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Tsvangirai may pull out of run-off vote


Fri 20 Jun 2008, 7:08 GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is
considering pulling out of the June 27 presidential run-off election, a
spokesman for his Movement for Democratic Change said on Friday.

"There is a huge avalanche of calls and pressure from (MDC) supporters
across the country, especially in the rural areas, not to accept to be
participants in this charade," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters.

(Reporting by Cris Chinaka; Editing by Paul Simao)

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EU to threaten more Zimbabwe sanctions over poll


Fri 20 Jun 2008, 6:20 GMT

BRUSSELS, June 20 (Reuters) - European Union leaders were set to issue a new
threat of further sanctions on Zimbabwe on Friday over violence that has
scarred a flawed presidential election, a draft summit statement showed.

"Violence so far, intimidation and action taken against non-governmental
organisations to suspend aid and international access to rural areas,
heighten further the fears of the Zimbabwean people and the international
community about the conditions under which this poll, crucial for the future
of Zimbabwe, will be held," it said.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat
veteran President Robert Mugabe in a first round ballot on March 29, but the
state electoral commission dragged out publication of the results for weeks
and called for a second round of voting on June 27.

The EU text, obtained by Reuters before the final working session of the
two-day summit, said a free and fair election was critical to the resolution
of a political and economic crisis in the former British colony.

But it stopped short of backing U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's
assertion on Thursday that actions by Mugabe's government meant next week's
run-off will not be free and fair.

EU leaders urged the Southern Africa Development Community and the African
Union to deploy a significant number of election monitors and called for a
swift and transparent vote count this time after lengthy delays in the first

"The European Council reiterates its readiness to take additional measures
against those responsible for violence," it said.

EU sanctions currently include an arms embargo, and visa bans and freezing
of assets on more than a hundred officials including Mugabe.

The sanctions were initially triggered by Zimbabwe's controversial land
redistribution plan, which confiscated white-owned commercial farms, and
Mugabe's disputed re-election in 2002.

Mugabe is now accused by opponents, Western countries and human rights
groups of orchestrating a campaign of killings and intimidation to keep his
hold on the once prosperous country, its economy now in ruins.

Tsvangirai's party says at least 70 of its supporters have been killed.

A group of southern African ministers said on Thursday the presidential
run-off was very unlikely to be free and fair in the strongest regional
condemnation yet of pre-poll violence.

"There is every sign that these elections will never be free nor fair,"
Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe told a news conference. He was
speaking in Tanzania on behalf of a peace and security troika of nations
from the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

SADC is sending 380 monitors to Zimbabwe for the vote. (For full Reuters
Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: ) (Reporting by Ingrid Melander; writing by Paul
Taylor; editing by Matthew Jones)

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Mugabe says he will not leave power until land returned


HARARE, June 20 (AFP)

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has warned a week ahead of a run-off
election that he will not leave power until land is returned to the majority
black population, state media reported Friday.

"Once I am sure this legacy (of returning land to the black population) is
truly in your hands, people are empowered ... then I can say: Aha, the work
is done," Mugabe said in the state-run Herald.

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Division in Mugabe's poll team on reaction to a defeat

Business Day

20 June 2008

Dumisani Muleya

Harare Correspondent

ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe's campaign team is deeply divided on what
to do if he loses next week's critical presidential election runoff.

A senior Zanu (PF) official said yesterday there was a fierce debate on what
to do if Mugabe lost. This had created a "dangerous Hobbesian situation", in
which any actor capable of imposing a new order, however authoritarian,
could take over.

"There are different views on what should be done if the president loses,"
the official said.

"Some want him to go peacefully, while others say he must fight back by
whatever means. This situation has created room for the army to get into
power, and create a regime geared to impose order by force."

Mugabe's chief spokesman, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, refused to
clarify what Zanu (PF) would do if Mugabe lost. Mugabe said a few days ago
he would "wage war" if he lost. He was not prepared to let rival Morgan
Tsvangirai take over the country because a "ballpoint cannot fight a gun".

Mugabe, who has claimed the elections are being held in "circumstances of an
all-out war", said: "We are prepared to fight for our country, and to go to
war (if we lose)."

Sources said Mugabe's chief election agent and former intelligence minister
Emmerson Mnangagwa told the campaign team this week that if Mugabe lost they
would accept the outcome as they had done when he lost to the MDC in
parliamentary elections in 2000 and 2005.

Meanwhile, the US yesterday ruled out President Thabo Mbeki's plan for a
negotiated settlement that could lead to a government of national unity.

US ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee said the differences between Mugabe
and Tsvangirai were too gtreat to offer a working solution.

Delivering a lecture at the University of Pretoria, McGee said both leaders
seemed determined to take control of political power, and were unlikely to
find common ground.

"I don't think the will of the people of Zimbabwe will be met through a
negotiated government. This election is absolutely necessary for the will of
the people to be heard," McGee said.

Even amid the state-sanctioned violence, the runoff was the only hope of
resolving the impasse. With Hopewell Radebe

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Staring a gift horse in the mouth

Grace Kwinjeh
June 18, 2008

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Would it not be easier In that case for the government To dissolve the people And elect another? [Bertolt Brecht.1953]

In March 2008 Zimbabweans voted in the most peaceful election since independence, resulting in an unambiguous victory for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai. Three months later, the country is haemorrhaging from a massive and rising tide of political violence not seen since the state sponsored terror of the early 1980s. The ruling party and its supporters are responsible for the vast majority of the current attacks. As if to underscore his party’s public embrace of violence, President Mugabe now openly threatens to “wage war” beyond the June 27 Presidential run-off election, if his candidacy should be rejected by the people for a second time. Meanwhile the MDC government-elect, MDC party structures and much of the party’s leadership have been forced into hiding as they seek to convince voters of their right to select – and see installed in place – a president of their choice.

For SADC, the Zimbabwe conflagration has become the most comprehensive diplomatic failure in the region since the resumption of the Angolan war in the 1990s. But unlike Angola, the Zimbabwe crisis is one for which SADC, President Mbeki and the international community bear a central contributing responsibility. By pushing for secretly brokered power-sharing arrangements leading to a “government of national unity” (GNU), the international intervention in Zimbabwe has relegated hopes for a new democratic dispensation built on the foundations of the expressed popular will of Zimbabweans. By refusing to actively acknowledge the MDC’s electoral victory and insist on its recognition and acceptance by ZANU PF, regional leaders and the international community effectively ignored and silenced the democratic voice of the people. As a consequence, the MDC’s hard-won legitimate authority has been erased, and the way has been opened for ZANU PF to recover by the bullet the authority it had lost at the ballot box.

It is increasingly apparent that talk of a GNU has helped to accelerate the level of violence, not calm it; and has fostered political instability, rather than the smooth transition to a new governing order that Zimbabweans voted for in March.

This violent outcome of a proposed GNU strategy should not have been unexpected. ZANU PF’s violent riposte is reminiscent of the period immediately prior to Independence around the Lancaster House Conference, and even more so of the party’s violent campaign before the 1987 “Unity Accord” with the ZAPU opposition: indeed, it is a tried and tested tactic of ZANU PF to threaten and deploy intense violence as a strategic bargaining tool. Since independence the party has singularly distinguished itself among Zimbabwean political parties by demonstrating a capacity for – and indeed claiming the right to wage – mass violence in defense of its “national” interests. No longer heading the majority party, Robert Mugabe now cynically portrays violence as a means for defending the people from their mistaken choice.

This deeply cynical pathology is echoed more subtly in the GNU concept. Despite a clear rejection of ZANU PF under electoral conditions heavily tilted in that party’s favour, unity talks have been promoted as a means of bringing the former ruling party back into the centre of decision-making. Even though neither voters nor the MDC demanded this arrangement in March, the new government in waiting has come under enormous pressure to fall in line accordingly. Its leaders have repeatedly said that such an arrangement would deny the popular voice and reward anti-democratic, flagrantly illegal and often murderous behaviour – while only deferring, and certainly not solving, the problem of organising the transition to a new political order. It is indeed difficult to understand why those who previously promoted engagement with ZANU PF as a means of strengthening a deeply flawed electoral process, should now effectively reject that improved process and insist on power sharing terms with the author of electoral fraud and intimidation.

In contrast, it is clear that the promotion of a GNU is integral to the facilitation of an elite transfer of power which would vitiate the popular will of the electorate. This is why the idea of a GNU has been explicitly rejected by the leading membership-based civil society organisations in Zimbabwe, from the trade unions to human rights networks. These groups challenge the credibility and viability of a compromise that according to its proponents, would bring about some sort of “normalisation” of the political space without addressing the growing democratic deficit in Zimbabwe. For the Zimbabwean democratic movement, political normalisation requires before all else, recognition and acceptance of the expressed will of dominant social interests – not its circumvention through brokered elite pacting carried out under the threat of violence.

In Zimbabwe, there is abiding consternation over why ZANU PF and its militia were given the opportunity by SADC and the international community to ignore the electoral results in the first place. What would have happened if the election results – deemed legitimate by observers – had been recognised and enforced? And what would happen if a similarly free and fair process were enforced in the current second round, by insisting on the disarming of ZANU PF and its militia, and the confinement of the security forces to base? Have those mediating and promoting mediation raised these issues – the clearest and most profound obstacles to democratic practice in Zimbabwe in the current moment?

It is widely acknowledged that demilitarisation is a central precondition needed to advance a democratic outcome and ensure its consolidation in the medium term. Yet, the perpetration of violence has been treated as a negotiable right – not as an act which invalidates claims to the process of a democratic transition. Remarkably, it took 10 weeks of deteriorating conditions for SADC’s official mediator Thabo Mbeki to publicly raise his concerns about the spiralling violence. But even then he avoided commentary on responsibility, despite ample documented evidence heavily implicating ZANU PF and state security forces in commanding the terror. His spokesperson claims he is precluded from doing so by virtue of his position as mediator. However this is a hollow rationale in the face of open and mounting ZANU PF belligerence.

The absence of collective censure of violence and any pointed criticism by Mbeki has been seen by perpetrators of the violence as giving them a green light to continue employing these tactics to further their political ends. And for ZANU PF, with few political repercussions arising from the deployment of its violent supporters, there seems little incentive for abandoning this approach– and perhaps much to be gained from pursuing it. Robert Mugabe’s public declaration earlier this week that his party would go to war in the event of his defeat in the second round of voting was met with paralysing silence by Thabo Mbeki. The deployment of weapons and violence may be logistically difficult to confront: the deployment of words and threats is not.

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Zimbabwe refusing to issue Tsvangirai passport - MDC


Fri 20 Jun 2008, 5:46 GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government is refusing to issue a new passport
to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, citing security reasons, his
spokesman said on Thursday.

Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change, left Zimbabwe
after elections in March to galvanise support for his bid to unseat
President Robert Mugabe's government. He went back last month to campaign
for the June 27 run-off poll.

"He is having problems renewing his passport after he exhausted all the
pages," Tsvangirai spokesman George Sibotshiwe told Reuters. "The
application process went well for two days until everything just fell apart,
with the officials saying the police had stopped them processing it for
security reasons."

He will take legal action to force authorities to issue him a new passport,
Sibotshiwe said.

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the March 29 presidential election but failed
to win an absolute majority.

The MDC leader has been arrested five times in the past month. He and his
MDC say the detentions are part of a campaign by government to intimidate
the opposition ahead of the poll.

The MCD says 70 of its supporters have been killed by militia and supporters
of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF. The government blames the bloodshed on the

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Zanu-PF thugs hit union offices

The Times, SA

I-Net Bridge Published:Jun 20, 2008
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)'s Masvingo office was invaded
by twelve people who forcibly removed ZCTU posters and pasted in their stead
a campaign poster of President Robert Mugabe, Cosatu reported.

a.. Two of the twelve people allegedly claimed to be war veterans and the
other ten said they were Zanu PF youths.

