The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Rusape centre rehabilitates rape victims
By Valentine Maponga

TERRIFIED, forlorn and with the confusion of a child bride, 11-year-old Chipo Moyo (not real name), sits down by herself on the verandah of one of the main buildings at the Chitsotso Girls Centre in Rusape.

Having stayed with a 30-year-old man for over one year as his wife, Chipo is shy and quite submissive.

She cannot reveal her ordeal to strangers, except in the trusted presence of Betty Makoni, the director and founder member of Girl Child Network Trust (GCNT). She begins by relating the sad story of her life before her parents died:

"Before my father died the man (name supplied) would come and take us for some part-time jobs in the fields and after working he would buy the groceries for the whole family. He told my father that I was going to be his wife and my father agreed," said the girl in an interview with The Standard.

After her father died, the man immediately took the child as his wife for almost a year until only at the end of last year when the GCNT came to her rescue.

"He was always telling me that I was not supposed to walk outside during the day," she said.

"He would beat me Š calling me all sorts of names and even told me that he was going to kill me if I ever told anyone about the marriage," she said, tears streaming down her tender cheeks.

Fortunately for her, Chipo's ordeal was made known to Makoni, the director of the GCNT who intervened and reported the matter to the police and eventually took her to a girls' home in the area.

"The girl is now going to school and we are paying her school fees. As for the man, the community has since said he is no longer welcome," said Makoni.

Chipo's case is just one of many across Zimbabwe's impoverished rural communities. Thousands of Zimbabwean rural girls are being routinely raped but keep their suffering to themselves.

But there is hope for girls like Chipo, at least for those in Makoni district where a centre for rape victims has been established.

Called the Chitsotso Girls' Empowerment Village, the centre was opened in 2001 in response to the increasing loss of equal opportunities and escalating physical, sexual and emotional abuses experienced by young girls in Zimbabwe, particularly in the rural areas. The location of the centre is in itself unique.

Years ago, Chitsotso was a traditional meeting place for girls and young women who had collected firewood in the bush. tired of lugging huge bundles of firewood on their heads, they would rest there and find time to discuss issues that affected them.

The place, which is unmistakable with its huge granite rocks, lay idle for more than 40 years until recently when the current Chief Makoni gave permission to GCNT to use it to rejuvenate the girls' programmes in a way they felt best benefits the girl child.

Now the village boasts electricity, a modern administration block and dormitories as well as a counselling centre for traumatised girls.

There are also nurse aids who test the girls of sexually transimitted diseases.

The village has also attracted international recognition for its efforts to give hope to several young girls who fall prey to rapists who seem to lurk everywhere.

Last week the Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, John Schram, visited Chitsotso and donated $277 million to the project. The money would go towards the advancement and promotion of the empowerment of the girl child.

Schram said: "Canada is here today to help those Zimbabweans who think it is important to develop the full potential of the girl child in Zimbabwe.

"Through GTNC, we want to support those who want to move society away from an imbalanced focus on boys, so that young girls can achieve that equality of opportunity which both they and Zimbabwe deserve."

Makoni, the director of the project, said their main goal as GCNT was to highlight the plight of the girl child and support her empowerment through information dissemination, educational, social, economic and networking activities which encourage a change in social attitudes and to fight against abuses experienced by girl children.

"To show how gross the problem of rape is, in this area alone we receive more than 20 cases of rape every month," she said.

"Definitely something has to be done to stop the rapists from destroying our society. The donation comes at a time when we want to develop the project to all areas around Zimbabwe and I would like to say we are moving in the right direction," said Makoni.

Chief Makoni who pioneered controversial virginity tests in his area in a bid to stop the spread of the HIV/Aids pandemic, gave his full blessing to the project.

He challenged all traditional leaders to make sure that all rape perpetrators, after serving their jail terms, were further punished by paying compensation to the rape victim's family.

"Tinoda kuti kana bhinya rabva kujeri ribvise mombe nhatu kuvabereki vemwana anenge akanganiswa," he said. (The rapist, after serving sentence, must pay three cows to her parents as compensation.)
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Zvimba teacher dies after dog attack at Mugabe's birthday bash
By Walter Marwizi
A ZVIMBA primary school teacher Thomas Rusike died on Wednesday, four days after he was bitten by a police dog at President Robert Mugabe's 80th birthday party held at his rural home in the area last Saturday.
Secrecy has however shrouded Rusike's death and The Standard could not establish whether the teacher, who collapsed and died in Norton on Wednesday, had died from the effects of the dog bite.
Rusike who had accompanied pupils to the birthday bash, was attacked by the vicious dog on his left hand following some commotion which occurred at Mugabe's rural residence where thousands of uninvited villagers turned up to feast with the first family.
A neighbour, who is a family friend, found Rusike stone cold and sprawled on the floor of his house at Number 818 in Katanga high-density suburb in Norton. At that time his wife, Emma, was away at work.
A few hours earlier, neighbours said Rusike - who appeared to be in great pain - had got out of the house and with great difficulty, proceeded to a nearby tuckshop, about 50 metres away, where he bought a soft drink.
"His hand was a frightful sight. It was swollen and was almost bulging out of his long sleeved shirt," said the neighbour.
"He could hardly move it and there was some watery stuff dampening his shirt," said the neighbour, who cannot be identified for security reasons.
Another neighbour told The Standard that, Rusike who came to Norton on Tuesday "in great pain", confided in them that there was commotion at Mugabe's birthday party and in the ensuing confusion one policeman let loose his dog which bit him on the hand.
"He (Rusike) said he was treated by staff from one of the ambulances that move with the President," said the neighbour.
"He said he was given two injections for rabies and some pills which he would take for some days. Rusike said he had hoped all would be well but he had had a serious problem with his hand, hence his decision to come home," he said.
On Thursday, The Standard went to Rusike's home and found grieving members of his immediate family and friends struggling to come to terms with his death.
"He went to the President's birthday to celebrate, now look at what has happened," said a young woman with her hands on her head.
His mother, Ambuya Rusike told The Standard that she would have loved to explain the circumstances leading to her son's death but she felt she was not competent to do so.
Leaning on her distraught daughter-in-law, Ambuya Rusike said: "As you can see we are in great pain. He was on duty with the children and the best people who can answer you are school authorities, not us. If you cannot go there maybe you can wait for the head of the family who has gone to Kutama police."
Other family members equally refused to comment further on the matter.
"We don't know what happened except to say he came here on Tuesday to tell his wife that he had been attacked by a police dog at President Mugabe's birthday party," said another relative.
Police Spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday could not comment on the matter. On five occasions, Bvudzijena said he was still trying to get information on what happened to Rusike. 
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Billion jackpot goes begging

ZIMBABWEANS, it seems, have all run out of luck.

