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Mugabe's thieves plundering Zimbabwe

the zimbabwean

An industry and commerce captain on Friday startled participants attending a business forum at Africa University when he told a Cabinet Minister that President Mugabe was surrounded by criminals who want to perpetuate his rule so they can continue to plunder the country's resources.

Evans Mbambo, the second national vice president for the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), stunned Samuel Mumbengegwi, the Minister of Finance, who was in attendance, that thieves surrounded Mugabe and were using their vantage positions to plunder Zimbabwe for their own benefit.

Mumbengegwi was the guest of honour at the CZI's national economic lecture series held at the university, a stone throw away from the eastern border city.

"The President is surrounded by thieves," Mbambo said during a question and answer session. "His Excellency needs a courageous man who can sit down with him so that he can be rescued from the criminals around him."

“I wouldn't want to talk about criminals because I am not a criminal," a visibly angry Mbengegwi said. "As a minister and as an individual my record is clean."

Unshaken by the minister's anger, Mbambo attempted to raise more issues with the Mumbengegwi but was restrained by the moderator, Joseph Kanyekanye, the chief executive officer of Forestry Company of Zimbabwe and a top CZI official in Manicaland.

Civic society and the opposition have in the past spoken strongly against rampant corruption and disregard of the rule of law by President Mugabe's lieutenants.

Many also blame Mugabe for the patronage system that exists in Zimbabwe. As a President he has continuously failed to send to jail his top corrupt cronnies in the government and Zanu (PF) party.

Mumbengegwi had spoken about his ministry's role in the turn around programme of the country's economy when he raised Mbambo's ire.

"Inflation in this country is not based on the cost of production but upon money chasing," he said. "It has become undesirable to produce. Zimbabweans don't want to produce goods because they can’t make quick money." – Zimbabwe journalists

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Zimbabwe reviews inflation calculation, delays data

Wed 27 Jun 2007, 14:48 GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE, June 27 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe is reviewing how it calculates inflation and will delay the release of May data, a government official said on Wednesday, as the country grapples with hyper-inflation.

President Robert Mugabe's government has declared the country's galloping inflation -- put at more than 3,700 percent in April -- as its number-one enemy. But prices continue to rise relentlessly, jumping by as much as 300 percent in the past week alone after the local currency tumbled.

Moffat Nyoni, acting director of the Central Statistical Office, said May's figure, predicted by economists to top 4,000 percent, would not be released soon and the agency was reviewing the consumer price basket it uses to calculate the data. "There has been criticism of our basket," Nyoni said, declining to give details.

"As technical people we might move in a different direction if we find that we have issued data that has misled the public. But we are looking at whether there is any justification in the criticism," said Nyoni.

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has in the past said it might be necessary to change the components of the consumer price basket. Independent economists have interpreted this as indicating government displeasure with the sky-high figures.

Nyoni said: "It's safe to say that the release of the (May) figures is somewhat indefinite."

Zimbabwe's inflation is the highest in the world, reflecting a deep economic crisis mainly blamed on Mugabe's policies, such as his seizure of white-owned farms for blacks.

Early this month, the government promised to reduce monthly inflation to below 25 percent by the end of the year after signing a price and wage protocol with business and labour. But skyrocketing prices in the past week have dashed that hope.

On Tuesday, Mugabe's government issued a directive that businesses must revert to the prices quoted on June 18 while a commission investigates whether the recent jump was justified.

Some stores have responded by withdrawing their products from the shelves while most bakers stopped producing bread.

Mugabe, who denies charges of mismanaging the economy, on Wednesday threatened to nationalise all companies after accusing business executives of hiking prices as part of a Western campaign to topple his government.

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Lawyers to Boycott Courts Wednesday

SW Radio Africa (London)
27 June 2007
Posted to the web 27 June 2007

By Violet Gonda

Members of the legal society will boycott the courts countrywide on Wednesday in protest of the general ill treatment of lawyers. Lawyers have been under systematic attack and have decided not to attend the courts to highlight the violation of their rights by the state. Several members of the legal profession, including Beatrice Mtetwa the president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) have been arrested, beaten, and harassed by the authorities in recent weeks.

Rangu Nyamurundira from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said this plan to boycott the courts follows a meeting that was held by the LSZ with its various members across the country in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo. Nyamurundira said the group agreed to stay away from the courts because lawyers were beaten and detained the last time they tried to march peacefully.

