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Power and glory

The Telegraph

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 03/06/2007

'I believe in the power of political action to make the world better
and the moral obligation to use it," declared the Prime Minister in ringing
tones on his valedictory tour of Africa. This was Thursday in Sierra Leone,
scene of one of the triumphs of Mr Blair's foreign policy; the template for
his later, and rather more disastrous, strategy of "avowed interventionism".

On Friday in South Africa, he displayed his rarely-seen pragmatic
side. Talking about the tragedy that is Zimbabwe, Mr Blair admitted that
interventionism had its limits and accepted that only Africans could bring
to an end the appalling Mugabe regime.

With inflation at nearly 4,000 per cent, life expectancy reduced to
just 37 years, a quarter of the population having emigrated and many of
those left behind living in hunger, Zimbabwe is undoubtedly a part of the
world that should be made "better".

While no one would argue that Britain could or should intervene
militarily in Zimbabwe, "political action" does not have to begin and end
with troop deployments. There is much more that Mr Blair's Government could
have done (banning the England cricket tour of the country in 2004 would
have been a good start), particularly in putting pressure on South Africa,
the only regional superpower, to take a stronger line with its neighbour.

We have been told repeatedly that Pretoria is "active behind the
scenes" in attempting to persuade Mugabe to change course, but in public the
South African president, Thabo Mbeki, has done little but fawn over the old
dictator at every opportunity. The consequence has been that life has only
got worse in Zimbabwe.

The problem with Mr Blair's concept of intervention is that it
depended either on military invasion or pious preaching and very little
else. If he had had a little more sense of national history, and a little
less concern for his own place in history, Mr Blair would have understood
that Britain has long had immense influence in Africa and elsewhere.

That influence could have been used to pragmatic effect in "making the
world better". The tragedy is that because of his reckless intervention in
Iraq, our ability so to do is diminished.

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Mugabe should now call it a day

Sunday Nation, East Africa


Publication Date: 6/3/2007 When does freedom cease to be a desirable ideal
and become a dangerous indulgence? What are the highest goals of man? Should
society sacrifice all in the cause of freedom? Freedom from what, as defined
by who?

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe casts himself as the continental
champion in Africa's (largely non-existent) crusade against imperialism,
neo-imperialism and colonialism. In the process, Zimbabwe is totally
destroyed, its economy has become a wild place where inflation is running at
thousands of percentage figures. Was it worth it? Was it a fair price for
whatever Mr Mugabe felt the nation needed to achieve?

When Africans listen to Mr Mugabe, they hear the strong words of
liberation, the sweet empty words of struggle against racial domination. And
because many of them have either suffered white rule or find the very notion
of racial domination abhorrent, they cheer Mr Mugabe and give him a standing
ovation. Yet very few of them would travel the disastrous route he has
chosen for his country.

Like many Africans, South African President Thabo Mbeki and ANC, whose
people have suffered racism for centuries, would find it very difficult to
take a hard line stance against Mr Mugabe, who has cleverly fashioned
himself as the symbol of anti-imperialism on the continent.

Yet the world expects South Africa, and Africa at large, to find a
solution to the Zimbabwe problem.

However heroic Africans find Mr Mugabe, his way has not worked and
Zimbabwe has paid a terrible price. Mr Mugabe, however, appears to believe
that the suffering of his people is entirely attributable to the malicious
actions of the United States and Britain.

That is not a useful approach in ensuring the resolution of Zimbabwe's
problems. Mr Mugabe was given a job by his people and, on his watch, for
whatever reasons, the country is all but destroyed.

The time has come for Mr Mugabe to stop being so self-righteous and
spare a thought for the millions whose lives his policies have blighted. He
should accept personal responsibility for this tragedy; he should realise
that his country is in a hole and there is no wisdom in continuing to dig.
Further, it should not be lost on him that healing and recovery cannot begin
with him in power. He should, therefore, leave and take his heroics with

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$200m lawsuit blow to MDC bid for unity

Zim Standard

  By Nqobani Ndlovu

BULAWAYO - Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials in the
Mutambara faction are going ahead with a $200 million defamation lawsuit
against opposition leader MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, party insiders told
The Standard last week.

They said the action could deal a major blow to efforts to reunite the
two factions ahead of the 2008 elections.
There had been growing optimism that the MDC would reunite to tackle
Zanu PF in the harmonised parliamentary and presidential polls next year.

The optimism was fuelled by reports that the factions were on the
verge of endorsing Tsvangirai as their sole presidential candidate.

Arthur Mutambara, it was suggested, could be given an influential
position in the united MDC. Mutambara himself said in an interview last week
that, although the unity project was "work in progress", the two factions
would ultimately decide on one presidential candidate.

Still, it is now reported from within the Mutambara faction that top
officials were keen to take Tsvangirai to court.

Through their lawyer, Nicholas Mathonsi of Coghlan and Welsh,
vice-president, Gibson Sibanda, secretary general, Welshman Ncube,
treasurer, Fletcher Dulini Ncube, and former Gwanda North Member of
Parliament, Paul Themba Nyathi have applied for a trial date. They have
lined up four witnesses to testify against Tsvangirai.

Gift Chimanikire, who was suing Tsvangirai with the others, withdrew
the defamation charges after crossing the floor to the Tsvangirai faction.

Asked if the court case would not harm the prospects of the party's
reunification talks, Ncube asked: "What talks? I don't know anything about
them. There has been a lie about talks, re-unification and the 'sole'
candidate without the persons officially confirming and this is being
repeated everywhere. It has all been about sources and unnamed source.
Otherwise, our lawyers are handling the (defamation) case."

Dulini Ncube said last week: "Talks have nothing to do with this case
and the party. It's all up to the individuals to drop the case and not the

"At the same time, the question is not about the money but the fact
that he defamed our characters. He scored political mileage out of his
comments and at my age and with my political history I can't drop the
charges just like that."

Tsvangirai's spokesperson, William Bango could not comment on the
impact of the lawsuit on reported coalition talks: "These are legal matters.
The best person to comment on that is Tendai Biti who is handling the case."

Biti, the secretary general of the faction, said yesterday Tsvangirai,
who could not be reached for comment, was the best person to comment.

The pro-Senate members "require" five days of trial and according to
their lawyer they would seek to review the $200 million suit upwards in line
with inflationary trends shortly after the pre-trial conference in Bulawayo
before High Court Judge Nicholas Ndou.

Tsvangirai has hired Tendai Biti from Honey and Blanckenberg to
represent him.

The plaintiffs are demanding $200 million from Tsvangirai for remarks
he was alleged to have made to the diplomats in December 2005 in the
aftermath of the split.

He is alleged to have said the pro-Senate members had connived with
Zanu PF to kill him.