When they arrived they asked the ZCTU officers why they did not have
President Robert Mugabe's portrait.

"They went on to remove ZCTU posters on police brutality and replace them
with that of President Robert Mugabe," says Cosatu.

The ZCTU roundly condemns the acts of the Zanu PF militia for interfering
with its duties and will approach the police to seek redress.

The act of the militia allegedly comes after ZCTU got information that its
offices have been targeted for closure by war veterans and Zanu PF thugs.

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Misa Concerned About Media Coverage of Presidential Elections

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

19 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008

MISA-Zimbabwe notes with great concern the skewed coverage of the campaign
period preceding the high stakes presidential election run-off slated for 27
June 2008 more so by the state media and in particular the national
broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

The Electoral Act emphasises the need for ZBC, as the state broadcaster in
the country, to ensure that political parties or candidates are invited to
present their election manifestoes and policies without being interviewed.
In terms of advertising, the Act states that advertising time between
political parties and candidates should be distributed equally.

It is sad to note that these electoral benchmarks have been eschewed by the
state media with ZBC's election coverage openly skewed in favour of ZANU PF
to the exclusion of the MDC-T in the presidential contest which will be
contested by President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai representing the
two respective parties. This therefore throws into serious doubt the
freeness, fairness and evenness of the political playing field.

The state broadcaster has without any doubt blatantly and dismally failed to
fulfil its obligations of granting equal and equitable access to radio and
television to all the contesting parties in the crucial period preceding the
runoff and as obliged under the SADC Principles and Guidelines on the
Conduct of Democratic elections and the Zimbabwe Electoral Act.

MISA-Zimbabwe, however notes the commendable efforts by the independent
newspapers to get both sides of the story as well as projecting the messages
and positions of the contesting parties as contained in their campaign
advertisements unlike is the case with the total blackout of the MDC-T's
advertisements in the state media. The only semblance of coverage accorded
the MDC-T by the state media has been in the form of vilification through
news reports, documentaries and opinion pieces by columnists.

MISA-Zimbabwe therefore reiterates that the transformation of the ZBC into a
truly independent public broadcaster as envisioned under the African Charter
on Broadcasting will go a long way in entrenching its editorial independence
and alignment to adhere to the SADC Principles and Guidelines on the Conduct
of Democratic Elections.

The media should at all times uphold its professional obligations to foster
greater credibility, accountability and responsibility to the citizenry who
depend on it for partial, fair, truthful and objective information that
assists them to make informed decisions and choices. This is of paramount
importance particularly during election time when the media, as expected at
all times, should excel in its adherence to the binding ethics and
principles governing the exercise of free and fair elections.

This responsibility is overemphasised and stressed through the SADC
Guidelines and Principles on the Conduct of Democratic Elections in the
Southern African region. In addition, Zimbabwe's Electoral Act takes
cognisance of the democratic obligations of both the print and broadcast
media in the coverage of elections. These obligations which dovetail with
the SADC Guidelines stress the need for:

a. Equitable treatment of all political parties and candidates in the
extent, timing and prominence of the coverage accorded to them.

b. A clear distinction between factual reporting and editorial commenting on
the election.

c. The affording of a right to reply to any claims by the political parties
or candidates concerned to be false and that the media does not promote
political parties or candidates that encourage violence or hatred against
any class of persons in Zimbabwe.

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Mugabe Rejects Mbeki Plan

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 22:14

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has rejected a last-minute bid by South
African President Thabo Mbeki to cancel next week's presidential election

Mbeki met Mugabe in Bulawayo on Wednesday in an eleventh-hour bid to
stop the country's volatile run-off whose campaign the opposition MDC claims
has left dozens of its supporters dead or injured.

Mbeki also met Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai for talks in Harare to secure support for his plan supported by
Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders.

Sources said Mbeki tried to secure a meeting between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai to resolve the Zimbabwe deadlock through talks and not the
run-off but did not get a commitment from Mugabe. Tsvangirai agreed to meet
Mugabe to discuss Zimbabwe's crisis.

It is said Sadc is pushing Mugabe and Tsvangirai to form a government
of national unity.

Wednesday's meetings marked an escalation in Mbeki's mediation effort
in Zimbabwe. Negotiations have been gathering momentum over the past couple
of weeks. Negotiators for Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF and the MDC recently held
meetings in Pretoria to find a negotiated settlement to the stalemate
worsened by the controversial March 29 elections.

Mugabe and his party lost that poll although Tsvangirai did not get
the required majority to form a government.

Sources close to Mbeki's meetings said he told Mugabe it would be
better for Zimbabwe to abandon the run-off because it would not resolve the
country's political and economic crisis.

Tsvangirai's spokesman George Sibotshiwe confirmed Mbeki met his boss
but could not give details. "I can confirm the meeting, I can't give
details," he said.

However, sources said that Tsvangirai complained to Mbeki that the
run-off would be a monumental farce because he was being blocked at every
turn from campaigning via rallies, public media addresses and on other

He also raised serious concerns about political violence. So far at
least 70 people, most reportedly MDC supporters, have been killed since the
March polls. It is said Tsvagirai blamed the state security forces for the
political murders.

"Tsvangirai said the run-off would be a sham because he has not been
allowed to campaign, and his party officials and supporters are being
arrested, harassed and killed," a source said. "He also said his party was
being treated like a banned organisation, while he himself was treated like
a criminal."

Tsvangirai also raised the issue of the treason charge against the MDC's
secretary-general Tendai Biti, the party's chief negotiator at the talks
with Zanu PF.

It is said Mbeki indicated to Mugabe that even if he wins the run-off
his victory would be disputed by Tsvangirai and most of the world leaders,
including African presidents due to the current wave of political violence,
abductions, torture and killings.

A group of former African presidents and other prominent figures have
signed a petition calling for an end to the reign of terror in Zimbabwe.
Several sitting African presidents have also made similar calls this week.

The sources said Mbeki indicated to Mugabe it would be better to
pursue a negotiated settlement than persist with the run-off which even if
he wins would be viewed as illegitimate or rejected outright by voters.

Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, Britain's Minister
in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mark Malloch-Brown, and civil
society organisations in Zimbabwe yesterday said Mugabe's victory would be

"The victor of an unfair vote must be under no illusions: he will
neither have the legitimacy to govern, nor receive the support of the
international community," Annan said.

Malloch-Brown said: "President Mugabe needs to understand that
elections held on those terms will not be recognised anywhere around the
world, least of all in Zimbabwe, as free, fair and legitimate."

ANC president Jacob Zuma on Wednesday said he did not think the
run-off would be fair. "I think we'll be lucky if we have a free election,"
Zuma told Reuters. When asked if he thought the vote would be fair, Zuma
replied: "I don't think so."

Mugabe is said to have acknowledged this, but insisted that elections
would go ahead next Friday. His chief election agent and key strategist
Emmerson Mnangagwa said before Mbeki's meetings the run-off was going ahead.

Mnangagwa has said working together with the MDC after the run-off is
"unavoidable". He said Zanu PF was planning to create a new position of
prime minister presumably to accommodate Tsvangirai.

Mbeki arrived in Harare and was met at the airport by Mugabe's deputy
Joseph Msika and Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Africa Simon Khaya Moyo. He
held meetings with South African ambassador to Harare Mlungisi Makhalima
before meeting Tsvangirai. After that he flew to Bulawayo to meet Mugabe.

By Dumisani Muleya

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Police Forced To Vote For Mugabe

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 22:08

POLICE officers were this week reportedly forced to cast their postal
ballots in favour of President Robert Mugabe in a bid to secure a head start
for the veteran leader ahead of Friday's presidential run-off against the
MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai won the first round of voting on March 29 with 48% of the
votes, against Mugabe's 43%.

Impeccable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that apart from
police officers, members of the army and the prison service were expected to
vote for Mugabe through the same system before the postal ballot boxes are
sealed today.

Zimbabwe is estimated to have a combined 100 000 members of the
police, army and prison service.

The sources said the police officers voted at various stations
throughout the country, among them Ross Camp in Bulawayo, Harare Central's
Provincial Conference centre and at all stations in Kwekwe.

The officers, the sources said, voted in front of their superiors and
the voting process was done in the absence of Mugabe and Tsvangirai's
election agents or observers.

In Harare on Wednesday, the sources said, Senior Assistant
Commissioner Fortune Zengeni and Assistant Commissioner Thomsen Jangara
supervised the voting.

"The officers were provided with the presidential ballot papers," a
senior police officer said. "They voted in front of Zengeni and Jangara
before they placed the ballots into envelopes and into the ballot boxes."

The officer said Sadc observers who visited Harare Central on
Wednesday to witness the voting process were turned away.

"The observers were told that no election was taking place," another
source said. "The voting took place in an intimidatory environment. It was
not free and fair."

Postal voting in Bulawayo and other areas throughout the country took
place last week.

Teams of senior police officers were reportedly dispatched to
provinces at the beginning of this month where they told members of the
uniformed forces, their spouses and adult children that they should vote for
Mugabe to avoid war.

In an internal memorandum dated June 3 in the possession of the
Zimbabwe Independent, Kwekwe police command instructed all officers in
charge in the district to ensure that their juniors participated in postal

"Details who applied for postal ballots must be on standby as the
ballot papers may arrive any time and voting may be at short notice," read
the memorandum. "OICs (officers in charge) are advised to inform
their .members to make themselves available when required to. All details
leaving the station must book in the charge office diary and make their
whereabouts known."

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission deputy chief elections officer
(operations) Utoile Silaigwana did not respond to written questions he asked
for from the Independent.

Wayne Bvudzijena, the national police spokesperson, last night could
not take questions saying he was in a meeting.

The MDC this week filed an application with the High Court challenging
the postal voting process, which it claimed Mugabe wanted to use to rig the
presidential election run-off.

Meanwhile, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on
Wednesday said her government remained very concerned about the crisis in

"We're concerned for the people of Zimbabwe. We're concerned for the
people of the region, because (of), obviously, the refugee flow, the
violence that has been a part of this crisis," Rice said. "We're very
concerned about the elections and we're trying to support the efforts of
regional organisations to ensure free and fair elections, but it's very
difficult when you have the kind of intimidation that is going on now in

She said it was time for leaders of Africa to tell Mugabe that
Zimbabwe deserves a free and fair election.
"(In a free and fair election) you cannot intimidate opponents, you
cannot put opponents in jail, you cannot threaten them with charges of
treason and be respected in the international community. And I think that's
a strong message, and I hope it'll be delivered," she added.

Rice was speaking after meeting Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga who
had visited the US.

Odinga said Zimbabwe "remains an eyesore on the African continent".

"It is a big embarrassment that a leader can say on the eve of an
election that he's not willing to hand over power to an opponent, and he can
only hand over power to a member of his own political party," Odinga said.
"I think this is an embarrassment to Africa because it makes a sham of the
presidential elections."

He said it was time the international community acted on Zimbabwe.

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MDC Asks UN Envoy To Intervene

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 22:01
THE MDC this week asked the United Nations (UN) envoy Haile Menkerios
to intervene and urge President Robert Mugabe to stop the violence by Zanu
PF youths and war veterans against its members ahead of next Friday's
presidential run-off.

Menkerios, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for political affairs,
who is in the country to assess the political situation ahead of the
run-off, met MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai at his Strathaven home on

He also met Mugabe at State House before meeting officials from the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), civic society organisations, the
police, and others.

Menkerios was expected to wind up his tour of Zimbabwe today but
officials at the United Nations headquarters in New York suggested he could
extend his stay in the country by up to three days.

The spokesperson for UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, Michelle
Montas, told journalists that Menkerios' agenda would probably exceed its
plan by "two or three days".

