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Presidential race hots up in Zimbabwe with more defections from ruling party

Yahoo News

Mugabe rival wins support of key politicians
Sun Mar 2, 9:02 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Two more political heavyweights rallied behind former finance
minister Simba Makoni's presidential bid on Sunday, as he seeks to unseat
longtime leader Robert Mugabe in elections later this month.

Wilson Kumbula, president of the opposition Zimbabwe African National
Union - Ndonga (ZANU-Ndonga), endorsed Makoni's candidature, while Edgar
Tekere, a former minister in Mugabe's first cabinet, vowed to work with him.

"I am appointing myself principal campaigner for Mugabe's downfall," Tekere
said at Makoni's campaign rally in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.

The statement of Tekere, an ex-commander during the liberation struggle,
came a day after former home affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa and former
speaker of parliament Cyril Ndebele endorsed Makoni.

Kumbula was also present at the rally, where Makoni thanked them for their

"We have support of many in ZANU-PF, many in the MDC and many others who are
not affiliated to any political party. We don't want to put each other in
compartments saying we belong to this or this that group," he said.

He was referring to the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic
Front (ZANU-PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980,
is hoping to secure a sixth term as Zimbabwe struggles with an annual
inflation rate hovering above 100,000 percent, the highest in the world.

Addressing thousands of his supporters at the rally at a football pitch on
Sunday, Makoni again bemoaned his country's economic meltdown under Mugabe.

"Our factories used to have 24-hour shifts, farmers used to produce day and
night, foreign currency was available in abundance and one could simply walk
into a bank and buy any currency," Makoni said.

"Shops are full of dust because there is nothing on the shelves. Factories
are working less than eight hours a day and workers have been reduced to

Makoni, a former key member of Mugabe's ZANU-PF, announced in early February
he was challenging him in the March 29 poll.

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Makoni reveals his blueprint


    March 02 2008 at 10:45AM

By Peta Thornycroft

Simba Makoni, who has disrupted President Robert Mugabe's hopes of a
landslide victory this month, has not consulted South Africa about his bid
for the presidency.

"South Africa has not offered any support, and I didn't ask for it,"
he said last week.

His plans to campaign in rural areas were scuppered last week due to
what sounded like an attempt to sabotage his campaign. In public, however,
Makoni is very careful what he says about Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

After all, he was in the heart of Zanu-PF all his adult life and says
he criticised its failings at every opportunity within the party, a party he
campaigned for as a student in Britain when he protested against minority
white rule in Rhodesia.

Ask him about free and fair elections and he doesn't yet concede
Mugabe or Zanu-PF would stoop so low as to break the rules.

But he accepts that journalists, who have seen how the rules of the
game and people's lives are trampled on so Mugabe can remain in power, are

Makoni dismisses those who are saying his plan of forming a government
of national unity, should he win the election, was bred from any South
African example.

"If you remember what we had in Zimbabwe (at independence) in April
1980, it was a national government. We had people from different parties and
different ethnic groups in it. Sometimes I say, and maybe it is arrogant,
that we offered the African continent, if not the world, national

"So I am merely reactivating those values which ushered us into
independent nationhood in 1980."

He yearns to recreate those early days of independence, which were so
full of promise and real achievement.

Makoni, 57, is a former finance minister and was a senior member of
the ruling Zanu-PF party's politburo until he was expelled last month for
daring to stand against Mugabe.

As one of Zimbabwe's majority Shona-speakers, and with backing from
party members who have grown tired of Mugabe's misrule, he represents the
greatest threat to the octogenarian's plan to die in office.

"Zimbabwe is in the condition it is in because of failure of

The realisation had come to him over several years.

"This was continuing, incremental, every time there was an opportunity
to make an observation and analysis.

"This is not the correct way for our people."

An estimated four million Zimbabweans need food aid, inflation is
officially over 100 000 percent, and Makoni predicted he would win by a
landslide on March 29.

"We will win overwhelmingly, resoundingly, by 70 percent plus," he
said, adding that Zimbabweans supported his movement for renewal and
regeneration "across the board".

"The people who are supporting me in Zanu-PF and in other quarters,
agree with me that the country is ripe for change at the highest level, that
the country needs to take a different direction, a positive direction, and
the country needs to re-engage with the region and the international

Mugabe has long blamed the West for Zimbabwe's turmoil, and regularly
accuses those opposed to him of being stooges for a British government bent
on re-colonising the country, but Makoni - who holds a doctorate from
Leicester Polytechnic - said: "I haven't been in communication with any
government anywhere about my candidacy or campaign."

The destruction of Zimbabwe's economy dates from 2000, when Mugabe
began seizing white-owned farms, and Makoni called for a return to the
non-race-based policies of the past, including for all Zimbabweans, of
whatever colour, to be able to own a farm.

"I want to take this opportunity to disabuse those who are maliciously
misrepresenting me and saying Simba Makoni will give land back to the

"There is not going to be a reversal of land reform, there is going to
be a refinement, there is going to be a return to the principles and
policies that were initially put on the table by our government to guide
acquisition, redistribution and utilisation, of land.

"The land reform was meant to uplift the rural communities in
Zimbabwe. That's what we will aim to achieve.

"The people of Zimbabwe must be reassured, there will be equitable,
fair and transparent land redistribution."

But whatever a candidate's vision, winning an election in Zimbabwe is
not just a matter of ballot papers - Mugabe is widely regarded as having
stolen the last poll in 2002 - and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change believes a fair ballot is impossible.

Makoni himself was unable to leave Harare to campaign in rural areas
last week because registration plates for his vehicles were not available
and his printers had supposedly run out of paper for fliers.

This article was originally published on page 16 of Cape Argus on
March 02, 2008

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Zim opposoition protests over radio, TV blackout

Zim Online

by Prince Nyathi Monday 03 March 2008

HARARE - The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party has
accused the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) of imposing a
blackout on its activities ahead of elections this month.

The MDC said ZBH was seeking to prop up President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU
PF party's campaign through favourable coverage, in what the opposition
party said was a breach of regional guidelines that all political parties
should receive equal coverage in the public media.

Zimbabwe holds presidential, parliamentary and council elections on 29 March
and Mugabe's government faces a tricky challenge from the Morgan
Tsvangirai-led MDC and from former finance minister Simba Makoni who is
running as an independent but has the backing of a smaller faction of the
divided MDC led by Arthur Mutambara.

"It is our view that ZBH has abused its privilege to give unfair advantage
to ZANU PF and its candidate even though as a publicly funded broadcaster,
you are expected to give equal coverage to all political players," MDC
information director Luke Tamborinyoka wrote in a letter to ZBH boss, Henry
Muradzikwa, dated February 27.

The ZBH runs the country's only radio and television stations and has the
widest reach beyond independent newspapers that give fair coverage to the
opposition but circulate almost exclusively in urban and peri-urban areas.

There are at least three smaller radio stations that broadcast into Zimbabwe
from outside the country but they do not have the same impact as ZBH. The
government has from time-to-time jammed signals from the foreign-based radio

Tamborinyoka said the ZBH gave prime time coverage to ZANU PF and Mugabe
while ignoring the opposition and cited as an example the broadcaster's
failure to cover the launching of the MDC campaign manifetso in Mutare city.

ZBH did not send reporters to the event even though it had been invited but
instead devoted several hours to reporting Mugabe's 84th birthday
celebration, which the veteran leader used to attack and denigrate the

Muradzikwa was not immediately available for comment on the matter while the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that conducts elections and has responsibility
to ensure fairness said it was finishing preparing new regulations on the
coverage of contestants in the polls.

"The regulations are being finalised and I can't comment further than that
until the regulations are in place," ZEC spokesman Utoile Silaigwana. He did
not say when exactly the regulations would be announced.