Lotto's highest payday, a whopping $1 billion, remains uncollected after no-one predicted the six numbers to hit the jackpot, which now stands at a staggering $1,14 billion!

Lotto officials confirmed yesterday evening that no fortune seeker had succeeded in picking out the magic winning numbers: 10, 16, 23, 36, 44 and 45.

Punters had spent the whole week in long winding queues trying to hit the jackpot with some already dreaming what the huge $1 billion payout would do to their lives.

The jackpot was last won two months ago when it was pegged at $364 million.
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US stops funding demining project
By our own Staff

MUTARE - The standoff between the ruling Zanu PF government and the United States of America (USA) has affected crucial demining operations aimed at clearing parts of the country of dangerous land mines planted during the liberation war, a senior official in the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

Brigadier-General Trust Mugoba who is the director general, Operations and Planning in the ministry, revealed that the United States government had withdrawn funding for a demining project in the area stretching from Victoria Falls and Binga.

He was contributing to a debate on Demilitarisation, Demobilisation, Control of the Trafficking and Proliferation of Small Arms and Peace Building at a conference convened by the Centre for Peace Initiatives in Africa (CPIA) in Mutare.

"Unfortunately the military has not been spared by the politics between the US government and Zimbabwe. The US government stopped funding this (demining) project, in 2000," said Mugoba.

He said the US, which started funding the operation during the 90s resulting in several kilometres of mine-infested fields lying between Binga and the resort town of Victoria Falls being cleared, had made a total contribution of US$5 million until its pull out.

It also trained 120 engineers from the Ministry of Defence and provided funding for spares, equipment for machinery for use in the demining process.

However he was optimistic that the remaining 65 kilometres would be completed by June as the operation was still progressing.

The Standard also understands that the European Union (EU) which contributed about $120 million towards demining operations in eastern Zimbabwe has also withheld funding following its fallout with Harare.

The EU imposed travel and economic sanctions on Harare soon after the 2002 watershed presidential elections which international observers said were rigged in favour of President Robert Mugabe.

However, Harare disputes the claim saying the EU and Washington want to protect their interests in the southern African country.

Following the imposition of sanctions by the EU most donors and international development partners have stopped funding a number of projects in Harare concentrating only on humanitarian aid.

An estimated 200 kilometres remain infested with dangerous mines countrywide.
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Gono wields axe at RBZ
By Rangarirai Mberi

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono will from tomorrow axe or realign up to 37 of his top officials - most of them divisional directors - continuing a campaign to stamp his authority at the central bank, The Standard has established.

Gono on Friday sent an internal memo classified as "highly confidential" and titled The New Organogram, to deputy governors, directors, deputy and assistant directors, managers and other staff, saying he would tomorrow announce the retrenchment and re-assignment of senior officials.

The memo, a copy of which is in The Standard's possession, said the posts of director, deputy director and assistant director would be abolished and new appointments would be made tomorrow.

"For current directors/deputy directors and assistant directors, their fate will be known individually by end of day on Monday, 1 March, 2004," the stern memo says.

Those affected, as is "inevitable in any restructuring", Gono says in the memo, will be retired on a package worked out on the basis of previous central bank policy "regarding the abolition of office, retirement or retrenchments".

Sources yesterday identified some of the targeted officials as RBZ's director of financial markets Stuart Kufeni, head of bank supervision Steven Gwasira and Edward Mashiringwani, another director with the central bank.

Gono said in the memo the drastic action was being taken after what he said has been a "hectic" last three months, and hints at dissatisfaction with how his key lieutenants have responded to events in the banking sector.

Gono, the former head of the commercial bank CBZ, says he had on several occasions warned his senior officials he would be forced to make this decision in order to complete his plan of "effectively re-orienting the bank".

Sources yesterday said Gono had grown increasingly impatient with some of the senior figures he inherited from the previous administration of his predecessor Leonard Tsumba. Gono will replace the RBZ's "old guard" with fresh appointees from outside the bank, the sources said.

"He believes he is not getting the loyalty he wants from the people he found at the Reserve Bank when he got into office," our source said. "He wants to surround himself with people he can trust with his vision for the bank."

According to the memo, Gono will also tomorrow announce a leaner structure for the Reserve Bank, which has come under criticism over the years over its bloated, top-heavy staff structure. He will replace the sacked directors with the posts of deputy governors, CEOs and division chiefs.

He plans to introduce deputy governors who will head the departments of National Development, Economic Research and Logistics, Financial Markets, Bank Licensing, Supervision and Surveillance.

Assuming the role of bank licensing however puts Gono on a collision course with the finance ministry.

Licensing banks is legally tasked to the ministry' Registrar of Banks, and it remains uncertain how Gono could have automatically assumed this role without any changes to current law on bank licensing. Gono recently took over the licensing of asset management firms, although he is not legally entitled to do so under existing laws.

Gono's latest action mirrors the decision he took six years ago when he was appointed chief executive officer of CBZ, which was then on the verge of collapse.

His first decision, after being asked to turnaround the bank, was to fire senior bank officials and appoint his own point men to key positions.
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No money to pay striking UZ lecturers, says Murerwa
By Nyasha Bhosha

THE Minister of Higher Education Herbert Murerwa says the government has no money to meet the demands of University of Zimbabwe lecturers who have been on strike for some weeks.

Murerwa told The Standard yesterday that only dialogue between the UZ Council and the University Teachers' Association (UTA) could bring normalcy to the UZ.

"Government has limits in what it can pay. We have to come to an agreement over reasonable amounts," Murerwa said yesterday.

Murerwa took over the beleaguered ministry recently following a Cabinet reshuffle.

On Friday, the lecturers resolved to stay on strike until the government comes up with a solution to their grievances, which include an improvement of their housing and transport allowances.

"We were supposed to settle everything on Friday but only to be told that the ministry wanted different associations from different universities to meet and discuss the various issues," said Joseph Mahlaule, the president of the University Teachers' Association.

The strike is the result of failure by the university council to pay the staff their housing and transport allowances, which they were awarded through arbitration last year.

Mahaule said last year when the lecturers went on strike, their matter was taken to the Labour Court where it was ruled that the non-academic staff would get a 300% increase and that the teaching staff get a minimum salary of $2,5 million every month with effect from July 1 2003 with an additional 30% as housing and transport allowances.

"The council was supposed to pay us our salary increments and all our allowances between the 23rd and 27th of this month but they could not meet that, hence we will carry on with the strike," added Mahlaule.

The continuing strike has also affected some of the university examinations due to lack of technical staff to supervise them.

"Some students completed their exams on Friday but some are yet to write especially those who work in the labs because there were no technicians to monitor them," added Mahlaule.

Mahaule added that students were going to suffer because there would be no lecturers to mark the examinations they wrote.

"They have finished writing their exams but they won't be anyone to mark them," he said.