Sources that attended the meeting between Tsvangirai and Menkerios
told the Zimbabwe Independent that the MDC leader expressed concern at the
continued violent behaviour of Zanu PF supporters against the MDC.

"In the meeting, the president (Tsvangirai) appraised the UN envoy
about the situation obtaining in the country where there has been a
calculated violent approach by Zanu PF youths and war veterans against MDC
supporters," one of the sources said. "He was also told that it was
impossible for our president to campaign for the run-off given that MDC
rallies had been banned by the police at the behest of Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Basically, it (the discussion) was about the electoral environment in

The lack of access to the state media, and the arrests and harassment
of MDC officials were some of the issues that came under discussion.

The MDC, the sources said, also provided Menkerios with a dossier on
the violence that had been unleashed against its supporters. The dossier,
they added, contained case outlines of the more than 66 activists who had
been allegedly killed by Zanu PF supporters, the 200 unaccounted for, as
well as all those that had been displaced by the violence.

"He was also appraised on the security situation of MDC polling agents
in light of the fact that the regime has warned activists that if they agree
to be polling agents they will be killed. The MDC also expressed grave
concern about Mugabe's threats to go to war, his hate speech along tribal
and racial lines and his overt attempt to polarise Zimbabwean society," the
sources added.

The MDC leader is said to have told Menkerios that he was intent on
forming a government of national healing should he win the presidential

Speaking at the UN headquarters, Montas said that Ban had been briefed
on the need for the UN to provide assistance to Sadc for the smooth
monitoring of the presidential run-off.

"Following his meeting with President Mugabe yesterday (Wednesday),
Menkerios said he is in Zimbabwe to learn what the conditions on the ground
are like ahead of the forthcoming elections and to see what the UN can do to
support Zimbabwe," Montas said.

"He said the UN will be supporting the Southern African Development
Community to boost its capacity to observe the election," said Montas.

By Nkululeko Sibanda

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MDC Challenges Rally, Media Ban

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 21:52
THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC this week filed an urgent High Court
application challenging the ban by police on its rallies and the refusal by
the public media to accept its campaign material ahead of Friday's
presidential election run-off.

Tsvangirai squares up with President Robert Mugabe in the run-off,
amid allegations by the opposition that Zanu PF was continuing to close the
democratic space in the country ahead of the poll.

The latest application came in a week in which the MDC also approached
the same court challenging postal voting by members of the uniformed forces
in the presence of their superiors.

The public media, the Herald, Sunday Mail, Chronicle and the Sunday
News, together with ZBC-TV and the four radio stations, have rejected MDC
campaign material for publication or broadcast.

This, the MDC argued in its application, was a violation of the Sadc
guidelines on democratic elections that entails that public media should
cover all contesting parties equally.

MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, confirmed yesterday that the party
had filed an application and described the campaign for the run-off as a

"We have been denied access to the media and all the state media
houses are refusing to accept our campaign material and we are saying that
is unfair," Chamisa told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday. "The campaign
period has been terrible and it has been a nightmare. We have had our people
killed and abducted and we have not been allowed to campaign freely, so we
have applied to the courts so that our campaign adverts can be accepted."

Chamisa spoke as African National Congress (ANC) president, Jacob
Zuma, said in London on Wednesday that he did not believe that the run-off
would be free and fair.

Zuma said the level of violence against the opposition was "too much"
and would affect the outcome of the election.

Chamisa said the party was having problems coming up with election
agents for the election as Zanu PF had embarked on a coordinated and
systematic terror campaign against the agents the MDC used on March 29.

"Zanu PF supporters and the terror militias have been approaching our
supporters and threatening them saying they will be inviting death if they
stand as MDC polling agents and that is unethical," Chamisa said.

He said Sadc observers deployed last week have since visited some of
the victims of political violence.

Chamisa doubted that the presence of the observers would result in
cases of violence going down, arguing that their role was just to observe
and write reports. "Their presence will not stop the killings that are going
on," he added.

Chamisa said the forthcoming election was turning into a farce.

He said the MDC raised a number of concerns when its leadership met
with United Nations assistant secretary-general for political affairs, Haile
Menkerios, in Harare on Wednesday.

"The issues that the party raised included the ongoing violence being
perpetrated by Zanu PF," Chamisa said. "We discussed Mugabe's threatening
statements that he would go to war, issues of the military bases that these
people have set up all over the country and problems of accessing the media
were also discussed, among other issues.

By Loughty Dube

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Mutambara Takes State To Supreme Court

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 21:50
LAWYERS representing opposition leader Arthur Mutambara this week told
a Harare magistrate that they will approach the Supreme Court to challenge
the state for selectively applying the law and breaching Sadc guidelines on
freedom of expression and the media.

Mutambara's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, gave the notice on Tuesday when
her client appeared in court facing charges of publishing falsehoods and
contempt of court arising from an opinion piece he wrote for the Standard
newspaper in April.

The robotics professor is being jointly charged with the Standard
editor Davison Maruziva and Iden Wetherell, a director of Zimbabwe
Independent Publishers - the owners of the weekly.

Mutambara in the article accused President Robert Mugabe of running
down Zimbabwe's economy and charged that state security forces had committed
human rights abuses.

Mtetwa said the prosecution of Mutambara and his co-accused was a
clear violation of the Sadc guidelines on freedom of expression and the

She said: "We will be challenging the basis of remand in line with the
Sadc guidelines. We want the matter referred to the Sadc Tribunal to see if
Zimbabwe is not breaching Sadc guidelines on freedom of expression and
freedom of the media."

Mtetwa accused the state of selectively applying the law by arresting
Mutambara, Maruziva and Wetherell while the state-owned media was being
given the leeway to publish hate speech and inciteful language.

Mtetwa argued that no-one from the public media had been charged to

She added that the state's actions were a violation of Section 23 of
the Zimbabwe Constitution.

Section 23 of the Constitution provides for protection from

It reads: "A law shall be regarded as making a provision that is
discriminatory and a person shall be regarded as having been treated in a
discriminatory manner if, as a result of that law or treatment, persons of a
particular description by race, tribe, place of origin, political opinions,
colour or creed are prejudiced."

The trial of Mutambara, Maruziva and Wetherell failed to commence on
Tuesday because Tawanda Zvekare, the prosecutor handling the case, was out
of town. Regional magistrate Morgen Nemadire had to postpone the matter to
July 10.

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders wrote to the UN Assistant
Secretary General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios, currently in
Zimbabwe, furnishing him with information on the state of the media in the

The letter reads: "In view of your intention to visit Harare from 16
to 20 June, ahead of the June 27 presidential election run off, Reporters
Without Borders would like to brief you about the government's serious press
freedom violations and the climate of fear reigning among journalists and
human rights activists."

By Lucia Makamure

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Biti's Arrest Reflects Pattern

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 21:41
THE arrest of MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti last week has a
striking resemblance to what has befallen many of President Robert Mugabe's
political rivals since Independence.

Biti was picked up at Harare International Airport last Thursday soon
after returning home from two months' self-imposed exile in South Africa.
His colleagues say the move was part of Mugabe's crackdown on his opponents
ahead of the June 27 presidential run-off.

Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC face-off in the second round
after failing to win an outright victory on March 29.

Biti was initially charged with treason arising from a document titled
"The Transition Strategy" he allegedly authored, and for communicating
information prejudicial to the state after he told the media soon after the
March 29 elections that Tsvangirai had won an outright victory against

This week police pressed more charges against Biti, one for allegedly
causing disaffection in the police and the other for insulting Mugabe. All
four charges fall under the draconian Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)

Biti in the document allegedly called on the US and Britain to
intervene militarily in Zimbabwe. He also allegedly wrote that Tsvangirai
had sent retired Colonel Tichaona Mudzingwa to meet Army Commander Philip
Sibanda over "his ejection from office and the opposition's takeover of the

Mudzingwa allegedly went to the army headquarters where he threatened
to disband the army, police and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

Political analysts this week argued that Mugabe's regime has since
Independence used treason charges as a tool against his opponents.

The charges, the analysts said, were meant to strike fear in the
hearts of opposition members and their supporters, thereby causing confusion
in their camp in the hope of derailing their campaign on the eve of a
crucial poll.

John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer,
said Mugabe had repeatedly used treason charges to "harass and harangue" the
opposition, but without success.

"The use of treason charges against the opposition is now a pattern,"
Makumbe said. "Mugabe does not tolerate any challenge to his rule and has
been using treason charges to harass the opposition."

The fierce critic of the octogenarian leader said the use of treason
charges was unfortunate.

"It's unfortunate because he seems to use the same tactic, even though
it has failed to have his opponents locked up or hanged," Makumbe added.

He said the use of treason allegations against the opposition was a
political weakness of Mugabe, the CIO and Zanu PF because over the years it
had failed to achieve the
intended goals and was bound to fail in the future.

National Constitutional Assembly chairperson Lovemore Madhuku said
treason charges were used against opposition party members to cow them.

"It is an intimidatory tactic by the Mugabe regime," Madhuku said. "It
is done to wear down political opponents. Treason charges are easy to frame,
but difficult to prove."

Madhuku added that by arresting Biti, Zanu PF's intention was to throw
into disarray the MDC presidential run-off campaign as the party spent most
of its time trying to secure his release.

The MDC has since said Biti was arrested on trumped up charges and
that state security agents had fabricated the document in question. In a
letter dated April 18 to the Herald, which first published the document,
Biti's lawyers said the document was a forgery and demanded to know its

The newspaper said it had downloaded it from the Internet.

"Mugabe's level of desperation to remain in power has been high since
Independence," political scientist Michael Mhike observed. "He has used
treason charges against his opponents even when it was clear that he had the
backing of the electorate, especially in the 1980s."

Former Zipra commanders Dumiso Dabengwa, Lookout Masuku and four
others were arrested on charges of high treason and illegal possession of
arms of war in the early 1980s following the "discovery" of arms caches on
Zapu properties.

Dabengwa in particular was accused of writing to Russia's spy agency,
the KGB, appealing for assistance on behalf of Zapu to topple the then Prime
Minister Mugabe's government.

The six were acquitted by the High Court in 1983, but were further
detained under Emergency Powers Regulations.

The founder of Zanu, the late Ndabaningi Sithole, was arrested in
October 1995 for allegedly conspiring to assassinate Mugabe and engaging in
unlawful underground military operations.

Sithole was convicted and sentenced to an effective two years in jail.
However, he was granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against both
conviction and sentence. At the time of Sithole's death in December 2000,
his appeal was yet to be heard.

In a case almost similar to that of Biti, the government claimed just
before the June 2000 general election that it had intercepted an MDC
document titled Movement for Democratic Change - USA/UK Sponsorship
Platform, that detailed a plot by the opposition to "sabotage the economy
and engage in a military and shortages option".

The government claimed that the MDC get sponsorship from local white
farmers, industrialists, the pro-Rhodesian lobby and Western forces.

According to the government, the document explained how the MDC would
enroll commercial farmers as a reserve police or paramilitary force and
guarantee genuine black/white equilibrium in numbers and ranks within the
defence forces in the event it was voted into office.

The document, government alleged, proposed an undertaking for a
"military option" by the US and the UK.

The government said it had initiated investigations into the case, but
the matter was never pursued. It suffered a natural death.

But the biggest treason trial was against Mugabe's current bitter
rival - Tsvangirai.

The opposition leader was charged in February 2002 with plotting to
assassinate Mugabe and stage a military coup with the assistance of a former
Israeli spy, Ari Ben-Menashe's Dickens & Madson consultancy company based in

Tsvangirai denied the charges saying the "whole thing was contrived"
to damage him politically ahead of the March 2002 presidential election
against Mugabe.

"It's intended to distract people and confuse people, but the people
will see through this whole ploy," Tsvangirai said.

