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

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      Zimbabwe opposition tears into Mugabe for decay

      Sun March 27, 2005 10:33 AM GMT+02:00
      By Emelia Sithole

      BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition chief tore into
President Robert Mugabe on Saturday for letting the country slide into
decay, urging supporters to hand the ruling ZANU-PF a resounding defeat at
Thursday's polls.

      Campaigning in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) stronghold of
Matabeleland, party leader Morgan Tsvangirai also told Zimbabweans to step
up their fight against rampant


      Tsvangirai and his MDC aides received a tumultuous welcome in the
Matabeleland capital of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, where Mugabe
deployed crack troops in the 1980s to quell dissent that killed hundreds of

      The crowd erupted into a rapturous roar as Tsvangirai arrived,
greeting him with the MDC's open palm salute and party slogan chants of
"Chinja Maitiro" (Change your ways).

      Mugabe's ZANU-PF is widely expected to win the polls after clamping
down on opposition activity over the past five years, including intimidating
MDC officials and halting the party's meetings in rural areas where a
majority of the people live.

      But the opposition is trying hard to win votes by attacking Mugabe's
management of the economy.

      "Mugabe says no one can manage the economy better than he did, but
where have you seen any economy where millionaires are poor," Tsvangirai
told some 15,000 supporters.

      The Zimbabwean dollar has slid to 6,000 to the U.S. dollar on the
official market compared to around 55 five years ago. On the black market,
the U.S. dollar bought 300 Zimbabwean dollars five years ago; today it buys

      "We want to make sure that we rebuild industry ... create jobs," said

      He said the MDC wanted some of the land grabbed from white commercial
farmers for redistribution to landless blacks to be made productive again to
combat food shortages sweeping the country. Analysts say many of the people
given land have been unable to farm due to lack of seed, fertilisers and


      Tsvangirai spoke harshly against HIV/AIDS, telling mainly the youth to
use condoms to tackle AIDS, which a U.N. agency said this month killed a
Zimbabwean child every 15 minutes.

      "You will perish. We don't want to have a government ruling over
graves," Tsvangirai said. "You must protect yourselves."

      He also told supporters to ditch the tradition, common in parts of
Africa, by which a man can "inherit" the wife of a dead brother, saying the
practice could help spread HIV/AIDS.

      Nearly one quarter of Zimbabwe's adults are infected with HIV, making
it one of the worst-hit countries in Africa.

      Tsvangirai took a swipe at ZANU-PF's campaign against British Prime
Minister Tony Blair, saying it was deeply flawed.

      "While Mugabe is talking about Blair, we will be talking about what we
will feed our children, and while he is talking about (U.S. President George
W.) Bush, we will be talking about how to create jobs for our youth," he

      "If he wants to challenge Blair, he must go to Britain."

      Mugabe has been publicly at loggerheads with Blair since he launched
his land reform campaign in 2000.

      Mugabe blames Blair for sanctions slapped on Zimbabwe by the European
Union and the United States in the aftermath of the land programme and for a
drying up of donor dollars that have helped force his country into steep
economic decline.

      He says Blair backs the MDC, which is the biggest challenge to his
rule since independence from Britain in 1980.

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      Elephants invade town in western Zimbabwe 2005-03-27 16:21:52

           HARARE, March 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Residents in Hwange, some 800 km
west of Zimbabwean capital Harare, are having sleepless nights following the
invasion of the town by stray elephants that are destroying property and
fruit trees, according to Sunday News.

          The elephants are running away from the nearby national park
insearch of drinking water.

          It is believed that green trees are now scarce in the parks andthe
jumbos were being attracted to the residential areas by green mango trees.

          So daring are the animals that Mpindani Mpala, a resident, got the
shock of his life on Tuesday night when he spotted a giant elephant just two
meters from his bedroom window.

          Another resident, Themba Chindoro, whose three mango trees
weredestroyed on Thursday night, appealed to the relevant authorities to
take action.

          "They are having sleepless and scary nights because of the
elephants. We now fear for our lives and fruit trees," said Chindoro.

          The mango fruit, which is in season, is a delicacy and good source
of income at this time of the year for many people in Hwange.

          On Monday night, the jumbos ran riot, uprooting virtually
everytree at the St George's Primary School orchard, resulting in scores of
pupils making a quick return home on Tuesday.

          Two weeks ago, some National Railways of Zimbabwe employees
working on a faulty cable had to make good their escape after a herd of
elephants made a surprise appearance at the work site. Enditem

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Mail and Guardian

      Zim church calls for uprising against Mugabe

      Harare, London, Johannesburg

      27 March 2005 09:04

            Bulawayo's outspoken Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube has openly
called for a Ukraine-style "peaceful popular mass uprising" by Zimbabweans
to oust President Robert Mugabe, the Sunday Independent newspaper reported.

            "I hope that people get so disillusioned that they really
organise against the government and kick him (President Mugabe) out by a
non-violent, popular, mass uprising," Ncube told the paper in an interview.

            "Because as it is, people have been too soft with this
government. So people should pluck up just a bit of courage and stand up
against him and chase him away."

            Commenting on Thursday's poll, Ncube said: "No way will
elections kick him out.

            "Mugabe has made all his plans. He cheated in 2000 and in 2002.
They are very well schooled. They will cheat."

            He went on to say that Zimbabwe's registrar-general was "200%
pro-Mugabe and he has shown how dishonest he can be in elections in the

            Another front-page article of the Sunday Independent reported
that the answer to the question of how the ruling Zanu-PF was cheat was:
"It's in the voter's roll, stupid!"

            The report read that as of last week, the voter's roll had
5,7-million registered voters, according to the Zimbabwe Election
Commission, which said it closed registration for Thursday's election on
February 4.

            "It has grown by more than 100 000 in the past three weeks,"
read the report.

            "The Zimbabwe government has persistently refused the Movement
for Democratic Change access to two CD-Roms that hold all the information on
their voter's roll."

            The newspaper reported the MDC saying the accurate figure for
the voters' roll should be 3,2-million based on the census of 2002 and
extrapolating statistics collected door to door of people not known at
addresses given on the roll in a mix of a dozen rural and urban
constituencies ahead of Thursday's poll.

            It further reported that Mugabe's former spin doctor, Jonathan
Moyo, now standing as an independent, was also unhappy about the voters'
roll, "although he saw no problems in 2002 when he was information

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  How will Zanu PF cheat? It's all in the voters' roll, stupid
      Sunday Independent (SA)
      Date posted:Sun 27-Mar-2005
      Date published:Sun 27-Mar-2005

      So how is Zanu PF going to cheat? That is the question on many lips
ahead of Thursday's national poll. If Zanu PF wins as most predict, no one,
including observers (of whom there will only be enough to cover two thirds
of the polling stations), the few accredited foreign diplomats or, most
importantly, the people, will ever know if the ruling party beat the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) fairly and squarely. "It's all in the
voters' roll, stupid!" said an MDC candidate cheerfully when asked the
"how-will-they-cheat" question in Bulawayo this week. As of last week, the
roll had 5,7 million registered voters, according to the Zimbabwe Election
Commission, which said it closed registration for Thursday's election on
February 4. (The commission is the legal mouthpiece for several other
authorities that are really running the poll.) It has grown by more than 100
000 in the past three weeks. The Zimbabwe government has persistently
refused the MDC access to two CD-roms that hold all the information on the
voters' roll. To audit the voters' roll for duplications of unique identity
numbers, therefore, the MDC has to lug several kilograms of faint print-outs
to check the veracity of the information. Its private-sector data
consultants say they have the software in place to check for duplications to
audit the roll electronically within 48 hours of receiving the CDs.

