prices by 50
percent. If they shut down, then the government, which is The Party by any
other name, would take over their businesses.

      Second . . . the rest would be child's play. The economy would then be
controlled by The Party, through its proxy, the government.

      All the previous owners of commerce and industry would be excluded on
some pretext or other.

      Zanu PF would control everything - the banks, mines, the land,
industry and commerce. Nothing would happen without Zanu PF's approval. Free
enterprise would be killed.

      The Party's dream of a Marxist-Leninist regime would be realised, free
of charge. Everyone who disapproved - Zimbabwean, British, American,
Australian, New Zealander, Ghanaian, South African, Nigerian, Icelandic,
Russian, or Mongolian - would be told "to go hang".

      Even the campaign against Archbishop Pius Ncube is an integral part of
this grand Marxist plan: churches would operate only if they pledged
allegiance to The Party, whose own moral code is a dark, impregnable mosaic
of contradictions in human depravity.

      And this could come to pass, unless the few men and women of innocence
left in The Party and The Opposition wield enough influence over the lunatic
fringe to force it from the brink of Apocalypse.

      If they allow the Marxist-Leninists to achieve their revenge on the
people of Zimbabwe, then posterity might include them in The Final
Indictment on Judgement Day.

      Zimbabwe is at a defining moment in its young history. Since 2000, the
country has drifted into an economic void, not to mention a political
nowhere-ness authored by a party which swears by its roots in bloodshed.
Since 11 March this year, there has been a shift from dialogue to death.

      In the Zanu PF hierarchy, the strength of the Marxist-Leninists has
grown proportionately with the number of people killed in political

      For all Zimbabweans, the choice is crystal clear: a return to the Days
of Hope before 2000 or a plunge down The Dark Hole of Skeletons - of the 40
000 who died in the liberation struggle and the 20 000 who died during

      For the moment, forget the sudden low prices of essential commodities.
The price to be paid for voting for Zanu PF on the basis of this short-term
salvation from deprivation could be very high: the handover of the country
to the Marxist-Leninists.

      And the end of hope.

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Darkening clouds gather over the Zimbabwe sky

Zim Standard

  sundayview by Judith Todd

      AUGUST 1985 began with a writers' reception at Harare's Jameson Hotel.
Among those present was Dambudzo Marechera.

      In London, before Zimbabwe's independence, a mutual acquaintance,
Dewar, of the Scotch family, had arranged an unforgettable Sunday lunch-time
rendezvous at our local Elizabeth Street pub for me and Marechera to meet
for the first time. It was a lovely sunny day, and we had a little table on
the pavement.

      Dambudzo arrived late and, as the pub was due to close in about twenty
minutes at two o'clock, he ordered three pints of lager and three double
Scotches, all for himself. Our table was laden. Luckily Dewar was paying.

      Marechera caused a real stir when he walked in. He was wearing the
briefest possible white shorts and vest, all the better to show off his
ebony arms and legs festooned with white bandages, tied like ribbons in
jaunty bows.

      Sometime during the past week, he explained, he had been involved in
an altercation at the Africa Centre and, in a rage, he lashed his body
against a plate-glass window. Now he was in a happy, funny and affectionate
mood, and announced he was going home with me.

      I told him he certainly wasn't, knowing how horrified Richard would be
if I arrived with this particular famous writer in tow. But every time I
tried to leave, Marechera followed. Eventually, Dewar literally kept him
pinioned while I took off and quickly disappeared around many corners.

      At the Harare reception, Marechera was subdued, and Willie Musarurwa
was the central figure. The previous evening, Musarurwa had been sacked as
editor of our largest circulation newspaper, The Sunday Mail, and news of
his dismissal was just starting to spread. I was late and hurried in past a
cluster of people. A hand reached out, took my arm, and I said, "Oh, hello,
Willie. Congratulations!"