The opposition leader alleged that Ben Menashe was paid by the
government to entrap him and obtain testimony against him via a video.

Tsvangirai had the previous year held meetings with the consultancy
based in Montreal that had, unbeknown to him, been hired by Mugabe.

A video from several meetings was shown in an Australian documentary
in January 2002, during which Tsvangirai used the word "elimination" in
reference to the president.

But Tsvangirai said the interpretation placed on the tape was a "total

High Court judge, Justice Paddington Garwe, acquitted Tsvangirai of
the treason charge in October 2004.

Tsvangirai, however, faced three more treason charges that were later
withdrawn by the state before plea.

Several opposition party members have also faced similar charges.

It remains to be seen if this time around, the state has enough
evidence against Biti that would see him jailed.

By Constantine Chimakure

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RBZ Investigates Interbank Market

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 20:49
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has launched an investigation into
financial institutions that have been allegedly abusing the interbank
foreign exchange market with a view to cancelling their operating licences.

The investigation launched two weeks ago is targeting banks and
dealers that the central bank suspects of abusing the interbank market
through improper
allocation of foreign currency and tinkering with the exchange rate.

The investigation came as it emerged that the central bank already has
a list of banks that are involved in the scandal.

There was speculation in the market on Wednesday that the central bank
had cancelled the interbank rate.

Senior bank officials who spoke to businessdigest said they received
"informal" correspondence indicating that there were plans to suspend the
interbank system.

"We received information (Wednesday) to the effect that authorities
were not pleased with the exchange control system," said an edgy bank

"The correspondence encouraged banks to be ethical."

It was not clear whether this was an official document from the
central bank but RBZ governor, Gideon Gono, last night denied having ordered
banks to stop trading foreign currency on the interbank market.

The central bank's surveillance teams could start calling some bank
managers to answer questions next week, said a source close to the

The RBZ is understood to be concerned with the rate movement over the
past three weeks. The bank believes that some banks and foreign currency
dealers are fiddling with the exchange rate.

The central bank is investigating allegations in the market that some
managers within the banking community are buying foreign currency in their
individual capacities but using their bank's structures.

"There are reports that some managers are actually competing with
their banks to buy foreign currency from their banking halls," said an
official from the surveillance department of the central bank.

The RBZ is also investigating allegations that some bank officials are
still using conduit savings accounts to buy foreign currency from
individuals who come to the banking halls.

"We still have officials in banks that are beating the official cash
limit to fund their purchase of foreign currency on the parallel market,"
said the source.

The investigation will include an audit of the all the accounts in
banks and the list of companies that have benefited from foreign currency on
the interbank market.

The investigators believe that some banks have not been allocating
foreign currency to the priority list set by the central bank when the
interbank market was introduced two months ago.

In a statement released last night Gono said: "As monetary
authorities, we wish to set the record straight and underscore that the
Reserve Bank has not reversed the willing-buyer, willing-seller arrangement
nor is it contemplating to do so."

Gono indicated that the central bank was likely to crack the whip on
banks suspected of breaching exchange control statutes.

"Authorised dealers are, however, forewarned that dealing outside the
laid out Exchange Control Regulations will result in severe corrective
measures being instituted, including the cancellation of the concerned
institution's trading licence," Gono said.

"Noted cases of abuse of the system by some authorised dealers are
being addressed on individual institution basis, informed by the on-going
surveillance audits the central bank is carrying out."

Wednesday's speculation that the interbank market had been stopped saw
the Zimbabwean dollar momentarily stabilise yesterday due to the uncertainty
that prevailed in the market.

On Wednesday the dollar closed at about $6,9 billion. The Zimbabwean
dollar has been losing value at a rate of about 25% every week.

The idea to revert to a fixed local currency is reportedly being
pushed by Zanu PF officials who are blaming the sharp increase in food
prices on the movement of the exchange rate on the interbank rate.

President Robert Mugabe has accused businesses of profiteering. Last
month some cabinet ministers met to discuss the impact of the interbank rate
on the prices of basic commodities.

That meeting concluded that the interbank market was the main reason
why prices were galloping. There is also frustration in government circles
that the interbank market has failed to achieve the currency stabilisation
that was anticipated.

University of Zimbabwe business professor Tony Hawkins said ballooning
money supply growth was weakening the local currency.

"You can't have an effective foreign exchange system or stabilise the
currency when you are printing local currency at breakneck speed," Hawkins

"The inter-bank rates are becoming more of a reflection of the
parallel market rates and this could force the central bank to revert to
fixing the dollar or introduce a managed auction system. It's a case of more
Zimbabwe dollars chasing little foreign currency," he said.

By Bernard Mpofu

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Workers Grapple With Inflation

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 20:44
TEMBA Mano has been a chairman of the worker's committee at a local
gold mining company for the past three years.

For a mere clerk this has been huge a responsibility but he has
managed well thus far.

Using a combination of threats and persuasion Mano has managed to get
some significant concessions from the management.

"Things were fine. We were getting something from the company," Mano

However his fortunes took a nasty turn three months ago.

"No matter what figure we proposed it was immediately wiped out by
inflation. The workers started blaming me for being a weakling. They were
never satisfied with any amount that we got from the company."

The final straw came three weeks ago.

On June 3 Mano had a meeting with management to negotiate salaries for
the month. The workers were pushing for a minimum wage of $80 billion.

Managers winged for a while but the demands of the workers prevailed
because they were threatening to strike.

"It was a done deal and the workers seemed happy because at that time
it looked like a decent figure. Then prices started flying," recalls Mano.

Under pressure from workers Mano went back to the management on Monday
this week to tell them that the salaries they approved at the June 3 meeting
were no longer enough.

"The management said the salary schedules had been sent to the head
office for processing. They said I was negotiating in bad faith. They
refused to hear our demands," Mano said.

Because of his little training in salary negotiations he understood
that the workers were not going to succeed in their demands. He went back to
the workers with the sad news. The workers were hostile.

"They told me that I had been bribed by the management. I quit

There is also Chido Munyati (30), a senior teacher at a Harare school.
She got paid on Wednesday this week.

Government increased her salary from $6 billion to $73 billion last
month. Before the review her salary could only buy four litres of cooking

The review looked huge at that time but the problem was that before
she could receive the salary inflation had started gnarling at it.

By the time she received her salary it was enough to buy only two
litres of cooking oil.

"It is no longer making sense at all. I am back to square one," said
Munyati who has been a teacher for the past 11 years.

This dire situation is what workers face in Zimbabwe today. No salary
increment is enough in a country where inflation is 1 700 000%.

Munyati will receive her next salary on July 17 and by that time she
will not be able to buy 500 ml of cooking oil.

The Zimbabwean dollar has been losing value at a rate of 25% per week,
according to bank economists. This makes it difficult to negotiate salaries.
Relations between workers and employers have been strained.

The problem is affecting both the workers and employers. Companies are
battling to retain workers. Workers are struggling to wring decent salaries
from companies that are already on the verge of collapse.

The bigger problem is how to balance between retention of workers with
better salaries and still keep the companies running.

Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) said the situation has
become unbearable as the economic environment is no longer conducive

"The situation is truly difficult and both employers and employees don't
know what to do anymore," said John Mufukari, director of Emcoz.

"The transport issue is the most difficult for most employees as
transport costs are going up on a weekly if not on a daily basis, even for
those who have their own transport, fuel companies are now demanding payment
in foreign currency which most companies do not have."

Mufukari said negotiations have increasingly become hard because
businesses cannot budget or plan ahead.

"In an environment where one can plan ahead, life becomes easier but
at the moment, the situation in Zimbabwe is not feasible as prices are going
up on a daily basis. One only needs to look at the interbank rate to
understand what is going on," Mufukari said. Economic analyst, Godfrey
Kanyenze said: "Observations have shown that agreements on salaries are way
below the poverty datum line, the average worker is earning far below that
which is enough to sustain livelihood. Some companies which have the means
have been topping up and providing other coping strategies which are being
designed to preserve the value of the purchasing power."

According said Kanyenze some companies were now paying workers more
than once. Kingdom Bank has been paying workers twice a month for sometime

Edgars is planning to follow suit.

"Some companies are now offering transport for their workers vouchers
for groceries and canteen facilities so that people may eat at work at
subsidised prices, all these are coping strategies which are being
implemented to mitigate against inflation," said Kanyeze.

Some players in the industry blamed the liberalisation of the foreign
exchange rate for the rise in food prices.

"We are now beginning to see that the liberalisation did not bring the
solution we hoped for. It is not only about monetary policies. The fiscal
policies also need to be revisited," said Mufukari.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)'s acting information officer,
Last Tarabuku, said the situation was now desperate for workers.

He blamed the government's income tax regime for worsening the

"Times are hard because negotiating has become difficult. Even if one
negotiates a good salary today, 50% is taken away by taxes and the remainder
is absorbed by the inflationary environment," said Tarabuku.

"The economy is the problem and there is nothing much that can be done
to solve the crisis until and when the economy is put back on the right
track," Tarabuku said.

Civil servants are the most affected.

Progressive Teacher's Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said they have never
known what negotiations are because government has never taken them

"We should be cushioned, we have always called for salaries to be
reviewed quarterly but it is no longer feasible, at least they should be
reviewed monthly," said Ladistous Zunde, national treasurer for PTUZ.

"We don't mind being paid on a daily basis as long as we are covered,
we need a living wage and we are not looking at anything less than a
trillion, because we are also caught in the web of poverty and inflation.
What we want is $4 trillion."

By Jeslyn Dendere

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Economy's Fate Depends On Poll Outcome

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 20:41
THE run-off scheduled for next Friday could make or break Zimbabwe's
fragile economy.

Pollsters have been making their predictions on the possible outcome
of the election but what is clear is that President Robert Mugabe is
determined to retain power at all costs.

And given the number of impediments that the government has placed in
the opposition's path - arrests, intimidation and violence - it is not
far-fetched a prediction that Mugabe might just win the election after all.

Analysts say whether this win will be by default or legitimate it
spells disaster for the ailing economy.

"One thing is certain, if Mugabe wins the economy will sink further,"
said a Harare-based independent economic analyst.

A Mugabe win will ring the final death knell for the country's
struggling industry, he said.

If Mugabe wins he will face the same problems that his government has
failed to deal with for the past eight years.

These problems include shortages of foreign currency, a soaring
inflation rate, and a collapsed infrustracture. Capacity utilisation in the
industry is below 10%.

The country's risk profile has increased over the past eight years.

The biggest problem, analysts said, is that there are no prospects
that Mugabe's government would come up with policies that might arrest the
collapse of the economy. Zimbabwe has not received any balance of payments
support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or help from the World
Bank since 2000.

Other international lenders have black-listed Zimbabwe because of its
risk profile.

The international community has also isolated Zimbabwe because of the
political crisis. Whereas in 2002 the isolation was mostly from Western
countries, this time

African countries have joined in condemning Mugabe.

Zimbabwe's neighbours are not as supportive as they were two years
ago. Botswana and Zambia have said they are not happy with the Zimbabwean
situation. This means that the isolation has widened.

All these problems will worsen if Mugabe retains power. Mugabe is not
showing any sign that he might change his attitude towards business and the
economy if he is re-elected.

In fact he has been mounting pressure on businesses during his

Since January Mugabe has been threatening to deal with business whom
he accuses of pushing a "regime change agenda" to topple his government.

Businesses have been living in fear. These threats have intensified
over the past four weeks with Mugabe threatening to take over companies that
increase prices.

The National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) meeting that Mugabe
had with the business community last week clearly indicated the mood in
government circles.

"These white-owned companies have turned against the government and
will not comply with our policies. We, however, want to see more ownership
of companies by black people," said Mugabe.

