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Judge wants open court for coup trial

Zim Standard


A HIGH Court Judge on Friday said the bail application for six men accused of plotting an alleged coup should be held in an open court, dealing a major blow to efforts by the State to keep the matter under wraps.

Justice Tedias Karwi said it was important that there be transparency as the prosecutor brought yet another case of an alleged coup attempt against President Mugabe. Several people have been accused in the past of plotting to remove President Mugabe from power. Among these is MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai who was later acquitted by the courts.

The six men: Albert Matapo (40), a former senior army officer; Shingirai Mutemachani (20), a private in the army; Nyasha Zivuku; Oncemore Mudzurahowa (41); Emmanuel Marara (40); and Patson Mapfure (46), first appeared in the Magistrates’ Court in secrecy. Their initial appearance was held in camera and reports said there was a heavy presence of members of the secret

But when they appeared for a bail application at the High Court on Friday, Justice Karwi postponed the hearing, ordering both the State and the Defence to consult on the merits of the case.

He said: "Can I suggest that when the matter returns here, it be heard in an open court to ensure transparency. This case is very sensitive."

But before the Judge ended the court session, he had a moment to laugh when the prosecutor, Lawrence Phiri, said the coup plotters had set 15 June as the date on which they would topple President Robert Mugabe in just 20 minutes.

"You mean today," said the Judge, and members of the public who were in Court  burst out in laughter.

"We have documentation which was discovered at the venue of the meeting," Phiri said, "it clearly shows how these men were to carry out the coup. They had code-named the plot Operation 1940. Other documents also show how they would recruit military personnel who would then be used in this coup."

But Jonathan Samkange who represents the accused said they did not have the means and capacity to stage a coup.

"Four of the people arrested were actually at work and they work for the same company, so the aspect of them being at a meeting falls away. Accused number 1 left the army in 1992 and the possibility for him to plot a coup also falls away. He does not have the command, and power to successfully  stage a coup," Samkange said.

Mutemachani, the only serving members of the Army who is 20, completed his training in November last year and was deployed to 1 Commando Regiment. The alleged ring leader Matapo left the army in 1992 and stayed in UK for years.

In 2004, he was subject of investigations in Britain after being accused of helping Zanu PF members claim asylum.

The BBC investigations revealed then that as chairman of Birmingham-based Zimbabwean Community UK, Matapo was thought to have given fake documents to Zanu PF members and coached them on how to falsely claim asylum. Matapo, who denied the allegations, left UK and is back in Zimbabwe where he runs a travel agency, Gestawalt.

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VIPs cited in 60% wipe-out of game

Zim Standard


ALMOST 60% of the country’s wildlife has been wiped out through rampant poaching and organised plunder by newly-resettled farmers and cartels headed by powerful politicians, conservationists have said.

Johnny Rodrigues, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told The Standard that traditionally respected hunting seasons and quotas had been ignored, resulting in uncontrolled hunting throughout the year.

The task force is a non-governmental organisation which monitors wildlife populations in the country.

"In the past," said Rodrigues, "the hunting season ran from April to October and then the breeding period would be from November to March in order to give female animals an opportunity to breed and raise their young. Now all the hunting ethics have been thrown out through the window as people are hunting throughout the year."

Hunting ethics require hunters not to shoot female animals in order to ensure the species continue to reproduce.

That had now been abandoned in order to raise as much foreign currency as possible from mainly foreign big game hunters.

Players in the wildlife industry were not available for comment as they were attending the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in The Netherlands.

But the Information and Publicity Minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, said the statements from the environmental activists were designed to influence the decision in which Zimbabwe wants to be allowed to trade in ivory.

"They are just being alarmist and that is not what we want," Ndlovu said. "We have enough controls to prevent any poaching. Of course, we can never have a perfect set-up where there are no poachers."

Concession holders were also over-hunting instead of adhering to prescribed quotas, Rodrigues said.

As a result of the plundering of wildlife, many Zimbabwean animals may soon join the list of endangered species, among them the hippopotamus, leopard and roan antelope.

The lion, python and the blue duiker were already on the list of endangered animals.

"In Hwange National Park which used to have a good lion population," Rodrigues said, "there are only 22 male lions left and 200 females. The lion population has been decimated in part as a result of concession holders who allow their clients to hunt the lions in the national park, then drag them out and claim to have shot them inside the concessions."

Concession holders are located on the borders of game parks and their clients are only supposed to shoot animals that stray into their areas.

He said the male lions were popular with big game hunters because of their mane.

"If the hunting is properly controlled and ethics adhered to, we would not have reached the stage where we have such a dangerously low number of the big cats."

Rodrigues said with every male lion that was killed, a new male lion would take over the pride of females.

"The negative effect of that is that when a new male takes over a pride of females, he kills all the cubs in order to establish his dominance and start producing his own cubs. And if that happens over several months, the lion population will be hunted into extinction in Hwange National Park and other places where that is happening."

In Hwange National Park, rogue concession holders were accused of chasing animals into their concessions where they were massacred by the hunters, waiting with their guns.

As a result of unethical hunting, a lot of young elephants whose mothers had been mowed down with guns had died while the lucky ones were adopted and raised by their families.

Rodrigues said before the land reform exercise, 60% of the wildlife population in Zimbabwe was found on game farms and conservancies while the rest were in national parks and game reserves.

But now, only the Save Conservancy out of a total of 15 had some wildlife while 98% of game on the other conservancies had been wiped out through poaching and illegal hunting.

Land-hungry Zimbabweans who were resettled on conservancies teeming with wildlife resorted to poaching game for consumption and for resale.

Rodrigues said the already endangered rhino population was under fresh threat as the population was being systematically depleted through organised crime in which prominent members of society had been fingered.

Elephants were also being randomly shot under the guise of providing meat during national gatherings, although the main aim was to have access to the ivory.

"Over the last five years, the black rhino population at Matusadonha Park has been reduced from 40 to just eight while at one conservancy in the Midlands, the black rhino population had plummeted from 54 to 21. At Gaulays Ranch near Bulawayo, from an original 52, only 26 of the animals were alive and had been translocated to Bubi Ranch while four rotting carcasses without their horns were discovered."

Rodrigues said they had information that during the recent independence celebrations, up to 100 elephants had been slaughtered allegedly to provide meat for merrymakers, although their tusks could have been the prime targets.

Nothing had been said about the whereabouts of their giant tusks.

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Police seize Mutambara's passport

Zim Standard


PARTICIPATION by MDC leader Arthur Mutambara in a European tour organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign was thrown into doubt yesterday after police confiscated his passport.

Mutambara, who was in Cape Town where he attended the World Economic Forum meeting, was due to travel to Germany yesterday evening. He was supposed to be part of a group of leaders who are embarking on a tour of European states.