UZ lecturers have been on strike since the beginning of the year, and have vowed to carry on until their demands are met.
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Media trust fund launched
By our own staff

A media trust fund was launched yesterday in the name of veteran journalist Jennifer Makunike-Sibanda who passed away on September 20 last year.

Ezekiel Makunike, a brother to the late Makunike-Sibanda and a renowned journalist himself, told guests at Makunike-Sibanda's memorial service yesterday that the fund would be used to advance the cause of local media, and would be run through a committee comprising prominent media professionals.

Makunike-Sibanda was a founding director of the Zimbabwe chapter of the Federation of Africa Media Women and was highly regarded for her work in the local media industry and in the region.

"Jennifer was a woman of high principles, integrity and wisdom. She had a gift of establishing warm human relations with people from all walks of life", Standard Editor Bornwell Chakaodza said at the memorial service.
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Madhuku arrested at roadblock
By Kumbirai Mafunda

MUTARE - Overzealous members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on Wednesday morning arrested and detained National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku while he was on his way to address a seminar in the eastern border city of Mutare 263 kilometres away from Harare.

The constitutional reform activist was arrested at a road block at Christmas Pass, 10 kilometres outside Mutare at about 8:15 AM. He was escorted by police to Mutare Central Police Station and detained for three hours.

Madhuku was on his way to address a four-day seminar convened by the Centre for Peace Initiatives in Africa (CPIA).

An defiant Madhuku told The Standard that police interrogated him on his mission and purpose of visit to Manicaland.

Upon arrival at the Mutare Central Police Station, Madhuku was moved from one office to another. He was first taken to and quizzed by the officer commanding, Law and Order, before being taken to the officer commanding Police Internal Security Intelligence for further questioning.

Despite producing an invitation letter from the CPIA and showing the police a draft CIPA programme which stated his mission, the police were not satisfied, said Madhuku.

During his detention Madhuku said the police said they wanted to record his statements to which the NCA chairman replied that the police already have many files on him in Harare.

Madhuku said police later released him "on the understanding that there was no basis for his arrest" and following the intervention of CPIA officials.

Not to be outdone plain clothes policemen and members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) trailed the reform activist into the conference venue where he was presenting a paper on the security of the nation and human rights.

Immediately after his release, Madhuku condemned the police action saying it was absolutely uncalled for. "It was outright harassment and it is totally unacceptable conduct by the police. It proves what we have all said that this country is now virtually a police State," said Madhuku, adding that this was part of government's continuing repression against law abiding citizens.
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Zanu PF targets chiefs in Lupane campaign
By Savious Kwinika

BULAWAYO - Hardly a month after the death of Lupane MDC legislator, David Mpala, the ruling party Zanu PF has launched its campaign in the constituency amid revelations that it intends to use traditional leaders to shut the opposition party out of the looming contest.

Although the election dates are yet to be announced, Zanu PF has already selected ward 8 councillor Martin Khumalo and is in the process of enlisting the support of traditional leaders including chiefs and headmen in order to secure the rural constituency.

The controversial strategy was a huge success in Gutu North last month where Chiefs declared areas under their jurisdiction "no go areas" for the MDC, effectively making it impossible for the opposition party to campaign.

"Why abandon such a winning formula, it's going to be the same strategy," said a Zanu PF source who attended the launch of the campaign currently spearheaded by the ruling party's provincial executive in Sobendle village last week.

The Standard understands that the ruling party has already started courting the support of chief Nicholas Mabikwa-Khumalo who is influential in the area.

All these activities are taking place at a time when many people in Lupane are still mourning the death of their MDC MP Mpala who, according to the opposition party, succumbed to injuries inflicted on him by war veterans and Zanu PF militia in 2002.

MDC Secretary for Information and Publicity in Lupane district, David Nyathi, said his party would not worry about the early start to the campaign by Zanu PF insisting the opposition would trounce the ruling party to safely retain the seat.

"If this time around Zanu PF does not murder our people, threaten them, unleash violence or intimidate them like they have done in the past, definitely we will retain our seat,.

"Our chances of winning have been boosted by the rains that came in late January and in the event that we get a good harvest this will make it difficult for Zanu PF to entice villagers with free food," said Nyathi.

He added that MDC Lupane district was currently working on modalities of choosing a candidate who would be accepted by the party's supporters.

Zanu PF Bulawayo Acting Chairman, Silas Dlomo could not be reached for the comment as his mobile said he was unreachable.
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Passengers welcome Gweru-Masvingo train
From Wilson Dakwa

BULAWAYO - The recently launched Gweru-to-Masvingo passenger train service, designed to cushion residents against rising transport costs, has been so well received that the National Railways of Zimbabwe is considering expanding it.

The train service, popularly known as the Mutirikwi Express was launched three months ago on a trial basis and has been operating three days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

NRZ Public Relations Manager, Fanuel Masikati, said the response from the local community had been overwhelming as people had abandoned buses in favour of a cheaper mode of transport.

"Passengers were paying three times more to board buses and the service has enabled them to commute at reasonable rates," Masikati told The Standard.

The train leaves Gweru at 2 AM and arrives in Masvingo at 8 AM before departing in the evening thus allowing people to carry out their business without worrying about transport.

"The train was introduced on a trial basis and owing to the favourable response we have received, we hope to expand it by adding more coaches and probably turning it into a daily service," said Masikati.

On the fuel situation, which plagued the parastatal's operations last year resulting in it suspending passenger services, Masikati said the NRZ had put in place measures to ensure that they get a constant supply of fuel.

"We are also sourcing our own fuel so that we can play our national role in the economy of this country," said Masikati.

Feasibility studies were also being carried out to introduce passenger train services in towns where railway infrastructure already exists.
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Hospital gutted by fire
By Savious Kwinika

BULAWAYO - Medical equipment and drugs worth millions of dollars were destroyed when fire suspected to have been deliberately caused gutted the multi-million dollar Nkayi Hospital's storeroom on Wednesday last week.

Police in Nkayi confirmed the incident but pointed out that the motive for setting on fire the Matabeleland North referral centre were not clear as investigations were still in progress.

Nkayi police officer-in-charge, Chief Inspector Roland Muketiwa-Gore, said the law enforcement agents were still compiling a report in order to assess the extent of the fire damage.

"At this point in time I can only confirm that the damage was extensive. The hospital equipment included drugs and a drum of methylated spirit housed at the medical storeroom," said Muketiwa-Gore.

However the Bulawayo Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service's Chief Fire Officer Dumisani Mpofu, said he suspected the hospital was intentionally set ablaze by some unknown people.

"During our investigations, we discovered some match sticks at the scene suggesting that some people started the fire at the hospital. I have already submitted my findings to the Nkayi police station with another report sent to Harare," said Mpofu.