Reports yesterday indicated that most companies in Bulawayo have since
closed shop ahead of the elections citing viability problems. There is
speculation that some of them might not re-open after the election.

Other companies are reportedly contemplating relocating to
neighbouring countries due to stifling policies such as arbitrary price
controls. Economic consultant Daniel Ndlela said the situation will be dire
if Mugabe wins.

"This situation is now worse than it was in 2002," said Ndlela.

"We are dealing with complete isolation here. The crisis of governance
has deepened. The confrontation with the West is worse. There is also
isolation from African countries that have supported Harare in the past."

If Mugabe wins there will be total chaos in the economy, added Ndlela.
Businesses are scared of what might happen if Mugabe wins.

"If they have the guts to threaten us now they might as well deal with
us after the elections. That is what I fear the most," said a manager with a
leading retail group.

Since last week a group of war veterans have been ordering companies
to reduce prices.

Managers at Natfoods and Blue Ribbon were threatened. There are also
genuine fears that apart from the automatic free fall that might happen
after the election the government might launch a serious crackdown on

"A win for Mugabe will paralyse industry," said John Makumbe, a
University of Zimbabwe lecturer.

"Mugabe and Zanu PF clearly do not subscribe to sound business
policies that can ignite business activity. Their policies will lead to a
collapse of industry. He faces the challenge of re-engaging the Breton Woods

That government is planning to implement the Indigenisation and
Economic Empowerment Act makes the prospects of an economic recovery even
bleaker. Incoming Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines president David Murangari
recently told the NECF meeting that the law lacked fundamentals that could
"inspire" local and foreign investment.

"This law, in its present form, does not inspire either local or
foreign investors to commit their funds in growth projects for the long
term," Murangari said.

"What the industry encourages is a policy that will grow the "cake"
rather than share an existing small one."

There are however no signs that government will go back on its plans
to implement the policy after the elections.

At its peak, Zimbabwe was the world's 13th largest producer of gold,
producing 27 tonnes of the precious metal. This years Zimbabwe is likely to
produce about four tonnes because of the crisis in the mining sector.

According to a research analyst for a local bank, Mugabe would only
rekindle business activity if he shifted from his "empty rhetoric of
sanctions" and decides to resuscitate lines of credit from world lenders.

"Business cannot access sufficient foreign exchange from the
government because everyone is looking to the same institution for support,"
said the analyst.

"This is where we need international support. Mugabe is unlikely to
get this support." Mugabe's administration however claims that the fallout
resulted from government's controversial land reform programme at the turn
of the millennium.

Addressing the NECF meeting, Mugabe promised industry that the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had recently shown its
commitment in giving the country a critical lifeline. Analysts however said
this was highly unlikely given the situation in the country. A recent report
from the respected Economic Intelligence Unit gave Zimbabwe the worst credit
rating in the world.

It said Zimbabwe neither had the capacity nor willingness to pay its

By Shakeman Mugari/Bernard Mpofu

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Can The Zim Dollar Be Saved?

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 20:38
AS the country seeks a nominal anchor to the besieged Zimbabwe dollar,
an optimal and sustainable exchange rate regime has been difficult to

The fall of the Zimbabwean economy is often traced back to November
14, 1997, a day referred to as "Black Friday" when the Zimbabwe dollar lost
71,5% of its value against the US dollar.

Since then, the Zimbabwean dollar has never really recovered and the
country has been thrown into a decade-long downward spiral.

The daily depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar in recent weeks has been
ferocious, but can the Zim dollar be saved?

Since the flotation of the currency back in May, evidence suggests
that the dollar has struggled to find a bottom, losing an average of 25% of
its value a day.

At the time of writing this article, US$1 was worth $7 billion on the
open market and the rate to the pound sterling was at $16 billion.

Exchange rates are expected to have changed by the time the article is

Remember that the country slashed 3 zeros off the currency in August

The accelerated depreciation requires further surgery to lop off at
least three more zeros purely for ordinary people to comprehend the
arithmetic of buying a loaf of bread together with a box of matches.

The flotation of the Zimbabwe dollar without a macroeconomic support
has made the currency defenceless against rampaging inflation, unsustainably
low interest rates and high unemployment, resulting in a seriously twisted
economic quagmire.

High unemployment has led to reduced productivity, a decimated export
potential and the emergence of one of the world's most sophisticated black

The negative side effect of the currency instability has been the
shift of resources and energies towards "speculative activities" which can
earn the investor quick returns and the much-needed US dollar, at the
expense of productive investment and long-term development.

That the Zimbabwe dollar would have been subjected to speculative
attacks by economic agents scrambling to find a hedge elsewhere is hardly

The crash of the dollar after flotation was inevitable.

Several factors are important in predicting currency crashes; these
include monetary and fiscal expansions, declining competitiveness, current
account deficits and losses in international reserves.

All of which underlines the problems with the Zimbabwean economy.

So what could have been the reasons to float the currency when the
macroeconomic outcome was predictable? There could be several reasons for

The first was to bait foreign currency into official coffers to fund
critical supplies.

The flotation of the Zimbabwe dollar undertaken by the central bank,
and more importantly a move towards market-determined exchange rate regimes
also resulted initially in a significant narrowing down of premia between
"official" and "parallel" exchange rates that had grown significantly due to
pressure on fixed rates.

Furthermore, the elimination of cumbersome exchange control measures
and administrative machinery for allocating foreign exchange could have
resulted in an improvement in the allocation and utilisation of the scarce
foreign exchange, although the allocation is still tightly controlled by the
central bank.

Lastly, some analysts point towards a more sinister political reason
for the liberalisation, having coincided with the much-contested
presidential run-off.

Nonetheless, one of the side effects of the flotation has been the
increased instability and volatility of the external values of the Zimbabwe

If the assessment of Zimbabwe's limited capacity for sound
policy-making is empirically correct, the foreign currency crisis is set to

A bloated and unsustainable budget deficit has not been helpful.
Despite a low interest rate regime, the government's fiscal record has been

The Finance minister's prediction of economic growth in 2008 will be
an act of magic as is getting diesel from a rock in Chinhoyi.

The problem with exchange rates is that they affect the price of
domestic money directly correlating to the rate of inflation. Exchange
rates, affects inflation through two common channels.

Firstly, in an open economy, the real exchange rate affects the
relative price between domestic and foreign goods, which in turn affects
both domestic and foreign demand for domestically produced goods and hence
affects aggregate demand and inflation.

There is also a direct channel, in that the exchange rate affects
domestic currency prices of imported foreign goods, which enters the
consumer price index.

As a result, an attempt to control inflation, is often implemented as
one of the choices for a nominal anchor under a floated currency, the second
choice is controlling monetary aggregates, an area in which the central bank
appears to be fighting a losing battle.

Based on the pricing of most commodities, the Zimbabwe dollar seems to
have lost credibility and value as a trading currency, nationals and
foreigners have become less willing to transact in the currency leading to
an unintended dollarisation of the economy.

This has caused some assets in Zimbabwe to become more expensive in
real terms compared to their value anywhere else in the world.

Although it may be too early to empirically measure the impact of the
floatation on the Zimbabwean currency.

Important lessons can be learnt from the recent experiences in
Zimbabwe's management of foreign exchange markets and exchange rates.

These include, the desirability of determining an optimal and
sustainable exchange rate regime within a framework and consistent with
broader macroeconomic goals and addressing the challenges of moving from
controlled foreign exchange markets and administratively set exchange rates
to liberalised markets and market-determined exchange rates; the necessity
of establishing the institutional and legal framework needed for efficiently
functioning foreign exchange markets and market determined exchange rates;
defining specific roles for the various operators in foreign exchange
markets (central banks, commercial banks and foreign exchange dealers) in
order to ensure the smooth functioning of the markets and to minimise
systemic risks; defining the role of the central bank in the liberalised
foreign exchange markets and market determined exchange rates; understanding
the linkages between exchange rates movements and their impact on the rest
of the economy.

The rapid depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar will most certainly
reverse the central bank's attempts at stabilising the economy resulting in
internal hemorrhaging.

It is unlikely that the central bank will introduce any monetary
policy measures to stabilise the free-fall before the presidential run-off.

The value of a currency in nominal terms reflects people's confidence
or lack thereof in the economic policies of a sitting government. The
recovery of the Zimbabwe dollar is therefore inextricably linked to the
resolution of the political process.

lLance Mambondiani is an investment executive at Coronation Financial
plc, an international financial advisory company registered in the UK
trading in Southern Africa and the United Kingdom.

By Lance Mambondiani

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Violent Campaign Shatters Prospects For Free, Fair Election

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 21:21
AMBUYA Chigombe stands in front of what used to be her two thatched
huts that she built with her own hands that have been razed to the ground in
the wave of political violence sweeping across Zimbabwe ahead of the
election run-off next week.

What is left cannot shelter her from the cold winter nights.

A suspected Zanu PF militia visited her homestead and burnt all that
she had worked for. The little harvest she had got from last season was not
spared and the only cow she got when her daughter was married was taken away
by the assailants.

As if that was not enough, she does not know where the militia took
her only son Albert to after they accused him of supporting the Morgan
Tsvangirai-led MDC.

What pains her most is that there is nothing she can do about it
except pray that wherever he is, he is alive and will come back to what used
to be their home. Mbuya Chigombe is not the only one petrified. So are other
Kodza villagers in Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central province.

Since the March 29 harmonised elections, Zanu PF militia have
descended on their village causing a lot of unrest to villagers in many
different ways.

In surrounding villages like Kaseke, Maodza and Shutu people were
either ordered to surrender their national identity cards or were asked who
they voted for between President Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

They were told that in next week's presidential run-off between Mugabe
and Tsvangirai, secret camera would be placed in polling stations and they
would be able to tell who the villagers had voted for. The objective is to
coerce the electorate to vote for Mugabe.

On Friday, over 5,6 million Zimbabweans are expected to vote in the
second round of the presidential poll. In the first round Tsvangirai
garnered the most votes with 47, 9% of valid votes (1 195 562 votes),
followed by Mugabe with 43, 2% or 1 079 730 votes.

After the results were announced, speculation was rife that Tsvangirai
would trounce Mugabe by a large margin in a run-off.

However, the environment that the electorate has been living in since
March 29 has drastically changed and fears are that MDC might lose to Zanu

The possibility of Mugabe turning around the tables will not come as a
surprise to Zimbabweans following the violence, intimidation, displacements,
alleged secret voter registration and controversial postal voting by
security forces.

MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, claimed that in areas like Murehwa,
Mutoko, Wedza and Marondera and parts of Shamva, Mt Darwin, Rushinga and
Chiweshe secret voter registration was taking place while security forces
were voting in an irregular manner.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe by 115 832 votes and if the claims raised by
the MDC are true, Mugabe might close the gap.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure
said that it was most likely that the MDC would lose the elections because
of the radical change in the electoral landscape.

"The electoral landscape as compared to pre-March 29 has completely
changed and the prominent factors to the are violence, arson and harassment
which cumulatively have instilled fear in the electorate with some of them,
especially in areas where violence has been rampant, thinking of altering
their voting preferences," Masunungure said. "The media terrain has also
changed, the public media is not covering the MDC at all and if it does it
disparages the opposition and only portrays it in a negative light. The MDC
has not lost its popularity but due to the circumstances right now it is
most likely to lose the election."

The MDC claims that more than 60 of its supporters and officials have
been killed since March 29 and 25 000 displaced in post-election violence.

Those displaced might not be able to vote unless the MDC manages to
take them back to their wards.

There are others who have been negatively affected by the intimidation
to the extent that they would rather spend the day indoors than risk their
lives being caught on "camera" voting for the MDC, as they were told.

National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku said it
would be misleading to describe the run-off as an election. He said this was
a "process designed to legitimise" Mugabe.