The leaders, who include another MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, hope their mission will complement efforts by South African President Thabo Mbeki who is mediating in the Zimbabwean crisis.

But up until late yesterday, Mutambara’s lawyer Harrison Nkomo of Mtetwa & Nyambirai was battling to secure the release of the passport and four activists who had been picked up by police.

According to an urgent chamber application filed by Nkomo, Mutambara sent Nqabutho Nicholas Dube, a Zimbabwean holding an SA passport, to Harare to obtain UK and Schengen visas on his behalf.

Mutambara could not travel to Harare due to pressing business commitments, he said.

But Dube was arrested by a uniformed officer who stopped a vehicle he was travelling in near Harare Central Police Station on Friday. The officer arrested Dube accusing him of being a spy when he found him in possession of his South African passport and that of Mutambara.

Dube, the party’s Information and Publicity officer for the South African district, was taken to the Law and Order Section where he was quizzed. Three other officials, Miriam Mushayi, the party’s deputy treasurer-general, Romuldo Mavedzenge, the party’s director for administration, and Fungisai Sithole, assistant to the Secretary-General who followed after realising Dube was not coming back were also detained. One of them had $8 000 000 in his pocket which was meant for the visa, but police wanted to know how an individual could carry that amount of money.

In the application, Nkomo says Mutambara who has lined up business meetings, apart from paying hotel and travel tickets, would suffer irreparable harm if he fails to get his passport. The matter was set to be heard late yesterday before Justice Felistas Chatukuta.

"I also have to aver that 1st Applicant (Mutambara) is not facing any crime under this sun and therefore his passport and other travel documents which are not subject to any criminal conduct or whatsover should be released as a matter of urgency," Nkomo says.


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Urban residents threaten action over water crisis

Zim Standard


Cities in Zimbabwe have been hit by an unprecedented water crisis with some urban centres going for more than two weeks without water, raising fears of an outbreak of diseases.

Residents’ groups have threatened unspecified action if the situation is not resolved soon.

Water supplies have become extremely erratic since the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) wrested control of water and sewer reticulation systems from local authorities.

The crisis has forced desperate residents to dig wells.

Among the most affected cities are Harare, Chitungwiza, Chegutu, Mutare, Gweru, Zvishavane, Kadoma and Chinhoyi.

In Harare the worst-hit suburbs include Tafara, Mabvuku, Glen View, Budiriro, Mufakose, Greendale, Waterfalls, Hatfield, Borrowdale and Chisipite.

Unlike some residents of low-density suburbs such as Highlands, Greendale and Borrowdale who have boreholes, high-density residents have resorted to fetching water from sewage-infested streams.

Their toilets are blocked because there is no running water, while big green flies are attracted by the stench and filth.

In Mbare, residents fetch water from the heavily-polluted Mukuvisi River into which Zinwa is accused of discharging raw sewage. The Harare City Council was once penalised for polluting the same stream.

Harare residents said cases of diarrhoea and dysentery among children were mounting everyday as the state of hygiene deteriorates.

Mary Chivero (42), of Budiriro said she had rushed her two children to the local clinic four times in the past six weeks.

"They always complain of abdominal pains and at one time they both suffered from dysentery. This is because most people now use the bush to relieve themselves," she said.

Some areas of Chegutu town have been without water for the past two weeks and residents rely on unprotected wells.

Arnold Mutizira of Chegutu said the absence of running water in the farming town had exposed the residents to water-borne diseases.

"The current situation is extremely dangerous. Imagine we have been without water for the past 12 days. We rely on water from the wells we have dug," Mutizira said.

Fungi Mpofu of Zvishavane said they had resorted to fetching water during the night.

"We wake up around midnight every day to join a long, winding queue to fetch water," she said. "People in authority don’t care about our welfare because they have boreholes at their homes."

The water crisis, compounded by uncollected refuse in most residential areas, has made an outbreak of water-borne diseases an imminent reality.

Fly-ridden mounds of uncollected refuse, dry water pipes and burst sewerage are now a common feature in many urban centres.

Combined Harare Residents’ Association (Chra) spokesperson Precious Shumba said failure by Zinwa to return water and sewerage reticulation systems to councils would lead to mass protests by residents.

He said the national residents’ convention held in Masvingo earlier this month recommended that the Cabinet reverse its decision in line with the recommendations by Parliament.

A Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government recommended that Cabinet reconsider its decision to transfer water provision from local authorities to Zinwa "because the water authority lacked capacity and mandate".

The committee’s findings have already been proved true as water supplies have become woefully erratic since the take-over.

Shumba said if the Cabinet failed to reverse its decision on Zinwa, "residents will roll out a plan of mobilising other residents through programmes and courses of action to resist the take-over".

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director, Itai Rusike, said the current water crisis had placed many residents at risk of water-borne diseases.

According to the Public Health Act, water cannot be cut off for more than 48 hours. If this happens, homes face a health risk, Rusike said.

He said the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa, should, through the Public Health Act, force the Minister of Water Resources and Infrastructural Development, Munacho Mutezo, to address the crisis.

"If there is an outbreak of diseases now, it is he (Parirenyatwa) who would be blamed; so he should use the powers vested in him by the Public Health Act to force Mutezo to address the problem urgently," he said.

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Government arm-twists nurses to end strike

Zim Standard

By Bertha Shoko

NURSES working for the government were last week allegedly intimidated into ending a six-week strike after the Health Services Board froze their bank accounts.

The professionals, who downed tools early last month in protest at poor salaries and working conditions, were said to be divided on whether or not to return to duty.They then decided to return to work in groups.

The first group resumed work on 7 June, the second on Monday last week. The strike had virtually frozen the health delivery system. At its peak, the strike shut down 15 wards at Harare Hospital, the remaining five being run by student nurses and doctors.

Hundreds of patients were denied medical care. At Parirenyatwa hospital, patients deemed not very ill were turned away and those who needed health care were being subjected to a long wait as the skeleton staff available at the institution was on a go-slow.
Standardhealth was told the nurses went back to work after the government threatened to exclude them from the payroll next week. To add insult to injury, the Health Services Board awarded student nurses hefty pay increases as "an incentive to fill in for
the striking nurses and doctors".

One student nurse who spoke to Standardhealth on condition of anonymity
said: "When the nurses were on strike the health service board increased our pay-outs from about $500 000 to $1.4 million. Then they recently gave us another increase of $1.6 million, which makes it about $3.5 million including allowances.
"They sent a circular advising us that we had to help, in light of the strike. Now, we hear that the nurses also got an increment and that our earnings are just almost the same." State registered nurses at Harare Hospital told Standardhealth they had been offered a basic salary of $3.5 million by the board, excluding allowances, to return to work.

One nurse said: "Initially, when the offer for this amount came in on Thursday 7 June many of us refused to go back to work because the money was too little. Our argument was that very soon it would be eroded by inflation. So, we wanted
something substantial to cover us for a long period. But because of the salary freeze and threats not to be paid, many of us went back on Monday.