Analysts say an unfair political playing field guarantees Mugabe victory at
the polls despite his failure to end Zimbabwe's severe economic crisis seen
in the world's highest inflation rate of more than 100 000 percent, 80
percent unemployment and shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency. -

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Mugabe election rival accuses him of buying votes


Sun 2 Mar 2008, 14:46 GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - Presidential hopeful Simba Makoni on Sunday accused
Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe of buying votes ahead of the March 29
election and said intimidation would not stop his supporters voting.

Makoni took his election campaign to the Zimbabwean capital after a senior
politburo official in Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF, Dumiso Dabengwa, threw his
weight behind the former finance minister on Saturday.

"We know there are government employees who woke up to see huge sums of
money in their accounts which did not appear on their pay slips," Makoni
told a rally of about 3,000 people.

"We know there are civil servants who were embedded in (party) structures
for campaigning to re-elect one party."

Millions of Zimbabweans hoping for an end to an economic crisis are expected
to vote in the presidential, parliamentary and municipal polls described by
Mugabe and his opponents as a landmark poll in the post-independence period.

Makoni is standing as an independent after being expelled from ZANU-PF and
Mugabe also faces Morgan Tsvangirai, a long time rival from the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Analysts say Makoni poses one of the biggest political challenges Mugabe has
ever faced but the opposition's failure to unite behind one candidate could
work in his favour.

The MDC says Mugabe has fraudulently won previous elections and unleashed
violence against opposition supporters.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, denies the charges
and says the vote will silence the opposition and shame Western critics who
accuse him of rights abuse.

"People will refuse to be intimidated. We will not accept intimidation to
stop us from fighting for our freedom," said Makoni in a stadium in volatile
Highfield township, where security forces have cracked down on dissent.

"With Simba Makoni a new Zimbabwe is born," read one placard.

Makoni, a reform-minded technocrat who has long been touted as a possible
successor to Mugabe, promised to end what he called a climate of fear.

"Why is it that the government claims that people are on their side?," he
said, suggesting Zimbaweans were too scared to defy their leader.

Mugabe rejects blame for daily hardships marked by the world's highest
inflation rate of over 100,000 percent, high unemployment and food, fuel and
foreign currency shortages.

He says Western powers working with the opposition have sabotaged the
economy in retaliation for his policy of seizing white-owned commercial
farms to resettle landless blacks.

Makoni said he would not give land back to whites if elected but would take
action against Zimbabweans who took control of several farms, unlike Mugabe,
who he accused of supporting the abuse of land reforms started in 2000.

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MDC (Tsvangirai) policy document

MDC (Tsvangirai) policy document is downloadable from


We founded the Movement for Democratic Change in September 1999 with the
clear objective of working towards the democratic transformation of
Zimbabwe. At that time, none of us imagined that it would take nearly a
decade to bring about the change we all desired.

At our congress in March 2006, we set out a roadmap to democracy in which we
stated that we would launch a democratic resistance programme intended to
bring Robert Mugabe to the negotiating table in order for us to unlock this
crisis. The people were victorious in this regard, and on 28 March 2007 SADC
called for an extraordinary summit at which they mandated President Mbeki of
South Africa to mediate between ZANU (PF) and the MDC. The resultant
dialogue has led to many positive developments, particularly reforms in POSA
(the Public Order and Security Act), AIPPA (the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act), and the Broadcasting Sevices Act.

Despite Mugabe's insincerity in this process, we have renewed hope that
elections due in March 2008 will provide Zimbabweans with another
opportunity to elect a new administration to usher in a completely new
dispensation in terms of general governance, public welfare and democracy.

To this end the MDC policy council, comprising the leadership of the
movement in Zimbabwe, assisted by many friends and colleagues all over the
world, has been working on a comprehensive revision of our economic and
social policies since our second congress in March 2006.

This document summarizes the findings of the council and its views on what
needs to be done to stabilize the economy and to bring about reconstruction
and development as well as a complete restructuring of our economic and
social systems. We like to refer to this programme as our New Zimbabwe

Since independence in 1980 the government of the day has failed to bring the
individual freedoms and opportunities that had been denied the majority for
the previous century. After an encouraging start, our newly elected
government abandoned its early idealism and principles and set out on a
journey that has destroyed the economy, devalued our currency, and made us
the laughing stock of the region.

We face a daunting task. When the people put their trust in us in March
2008, we will take over the reigns of government in April, and we will have
to deal with the situation that is our collective legacy of 28 years of
independence and misgovernment.

Our infrastructure is degraded, our factories are silent, our farms
destroyed and abandoned. We have accumulated debt that is nearly two times
our total economic output, and our export earnings will not pay for our
essential needs, let alone the prerequisites of development and

We still have friends in the world economy, and in the region, and with
their assistance we will be able to halt inflation, bring back jobs we have
lost and restore our nation's dignity.

This will take hard work, dedication and commitment on the part of all
Zimbabweans. We in the MDC want people to know, in advance of the elections,
what we will do with their mandate in all areas of our national life. That
is what is contained in this document. It sets out our vision of the way
forward, how we will achieve those goals and ambitions, and what we will do
to make our vision of the future a reality. For our part we pledge that the
MDC will pursue these stated goals with all the energies and capacity we
have. We will do so with integrity and in a transparent manner that will
allow all Zimbabweans the opportunity to participate and comment on our
efforts and policies. I have no doubt in my mind that together we will

Morgan Tsvangirai
President of the MDC

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Zanu-PF Heavyweights Come Out to Support Simba Makoni


By Peta Thornycroft
02 March 2008

Zimbabwe presidential hopeful Simba Makoni is holding his first rallies this
weekend, vowing to reform the economy and end the system of patronage that
has marked President Robert Mugabe's 28 years in power. Peta Thornycroft
reports for VOA from Harare that some Zanu-PF heavyweights, and some war
veterans, say they are supporting Mr. Makoni rather than Mr. Mugabe in the
March 29 election.

Simba Makoni's rally in Harare, in Shona, was a long attack on Mr. Mugabe's
economic policies and his system of political patronage.

For approximately 3,000 to 4,000 mostly young men who attended the Harare
rally Sunday, it was a revelation. They laughed out loud and clapped and
cheered when Mr. Makoni reeled off a list of economic problems faced by

He said many put their hard-earned cash in the bank, but were then not
allowed to draw it out when they wanted, and had to wait for days to get
access to their money. He said there was chaos on Zimbabwe's farmland, in a
country which has for decades been dependent on agricultural exports. He
also said there was a gross abuse of state resources, which were used along
partisan lines.

Saturday, Mr. Makoni addressed 4,000 to 5,000 people in second city
Bulawayo, and recieved his first endorsement from a ruling Zanu-PF

Dumiso Dabengwa has a long political history, beginning in the fight against
white-minority rule. It was in his home area in the Matabeleland provinces
in the 1980's that Mr. Mugabe unleashed North Korean trained troops who
killed thousands of Ndebele speaking opposition supporters.

Now with Mr. Makoni's bid for the presidency, many in Matabeleland say they
feel there is finally a chance of real reconciliation with the majority
Shona tribe.

Mr. Makoni is a former finance minister who has been a member of Zanu PF all
his adult life.

In the March 29 election Zimbabweans will also vote for legislators,
senators and local government representatives. it marks the first time four
national elections will take place simultaneously.

When police arrived at Simba Makoni's rally Sunday, the crowd hissed. Mr.
Makoni indicated they should not be hostile and encouraged the police to
stay and listen to him.

On Friday, President Mugabe presented Zanu-PF's manifesto and told his
supporters to continue to vote for him to prevent the West from undermining
Zimbabwe's sovereignty.

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Zimbabwe opposition supporters arrested for public violence: Radio

Monsters and Critics

Mar 2, 2008, 7:35 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - Police in Zimbabwe have arrested a dozen supporters of
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai for allegedly carrying banned weapons,
state radio said Sunday.

The twelve were arrested on charges of 'public violence' in the town of
Chitungwiza a hot bed of support for Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) south of Harare.

Those arrested included Marvellous Khumalo, who is the MDC candidate for St
Mary's suburb in Chitungwiza in forthcoming parliamentary polls on March 29.