"This is a process that will certainly lead to a declaration that
Mugabe has won," Madhuku said. "The playing field is not even, the MDC has
no access to rural voters, there is massive intimidation and propaganda
being splashed in all the public media."

He added: "One would be very foolish to say the MDC does not need
campaigns to win; it will need to talk to the electorate and mobilise them
once again and make them excited and see how critical the run-off is. But
Zanu PF has tried everything possible to cripple their campaigns."

However, despite the violence, some of the MDC supporters still have
confidence that Tsvangirai will win next Friday.

A voter in Harare, who preferred anonymity, said no matter the
violence and intimidation, MDC supporters would vote for Tsvangirai.

"The tense environment at the moment won't do anything to change the
opinion of the masses," the voter said. "I am fed up with the corruption,
unemployment, high inflation and shortages of basic commodities. I want all
these things to be addressed and I trust Tsvangirai will bring the change."

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Freedom Fighter Turned Tyrant

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 19:59
UNTIL recently, historians and journalists have been disinclined to
look deeply into the private circumstances and individual psychologies of
the African leaders who replaced white rulers in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

In our Manichean enthusiasm for democracy, it was considered neither
correct nor constructive to examine too closely what lay behind the public
utterances and dramatic showmanship of men like Kwame Nkrumah, Julius
Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, Thabo Mbeki, even Nelson Mandela.

Until now, anything that damaged Africa's image was seen in liberal
media circles as an attempt to boost apartheid.

Now, with white rule in Africa out of the way, the Rhodesia-born South
Africa residing author and journalist Heidi Holland has opened the window
and, with the help of three psychologists (two white, one black) let in some
fresh air and clear bright light on a man we are unable to get enough of,
84-year old Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

We all know where he's going: but where did he come from? That's the

With Wordsworth's dictum that 'the child is father of the man' clearly
in her mind, Ms Holland begins her story with a little help from her
intriguing subject's former friends.

In 1934, it can't have been much fun being the 10-year old Robert

His father Gabriel was a carpenter who went to Bulawayo looking for
work and who never returned to the small and impoverished Mugabe family
which lived at Kutama in Mashonaland, close to the famous a Jesuit Mission
Station where young Robert (and many of the men who went on to lead Zimbabwe
at Independence in 1980) were educated.

It was also the year that Robert's elder (and popular with local
villager girls) brother Michael was found dead, poisoned by something he
ate, or someone jealous of him.

In her despair Bona Mugabe, a woman who would have made a better nun
than mum - told tiny Bob that not only was he the new male head of the
family but also a child sent to her by God, a special delight who would one
day become a great Catholic priest, perhaps even a cardinal. Perhaps even
the Pope.

Intellectually furious, the teenage Robert kept himself to himself,
locked himself into the private world of books and religion and attracted
the attention of Jesuits who saw him as one of them.

A child of "unusual gravitas" said Father Jerome O'Hea SJ, a wealthy
priest who took an interest in his young protégé's education and became (say
Ms Holland's psychologists) Mugabe's surrogate father.

Sadly for Zimbabwe (perhaps fortunately for the Catholic Church)
Robert Mugabe did not go on to become a priest.

Instead, after meeting an attractive teacher in Nkrumah's Ghana he
returned home to introduce Sally to his mother.

In 1960, he joined the ranks of African nationalists fighting against
a still fairly "liberal" Rhodesian government and went on to become (after
ten year imprisonment and the tragic death of his son in Ghana - he was not
allowed to attend the boy's funeral) in 1975 a freedom fighter based in

That was the year that Ms Holland - through a Rhodesian lawyer - had
her very brief encounter with Mugabe which provides her with the title for
this book.

It was the first time she had cooked a meal for a black man. The
following day, Mugabe telephoned her and thanked her.

Ms Holland - daughter of stalwart supporters of Ian Smith and white
rule in Rhodesia - was bowled over. Wide eyed and blinking she asks:" What
happened to the man who was kind enough to phone a young mother and inquire
about her child after a brief dinner in 1975?"

Unity Mitford and Diana Mosley used to ask questions like that. With
great effort and admirable determination, Ms Holland turns towards some of
Mugabe's erstwhile fans and followers for an answer - to his surviving
brother: to Denis Norman, Mugabe's first Minister for Agriculture who now
lives in the UK: to Mary, widow of Lord Soames (Britain's last Governor in
Rhodesia): the rather cranky head of the Jesuits in today's Zimbabwe, half a
dozen or so rather nauseating former secret service agents for Smith and
Mugabe) and to the great historian and writer Lawrence Vambe who was once a
close friend, supporter and Mugabe admirer. They went to school together,
Sadly, he lives in England miles from his beloved homeland. This is a book
worth reading despite its many shortcomings.

Ms Holland experienced nothing of political or ordinary life in
Zimbabwe from 1982 (she tells us she left the country just ahead of Mugabe's
secret police) until she returned to Harare last November when she waited
weeks in a local hotel for an interview with the Man Himself one of the
strangest interviews I've read in my career as a journalist with some of the
author's questions, put to him during a two and a half hours interview at
State House, bordering on inanity.

Ms Holland is also limited by the fact she speaks not a word of either
Shona or Sindebele, Zimbabwe's two main local languages.

'Dinner with Mugabe' is a brave but deeply flawed attempt to answer
difficult questions about a complicated man.

Yet it is still a thought-provoking work that should engage the mind
of anyone with a serious interest in post-colonial Southern Africa. But its
claim to tell the "untold story of a freedom fighter who became a tyrant" is
ludicrously ambitious, even misleading.

This is a piece in a jigsaw puzzle, a part worth having - essential
even - but little more than that.

*Trevor Grundy worked as a reporter for Time magazine, Deutsche Welle,
SABC, Beeld, The Scotsman, and Radio France Internationale in Zimbabwe from
1977 until 1996.

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Negotiation Only Solution To The Zimbabwe Crisis

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 19:57
THE issue of whether the military is in control of government in
Zimbabwe or not is no longer a debatable one because all the evidence points
to this.

Those who have been closely following developments in Zimbabwe know
that the military has been expanding and consolidating its position in both
the politics and the economy of Zimbabwe since the 1990s.

The expanding role of the military and securocrats in Zimbabwe's
political, economic and social life was achieved in the later 1990s when
President Mugabe increasingly turned to this sector for protection against
the first indications of discontent from the masses and lieutenants inside
his party. Since then the military's role in Zimbabwe politics has
increasingly become dominant, subordinating formal policy-making structures
and processes.

The military has also become deeply entrenched in the economy where
the top brass, often in partnership with political elites, have established
themselves in productive sectors of the economy such as mining and farming.
The military has for a number of years now become the political and economic
anchor class for President Mugabe's rule and thus holds the key to any
future transition.

Against this backdrop, the daunting challenge for Zimbabwe at the
moment is not just about how to retire President Mugabe from politics but
also how to get the military to respect the country's constitutional
provisions and political outcomes emanating from these constitutional
provisions. Put differently, the fundamental challenge is how to get the
military to underwrite electoral outcomes or whatever political settlement
is made by politicians, including a post-retirement package for Mugabe.

As in the case of the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, the
security sector can help usher in a new government in Zimbabwe, and ensure
its stability. At the same time, it also has the capacity to spoil the
transition if not handled carefully because the military has become so
entrenched in the state.

At the moment, the hardliners in the military and security sectors are
not ready to hand over power to a civilian government, especially one led by
the current MDC leadership, because of a number of factors. First, while
many Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans view the MDC as a home-grown movement
born out of disenchantment with Zanu PF, hardliners within the military top
brass believe that the MDC is a proxy of the Western powers. The reasons for
their belief are both real and imagined. These hardliners also understand
the causes of the current crisis to be external. In their view, the Zimbabwe
crisis is exclusively a result of 'Zimbabwe's siege from Britain and its
allies who conspired behind former Rhodies who had their farms repossessed.

Ideologically, the hardliners are convinced they are the "custodians
of the revolution" and the country's "national sovereignty". They believe
that Zimbabwe, through the exploitation of its mineral and other land
resources, has the capacity to withstand economic pressure from outside,
especially with the help of friendly nations like China, Iran and Malaysia.

On a more practical level, the hardliners, like Mugabe, are more
concerned about their fate after the transition. They are worried about what
happens to them and their accumulated wealth and privileges under a new
political leadership which they cannot control or trust. Theirs is thus a
battle for political and economic survival.

The hardliners in the military are aware that a number of policies and
activities that the Zimbabwe government has pursued has antagonised Western
governments. These include land confiscation and the military intervention
in Congo. They know that some of these governments, especially the US and
the UK governments who have openly criticised Mugabe and described him as
human rights violator, are going to push for the prosecution of Mugabe and
his close associates when he leaves office.

For the hardliners and their supporters, the humiliating trial Saddam
Hussein was subjected to after his overthrow by the US is clear evidence of
British and American vindictiveness. Closer to home, they are aware of what
happened to Charles Taylor when a Nigerian- brokered arrangement with the
African Union for Taylor's immunity collapsed. The recent arrest of the
Congolese rebel leader, Jean Pierre Bemba by the International Criminal
Court for "crimes against humanity" similarly rattles them, and they are not
likely to give up power when these threats are hanging over their heads.

The onus for change in Zimbabwe thus lies in reassuring the military
hardliners that they have nothing to fear from a post-Mugabe government. As
in the transition of 1980, when Rhodesian farmers and military hardliners
resistant to change had to be won over through security guarantees inserted
in the Lancaster House Constitution, hardliners need to be engaged and
reassured about the security of their future and that of their leader,

Just like in the 1980 transition, the transitional plan must include
key legal, institutional guarantees for heads of some of these institutions
who right now fear that an electoral handover will result in retribution
against them or loss of some of the important material benefits they have
acquired over the years. The guarantees will allow all the concerned
parties, including the hundreds of thousands of peasants resettled on the
government-confiscated farms who continue to support Mugabe and Zanu PF
because of fears of losing their allocated pieces of land to an incoming
government, to come to terms with change. Right now, such legal and
institutional guarantees have not been forthcoming and this has continued to
be a major source of concern for the hardliners and supporters of Zanu PF.
What we have are occasional press statements by the political leadership in
the opposition ranks about the need for political reconciliation and
guarantees about Mugabe and his lieutenants.

However, these public statements are not reassuring to both Mugabe and
his lieutenants, especially the hardliners in the military top brass,
because they are not backed up by constitutional guarantees as was the case
in the 1979-1980 transitional. The public reassurances from the MDC are not
convincing to the hardliners because there is no consistency in the message.
At one point, Mugabe and his hardliners are told that there will be no
retribution. At another moment, they are told that the MDC will "punish all
those responsible for the murder of its activists and supporters, once in

For the political transition to occur in Zimbabwe, first the military
needs to be brought on board in all the political negotiations leading to
political change.

Second, it needs to be reassured, along with Mugabe, in concrete terms
that it will not be subjected to retributive justice and that its members'
economic gains made under its current partnership with Mugabe will not be
seriously undermined when it cedes power to a civilian government,
especially to an MDC government which it believes has strong ties to
international capital.

Once political change has been achieved, the military, especially the
top brass enmeshed in current politics, will need to be persuaded either to
go back to the barracks or move into civilian life through carefully crafted
retirement packages and negotiations. These security guarantees will have to
balance both the country's need for political and economic stability with
the imperatives for justice and reform. But the bottom line is that the
reforms should not appear to be guided by vengeful politics.

*James Muzondidya is a senior research specialist at the Human
Sciences Research Council based in Pretoria.

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Observers' Role Raises Worry

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 19:50
ABOUT 400 Southern African Development Community (Sadc) observers
arrived in Harare this week to monitor the presidential run-off that takes
place next Friday. Others arrived last week.