      The MDC says the accurate figure for the voters' roll should be 3,2
million based on the census of 2002 and extrapolating statistics collected
door to door of people not known at addresses given on the roll in a mix of
a dozen rural and urban constituencies ahead of Thursday's poll. In a
densely populated block in a constituency in Harare the MDC says it found
that 64 percent of registered voters were not known at their given addresses
after a laborious house-by-house audit. The University of Zimbabwe's
statistics department generously estimated that the voters' roll could be as
high as 4,6 million, if 80 percent of youngsters had registered as soon as
they had turned 18. The university statistics did not estimate the huge
numbers who have left Zimbabwe since the study was done nearly four years
ago, nor the rising toll of HIV/Aids and the decreasing life expectancy, now
down to about 35, according to the World Health Organisation.

      On Thursday people will vote at more than 8 000 polling stations, with
three queues at each station and only one polling agent to monitor all the
processes, such as checking ID numbers, on one day. The polling agent is not
permitted to use a cellphone or any other means of communication to report
any hitches during voting, or to let anyone know the results immediately
after counting ends at the polling station. That information will be
telephoned through by the government's presiding officers to the 2005
command centre in Harare, staffed by the same people as in 2002, but now
called the National Logistics Committee. And, in case that information
worries conscientious observers, there is more. The Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission said last week that voter registration was continuing. It said
those who registered after February 4 would not be allowed to vote on
Thursday. But it also said that anyone whose name did not appear on the
roll, but had a receipt from registration officials showing that they should
be a voter, could bring their receipt along on Thursday, and they would be
allowed to cast their ballot.

      The voters' roll, therefore, has a wide variety of rigging options in
each and every constituency, but particularly in rural areas, and only
analysis of the electronic version of the voters' roll would allow
Zimbabweans and the world to know whether voting and counting on March 31
was accurate. Jonathan Moyo, who is standing as an independent candidate,
said this week that having only one polling agent for three polling queues
invited rigging. Moyo is also unhappy about the voters' roll, although he
saw no problems in 2002 when he was information minister.
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Zim Standard

Battle lines drawn - Main contestants, Zanu PF, MDC predict victory
By Foster Dongozi and Valentine Maponga

BUOYED by recent developments, both the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and the ruling Zanu PF are predicting "convincing victories" in
Thursday's parliamentary election.

The MDC's prediction is based on the "unprecedented attendances" its rallies
have attracted in the heart of what was previously "one-party"
constituencies in the rural areas - Zanu PF's purported strongholds.
The opposition's prediction is based on the belief that people attending its
rallies are doing so freely, while those at Zanu PF's are usually coerced.

But Zanu PF is buoyed by two recent polls that predicted it would reduce the
MDC's seats in parliament after voting on Thursday this week.

One of the surveys entitled," A report on the findings of an opinion survey
on the March 2005 general elections", says Zanu PF is likely to secure a
maximum of 83 seats, while the MDC will get at least 56 seats.

But Ethel Muchena a research officer with Mass Public Opinion Institute
(MPOI), which released a preliminary result of an opinion poll, described
the survey as "trash" as it was impossible for Zanu PF to win by a wide
margin. Her argument is that the Joseph Kurebwa survey does not depict
actual facts on the ground.

The survey was quickly dismissed by the MDC, which said it was "partisan"
and ignored the fact that Harare and Bulawayo were safe seats for the
opposition, which had also made in-roads into rural constituencies.

Zanu PF believes that its nationwide donations of computers to schools and
pledges that it will not allow Zimbabweans to starve, following the current
agricultural season's crop failure, will portray it as a caring party.

Campaigning for Thursday's general elections intensified with the presidents
of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, and Zanu PF's Robert Mugabe criss-crossing
the country in a final bid to garner votes for their candidates in the
parliamentary poll.

Tsvangirai, who did not enjoy access to rural areas because of political
violence during 2000 has "tamed" previously so-called "no-go areas" such as
Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, Mutoko, Murehwa, Gokwe, Bindura and Mount Darwin
where attendance figures have been very high, much to the annoyance of Zanu

At 81, Mugabe has defied age, energetically addressing rallies across the
country, where he has been donating computers in order to woo more voters.

Today, Tsvangirai is expected to address a star rally at the Zimbabwe
Grounds in Highfield, while Mugabe is expected to head towards Mutoko and
Rushinga, before rounding off his party's campaign trail in Harare.

Addressing a rally in Mkoba Stadium in Gweru yesterday Tsvangirai said his
party would win the elections "overwhelmingly" and change the country's
Constitution, rendering Mugabe powerless.

"We have thoroughly done our ground work, especially in rural areas and the
hour has come for us to be able to change the Constitution. We should all go
and vote on Thursday. Our win will make Mugabe powerless. We are going to
give him his package on Thursday."

Speaking on the sidelines of a campaign rally at the former impregnable
fortress of Zanu PF, Murehwa last week, Tsvangirai complained of
intimidation and violence.

"Although the levels of violence have gone down considerably, violence and
intimidation are still a common denominator."

Tsvangirai's rally at Mutoko Centre had just been disrupted by Zanu PF
supporters, leading to the arrest of three supporters.

At Murehwa Centre, more than 3 000 MDC supporters wearing party T-shirts and
bandanas put up with harassment from Zanu PF activists, who were ordering
MDC supporters to leave the rally, although police details were in the

When Tsvangirai visited the Murehwa centre fruit and vegetable market, he
was mobbed by vendors, who started following him as he conducted a

However, the vendors, mostly women, were threatened by angry Zanu PF youths.

In an interview with The Standard Tsvangirai said: "My final message to
Zimbabweans is that they should go out in their millions and vote for the
MDC. An MDC victory will also present Zimbabweans an opportunity to ease
Mugabe out of power and give Zimbabweans an opportunity to rebuild the

"What we want is a tolerant society, where MDC and Zanu PF supporters live
side by side in harmony. As Zimbabweans we are a family and beating up each
other or killing people does not help us as a people."

Tsvangirai said Mugabe and Zanu PF had run out of ideas and needed to make
way for a new political dispensation to bring fresh ideas.

He said the MDC had mounted a spirited campaign around the country and
expected to stroll into Parliament with a majority.

"We had a very effective strategy which saw the MDC easily penetrating the
rural areas," Tsvangirai said.

Zanu PF Politburo member and former deputy political commissar, Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu, who is a candidate for Mpopoma constituency, predicted the ruling
party would reclaim most of the seats it lost in the 2000 elections.

"Conditions are now in place for free and fair elections, our only complaint
is that the MDC is very violent but we have told our supporters not to take
the law into their own hands," Ndlovu said.

MDC spokesperson, Paul Themba-Nyathi, said they were concerned about chiefs
and traditional leaders siding with Zanu PF.

The MDC says it has not received information on how postal ballots were
distributed, raising fears that the privilege might have been abused to rig
this week's parliamentary elections.

Themba-Nyathi said: "Our agents were not there and we don't even know what
is happening. We don't even know who voted and in what constituency. The
whole process of postal voting has been very secretive. There has not been
enough publicity on the whole issue." But yesterday the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission dismissed the MDC's allegations saying, in fact, that Donald
Chirunga, who is with the MDC Directorate of Elections, has been witnessing
the process since it started on 14 March.

The Standard understands that members of the security forces, mainly police
and army officers have compulsorily received ballot papers and voted for the
coming general elections without even applying for them.