Police allege Khumalo led a group of 100 activists on a door-to- door
campaign in Chitungwiza, and that some of them were carrying weapons such as
clubs and axes.

Earlier this month police banned the carrying of clubs, axes, bows and
arrows and other traditional weapons in Harare, Chitungwiza and the southern
province of Masvingo in a bid to curb political violence in the run-up to
the polls.

On March 29 voters will be going to the polls to elect a new president,
parliamentarians and local councillors in the first joint election of its
kind in Zimbabwe.

For the first time in 28 years of uninterrupted rule President Robert Mugabe
is himself facing a strong challenge from two strong contenders: the MDC's
Tsvangirai and former finance minister Simba Makoni.

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Zimbabwe to use translucent ballot boxes in upcoming elections

Monsters amd Critics

Mar 2, 2008, 13:00 GMT

Harare - Zimbabwe confirmed Sunday it will use translucent ballot boxes in
this month's polls, not opaque cardboard ones as had been rumoured.

There have been persistent rumours that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) might approve the use of cardboard ballot boxes in the March 29
presidential, parliamentary and local government polls.

But ZEC deputy chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said he had 'never
seen' the cardboard boxes being referred to.

'We will not use them. We do not know anything about them. We have never
seen these cardboard ballot boxes. We will use the translucent ballot boxes
that voters have been using since 2005,' Silaigwana told the official Sunday

The official said ZEC had already started mobilising vehicles and personnel
for deployment ahead of the polls, billed as the most interesting Zimbabwe
has seen for years.

The polls will pit 84-year-old President Robert Mugabe and his ruling
ZANU-PF party against two strong challengers: Morgan Tsvangirai and his
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and former finance minister
Simba Makoni, who is believed to be backed by several independent

Analysts predict that no one presidential candidate will get the 51 per cent
of votes required to be declared winner in the first round, meaning a
run-off within 21 days is likely.

Tensions are rising ahead of polling, with reports Sunday saying 12 MDC
activists were arrested for allegedly carrying banned weapons when they went
on a door-to-door campaign to drum up support in Harare's dormitory town of

Meanwhile, top ZANU-PF officials have reacted angrily to this weekend's
public backing of Makoni by politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa.

Dabengwa, a former minister for home affairs, claimed Saturday he was a
'dedicated and staunch' ZANU-PF member but had decided to back Makoni
because he and his associates within the ruling party had failed to bring
about leadership change.

ZANU-PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said Makoni and Dabengwa
'should be ashamed of what they have done,' the Sunday Mail said. 'They are
abandoning their leader for thirty pieces of silver,' Mutasa said.

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Zimbabweans get antiretrovirals in Mozambique

Mail and Guardian

Florence Panoussian | Machipanda, Mozambique

02 March 2008 08:51

       Zimbabwean orphans Evans (13) and Edmond Mahlangu (8) crossed a
mountain range on foot to get to Mozambique where they are slowly recovering
on life-saving Aids drugs in short supply back home.

      "We walked for a day in the mountains. We had to keep quiet
because of the guards," recounted the boys' 17-year-old sister, Emmaculate,
who made the 10km journey with her HIV-positive siblings at the beginning of

      "It was tough above all for my brothers. They had to walk alone
because I was carrying bags."

      The children have taken refuge with an aunt not far from the
Machipanda border post in the central Mozambican province of Manica.

      Orphaned in 2006, the children lived with their grandmother in
Mutare on the Zimbabwean side of the border until she banished them in

      "My grandmother chased us away. She was afraid of the boys
because they are sick. She was scared to touch them, even to cook for them,"
said Emmaculate.

      Without any identity documents, the children fled to Mozambique
as little hope remained in their home country with a critical lack of food
and drugs and official inflation exceeding 100 000% -- a state of affairs
widely blamed on longtime President Robert Mugabe whose controversial land
reform policies, seizing white-owned farms for redistribution to landless
black Zimbabweans, all but killed commercial agriculture and scared off
foreign investors.

       Evans and Edmond were put on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment as
soon as they arrived in Mozambique.

      "I feel better now. It's not so bad as before," the elder boy
said timidly, his body covered in a severe rash.

      The boys had been given ARVs once before, back home in Zimbabwe,
but government-sponsored drugs are hard to come by and private sector prices
are prohibitive.

      'We accommodate all patients without discriminating'
      Mozambican officials say Zimbabweans flock across the border to
access ARVs.

       "Hundreds of Zimbabweans come here to get Aids treatment that
Mozambique provides for free," said Aarao Uaquiço, local coordinator of the
national council against Aids, a government body.

      The Zimbabwean beneficiaries' numbers are not well documented.

      "We accommodate all patients without discriminating," said
provincial head doctor Marilia Pugas.

      More than 100 000 HIV-positive people now receive free ARV
      in Mozambique, up from 7 000 in 2005.

      "It is extraordinary. But the costs are enormous," said Maurico
Cysne, Mozambican representative of the United Nations Programme on Aids

      "Treatment costs $50 [per person] a year."

      One of the poorest countries in the world, Mozambique like most
of Southern Africa is buckling under the impact of HIV/Aids.

      It has an average HIV prevalence rate of 16% of the population,
rising to 23% in some areas of Manica, a transit point for heavy trucks
making their way from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi to the Mozambican port of

      "There are prostitutes all along the route," said Uaquiço. "Many
are Zimbabweans more concerned about survival than protecting themselves
against Aids."

      According to UNAids latest statistics, Zimbabwe's HIV prevalence
is on the decrease with 15,6% of adults between 15 and 49 affected.

      With the scrapping of visa requirements between the two
countries last November, the number of Zimbabweans crossing into Mozambique
has risen sharply.

      Paradoxically, clandestine migration also shot up as Zimbabwean
authorities are unable to reverse a a massive backlog in issuing passports
required to enter Mozambique.

      "In January, 22 636 Zimbabweans, mostly women, crossed the
border legally at three posts in Manica, most through Machipanda -- up from
8 971 in January 2007," said provincial migration service director Felipe

      "They are allowed to stay for 30 days but 85% make their
purchases and return. We don't know what happens to the other 15%.

      "Many others, including children and very young girls, cross
illegally, added Alberto Limeme, customs chief of Machipanda.

      The border is not easy to police, with only 50 officers
patrolling the 500km stretch on foot.

      And distinguishing Zimbabweans from the local population was
near impossible with residents on both sides of the border speak Shona, a
local dialect.

      Groups from both countries settled along the border during
Zimbabwe's war of independence from Britain and Mozambique's from Portugal
in the 1970s -- and inhabitants of the border zone were ethnically very

      "There are always people coming and going," said Cysne. -

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Zimbabwe police arrest at least 11 for overcharging

Earth Times

            Posted : Sun, 02 Mar 2008 07:42:01 GMT
            Author : DPA

Harare/Johannesburg - More than 11 company officials dealing in flour,
maize meal and cement have been arrested in Zimbabwe for overcharging, a
newspaper reported Sunday. The arrests comes as the state-appointed National
Incomes and Pricing Commission steps up its campaign to weed out "devious
business practices," said the state-controlled Sunday Mail.

"I can say with respect to cement and flour, in Harare we have so far
arrested five players," NIPC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa was quoted as

"With respect to (maize) meal, a number of millers have been picked
up. I believe they are in excess of six."

Commodities like cement, flour and the staple maize meal are strictly
controlled by President Robert Mugabe's government. But in a country where
inflation is currently running at more than 100,000 per cent, retailers say
they have to hike their prices almost on a daily basis to remain in

Last year the government tried to force down inflation by ordering
shops and businesses to slash prices by at least 50 per cent. But the move
backfired, as factories stopped producing and shops stopped stocking goods.

"What is clear is that some major players in business want to charge
as they want," said Masimirembwa.

"Fortunately, we are now dealing with the millers who are involved in
this practice. We have the evidence, but I will not reveal names at this
stage because the police are handling the matter."