"After all, half a loaf is better than nothing." Other nurses who spoke to Standardhealth said after the nurses were threatened with a salary freeze and suspension from work, they became frightened because the ministry of health was still holding on to their diplomas through the bonding system.

The government introduced bonding to retain health personnel in light of the massive brain drain in the sector. The government binds fresh nurse graduates and other health personnel for three years under this system.

"Many of us were afraid we would not be able to look for employment elsewhere because the ministry still has our educational qualifications," said one dejected junior nurse. "So, until we get our qualifications, we will have to be very loyal servants. After that, we can think of looking for greener pastures."

Health and Child Welfare minister David Parirenyatwa is on record for refusing to acknowledge that nurses were on strike. In a telephone interview last week Parirenyatwa told Standardhealth that the "official position" was that the nurses were absconding duty because they had no money for transport.

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Bulawayo charges could go up 2 600%

Zim Standard

By Kholwani Nyathi

BULAWAYO — The City Council last week proposed a massive $3.6 trillion supplementary budget that will see rates and supplementary charges rising by a staggering 2 600% from 1 August.

Bulawayo joins Harare, Gweru and Masvingo as cities are forced to revise their annual budgets in a desperate bid to adapt to the deteriorating economy.

The council said the provision of health, sewerage and water reticulation and refuse collection — among other essential services —was under severe threat due to a dwindling budget.

The supplementary budget — approved by a special full council meeting on Wednesday — was hastily drafted to replenish council coffers, battered by runaway inflation now estimated at 4 530%.

For this year, the council had budgeted for $183.7 billion but by April, $107 billion had already been exhausted.

Acting town clerk, Gilbert Dube, confirmed on Friday the council had approved the new expenditure estimates, soon to be sent to the government for approval.

A report on the council meeting attributed the proposed steep increases in rates and supplementary charges to inflationary pressures, a ballooning wage bill and a shortage of foreign currency.

"The 2007 budget was crafted under the assumption that annual inflation would not exceed 393% during the year," reads the report. "Inflation reached 3 713, 9% on a year-on-year basis.

"What this means is that the budget for 2007 has been underestimated by 3 320% as of April."

Supplementary charges for an average household will go up from $ 3 350 a month to $83 210.50 while fixed sewerage charges will be pegged at $23 434 from $880 a month.

Ambulance fees are set to shoot up to $617 816, up from about $23 200 a call.

"Should there be further increases in proportions not envisaged in this budget assumptions, a further supplementary budget cannot be ruled out, or else services will have to be drastically curtailed," the council warned.

The government last year gave local authorities the green light to charge economic rates for services to arrest declining standards in most urban areas.

But the council will not be able to implement the supplementary budget until it is approved by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Ignatious Chombo.

Chombo has been accused of dragging his feet in approving budgets for so long that when they are eventually implemented, inflation would have eroded the estimates.

Bulawayo had its budget for this year approved in April and by then billions had been lost in potential revenue. The supplementary budget will come as a heavy blow to residents already struggling to keep pace with skyrocketing prices of basic commodities.

According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, a family of five now needs $5.5 million a month to survive.

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Council tightens water rationing

Zim Standard


BULAWAYO – The city council last week tightened further its water rationing by introducing eight-hour daily water cuts.

The decision came after yet another supply dam dried up, plunging the second largest city into a major crisis.

Umzingwane Dam was decommissioned from the city’s water supply network on Sunday, leaving only Inyankuni, Insiza and Upper Ncema as the sources of water.

But Inyankuni and Insiza are expected to run dry between August and October. It is anticipated Insiza would provide water until the next rainy season but its capacity is not enough to meet the requirements of the city.

Lower Ncema was decommissioned last year after it received insignificant inflows during the 2005/6 rainy season.

The city consumes 120 000 cubic metres of water a day but by August it would only be pumping 69 000 cubic meters. This is expected to drop to 46 000 cubic meters in October.

Acting town clerk, Gilbert Dube, said the water cuts were a last resort designed to preserve the fast dwindling resource.

"The situation is precarious," Dube said. "This is why we are resorting to this water shedding to try and stretch what is available in our dams."

He said the city’s only salvation was the Mtshabezi dam pipeline link, which will connect the idle reservoir to the city’s water supply network.

The troubled Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) would supervise the construction of the 33km pipe line.

But there is growing concern that the parastatal lacks the capacity to speedily implement the project which would cost trillions of dollars.

According to a schedule released by the council, eastern and southern suburbs will go without water everyday, while western suburbs will experience four-hour daily cuts.

Bulawayo has been experiencing serious water shortages since 2005 due to poor inflows into its five supply dams and a strict water rationing scheme has been in place since then.

Council blames the crisis on government’s failure to build alternative water sources to match the city’s expansion. The last dam was built in 1979 when the population was about 250 000 and has since grown to more than 1.5 million.

The council says this year’s water shortages will be worsened by the uncertainty surrounding the impending take-over of its infrastructure and billing services by ZINWA.

Water and Infrastructure Development Minister, Munacho Mutezo said the government was going ahead with the controversial take-over.

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Botswana warns Zimbabwe-bound citizens of arrests

Zim Standard

By Kholwani Nyathi

BULAWAYO — Botswana last week warned its citizens intending to travel to Zimbabwe of the increase in arbitrary arrests of mainly opposition activists.

The government warned them to "exercise caution and avoid situations that may precipitate their arrest" while visiting Zimbabwe.

A number of Batswana have recently been victims of Zimbabwe’s increasingly arbitrary justice system.

In April, a Motswana journalist, Nomusa Ndlovu was arrested at the Plumtree Border Post for wearing an outfit resembling military fatigues.

She claimed the police accused her of working with Western media to discredit the government.

Last month, three Batswana working for the mining giant De Beers were arrested near Victoria Falls on allegations they assaulted a Vehicle Inspection Department official.

The trio was sentenced to three months in jail but was later granted bail after Botswana’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Pelokgale Seloma, intervened.

Botswana’s permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Charles Ntwagae, confirmed the warning was related to the two incidents.

But he brushed aside suggestions the warning might worsen the already uneasy relations between the two countries.

"It is normal to issue an advisory of this nature," Ntwagae told Botswana’s Midweek Sun newspaper last week. "The advisory is directed at our own people and we are not pointing a finger at Zimbabwe, nor are we passing judgment regarding anything that may have happened in the past."

But observers say it is an admission on Botswana’s part that its neighbour pays little regard to the rule of law.

The Zimbabwe government has often reacted angrily to travel warnings issued by countries such as the United States, Canada and Britain, saying the country is peaceful.

Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the Minister of Information and Publicity, referred questions to Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Botswana, Thomas Mandigora, who was said to be out of his office.