Police officers, The Standard understands, were presented with envelopes
with their names and the serial number of the ballot paper inside.

Zimbabwe has 40,000 to 45,000 soldiers and around 25 000 police officers in
an electorate of 5 789 912 registered voters.

The ZEC yesterday said the army had applied for 2 527 postal ballots but
only 1 262 qualified for postal ballot votes.
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Zim Standard

Water shortage hits Harare suburbs
By our own staff

A CRITICAL water shortage has hit Harare, with most suburbs in the city
having gone for the past two weeks without running water. The situation
poses a serious health hazard for residents of the capital.

Harare residents who spoke to The Standard last week said the situation had
gone out of hand and they feared for their health.
Among the affected areas are the low-density suburbs of Borrowdale,
Chisipite, Gunhill, Greendale, Avondale, Hogerty Hill and Mainway Meadows in

Eastern suburbs of Mabvuku, Tafara, Zimre Park and Msasa Park have been
without water for the whole of last week.

Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) vice chairperson, Israel
Mabhoo, said the water crisis showed that the local authorities were not
concerned about the residents' welfare.

He said the association had on several occasions raised concerns with the
relevant authorities but no improvement had been done.

"The council continues to cut water supplies without even notifying
residents despite our persistent calls. Everyone knows that the whole water
system is now old and needs an overhaul but the people at the top are very
arrogant," he said.

Mabhoo said people who stay in affluent northern suburbs have drilled
boreholes on their properties while those in areas such as Tafara and
Mabvuku fetch water from streams and unprotected wells exposing themselves
to water-borne diseases.

"People deserve to know if there is a problem. We don't rule out that there
might be some mechanical problems sometimes but this has gone for too long,"
he said.

Msasa Park and Mainway Meadows had been without water for the better part of
the past two weeks and residents in the areas say the situation has gotten
out of hand.

"We don't know why the council cuts water supplies without notifying us. Can
you imagine going for days without water in an urban set up, where almost
everything requires water," said Steven Mapanzure of Msasa Park.

Shamiso Manyadza of Greendale said residents of that area were now relying
on water from boreholes and swimming pools to cater for domestic use.

"We have been facing these water problems since 2003 and the council seems
to have failed to resolve them," Manyadza said.

A senior official in the Harare City Council said the problems started after
a transformer failure at the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Works two weeks
ago. There are only two transformers at Morton Jaffray, the main one and a
standby unit.

The stand-by unit (transformer) had been sent to Bulawayo for repairs, said
the official who requested anonymity.

"As we speak most of the reservoirs are empty and it will take some weeks
for the problem to be rectified. The problem is not only in the few suburbs
you mentioned but the whole town has been dry," said the official.

City council spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi could not be reached for a comment.

Harare's water supply system has been dogged by problems ranging from
obsolete equipment, lack of proper planning and poor maintenance.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, is facing a critical
shortage of water because water levels at all major dams which supply the
city dropped to well below what is normal this time of year, The Standard
has learnt.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) said on Wednesday the low
water levels in most dams in Matabeleland region were a cause for concern.

Most dams in the region have not received enough inflows since the beginning
of the rainy season.

Bulawayo executive mayor, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, said :"The water situation
is very critical. All major dams here have low water levels and it's not
healthy. We are left with water supply for less than 15 months."

ZINWA catchment manager for Gwayi (Matabeleland north province), Richard
Msendo, said dams such as Umguza, Tshongko and Mananda were less that 15
percent full.

Shangani dam, which is 93 percent full, is the only water source left in the

Msendo said the low water levels were likely to have a negative impact on
agriculture in the province as most farmers relied on irrigation. "Tshongoko
dam is of major concern to us because most farming operations that depend on
it for irrigation have been severely threatened," said Msendo.

He said Tshongoko provides water for both irrigation and domestic use to
residents of Matabeleland North province.

Mzingwane Catchment Manager (Matabeleland south province), Tommy Rosen, said
dams such as Silalabuhwa, Upper Insiza, Antelope and Mangwe had not received
significant inflows due to the ravaging drought.

He said the water levels had drastically dropped and it was unlikely that
the valiable water would last to the next rainy season, unless significant
inflows were recorded soon.

The shortage of water in Matabeleland region has become an annual problem.
The Matabeleland-Zambezi Water Project (MZWP), initiated by the government
to alleviate the water crisis in the region, remains on the drawing board.

The MZWP chairman, Dumiso Dabengwa, was not immediately available for
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Zim Standard

     SADC Parliamentary Forum protests over poll snub
      By Valentine Maponga

      THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum,
a body that monitors elections in several countries in the region, has
officially protested to the government after being barred from observing the
31 March parliamentary elections, The Standard has learnt.

      Kasuka Mutukwa, the secretary-general of the Forum, said they were
"disappointed" and had lodged an official complaint with the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in Harare over the case.
      "We made a complaint some weeks ago but up to now they (Zimbabwe
government) have not responded," Mutukwa told The Standard last week.

      Earlier this month the government, through the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, invited the Forum under SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) and
not as an independent body as has been the case in previous elections.

      "Our argument is that we have not been invited in our own right as an
autonomous institution of SADC, which is a fundamental departure from the
established practice by other SADC countries," Mutukwa said.

      It is widely believed that the Forum was not invited as an autonomous
organisation because during the 2000 parliamentary elections it declared the
polls were not free and fair. It cited violence and intimidation as the
major reasons.

      The Minister of Foreign Affairs Stan Mudenge was not immediately
available for a comment last night.

      In a statement, the Forum said its participation in the parliamentary
elections under the arrangements proposed by the government required
reconsideration and resolution by its Plenary Assembly.

      However the Assembly, the supreme policy-making body of the Forum, is
only expected to meet during the period between 31 May and 8 June, this

      Mutukwa said the Forum also recognised that under the SADC Principles
and Guidelines for Democratic Elections, Member States were not obliged to
invite observers to their elections.

      "However, the Forum seeks to make a contribution to the conduct of
free and fair elections by observing elections and making recommendations
that are aimed at entrenching and deepening gender equality and democracy
throughout the region," he said.

      The Forum has observed at least 13 elections in 10 southern African
countries since 1999.

      These were Namibia (1999), Mozambique (1999), Mauritius (2000),
Tanzania (2000), Zimbabwe Parliamentary (2000), Zambia (2001), Zimbabwe
Presidential (2002) and Lesotho (2002).

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Zim Standard

RBZ fixes exchange rate
By our own Staff

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which in the past year has tried to
stabilise the weakening local dollar by accelerating efforts to wring hard
currencies from Zimbabweans in the Diaspora through the "Homelink" campaign,
has now fixed the exchange rate to thwart further depreciation.

This hushed policy somersault - which has absolutely buried hopes for a fast
exchange rate convergence by December this year - comes against a backdrop
of an avalanche of forex pressures stemming from depleted foreign exchange
receipts from the supply side of the economy.
Economists and industrialists have blamed the RBZ for "poor policy
signaling" through its impractical macro-economic targeting arguing that
central bank's targets "showed a feverish attempt to give industry a streak
of false hopes".

University of Zimbabwe economics lecturer, Chakanyuka Mangwiro, told
Standard Business that the exchange rate policy drift to a defacto fixed
regime, had sounded the death knell to the envisaged exchange rate
unification by December this year.

"Although the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe sustains claims that its exchange
rate is a managed auction system, the truth is that it is now fixed without
announcement. What we have now is a defacto fixed exchange rate regime, not
a managed auction system," Mangwiro said.