Last year more than 23,000 people were arrested countrywide for
flouting price controls. Many were fined or sentenced to long hours of
community service cleaning government buildings.

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SADC's silence on Zimbabwe elections embarrassing

Mmegi, Botswana
 Friday, 29 February 2008


What is this?
Really, what is this? What did Zambia's Levy Mwanawasa say a few days ago? I
just can't believe this at all.

Is the Southern African Development Community (SADC), or whatever nonsense
they call themselves, still in existence and what is their purpose of

Does it mean whoever 'these people' elect as their Chairman can go prating
around, saying things that are retrogressive to the region and to African

I forgave South Africa's Thabo Mbeki because nobody bothers with him
anymore; he couldn't hide his ineptitude from the beginning.

Mbeki's honest-to-goodness incompetence was there for all to see. And this
lack of ability has pervaded other kiddie African presidents. Incompetence
is slowly becoming a common trait among African presidents because they are
not answerable to their electorates.

Mwanawasa urged countries in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia
to leave Zimbabwe alone in spite of the critical need for assistance the
people have.

Mwanawasa should just concern  himself with Zambia instead of exporting
inhuman and unsympathetic rhetoric. He too should leave Zimbabwe alone
because it now appears as if he is an agent of dictator Robert Mugabe.

Mwanawasa is SADC chairman and what he says must, of necessity, prove he is
a leader not another African leader's puppet.

Mwanawasa's principals, along with Zimbabwe's opposition, involved in
attempts to solve the Zimbabwean stalemate reported to SADC that the talks
had collapsed and people are being abused, beaten, starved and ill-treated
because of the ongoing electioneering.

But instead of confronting Mugabe with evidence of human rights violations
and unfair, undemocratic electoral practices, Mwanawasa shouts at the
Americans and the Europeans who are keeping his belly full while we are

He does not have the civility to feel sorry for Africa after what transpired
in Kenya. It appears to me that things are entering a new phase in which
African presidents want to individually distinguish themselves as spineless
disciples and blind followers of destructive policies all in support of a
man who is destroying their economies.

But, of course, Zambia and many other countries are benefiting from the
chaos in Zimbabwe. South Africa even shamelessly advertises "Victoria Falls,
South Africa."

Does SADC know there is an election in Zimbabwe in just 29 days time? Their
chairman, Mwanawasa, just told the world to keep away from Zimbabwe when
Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans clearly and desperately need assistance on all

Why does SADC not care to see, impose or monitor those requirements of their
'SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections'? Don't they
care when their member states violate the Community's protocols? After all,
it was SADC itself that proposed, passed and adopted these principles.

At their adoption, the guidelines were heralded by former Tanzanian
president, Benjamin Mkapa, as "the start of an era where southern Africa
took charge of its own democratic destiny, rather than allowing itself to be
"lectured on democracy by the very countries, which, under colonialism,
either directly denied us the rights of free citizens, or were indifferent
to our suffering and yearning to break free and be democratic".

SADC even has the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC which aims "to foster
cooperation between its members with a view to promoting a culture of
democracy and free and fair elections in SADC countries."

I have never heard such nonsense! Apparently, SADC does not know that
Zimbabwe is one of their own members. It does not bring any help or relief
to Zimbabweans yet its chairman warns away countries outside Africa not to
assist the desperate people of Zimbabwe.

Why is SADC silent while people are already being abused long before an
election? And, last week, Mugabe had the audacity to take his birthday
celebration bash to poor Thabo Mbeki's doorstep daring any of SADC's
presidents to comment. They didn't but you can rest assured that many of
them sent birthday congratulations wishing Mugabe "many more happier

Is it not really pathetic that regional bodies, like SADC, are nowhere to be
seen or heard, when crucial events are taking place within their

Admittedly, SADC is a useless body milking and wasting public funds at the
expense of people's plight, but I expected SADC to, at least, have the
decency to say something, however wayward, about the looming electoral heist
in Zimbabwe and the clear violations of conducting free, fair and democratic

They have nothing to say because they don't have any rationale to exist;
they are just another outlet for holidays in exotic places.

SADC really should be ashamed of themselves. And I now hold all SADC
presidents responsible for allowing both SADC and dictator Robert Mugabe to
make fools not only of SADC citizens but of SADC presidents as well.

Zimbabweans are now crossing into Zambia looking for food to sustain their
families. And, of course, they are taking jobs from Zambians and clearly
affecting prices of goods there.
Of course, Zimbabweans are taking contraband liquor and cigarettes there
with the help of starving immigration officers at the Zimbabwe/Zambia

Mwanawasa berates the Americans and the Europeans and warns them to "leave
Zimbabwe alone" but says nothing about the smouldering problem at his

Now this is from the Chairman of SADC. Not one country that borders Zimbabwe
is untouched or unaffected by the mayhem in Zimbabwe but you have a SADC
leader spouting drivel at people who have absolutely nothing to do with the
murders, economic mismanagement and electoral fraud that is taking place in

I find it extremely patronising and, frankly, down right offensive and
irresponsible for Mwanawasa to stand up and tell the world that Zimbabwe
must be left alone. Why, when elections are being stolen and people being
beaten, starved and abused by their own police and government?

And a few days after Mwanawasa made that reckless statement, Zimbabwe's
Police Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, a staunch Mugabe loyalist, told a
press briefing that the police had prepared to use firearms during and after
elections to thwart any possible protests.

Mwanawasa, being a lawyer, should know that Mugabe is not Zimbabwe and that
Zimbabwe does not belong to Mugabe. But we are caught in a full Nelson and
we cannot pry ourselves free on our own. And Mwanawasa encourages a man who
has shown total disregard for human life.

SADC needs to first prove itself as a credible election umpire. It has let
us down so many times before. SADC clearly supports the sitting president.
Zimbabwe has never met any of the SADC Principles and Guidelines for
democratic elections. And SADC has never said anything about the dangerous

And, as SADC chairman, Mwanawasa had the audacity to say such things to the
world and to us. It is like punching an injury.

Isn't it good that people like Mbeki and Mwanawasa are on their way out?
"Come the parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe in March, an election process
that is already flawed considering the heavy restrictions on freedom of
assembly and the clamping down on the independent media, SADC leaders will
have to show that they are capable of criticising a fellow SADC government,"
said Dr Anne Hammerstad, a senior researcher at the South African Institute
of International Affairs, in December 2004 and in reference to the 2005
elections. "Only by doing so can the organisation shake off its image as an
exclusive club of ruling parties more interested in supporting each other
than in ensuring free and fair elections."

That statement applies today. SADC has neither grown an inch since then nor
learned anything from itself. How wretched, indeed!

The most painful thing for us, however, is that, while we accept the
irrelevance of SADC and the uselessness of African leaders and their
deliberate unwillingness to assist us in Zimbabwe, why do they stand in the
way and stop those other countries who want to assist us?

African presidents are guiltier than sin.

*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean writer.

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Zimbabwe circles the drain

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The dictatorship of Robert Mugabe is too strong to die but too weak to rescue the country, writes WALLACE CHUMA
Sunday, March 02, 2008

Zimbabwe's authoritarian rulers have got one thing right over the years: They know how to create a deceptive semblance of normalcy in a country in crisis. A visitor can walk the grimy streets of Zimbabwe's cities but see no dead bodies; witness endless queues outside banks and shops, but hear no gunshots.

On a recent trip to my home country, I was amazed at how things on the surface appeared so normal, life so laid back, people so optimistic. All this in a country with the highest inflation rate in the world, estimated by the International Monetary Fund to be an incomprehensible 150,000 percent, and where virtually all consumer goods are in short supply. A country where, for the seventh year running, a political and economic crisis continues to erode incomes, inhibit free expression and force citizens to flee abroad in droves.