Following the torture of Morgan Tsvangirai and 49 MDC officials as well as activists in March this year in Harare, Botswana MPs demanded the temporary closure of the country’s embassy in Harare.

Since police violently broke up a Save Zimbabwe Campaign meeting in Harare in March, the MDC claims more than 500 of its supporters and officials have been abducted or arrested by State agents.

Last week 18 MDC activists were released after being held for two months in remand prison for allegedly petrol bombing Zanu PF offices in Harare.

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More trouble for ailing, detained MDC official

Zim Standard


THE Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings, has charged an MDC official — in custody for almost two months for allegedly training bandits and terrorists — with misconduct.

Despite protests from his lawyers, the ZPC last week summoned detained MDC deputy organising secretary, Morgan Komichi, to a disciplinary hearing to answer charges of absenteeism. Komichi, an instrument technician at the Munyati power station is under police guard at West End Hospital.

The opposition activist has been in detention since April when he was arrested for allegedly training terrorists. He was last week further remanded to 29 June by Harare Magistrate Gloria Takundwa.

But ZPC insists that Komichi, reportedly critically ill, should attend a disciplinary hearing to explain his continued absenteeism.

The secretary of the Hwange power station disciplinary committee L Rukezo wrote to Komichi on 1 June, advising him of the disciplinary hearing scheduled for 12 June.

"I do hereby advise you that you are to appear before a disciplinary committee to answer the following charge: Contravention of Section 7(1) (a) of the Zesa Code of conduct ie absenteeism, in that you have not reported for duty at Munyati Power Station as from 2 May 2007, as required of you, and you continue to be absent from duty without permission or valid reason," Rukezo wrote.

The letter was sent to Komichi although his lawyers, Mbidzo, Muchadehama & Makoni had written on 2 May to the director of ZPC, advising him their client was in police custody and could not attend the hearing.
They also called for a postponement of the matter in light of the proceedings at the courts.

But on 12 June, ZPC company secretary Pardon Chakanyuka wrote to Komichi’s lawyers advising them that the disciplinary hearing would go ahead in his absence.

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Chimedza to challenge Mahofa

Zim Standard


A Harare doctor is preparing to challenge veteran politician Shuvai Mahofa in what could turn out to be a bruising contest for the Gutu South constituency, according to Zanu PF sources.

Paul Chimedza, president of the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA), is reportedly preparing for a campaign against Mahofa, a former deputy Minister of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation.

Chimedza last week said he was yet to decide whether or not to square up against Mahofa.

He said he was ready to be guided by the Zanu PF provincial leadership and the constituents of Gutu South.

"If people ask me to contest the seat, I will have to make a decision whether or not to run against a veteran like Mahofa," Chimedza said. "I still have to make that decision. As for now, I haven’t."

The medical practitioner admitted he had been visiting the constituency regularly, raising the suspicion that he intended to enter the 2008 parliamentary race.

"That is where I come from, and when people see me they are bound to speculate," he said.

If Chimedza decides to challenge Mahofa, he would face a formidable opponent, say Zanu PF insiders who have worked with the former deputy minister.

Mahofa, who has been MP for Gutu South for several years, has survived numerous attempts to end her political career.

Among those who failed to dislodge her was the late Dr Eddison Zvobgo whose political acumen caused nightmares for a rival faction led by former Masvingo governor Josiah Hungwe.

As she fought for political survival, Mahofa enjoyed the strong backing of Hungwe and the late Vice-President Simon Muzenda.

Her position became so entrenched she soon earned the title "The Iron Lady" of Zanu PF politics.

But Mahofa’s career now appears to be waning. Following Muzenda’s death, she lost her ministerial post after allegations that she was aligned to politicians linked to the Tsholotsho Declaration.

Mahofa has denied she was among politicians accused of trying to block Joice Mujuru’s ascendancy to the vice-presidency.

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CSO mum on inflation amid fears of imminent collapse

Zim Standard


THE Central Statistical Office (CSO) has no clue when the new inflation figures, which peaked 4 500%, will be announced, raising fears that the government wants to hide the data.

Usually, inflation figures are announced by the 15th of every month.

Figures gleaned from the CSO show that the year-on-year inflation for May surged to 4 530% from 3 713.9% in April. Monthly inflation decelerated by 45.3 percentage points to 55.4% from 100.7% in April.

CSO acting director Moffat Nyoni told Standardbusiness last Friday he was not aware when the new figures would be announced.

"I will not announce when we will announce the figures. Check with me on Monday or Tuesday next week," he said.

Nyoni admitted his organisation had delayed the release of the figures but could not say why.

Last month, the April inflation figures were delayed, the CSO attributing this to a virus in its computers.

Analysts say Zimbabwe’s inflation figures are heading towards Weimar proportions and will peak at 10 000% by the end of the year.

The country requires 2.4 million tonnes of maize annually, but produced a paltry 500 000 tonnes, an indication the government would print more money to import grain, fuelling inflation to new heights.

The rise in the price of goods and services is a blow to hard-pressed Zimbabweans, most of who live on less than US$1 a day. The consumer watchdog, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, says that an average family of six now requires $5.5 million a month to survive — an unattainable figure as the majority of workers earn less than $1 million.

Once the breadbasket of the region, Zimbabwe’s economy has been on a free fall in the past seven years. Last year the economy contracted by 4.4%.

Meanwhile, bailing the country out of the current economic melt-down should be the top priority of South African president Thabo Mbeki’s mediation efforts between the MDC and Zanu PF, an official with the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations in Zimbabwe (NANGO) has advised.

In an interview, NANGO chief executive officer, Cephas Zinhumwe, said the economic situation had deteriorated to levels which called for political compromise to avoid total collapse.

"We, as civil society, urge the government and the opposition to genuinely engage in the discussions and produce decisions which would benefit the country as a whole.

"We no longer want protracted decisions which will not produce any results for the ordinary people.

"It should not be about winning elections; it should be about bailing people out of the ongoing economic hardships," he said.

Zinhumwe’s advice came in light of recent reports that international civic organisations involved in food-aid distribution have produced a top-secret report forecasting the collapse of the country within the next six months.

"The situation is not good for anyone," said Zinhumwe. "Take, for instance, the rural people who are living in abject poverty and cannot afford any of the basic services.

"The government and all other stakeholders should engage in genuine dialogue and come up with solutions to avert the collapse," he said.

Among other dire predictions, the report forecasts that inflation was likely to bring the economy to a standstill, with the possible paralysis of the government, followed by civil unrest.

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Annan to lead fight against Africa's farming decline

Zim Standard

CAPE TOWN — Former United Nations chief Kofi Annan was on Thursday tasked with leading a US$150 million drive to reverse the decline in Africa’s farming sector, earmarking it as key to lifting the continent out of poverty.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s food production had been dropping year-on-year for more than a decade as a third of the continent’s population, or some 200 million people, suffer from hunger, he said at the World Economic Forum on Africa.