They also allege Tsvangirai told the same gathering the faction had
entered into a secret pact with Zanu-PF for a "cohabitation project on a
post-MDC political dispensation".

The alleged defamatory statements appeared on The Star newspaper under
the headline "Tsvangirai says henchmen plotted his death".

According to the court papers, the pro-Senate members will "state that
the only intent with which these statements were made was to maliciously
damage the reputation they had built as reputable politicians in trying to
score political points".

Tsvangirai, in his defence outline, denies the charge. He says the
report was false and "indeed an inaccurate report of his diplomatic
briefing". Tsvangirai will say The Star issued a retraction and an apology.

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Polls and HIV/Aids:should MPs be tested?

Zim Standard


AS concerns mount over the possible collapse of Africa's democratic
project under a complex wave of impacts introduced by the HIV and AIDS
pandemic, Zimbabwe's main political parties fear they could be providing a
hostage to fortune by insisting on testing.

They are thus reluctant to introduce compulsory testing. Several MPs
tested for HIV last year and all but three declared their results - they
were negative.

It is thought had the results been positive, they might not have been
so forthcoming with their declarations.

On average Zimbabwe holds about four by-elections a year due the death
of a sitting MP.

Recent research conducted in six countries - five of them in the
region - attributes the reluctance to come out in the open to fears of a
premature or disastrous end to political careers.

Nelson Chamisa and Gabriel Chaibva, spokespersons of the two MDC
factions, last week said requiring prospective candidates to declare their
health status had not been discussed thoroughly.

"That thinking," said Chamisa, "has not had thorough debate."

Chaibva, although citing issues of confidentiality, said political


parties needed to put in place a mechanism to tackle this growing
problem. He cited the case of a Chitungwiza candidate who died a day after
his nomination.

Blessing Chebundo (MDC), MP for Kwekwe, is chairperson of the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health. He said of particular
importance were the preventative and mitigatory measures.

He cited the issue of truckers, saying once they were identified as
one of the prime elements in the spread of HIV and Aids, subsequent measures
to scale up awareness and the provision of treatment, which prolongs life,
were put in place for them.

"There was some thinking along those lines for teachers and nurses,
some time ago," he said, "but that was dropped because we need a holistic

"The issue is no different from doctors, whose training we invest in
for seven years . . . or soldiers. But there is also the issue of human
rights for the prospective candidates, because, globally, we are not agreed
that HIV and Aids is a notifiable disease."

Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, the Zanu PF spokesperson, was unavailable for
comment despite repeated calls.

HIV/Aids was the first disease to be labelled a global security threat
by the United Nations Security Council. It was the first to command
discussion by the entire Security Council.

The National Association of Non-governmental Organisations (Nango),
the umbrella co-ordinating agency for non-governmental organisations, said
starting with next year's election they would demand that people be open
with their health status.

Fambai Ngirande, the Advocacy and Communications manager at Nango,
said: "Anyone who does not declare their status and is not pushing the
agenda should not be voted into office. We are concerned at the rate at
which people are increasingly being disempowered. There is no political will
to serve people who are living with or are affected by HIV and Aids."

Candidates coming out in the open about their health status would
stand a better chance of being voted in, he said, because they were likely
to push for the improvement of the lives of people living with HIV and Aids.

But Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni exploited the condition of his
opponent by suggesting that voting for the opposition candidate was "voting
for a dead candidate", delegates to a conference in Cape Town, South Africa
last week heard. Museveni's argument was that there was no place for people
living with HIV and Aids in leadership.

Professor Nana Poku from Bradford University, United Kingdom,
presented a counter perspective, arguing that a candidate who declared their
HIV/Aids status could re-energise how societies viewed people living with
HIV and Aids.

He said they could draw more support because they would be counted on
to pursue the scaling up of anti-retroviral drugs and care for those

In the end, they would constitute an effective counter to the stigma
and discrimination against people living with HIV and Aids.

Researchers from the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa)
found that in Malawi, for example, 42 MPs had died at the height of the
pandemic between 1994 and 2006.

An official statement by the then Speaker of Malawi's National
Assembly in 2000 disclosed that 28 MPs had died of HIV/Aids-related

"There is a declining trend," say the researchers, "which might be
explained by the increased availability of anti-retroviral drugs in the late
1990s and since MPs will be in the higher middle class to upper economic
bracket, with access to medical schemes."

In demonstrating the rising numbers of legislators dying before
completing their terms due to the possible influence of the HIV and Aids
pandemic in Zambia, the researchers say between 1964 and 1984 (the period
before the advent of Aids) 46 by-elections were held, 14 of them a result of
death by illness and accidents combined.

By comparison, from 1985 to February 2003,102 by-elections were held
and 59 were due to HIV and Aids-related deaths.

Idasa's Governance and Aids programme manager, Kondwani Chirambo, says
research in Zambia showed that the frequent deaths of MPs and other
political representatives due to illness had become common only in the last
10-15 years.

"As a result," Chirambo said, "the number of by-elections generated by
the natural deaths of incumbent MPs and councillors has also increased
during the same period.

"While only 6.4% of the 46 by-elections between 1964 and 1984 were
caused by MPs succumbing to natural deaths, the number rose dramatically
between 1985 and 2005: in that period about 60% of the 146 by-elections were
due to deaths of incumbent MPs . . . "

There is much concern over the cost of organising and conducting
elections, lack of representation and development and unquantifiable
frustration for the voters.

In Zambia, a by-election in a large constituency will cost up to
US$200 000, while in Tanzania it is US$500 000.Lesotho forked out US$130 000
for each by-election since 2002.

Chirambo said one of the negative impacts of HIV and AIDS on countries
was lack of carefully crafted policy responses, because countries would have
lost people with skills.

It was not uncommon to find that countries either failed to submit key
documents or presented partially completed reports, for example, for
negotiations with international financial institutions.

Electoral management bodies would be affected in their ability to
organise and conduct elections more efficiently because of loss of skilled
personnel, while parliaments could witness power shifts arising from HIV and
AIDS induced by-elections.

Political parties would suffer from the impact of the loss of members
either in leadership positions, people with organisational capabilities,
while membership would be affected in their participation in the electoral
process because of either their own health status or because they have to
tend to relatives living with HIV or AIDS and do not have time to register
as voters, verify the voters' roll and go out to vote.

The political cost is that small opposition parties were disadvantaged
because they did not have as much funding as ruling parties, which have
access to government funds.

In Zimbabwe, the larger opposition parties do have access to
government funds.

One question arising from the weaknesses wrought by HIV and AIDS is
whether it is not time for the "first past the post" system to be modified,
which would mean either waiving the requirement for by-elections or adopting
a proportional representation system.