Mpofu, whose fire brigade serves the whole of Matabeleland region, was called in to investigate when it was discovered that the medical storeroom had been left open before it was set on fire.
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Clampdown on street kids flops
By Valentine Maponga

GOVERNMENT attempts to rid Harare streets of destitutes, including the so-called streetkids, by sending them to rehabilitation centres all over Zimbabwe, has turned out to be a farce after reports that many of them are trickling back from the farms, The Standard has learnt.

Police and Harare municipality security details moved swiftly to round up most of the capital's street dwellers a fortnight ago, but thousands of the destitutes have begun trickling back into town from nearby farming areas where they claim to have been "dumped".

According to some of the young vagrants, police forced them onto trucks two weeks ago and abandoned them on deserted farms and rural settlements, some as far as Chiredzi and Chimanimani in the Eastern Highlands.

This was despite assurances by the government that the destitutes would be looked after at State rehabilitation centres.

Some of the streetkids alleged that they were told to jump off the trucks "in the middle of nowhere" and after having travelled for long distances without food.

Silent Mpofu (11) said: "They told us to get off the truck because they wanted to refill the vehicle with fuel. When we were all out of the vehicle they drove away leaving us stranded on a farm in Shamva."

The destitutes, who included the blind and the disabled, were all indiscriminately rounded up and taken to the City of Harare's Licensing Unit near the Vehicle Registry Centre, where they were vetted before being taken away in trucks.

When asked how he finally made it back to Harare, another street kid named Shingirai said: "I walked for three days and nights in the bush although close to the road. We left behind the elderly on one end of the river because it was raining and we could not make progress.

"There are only a few of us who managed to come back, hopefully our friends will come if they make it."

But Paul Mangwana, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, denied that the street kids were dumped, maintaining that they were taken to State rehabilitation centres across the country.

"It's not correct Š we did not dump anyone. We made arrangements with the police that all the street kids be taken to rehabilitation centres but these homes cannot accommodate all of them," said Mangwana.

He added efforts were underway to reunite some of the streetkids who could not be accommodated in State institutions with their families.

"We are not taking everyone into the homes as we have to screen them and try to see whether some of the kids may be accepted back home by their parents," he said.

City Council's Public Relations Manager Leslie Gwindi said the council does not care where the streetkids are taken and only wants them out of its streets.

"It's a long process, we cannot get all the streetkids out in one day, and we will eventually clean the city. We don't mind where they go," said Gwindi.

"What we want is to have them out of our streets. Why are you sympathising with them? They will return where they came from in the first place," he said.

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Zanu PF: On the roll Or is it?

THE 2005 Parliamentary election is just around the corner. Given the breathtaking pace of events in Zimbabwe lately, a year from now is nothing. And Zanu PF clearly appears to be on the roll.

The rains have been pounding raising the prospect of a fairly good harvest. Inflation has come down - somewhat. Basic food stuffs are back on supermarket shelves, though prohibitively expensive. The once long restive queues for bread, maize meal, sugar, cooking oil, fuel and many other basic items have disappeared.

The fight against corruption - though selective - appears to be gathering momentum. President Mugabe and the ruling party have upped the rhetoric. All this is creating the impression that Zanu PF is serious about wanting to turn around the fortunes of the economy.

Needless to say, we Zimbabweans are a gullible lot. Only yesterday, the feeling in the country and within Zanu PF itself was that a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis could not be found with Mugabe "in control". Even his senior lieutenants saw Mugabe then as a liability. Now things appear to have changed somewhat. The ruling party as a whole seems to be comfortable and firmly ensconced in their positions.

From the perspective of President Mugabe and Zanu PF, the West has been "defeated'. Certainly there is fatigue in the West about the Zimbabwe crisis. And with the country out of the Commonwealth, there is no more leverage that can be exercised by the international community over Zimbabwe. The Mugabes and Mudenges of this world now feel that they are off the hook, so to speak, and they no longer feel any pressure from anywhere. What a tragedy!

Tragedy - yes - because Zimbabweans know that something is still rotten at the core. And they are powerless to do anything about it. The Western countries have expressed their displeasure and revulsion at what is happening in Zimbabwe through the imposition of sanctions but to no avail. Sanctions have not made an iota of a difference although symbolically it was a good thing to do.

The former colonial power Britain overplayed its hand by taking a high profile stance which Mugabe exploited and portrayed as neo-colonialism or neo-imperialism.

The anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist rhetoric by Mugabe and his lieutenants, though totally irrelevant to the need to cure Zimbabwe of its political and economic malaise, resonated with the majority of African leaders on the continent.

The whole business of land reform was to justify Mugabe's continued hold on power and this was completely lost on the African leaders. Not too difficult to understand on a continent searching for equality and dignity after a century or so of colonial domination and slavery. But all the same - by the failure to put the correct perspective on why things were happening the way they did in this country, Zimbabweans were badly let down.

The only country with the power to do something about the Zimbabwe crisis in a meaningful and significant way - South Africa - favoured "quiet diplomacy" and as we all know to our cost, the policy has so far failed. South Africa has always had significant clout on this country and depending on whether to use it or otherwise, the solution can change fairly quickly.

We admire the courage and determination of the MDC leadership and the way they took on Zanu PF head-on despite the unevenness of the playing field. But the opposition appears to have run out of steam and the will to go on.

When the MDC was formed in October 1999 there was a feeling in the air that change was around the corner. And it nearly came when the ruling Zanu PF was nearly trounced in the 2000 parliamentary election. It was indeed a wake-up call for the ruling party and it was then that they vowed not to be caught with their pants down again.

The ruling party set about perfecting the art of intimidation, harassment of opponents and the independent media, arrests and political violence culminating in the rigging of the 2002 presidential poll. And since then nothing has been done to level the playing field to ensure a transparent, free and fair election whether it be by-elections or national polls.

And all signs indicate that there is no chance in hell that Zanu PF is going to do anything about levelling the political playing field. Clearly, therefore, MDC faces a dilemma: to participate or not to participate in the forthcoming 2005 parliamentary elections. This is the crux of the matter. And it is a real dilemma for the Movement for Democratic Change.

And no remedy will be found for the intransigence of Zanu PF in not wanting to overhaul the current political and electoral environment. Why? To vote themselves out of power? No. Not in a thousand years - we can hear them say.

They know just like the rest of us that they can never win a free and fair poll despite the rains, the inflation coming down, the anti-graft campaign and any other political gimmicks which might be up their sleeves.

Zanu PF might be on the roll because of all these appearances. But people know deep down that the sort of things they used to take for granted are no longer there. Zimbabwe has dropped with a bang from the high point it used to be to the lowest of the low. People know that. They know that despite the efforts by President Mugabe and the ruling party, the crisis as yet shows no signs of abetting. But the government will continue to sit on the lid for quite some time to come.