"Ours is a continent that contains 16 of the 18 least nourished countries in the world," Annan told reporters after accepting nomination as chairman of the board of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. "We cannot pull our people out of poverty without a strong agricultural base," he added. Yet African governments had been "ignoring" agriculture for the past 15 years and interest in farming had dropped dramatically, said the Ghanaian diplomat.

Those farmers willing and able to pay for good seeds, water or soil nutrients "cannot get it because it is not there," and research and agricultural expertise was sorely lacking. "We must put practical solutions in place to lift our people out of poverty," said the former United Nations secretary-general.

South African businessman Strive Masiyiwa, chief executive of the Econet Wireless Group, introduced Annan as a man with the moral authority and passion needed to push the project.

He told reporters about 250 million people in Africa were living on less than a dollar a day as the value of food imports was expected to rise from 6.5 billion dollars currently to 11 billion dollars by 2020. "Food insecurity and malnutrition is pervasive," Masiyiwa said. "But it does not have to be that way. The resources are there." The alliance includes African leaders, farmers, governments, donors, civic groups and private sector entrepreneurs.

It was set up last year with a 150-million-dollar grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and seeks to help millions of African subsistence farmers become competitive producers. Annan said the alliance’s work would focus on developing resistant crop seeds, setting up irrigation systems, harnessing rain water and providing fertilisers, processing facilities and farming advice. — AFP.

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Stage-managed disinformation designed for buying votes

Zim Standard


Stage-managed disinformation designed for buying votes

THE Agricultural Mechanisation Programme unveiled last week kills a number of birds with one stone. It further enriches ruling-party bigwigs who have failed to produce any significant quantity of crops to date while implicating the opposition in a lawless and damaging land reform programme.

It is also a scheme that mortgages the recipients to the ruling party for the next three years but more significantly demands their support and allegiance ahead of next year’s parliamentary and presidential polls.

Civil servants last week had a windfall of a 600% increment backdated to April, while traditional leaders suddenly found themselves proud owners of tractors and provincial governors were suddenly the recipients of large herds of cattle — never mind where they are going to come from.

But in dealing with its supporters the government decided it was time to create confusion and suspicion within the ranks of the opposition. In suggesting that Arthur Mutambara was a beneficiary of government’s largesse, the intention is to raise suspicions within the anti-Senate MDC faction about whether they should be talking unity with someone indebted to government.

This strategy is evident in the way anti-Senate MDC supporters released last week have been imprisoned for months on charges that collapsed like a pack of cards. Clearly the intention is to poison the atmosphere so that it is impossible for the two factions of the MDC to reunite and ready themselves for the final battle against the ruling party.

There is also another explanation: The government is trying hard to bribe the opposition so that it secures support for the proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill, while appearing to extend an olive branch to the opposition and allowing opposition leaders to appear — but not necessarily be heard — in the State media. This idea is to create a façade designed to hoodwink SADC so this smokescreen forms justification for scuttling the regional initiative.

When former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan mooted the idea of coming to Zimbabwe to gain a first hand impression of the crisis, President Robert Mugabe had a counter proposal — former Tanzanian leader Benjamin Mkapa. But we all know the fate of that initiative. For Zimbabwe, it was purely a way of avoiding Annan’s scrutiny.

Similarly the suggestion that Libya is being roped in to mediate in the Zimbabwean crisis is a red herring. The real reason is Zimbabwe has no intention of giving the SADC initiative a chance. The government has a record of non-compliance. It views compliance with the regional grouping’s expected recommendations on resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis as amounting to preparing the ground for its ouster.

Between now and the 2008 elections the government is going to do everything in its power to bribe and buy votes because it is aware that it has no campaign platform. Any credible opposition would point to the number of companies that have closed down, the number of people who have lost jobs, the collapse of the health and education services, the runaway prices of basic commodities and the spectacular failures of the power and water utilities, among many other betrayals.

On the other hand the government is mindful of recent announcements from Canada and from the British company, Lonrho, which the government has sought to misrepresent. The announcements basically signal that there is a rescue package for Zimbabwe once the country throws out those responsible for bringing this country to its knees. This has unsettled the government, hence the desperation driving the latest developments.

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Saying 'enough is enough' may not be enough

Zim Standard

Sunday Opinion by Bill Saidi

ONE foreign university has stripped President Robert Mugabe of an honorary degree. Others may follow suit, as they too realise how ruinous to their reputations this association could be.

He still has many others, some honorary, others not so honorary. Enumerating them might be risky. Under AIPPA, they could haul you into court for publishing a falsehood.

The universities, teeming with eggheads reciting the Magna Carta and Oedipus backwards, cannot believe their humiliation of this politician would transform him.

After all, this man has used such low-brow language as "Go hang!" — aka "Get stuffed!"

They must know all this wouldn’t register with him the way they would expect — repentant and contrite, begging them: "Please don’t do this to me, baas!"

A man who publicly roasted his critics as "gay gangsters" is definitely past caring if they call him a "cradle robber", referring to his marriage to the young mother who went to him for a shoulder to weep on, but ended up getting what some people now allege is what she bargained for.

Politically, it would be amazing if Mugabe conceded, even grudgingly, that most of the ruin now facing Zimbabwe is even partly his responsibility.

He must know that the "sanctions", as a scapegoat for our impending ruin, is as effective as a fig leaf.

Yet he insists he is still master of his destiny, the people still love him. They trust he will pull off the political caper that would restore us to the glorious days before 2000 or 1997.

What about the people around him? Who could speak bluntly to him? Would Gideon Gono, for instance, spring the political shock of the millennium by saying printing money reminds people of kids building sand castles?

What about Joseph Msika, who spoke with candour about the real villain of Gukurahundi? True, he wasn’t speaking to Mugabe, but to "the converted" — people who have known the truth since 1981.

But has it never occurred to this former close comrade-in-arms of Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo that Mugabe needs to be shocked out of this Cloud Cuckoo land?

What about Emmerson Mnangagwa? It’s hard to accept he now shares the belief of the Zanu PF zombies that Mugabe holds the key to our salvation from Armageddon. Ditto John Landa Nkomo.

I was among Zimbabweans meeting with a group of Zimbabwe-philes — people so taken with the potential for Zimbabwe to become The Dream African Country they could be called Zimbabwe wannabes — in London, three years ago.

Someone made this statement: "The Zimbabwean political crisis is complex." For one thing, most political crises have their complex element, usually forged by those promoting the status quo but anxious to disguise their positions with a lot of jawbreakers.

For another thing, politics, not being an exact science, is filled with contradictions because the practitioners are usually motivated by faith in their capacity to sell to their constituents half-truths as the genuine article.