      "There you are," he said to the funereal-looking people surrounding
him, among them George Kahari. "That's the word you've all been searching
for: Congratulations!"

      Justin Nyoka then walked in, and I said we'd heard a rumour that he
had been offered Willie's job.

      "Yes," Justin said, "but I told them I couldn't possibly accept it."

      As Permanent Secretary at the Information Ministry, Justin was the
guest speaker, but we couldn't hear a word. The microphone was faulty and he
didn't have a hope of raising his voice above the roar of the cocktail crowd
in the packed room. But we did hear quite a lot of yowling. Apparently a
group of women seated in front of him, fresh from the Nairobi Conference on
Women, were reacting to some remarks he had made which they deemed to be
sexist. He must have been astonished.

      The next day Sharlottie Msipa rang to say that her husband Cephas had
been picked up that afternoon. Msipa, like his old friends and
contemporaries Willie Musarurwa and George Kahari, had been PF Zapu, but in
fact had joined Zanu PF, as required for survival, and he was held for only
a few hours.

      The following week, PF Zapu members of parliament Sydney Malunga,
Welshman Mabhena and Stephen Nkomo were arrested. The travel documents of
Joshua Nkomo and his wife were seized. At the same time Report Phelekezela
Mphoko, deputy head of the Demobilisation Directorate, was picked up. This
was kept very quiet, as was the news of Msipa's brief spell with CIO. They
themselves almost certainly would have wanted no publicity at all.

      Report's detention was serious as he was a senior civil servant
holding a delicate position. I began to thank our lucky stars that the
Zimbabwe Project had started going through its troubles as early as March
1983 or, these two years later, we might also have found ourselves in the
sizzling fat.

      I was leading a very odd life after the elections. On the one hand,
friends were disappearing into the maw of the state. On the other hand, I
was still associating with functionaries as if life in Zimbabwe were normal.
At one small party attended that August, the Minister of Education, Dzingai
Mutumbuka, was guest of honour.

      His deputy Joe Culverwell was also present. Dzingai always referred to
Joe, behind his back, of course, as JC Superstar. The subject of dissidents
came up, and I asked why they always assumed these so-called dissidents were
PF Zapu. They could be agents provocateurs, maybe from South Africa.

      Dzingai asked how I could question that there were dissidents when I
myself knew someone like Guduza. I said of course I knew Guduza and would
welcome a chance to talk to Dzingai about him. But someone changed the
subject at that point, though not before Joe had said I needed re-education.

      Since I had last seen Makhatini Guduza in March 1983, when he was
hiding his family and about to flee Bulawayo, he had escaped to Dukwe
refugee camp in Botswana, to which so many fled over the years, first from
Smith and then Mugabe. Later I heard that he was approached at Dukwe by
Super Zapu, whoever they were, and asked to become their leader. He refused,
there was a fight, and he had to make a dash from Dukwe to Francistown.

      Earlier in 1985 I had received a letter from Guduza. He gave an
address in Francistown and asked me for Z$6 000 to help him start a small
business. I was too scared even to reply. Only a few months previously I had
told Stephen Nkomo, Member of Parliament and brother to Joshua, that I had
heard Guduza was feeling old, poor, lonely, rejected and let down by Nkomo.

      Stephen said they couldn't help him, as they had heard "disturbing"
things about him. Now Stephen was locked up somewhere. It was quite obvious
that the government of Zimbabwe had come to regard everyone who was not a
card-carrying Zanu PF supporter of Robert Mugabe as a dissident.

      Shortly after the writers' reception, I had lunch with Justin Nyoka
and Ignatius Chigwedere. I told them how glad I was that my mother had
retired from the Mass Media Trust before Shamuyarira sacked Musarurwa as
editor of The Sunday Mail, and Justin told us the story of how he had been
offered Willie's job.