Their arrival has, however, raised questions on the role they are
likely to play in judging the freeness and fairness of the election that
pits President Robert Mugabe and bitter rival Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC.

Tsvangirai pulled the rug from under Mugabe's feet in the first round
of polling in a situation that has left the country's sole ruler in 28 years
of Independence desperate to reverse the MDC gains.

Last Friday, Mugabe declared he would not allow Tsvangirai to get away
with the presidential "title" and would command his forces back to the bush
to fight and reclaim Zimbabwe from colonial "puppets" - the MDC.

Said Mugabe: "We slackened our grip the last time and we now realise
that there is need for us to be strong on the people or we lose out. There
is no way we are going to lose this election. War veterans have been coming
to ask me whether they should go back to the bush and fight to reclaim their
country from these British puppets.

"I have been telling them to hold it for now and now I am saying I am
prepared to order them to go into the bush and fight to safeguard our
Independence and sovereignty from these puppets of the West."

The statements come at a time when there has been an upsurge of
violence in both rural and urban areas. So far, the MDC says more than 60 of
its activists and officials have been killed by Zanu PF supporters and war
veterans in post-election violence that has also left scores injured. Many
thousands are displaced while several hundreds cannot be accounted for as a
result of kidnappings.

Questions have been raised as to whether the observers would not be
impaired in their poll judgement given their late arrival in the country.
Commentators have said there was need for the observers to remain in the
country after the announcement of the June 27 election results so as to
monitor the post-results environment, given the threats Zanu PF has made
against those voting for the MDC.

Some voters may have been cowed into submission by the violence that
visited them in recent weeks.

The numbers of the observers have also been a talking point amongst
analysts. There is a belief that 400 observers from a bloc such as Sadc is
an insufficient figure to cover all polling stations countrywide. There are
more than 9 000 polling stations countrywide for the presidential run-off as
well as the three by-elections in Pelandaba-Mpopoma, Gwanda North, and

Questions have also been raised as to whether these missions have
enough resources to facilitate the monitoring of the polls by the observers.
The United States government last week said it was prepared to make
available US$7 million if United Nations observers were to be deployed in
Zimbabwe for the election.

Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said despite the lateness in
their arrival, the observers would lessen the level of violence that had
been unleashed on the people.

"They might be late, yes, but this should be looked at in the light of
the reduction of the wave of violence against the people," Masunungure said.
"Their arrival will significantly reduce the violence that has taken place.
The people of Zimbabwe reserve the right to choose the person they want to
lead their country and this violence had taken away the people's right to
choose the person they want without any force and intimidation from anyone."

On the numbers of the observers, Masunungure argued there was need for
1 000 observers to be deployed countrywide, saying 400 was far too few for
such a process.

"I believe 1 000 observers will be enough to cover the country and
they will be able to do the job as they are expected to," he said. "The
current figure falls far too short of what I believe are the generic
requirements. What is more important is for them to be visible throughout
the country and to be seen monitoring the situation on the ground."

Another political scientist, Joseph Kurebwa, differed saying he felt
the observers would have ample time to monitor the political environment
before the polls.

"The purpose of the observer is to sample events before, during, and
after polling. They need to appreciate the situation and that does not mean
being present at all polling stations all the time," said Kurebwa, who is
known to be sympathetic to Zanu PF. "It does not suffice, however, to say
that 400 observers are too little to effectively monitor the election. They
have an appreciation of what the environment is like and their judgements
will be based on that sample they have been getting of the current political

He added that the observers' judgement would reflect the situation on
the ground as he was of the opinion that both sides of the political divide
were responsible for the violence that has erupted in most parts of the

"If we are to expect the observers to accuse, in their report, Zanu PF
of violence, then we are demanding too much from these observers. Both the
MDC and Zanu PF are not innocent victims of political violence. So these
reports should cite that both the parties were violent in their campaigns
and that will be what they would have truly observed on the ground," he

Lovemore Madhuku, the chairperson of the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA), said the number of observers was not the issue, but their
ability to monitor the election.

"Those that are talking of numbers are missing the point. I believe
what is important now is whether these observers are able to provide
confidence to the players in the election and so they can be effective in
their analysis of the whole situation," Madhuku said. "The observers do not
need to be told what to look at because all the things are there for them to
see. The violence is happening right under their eyes and there is no other
report they can produce than the one they are seeing on a daily basis."

Most of the observers have been holed up in city hotels where they
have been booked by the respective missions from across the region as well
as some internationally.

The behaviour of the observers has left many wondering whether they
are in the country on serious business or are on holiday. Many appear young
and inexperienced.

Commentators have wondered what reports will emerge from observers
with an unproven track record in the monitoring of elections back home.

Are they for instance familiar with the Sadc Mauritius terms which
require that the national electoral regulatory body (ZEC in this case)
assures equal access to the public media by all parties
and chooses which observers should be invited? The state in Zimbabwe's
case has arrogated to itself the responsibility for inviting observers.

By Nkululeko Sibanda

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Candid Comment; A Wonderful Break From The Madness

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 21:37
IN Zimbabwe's confused and confusing political environment, who doesn't
need a break?

So it was that I took a three-week break from May 19 to June 13 which
I spent on a hectic investigative journalism programme courtesy of the World
Learning Visitor Exchange Programme of the US's Bureau of Educational and
Cultural affairs.

It was the most exhilarating experience of my life, covering the
length and breadth of such a vast country from the Federal capital,
Washington, DC to San Francisco on the West coast, to Louisiana in the
south, and to New York up north in a space of three weeks.

I was among a group of 23 journalists from developing countries, five
of them from Africa. In Washington we visited Capitol Hill, the seat of
Congress, the memorials of those great American leaders, Abraham Lincoln and
Thomas Jefferson, the Pentagon and the White House. Of course we didn't get
into the White House but could freely view it from Pennsylvania Avenue which
has now been blocked on both ends since the September 11 terror attacks.

I had the honour to stand on the spot at the Lincoln Memorial where
Martin Luther King Jr made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in August
1963. We also visited the Washington Post, Reuters and the CNN offices. I
met several Zimbabwean journalists working for Studio 7. We also visited the
poor black neighbourhood of Anacostia where by the age of 18 years many
black girls are mothers of three or more kids and boys of the same age have
become jailbirds because of violent crime and drugs. Here, the famous
educationalist Frederick Douglas's estate has been turned into a tourism

DC is a major US cultural centre dominated by the Smithsonian
Institution which includes a number of museums such as that of Asian and
African Art, American history and the US Holocaust Memorial. One of the
outstanding aspects of Washington DC is that it is the only state
represented by an unelected delegate in Congress, hence the ubiquitous
"Taxation without representation" protest statement on registration plates
of vehicles in the district.

The concept of "no taxation without representation" was one of the
clarion calls of the American revolution for those who recall the "Boston
Tea Party".

Locals call Washington DC the "floating city" because it thrives
largely on tourism and service industry as there is no manufacturing carried

From there we went on to San Francisco, the country's shipping capital
in California. Outside the upmarket Hotel Nikko where we were staying I saw
the first concentration of street people. That was a foretaste of what we
witnessed on the city's Market Street, the equivalent of Harare's First St
Mall in its heyday. The street teems with youths evidently high on drugs. It
was not long before we witnessed police arresting a number of them and
suddenly the street was littered with a confetti of unnamed tablets.

We also toured San Francisco's most famous landmark, the Golden Gate
Bridge (painted in red), and the city's highest point above sea level, the
Twin Peaks.

Pursuant to our mission, we visited the Centre for Investigative
Journalism and the offices of the Oakland Tribune newspaper in the Bay Area.
Oakland is rated the fourth most violent city in the US due to drugs and
gang warfare. Needless to say we were warned by our English Language
Officers about what areas to avoid at odd hours.

San Francisco too prematurely sent us packing to a city hundreds of
kilometres to the southwest - New Orleans in Louisiana, which was inundated
by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

Residents are still seething with anger at what they agree was a
"man-made disaster" when Portchartrain Lake flooded New Orleans on August 29
2005. Evidence of the scale of the disaster is still there - wrecked or
washed away houses, vacant foundations where homes once stood or voluntary
building brigades of students erecting structures for poor residents trying
to rebuild their lives.

The "rebuild New Orleans" initiative is spearheaded by a group of
women under an organisation portentously named "Beacon of Hope".

Since Katrina struck three years ago, they have been working together
to help the homeless or those trying to return to New Orleans. Much of their
funding is from private institutions and individuals.

The women have no kind words for the state bureaucracy which they
accuse of corruption and holding up the rebuilding process by "delaying" the
release of funds provided by the Federal government.

At the heart of downtown New Orleans is the upmarket French Quarter
which is dominated by Bourbon Street which takes in one embrace elegant jazz
music, hard rock and uninhibited sensuality as part of its red light
district cultural offering.

We then moved on to Miami, Florida. Miami Beach has seen a huge
expansion in tourism as people flock to the beautifully restored Art Deco
district and Latin ambience which percolates through this Cuban city. The
Miami Herald Spanish edition is the largest circulating paper in Central and
South America.

The trip ended in New York, minus the famous Twin Towers and the World
Trade Centre since September 11. The narrow skyline is once again dominated
by the Empire State Building, completed in 1931. It was a bit of an
anticlimax. The city was hot, dirty and felt jaded. Almost 95% of the
buildings are being renovated with scaffolding on virtually every block.
This sombreness was only partly relieved by a visit to the United Nations
headquarters which ended with a sumptuous lunch.

It is important to point out that finding one's way around, especially
in Washington DC, was a headache for me during the first few days. Now I
understand why most European tourists who come to Africa trust a map. The
big plus was that members of the public went out of their way to help if you
asked for a particular place, that is once it was clear that you were a
visitor, not a troublesome African American!

Interestingly, discrimination assumed a new dimension, especially in
San Francisco and New York. Here you learn quickly that the person of colour
is not always your brother or sister as we tend to assume in this part of
the world. Many people look at you suspiciously, keeping their distance even
if you want to ask for directions, to show you that they have better things
to do.

The one who comes closest to you often is the beggar. He can easily
tell a brother from other races!

Then of course there is the big disconnect between the Administration
and ordinary Americans. As every journalist and presenter made clear,
ordinary Americans have neither interest nor any idea of what the Federal
government does outside America, that is until there is a major catastrophe
which takes away their children - like what is happening in Afghanistan and
Iraq. Which is why George W Bush is so unpopular now.

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Comment: Your Vote Is Needed

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 21:35
With an election looming in just seven days time, it would be a good
time to tell the two contestants what we expect of them.

Across the world newspapers hold rulers and others in the public
domain accountable for their actions. A newspaper worth its salt is one that
holds up a mirror to those who claim to have the answers to the nation's
problems yet, having promised the Earth during elections, do nothing to
improve the lot of the governed once the polls are over.

During its 28 years of stewardship Zanu PF has had every opportunity
to improve the nation's fortunes. Despite the impressive expansion of
education and healthcare in the first 10 years of Independence, the ruling
party lost its way in the 1990s. It preferred to do battle with civil
society and the opposition who it saw as encroaching on its jurisdiction
than to listen to critics and forge a consensus on the way ahead.

Whilst setting up bodies such as the National Economic Consultative
Forum, the government refused to listen to the contributions of business and
commerce and instead ploughed ahead with policies that were not only lacking
in consensus but actually damaging to the fabric of the country.

Agricultural production has declined some 60% since 2000. Per capita
GDP had dropped to pre-Independence levels. The lack of listening skills has
impacted severely upon outcomes.

Then there is the collective beatings meted out to communities that
were pronounced guilty of supporting the opposition. The last three months
have left a deep stain upon the country's reputation and its people have
been traumatised.

It is difficult to believe the savagery of the collective punishment
the country has been made to endure. Families have seen their loved ones
abducted, never to return alive. Homes have been burnt and reportedly
thousands displaced.