But proportional representation has its own drawbacks which stem from
concerns about poor accountability, as MPs will not be directly elected by

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Patients turned away as nurses strike

Zim Standard

  By Bertha Shoko

FIFTY-year-old Patricia Nhera, an employee of the City of Harare in
Mbare, fell and dislocated her hip at work on Wednesday.

Unable to move after her fall, Nhera was rushed to Harare hospital's
casualty department where she had an emergency X-ray.
But since her admission and until Friday morning, no doctor had
examined her.

With not even a pain killer to ease her anguish, Nhera spent two
nights at Harare hospital. She was "discharged" from hospital on Friday
morning and advised to seek treatment elsewhere.

When The Standard visited Harare hospital on the same morning Nhera
and her husband were waiting outside the casualty department. They said they
were told to go to a private doctor.

On the verge of tears, Nhera said: "We have no money to pay private
doctors. I am just a city council cleaner and my husband is a pensioner.
What should we do, mwanangu? Tapererwa isu (we have run out of ideas)."

Scores of hospital staff could be seen basking in the sun outside the
hospital. Some were loitering around the hospital grounds, very determined
to force government and the Health Services Board to address their plight.

This reporter was able to see the full effects of the strike. Nurses
who spoke on condition of anonymity said the situation was likely to get
worse as other supporting staff (mortuary, kitchen, records and
administration) at Harare hospital had joined the strike on Thursday

Relatives of the deceased faced an arduous task claiming the bodies of
their loved ones because the mortuary staff were on strike too. There was
particular concern that because cadavers were not being collected in the
wards, many patients were exposed to infection.

At the main hospital's casualty department a senior nurse was turning
patients away, insisting the hospital was only taking referrals from the
city council clinics. But the Harare city council nurses are also on strike,
which made it highly unlikely that the hospital would have any referrals.

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Teachers demand new pay within 7 days

Zim Standard


DISGRUNTLED teachers, awarded a 600% salary hike last week, are now
demanding that they be paid the new pay within seven days because they
cannot afford to commute to work any more.

The teachers said the salaries they were paid last month were
exhausted a week after payday because of the current hyperinflationary

Inflation, currently pegged 3 713.9%, is the highest in the world and
has pushed up the cost of transport, housing and other basic commodities.

Militant Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), secretary
general Raymond Majongwe said his organisation had already communicated the
teachers' demand to the government.

"We appreciate the gesture by the government in increasing teachers'
salaries but the teachers are saying they need the money now because they
have nothing to eat at home.

"Teachers can no longer afford to commute to work. If the government
fails to give them the money this week, they will go to work for nine days
only," said Majongwe.

Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (Zimta) national president Tendai
Chikowore declined to comment.

"Today, I don't have a comment. My hands are tied. Teachers said they
don't want their salaries discussed in the press. It's confidential," said
Chikowore, chairperson of the Civil Service Staff Association Apex Council.

The council represents all 180 000 government employees.

The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture Aeneas Chigwedere could
not be reached for comment as his mobile phone was not reachable.

Apart from the salary increment, teachers' transport and housing
allowances were boosted by 245 percent and 110 percent respectively.

Last week's pay rise came after teachers threatened to down tools
after they turned down a government offer of 200 percent increment.

The recent increment, which will come into effect this month, would
see the lowest paid teacher, straight from college, earning over $3 million.

According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) the poverty datum
line (PDL) stands at $1,7 million.

But independent economists estimate that PDL has since move to over
$3.5 million.

Before the pay rise, the least paid teacher was receiving $528 000,
when housing and transport allowances of $138 000 and $172 000 respectively
were included.

Labour has proposed to the government to consider paying civil
servants twice a month to cushion them against the hyperinflationary

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Police assault: lawyer finds only road blocks

Zim Standard


LAW Society of Zimbabwe president, Beatrice Mtetwa, has lodged a
formal complaint with the police over her assault by State security agents
early last month.

Together with another lawyer, Chris Mhike, she has been battling to
report the assault to the police. So far, she said, they have been referred
from one police station to another.

Mtetwa, Mhike, Collin Kuhuni and Terence Fitzpatrick say they were
assaulted by the police along Cumberland Road in Eastlea last month.

Mtetwa said since then they encountered problems trying to report the
case because the assailants were police officers.

In a letter dated 18 May to the Deputy Police Commissioner (crime),
Innocent Matibili, Mtetwa said they tried to make a report at Harare Central
police station but were referred to Rhodesville police station.

"We proceeded to Rhodesville where we once again struggled to lodge
our complaints. The sergeant on duty developed cold feet when he heard who
the assailants were. He referred us to Highlands, which he indicated was the
station with the relevant jurisdiction," said Mtetwa.

She said they finally wrote out their statements and gave them to the
sergeant on duty but they were denied medical examination forms.

"The sergeant refused to give us the medical examination forms,
insisting that only Highlands police could give us the forms," she said. "He
undertook to transmit the complaints to Highlands police station."

On following up the issue with Highlands police, Mtetwa said she was
advised that the report had been taken to Harare Central under CR61/5/07.

But when she followed that up at Harare Central she was told they had
not received such a report.

Mtetwa said despite explaining to the police officers the need to have
their injuries examined by a Government Medical Officer (GMO) "no-one was
prepared to give us the correct form".

She said: "In the meantime, the injuries are healing, with the result
that the GMO who examines me, if I am ever examined, will not get a good
picture of what injuries I suffered. This, I contend, is so groACss a
miscarriage of justice as to require your intervention," wrote Mtetwa to

As a former prosecutor, said Mtetwa, she was aware that a report can
be made at any police station and thereafter transmitted to the correct
station. A request for medical examination forms can equally be given at any
police station, she said.

The four lawyers were assaulted on 8 May when they wanted to present a
petition to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs,
Patrick Chinamasa.

The petition was in protest at the detention of lawyers Alec
Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni.

Matibili was not immediately available for comment last week.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said he was
unaware of the letter from Mtetwa, insisting that any complaint presented to
the police would be dealt with accordingly.

"Those medical examination forms are given to the people at the
particular police station. A report would have been made. We are not aware
of that letter you are referring to," Mandipaka said.

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Red Cross says Zim like 'war situation'

Zim Standard

  By Nqobani Ndlovu

ZIMBABWE'S ailing health delivery system has collapsed to levels
comparable to "a war situation", says the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC).

As a result, the international organisation has this year poured over
US$4.5 million in an effort to revive the sector. Among its main problems
are shortages of drugs, equipment and personnel.

ICRC communication delegate for Southern Africa Sebastian Brack said
the funds followed concerns over the prevailing crisis in Zimbabwe, with
health one of hardest-hit sectors.

He said the crisis had reached "war situation" levels and could no
longer be ignored if lives were to be saved.