In the small border town of Beitbridge near South Africa, evidence abounds of a state whose existence is both ubiquitous and nonexistent. Around the clock, armed policemen, soldiers and intelligence operatives patrol the streets and jostle for commodities in shops with ordinary citizens, who seem to hardly notice their presence. But they are a chilling reminder of a muscular, brutal state. When called into action, these armed men and women break up anti-government demonstrations with ruthless efficiency. Zimbabweans know that.

At the same time, the countless potholes in the streets, the scavenging stray animals, the empty shops and the general state of decay make you wonder if anybody's in charge. The state in Zimbabwe today has the dual identity of being too strong to die but too weak to rescue the country from crippling despair.

President Robert Mugabe, who just turned 84, has been ruling Zimbabwe since 1980 and will stand for re-election on March 29. If he wins, as expected, the country will continue its downward spiral.

Wallace Chuma grew up in Zimbabwe and worked there as a journalist until leaving the country under threat in 2003. He reported for the Post-Gazette in 2002 as an Alfred Friendly Press Fellow and now lives in Cape Town, South Africa, where he teaches media studies at the University of Cape Town (

Following decades of state repression and the rigging of elections since 2000, the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change goes into this year's elections enfeebled. Its leaders have been jailed frequently and harassed continually, and the Mugabe regime has effectively convinced rural voters, the majority, that the opposition's free-market economic policies and ties to Western governments are neo-colonial and unpatriotic.

Mr. Mugabe and his ruling elites, supported by the state-owned media, argue that the economic crisis is a creation of the West, particularly Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial master. They say the West was unwilling to accept Mr. Mugabe's 2000 decision to forcibly take white-owned farmland and give it to blacks. The regime saw this as a way to address a historical injustice while claiming that the West sought to use the resulting economic turmoil to effect "regime change" and "re-colonize" the country.

So far, this sales pitch has been quite persuasive not only to rural voters but also to the rest of Africa. African leaders have supported Mr. Mugabe and seized every opportunity to stave off international condemnation of his government.

Colonial memories remain fresh on the continent, where inequalities created by European governments and inherited at independence are still a feature of daily life. The failure of most African leaders to reduce poverty is often blamed -- justifiably in some cases and unjustifiably in others -- on the continent's colonial legacy and the present-day monetary and development policies of the IMF and the World Bank. In this context, Mr. Mugabe has been able to frame the crisis of Zimbabwe as yet another Western strategy to subjugate Africa.

Of course, this characterization glosses over the role of Zimbabwe's ruling elite in creating and exacerbating the country's descent from the bread basket of Africa to a basket case. At the core of the disaster is an exhausted nationalist and despotic regime that governs by creating ad hoc structures to manage the crises within a crisis that frequently arise. The normal state bureaucracy has been replaced by crisis "commissions" and military-style "operations," complete with code names. Even the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe routinely launches "operations" ostensibly aimed at restoring the country's economic health. None has worked.

During my stay in the capital of Harare, I witnessed the failure of "Operation Sunrise 2," which attempted to address crippling cash shortages by printing "bearer checks" of huge denominations. In January, the Reserve Bank issued a $10 million note, which is worth about US$4 and isn't enough to buy a hamburger.

Because the Zimbabwe currency loses value so rapidly, few people keep their money in banks. In fact, Operation Sunrise 2 failed after the Reserve Bank raided its own vaults and disbursed tons of currency in the popular and illegal black market, where it purchases hard currency to cover the country's balance of trade payments. Several operations aimed at halting foreign currency trading on the black market have failed because this has become the most reliable way to get hard currency that can hold its value for more than a day.

Likewise, operations to fight corruption, to increase food production and to stop illegal diamond mining and gold smuggling have been dismal failures -- mainly because ruling party cronies are involved.

In the face of even more uncertain times ahead, it appears as though the ruling elites in Zimbabwe have embarked on a systematic looting spree. Nowhere is this clearer than in the dual pricing of petrol and in access to hard currency.

Ordinary motorists purchase fuel at the market rate of more than US$1 per liter, while ruling politicians, who have access to the state oil company, purchase petrol at less than a dime per liter. While private companies and citizens can access hard currency only at astronomical black market rates, ruling party officials can buy it at ridiculously low prices through the Reserve Bank. The bank prints more and more cash to purchase hard currency at the same outrageous black market rates, then provides it to politicians at deeply discounted prices.

Except for Mr. Mugabe's cronies, life in Zimbabwe now is an existential struggle. Professionals go to work only to avoid getting fired for absenteeism; to survive they spend most of their days out of the office buying and selling anything that may be in short supply -- which means almost everything.

With the unemployment rate at 85 percent, a good education is no longer a ticket to a better life. In my rural home town of Mwenezi, the majority of young people abandon high school and trek down to South Africa to seek menial jobs, where they can make more money than teachers and other salaried professionals back home.

Throughout my most recent visit to Zimbabwe, the state radio channels played a jingle at 30-minute intervals that celebrated the country's sovereignty, lauded Mr. Mugabe's nationalist leadership and pronounced 2008 as a year of plenty.

When I was giving a lift to a teacher who doubles as a cross-border trader between Zimbabwe and South Africa, the jingle played just before we crossed into South Africa. She remarked nonchalantly: "It's all a big lie, of course. We know it, and they know that we know it."

The jingle ran its course, followed by a news bulletin that opened with: "The president and first secretary of Zanu PF, Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe ... "


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Makoni fumes as police disrupt rally

New Zimbabwe

By Torby Chimhashu
Last updated: 03/02/2008 22:05:19
ZIMBABWEAN police abruptly called time on a campaign rally for independent
presidential candidate Simba Makoni on Sunday, and turned away buses
ferrying supporters to the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, a working class
surburb of Harare.

Riot police in eight trucks closed off Willowvale Road, a major highway
leading into the south western suburbs and ordered buses coming from the
city centre to return passengers to their pick-up points.

Despite the heavy police presence and intimidation, some 7 000 cheering
supporters turned up -- many on foot -- to hear the former finance minister
speak, a day after he kicked off his campaign in the second largest city of
Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold.

"I would like to thank all of you who managed to walk to this venue despite
intimidation and threats by police," Makoni said in his keynote address.
"Most of our supporters were turned away by the police but you have shown
faith and bravery by walking to this venue.

"We would like to remove fear from our lives. We cannot continue to fear the
police, army and the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation)."

Police had earlier on Friday threatened to bar Makoni from holding his
maiden rally in Harare, arguing that it would be a counter attraction to a
Champions League preliminary tie between Dynamos and Royal Leopards of
Swaziland at Gwanzura Stadium.

However, it later gave the former Zanu PF politiburo member the nod to go
ahead, but altered the rally time from afternoon to 11am.

When the rally was in full swing, two truck loads of armed police officers
circled around the crowd before one burly police officer went up to the
podium where he pointed to his watch and told Makoni to cut his address.

This incensed the crowd that responded by booing and making catcalls at the

Former Zanu PF secretary and Mugabe lieutenant, Edgar Tekere, told the crowd
that he would personally lead Makoni's campaign "to make sure that Mugabe
goes for good".

Said the infuriated Tekere: "This man (Mugabe) must go. I will make sure I
sweat and spend my time leading this campaign against him. I unequivocally
state that Mugabe has failed us and continues to use the police to frustrate
people. This time he will go for good."

Makoni's campaign got a shot in the arm on Saturday when former Home Affairs
Minister Dumiso Dabengwa quit Zanu PF to back his presidential bid. He was
also joined by former Speaker of Parliament, Cyril Ndebele.

Zimbabweans vote in general elections on March 29, and political observers
say Mugabe could face his toughest challenge yet as he goes head to head
with his former finance minister and opposition MDC leader, Morgan

Tsvangirai and Makoni are both promising swift economic recovery for the
country. Mugabe has labelled the two prostitutes and witches.