In Zimbabwe, you have to remove this veneer of intricacies: and voila! Revealed is a political party and its leader who know they made monumental blunders, for which they must be punished by the voters.

Neither the leader nor the party has ever confronted defeat graciously. Moreover, there are all these skeletons in their closets, some of them real, the remains of citizens killed in "moments of madness".

To postpone The Day of Judgement, both want to hang on until their cleansing of all guilt is assured, or those capable of making the guilt stick have been eliminated by constant "bashing", or worse.

The water and power persecution of the urban population has been seen as part of Zanu PF’s plan to cow these pro-opposition voters. This has been strenuously denied by The Accused, Your Worship. Yet somehow, the guilt won’t wash off.

The people so persecuted have already declared Enough is Enough! That has not moved The Accused to confess their guilt. What’s Plan B, after realising Enough is Enough is not Enough?

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Absolute loyalty to Mugabe,the credo of 'Gukurahundi'

Zim Standard

Sunday View by Judith Todd

In October 1981, Mugabe toured the nation, emphasising his belief in the urgent necessity of a one-party state. This attitude was not popular in all circles. I heard someone in Bulawayo laugh and say: "Why doesn’t he come here, say he wants a one-party state and see what reception he gets?"

Then immediately the person became serious and said: "But if he comes and gets a bad reception, then we won’t get any land."

Joshua Nkomo, demoted by Mugabe in January from the important portfolio of Home Affairs to that of Public Service, and then demoted again to Minister without Portfolio, had put his position on a one-party state to 40 000 supporters at Bulawayo’s White City Stadium on 1 June.

He said a one-party state was an ideal situation, but it must not be introduced without the unanimous agreement of Zimbabwe’s entire population. He warned against a forced or manipulated "unity", and said the existence of many political parties, races and languages should not cloud the fact that Zimbabweans were one nation.

"There are fifty-two dialects spoken, but we are all one people," he said.

In planning the Bulawayo leg of his trip, Mugabe had apparently requested that Nkomo accompany him. Nkomo had replied that, as prime minister, Mugabe could tour any part of the country on his own. The intermediary had said: "But he wants you to be with him." Nkomo responded: "He has been through the rest of the country without me. Why does he want me now?"

"Well," said the intermediary, "he likes having with him the members of parliament from the district he is visiting."

"I see," said Nkomo. "But the problem is that I am not a member of parliament for Matabeleland. I am a member of parliament for the Midlands and the prime minister has already toured the Midlands without me."

So it was announced that Mugabe would tour Matabeleland in the company of Enos Nkala, founder member of Zanu, now Minister of Finance and a declared enemy of Joshua Nkomo.

There had already been warnings about the possible dire consequences of the increasingly acrimonious speeches made by politicians such as Nkala. At a recent commission of inquiry into violence between members of Zanla and Zipra, Brigadier Charles Grey of the National Army, and formerly of Zipra, had refuted Nkala’s claims that Zapu/Zipra was tribalistic, pointing out that at least 70% of its recruits during the war had been Shona-speaking. He warned of the dangers implicit in hate speeches made by politicians "inciting one faction and infuriating the other".

In July for example, Nkala had told a Zanu PF rally in Bulawayo that the party’s task "from now on is to crush Joshua Nkomo and forget about him. I want to declare here that Joshua Nkomo and his group are in government by the grace of Zanu PF. They contributed in their own small way and we have given them a share proportional to their contribution. If they now want more than their small share then we shall have to tell them that they will not have any share at all".

I happened to be in Bulawayo on Saturday 24 October, the prime minister’s big day in the city when he addressed rallies at both Ntabazinduna and Barbourfields. I thought God was being infinitely kind to both the prime minister and to those in Matabeleland who didn’t want a one-party state. Against any reasonable prediction, it rained most of the day, so should the reception accorded to the prime minister fall short of expectations, both sides could blame the weather.

But I found an all-pervading anxiety about 5 Brigade, which was being set up by the North Koreans, and was told that the brigade had to start each day with a salute to "MUGABE!" An acquaintance of mine just back from Libya was in poor circumstances and asked me to find out how he could join 5 Brigade. I asked someone who would know what qualifications one had to have, and was told (1) absolute loyalty to Prime Minister Mugabe; and (2) absolute loyalty to the ruling party, Zanu PF.

I asked whether the brigade was to be used in Mozambique to support (President Samora) Machel against the resurgent Renamo movement. He said no, it was designed to be used inside Zimbabwe. When I asked him whom the brigade was going to be used against, he looked absolutely blank and changed the subject.

In August, Prime Minister Mugabe had revealed that 106 North Koreans were in Zimbabwe to train "a new force". People had no clue about the secret deal that had been made with North Korea less than six months after Zimbabwe’s independence. In October 1980, Mugabe had led a delegation of twenty people, including Education Minister Dzingai Mutumbuka and Mrs Joice Teurai Ropa Nhongo, Minister of Youth, Sport and Recreation, to the sixth congress of the Korean Republic’s ruling Workers’ Communist Party.

He and President Kim ll Sung signed a treaty of friendship, co-operation and general agreement. Within that agreement lay the seeds of what was to emerge as 5 Brigade, a political killing machine answerable only to Mugabe, its communication equipment impenetrable by that of Zimbabwe’s regular forces.

Before enough planning could be done on moving men from Lido to Hokonui Ranch, the press reported in December that Senator (Garfield) Todd had given 300 hectares of land to the government for the disabled; the government was very grateful and the Department of Social Services was working out how best the land could be used.

This seemed to have been a well-intentioned announcement by Minister (Kumbirai) Kangai, who said he hoped others would follow suit and donate land to his ministry. However, it was factually wrong on practically every point. The area was 3 000 acres, not 300 hectares; the land had not been given to the government but to the Lido men themselves, who would form their own legal entity and hold title deeds. But the report was useful in that, however hard everyone was already working on this scheme, it galvanised all concerned to work much harder and faster.

A team from Lido had inspected, fallen in love with and named the land Vukuzenzele, "Wake up and do it yourself". Through the good offices of Sister Janice (McLaughlin), the impressive Paul Themba Nyathi had been enticed to the Zimbabwe Project from Kushinga-Phikelela Agricultural College, and the short-term future of Vukuzenzele was entrusted to him.

An advance party of ten of Lido’s most physically able men set up camp in tents and started stumping trees and clearing land by hand for a vegetable garden.

. . . Then, wandering after the cattle that had passed by the tents came a small boy of about ten. He looked at us from behind a bush. Alexander Mkwananzi, a tall, rangy man with a huge grin, called him over. He came slowly, but politely. Alexander was wearing trousers and a long-sleeved shirt, so didn’t look much damaged. He was affectionate and put his arm around the little boy’s shoulders, but when there was no response, the men realised the child spoke Shona, not the Sindebele they were using…

There was an anxious yell from some metres away, which he answered reassuringly, prompting the appearance of another boy, who had cloudy eyes and suppurating ears. Paul Themba Nyathi examined him and turned to me, frowning. I knew exactly what he was thinking. Not only did we need a clinic for the men from Lido, but also for the local people.