"We have begun slowly increasing humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe
as a result of the economic situation," Brack told a one-day workshop on
human rights at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in

"We have started setting up health institutions and organising
trainings for health personnel in the remote areas as they are the worst
affected by the brain drain."

ICRC has so far established health centres in Tsholothso, Lupane,
Tshibi and Makone to alleviate the health crisis.

"This is not our mandate as ours is mainly in armed conflicts. We are
trying to convince Geneva that there is need for ICRC to increase its
presence in Zimbabwe and help the suffering citizens deprived of a good
health," said Brack.

The organisation's core mission is to protect and assist the civilian
and military victims of armed conflicts and internal disturbances worldwide
on a strictly neutral and impartial basis.

Its other tasks include visits to prisoners of war and civilian
detainees, searching for missing persons, re-unification of dispersed
families, and provision of food, water and medical assistance to civilians
during armed conflicts.

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Detained top MDC official critically ill

Zim Standard


MORGAN Komichi, a top MDC activist held in police custody for the past
six weeks for "recruiting and training bandits, saboteurs and terrorists" is
reported to be seriously ill.

On Friday, his lawyer applied successfully for an urgent High Court
order to have prison authorities allow Komichi to receive specialist
treatment at a private hospital for his hypertension.

Komichi will be on 24-hour guard at the Avenues Clinic or other
suitable medical institution to receive specialist medical treatment, if the
prison authorities comply with High Court judge Justice Felistas Chatukuta's
Friday ruling.

Komichi, the deputy organising secretary of the MDC, is one of several
activists tortured savagely while in police custody.

"In the past one month or so that he (Komichi) has been admitted to
the prison clinic," said his lawyer, Vote Muza of Gutu and Chikowero, "his
health deteriorated dangerously and he has not been responding to treatment.
His continued detention at the Harare central prison therefore poses a great
hazard, not only to his health but to his life."

Muza said Komichi also suffers from acute anemia, which caused him to
undergo a blood transfusion early last month.

In his founding affidavit, Muza said:

"Applicant is unable to walk and where he attempts to do so he does
walk with extreme difficulty. This is a result of the torture commonly known
as 'phalanga', where he was heavily beaten under his feet. His rising blood
pressure has also caused him to suffer periodical (bouts of) fainting."

The Commissioner of Prisons, Paradzai Zimondi consented to the lawyers'
submissions and said it was his "humble submission" that the interim relief
sought was genuine and he had no reason to oppose it.

Komichi, 46, was abducted from his home in Hwange, six weeks ago.

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MPs say portfolio committees 'rendered irrelevant' by Executive

Zim Standard


PARLIAMENTARY committees are fast losing their relevance as their
recommendations are ignored by the Executive, Members of Parliament have

The Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary together constitute
the government.

The portfolio committees assist ministries and government departments
by producing reports containing recommendations which could help them
improve services.

Some of their reports have exposed corruption and shocking living
conditions of prisoners and members of the police force but the government
has not acted vigorously on the recommendations.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) chief whip, Innocent Gonese, said
the committees' efforts were being undermined by the Executive.

Some ministers, he said, did not even bother to respond to reports
tabled in Parliament about shortcomings in their ministries, rendering the
efforts by the committees a non-event.

"This failure or reluctance by the Executive to appreciate and
understand the role of the committees makes our work a total joke," said.

For example, a recent report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee
on Local Government, chaired by Margaret Zinyemba, advised Cabinet to
reconsider its decision to transfer water and sewerage reticulation services
from local authorities to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).

It clearly stated that ZINWA had no capacity and mandate to take over
the services.

Despite this strong recommendation, the government has simply ignored
the recommendation.

Asked to comment on the failure by the government to implement their
recommendations, Zinyemba could only say: "We are only a committee. We are
not above Cabinet."

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs has proposed that the chairperson of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) be appointed after consultations with the
Judiciary Services Commission and the Law Society of Zimbabwe.

But President Robert Mugabe still single-handedly appoints the
chairperson, making him or her beholden to the president.

A Zanu PF legislator, who chairs a portfolio committee, said the
committees were enfeebled by the fact that Zanu PF legislators feared to
challenge ministers. Those who did were branded as anti-government, he said.

"If you ask probing questions of some of the ministers you are bound
to be taken to task by the party. So we don't ask very sensitive questions.
We leave those to MDC legislators," said the MP.

Enock Porusingazi, a Zanu PF MP who chairs the Portfolio Committee on
industry and international trade, conceded that some committees' findings
had not been implemented.

But he said his committee did not encounter problems in their work
with the "authorities".

"We seem to be operating very well. All our recommendations have been
taken seriously and action has been taken," he said.

His committee was instrumental in charging Obert Mpofu, the Minister
of Industry and International Trade, with contempt of Parliament.

He had been accused of shielding senior party officials fingered in
the looting of the government-owned Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco)'s

A parliamentary committee set to look into the case found him guilty
and fined him $40 000.

Another Zanu PF MP, who chairs the committee on Defence and Home
Affairs, Claudius Makova, attributed the non-implementation of
recommendations to shortage of funds.

In 2004, his committee recomme-nded better houses for the soldiers and
the police but there had been no improvement.

"There are genuine reasons why these things are not done," he said.
"The hyperinflationary environment makes it difficult to implement some of
the suggestions we make."

Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo and Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma
could not be reached for comment.

The committees' woes have been worsened by the cancellation of an
agreement between the State University of New York (SUNY) and the
Parliament. SUNY provided technical and financial support to the committees
but the agreement was terminated, without notice, after allegations that US
State Department was working with unnamed organisations to effect "a regime
change" in Zimbabwe.

The committees had relied heavily on expertise from the university.

Gonese said it was "very unfortunate as it (SUNY) was important in
building capacity of, not just portfolio committees and clerks but
Parliament in general".

SUNY has since 2000 been a technical partner to Parliament in
strengthening it as an institution.

The university provided experts in law, economy and other areas who
were attached to Parliament to assist both the portfolio committees and
clerks in the execution of their duties.

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Desperate professionals turn to unorthodox 'job options'

Zim Standard

  SURVIVING the world's highest inflation rate is resulting in people ditching their
professions and embarking on work, which they had never previously

Mavis, a qualified nursery teacher, has swapped her life as an
educator for that of a sex worker and now cruises for clients in the
upmarket hotels of Harare.

"I am a professionally trained infant teacher, but last year I decided
to quit the profession as the money that I was earning was not adequate to
sustain myself," she said. "The odd tourist is always good for business
because they pay in foreign currency and they are always very generous with
their money."

Although foreign tourism has dropped off considerably in the last few
years because of the country's political and economic woes, Mavis said there
was still a class of people in Zimbabwe who were able to afford her services
and the best place to proposition them remained the hotels.