A managed auction system, technically known as a "dirty float", is torn
along a narrow template of fixed rate and free float whose lower and upper
limits within which the exchange rate is allowed to float are arbitrarily
set by the central bank.

Mangwiro said contrary to Zimbabwe's situation, a "dirty float" regime
demands that the central bank maintains a pool of forex reserves manipulated
to influence or "manage" the exchange rate within narrow bands, buying
excess forex when the market is inundated with surpluses, and selling hard
currencies to offset deficits.

"But our dear Zimbabwe does not have these reserves and this has forced the
monetary authorities to revert to the old fixed exchange rate regime," said

Economist John Robertson said the monetary authorities' surreptitious
roll-back to the regulated exchange rate regime follows a cumulative slump
in the traditional sources of supply of forex exporters.

Robertson said: "The shift back to the regulated (fixed) exchange rate is
linked to trends on the supply side of the economy. Traditional sources of
foreign currency have diminished because exporters are now producing less.
"For instance, the clothing and footwear industry has significantly reduced
its production causing a decline in its exports. The land issue has also
adversely affected the agricultural sector's export performance."

He added: "In addition, production costs for our exporters have also
increased because of high inflation, meaning our exporters are not making a
profit. For enhanced price viability, we need to free up the exchange rate
to give more local dollars to local exporters. When you lose export revenue
from one sector, the effect for the whole economy will be severe."

The exchange rate value between March and April this year differs marginally
with its value in the comparable period, signifying the subtle regulation of
the exchange rate, he added.

The RBZ last year rushed to establish the forex auction system, in the
absence of a strong export base to feed the system with autonomous flows of
hard currency.

This oversight has left the auction system precariously exposed to the whims
and caprices of "Homelink dollars", which have been given a new dignity in
Zimbabwean international economics, and this underlines how stranded the
country's policy makers have become.

Last year alone Homelink, born in the second quarter of 2004, poured into
the auction system a paltry US$54,8 million, about 3,2 % of the year's gross
forex receipts of US$1,7 billion. Even this is very small compared to the
US$3,8 billion Zimbabwe earned in 1996.
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Zim Standard

Sabotage alleged in Gweru council
By our correspondent

GWERU - Service delivery to residents by the MDC-run Gweru City Council has
hit a brick wall amid allegations of sabotage by council officials aligned
to the ruling Zanu PF, The Standard has learnt.

Minutes of the council's Environmental Health Committee indicate that some
officials in the council have not been co-operating with the director of
engineering services, Jones Nantambwe, in a bid to discredit the opposition
MDC-run council.
Nantambwe confirmed before councillors that he was encountering problems in
coordinating his department, as he was not informed of important
developments by some of his subordinates.

"At times it was difficult to coordinate the activities of my department
because reports were being made elsewhere and that I am not informed of
important developments," Nantambwe is quoted as saying in the minutes.

Insiders said the strategy was designed to discredit the Sesel Zvidzai-led
council, which has cleared the council's $1,3 billion overdraft after only
nine months in office. The overdraft was left by the former Zanu PF
run-council .

Cases of theft of council equipment were also rampant, the minutes said.

A switchgear, which takes more than one hour to dismantle, was recently
stolen at the city's Southview Pump Station, where guards and attendants are
supposed to keep a round the clock watch.
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Zim Standard

Poverty haunts 'ghost' mining towns
By Bertha Shoko recently in Mashava and Alaska

POVERTY is wreaking havoc among thousands of workers, who are struggling to
make ends meet following the closure of mines, effectively shutting down
their only source of livelihood, The Standard has established.

The more resourceful have taken to prostitution or stone-carving, while
others have embarked on gold panning in an effort to provide for their
Among the areas seriously affected are Gaths Mine in Mashava and Mvuma both
in the Midlands, and Alaska and Mhangura in Mashonaland West, where mines
closed down over the past few years citing viability problems, left mining
communities with no source of livelihood.

Alaska and Mhangura mines were shut down in 2000 after more than four
decades of operation.

Although some of the former workers, mostly of Mozambican and Malawian
origin, were given compensation including houses and monetary severance
packages, the majority of them now live miserable lives because inflation
has eroded the value of the monetary packages.

Most of the former mine workers and their families at Alaska, a former
copper mine, have resorted to working on nearby commercial farms and
resettlement areas. Some have become highway "fish mongers", always on the
run from the police, because their activities are considered illegal.

"The mine was closed in 1998 and since then we have no regular source of
income," said Sherpard Batapanzi, chairman of Alaska Youth Corner, a peer
education initiative.

"Most people here now survive through farming, seeking work in commercial
areas nearby and fish mongering. We really have no future here and most of
our young people are going to town and surviving by dubious means."

However, income generated from such activities is seasonal and cannot
sustain them throughout the year.

At Gaths Mine in Mashava the situation is different as there are no
surrounding commercial farms. The former mine workers have ventured into
gold panning risking their lives in the process.

Once they hear of gold deposits discovered anywhere, they rush to claim a
"slice of the cake".

They have nicknamed this gold rush, "DANIDA", after the non-governmental
organisation, Danish International Development Agency, which assists
disadvantaged communities through self-help projects.

At Mashava, group of former commercial sex workers, who are now into
knitting, sewing and crocheting following a capital injection by National
Aids Council (NAC), said poverty had forced them into prostitution.

Miriam Makambira said she engaged in commercial sex because, then, she knew
of no other way to survive.

"When the mine closed we were left without a steady income. I slept with men
to get money because I was desperate," she said.

Another former commercial worker Elizabeth Makombe boasts of once being a
"hardcore prostitute".

"I was once hot property in Mashava and every one here knows me. Men used to
fight over me at Shabanie, and Gaths mine. I have now seen the light. I
should use my hands to look for other ways to survive honestly," she said.

The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has cited farming and mining
communities as having one of the highest prevalence rates of HIV and Aids in
the country, currently pegged at 33,4 percent.

Chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation
(ZMDC) Dominic Mubayiwa, said the mine closures were unfortunate but
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Zim Standard

NAC urged to scale up Aids programmes
Aidswatch with Bertha Shoko

RURAL communities say the National Aids Council (NAC) should scale up HIV
and Aids programmes in various parts of the country and strive to be more
transparent, ensuring that those affected and infected by the pandemic
benefit from the National Aids Trust Fund.

Though NAC has the potential to change the face of the HIV and Aids
pandemic, bureaucracy, failure to educate the Zimbabwean population about
its operations and how to tap into the Aids levy as communities and
individuals, had made NAC a target of criticism.
Various rural communities that spoke to The Standard during a week-long tour
organised by NAC expressed concern over the slow pace at which NAC is
reaching out to communities.

At Murereka Township, which is under Makonde Rural District Council in
Mashonaland West, NAC has helped set up various Aids programmes such as peer
education, home based care (HBC) and orphan care.

These programmes, funded through the District Action Aids Committee in the
area, are slowly taking shape but the Murereka community complained that
some of the initiatives were under funded and lacked material support.

On the HBC programme volunteers said the kits and medicines were not enough
and were replenished or beefed up late making their work difficult when
dealing with patients.

"We would like NAC to look into the issue of HBC kits because they are
essential," said Florence Guzanga, vice chairperson of the Murereka HBC

"The need for care is great in this area and sometimes we go to patients
without all the essentials and are forced to refer them to the hospital when
we could have easily treated them in the comfort of their homes, surrounded
by their loved ones."

A standard HBC kit, according to Ministry of Health and Child Welfare
guidelines, should consists of disposable as well as re-usable gloves,
bleach for sterilisation purposes and medical supplies such as pain killers,
among other things.