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 1st March 2008

Four weeks to go: the elections dominated talk at the Vigil.  We are phoning
home all the time so we know what is happening on the ground.  We are
determined to make polling day a big occasion in London.  We will be outside
the Embassy during Zimbabwean voting time and run our own election for the
Zimbabwean diaspora.  After all, so many Zimbabweans have already voted with
their feet that any election that does not take this into account cannot be

It was cheering to be supported by people passing by the Embassy: A group of
half a dozen Austrians joined in our singing and dancing and bought our
"Make Mugabe History" bracelets.  We were also filmed throughout the day by
David and Collette from Cinema Action. They are making a film entitled
"Lethani Ilizwe Lethu" (Give us back our country). David also played "Nkosi
Sikelele" on his penny whistle accompanied by Vigil singers.

Doubt Chimonyo paid tribute to our dear friend Tendai Chshanu who died last
week.  Vigil supporters were in tears listening to him.  We made a
collection for her family and prayed for her.

The Vigil team gathered afterwards to discuss our plans for election day. In
brief, we decided there would be two media events outside the Embassy, the
first at 11.00 and the second at 15.00, both featuring the Mugabe mask we
used at the Lisbon summit last December and the giant plastic ballot box we
have used at successive elections. We are holding an open meeting on
Saturday 15th March for all who want to be involved.

Our friends in Glasgow, Ancilla Chifamba and Patrick Dzimba, are making
progress with their plans to start a Vigil.  They are in touch with the
local council which has agreed they can hold a fortnightly Vigil at the
Argyle Street Precinct starting on election day, Saturday, 29th March.  We
will keep you informed of times etc.

Vikki Farrell who came to the Vigil on 9th February has contacted us to say
her  5m X 2.5m tapestry / collage to express what is happening in Zimbabwe
is now on display at the University of Brighton public gallery in a
prominent position.  We are asking her for pictures of her tapestry which we
will put on the photo website when we get them.

For this week's Vigil pictures:

FOR THE RECORD: 175 signed the register.

·         Monday, 3rd March 2008 at 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum.
Speakers including Adrian Lunga of WEZIMBABWE will debate the chances of the
Presidential candidates. Venue: Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street,
London, WC2N 6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers
Street and John Adam Street.
·         Saturday, 8th March 2008, 12 - 1.30 pm.  Action for Southern
Africa (ACTSA) Rally for Dignity! and Democracy in Zimbabwe on International
Women's Day in Trafalgar Square, London.  Speakers include:  Lucia
Matibenga, Vice-President Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Takavafira
Zhou, President, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Maureen Kademaunga,
Gender and Human Rights Officer, Zimbabwe National Students' Union. The
rally is followed by the Vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy at 14.00 and at
15.30 the Million Women Rise Rally in Trafalgar Square to end violence
against women. More information on Please contact or phone 020 3263 2001 to let ACTSA know if you are
·         Saturday, 29th March 2008, 6 am - 6 pm: Zimbabwe Vigil's diaspora
polling station and mock ballot.

Vigil Co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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Makoni accuses Mugabe of running corrupt government

Zim Online

by Sebastian Nyamhangambiri Monday 03 March 2008

HARARE - A former ally challenging President Robert Mugabe on Sunday accused
the veteran leader of running a corrupt government that had driven a once
promising nation into poverty and suffering.

Former finance minister Simba Makoni, who has vowed to unseat Mugabe in
elections on March 29, told about 5 000 supporters in Harare that after
starting well at independence, Mugabe had got drunk with power and had long
abandoned the "people's wishes."

"At independence he (Mugabe) talked of unity and growth with equity and that
is the way we started. If we had remained on that track, we would not be
having all these problems. We had laid a solid foundation, good for our
country but along the way we got corrupted with power and forgot about the
people's wishes," said Makoni.

Makoni, who got a welcome boost when several former senior members of Mugabe's
ZANU PF party and government showed support by attending his rally in the
poor Harare suburb of Highfield, vowed to arrest Zimbabwe's economic slide
and to uproot out corruption.

Placing corruption at the heart of Zimbabwe's crisis, Makoni said Mugabe had
paid lip service to fighting the scourge, saying if elected he would not
spare powerful politicians who had looted national resources and former
white-owned farms.

"Year after year, he (Mugabe) condemns corruption and even saying he knows
some senior ZANU PF members (who are corrupt) yet he does nothing about it.
Under the new dawn there won't be sacred cows," said Makoni, who spoke in
the vernacular Shona language.

Makoni rejected claims by Mugabe that he planned to reverse the government's
controversial land reform but said he would pursue a transparent and
equitable land redistribution exercise aimed at helping revive the comatose

He said he would address the energy crisis and remove price controls as part
of a plan to get the key manufacturing and mining sectors back to operating
at full throttle.

Zimbabwe's chaotic foreign exchange policy would be reviewed under a Makoni

Among those gathered to hear Makoni speak were Edgar Tekere, who was
secretary general of ZANU PF and served in senior positions in the
government, before he was forced out more than 20 years ago after opposing
attempts by Mugabe to declare Zimbabwe a one party state.

Also present were Fay Chung, Margaret Dongo, and Kindness Paradza, who all
held various senior posts in either ZANU PF or the government.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of an acute economic recession critics blame on
mismanagement by Mugabe and seen in the world's highest inflation rate of
more than 100 000 percent, 80 percent unemployment and shortages of food,
fuel and foreign currency.

However, analysts say an unfair playing field guarantees Mugabe victory at
the polls. The 84-year old Mugabe - who at one time boasted that no one
could have run Zimbabwe better than him - has promised a landslide victory
against Makoni and main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party
leader Morgan Tsvangirai. - ZimOnline

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Zanu PF slams door on Mavhaire

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 03/03/2008 07:25:08
ZANU PF has closed the door on controversial politician Dzikamai Mavhaire's
demands to have a primary poll re-run, and ordered him to withdraw his
candidature for the Masvingo senatorial seat he lost to Maina Mandava.

Claiming that he had been robbed of victory, Mavhaire filed papers with the
Nomination Court on a Zanu PF ticket, resulting in the party having two
individuals vying for the same post.

While there was a rerun for the Chivi Mwenezi Senatorial post where Finance
Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi had lost to former Masvingo governor Josaya
Hungwe, the ruling party refused to yield to accommodate Mavhaire by ruling
out a re-run.

In Chivi- Mwenezi, Mumbengegwi lost again to Hunfwe in the re-run.

During the launch of Zanu PF election manifesto last Friday, the party's
political commissar Elliot Manyika read out what he called the final list of
ruling party candidates, and Mavhaire was not mentioned, with Mandava said
to be the party's candidate.

New sources said Sunday that Zanu PF had already written to
Mavhaire informing him that there would be no re-run of the primary polls in
Masvingo, and as such he should withdraw his candidature.

Indications are that Mavhaire, who was a close associate of maverick former
Justice Minister Edison Zvobgo, will defy the party and participate in the
March 29 poll.

In 1998, Mavhaire attracted the ire of President Robert Mugabe and was
suspended from the party after delivering a speech in parliament in which he
said "the president must go" because Zimbabwe was "not a monarch."

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Managing change in Zimbabwe

New Zimbabwe

By Gilbert Muponda
Last updated: 03/03/2008 07:16:15
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe must go for the Zimbabwe economy to recover.

Zimbabwe can be likened to a very poorly performing company. And its CEO is
none other than President Mugabe, and if the company is to have any chance
of recovery it's imperative that the CEO who led the company to its ruin
must be "retired".

I have already written extensively about Zimbabwe's economic problems. In
this article, I seek to suggest ways to resolve the Economic decay.

Even if Zimbabwe was to get a Finance Minister from Jupiter and a central
bank governor from the Outer Space, Zimbabwe's economy would never recover
as long as President Mugabe remains the CEO of Zimbabwe Inc.

This is an opportunity for Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono to be a hero:
He should take a firm stand and clearly tell the people the economy cannot
be solved as long as Mugabe remains in power.

There is no need to act like false prophets who masquerade as turn around
experts and avoiding giving the clear and honest advice that the nation's
economic problems cannot be solved as long as President Mugabe remains in

Zimbabwe needs a new CEO who can restore confidence to investors (foreign
and local). It is pointless to keep changing or criticising the governor
when it's clear he is only a messenger acting on behalf of his "principal".
It is equally bad for the governor to claim he can fix the economy with
Mugabe in power. Should he not be pro-active, history will record this.