"If I was still working as a school teacher, I would be earning just
over Z$300 000 (US$7.50 at the parallel exchange rate of Z$40 000 to US$1) a
month, but now, I can charge as much as Z$500 000 (US$12.5) per night
regardless of whether the client wants my services for a short while or for
the whole night."

Mavis said that the majority of her clients were married men, who had
to get home to their wives. "When clients cannot be with me for a long time,
I can double my earnings in a single night," she said.

Her new work carries with it the risk of AIDS, as one in five
Zimbabweans aged between 15 and 49 are infected with HIV. "I would not do
anything as reckless as unprotected sex. I am an educated person and I know
the hazards. There are some clients who demand to have unsafe sex and even
offer to pay more but I insist on the use of condoms or cancel the
transaction," Mavis said.

More than 5 000 teachers failed to report for duty when schools opened
for the new term two weeks ago.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions estimates in its latest economic
review that hyperinflation had reduced wages and salaries to remuneration
received in 1965. An average public servant earns about Z$300 000 (US$7.50)
a month, while the cost of living for a family of six for the most basic
requirements, such as rent, food and school fees, is estimated at about Z$2
million (US$50) a month.

Independent economists contend that the official annual inflation rate
of 3 713% is less than half of the real rate of inflation.

In a recent weekly newspaper column, economist, Eric Bloch said: "With
inflation having soared, based on the Consumer Price Index (it's) in
practice exceeding 8 000%." The Consumer Price Index is a measure of price
rises affecting a specific basket of goods.

"The hyperinflation is so pronounced that an estimated 85% or more of
the population is striving to survive with insignificant incomes, far below
the Poverty Datum Line and more than half of Zimbabwe's people are suffering
at levels below the Food Datum Line, being the minimum resources needed to
avoid malnutrition," Bloch said.

Sarudzai works as a domestic helper for three young female
journalists, doing their laundry at the weekends and general house-cleaning
one day a week. The journalists were initially perplexed by their maid, as
she seemed "too intelligent" for such menial work, and became a good source
for news story ideas, particularly regarding the police.

The conundrum of their maid's life was exposed when the three
journalists were stopped at a police roadblock and among their number was a
police officer who looked vaguely familiar: then it dawned on them the
policewoman was their domestic helper.

After some initial embarrassment and a mumbled apology from the
policewoman, the coincidence was to change Sarudzai's life. She resigned
from the police force five months ago, after her unmasking had led to
options for better-paid work.

"When I came out in the open with the journalists, they introduced me
to a lot of their friends who I now do part time work for. I am very
grateful for the break which they gave me because while I would have been
earning Z$400 000 (US$10) as a sergeant in the police, I now make Z$3
million (US$75) a month from doing laundry and cleaning for young
professionals in Harare," she said.

The government has said 15 000 public servants have resigned in the
past 12 months and half of all government posts were vacant.

Robert Chimedza was at one time a manager at a Harare hotel, but
because of the dwindling number of foreign tourists visiting Zimbabwe, his
employers told him and his colleagues that their salaries would be reduced
in line with the slump in tourism.

Instead of accepting the lower wages, Chimedza resigned, took his
six-month redundancy cheque and cashed in his pension. "I pooled my pension
and requested the salaries in advance and raided the foreign currency black
market and bought as much foreign exchange as I could," he told IRIN and
then he left for neighbouring South Africa.

"I had done my research and established that a lot of companies and
government departments did not have foreign currency to buy supplies in
South Africa. I made arrangements with pharmacies to import basic medical
supplies," he said.

"After selling my products at the prevailing black market rate, I raid
the illegal foreign currency market, go and buy some goods in South Africa
and supply local companies because the manufacturing sector has all but
collapsed and is now dependent on people like ourselves to import basic
products," Chimedza said.

He has no regrets about his decision to resign from his hotel job and
said his entrepreneurial talents had rewarded him handsomely, as he now owns
a house in one of the township suburbs and drives a car imported from
Japan. - IRIN.


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WHO calls for massive testing

Zim Standard

  THE World Health Organisation (WHO) and the
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) have issued new guidance
on informed, voluntary HIV testing and counselling.

The guidance is directed at the world's health facilities, with a view
to significantly increase access to needed HIV treatment, care support and
prevention services. The new guidance focuses on provider-initiated HIV
testing and counselling
(recommended by health care providers in health facilities.) According
to the WHO, approximately 80% of people living with HIV in low and
middle-income countries do not know that they are HIV-positive. Recent
surveys in sub-Saharan Africa showed on average just 12% of men and 10% of
women have been tested for HIV and received their test results.

Increased access to HIV testing and counselling is essential to
promoting earlier diagnosis of HIV infection, which in turn can maximize the
potential benefits of life-extending treatment and care, and allow people
with HIV to receive information and tools to prevent HIV transmission to
others. "Scaling up access to HIV testing and counselling is both a public
health and a human rights imperative," said WHO HIV/Aids director Dr Kevin
De Cock.

"We hope that the new guidance will provide an impetus to countries to
greatly increase availability of HIV testing services in health care
settings. Without a major increase in HIV testing and counselling in health
facilities, universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care will
remain just a noble goal."

Until recently, the primary model for providing HIV testing and
counselling has been client-initiated HIV testing and counselling - also
known as voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) - in which individuals must
actively seek an HIV test at a health or community-based facility. But
uptake of client-initiated HIV testing and counselling has been limited by
low coverage of services, fear of stigma and discrimination, and the
perception by many people - even in high prevalence areas - that they are
not at risk.

Current evidence also suggests many opportunities to diagnose HIV in
clinical settings are being missed, even in places with serious HIV
epidemics. While, therefore, expanded access to client-initiated HIV testing
and counselling is still necessary, other approaches are also required if
coverage of HIV testing and counselling is to increase and, ultimately,
universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support is to be

The new WHO/UNAids guidance was prepared in light of increasing
evidence that provider-initiated testing and counselling can increase uptake
of HIV testing, improve access to health services for people living with
HIV, and may create new opportunities for HIV prevention. Provider-initiated
HIV testing and counselling has already been implemented in a range of
clinical settings in several low and middle-income countries, including
Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia, as well as in pre-natal settings
in parts of Canada, Thailand, United Kingdom and the
United States.

"If we are going to get ahead of this epidemic, rapidly scaled up HIV
treatment and prevention efforts are critical - and increased uptake of HIV
testing will be fundamental to making this a reality," said Dr Paul De Lay,
director of Monitoring and Evaluation, UNAIDS.

-WHO News.

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Economists slam indigenisation

Zim Standard

  By Jennifer Dube

THE government should start considering implementing indigenisation
from the growth of new businesses, and not through the forced legal change
of ownership of old businesses, economists have said.