      He had received a letter from Shamuyarira saying that he and Prime
Minister Mugabe had decided it was now time for a "true and trusted cadre"
to take over as editor of the newspaper, and Justin was the obvious

      Justin wrote back immediately, starting off by reaffirming his loyalty
to everything and everyone possible - the party, the secretary-general, the
minister, reams of titles - and then declining the offer on the grounds that
to move from his position as Permanent Secretary for Information to a mere
editorship would be a demotion he didn't think he deserved. He placed his
reply on Shamuyarira's desk and delivered a copy for the prime minister.
Since then, Justin and Shamuyarira had acted towards one another as if no
offer had been made.

      But, said Justin: "I want to come to the office each morning thinking,
now how can I serve the nation today? Not, now how should I answer that
bastard's letter?"

      Ignatius and I laughed at the concept of Justin ever starting any
morning by thinking "now how can I serve the nation today?", and then the
three of us laughed together at a report the Herald had carried from

      Pregnant schoolgirls are expelled as a deterrent because schools
cannot be allowed to become maternity wards, the Minister of Education Dr
Dzingai Mutumbuka told the Assembly yesterday. "Boys who are found to have
been responsible for such pregnancies are also expelled. Teachers are
charged with crimen injuria, apart from losing their jobs." But, he said,
the Ministry had no control over sugar daddies or businessmen..

      On the whole there wasn't much to laugh about. There was a batch of
ten hangings. The new Minister of Home Affairs, Enos Nkala, promised that
the honourable members of parliament he had locked up would have a long
rest. I heard that all of Joshua Nkomo's children were safely out of the
country, but that he and his wife MaFuyana were having an increasingly
miserable time. The symbol that PF Zapu had used for the elections was a
bull, and a slogan now being chanted across the country by Zanu PF was pasi
ne Buru rengozi - down with the bull of evil spirits.

      Minister Maurice Nyagumbo and others conducted mock funerals of bulls
at which they were presented with coffins containing effigies of Nkomo.

      Moto magazine had a bold and vivid cover for its latest issue, which
succinctly summed up the travails of Zimbabwe. Captioned "Aftermath of the
Election," it showed a pair of hands shaking champagne bottle, which was
exploding in blood all over everything. Even the Moto title was splattered
with blood.

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

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We need an electoral system capable of healing political wounds

Zim Standard

  ZIMBABWE'S political landscape is a minefield that has generated acrimonious relations
between the two major political parties in Zimbabwe, Zanu PF and the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Pre-election violence, accusations and
counter-accusations of electoral fraud and litigations have characterised
the elections in Zimbabwe since 2000. Such a political climate calls for an
electoral process capable of healing the wounds resultant of the political
tension obtaining in the country.

      There is need for an electoral process that can create joyous losers,
those that lose in humility and rational enough to realise the election is
not all about winning but creating a Zimbabwe that we want. May be the first
question would be what is an electoral system?

      An electoral system can easily be understood as a way in which votes
are translated into seats. There are hundreds of electoral systems currently
in use and many more permutations on each form. However, there are three
broad families of electoral systems: Majority-Plurality Systems (First Past
The Post/FPTP); Semi-Proportional Systems; and Proportional representation

      Zimbabwe's electoral system is a "first past the post" system with
single member constituencies where the candidate with the most votes wins a
seat in the House of Assembly/Senate.

      While the system ensures accountability to constituents for those
elected, FPTP has, however, tended to create outright winners who care
little about building bridges with contesting parties. Therefore, used on
its own, FPTP tends to fail in the proposed task of healing political

      It is in this vain that we propose proportional representation to be
merged to FPTP to come up with the best electoral system for the
parliamentary vote and PR proper for the senate. Therefore, the Mixed Member
Proportional Representation (MPPR), as used in Lesotho, would entail that
FPTP would be used for contested parliamentary seats while PR would come
into force for compensatory seats which, in the current situation, are
occupied by non-constituency MPs appointed by the Executive.