He said: "By boycotting the courts, we are saying that the courts are where the lawyer plays his role in society and we are sending a clear message that there is no longer any use for us attending courts when we are being beaten up, and being arrested by the police when we are representing our clients. It's as good as actually stopping us from going to these courts."

Copyright © 2007 SW Radio Africa. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

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HIV Programmes Get U.S.$730 000 Boost

The Herald (Harare)
27 June 2007
Posted to the web 27 June 2007

THE Swedish International Development Agency yesterday donated US$730 000 for HIV and Aids mitigation programmes at the workplace in Zimbabwe.

Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Sten Rylander donated the money through the International Labour Organisation. Mr Rylander hailed the co-operation between Government, labour and business that he said would be useful in turning around economies of the world.

"Zimbabwe is now approaching the turning around of a very difficult time with the signing of the social contract. That (social co-operation) was the secret behind the success of Sweden. If you work together as partners, you will achieve economic turnaround. We would like to support all of you in these efforts," Mr Rylander said.

The envoy said about 150 years ago, Sweden used to be one of the poorest nations and its woes came to an end as a result of the tripartite partners working together.

Mr Rylander, who signed the agreement on behalf of Sida, together with ILO regional director, Professor Tayo Fashoyin, said Sweden was committed to working with Zimbabwe in several humanitarian areas.

He said he was pleased with the work Government was doing in mitigating the effects of the HIV and Aids scourge.

The US$730 000 project, which is aimed at preventing and mitigating the effects of HIV and Aids at the workplace, would be implemented by ILO jointly with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe. Mr Rylander said his government would continue supporting Zimbabwe's efforts in the fight against HIV and Aids.

"Sweden is now scaling up its support towards HIV and Aids interventions globally, focusing mainly on prevention. We work with the Government when it comes to HIV and Aids and other humanitarian needs despite our differences," he said.

"We are aligning our assistance to Government policy. We are impressed by what the Government is doing in the fight against HIV and Aids despite the current economic situation," said Mr Rylander.

Copyright © 2007 The Herald.

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Zimbabwe's Mugabe accuses Blair of "tricks, dishonesty and hypocrisy" on Blair's last day

International Herald Tribune
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe said Wednesday he hoped Tony Blair's departure as Britain's prime minister leads to improved relations between Zimbabwe and Britain.

Mugabe also addressed his crumbling economy in remarks at a general's funeral, saying price cuts ordered by the government will be enforced and threatening to nationalize mines if their operators "go wrong."

Mugabe held Blair — who resigned as prime minister Wednesday after a decade in power and was succeeded by Gordon Brown — responsible for a standoff between the two nations and said he expected Blair in a new role as a Mideast peace envoy to "continue his tricks, dishonesty and hypocrisy" against Zimbabwe.

"We hope that those who come after him will look at Zimbabwe and past policy and try to improve that past policy. We have no enemies of our own choice," Mugabe told mourners at a state funeral for an army general killed in a car wreck.

Mugabe's reference to Blair was greeted by cheers.

Mugabe has repeatedly accused Blair and Britain, the former colonial ruler, of backing his opponents and campaigning for his ouster since the often violent seizures of thousands of white-owned farms — owned mostly by the descendants of colonial era British settlers — began in 2000.

He has accused Blair of reneging on promises Britain would pay compensation to displaced white farmers which the government refused to pay, arguing the land belonged to Zimbabweans before it was stolen by white settlers.

Mugabe said Wednesday Blair was the "mentor and sponsor" of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Brigadier Gen. Armstrong Gunda, 50, a former guerrilla commander in Mugabe's liberation army that gained independence from Britain in 1980, died when his car collided with a train about 100 kilometers (62 miles), east of Harare on June 21 near the boarding school where he was headed to collect his son for a school break.

Mugabe urged Zimbabweans to unite in the spirit of liberation to defeat the worst economic crisis since independence caused, he said, by economic sanctions imposed by Britain and its Western allies.

Mugabe vowed price cuts ordered by the government on Tuesday will be enforced. Prices have been rising as wholesalers and retailers struggle to keep up with the falling value of the Zimbabwean dollar.

"This nonsense of escalating prices has got to come to an end immediately," Mugabe said. He said those who did not bring down prices faced "a rough game."

In Harare on Wednesday, some shops began dropping prices, with shoppers emptying shelves of goods that managers said would not be replaced unless suppliers also reduced their prices.