In separate interviews, the economists advised that the country would
reap maximum benefits if the government were to encourage local
entrepreneurs to start their own businesses from the grassroots to
complement existing businesses.

This would be more beneficial to the economy than to "encourage
laziness" by forcing existing investors to cede their shares to indigenous

"The government should encourage local people to start their own
businesses from the factory level, instead of waiting for somebody else to
do it for them," said an economist who works in Harare.

"Sound empowerment should start from the growth of new businesses. New
business owners should come into the industry with their own businesses."

Economists warned the government's indigenisation plan would hammer
the final nail into the country's economic coffin.

They argued the fall of the agricultural and mining sectors after the
implementation of a similar plan should provide enough evidence that locals
lack the capacity to run the economy single-handed.

"The plan will bring an end to new investment and will also bring an
end to the updating of the existing technology," another economist said.
"Existing investors will not continue investing in businesses they risk to

"Once machinery and methods are left un-updated, this will translate
into less and less desirable and incompetent products. The manufacturing
sector will become less and less efficient and we will start manufacturing
outdated goods." .

In an interview, the Minister of State for indigenisation and
Empowerment, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, said the government was not taking
anything away from existing investors.

"We will soon be asking them (existing investors) to come up with
proposals on how best the process can be implemented and we will work from
those plans.

"All we are saying is that they cannot continue controlling majority
shares in local companies. They have to seek and accept joint ventures with
black local Zimbabweans whose minimum shareholding should be 51 percent,"
said the minister.

He said the indigenisation policy, to be implemented across all
sectors of the economy, was merely aimed at economically empowering black
locals who are the original owners of the country's wealth.

Mangwana dismissed all assertions that locals did not have the
capacity to run the economy.

"My friend, Zimbabweans own large businesses across the world, in most
parts of Africa and abroad. You will also find that 90 percent of the
companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange are managed by blacks and as
government, we are confident they can own some of the big companies and
continue to run them efficiently.

"We urge them to create capacity and raise resources to enable them to
run the companies and the government will chip in with the National
Indigenisation and Empowerment Fund which will be put in place to mobilise
resources and provide loans to people to sustain their business operations."

The proposed bill has fuelled apprehension among the country's few
remaining foreign companies. The bill is part of a package of laws which
have been compared with the apartheid-style laws in racist South Africa set
to be bulldozed into law in Parliament this year.

Mangwana hinted that the bill, which many economists suspect was a
political gimmick aimed at shoring up government's dwindling popularity,
could become law within the next two months.

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Computer piracy: Zimbabwe among top 20

Zim Standard

  ZIMBABWE is among the top 20
countries with the highest piracy rates in the world, according to results
of the fourth Global Safety Piracy study.

According to the report, there are five countries in West, East &
Central Africa that constitute the top 20 countries with the highest piracy
rates worldwide. Zimbabwe ranks 4th (91%), Cameroon ranks 10th (84%), Zambia
ranks 14th (82%), Ivory Coast ranks 16th (82%) and Nigeria ranks 18th (82%).

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) recently released the results of
the fourth Global Software Piracy Study by International Data Corporation,
which show that a number of countries in West, East and Central Africa
(WECA) have managed to decrease piracy rates in their regions.

Botswana, Kenya and Zambia each saw piracy rates drop by 1% - thanks
to concerted efforts from both the public and private sectors to promote the
message that piracy not only robs software vendors of revenues, but that the
end users lose out too.

"While the African region's overall piracy rate grew between 2005 and
2006," says Stephan le Roux, chairman of the BSA, "a number of African
countries saw the rate of piracy drop as a result of government and industry
actions. This also included the rapid influx of branded computers that ship
with legitimate software, taking market share from locally-assembled PCs
that can ship without legitimate software."

While the average piracy rate in Africa is still over 80%, and the
region has some of the highest piracy rates worldwide, Le Roux said it is
encouraging to see that the issue of piracy is being taken seriously by
governments, organisations and end-users in Africa.

"It is important to note that while Botswana, Kenya and Zambia have
managed to drop their piracy rates, these drops have not resulted in
significant cost savings for those governments, which indicates that there
needs to be a much more concerted effort in fighting piracy," Le Roux said.

"Take China as an example," he said. "It has managed to drop its
piracy rate by 10% in three years, resulting in a reduction of
piracy-related losses of over US$500m in total. I have no doubt that similar
savings can be achieved in Africa if governments begin to step-up their
anti-piracy activities as Botswana, Kenya and Zambia are currently doing."

Abed Hlatshwayo, Microsoft's Anti-Piracy manager for East & Southern
Africa said: "People are often under the impression that software vendors
have enough money and that one or two illegal copies of their software will
not hurt them in the greater scheme of things.

"But when you consider the fact that millions of people across the
continent are doing the same, this can add up to millions of dollars of lost
revenue - US$201m in 2006 to be exact."

This, Hlatshwayo says, has a knock-on effect on the government's
ability to deliver certain services to its citizens, because for every
pirated copy of software, the government loses tax revenue that could be put
straight back into delivering services to the people of Africa. This also
has an effect on direct foreign investment, which forms a very important
part of growing an economy.

"So, while piracy is a crime and can lead people to be prosecuted for
theft, the secondary effect of piracy affects the welfare of the broader
community as well. Can we really blame the government for not delivering
services if we are robbing it of the money to do so?" he asks.

There is the opportunity for African countries to learn from their
neighbours when it comes to fighting piracy. South Africa, for example, has
the lowest piracy rate in Africa (35%) and is in the BSA's list of the top
20 countries with the world's lowest piracy rates.

This is where many international companies have opted to set up
regional offices for Africa because of the country's anti-piracy and
intellectual property protection policies, giving South Africa huge
opportunity to attract more investment from international organisations -
strengthening its economy.

"It all starts with the citizens. Give some thought to what you would
do if you saw somebody drop their purse in front of you and continue
walking. Would you give it back to them, or check to see how much cash is in
it before you empty it and throw it away?" Hlatshwayo asks.

"Piracy is exactly the same. At the end of the day, it's stealing and
it's a crime that is punishable by law. But piracy hurts more than just the
software makers, it hurts the economy and the people who depend on the
economy," Hlatshwayo said.

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China goes on the offensive following food safety scare

Zim Standard

  By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING - China hit back on Friday at accusations its products are
unsafe, pointing out that a quarter of imported children's milk bottles and
teats failed a recent random quality test in a southeastern province.

It was the latest in a spate of reports in China's carefully
controlled media lambasting foreign goods for supposed safety and health

"Do you think foreign brands mean high quality?" the official Xinhua
news agency asked, before detailing the findings of the survey in coastal
Fujian province.

Xinhua warned the results of the baby products probe "should attract
the highest attention from children and their parents".