In the last week, militias have invaded townships demanding oaths of
loyalty. Youths have been dragged off commuter buses and made to attend
meetings. As we report in today's paper, evidence of lawlessness is

Voters must ask themselves, is this a regime they can live with?

And what of the consequences of economic mismanagement? Are we to
endure inflation of 2 000 000%?

On the opposition side there have been precious few examples of
statesmanship. At least Arthur Mutambara has understood the need for a
united front on Friday next. And Simba Makoni, hitherto reluctant to be
associated with what his former party sees as an imperialist stalking horse,
has finally brought himself to endorse Tsvangirai - albeit via a statement
from one of his movement's workshops.

If Tsvangirai is successful next weekend, or if there is a government
of national unity, we will require an early repeal of oppressive legislation
that impinges upon our ability to function as a media watchdog.

Aippa will need to be revoked in all its sinister facets. So will the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act which is currently the regime's
weapon of choice in its bid to suffocate the press.

At present it is considered unlawful for the leader of an opposition
party to criticise court judgements or the head of state. The incumbent is
thus able to abuse his opponents in unrestrained terms and then hide behind
a wall of insult laws that give him an unfair advantage. Opposition leaders
are also unable to hold rallies or explain their policies to a wider public.
Voters are thus unable to make an informed choice at the polls.

Civil society is naturally inclined to support the party that shares
our views on democratic governance and the rule of law. But should the
opposition be in a position to form a government we will subject that
government to the spotlight of media scrutiny just as we do the current
regime. All governments are inclined to abuse power. It is our job to make
sure they don't.

Meanwhile, Zimbabweans who favour change - the majority according to
the March vote - should avoid the complacency of the last round.

Your votes are needed. It is important to demonstrate that
intimidation doesn't pay.

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Erich Bloch: Economic Coffin Nailed Again

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 19:48
GOVERNMENT'S determination to bring about the total destruction of the
Zimbabwean economy is clearly without limit.

With blatantly never-ending resolve, government steadfastly hammers
one nail after another into the economy's coffin. So many nails have been
thrust into that coffin that it boggles the mind to contemplate that any
more could conceivably be rammed into it, but with endless intent government
persists in doing so.

It has not sufficed for government to reduce the foundation of the
economy, being agriculture to near absolute non-existence, with concomitant
mass unemployment, starvation, insufficiency of critically-needed foreign
exchange, emaciation of downstream industries and other economic
enterprises, alienation of most of the international community, and much,
much else. Government had also to spend (mainly unproductively) excessively
beyond its means. It created an environment of restlessness and oppression
such as markedly discouraged critically important tourism. It considerably
undermined the financial sector of the economy by insidious subversion of
the independence of the central bank.

It resorted to endless, oppressive, excessive regulation of the
ever-declining economy, thereby escalating that decline. And it arrogantly
has alienated desperately needed foreign and domestic investment, thereby
depriving the wilting economy of employment, export revenues and other
foreign exchange inflows, technology transfer, much needed revenues for the
fiscus, and innumerable other investment benefits. And these are but a few
of the countless, economically-destructive acts of commission and omission
that have characterized Government's abuse of the economy over the last
eleven years.

So many are these acts that it imbues one with bewilderment even to
imagine that government would do anything else to further collapse the
shrivelled economy (other than, of course, vigorously to deny all
culpability, and unhesitatingly - even if falsely - to attribute to all
blame to others.) But government's tendancies towards pulverisation of the
economy has become so endemic in its ranks, from the presidency downwards,
that it can do naught else.

And that psychotic drive towards the annihilation of the economy is
compounded by its unfettered resolve to govern for all time, no matter how
its retention of power is to be achieved. A prerequisite for the viability
and growth of any economy is political stability and freedom. Save on
occasion transitionally, no economy has ever survived and grown under an
authoritarian, non-democratic, regime. Wheresoever such regime existed, any
economic growth was temporary in nature, always reversed and progressively
decline has set in, resulting in intensifying poverty and misery, starvation
and other hardships, for all the populations other than the authoritarian
controllers of the countries. Ultimately, the result was the overthrow of
the authoritarians but, until that occurred, distress and suffering was the
order of the day for the populace.

This was so in the Roman Empire in the 3rd century, under the
dictatorial rule of Emperor Galatius, it was so in the 20th century in the
former Soviet Union, so demonically ruled by such as Stalin, in Germany
under Hitler, in China under Mao-Tse Tung, in Mozambique under Samora
Machel, in Zambia under Kaunda, in the DRC under Mobutu, and in many, many
other countries throughout history.

Without political stability and freedom, economies cannot attract
investment, be it from abroad, or at home, for none will invest where they
perceive the security of the investments to be at high risk, and where the
prospects of a just and fair return on investment are minimal. Zimbabwe's
ability to attract investments was already severely impaired by the
distraught state of the economy, by the excessive controls draconically
applied by Government, by the pronouncedly confrontational stance pursued by
Government against the Bretton Woods' institutions (the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank in particular), against the European Union
in general, and the United Kingdom in particular, against the United States
of America, against many Commonwealth countries, and numerous others.

But the collapsing economy, and the vituperative vitriol spewed forth
by government against its ill-perceived enemies, did not suffice to halt
entirely investment, albeit that investment levels have fallen sharply in
recent years. However, now government is blatantly undermining any remaining
vestiges of political stability, and thereby alienating what little national
and international investment support is still exists. The Zimbabwean
Constitution prescribes that Zimbabwe be a democratically ruled country,
rulership being determined wholly and solely by the free will exercised by
the electorate. For a long time the Zimbabwean government has pretended that
it not only subscribes to that constitutional dictate, but that it strives
to ensure unhindered compliance with democratic dictates, including the
conduct of truly free and fair elections.

However, realities will always ultimately surface, and despite
government's vehement protestations of unlimited adherence to all precepts
of democracy, the truth will out, and potential investors are not oblivious
to the facts.

When the state-controlled media gives nauseatingly endless eulogies of
praise to the ruling party and, in particular, to the President, and has
naught but castigatory diatribes against the political opposition, democracy
becomes a mockery, compounded by that media publishing tomes of advertising
for the ruling party's candidate, but suppresses opposition advertising.
When genocidal violence is pursued in rural areas by avowed party-supporting
war veterans, and by the ruling party's youth league, without containment by
the "guardians" of law and order, reinforced by ruling party cadres
threatening villagers, mineworkers and others if the wards in which they
reside do no vote according to prescribed dictates, democracy does not
exist. When the opposition candidate, and hierarchy of his party, are
repeatedly arrested, precluded from addressing rallies, and subjected to
endless constraints from peaceful pursuit of the electorate, democracy does
not exist.

And all these incontestable signs that democracy in Zimbabwe has died
is incontrovertibly confirmed when the First Lady, electioneering for her
husband, says that his opponent will never be allowed to rule and to occupy
the presidential office, followed by the president stating that he will go
to war to prevent his party ceasing to govern Zimbabwe. How can that
possibly be democratic?

All this is witnessed by those who, under other circumstances, would
invest in Zimbabwe, would aid its economic recovery, and stimulate economic
growth. But all that they can see is that the Zimbabwean economic collapse
will continue, at an accelerated pace, and that any investment will be lost.
Zimbabwe's economic coffin is being firmly nailed down, and there can be no
economic resurrection, no domestic or foreign investment, no lines of
credit, and no balance of payments support, until democracy is restored.

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Editor's Comment: Will Mugabe Survive This Time?

Zim Independent

Thursday, 19 June 2008 19:42
AFTER cornering President Robert Mugabe in the March elections,
Zimbabweans go to the presidential poll run-off next Friday faced with an
option of letting him off the hook and enduring untold suffering or
finishing the job by evicting him from State House to end their collective

It's a historic election like no other since Independence in 1980. The
main question of the day would be: will Mugabe survive this time around?
Will Zimbabweans let him wriggle off the hook or will they take the bull by
the horns to tame the beast? The ball is entirely in the voters' court.

Despite the escalating repression and violence, as well as electoral
shenanigans of the Mugabe regime, irresistible people's power could prevail
if the voters go out in their numbers to express their will. Voters from the
south-western part of this country have shown in the past terror and
brutality can be defied. In the middle of fierce repression, violence and
massacres in 1985, voters in Matabeleland and Midlands rejected Zanu PF and
voted for PF-Zapu. Violence on its own does not yield votes. Excuses aside,
it is possible for people to refuse to be intimidated and subjugated through
violence and bribery.

Some always argue the situation in Matabeleland was different from the
current state of politics and therefore cannot be used as an example of how
people can defy and reject a violent party and leadership. Of course the
circumstances are different - that is obvious - but the point remains that
PF-Zapu supporters rejected Zanu PF under far more extreme conditions of
repression and violence than now.

Why can't MDC supporters and all the disgruntled voters be able to do
the same? Dismissing the example of Matabeleland implies Zimbabweans at
large are hostages to Mugabe and Zanu PF, something that people should not
encourage or be proud of.

It is feasible people can vote against a repressive and violent
regime. It has happened elsewhere in post-colonial Africa and it means it
can also be done in Zimbabwe. Why can't Zimbabweans free themselves in the
same way? The history and political dynamics of various countries are
different, but the quest for freedom is a universal cause.

There will definitely be determined efforts to subvert and undermine
the people's will, but a resolute electorate is able to overcome its
adversities through the ballot box. People should call Mugabe's bluff that
the pen is not mightier than the sword by voting in large numbers against
him and see what happens. It doesn't matter if he resorts to retributive
violence or even a military take over because history will record that he
was rejected at the polls. People should ensure that they are on the right
side of history. Voting for Mugabe in the midst of such a crisis would
certainly be an endorsement of his destructive legacy and would not change
the situation, except for the worse.

Already some say Mugabe will win come hell or high water. They now
accept this as a fait accompli and even go on to say it would have to be a
cold day in hell for Morgan Tsvangirai to win under such conditions. This is
tantamount to capitulation. Those who peddle this argument seek refugee in
the lame argument that this is being realistic, but reality is often a
perception. As they say, the dividing line is wafer-thin.

Ordinarily, it is difficult to see how Mugabe can lose the run-off
after his warlike campaign driven by the state security forces. The
military-style campaign left a trail of destruction, including dozens of
casualties, and a badly terrified electorate, but it is still feasible for
people to go out and vote against Mugabe. If it is within the realm of
feasibility, why can't it be done?

The objective economic conditions on the ground dictate that voters
have to reject violence and intimidation. Things are rapidly going from bad
to worse. There is barely any food in the supermarkets after last year's
government-engineered policy tsunami swept across a swathe of the land,
leaving a trail of destruction and mayhem in its ugly wake.

Desperate Zimbabweans are now flocking into neighbouring countries to
buy food - including the staple mealie-meal, beef and salt - in a bid to
fend off hunger. Clear conditions of a man-made famine are fast developing
in Zimbabwe. Famines are usually the product of drought, crop failure and
pestilence, and man-made causes such as war or misguided economic policies.

In Zimbabwe the problem is clearly man-made. Leadership and policy
failures have caused the food shortages and suffering. A disastrous cocktail
of repression, human rights abuses and economic collapse have forced
Zimbabweans to flee en masse to other countries at the risk of facing
foreign hostility, including xenophobic attacks.

Our political and civil liberties have been eroded or taken away
except the right to starve!

Inflation is scaling stratospheric levels and the local currency is
crashing almost daily to unimaginable depths. Mugabe is no longer even
pretending he has something to offer the electorate during his current
campaigns. Not even his tunnel vision.

He is hawking threats of retribution and war. His campaign is
polarised and sounds paranoid, with dangerous emotional overtones and
anxiety. He has nothing to offer anymore. So why should people vote for him?

By Dumisani Muleya

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