      There is need to contextualise this call by assessing the political
situation since 2000. While the mood of bitterness in Zimbabwean politics
can be traced back to the liberation struggle and the Matabeleland massacres
during the first few years of the 1980s, after some form of thawing during
the 1990s, the bitterness resurfaced in burgeoning proportions after the
militarisation of Zimbabwean politics when the war veterans entered the
political fray after the 2000 referendum. The general mood of bitterness
created political polarisation, suspicion and intolerance that have made it
impossible even for well-meaning religious groups and neighbouring countries
to negotiate a compromise political solution.

      It is our submission that, given the mood of bitterness that has
engulfed our political climate, there is need for an electoral system that
is capable of healing the political polarisation that we find in our society

      Among all the systems available, Majority - Plurality Systems (MPS),
Proportional Representation (PR) and Semi - Proportional Systems (SPS), it
is PR that can perform the task of healing political wounds with resounding
success. We tried it in 1980 and it worked. With a bit of dexterity amassed
from experience, the PR system can be merged with the current electoral
system to come up with a system that can harness the advantages of both
while systematically diminishing the disadvantages associated with the two
electoral systems.

      Since political tension is high and bitter political rivalry abounds,
it is time we went back to where the rain started and map out a survival
strategy that would take us out of the political and economic quagmire that
we find ourselves immersed in. It is not a bad idea to re-think systems that
have worked for us before and if it means going back to 1980 and modify the
electoral system a bit, so be it.

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Zim Standard Letters

Train youth into useful citizens not political cannon fodder

      IT is an open secret that during elections the youth are used for
political expedience in Zimbabwe.

      The youth are used for campaigning, which includes intimidation,
torture and political murders. What is sad about the whole affair is that
the majority of the youths are not even registered as voters.

      Political parties are to blame for this state of affairs because their
youth policies are limited to political thuggery.

      It was fascinating listening to a recent Zambian talk show on the role
of that country's youth. Lack of funds for the development of youths was
given as a main handicap faced by political parties and governments. I
totally disagree with this train of thought because when the need arises,
millions of dollars are always made available whenever there is a political

      The government in Zimbabwe is the main culprit as it splashes millions
of dollars on youths during campaigning. New vehicles are made available to
the youths, who in turn use them to travel all over the country threatening,
torturing and slaughtering members of opposition parties. It is unfortunate
that opposition political parties are adopting the same tactics employed by
the government, albeit on a smaller scale because of their limited

      Zanu PF and the government should take the lead and put up facilities
for the development of youth. I do not mean facilities where the youths are
indoctrinated into supporting a particular party but the facilities should
involve the participation of all the youths regardless of political
affiliations. In my previous discussions, I have suggested a college for
politically minded students, where they learn how to run public offices.

      Unfortunately, no one took up this discussion but I will still stand
by it. The Zambian talk show unwittingly supported my previous argument
about the college of politics. Such an institution would eliminate
accusations that youths are not involved in politics.

      The biggest joke today is observing what is considered to be the youth
brigade - the man who is in charge of the youth brigade is someone who is
already a grandfather, while brigade members are all elderly people with a
sprinkling of dubious youths. Youthful members are found among the Green
Bombers, but these are political pawns, who are not taught how to run
government offices.

      Youth brigades are given attractive budgets every year but this budget
always fizzles out before any meaningful training in good governance. On the
contrary, the youths who graduate are let loose on innocent Zimbabweans. Is
it not an irony that public money has been used to train a bunch of
ill-mannered youths who attack the very source of money which made their
training possible?

      Let us not just look at our youth without listening to them - a very
backward tradition of most Zimbabweans. We are very good at window-dressing
where we create junior parliamentarians but where do the junior
parliamentarians end up? Nowhere!

      Will we ever get a president, army commander, police commissioner from
the Green Bombers? No chance! Why not? Because we do not respect our youth.
We do not give them the chance to show us what they are made of and we are
not serious in the so-called youth development centres. The youths
themselves are hooked up on cheap beer and drugs supplied to them whenever
they are about to be used.