And President Mugabe makes no bones about his determination to stay on despite his age. In the context of Africa, it is not easy for first Presidents to relinquish power voluntarily. So we are stuck with President Mugabe and Zanu PF for quite some time to come.

Perhaps, only the biological clock will eventually decide our fate. But that does not mean that we will have to do nothing until that happens.

The pressure for change must continue to be intensified.
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I know, I don't know who knows
overthetop By Brian Latham

AS the longest most convoluted treason trial in the troubled central African nation drew to a close last week, defence lawyers said the leader of the More Drink Coming Party was innocent.

They said not only was he innocent, but the State's main witness was a notorious liar. Mr Ben Menace, said lawyers, was also clearly in it for the money - and a comfortable bed in a five star hotel.

Still, legal analysts who cannot be named because they do not want to be electrocuted were even less kind. "Mr Menace is clearly deranged and a menace to society," said Mr Nathaniel Mangwana, who added that he was not related to Professor Nathaniel Manheru whom he described as "yesterday's news."

A troubled judge will now take some time to decide whether the leader of the opposition plotted to assassinate the most equal of all comrades.

The case, which has dragged on for a year, has seen the troubled opposition

More Drink Coming leader sitting patiently in court trying valiantly to stay awake.

While earlier parts of the trial provided light amusement as the packed courtroom listened to Mr Menace repeat the phrase "I don't know" about 4,715 times, the latter stages have been punctuated only by snores.

Asked by defence lawyers how many times he had said, "I don't know", Mr

Menace replied, "I don't know."

And to add impact to his fantastical tale, Mr Menace described how the opposition leader had not just plotted to kill the most equal of all comrades, his party had also attempted to assassinate his pretty assistant by knocking her off her bicycle. Mr Menace insisted this was a vicious and heinous attack and there was no possibility his now lame assistant had simply fallen off her bicycle because she wasn't looking where she was going.

Meanwhile defence lawyers pointed out that Mr Menace had been described in the US press as dishonest after it was revealed that he had probably conned the leaders of the United States, Australia, Ghana and Zambia, as well as various

Eastern European banana republics.

Legal analysts pointed out that even for the troubled central African police state's famously incompetent police, Mr Menace was an strange choice for a primary witness given his troubled history.

"Rambo would have been a better choice," said Mr Nathaniel Mangwana. "At least he looks the part."

Grinning like a monkey, Mr Menace cut a curious figure as he peered over the top of the witness stand to repeat his mantra, "I don't know."

A leading psychologist who cannot be named because he doesn't want to be electrocuted either said, "Mr Menace doesn't look or sound like a typical assassin. He is short, fat and noisy. He looks more like a Middle Eastern shopkeeper or a purveyor of dirty postcards."

Actually Mr Menace is a purveyor of promises that never materialise, said defence lawyers. These promises often involve food for starving countries that receive little more than a 50 gram bag of rice bought at the local corner shop - rather expensive at several hundred thousand US dollars a packet.

Mr Menace, of course, denies any wrongdoing. He says he is an honest businessman, a Canadian citizen and a former spy for the Israeli government.

For it's part the Israeli government says as far as they're concerned, Mr Menace was a junior clerk and not a very good one.

Still, with much hanging on Mr Menace's humorous evidence, the troubled central African nation waits with baited breath to hear the outcome of the longest treason trial in history. If found guilty, the More Drink Coming Party leader could be hanged. And Mr Menace could be even richer still.
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Salvation is just a call away, Cde Jean-Bertrand
Shavings from The Woodpecker

Uncle Bob, where are you? NOW that the sinking Herald resembles Zanu PF's Peoples' Voice (by the way, is it still on the street?) and only covers news to do with the Dear Leader or his ruling party, Woodpecker would like to take this opportunity to discuss an unfolding tragedy that is almost going on unnoticed by the whole world.

The tragedy we are talking about is Haiti, the first country to be led by a black administration after a gang of slaves rebelled against their French masters and established this Caribbean republic, 200 years ago.

When Haiti celebrated its 200th birthday last month, South African President Thabo Mbeki led an international coterie of leaders and black opinion makers to Port-au-Prince, albeit with reports that rebels trying to topple President Jean-Bertrand Aristide were just a few kilometres away.

It is safe to say that the only prominent African name missing from Aristide's invitation list could have been that of Uncle Bob, but then his supporters can argue that he was on deserved annual leave and doing whatever he does (the cruel ones say face lifts!) in the Far East.

But, I digress. The tragedy that is unfolding in Haiti is that barely a few weeks after the celebrations, Monsieur Aristide is a man under siege. He is holed up in his official residence in Port-au-Prince and the rebels, baying for his blood, are only some kilometres away.

A bit about Aristide. When the former Roman Catholic priest came into power in Haiti in 1990, he was considered a champion of the poor and had the blessing of key Western allies such as France and the US.

He was feted in the sophisticated capitals of this world as a man of peace, a man of the cloth and the leader who would, once and for all, establish Haiti - the poor man of the Americas - on its rightful path to development and democracy.

Haiti had over the years degenerated into a murderous cesspool run by the notorious Duvalier family - François "Papa" Doc and after him, his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" - and it was felt by progressive black people all over the world that the defrocked priest was the best person to take the country out of the dark ages of voodoo and extra judicial killings.

Special interests

All was well until Aristide began to annoy the so-called "special interests" groups in the US and France by not rewarding them for supporting his administration. His rule was then compared to that of the murderous Duvalier family and calls for his departure became incessant.

So his critics were really angry when he ran for a second term in 2000 - after he was barred from contesting the 1995 poll by the constitution - and his Lavalas Party romped home in the style popularised by Uncle Bob.

And, as in Zimbabwe, the opposition cried foul. They accused the ex-Roman Catholic priest of all sorts of unsavoury electoral dexterities.

Since 2000, the opposition in Haiti - hear this, including the Roman Catholic Church! - has ganged up against Aristide and say he must resign before his term ends in 2006. France and the US have warned Aristide that they can only send peace-keeping forces to his troubled island nation if he quits office.

The tragedy of it all is that all the Mbekis of this world, who only a few weeks ago enjoyed Aristide's hospitality and graced his independence celebrations, have become as quiet as the occupants of long deserted graveyards.

What is Africa, Asia and the Caribbean doing?

They are begging the US to lead a peace-keeping force in Haiti through the United Nations, which everyone critical enough knows is just an appendage of Washington.

Where has the brotherhood bond gone, you may ask. Tattered and torn because as usual, we Africans and our friends in the developing world only talk and never act.

When the crunch comes, we all run to Big Brother and beg for him to intervene.

Pity Aristide did not invite Uncle Bob to his birthday bash.

Who knows, the Dear Leader might have been tempted to send our finest boys in the ever dependable Zimbabwe National Army to Port-au-Prince and save the former Roman Catholic priest's bacon.