The cattle moved away. The boys appeared to leave, but, when I drove away, I noticed that they were behind another bush, staring entranced at the men.

* Excerpt from Judith Todd’s latest book, Through the Darkness: A life in Zimbabwe, available from

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Open letter to President Robert Mugabe...

Zim Standard

Sunday Opinion by Rejoice Ngwenya

Sir, this is the second instance I have taken time off my active yet troubled life to write a letter to you. I want to put it on personal, local, regional and international record that the other six million adult Zimbabweans and I at home and abroad, have a compulsive desire for unreserved and total submission to your authority.

But the price of this humble, yet unprecedented gesture is high — there has to be 100% consensus between us the citizens and the rest of the international community that your party, Zanu PF, will have emerged a winner from utterly, absolutely, conclusively and beyond reasonable doubt free and fair elections in 2008.

Mr President, correct me if I am wrong. My point is that free and fair elections are not merely about losers conceding defeat, no, but about both the victor and the vanquished having first agreed to the rules of the game.

Rule number one, Sir, is that none of the contestants should set the rules. The reason why I have personally contested and challenged your party’s electoral legitimacy in the previous elections, is that you have always emerged a winner out of a contest in which you determine the players, the spectators, the venue, the referee and the adjudication.

It is your man, Tobaiwa Mudede, who constructs and updates the voters’ roll. It is your man, Patrick Chinamasa, who writes, passes electoral laws and regulations. Is it not your man, Augustine Chihuri, who deploys police details to oversee transportation and safeguarding of ballot boxes?

Need I remind you that the Electoral Commission is presided over by a man personally appointed by your office! When it comes to defining electoral boundaries, you appoint a person to manage the delimitation process.

Rule number two, all contestants must be allowed to communicate freely with their supporters, trainers, managers and sponsors. For the past 25 years, all political contestants that were not in one way or another aligned to Zanu PF have routinely and systematically been prevented from campaigning.

Laws and regulations have been made to prevent opposition rallies. Your appointees have, with the passion of extremist zealots, censored, regulated or manipulated opposition presentations in the public broadcaster and public press. Your supporters and police have blockaded roads and highways leading to venues of opposition public meetings. Posters have either been pulled down, or those distributing flyers arrested on frivolous charges.

Seminars, workshops and public dialogue meetings organised by those that oppose your views have been regulated, banned or spied on. Opposition parties have not been able to freely train and deploy their election and polling agents.

It is your government that made the rules that no opposition party must be supported by funds from external strategic partners, yet your party, Zanu PF, before, during and after the struggle, received material and financial support from people like Tiny Rowland, Muammar Gaddafi and the Chinese.

Even as I write, on one hand, computers, tractors, maize and fertilizer are publicly distributed to your supporters in the guise of donations from Chinese as a way of electoral campaigning while on the other, your people slander and insult opposition members who talk to their friends in the West.

These are hypocritical double standards of the highest order. I want to put it in simple language that you fear fair competition. You are petrified by the thought of losing in a balanced contest. I am at loss as to why you resent, ignore or simply are oblivious of fair competition in a country that you yourself proclaim as truly democratic! It is your responsibility to prove that you are not afraid of fair competition in 2008.

Rule number three: All contestants must be allowed free and unfettered access to the field of play. I have, in the past 25 years, witnessed opposition political candidates financially and physically constrained from presenting nomination papers. Your party has been responsible for instigating some of the most crude and costly electoral registration procedures in the world.

No opposition parties in Zimbabwe have been able to afford excessive monetary demands imposed on them by your government for participating in elections. There are numerous regulations for registration demanded in nomination courts presided over by your appointees. Even when opposition candidates manage to get their papers in order, they are harassed and physically prevented from presenting papers to your courts.

Some, like a man named Albert Ndlovu, were almost killed a few metres from the court in Chegutu while your supporters and uniformed police watched helplessly. Even during elections, those candidates that oppose you are physically prevented from going to voting and counting stations.

Your government has persistently refused and prevented my twin brother and about three million of his colleagues based in South Africa, England, America and other countries from voting. These are Zimbabwean citizens that have both a moral and constitutional obligation to determine the political destiny of their country. Yet employees in foreign missions and soldiers in foreign countries are allowed to vote. And even when they do, the votes are counted only in the presence of your protégés.

What kind of ‘free and fair election’ is that? And then thereafter, you actually claim that you have won. Surely you can do better than that!

If you, Sir, want the citizens of this country and the international community at large to respect [not fear] your authority and acclaim your legitimacy, your party, Zanu PF, should submit itself to the universal rules of fair electoral competition.

In addition sir, for 2008, I propose that all laws and regulations that obstruct free electoral competition be repealed, and that a truly independent electoral institution be given the authority and financial support to run the electoral process from voter registration to announcing the results. The current electoral institutions are disabled by your hypnotic influence, and that is not good for other contestants and democracy as a whole.

I propose that every Zimbabwean citizen over the age of 18 years get an identity card, register and be allowed to freely vote from whichever part of the world they reside. In civilised countries like Botswana, they term this alien phenomenon "postal voting". Sir, in 2008, just be a competitor like everybody else, and let an independent referee, linesman and match commissioner run the game. Anybody who has an interest – local, regional and international press, local, regional and international NGOs – must be allowed to watch the electoral game and adjudicate its freeness and fairness.

As long as you and your party Zanu PF are defining the rules of this game, in April 2008, it is only your supporters and sympathisers who will acknowledge your victory. Your contribution to the history of political deliverance of this nation will be erased, thus leaving a bad legacy for your children.

South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Malawi, our very own neighbours, have institutions and regulations that define what free and fair elections should be like. These are your friends. Learn from them, sir, so that those you vanquish voluntarily accept your victory. Above all, I will personally encourage citizens to submit to your authority only if you have been universally certified to have won fairly.

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Zim Standard Letters

Mugabe, Cabinet must admit failure and quit immediately power will save Zimbabwe

YESTERDAY, Monday, 11 June, I bought fuel for Z$57 000 a litre; today (Tuesday 13 June 2007) the price is Z$85 000 to Z$90 000. I have just spoken to a taxi driver and he said that the standard fare from the high-density townships to the city centre was Z$15 000 today — going to Z$20 000 tomorrow and then Z$25 000.

The currency continues its collapse and is now trading at $10 000 to 1 against the Rand and anything from $75 000 to $100 000 against the US dollar. Maize-meal is again out of stock as is cooking oil and sugar. We bought a loaf of bread yesterday from Lobels for Z$30 000. Other bakeries are selling at Z$24 000.