Industry Minister Obert Mpofu said on Tuesday a crack security unit was formed to enforce price cuts of between 50 and 70 percent on gasoline, the corn meal staple, bread, milk, meat and other basics, most already in short supply.

A new state prices and incomes commission is also empowered to jail traders for up to five years for overcharging or profiteering.

Mpofu accused some businesses of deliberately raising prices to cause civil unrest and bring down the government.

Foreign aid, investment and loans have dried up in more than six years of political and economic turmoil and worsening human rights violations. The government has also threatened to take over mines and private businesses.

Mugabe on Wednesday told cheering mourners mines were breaking the nation's laws by not channeling hard currency returns into state coffers.

"We will seize the mines if they go wrong. Take note. We will nationalize them. We will take them all over if they continue this dirty game," he said.

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Taskforce to deal with avian flu

The Herald (Harare)
27 June 2007

Posted to the web 27 June 2007

THE Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the Department of Veterinary Services are planning to put in place a taskforce to deal with avian influenza.

The setting up of the taskforce is one of the measures Government is putting in place to deal with the looming danger of avian flu.

Avian flu is a bird and human contact disease that has potential to kill many people.

Speaking during the commemorations to mark the World Health Day on Monday, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said it was Government's wish to establish similar structures to be put at all levels of service delivery so that everyone is involved in the process of disaster preparedness and response.

"The current looming danger of avian influenza is a case and cause for concern for us.

"As a ministry, we are working in collaboration with the Veterinary Department in the Ministry of Agriculture to put in place preparedness and response measures through the multi-sectoral national committee that prepares for disasters."

"Our wish is that similar structures are put in place at all levels of service delivery so that everyone is involved in the process of disaster preparedness and response," Dr Parirenyatwa said.

This year's World Health Day was commemorated under the theme: "Invest in Health -- Build a Safer Future."

Particular attention was being given to international health security.

Dr Parirenyatwa said health threats knew no borders.

These threats, he said, included diseases such as avian flu, humanitarian emergencies, chemical spills, bio-terrorism and effects of climate change.

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Zimbabwe Student Organization Alleges Police Assault Of Activists

VOA news

27 June 2007
Report By Thomas Chiripasi audio clip
Listen to Report By Thomas Chiripasi audio clip
Interview With David Coltart audio clip
Listen to Interview With David Coltart audio clip

Two Zimbabwe student leaders were said to be in critical condition at a Harare clinic following their alleged abduction and beating by police Tuesday night.

Zimbabwe National Student Union spokesman Benjamin Nyandoro said the group's secretary general, Beloved Chiweshe, and the former president of the Chinhoyi University of Technology Student Representative Council, Munjodzi Mutandiri were arrested by a police officer while traveling in a commuter omnibus.

Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported from Harare.

Elsewhere, three South African clerics were detained at the Bulawayo airport Wednesday after attending a prayer meeting Tuesday evening in observation of the United Nations International Day of Support for the Victims of Torture.

Such victims, their families, human rights activists and others attended a religious service late Tuesday led by Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube.

Deputy Director Selvan Chetty of the South African-based Solidarity Peace Trust told reporter told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he and two colleagues on their way to board a flight back to Johannesburg were taken aside by immigration officers and suspected Central Intelligence Organization agents.

He said he and the others were interrogated as to their business in Zimbabwe, then warned not to return to the country. He declined to elaborate further on the incident, citing concern for the well-being of colleagues remaining in Zimbabwe.

Bulawayo South member of parliament David Coltart of the Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by Arthur Mutambara said he was not surprised the pastors were targeted as they were very critical of the government at the prayer meeting.

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Facing Hyperinflation, Zimbabwe Schools Seek Supplementary Fees

VOA news

27 June 2007
Interview With Zimbabwean Parent audio clip
Listen to Interview With Zimbabwean Parent audio clip

Faced with soaring costs, Zimbabwean schools have started asking parents to pay supplementary fees on top of those already paid for the current term.

They said they are finding it difficult to feed pupils and maintain their institutions with fees paid when the term began. State and mission schools are asking for more then initial term fees, in some cases up to Z$6 million (US$50).

Masvingo’s Chegato School is asking parents for another Z$3.5 million (US$30) compared with an initial fee of Z$2 million (US$17).

At the Prince Edward School in Harare, officials said the fee for this term as approved by the Ministry of Education is Z$11 million (US$92) , but that it might be revised before the current term ends.

Parents said they are hard put to find the funds, though one with a child attending Rusununguko School in Ruwa, 40 kilometers east of Harare, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that parents must do whatever is necessary for their children under current economic conditions and find the money.