It might still not be too late for him though, the late Congolese leader Laurent Kabila begged Uncle Bob and his bacon was saved within 48 hours.


THIS letter was send to Woodpecker last week. Besides taking away the name of sender, we did not remove a comma or a question mark. We are running it verbatim:

Dear Woodpecker,

I am glad you blew the cover of Mbulawa "In the Groove" Moyo. No wonder we see all that trash in newspapers. His way of treating women is warped.

I remember the same guy when he was a senior editor on The Chronicle that he had to be taken for a disciplinary hearing because, after taking a few beers at a reception, he tried to force himself on a cadet reporter who vehemently reminded him every woman has a right to decide who she jumps into bed with.

I remember very well that the fellow had given her a lift from a reception and decided to have a go at her. She screamed and fought him and arrived in newsroom with torn clothes. That earned "In the Groove" a demotion.

He belongs to that old school of thought that when a woman says no she actually means yes.

Well, well, well
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An open letter to President Mugabe

Dear Mr President, I write this letter not out of disrespect for the contribution you have made to the liberation of Zimbabwe. I write this letter as a product of your past efforts and the sacrifices that you made as a person. I am a true product of the education policies that your government instituted in the early 80s.

I got an opportunity to go to university because we as blacks were funded by your government. I was trained in an environment that hardly had any blacks because your government ensured that black people such as myself, got the opportunities that the colonial government would not allow us. For that I am grateful for your sacrifice and respect you for that.

However I am angry at you. I am angry as would any son at his father who neglects his needs and refuses to acknowledge that sons do grow up and have to lead their own lives. That sons do not necessarily become what their fathers want them to become. That sons do not necessarily have to agree with their fathers and even if they do disagree, it does not mean that they cease to love them. I am not your enemy I am your son who has his own ideas, surely that should make you proud of me?

Mr President, I think you are refusing to accept that although we are products of your creation, we have the right to be who we want to be and to differ with you on many issues. That does not mean that we are your enemies or that we hate you. In your time you stood for what you thought was right and it was right that blacks be treated as equals among nations; that blacks must have the right to self determination and the pursuit of a happy life. That very principle you sacrificed your life and career for is what we also wish to attain at the same expense that you did. To you, I guess that's nothing new.

The economic system that you have presided over Mr President leaves much to be desired. You have actually created even worse economic conditions than those that existed when you took over power form the colonialists. Children are going hungry, AIDS is killing most of us, social services have crumbled, each day is a struggle to survive even if oneworks. Unemployment is increasing and above all hope for a better future has all but evaporated. Things have fallen apart Mr President.

Who do we blame for this or should you as the leader take responsibility for it? I remember my father who sought to better my life through his sacrifices and as a leader he taught me one thing, that the duty of leadership is to take all the blame and share all the successes. Yet I see that you blame everyone Mr President. That I do not understand. You have grown up men who you work with, who you have given tasks to do and their results show for themselves and yet you never blame them and continue to have them around you. Surely you are as good as those that are around you Mr President. I maybe wrong but don't you think that something is wrong?

Maybe there is something that I do not know but I am most angry at you when you refuse to say that you are wrong; we all get it wrong sometimes but we learn from our mistakes. When you call us your enemies and yet we are all sons of the same African soil that nourished our forefathers. Does this sentiment not reflect on you rather than on us?

You see Mr. President, every system is designed to create the results that you get. All the corruption and hyperinflation, all the suffering we see today are mere results of a system that does not work any longer. We have all played a part in creating this system, yes both you and me. Some of us through inaction and fear to challenge you and some of us through taking advantage of it.

You see Mr President we all aspire to have a better quality of life but some of us are greedier than others. Some of your children have been so greedy that they have become selfish in ambition and uncaring in conduct. They have become what they have become because the system has allowed them to do so.

The value system of Zimbabweans in general has deteriorated but in reaction to the system you have helped create Mr President. They no longer live by purpose as our forefathers did in the past but by graft and self enrichment. Theirs is to make as much money at any cost because it is only through that that they can self actualize. They worship money Mr. President because that is the only value that they measure themselves by. Personally I pity them and I am sure that you do too. However, we must change this system Mr President or it will consume us and all we stand for.

I have lost respect for most of the men you have around you Mr President, they are living off the fat of the land and protecting their interests. They are men of no character who boast in your absence of their power and riches and yet would not dare to even be honest to themselves and worse to you. I would hate to have friends like that or men like that around me!

Please let me remind you again Mr President that I do not hate you and yet my love for you continues to diminish each day when I see that you do not see what I see. You see Mr President, this land is our land and surely we are its heirs who must pass it on to the next generation knowing that we have done our best to create a better future.

Surely not one of us has sole rights to it surely none of us can claim that others cannot contribute as our colonial masters did? Wasn't that the very reason you decided to fight them? And yet all I hear from you Mr President is that none else can ever lead our land, that no one else is competent enough to do so? Well I really do not believe you because I can certainly do a better job of it. You see I have now grown up and learnt a lot and I am sure that is what you intended for me? Doesn't that make you so proud of me?

I see you even do not want us to debate these issues freely through the airwaves or through meetings. Laws have been put into place that make it illegal for us to gather, as you gathered in the past to debate and share new ideas. How then can we create a better Zimbabwe if we cannot freely share our dreams and ideas. Isn't that what you fought for all your life? I ask these questions because I am no longer sure where you stand on them and do not mean any disrespect.

I think Mr. President it is the natural order of things that we as human beings aspire not only to better ourselves but to live a better quality life. Our economic system has failed us Mr President. Some of us are in foreign lands not because of choice nor because we are a lesser people than those around you. We merely insist that our lives be meaningful and that we are free in our minds and activities to become whom we want to be without interference and the determination of our aspirations by others. Is that not what you have always stood for?

I truly believe that within us including yourself Mr President, is a greater purpose to leave behind better circumstances than those that existed when we came to this world. Please let me state that I cannot boast to be a better man than you and those around you but one thing I know, that you and your ministers have failed us. We had so much hope and used to stand tall assuming that you loved us wanted the best for us?. Yes you have failed to create a home for us. A home filled with love and support of our aspirations.

Do I have a solution Mr President? Yes I have some suggestions but again I am sure at times you and those around you also think of them. I only wish we could talk often Mr. President and even listen to each other. You see none of us have all the solutions we just have ideas of how things may work out.

Please, I suggest firstly that you free us from your personal aspirations. You see Mr President, your aspirations are not necessarily the same as ours for we live in different times with diverse hopes and capabilities. This does not mean that we are your enemies or that we disrespect your aspirations, no it does not. It just means that we think that we have a different vision for Zimbabwe than what we see today. We are cut from the same cloth and yet are different. Isn't that wonderful?