Guzanga also urged NAC to scale up the provision of food to People Living
with HIV and Aids PLWAS saying that drug therapy should be complimented by a
good diet.

"Most of our patients die not because of Aids but due to malnutrition. They
are also stressed up because they are bedridden and cannot provide for their
children. NAC should scale up on food provision to PLWAs as a matter of
urgency. The supplies we have here are erratic," she said.

Also needing support at Murereka is the peer education programme. There is
need for a resource centre or youth drop-in centre equipped with information
about HIV and Aids to raise awareness among youths. The orphan care
programme also needs support.

NAC was urged to provide food, fees and uniforms for orphaned children in
time so that they do not feel different from other children.

In Mashava, a former mine township, a group of former prostitutes were
assisted by NAC to start a knitting, crocheting and sewing club. However,
the programme could die a natural death because the club has failed to
secure a reliable market for its products.

NAC maintains that it is purely a co-ordinating mechanism that only provides
people with capital for income generating projects and the rest, in this
case looking for a market, is up to the respective communities.

This policy, I thought, lacked rationale and I was of the opinion that it
could be applied selectively.

My argument being, here is a group of former commercial sex workers, in a
impoverished former mining community who cannot find a market for their knit
wear not because they are not resourceful but because they lack exposure.
And NAC just sits there and says 'we are co-ordinators and not

How straight jacketed in policy implementationcan can one be? Through
experiences and learning and also for moral reasons, can NAC not change its
policies accordingly?

In Chivi South, Masvingo, villagers want by NAC to scale up food provision
for oprhans and PLWAs and replenishing HBC kits regularly.

"We have 53 PLWAs under the home based programme and our biggest concern is
food provision for them and their families. Some of them are not capable of
working as they are bedridden and yet they must eat and also provide for
their children," said headman Tsungai Jochomi of Ward 11.

"Also, our HBC volunteers travel long distances to see these patients and we
feel they need bicycles to assist in their work. It is really hard work for

Headmen Jochomi also said NAC could help his ward by giving them capital to
start income generating projects and use the proceeds to help those affected
and infected by HIV and Aids in his area.

If managed well these income-generating projects can empower communities to
better themselves. Proceeds from these projects can be used to pay school
fees, buy uniforms for orphans and other vulnerable children, and buy food
for PLWAs and even fund other HIV and Aids programmes in various

From experiences from the tour, I am of the opinion that the key is
empowering communities economically and through HIV and Aids education.
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Zim Standard


Zanu PF biting the hand that feeds Zimbabweans

ON 11 March I watched the ZTV newshour with excitement as an official of the
Department for International Development United Kingdom handed over a cheque
of US$2,7 million to the United Nations Population Fund to be used by
Zimbabwe's Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in its maternal health
programmes to reduce maternal deaths and pregnancy related complications.

Dr Elizabeth Xaba, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and
Child Welfare who was present at the ceremony said the timely grant would go
a long way to enhance the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare's capacity to
achieve the Millennium Development Goal target.
During the break on the same news bulletin, the Zanu PF advertisement in
which they denounce Tony Blair was screened. What hypocrisy?

Tony's Blair's government has done a lot to uplift the lives of suffering
Zimbabweans. The donation made on 11 March is only one of many more that the
British government has made to improve the lives of Zimbabweans. Any
assistance we may have received from our new friends from the East is
nowhere near the assistance that has been given to the people of Zimbabwe by
Blair's government, and Mugabe knows this very well. Let him deny it on
television if it is not the truth. Mugabe is the one who is not telling the
truth, not Tony Blair.

The donation made by the British on 11 March 2005 is a big contribution
towards the empowerment of women in Zimbabwe, and anyone against the
empowerment of women must be viewed as the Women of Zimbabwe's number one
enemy. Zanu PF and Mugabe are against the donor that makes practical efforts
to empower the Women of Zimbabwe, so, therefore, Women of Zimbabwe must
consider Zanu PF and Mugabe as their number one enemy.

Zanu PF's hatred for Blair started when Blair's government asked the Mugabe
regime to account for money that had been advanced to the government of
Zimbabwe for land resettlement. Government could not account for the money,
which could have been pocketed by the corrupt sharks surrounding Mugabe.
Mugabe was warned by Edgar Tekere about the sharks that surrounded him, but
we all know that Tekere was fired from Zanu PF as a result. Mugabe protected
corruption for too long, and now he wants to shift the blame on Blair.

With the drought that has almost been confirmed, Zimbabweans, whether they
support Zanu PF, the MDC, Zanu or any other political party, and even those
with no interest in politics, will need a lot of food assistance from
Britain, the United States of America and other countries that Zanu PF hates
so much. There is therefore every reason for all Zimbabweans in their right
frame of mind to vote against Zanu PF candidates in the forthcoming
parliamentary elections.

Zanu PF has caused all the suffering that we are all going through, and
Zimbabweans from all walks of life must have realized that by now. Let us
therefore turn out in our millions and vote against all the Zanu PF
candidates contesting in this election come 31 March 2005.

We have suffered enough, and we cannot allow ourselves to continue this way.

Benjamin Chitate

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Zim Standard


Elections: just another circus coming to town

ZIMBABWEAN politics seems sadly to continue to go in the direction of most
other Third World politics. Instead of enunciating policies, name-calling
and political posturing seem to be the order of the day.

Our politicians practise a brand of politics heavy on personality while
light on principle and policy. Were it not for the serious nature of the
governance issue, one would simply enjoy the circus that has come to town in
the form of upcoming parliamentary elections.
However, this cannot be the case, as these aspiring parliamentarians are the
individuals who are supposed to lead us and make life defining-decisions.

Our elections are never short of colourful characters with entertaining but
hollow rhetoric. Considerable sums of money are spent on nationwide junkets
and of late, besides the globetrotting, there is campaigning by the aspiring

So-called purges of mafikizolos, decisions on whether to boycott elections
or participate and plenty of other unimportant activities all served to
cloud the major issues at hand. Participating parties have failed to answer
the most important question - that is - how do they intend to improve the
lives of Zimbabweans.

Exasperated Zimbabweans are stuck with the major opposition party's bright
idea of campaigning everywhere else on the planet earth except at home. On
the flipside it seems that no news bulletin is complete without some ruing
party apparatchik donating the now mandatory computers to some remote
school. Of course, this largesse is never complete until the imperial West
and all its local puppets have been soundly whipped verbally.

One wonders what these parties have to offer the general populace. There is
no substance at all in anyone's campaign. It is all veneer and no wood.

Simply put, Zanu PF says vote for us because we liberated the country from
colonial rule and as such possess an inalienable right to rule the country
for eternity. The MDC says vote for us because we need to remove the current
oppressive regime and then worry about the rest later on. Smaller fly by
night political parties say vote for us because .? Well just vote for us.
Can we really operate on any of the above reasons?

Sadly, as Vince Lombardi, a legendary American football coach said, "when
all is said and done, not much is done". Once elected our gallant sons of
the soil will doze off in Parliament for five years, until the next circus
is due in town.

Quite frankly, I would not trust my future or that of any other Zimbabwean
for that matter, with the current crop of clowns clamouring for our votes.
There is an urgent need for all parties to decide who they really are, and
then inform the electorate just why the hell we should vote for them.

N D Freeman

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Zim Standard


Exposing Herald's skewed campaign coverage

IT is not true that there is "unfettered media access for all political
parties" in Zimbabwe now, as The Herald suggested in its comment (8/03). The
Herald itself declared on 3 March that it had no obligation to cover all
political parties equally.