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Country Beyond March 2008

New Zimbabwe (London)
27 June 2007
Posted to the web 27 June 2007

By Lloyd Msipa

EVENTS on the economic and political front in Zimbabwe are moving at supersonic speed. In fact far too fast for the politically-untrained eye to keep up!

The Zimbabwe dollar has taken a heavy knock on the informal market sending prices spiralling sky high, and making life for the average Zimbabwean even more unbearable.

At the same time, the Zimbabwe government has shifted the black empowerment exercise a notch up by firstly distributing some nine hundred tractors to indigenous farmers and secondly by introducing the new empowerment legislation designed to shift the ownership of Zimbabwean public and private businesses to the indigenous players.

On the political front, as the Mbeki mediation initiative is taking place in South Africa, events in Zimbabwe have taken a dimension of their own. Constitutional Amendment number 18 is being debated in parliament and will likely become law by August. The amendment seeks, among other things, to amend section 28 subsections 3, of the Constitution hence empowering Parliament to sit as an electoral college and nominate a new president to replace the incumbent, should he die, resign or become incapable whilst in office.

In the opposition camp of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), two philosophical stand points have emerged. The Morgan Tsvangirai MDC seems bent on continuing to hammer and rely on the goodwill of the international community to usher it into power. MDC Mutambara has embraced the pan-Africanist ideology by publicly acknowledging the role played by the liberation war heroes in bringing Zimbabwe to where it is today. This pan Africanist stand point seems to have endeared him to the regional leaders in Southern Africa.

Looking far and wide, there are other players; the likes of WOZA who seem to have decided to take their participation in the struggle to the next level, if their demand to take part in the Mbeki talks is anything to go by. Dr Lovemore Madhuku, at the helm of NCA, seems to have aligned himself with the Tsvangirai faction, possibly in a strategic move to remain relevant following the constitutional debacle in the NCA. In Zanu PF itself, the 18th Amendment promises to usher in a new Zanu PF and possibly put paid to all the efforts of the opposition. By the look of things, change is definitely on its way.

Anybody familiar with the game of chess will look at the board and possibly foresee the checkmate. Chess is a game that's often been said is easy to learn, but impossible to master. How true! Like politics, becoming a better chess player requires a lot of work. Players on the political scene have to ready themselves to work. Because some are working, others procrastinating, the impending change will benefit the politician working with a vision. Here is my analysis and why I think that is so.

The Mbeki initiative is dead under water as it will not benefit either of the MDCs. The reasons are as follows. The initiative has come far too late and is moving far too slow, especially with elections around the corner. Secondly, the fact that MDC Tsvangirai is perceived by all and sundry as a western puppet on an imperial agenda, he is unlikely at this juncture to receive the support of Thabo Mbeki, let alone the regional leaders. Tsvangirai's trade union background and politics is in direct conflict with Mbeki's problems with COSATU at home. As a player on the chess board, he will not be able to call for a checkmate on Mugabe.

Professor Arthur Mutambara's MDC remains a faction that has the potential to become the central rallying point of all progressive forces. His politics have remained largely appealing to those who see beyond liberation war politics and imperial puppetry. What is required in my view is that on his part, he needs to develop his pan-African approach tied to the economic development policies as an ideology completely divorced from the MDC Tsvangirai's politics which is based on trade unionism. On how he will fare on the chess game, well, it is my contention that he has the potential to make all the right moves and become key in the game.

The queen in this game of chess is largely under the control of Zanu PF. Those familiar with the game will know that the queen is not limited in its movement. It is able to move upwards, downwards, sideways or diagonally. In other words, Zanu PF has all the resources of a governing party. Zanu PF has laws that work in its favour. For example, the residence provision in the constitution providing for the electorate to be in their constituency at the time of voting serves to disenfranchise all who have voted with their feet in the past.

One key issue that most take for granted is the land issue. Land was central to the struggle and hence an emotive issue with the people of Zimbabwe. The fact that MDC Tsvangirai seeks to redistribute land and at the same time have the likes of Roy Bennett in the MDC as a senior member is a contradiction in terms. Bennett is a former farmer himself who benefited from the legacy that took land from Zimbabweans in the first place.

We can comfortably discount the Diaspora vote in the next election. It will not happen. The reason being that Zanu PF will not allow the Diaspora to vote as it is not able to send its representatives to campaign in the UK and elsewhere due to the travel embargo on its officials!