The government stipulated wage for a domestic worker is less than Z$15 000 a month, the wage of a farm worker less than Z$40 000 a month and a worker in industry probably gets about Z$500 000, not enough for bus fare. We had tea with the widow of a Supreme Court Judge on Sunday — her pension is Z$90 000 a month — one US dollar!

We are now experiencing power cuts for up to 20 hours a day; Bulawayo has just announced that they are going to cut water supplies for eight to 10 hours a day. A meeting was held last week with local industrialists who were told that they were going be cut as well — both power and water and they said that this would have a catastrophic effect on their operations.

There is a limit to how much of this we can take. Even the most optimistic of characters is now uneasy about the situation and the government shows it has absolutely no ideas how to fix the problem.

We have now had a continuous economic decline since 1998, the reasons are entirely home-grown as we have had no sanctions imposed on us, our trade relations are normal and we even get about US$600 million a year in aid.

On Tuesday the headline in a local State-controlled paper was "Reserve Bank starts distribution of farm equipment". President Robert Mugabe was on radio and television making all sorts of  noises about this and claiming that this initiative would solve our food shortages.

Such statements just make us shudder; they demonstrate absolutely no understanding of what is causing this economic collapse and no concept at all as to what is required to start some sort of recovery. As for Gideon Gono distributing agricultural implements! That must make all our previous Reserve Bank Governors squirm with shame.

Really, enough is enough, it is time to go! Mugabe and his entire Cabinet should admit failure, resign and call fresh elections. Stop messing about with the electoral system and voting conditions; give the people back what they fought for during the liberation struggle — real democracy.

Allow others to stand up and offer themselves for leadership. Allow the people to ask them what their solutions would be and then trust the people to decide who is to take power and try to turn things around. Zanu PF has failed utterly and there can be no more prevarication on this issue.

Eddie Cross



 Govt must be held accountable for deteriorating roads

IT is now more than a quarter of a century’s independence. For many pre-independence citizens of this country, very little has been done to improve old roads. Most of the existing infrastructure is from the colonial era.

With aging roads the country seems to be drifting backwards. Having modern fast cars using these ageing roads is a recipe for disaster.

Let us hold our government accountable for this state of affairs. The government’s priority should be the urgent improvement of all our roads. Rarely does a day pass without an accident on our roads.

We, the people of Zimbabwe are to blame because we do not hold our government accountable for the mistakes it makes. We are not really concerned with what’s happening on our roads if we are not directly affected. Like the HIV/Aids scourge, people who have not yet lost a loved one to the disease show very little concern about the fight against HIV/Aids.

Zimbabwe has been given billions of dollars by developed countries for road infrastructure improvement. Thousands of heavy trucks and cars use our roads importing and exporting international trade.

Road levies in billions of dollars are collected daily and the government itself has set aside its own road construction fund. Where is all this money going to? Buying arms of war, presidential helicopters and posh cars for the fat cats?

One road in particular has gained notoriety and that is the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway. The road is old, patched and narrow. What is needed is a parallel road to the existing one in order to avoid the majority of the fatalities.

The Harare-Chitungwiza road used to be a death trap but since the construction of the dual carriageway, accidents have drastically gone down.Why is the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway taking forever to complete?

The Harare-Norton highway is another road in the same predicament. Whatever happened to the funds for the construction of the roads allocated by international organisations such as the World Bank?

Improve roads



 ZESA owes us explanation

YOUR lead story on Sunday 10 June made interesting reading, especially ZESA chairman, Professor Chetsanga, denying that ZESA had introduced load-shedding. I recall the original stories said "up to" 20 hours. For his information, our area has just been turned on after 14 hours of what the people at his fault answering service call load-shedding. Though it seems impossible to get confirmation that ZESA had issued the load-shedding schedule that circulated a couple of weeks ago, they seem to be sticking to it in a haphazard sort of way.

It is a sad day when the chairman of a parastatal as important as ZESA does not know what his subordinates are doing when it is in such a grand scale that it is not only affecting the viability of the company, but threatening the nation’s productivity.

I bet he draws a salary to make the rest of us drool with jealousy but he does not appear to know the most fundamental actions of his organisation.

Can I respectfully suggest to the good professor that, if there is a need to conserve power for the non-existent wheat crop, he should get his staff to work out a schedule of load-shedding, advertise it and then stick to it?

He owes this to his consumers who after all are footing the bill for his salary. There is nothing more frustrating and annoying than waiting for the power to come on as stated in the schedule, and it does not, because someone has either forgotten to switch it back on or has arbitrarily changed the schedule.

If ZESA does not know what it is going to do a day in advance, so as to let its consumers know, then we need to change the top echelon so we can have a more competent leadership at this most important of all parastatals.

Bear in mind too, that we live in an age of information technology and it should be possible to find ways to communicate rapidly with consumers, if there is half a will to do so.

I wonder if anyone at ZESA can remember in the early 90s how we were asked to conserve power by turning off lights, removing the second tube from light fittings, etc.

We all did and there was no need for blanket blackouts. If ZESA asked us again to do this, maybe there would be power for all with none of the public outrage reported in your paper.

I wonder too if switching large areas of the city on and off every couple of days, with the massive surges taken by fridges and geysers, is not damaging the switchgear at the sub-stations.

Is replacement of all the switchgear going to be the next hurdle for ZESA to find forex for, while we sit in darkness while they do it?

Let’s stop the lying, prevarication, blaming, denying, arrogance, etc., inform consumers of the true situation, ask for their assistance and advice and work with them to get us through the current crisis with as little pain as possible.

Isn’t this what the "Social Contract" is all about?

A McCormick

Highlands, Harare


 Power cuts selective

WITH reference to your headline in The Standard 10 June to 16 June "Public outrage at ZESA powercuts", I would like to bring to your attention —and maybe you will be able to throw some "light" on the fact — that certain areas NEVER have power cuts or load-shedding.

And yet others are without power for several hours every day. Is it because there are important "well-connected" people in these areas?

Let us all share the load of ZESA power cuts.

Always switched on in




 Condemned to death

COULD magistrate Omega Mugumbate be in line to face charges of gross human rights violations when sanity prevails after she sentenced Simon Mann to be extradited to Equatorial Guinea?

We wait to see what happens to him when he gets there. It will be very surprising if he is not tortured or gets a fair trial. And she won’t have the defence of "I did not know". The magistrate is treading on very dangerous ground, as are the prosecutors, prison officers, police and everyone else conspiring in what could very easily turn out to be a heinous crime.

Because of the international status of the parties, any criminal proceedings could end up on the international theatre denying Zimbabwe a chance to protect them.

A McCormick





How about Sadc anthem?

IF the Southern African Development Community hopes to create a free trade area by 2008, a Customs Union by 2010, a Common Market by 2015 and an economic and monetary union by 2018, will it have a common regional anthem? My vote would be for Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.

Dumisani Mpofu



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