"These products are not up to standard for safety and hygiene reasons,
and may harm children's safety and health," it said.

The products came from Japan, Germany, Britain, Singapore, Thailand,
Indonesia, Taiwan and Hong Kong, Xinhua said, adding "most of them were
brand-name goods".

The report comes as international attention is focused on the
"made-in-China" label following a series of scandals overseas, including pet
deaths in the United States from tainted food, to toxic chemicals in Central
American toothpaste and medicine.

Now Beijing is turning the attention to pointing out exports to China
might also not always be safe.

This week alone, China has turned away 30 tonnes of frozen seafood
from Australia that it said was tainted with heavy metals, and gave five
container loads of Evian mineral water a failing grade for having too many

In fact, a senior official said, China's food safety export controls
are even stronger than US import controls.

He said that of the 137 cases of substandard imported Chinese food
found in April in the United States, 77 had been illegally exported and so
avoided China's stringent export quality checks.

"This is because of differences in the Chinese and US food safety
management system," said Li Yuanping, director-general of the import and
export food safety bureau of the General Administration of Quality

"In the United States, it does not matter whether the producing
company has a hygiene registration for export, or if the goods have been
inspected by the exporting country's officials, the United States lets them
all in," he added.

In April, China also discovered salmonella in some US meat imports, Li
said. He blamed the media for stoking fears about the safety of the nation's
food and drugs, but acknowledged that it was not realistic to expect a 100%
quality guarantee.

Yet China's protestations might not put the world at ease.

"The whole issue of China now being part of the global network food
chain, people are going to have to really pay attention to what they're
being supplied from China with," said Matthew Crabbe, managing director of
consumer research group Access Asia.

"There's a real issue that people buying stuff from China really need
to know where it's coming from, in minute detail, really," Crabbe said. "It's
gone past the stage where it's just a China problem. It's not any more." -

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Zim Standard

  Govt's strategy is to frustrate opposition, derai

THE government cannot say it respects mediation talks by President
Thabo Mbeki of South Africa when it is busy unleashing attacks and arrests
against leaders and supporters of the opposition and continuously detaining
them. It is either demonstrating its insincerity to rapprochement or it is
full of downright deception.

The intensified bashing of opposition and civic leaders began on 3
March 2007 but after SADC leaders mandated President Mbeki to mediate in the
talks between Zanu PF and the main opposition, the MDC, the expectation was
that the government would ease off and give the talks a chance.

However, the government continues to wage a relentless campaign
against the opposition while professing commitment to the mediation process.
Its interpretation of the mediation appears to be that it is there to enable
the government and ruling party to break down the resistance of the
opposition and swallow it up in a process reminiscent of the campaign it
launched against PF Zapu before the 22 December 1987 Unity Accord.

It has also not been helpful that the mediator has not registered his
concerns about Zimbabwe's rogue conduct and how this will impact on the
progress and outcome of the mediation process.

An end to hostilities and the crackdown against the opposition must be
preconditions to any meaningful progress and the successful conclusion of
the process being overseen by President Mbeki.

But with 10 months to go before the 2008 parliamentary and
presidential elections the SADC leaders should have put a timeframe to the
mediation process taking into account possibilities of a delimitation
exercise, voter registration, verification, polling stations, voting and
whether or not Zimbabweans in the Diaspora should continue to be

This time President Mbeki has an opportunity to act in the interests
of the people of this country. His past efforts to stop the political crisis
deepening and this country from teetering towards economic Armageddon have,
in the view of the majority of Zimbabweans, not produced the desired
outcome. Now is the time for him to confound the sceptics about his
capabilities as an honest broker.

Two and a half months have gone since the summit of the SADC leaders
in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and low level talks brokered by a ministerial
delegation from South Africa have taken place between a government
delegation and senior officials from the opposition.

But it is not just the arrests of opposition members and their
supporters and raids on their offices that are alarming. It is the frequency
of these that suggests the government is deliberately trying to goad the
opposition into disowning the process and thus allow the government to get
off the SADC hook.

The opposition should be reminded of the government and ruling party's
history of commitment to agreements it has signed. It should therefore not
allow itself to join the power games Zanu PF is obsessed with. For once they
must remain resolute and demonstrate to the nation and the world in which
camp the obstacle to Zimbabwe's recovery is situated.

Not only is the government showing scant regard for mediation
processes, its law-enforcement agencies repeatedly ignore or disobey court
orders with impunity proving that it has abandoned the rule of law.

An objective assessment of developments since 3/11 will show that it
is not the opposition that is the author of much of the problems Zimbabwe
suffers from. That is why it is time to put Zanu PF and the government on
the spot.

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Zim Standard Letters

 MDC success at the polls depends on united front

ZIMBABWE needs to be
liberated from the dictators currently running (read ruining) the country.

The dictators have been given sufficient time to improve the lot of
Zimbabweans but they have failed. It is now time for the departure of Zanu
PF dictators.

Is our opposition ready to take on the evil-minded dictators? The
opposition has all the necessary support in the form of membership.
Thousands of former Zanu PF members have abandoned the old sinking ship. The
few remaining members are sitting on the fence but ready to jump ship.

The MDC must seize this chance by establishing a recruitment
department which will go into the remaining Zanu PF's perceived
"strongholds" and persuade them to join the opposition ranks. The Zanu PF
members will not require much persuasion because they are fed up with the
ruling party and its leadership.

It is important for the MDC to extend a hand of unity to churches,
business enterprises, universities and the smaller parties so that the
opposition will be speaking with one voice.

In order to achieve unity, the issue of fighting for positions ought
to be shelved for the time being until victory has been achieved.

Zanu PF will fight back but this time President Robert Mugabe and his
band of merry men and women are fighting a losing battle because they are
fighting against a whole nation which, for the first time, is against them.

They can try rigging the outcome of the polls but their downfall is
inevitable. It is just around the corner. However, their downfall can only
come about if we have a united front and every eligible voter is encouraged
to go out and cast their vote.

The united opposition front should not rely on outside help because
some of those who will come offering their assistance would rather see this
country remaining under the leadership of Mugabe and his cronies. However,
this does not mean that these so-called helpers should be shunned but the
united opposition front should be on the look-out.

As Archbishop Pius Ncube said, the opposition must prove itself
capable of taking over the country. We can no longer afford the luxury of

As a lay person, I sense some political maturity coming from Arthur
Mutambara but a few of his central committee members show little signs of
growing up. This is not surprising given their past association with Mugabe.
My view is that they will keep on being obstacles as long as they are
receiving blood money and gifts.