Consequently, its coverage has been heavily tilted towards the ruling party,
whose leaders are on many occasions allowed to unfairly attack the
opposition without any response.
The Herald and ZBH have so far covered almost all the rallies by President
Mugabe. However, we have seen only bits of Morgan Tsvangirai's rallies, when
he is leader of the country's biggest opposition.

On the few occasions that he has been covered, Tsvangirai has been ridiculed
and accused of embracing government programmes when he is articulating his
party's policies. On ZTV, there is no attempt to show viewers the number of
people at the few Tsvangirai rallies that have been shown. Yet, the camera
is allowed to roam freely at Mugabe and Joyce Mujuru's rallies.

The Herald's claim that some groups of observers - the SADC Parliamentary
Forum was clearly in mind - have been barred from the country because they
have prejudged the polls is even more ridiculous.

How then have ANC and South African government observer teams been allowed
into the country after their president trumpeted the equally pre-judged view
that the poll will be free and fair?

Siphephile Mathe

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Zim Standard


Such apalling ignorance of elementary economics

AFTER their appalling display of ignorance of elementary economics and
parliamentary operations (ZTV Election Programme of Tuesday the 15 March
2005) Supa Mandiwanzira and Happison Muchechetere must be helped in a very
simple manner.

These two brothers must be reminded of the functions of International
Monetary Fund (IMF). It is very disheartening to display such ignorance on
national television and at such juncture.
For Muchechetere, one is quick to excuse the brother for displaying
ignorance on economic issues but for Mandiwanzira, I thought he had learnt
one or two facts about economics from his once popular "Talking Business
with Supa", but alas I got the shock of my life.

The two could possibly go back to basics for starters and the following
elementary economics text books can be a good starting point; "Introductory
Economics ": G.F. Stanlake; "Economics": John Beardshaw; and "Positive
Economics ": Lipsey.

As a patriotic Zimbabwean, I am willing to lend the two my copies of these
texts to make all of us a well-informed society.

I strongly believe that one should not try to involve himself in issues he
does not fully comprehend especially on national issues which will have
attracted national attention.

Next time ZTV should get proper interviewers who are knowledgeable on issues
which will be tabled for discussion for that particular session. ZTV needs
to know that it takes more than just a trained journalist to be able to put
across meaningful questions to whoever is being interviewed.

Mandiwanzira must be commended for his entreprenuerial skills and tenacity
at his investments mainly , African Business Communications (ABC), Mighty
Movies, haulage trucks and of late bringing in of Zhing Zhong TVs, stoves
and refrigerators from the Zimbabwe-friendly Zhing Zhong nations of the
East. He should fully utilize his energies in those areas, while leaving
those areas in which he is not fully informed about for the better informed.

As for ZTV, is that the best they can offer in terms of the composition of
their panel? I want to force myself to believe that they can do much better
than this.

Is the mandate of the panel of interviewers to debate with the interviewees
or is it to just put across questions? The issue of being partisan
interviewers is an obvious one, but let these people ask questions which are
beneficial to the nation.

The anchorman should be given the prerogative of asking his panel to submit
to him their questions for purposes of vetting to avoid unnecessary
embarrassment on national TV as happened to Mandiwanzira.

Honourable Tendai Biti and Honourable Priscilla Misihairabwi are not part of
that group of people. For learned people such as Dr Ibbo Mandaza to try and
speculate as to the euphemism behind the Zimbabwe Democracy Act of the US is
very strange.

To have a better understanding of Parliament Mandiwanzira and Muchechetere
must find time to visit the House when it is in session or at least keep

Biti and Misihairabwi as patriotic Zimbabweans should help the two gentlemen
by finding time from their very busy election campaign schedules to educate
them about the operations of Parliament.

Unfortunately I am not privy to a text book that explains the operations of
the Parliament of Zimbabwe.

Sadiki C. Mposi

Mataga Growth Point

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Zim Standard


Zanu PF panicking as MDC heads for certain victory

AS the MDC whirlwind campaign for a new Zimbabwe, a new beginning gathers
momentum, Zanu PF is panicking. Their spokesperson, Webster Shamu, sensing a
convincing defeat has begun to prepare the ground work to explain the
reasons for his party's defeat. He claims in The Sunday Mail that the MDC is
training youths to disrupt elections.

It defeats all logic that the MDC would plan to disrupt elections that it is
certain to win. The regime in Zimbabwe has done everything to ensure the
election is inclined in its favour. It has used the police to refuse MDC
meetings and it has retained unfair media access among other key indicators
for free and fair elections. Despite all attempts to frustrate popular will,
the people have remained resolute that they will vote for change.
Wherever the MDC campaign teams have gone, the people have turned out in
their thousands, old and young. The message is the same. The people of
Zimbabwe want a new beginning, a new Zimbabwe with jobs and food. They want
affordable Aids drugs. That is why they will vote for the MDC.

For the record the MDC is not training any militia. It is only for unpopular
regimes like the Zanu PF government to train the militia in a bid to
suppress the will of the people. History has proved that this strategy does
not work. It is beginning to fail for Zanu PF today as a growing number of
young people who were initially cheated into joining Zanu PF are joining the
MDC on a daily basis. It is this realization that has motivated the
statement of panic from Shamu.

The MDC will win the election because it is concerned about the things that
the people are concerned about: jobs, food affordable Aids drugs, affordable
transport and decent housing.

The party has also developed clear programmes in the economic policy Restart
to turn this into reality in a new Zimbabwe.

Paul T Nyathi

MDC Secretary for Information and Publicity
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Zim Standard

Forex woes haunt firms
By Kumbirai Mafunda

ZIMBABWE'S crippling foreign currency shortages showed no signs of abating
last week at the start of the tobacco selling season, the country's major
quick hard currency earner, it has emerged.

Economic analysts told StandardBusiness that high expectations that the
opening of the auction floors would provide respite to firms battling to
access hard currency, were mere wishful thinking.
"It will be a drop in the ocean given the deficit we have on our balance of
payments," said Tapiwa Mashakada, the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change's shadow finance minister.

Said Eric Bloch, an independent analyst: "This year's crop is much smaller
than all the hallucinatory forecasts." More than half of the crop will be
below standard, he added.

The tobacco marketing season opens on April 5, with a paltry 85 million kg
projected to pass through the country's three auction floors. The government
had announced at the height of its farm invasions that the new farmers would
this year boost tobacco production to 160 million kg from last year's 65
million kg.

Even with an optimistic projection of 85 million kg expected to start
trickling in at the Harare-based auction floors, analysts have predicted
that most of it would be a poor crop that will likely fetch low prices.

Poor grading because of the inexperience of most new farmers and manpower
shortages are some of the constraints that new growers of the golden leaf -
whom the government has pinned so much hope on in the past - have to battle

Experts also pointed out that while the government obtained substantial
earnings from forward selling arrangements with countries such as China,
most of that money had already been committed.

Tobacco, once the country's top foreign exchange earner, was the panacea to
many of Zimbabwe's hard currency problems and the government used to plan
basing most of its forecasts on the expected crop, which is popular with
cigarette manufacturers throughout the world.

Zimbabwe is on its seventh year of a severe foreign currency crunch, the
main symptom of the economic crisis that has engulfed this southern African
country and widely blamed on President Robert Mugabe's government's

Traditionally, the golden crop has earned Harare 31% of its foreign
currency. But its contribution has since tumbled in the last five years in
tandem with the fall in output.