      I would like the youths to challenge this letter if they have the guts
to do so.

      Chance for youths


 They shall be distinguished by their works

      CONSTITUTIONAL Amendment No 18 is around the corner and it is that
time in our lives when politicians run around the country selling us their
manifestos and decampaigning each other.

      It is painful indeed but true that many shall be fooled to join the
lot that is seen ululating after being fed lies.

      If we seriously want to move towards a new Zimbabwe, we should by now
be in a position to know the principles that either unite or separate us and
forget about or stop concentrating on who the principal is.

      For example, I say shame unto those who are in the two factions of the
MDC because it is the principles not the principals of an organisation that
we should give our allegiance to.

      The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC is one organisation without principles
but with a big principal. This lack of principles leads them to operate just
like Zanu PF. Nelson Chamisa, its spokesperson had the audacity to say 40
000 people attended their rally at Jahunda Hall. The truth of the matter is
that Gwanda has a population estimated at 55 000 and Jahunda Hall can only
fill much less than a thousand people standing.

      There is no way anyone can gather 20 000 people in Gwanda, not even
through force of the military.

      The biggest problem for the anti-Senate MDC is that its think tank is
not a constituent of its structures. The think tank of this faction is
manifest in certain newsrooms and boardrooms of donor organisations. This is
why they are masters of cyber activism.

      We shall see the principled people being elected on the basis of their
work. No to violence. No to propaganda. No to dictatorship. Refrain from
verbal terrorism.

      D Collins Bajila



 Crazy dream of the Zimbabwe that once was

OUR relative has been admitted to
a private clinic in the capital with a condition medical doctors are still
trying to diagnose.

      She says that she keeps having this dream: She is returning to the
country and the first thing she discovers at the Harare International
Airport is that it is chock-a-block. Air France, Swiss Air, Alitalia,
Qantas, Lufthansa, British Airways, and many other foreign airlines are
parked either boarding or disembarking. She says she is aware that this is
not true.

      But she also says that when she leaves the airport and travels into
the city she finds a fleet of Zupco buses all over taking passengers to and
from their various destinations - just like the old days of the Peter
Hornblow's Harare United Omnibus Company - and not a single commuter bus.
She also says she knows this can't be true of the current Zimbabwe.

      As she moves into the city centre, she says she finds shops full of
all manner of goods - local and exotic merchandise, with sugar, milk, bread,
soap, meat and other essential commodities in abundant supply and not a
queue in sight.

      She can drive up to a service station and she is asked what she wants
to fill up her car with -Blend, Diesel or unleaded petrol - and as much as
she can afford and this is sold in cents per litre. She says she freaks out
at this because she knows in today's Zimbabwe fuel costs hundreds of
thousands of dollars per litre!

      When she visits Parirenyatwa Hospital, she says, she finds the
referral centre spick and span, a hive of activity, with ambulances coming
and going and the medical staff not on strike. The patients are being
treated as if they are in a four-star hotel!

      Schools, she says, charge a known term fee and parents can budget what
their child's school needs are. Yet, she says she is aware that the Zimbabwe
in which she lives today does not resemble what she experiences in her

      At home, she says the telephone works perfectly and one can get
through at the first attempt with no disruptions. The water supply is
reliable so is the power supply. Yet she says the Zimbabwe she knows is the
opposite of this.

      She says she attends a political rally a few hundred metres away from
one being held by the ruling party and is surprised that at the end of the
meetings supporters from the opposing sides could engage in robust
discussions without fear of unintended consequences. She gets hysterical
because she says in the Zimbabwe she knows people are herded to political

      She says in her dreams the Zimbabwe she experiences is one without
unemployment. There is no crisis of homeless people and its agricultural
sector is the most productive in the region. Yet, she says she is aware this
is not the Zimbabwe she knows.

      Dumisani Mpofu



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