Unfortunately I have run out of time but I have much to say to you. I will write to you again soon for there is much I think we can talk about.

Do have a wonderful week and please do remember that I value your past and what you have done for us but maybe its time that some of us begin to contribute to building a new Zimbabwe. I am sure you would be proud of that?

Until I write to you again.

Vince Musewe

Son of the Soil
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Mugabe's new decree should be applauded
sundayopinion By Denford Magora

SOME time back, the Asian country of Taiwan found itself in a liquidity crisis and put measures in place to arrest the decline and right their economy.

Various measures were taken, but only one shone above all others and showed the Taiwanese people to be among the most committed citizens in the universe: I refer to the fact that the Taiwanese came out in droves and deposited their gold rings and even gold necklaces to the treasury.

Television pictures of doddering old women handing over their jewellery to save their nation were beamed across the world and within six months, the Taiwanese crisis had evaporated.

This is something that would never happen in Zimbabwe because Zimbabweans by nature are greedy, selfish and have no sense of patriotism even in the loosest sense of the word.

That is why I absolutely disagree with your front page commentary in the February 15 edition of The Standard alleging that the new Statutory Instrument referring to corrupt individuals makes Zimbabwe a Police State. Your editorial presumes a normal operating environment and would certainly have not been out of place in countries like Japan and US and Taiwan where citizens know the true value of genuine patriotism.

In Zimbabwe, however, we have a totally different mindset, where people who can get away with making their fellow Zimbabweans suffer do not think twice about doing so.

Under these circumstances, drastic measures are called for and I applaud this legislation. At least President Robert Mugabe is doing something about the rot that was setting in. For that, he should be supported, while not forgetting the bigger picture of the political environment that we find ourselves in.

It is true that the failure by Zimbabweans to behave like citizens of other countries can be linked directly to the fact that they saw Zanu PF and government officials getting away with breaking the law and corruption. These people were never arrested and they grew fat on the proceeds of the country's economic sewage. Why then should a private citizen, prejudice himself so that Zanu PF and government cronies can enrich themselves illegally at his expense.

There was only one way to answer these fears: by resolutely demonstrating that these activities did not have the blessing of Mugabe himself. This was a stand Mugabe had to take because of the skewed social environment of his country. If he himself is not corrupt, letting his corrupt comrades get away with bail and acquittal on technicalities would be suicidal for him.

It must be pointed out that the instrument is crucial because over a period of 23 years, we built up a system very much like that of Adolf Hitler's Germany. In Hitler's Germany, Adolf himself never made his policies clear, which led the population, the civil service and even those within the Nazi party to "work towards the Fuhrer".

This meant combing through Hitler's public speeches and then aligning national policy on everything to what people assumed his position was. So the Gestapo, although they never got direct orders to that effect, knew that tormenting Jews would receive Hitler's blessing.

In Zimbabwe, the situation had evolved to a position where individuals who were publicly seen to be Mugabe favourites and ZANU PF stalwarts would be feared by the police and could answer any charges by whipping out their liberation war credentials or waving their closeness to Zanu PF about like a talisman.

This instrument that you decry puts all these people on notice and shows the police that they should not be intimidated simply because someone is a heavyweight in Zanu PF. This, by any standards, is called the restoration of faith in the uprightness and purity of purpose of Mugabe himself, whose rumoured Swiss Bank fortune and Hotel ownership in London is proving as difficult to find as Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction.

It is surprising that your paper would denounce this move, especially considering the suffering that we have all endured in part due to the greed of a few individuals who thought that their allegiance to Zanu PF would paralyse Mugabe into ignoring their nefarious sabotage of the hopes of millions.

At the stroke of a pen, Mugabe has answered the concerns of the majority of the population who, even as I write, believe that "those with money can get away with anything, it is only the poor people who get justice".

This thinking is deep-seated in the psyche of Zimbabwe: Rich people can afford to hire expensive lawyers who can get them bail and acquittals on technicalities and the poor ones have to suffer.

Then, of course, there was the common thinking, even amongst policemen at some stage, that Zanu PF politicians were above the law.

This instrument restores faith in the execution of justice. For that, and that alone, it should be embraced by all Zimbabweans who have nothing to hide.

The way I see it, Mugabe has put his party on notice that the state of the economy is the single biggest threat to his party's continued existence. Anyone contributing to this rotten state of the economy, therefore, is attacking the party itself. The results can only be to the benefit of Zimbabweans.

All this, however, should not stop the people of Zimbabwe, both within and outside of Zanu PF, demanding their other rights, which the President and his party will have to address at some point.

If you have nothing to hide, you should not be fearing this statutory instrument; simple as that.
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Busy time for Messenger of Court
By Caiphas Chimhete

THE old woman, probably in her 70s, walked with considerable difficulty to the nearest city council offices to plead for a little more time.

All her belongings, most of them showing age as herself, were heaped outside what used to be her residence for the past 50 years. Now, she has nowhere to go and no one to turn to.

An official from the messenger of court, who had come to evict Ambuya Rufati from her Dzivarasekwa house in Harare, instructed two of her grandchildren to keep an eye on the property as a crowd had already swelled to witness the eviction.

At the same time the locksmith, who had accompanied the official, replaced the padlocks with his own to ensure that the old widow would not have access to the five-roomed house.

"I feel sorry for her and her grandchildren but I am just doing my job. Generally people are struggling to survive in locations like these. The state of her property says a lot," confessed the official, pointing to the heap of dirty blankets and tattered clothes.

All she had was a flea-bitten bed, old utensils, an aged push trolley and a few clothes.

At Dzivarasekwa council offices, Ambuya Rufati, was told that the sub office had no powers to put her back into the house unless she paid about $96 000 she owed the council in unpaid rates.

However, the debt would amount to several hundreds of thousands, when other charges are effected since the first notice was served on her way back in 2001.

"Ko vanoti ndinoenda kupi nevana ivava, dai ndanga ndiri ndoga zvirinani (Where do they think I will go with these children? It would have been better if I was alone,) said Ambuya Rufati as she brushes tears from her wrinkled cheeks.

Ambuya Rufati is one of the thousands of people throughout the country who are being evicted from their houses for failing to honour debts. Social commentators say the deteriorating economic environment has resulted in a significant number of people failing to pay debts.

As the economy slumps so is the condition of the people, they said.

Presently, over 70 percent of the country's population lives below the poverty datum line and an equally huge percentage is out of employment. The employment base continues to shrink as companies close down while others are relocating to neighbouring countries diminishing any hopes of an immediate economic recovery.

Another defaulter, Richard Njanja was last week served with a notice of eviction from his house in Harare's Hatcliffe Extension after failing to pay a debt of about $360 000.

"Nulla bona. (No assets) Copy served on the defendant. He has a bed and a push tray only," read the papers sent to the city council.