The MDC has proved that it is a formidable opposition party, even by
Mugabe who has been forced to spend millions of bearer cheques in an effort
to destroy the party. This is, of course, futile because no one can destroy
what is ingrained in people's minds. Adolf Hitler killed millions of his
opponents but did he win in the end? Hastings Kamuzu Banda was the twin of
our President in everything but he finally lost the Malawi throne in the

Why does our President fail to grab at the chance of enjoying his few
remaining years? What more does he want to achieve? He should come to terms
with reality and do what former presidents Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba
and Bakili Muluzi did.

The path taken by opposition members must be clean and transparent,
otherwise they too will be found in the catalogue of infamy.

Zimbabweans unite



  Regime doing splendid job in self-damage

THERE is so much hype in Zimbabwe about the 2010 World Cup that
will be hosted by South Africa. The rogue regime is hoping to reap benefits
by possibly hosting some of the teams and visitors.

We, in the Diaspora, were getting ready to agitate against the
vicious regime benefiting in any way but we don't have to do anything. The
regime is doing an excellent job in discouraging any teams or fans from
Zimbabwe. The facts speak for themselves. Just look at these facts:

The images of the leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, that
were broadcast worldwide after 3/11 did a lot of damage to Zimbabwe as a
safe destination.

The Zimbabwe Independent had two articles last week headlined
"Taps run dry as . . . Blackouts intensify". Zimbabweans are putting up with
massive shortages of water and power. Imagine a five-year-old girl in
Budiriro has never seen running water from a tap. These problems will be
even worse by 2010 if there is no political solution. Football fans will not
want to be dragged into the dark ages.

The official exchange rate of between US$1 to Z$250 or Z$15 000
makes Zimbabwe an expensive destination. The local daily newspaper costs
between US$1 and US$60 depending on which "official" rate you use. The
independent weeklies cost between US$2 and US$120. You can apply this across
the whole spectrum of goods and this will definitely discourage any visitors
to Zimbabwe.


Croydon, Surrey



 Zanu PF crippling opposition ahead of 2008

THE on-going crackdown and
arrests of the mainly Morgan Tsvangirai aligned MDC activists has left many
wondering whether these are not the makings of an over-productive mind
trying to evoke sympathy and outrage for what may actually be seeds of

But one thing is clear: Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe are determined
to win all the local, parliamentary and presidential elections at any cost
and by any means necessary.

For Zanu PF, the polls have to be held at the cost of too much
bloodshed. We witnessed it when PF Zapu was still alive. We saw and felt it
in 2000 and 2002. And that blood is still with us. It is therefore not only
crucial but pertinent for a new Zimbabwe to establish a Truth and
Reconciliation Commission to deal with these atrocities and acts of violence
by Zanu PF as well as make it possible for Zimbabweans to finally bring
closure to that violent past.

The current arrests of MDC activists aligned to Tsvangirai make
Zimbabwe one with the highest number of political arrests in the world. We
are now in the league of Myanmar (formerly Burma). The violence of the Zanu
PF government, in particular its brutality, raises profound problems ahead
of next year's elections.

What is clear is that Mugabe is using violence to achieve a
political purpose in order to cripple the opposition before the 2008 polls.
For Zanu PF, sailing in the murky political waters should be as smooth as

Two movies I watched recently, The Last King of Scotland and
Mobutu Sese Seko described the modus operandi of African leaders that
includes rigged elections, manufactured terrorist attacks, pay-offs, sex,
murder and extortion.

What is happening in Zimbabwe today is the perfect script for a
political horror movie. We know the operation will be taken to the rural
areas and thereafter SADC observers will pronounce the elections "free and

Frank Matandirotya

South Africa


 Collapsing economy, Mugabe's Achilles heel

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is finally losing ground. This is
all thanks to the economic vagaries of the country. The man has been
unbending all his life to the detriment of the country but now he has met
his match in the way he has mishandled the economy.

Zimbabweans have been beaten into submission by the
President and his Zanu PF thugs, the army and police. The people have been
cowed into docility because of fear. The whole country has been crying for
years for a saviour but no one came forward to deliver the people from their

However, this year a Moses has come in the form of
"Captain Economy". With one swoop of his sword, the captain has felled

"Captain Economy" has forced Zimbabweans, particularly
teachers, to become lions instead of the docile mice they had become.
Teachers stood up and roared their anger at Mugabe and his forces and
nothing could persuade the people to retreat. The President and his
government were in turn cowed by the teachers' power.

Teachers were awarded so-called hefty pay increases. While
this award is appreciated, it is too little too late because "Captain
Economy" is not going to be satisfied for long. The inflation rate is
galloping and teachers are already demanding more. The rest of the workforce
in the private sector will soon heed the clarion call of "Captain Economy"
and join in industrial actions as a result of the hardships being
experienced. Doctors and nurses had long succumbed to the captain's call.

Nothing the President will do will ever solve our economic
problems. His heavy-handed treatment of protesters, in the past has been a
dismal failure because he only succeeded in galvanising the nation against
him. The high cost of living is now affecting even the privileged few.
Factions within Zanu PF have been forced into uniting because the economy is
not taking any prisoners.

The unbelievable is happening - Zanu PF factions are
conniving with opposition parties and other organisations in an effort to
remove the President from power.

This move was suggested a long time ago by many
commentators but was ignored because the economy was not as bad as it is

2008 voter



 The Zimbabwe we don't want

ON Wednesday last week we arrived home to find that the
Zimbabwe Electricity Some times Available (Zesa) had cut supplies at 5PM. We
thought this was early since we normally have load-shedding from 6PM until
just before the main television news at 8PM.

However, this time Zesa chose to outdo itself. We lit the
candles and waited for the electricity to come back so we could prepare
supper for the children before they went to bed. But how misguided we were,
for 8PM came, 9PM came and we decided to retire to bed. It was not until
10:15 that power was restored.

We can put up with scheduled power cuts - at least they
allow you some planning but this is not good enough. Let's not be surprised
if we go for weeks without power. This country is in a real crisis. Can
anyone recall us sinking this far?

The government will tell us something but how are
industries and other companies expected to operate, produce and generate
revenue or exports under such conditions? The deal agreed with Namibian
power utility is far from implementation and this means the current
situation will take some time. Our worst fears of Zesa's incompetence are
about to be realised.

And there is an election next year? How I wish the
opposition could exploit this record of uninterrupted failures.

Blacked out

Mount Pleasant



 Thanks to the Kamunhus

I would like to thank Mr Kamunhu for a
job well done for what you did to the community around Chitekwe School and
Munjoma Village as a whole. I am aware everyone benefited in terms of the
food, cash, books and building materials you donated that helped uplift the
standards and well being of the community.

To the nation, I would like to encourage others to do the
same to their communities.

I also want to make special mention of Amai Kamunhu. She
is a caring and supportive mother. Keep up the good work that you continue
to do and may God bless you.

Caleb Shingirai Chikoto

Mash East.

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