So what am I saying? Well in the words of the ANC founding president in 1896, John Langalibalele Dube: "We have discovered that in the land of their birth, Africans are treated as hewers of wood and drawers of water", hence any political organisation that suspiciously seems to operate against this truth will be rejected by the electorate in 2008.

It is my contention that economic arguments alone are not enough to get the people to turn against Zimbabwe's liberators. In fact Zimbabwe remains largely reliant on subsistence existence; hence the economic collapse argument will not cut it. A fundamental truth that we all cannot run away from is that Mugabe will soon need to be replaced by a younger leader prepared to take Zimbabwe to the next level of the struggle, without compromising the gains thus far.

The next leader from whatever political party will need to have both the attributes of protecting the legacies of the liberation war heroes and be able to engage the International institutions (IMF, WB, EU etc) and governments on Zimbabwe's terms for its economic benefit. So whoever this player will be, he will be ushered forward on condition the king is secure and then checkmate everybody else!

Lloyd Msipa writes from London, England

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Zimbabwe: President Mugabe's critics take to the stage

yahoo xtra Thursday June 28, 08:00 AM

With street protests banned and a once-vibrant press muzzled, dissident theatre productions are becoming an increasingly popular outlet to vent frustration towards Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

"Theatre is a mirror reflecting what is taking place in society and this is what I do with all my plays," says Cont Mhlanga whose satire "The Good President" has been playing before packed audiences.

"When I see an opposition leader beaten up and appearing in pictures in bandages, for me that is not good and am I not allowed to protest?"

The play's run was brought to an abrupt halt earlier this month when riot police stormed the stage at Bulawayo Theatre in the country's second city.

Inspired by the assault on opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and several activists as they tried to stage a protest rally in March, the play ran foul of the authorities with its portrayal of the brutishness of Mugabe's riot police.

The production, which had earlier enjoyed a sell-out run in the capital Harare, opens with riot police bashing Tsvangirai with truncheons for "thinking you can overthrow a democratically-elected leader."

It ends with a disenchanted police officer resigning after learning from his grandmother that his own father was an opposition leader in the early 1980s and was killed by the same security forces of which he is a member.

Furious at the play's temerity, police commanders deployed officers in riot gear to drive away theatre-goers, including Bulawayo's outspoken Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube.

Police have demanded that Mhlanga hand over his script and tone it down but this author of several political satires has refused to be cowed.

"Instead of addressing issues, government is targetting Cont Mhlanga," he told AFP by phone.

The state mouthpiece The Herald castigated the play as "not theatre but a propaganda piece" and "advocating for anarchy."

"The play is, therefore, the same campaign for regime change but this time using theatre and not the streets or pamphlets," the newspaper said.

Mhlanga, who has launched a court appeal against the ban, says he is perplexed by the authorities' stance.

"I am wondering why they are looking for extra motives behind the play," said Mhlanga, who was picked up and then interrogated last year over his play "Pregnant with Emotion" about a child who refuses to be born amid the crisis prevailing in the country.

Zimbabwe, once considered as a post-colonial success story, has been gripped by political unrest and an economic crisis which has seen inflation soar to nearly 5,000 percent and unemployment hit the 80 percent mark.

And Mugabe, the 83-year-old who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980, intends to stand for re-election next year.

"I have been in the arts since the birth of Zimbabwe and I have been writing protest plays. If I was seen addressing a political rally then perhaps my critics would have a case against me."

"The Good President" joins a growing list of artistic productions blacklisted for their too-close-to-home portrayal of Zimbabwe's political crisis and economic decline.

The play's producer Davies Guzha was also behind another biting satire, "Superpatriot and Morons," banned three years ago by government censors.

"We are witnessing a systematic attack on theatre as an alternative voice," said Guzha.

"We are seeing a further shrinking of space for public debate."

Audience figures attest to the popularity of protest theatre with other productions such as "State of The Nation" and "All Systems Out Of Order" being staged before full houses at the popular Theatre-in-the-park in the capital.

The artistic blacklist also extends to music, with songs such as "Mamvemve" and "Nhamo Zvakare" by the country's most famous musician Thomas Mapfumo -- who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States -- banned from the airwaves.

"Mamvemve" ("Tatters") is a metaphor of the country's decay while "Nhamo Zvakare" ("Suffering Again") is the confession of a lying politician.

The songs remain popular with music fans and are often played on commuter buses.

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