Such is the predicament of scores of Zimbabweans, who have virtually been reduced to destitution by the country's economic meltdown.

The Messenger of Court for Harare region, Smart Moyo, confirmed last week that the number of people evicted for failing to pay debts including council rates and rentals had increased dramatically over the past few years.

Since the beginning of this year, his office has served about 300 people with notices of eviction to defaulters for failing to pay council rates. Houses and other properties are also being attached for failing to honour different types of debts, he said.

Moyo said no houses have been auctioned as yet this year but conceded that the number of defaulters was worrying.

Last year, a number of houses were sold after their owners defaulted but Moyo could not give a figure. "Generally, the number of evictions we carry out on a daily basis has increased. We have however not sold a single house but we have sent the details to the city council for further assessment," said Moyo whose department falls under the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) chairman, Mike Davies, said due to the recent 600 percent hike in rates, Harare would experience more defaults in rates payment this year.

"The economic situation is really bad so the council should be compassionate with the residents and give them more time," said Davies, who urged the city council to give discounts to pensioners and the less privileged.

He said under normal circumstances residents must pay rates to enable council to provide the essential services.

Last week, CHRA called on residents to object "to the punitive budget by withholding all payments based upon the new budget until such time as council acts responsibly and address our legitimate concerns."

Presently, CHRA is consulting its attorney to map out a legal challenge to this year's budget.

Harare City Council public relations manager, Leslie Gwindi, said he could not comment because he was attending meetings.

Most of the people who face evictions include pensioners, orphans and the unemployed. With the soaring cost of living, the money the pensioners receive is not enough to cater for their needs such as food and clothing. Some pensioners get as little a $5 000 a month barely enough for one's breakfast.
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Backdoor hair salons flourish
By Nyasha Bhosha

IT'S a Saturday afternoon in Harare: torn towels can be seen hanging from the hedge while they dry and a trail of buckets of water lead to a small cabin behind a house in Western Triangle, in Harare's sprawling Highfield high density suburb.

"Thanks Auntie Sue," says one woman, obviously feeling good with her new look as she examines herself from a a piece of broken mirror glass.

Several women are seated on a bench while others lounge on stools. Two teenagers are standing inside the cabin with one holding an electric hair blower, while the other removes curl-rollers from a client's head.

A stout lady dressed in tight fitting jean trousers and a black top, with heavy make-up on her face, is plaiting a young woman just outside the cabin, which is too small to accommodate more than four people. She shouts to the teenagers to "hurry up" so as not to keep the rest of the ladies waiting for too long.

She is Auntie Sue.

Sue runs a small cabin salon at the back of her home, where most women from the neighbourhood go to get their hair done these days.

Her's is just one of scores of back door hair salons that are flourishing in Harare's high-density suburbs due to the exorbitant amounts being charged by the up-market salons in the city centre.

These days a hair "re-touch" with the popular Dark and Lovely products costs $45 000 to $50 000 in the upmarket salons, while the backdoor salons will do the same job for half the price, although it often means them diluting some of the chemicals to meet the cost.

While the retouches seem to be expensive, the price of synthetic hairs has also ballooned with the cheapest now going for $30 000 (boy-cuts, razor-cuts and page boys) while the 100% weaves cost between $80 000 to $100 000.

A recent random survey by The Standard found out that most women in Harare were now opting for the backyard salons. Several women said they would rather put their money to better use than waste it on expensive hair-dos.

"These days it does not matter where you get your hair-do, I can't waste $50 000 just for a hair-do Š there are better things I can do with the money, at least feed my family," said Emily George.

"A lady who stays in our neighbourhood does some quite good hair plaits and I can't be parting with $80 000 when someone is offering the same hairstyles for as little as $15 000 or $20 000," said Martha Dambaza from Highfield.

Many said getting hair done by professionals depended on how much one earns adding that most women who went for expensive hair-dos were getting the money mostly from their boyfriends and not husbands.

"You can imagine $100 000 every month for a hair-do, unenge uchimbotambira marii? (How much will you be earning). Most people these days are not earning much, a husband and a wife have more pressing needs than a simple hair-do," said Mai Dambo of Hatcliffe.

Some men shared the same sentiments saying they would rather go and drink beer than waste money on their wives' or girlfriends' hair-dos, while some said they were ready to part with as much as $150 000 for their wives to look good.

"Hatidye musoro mumba (We don't eat hair styles)," said Joseph, a commuter ominbus driver.

Said one up-market salon owner: "Our prices are justified, we are looking at genuine chemicals which we import, rentals of buildings and above all, these prices come along with excellent service."

However, it is at the backyard salons that women risk losing or damaging their hair.

In order for the services to be cheaper, backyard salon operators use substandard chemicals that are not recommended while some mix wrong chemicals altogether.

Most salons in town said business was flourishing, arguing that their clients would not risk losing their hair for a cheap hair-do and preferred their heads to be handled by professionals.

"Ladies need to look good and this can only be done professionally, you can't risk losing hair for the rest of your life just for a cheap hair do," said a young striking lady at one of the up-market salons in the capital city.
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Moyo lectures Namibians on propaganda
By Henry Makiwa

THE government's top propaganda exponent, the junior Minister of Information and Publicity in the President's Office, Jonathan Moyo, has been educating Namibian authorities on how to create a sycophantic government Press that supports land reform at all costs, it has been established.

Moyo was in Namibia last week accompanied by a delegation of senior lieutenants in charge of the State-controlled media, including Herald editor Pikirayi Dekekete and the head of ZTV's Newsnet, Chris Chivinge.

According to sources, Moyo met his Namibian counterpart, Nangolo Mbumba, first, before holding discussions with Prime Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab and officials from the Namibian agriculture ministry on Thursday.

Although Moyo had said talks between the two parties would focus on sharing experiences in the media, on arrival at Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek, sources said President Robert Mugabe's chief propagandist urged the Namibian government to consider "bolstering their media" if the country's on-going land reforms were to succeed.

"Moyo was trying to sell notes to Namibian authorities here that they need to strengthen their media if they are going to speed up their land reforms and seize some farms from the white commercial farmers here in the manner the Zimbabweans did," a highly-placed Namibian source told The Standard from Windhoek.

"Moyo said the Zimbabweans want to forge co-operation with Namibia's media and probably set up a bilateral media agency that will ward off critical reports from the independent Press ... he gave special emphasis on the South African independent media which he accused of tarnishing the image of southern African nations to the Western world."

According to Press reports, Moyo addressed journalists soon after arrival in Windhoek, saying: "We have faced challenges together but there are certain things in our societies that are important to our people and we are going to look at how we can communicate information between our people," Moyo was quoted as saying in The Namibian newspaper.

Moyo added that the two countries had the responsibility of shaping policies and legislation and that their discussions would also examine how that could be done.
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