A record high of 237 million kg was sold in 2000 earning US$400 million, but
Zimbabwe's tobacco crop is now a shadow of its former glory. In 2003,
tobacco receipts tumbled to US$183 million - dipping further to US$139,4
million in 2004. At a projected price of US$185/ US$190c/kg this year's crop
might fetch US$160 million.

The foreign currency squeeze is bound to add more problems to Mugabe's
embattled administration that is also the subject of targeted sanctions from
key European nations and the US government.

Zimbabwe will be forced to budget for food imports now that most of the
country has experienced bad weather and crops in many regions have wilted.

"We are heading for a very serious foreign currency crunch with or without
tobacco sales," warns Daniel Ndlela, an economist at Zimconsult, adding that
a sharp devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar is imminent.

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Zim Standard

Public drinking and MDC rallies
sundayopinion By Marko Phiri

ON Saturday 19 March, I attended an MDC rally at the local community hall.
It was held between 1PM and 5PM. Ten hours later, I was locked up. My arrest
had nothing to with the rally some five or so hours earlier.

While it has become customary that attending an MDC rally has its hazards,
which include running battles with a belligerent police force seemingly
under instruction from the executive to deal with the opposition
accordingly, the Sizinda rally seemed too good to be true. That at least was
my case because later I was held by the police.
During the rally, the MDC's provincial youth chairperson made sure to remind
the crowd that this was the same hall where some two years ago the so-called
Talibans (the Green Bombers) were camped and beat up law abiding citizens at
regular intervals as if they were responding to a call of nature.

The 19 March rally was a success by any standard, and if it is to be used as
a pointer to 31 March, Gibson Sibanda, the MDC vice president and candidate
for Nkulumane, is headed for another five years in parliament. And the crowd
that cheered him on was in stark contrast to the twenty or so people I had
seen earlier in the week gathered at the Zanu PF Tshabalala offices being
addressed by the party's candidate for Nkulumane, Zanu PF youth leader,
Absalom Sikhosana.

But as everyone left the MDC rally in high mood, little did I know that a
visit to the local pub to allow me to reflect on the day's events would
include a more than flirting moments in a cell reeking of urine. Not that I
would have loved being arrested for attending an MDC rally, no.

The very fact that the police were absent at the MDC rally was good enough
as the ruling party attempts to give this election a facade of being free
and fair. And this as an election that would have Zanu PF officials (and
Thabo Mbeki) saying "this time there were no reports of police interrupting
MDC rallies".

"This time" always means there was a last time, and that tells us a lot
about the claim of free and fair 2000 and 2002 polls whose result was still
in dispute until recently when the MDC decided to drop these cases as we
approach another legislative election. So there I was thinking 9PM was too
early for me to retire to bed.

We always complain about how rude commuter touts can be, especially when
there is an audience. Just listen to these cops. They seem to think
everybody arrested for public drinking is a hopeless sod who only
understands the language of corporal punishment - sjamboks.

I saw them use it when the door was opened for my release. Some guys,
perhaps smelling fresh air, thought it was not a bad idea to try and talk to
the officers who had opened the holding cell. "Go back in," barked one of
the officers to my fellow inmates. But when the men tried to negotiate with
the officer, he raised his sjambok in a fashion reminiscent of those white
cops called iJoni during the Smith years. He did not try to scare them, but
raised it up high as they scurried like frightened rats.

I always thought this was reserved for political activists, but I was seeing
drunks being beaten up for public drinking! Zimbabwe is a land of many
ironies. I would not have been totally surprised had I seen this earlier in
the day during the MDC rally. So what has changed? Is it adherence to SADC
protocols about freedom of association and movement that has led to the
absence of youth militias and police officers at MDC rallies? And now they
are taking it out on people who can afford the drink despite the difficult

The irony here is that there was time when the green bombers "arrested"
people for public drinking outside Bulawayo's pubs in the high-density
suburbs. A cop, who appeared to be in charge of the travesty of treating
public drinking as the force's public enemy number one, much as the
professor has been treated by his erstwhile paymasters, was actually saying
to a guy who was not too eager to pay the fine: "Why are you being stingy
with Mugabe's money?" He spoke in Sindebele and you could not tell whether
he was mocking Mugabe's money as being useless, or simply mocking this man
for having a stiff arm.

Nobody laughed.

The other officers were busy haranguing other men arrested for public
drinking. A wise guy who pointed to a newspaper on the desk saying the
police should be arresting those dangerous criminals reported in the paper
and not drunks was threatened with arrest, and you could see the awe with
which these cops are held by mere mortals. The thought of sitting on the
other end of the police counter was enough to silence the man, never mind
that he had a point.

Women were there too. Two women were picked up where I had been when they
got out of their car to buy something for an eight-month-old baby.

The fact that they had the baby with them was not good enough for the
arresting officers. "We have heard that line a thousand times before," one
of the officers said. The two women were arrested for soliciting, never mind
that the husband of one of them was there. Another officer actually
suggested they should arrest the husband as well, but it was not clear what
for. His suggestion was not taken up.

Now the part that takes the biscuit: When I was arrested, I had not even
taken a sip of the beer, but when we got to the police post about four or
five hundred metres from the pub, I noticed it was almost half empty! The
officer was helping himself to the spoils. I am sure it tasted like he had
bought it himself.

What I had done was behaving like a typical hopeless sycophant, opened the
beer and handed it to him for his drinking pleasure. It sure was a perverse
pleasure watching these men in uniform behaving as if they owned our lives,
and this time not because we were some spies writing news dispatches about
Zimbabwe to foreign papers or MDC or Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) or
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) activists, but simply because of an
itching thirst for a cold lager.

I did think though about those scribes who have had the "pleasure" of
spending nights in Harare's notorious remand prison. You get a sense of
identifying with what it must have felt like for those brave men. If they
could be treated as such - and spend days inside - and this for men (and
women) who would safely claim to know their rights, what about the anonymous
imbiber who does not even know under what law he is being arrested?

It's a jungle out there. Imagine the ruling party losing hundreds of
thousands of votes as a protest for being arrested for public drinking!
After all, Zanu PF has left no doubt in people's minds that it owns the
police force. The small consolation was that there were no arrests during
the MDC rally.

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Zim Standard

Bad governance receding in Africa
sundaytalk with Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem

THE relationship between many Africans and their governments is only
comparable to the disillusion, distrust and suspicion that become the
permanent bodyguards of a man or woman who has been jilted too many times.

If care is not taken such a person may not have any successful relationship
again even when he or she meets the genuine person. The weight and hang-ups
of the past are such that they cloud the present and threaten future
The alarm bells are on 24/7 patrol singing: Not again, or once bitten twice
shy, or any other lyrics that warn against trust and building confidence.

Just assume that the current relationship will end in the same bleak alley
of past ones, do not raise your expectations and do not expect much. This
defensive prop becomes a permanent shield against any disappointment.
Consequently, potentially good and rewarding relationships are not given
room to nurture or for development.

However, as no human being is an island to himself or herself we are doomed
to trust and take risks in sharing our lives with other people because
without doing so whatever we may tell or convince ourselves about, our lives
may never be complete.

Governments, like partners, are necessary evils. What can you do without
them and what can you do with them?

How many Africans will run towards the police, the army or any of our
security agencies when they are in trouble? Most of the time we are running
away from them because if they are not the source of your problem you may
compound your problem by running to them! That's why many Africans talk of
"the government", "those in power", or "the regime", instead of "our

The alienation is not just against the coercive organs of the State. Even
the civil arms of our governments are as anti-people as their security
counterparts. I was amused by a friend, Dr Patricia Daley, who is a
Geography Don at Oxford University (one of only two Black Africans who are
full faculty members) some years back, when she asked me about the
population of Nigerians in the United Kingdom.