Zimbabwe's political risk is so high such that it's almost impossible to
attract any investment (foreign or local). Political risk refers to the risk
that revolution or other political conditions will result in a loss.

There several different types of political risk, including (among others):
Political violence, such as revolution, insurrection, civil unrest,
terrorism or war;
Governmental expropriation or confiscation of assets;
Governmental frustration or repudiation of contracts;
Wrongful calling of letters of credit or similar on-demand guarantees; and
Inconvertibility of foreign currency or the inability to repatriate funds.

There is total lack of confidence in the economy such that capital flight
and a run on the currency make it impossible to simply try to cover up the
real issues affecting the economy. The President is 84 years old and has
been ruling for 28 years. Any reasonable analyst will ask what other
strategy or plan can he implement which he hasn't in the last 28 years?

I have yet to hear of such a senior citizen who was able to successfully
turn around an economy. Given his advanced age, a turn-around situation
demands a younger leader who can with-stand the pressure and stress that
comes with trying to save a sinking titanic. As a comparison, Russia's next
leader is likely to be a 42-year-old.

In a corporate set up, Zimbabwe's presidential candidates can be likened to
investors trying to take over a company. The phrase mergers and acquisitions
(abbreviated M&A) refers to the aspect of corporate strategy, corporate
finance and management dealing with the buying, selling and combining of
different companies that can aid, finance, or help a growing company in a
given industry grow rapidly without having to create another business

Takeover is a business term that refers to one company (the acquirer, or
bidder) purchasing another (the target). These candidates need a clear and
sustainable strategy to achieve their mission of replacing the country's
current CEO. Just because it hasn't been done in Zimbabwe doesn't mean it's

A likely and effective strategy is to form an alliance which in business we
refer to as a consortium. A consortium is an association of two or more
individuals, companies, organisations or governments (or any combination of
these entities) with the objective of participating in a common activity or
pooling their resources for achieving a common goal.

Each participant retains its separate legal status and the consortium's
control over each participant is generally limited to activities involving
the joint endeavour, particularly the division of profits.

At this critical stage, politicians can borrow various corporate and
financial strategies to achieve their goal. In many situations, a client may
want to borrow more money than one bank can comfortably lend. A common
strategy is to form a syndicate.

In finance, a group of banks lending for a specific purpose and to one
single borrower a large amount of money is referred to as a bank syndicate
or often only as a syndicate. In investment banking, it refers to a group of
investment banks that share underwriting risk in respect to an issuer's
securities, referred to as the underwriting syndicate.This is what is
currently confronting Zimbabwe, a huge task beyond capacity of one
individual or one organisation. This limits individual risk but dramatically
increases chances of success.

In the current set up, it's clear that all the other candidates lack the
total resources required to unseat the current CEO. The answer is to form a
syndicate of all the opposing forces. It must be noted the opposing forces
don't actually need to like or love one another. All that's required is a
common purpose.

In business, it's not uncommon for competitors to collude or cooperate to
achieve a common goal. A competitor should be ready to aid his opponent if
the outcome serves to achieve a common objective. An immediate example is
Google Inc currently offering to help its bitter rival Yahoo! Inc to fend of
a hostile bid from Microsoft.

The main consequence of a bid being considered hostile is practical rather
than legal. If the board of the target cooperates, the bidder will be able
to conduct extensive due diligence into the affairs of the target company.
It will be able to find out exactly what it is taking on before it makes a
commitment. A hostile bidder will know only the information on the company
that is publicly available and will therefore be taking more of a risk.
Banks are also less willing to back hostile bids with the loans that are
usually needed to finance the takeover.

In the Zimbabwean political scene, this is what seems to be playing out. It
is important for all the opposing participants to identify insiders and work
across party lines to minimise risk and lend credibility to their proposed
takeover of Zimbabwe Inc.

In a private company, the shareholders and the board are likely to be either
the same people or closely connected with one another. Therefore, all
private acquisitions are likely to be friendly, because if the shareholders
have agreed to sell the company then the board, however comprised, will
usually be of the same mind or be sufficiently under the orders of the
shareholders to cooperate with the bidder.

In cases where management may not be acting in the best interest of the
shareholders (or creditors or stakeholders), a hostile takeover allows a
suitor to bypass intransigent management. This is very similar to
politicians who are no longer faithfully serving those who elected them. In
this case, this enables the shareholders to choose the option that may be
best for them, rather than leaving approval solely with management. In this
case, a hostile takeover may be beneficial to shareholders, which is
contrary to the usual perception that a hostile takeover is "bad."

In publicly held companies, various methods to avoid takeover bids are
called "poison pills". As a variation of the poison pill defence, the people
pill is an anti-takeover defence under which the current management team of
the target company threatens to quit en masse in the event of a successful
hostile takeover.

The effectiveness of a people pill is dependent on the circumstances of the
takeover. If the management team is efficient, the company will be left
without experienced leadership following a takeover.

On the other hand, a great number of takeovers are the result of inefficient
leadership in which management will be fired anyway; the people pill will be
ineffective in this situation. However, in politics it's slightly different
because of the presence of career politicians -- those who eat, drink and
sleep politics. They try to resist any takeover or change because they fear
losing posts, jobs, perks and benefits. This section has to be handled with
care as they are normally prepared to defend the status quo.

A golden parachute is a clause (or several) in an executive's employment
contract specifying that they will receive certain significant benefits if
their employment is terminated. Sometimes, but not always, these clauses
apply only in the event that the company is acquired and the executive's
employment is terminated as a result of that acquisition. These benefits may
include severance pay, cash bonuses, stock options or a combination of the
items. The benefits are designed to reduce perverse incentives.

In Zimbabwe, this is critical. It appears during the SADC initiated talks
this particular clause was not tactic fully handled. It appears the
opposition did not sufficiently address any incentives for the incumbent to
participate in any proposed change. This can be addressed during the run up
to the election.

A world-wide trend to handle this is normally to offer blanket immunity from
prosecution for the current leadership from any crime or alleged crime. The
amnesty and immunity normally covers the current leadership, its family and
close allies. This is critical to minimise resistance to change. This
happened in Russia immediately when president Putin took power from
President Boris Yelstin.

This is critical as it allows a smooth and less volatile transition. It is
most unlikely that any incumbent will ever cooperate unless and until
offered such solid assurances that normally come as part of a new
constitution or a presidential decree. For as long as their fate or allies'
fate remains unknown and subject to guess work then resistance will be at
its maximum level.

However, these people need to be reminded about the need of being on the
correct side of history, as they say no book ends with one chapter. Zimbabwe
will have a future and it's important that people see beyond their immediate
personal gains whilst condemning our country to pro-longed poverty and

In business, a firm facing a hostile take over normally uses what in
corporate finance terms are called 'killer bees'. Killer bees are firms or
individuals that are employed by a target company to fend off a takeover
bid; these include investment bankers (primary), accountants, attorneys, tax
specialists, etc. They aid by utilising various anti-takeover strategies,
thereby making the target company economically unattractive and acquisition
more costly or impossible. They will defend the current management by almost
any means necessary.

The task of the bidder and his advisors is then to soften the killer bees
and have as many of them defect to the other side. In a political set up, in
Zimbabwe's case, these comprise of elements within the security services,
civil service and private sector who have embedded interest in the current
set-up. They need to be assured that they will not be disadvantaged by any
proposed take-over.

Anybody who has ever bought a business will confirm that the hard part is
not to raise the money, but rather the part to convince management to
cooperate and not resist new ownership.

It is almost impossible to take over without reassuring the current managers
that they will keep their jobs and perks. Should they be retired/fired, they
need to know that they are getting fair compensation for past service.