Apparently in the census figures she was looking at that time there were
only 150 000 Nigerians in the Queen's own country! I could not resist
laughing because anybody familiar with the demography of Africans in Britain
will know that even countries with a much smaller population in the UK than
Nigeria (Uganda, Ghana or Sierra-Leone for example) will easily notch up
that number and still be counting. So I told her maybe that was the number
of Nigerians in Peckham or Dalston alone!

But what the figure showed was that many Africans even though part of
Britain's"visible minority", were absent officially. Even our embassies
cannot tell you how many of their citizens are resident in the United
Kingdom or any country in the world for that matter.

In some countries they do not even know what the actual population is

Many of these émigré Africans are directly or indirectly running away from
their governments therefore why should they go and register at their
embassies or high commissions that they are there?

However, Africa is changing and changing for the better and should and will
continue to do so in spite of challenges here and there. This process
requires new ways and cultivation of new attitudes in dealing with our
governments and in the way our governments deal with us. There are good
governments in Africa. There are reforming governments in Africa. Bad
governance is receding even if at snail speed in some countries.

Look at the recent events in Togo. Faure Eyadema has been forced by
sub-regional and African consensus, to step down.

Two weeks ago, I wrote arguing that the military coup that led to him
succeeding his dictator father could not have died sooner, should and would
not stand. There was no clairvoyance in that certainty. It was based on the
good wind of change going across Africa.

Because Africa was united in saying "No" the rest of the world had no choice
but to follow our consensus.

A few years ago this would not have been possible. Now that it is, we should
recognise it and work towards making this good practice standard practice.

There is no point sniggering at it as many are doing. If we continue to see
an unchanging or unchangeable Africa we are both undervaluing our democratic
struggles and short changing our gains. Togo shows a new resolve on the part
of Africans to enthrone constitutional rule in Africa.

Even if Baby Eyadema were to be elected president after the transition, it
would have been done under the constitution not by a military fiat.

We should not be timid or coy about praising our governments when they are
doing well. We cannot build and institutionalise responsible government in
Africa if we continue in the destructive culture of "them" and "us".

Confrontation and condemnation should not be our first and only tool of
engagement. We should seek co-operation and where possible and desirable,
embrace collaboration and embark on confrontation where and when necessary.

These tactics and the strategies they demand need not be mutually exclusive.
All of them are useful and necessary in building sustainable democratic
societies and political communities that are at peace with them.

We just need to deploy them where and when most applicable or simultaneously
some times.

Much of our activism, especially in these days of professional foreign
controlled, donor-driven, materially rewarding Ngoism, is too skewed in
favour oppositionism instead of positive engagement with our governments and

You need to ask why European and American governments and charities should
be arming you, aiding you and building your capacity to confront your own

Why are they not building the capacity of Africans living in their own
countries to be effective citizens where they are? Why should Africans or
people of African origin in these countries be marginalised while they are
promising you heaven on earth in Africa?

Dependence on foreigners or their money will not build Africa. Rome, they
say, was not built in a day, but the Romans were there and willing to build

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Zim Standard

Zanu PF's 'secret plots' strategy

THE government could be preparing the groundwork for something sinister.
Last week it alleged the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was
training militias for guerrilla-style assaults that would sow seeds for a
regime change.

There is a familiar ring to the charges: they only appear to emerge on the
eve of watershed elections, but after the polls they vanish and are

Three recent examples will serve to demonstrate the government's desperation
in conjuring up these "plots".

In the run up to the 2000 parliamentary elections the government announced
the arrest of what it described as three "highly trained military
personnel". The government said the three had entered the country and were
from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and carried an array of
military equipment, when they were arrested. In the end the three were

The event, coming as it did during a phase when Zimbabwe was playing a
leading role in "Operation Sovereign Legitimacy" in the DRC was a stunt
intended to portray secret conspiracies for daring to go to the aid of a
fellow African nation, which the West was waiting to rape and plunder
because of its immense natural resources.

Then in April 2000, on the eve of the June 2000 parliamentary polls, the
government announced that it had intercepted an MDC document, which detailed
plans by the opposition party to "sabotage the economy and engage in a
military and shortages option".

In exchange, the government alleged, the MDC would receive sponsorship from
the local white, farmers, industrialists, the pro-Rhodesian lobby and
Western forces led by the United States and the United Kingdom.

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

The government suggested the document outlined how to create artificial
shortages in order to bring about general discontent among enlightened
professionals in Zimbabwe. The document also allegedly suggested an
immediate repeal of the War Veterans Act. The idea was to sow seeds of panic
among the veterans of the liberation struggle, by suggesting an MDC
government would not honour pledges for support made by the State to the war

Whether a measure of how the government evaluated this puerile propaganda,
Chen Chimutengwende, then Minister of Information, Posts and
Telecommunications, was dropped from government.

But there were also allegations that five members of the opposition had
undergone military training in Uganda with a brief to come back and stage an
insurrection against the government. It was alleged the five had trained
alongside Rwandese invasion forces, the Kidogo, assisted by their Ugandan
allies in the invasion of the DRC.

Eventually and as in other previous covert schemes, nothing came out the
government's reported "investigations" into the matter.

Last week's allegation by the government that the MDC was training people in
military activities should be seen as an extension of previous attempts by
the government in its continuing war against the opposition, whenever its
intelligence informs it of an impending threat to its survival.

Initially the aim of such undercover propaganda activities by the government
is to strike fear in the hearts of opposition members and their support
because of the threat of facing a treason trial. This therefore, is intended
to create confusion in the opposition camp in the hope of derailing its

The second strategy is to serve as a threat that hovers above the heads of
the opposition, ready to be activated whenever necessary. The late
nationalist Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole died with a death sentence hanging
over his head.

The other strategy is to use this as a trump card in the event that an
election is lost to the opposition. Charges will be brought against the
winning opposition candidate; he or she will be imprisoned, resulting in a
bye-election being called. Insiza showed how the ruling party could reclaim
a lost constituency by sealing it off and then pouring in the militias to
whip voters into line.

But the electorate is much wiser now and it is hoped the foreign observers
will be able to visit a substantial number of constituencies and polling
stations so that they can make an informed assessment of the campaign,
conduct and outcome of the 31 March 2005 parliamentary elections.

Professor Jonathan Moyo, Zanu PF's propaganda chief until 19 February 2005
could be the first to be singled out for this treatment, if the ruling party
loses the parliamentary seat in Tsholotsho on Thursday this week.

President Robert Mugabe, campaigning in Tsholotsho on Wednesday last week,
disclosed that Moyo met the Army Commander, Lieutenant Phillip Sibanda, on
an "unclear mission" and that this had raised fears the former minister
"might have harboured thoughts of staging a coup as he tried to wriggle his
way to the top".

The timing of the announcement is ominous because the government has known
about this approach to the military for a long time. President Mugabe is
setting the stage for the whole machinery of the ruling party and the
government to descend on the MDC and Moyo in a bid to demolish them.

Last week Mugabe tried to persuade voters in Tafara/Mabvuku that the reason
why they hounded the elected mayor of Harare, Elias Mudzuri, out of Town
House was because of the incompetence of the opposition-led council. The
gods have a cruel way of returning the compliment. Various suburbs of Harare
have been without water since Monday. It is not the MDC responsible for such
sabotage yet no one faces the axe. The Solomon Tawengwa executive was fired
after Harare went without water for a similar duration. Zanu PF has a way of
campaigning for the opposition.

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