Zimbabwe Inc's current suitors need to address these concerns if the mission
is to succeed. However, all Zimbabweans who vote for an 84-year-old
President need to seriously ask themselves what new ideas can he offer which
he has been withholding for the last 28 years.

It is imperative that Zimbabweans show unity of purpose and send a clear
message they want a new beginning by convincingly rejecting the notion that
an 84-year-old can turn around an economy which he has ruined.

Gilbert Muponda is a Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur, exiled in Canada. He can be
contacted at See his website:

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American concern apparent in Zimbabwe elections

Tennessee Journalist
Flickr/Sokwanele - Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean votera have been urged strongly to vote to overthrow the ruling ZANU-PF party.
published: March 02 2008 02:22 PM updated:: March 02 2008 02:28 PM

During His recent trip to Africa, President Bush took the time to express his concerns regarding another upcoming African election. After the highly controversial and violent elections that were held in Kenya, this is not the time for another election to be placed under international Scrutiny. This time, the eyes of the world will be focusing on Zimbabwe whose Elections will take place on March 29. 

What will make this electoral cycle different? After all, there have been serious doubts in the freedom of Elections in every cycle since 2000. The results have been the same, however: a violent campaign season that seems to grow worse every time the ruling ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front) wins the elections. And what happens to be the result? More abject poverty, violence against the independent media and civil society groups that dare to speak out against the violence and erosions of civil liberties. 

Since 2002, relations between the United States and Zimbabwe have deteroriated drastically. The U.S. currently has a series of sanctions currently in place against Harare.

Primarally, these include no transfers of police or military equipment to Zimbabwe, senior members of the ruling party and some of their family members are prevented from entering the U.S. under any capacity and some of their financial assets in U.S. Banks are frozen. However, emergency shipments of food and medicines are allowed to go through. 

The U.S. Embassy in Harare has issued a warning to American Citizens in Zimbabwe. There is a valid concern that violence may return again during the runup period of the elections.There have been several high profile incidents between U.S. Diplomats and Zimbabwe Security Forces that have raised concern. On more than one occasion, U.S. Diplomats who were out in the field observing elections and distribution of food aid have been accosted by the Zimbabwe National Police. Several times, U.S. Diplomats have been roughed up but nothing like what happened to former Ambassador Dell. Dell was almost shot by Zimbabwe Police while taking a nightly walk in a Harare park. 

So what will the United States do now? President Bush has been very vocal in his criticism of the Mugabe Government and its record on Human Rights. And the U.S. Embassy in Harare has issued a warning to American Citizens in Zimbabwe. There is a valid concern that violence may return again during the runup period of the elections. So the Embassy has urged U.S. citizens not to travel outside of the major cities. After what occured in Kenya, this may be a prudent strategy. 

In the eyes of many experts, Zimbabwe is a powderkeg just waiting to explode. After More than a Decade of five digit inflation, the population of Zimbabwe are tired. Any attempt at freedom of expression is answered by the authorities with force. Any large gatherings are subject to the approval of the police. The reaction of the people after a controversial election may not be pleasant to witness. 

There are several questions that may be asked within the next month. First, will the United States be willing to do anything eregarding Zimbabwe other than imposing more sanctions? Will the U.S. press neighboring states to take a more formidable stand over the next few weeks, not only to insure that a transparent elections occur, but if necessary, a peaceful transfer of power occurs. And last, will there be an ample chance for economic development if and when there is a change of power within Zimbabwe?  

Let the madness begin in Zimbabwe. And watch the world be just as polarized at it has been during other African crises.


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Simon Mann's wife and lawyer get ban on interview he gave to Channel 4

From The Daily Mail (UK), 1 March

Mercenary Simon Mann is at the centre of an extraordinary High Court battle
after Channel 4 was banned from broadcasting an interview with him.
Lawyers - acting without having spoken to Mr Mann but after consulting his
wife Amanda - obtained an 11th-hour injunction preventing Channel 4 News
from transmitting its film of the Old Etonian ex-SAS officer talking from
his prison cell in Equatorial Guinea. In the interview, the 55-year-old is
believed to make allegations - said by his family to have been made "under
duress" - against Sir Mark Thatcher and Ely Calil, a Lebanese oil dealer
with a £100million fortune. The three are accused by Equatorial Guinea of
plotting a coup in 2004, which failed after Mr Mann was arrested when he
arrived in Zimbabwe with 68 mercenaries and a cargo of arms.

Mr Mann's lawyers went to the High Court on Friday arguing he could not have
consented to the interview. They believe he may have been forced to take
part by prison authorities. Channel 4 responded that the interview was
carried out "in accordance with Mr Mann's wishes". Anthony Kerman,
representing Mr Mann, said last night he had not yet spoken to his client,
but was acting under "general instruction" and in consultation with Amanda.
It was in July last year that this newspaper revealed that Mr Kerman was a
friend of Ely Calil, the man accused of instigating the botched coup, and to
have been its major funder. Mr Mann was convicted of breaching Zimbabwe's
immigration laws and had served almost four years in jail before being taken
to Equatorial Guinea last month after an appeal against deportation failed.
His wife has said he was effectively "kidnapped" and now fears he will be

Channel 4 News foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller conducted an
interview with Mr Mann from the notorious Black Beach prison last week. Late
on Friday, Mr Kerman obtained an interim injunction preventing the broadcast
for seven days. He said: "We believe that Mr Mann's interests could be
irreparably harmed if the broadcast takes place. I haven't seen the piece
but we do believe that there may be admissions which he makes against his
own interests and there may be allegations in the piece, too. [Channel 4]
says that he talks frankly about the events leading up to his arrest. I'm
told by other people that he may have said very considerably more than that,
but that is sufficient for me to be very concerned." The injunction
prohibits the channel from broadcasting its interview because "it is not
apparent he could properly consent to the interview taking place". The
solicitor, who has not spoken to his client since his arrival in the
country's capital, Malabo, said: "He is utterly under the power of the
Equatorial Guinea regime."

Mr Mann's incarceration began in Zimbabwe on March 7, 2004, when he and 68
South African and Angolan soldiers were arrested as their plane landed for a
stop-off in Harare. The aircraft was due to be loaded with £100,000 worth of
arms. Mr Mann, who insisted he was only providing security for the diamond
industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was sentenced to seven years
in jail. He had fought attempts by Equatorial Guinea to extradite him, but
his appeal was rejected in January. Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of former
Prime Minister Lady Thatcher and an old friend of Mr Mann, was fined
£265,000 and received a suspended four-year prison sentence in South Africa
for helping finance the alleged coup. Last year, Mr Mann was reportedly
offered a deal by the Equatorial Guinean government, saying he would be
allowed to go home if he named those behind the 2004 plot.

He was deported from Zimbabwe last month when the country's special forces
removed him from his cell at 1am and flew him to Angola and then on to
Equatorial Guinea. He now faces a trial, during which government-appointed
judges will almost certainly find him guilty, but the appointment of a local
lawyer to his case last week brought fresh hope of his early release.
Attorney Ponciano Mbomio Nvo suggested "international pressure" for Mr
Mann's release would be brought to bear on Equatorial Guinean President
Teodoro Obiang Nguema. He added: "The President has said he has no interest
in keeping Mr Mann after the judgment is made. His wish is that there is a
clear judgment, but after that he'll find a way to have Mr Mann sent out of
Equatorial Guinea."

Both Mr Mann and his wife have spoken of their fears that he will be
tortured in prison. His Channel 4 News interview is believed to include his
assurances that he has been "well treated" since his arrival - something his
family does not believe. Speaking after her husband's arrival in Equatorial
Guinea, Amanda Mann said his legal team in Harare had no idea the
deportation was taking place. She said: "They must have drugged him and paid
off the guards. Simon would not have left the prison without screaming and
shouting." A spokesman for the family added: "To broadcast an interview
obtained in these circumstances would be grossly irresponsible. Given the
circumstances of his detention, it is inconceivable that Simon Mann could
freely have given his consent to the interview." A spokesman for Channel 4
News said: "We asked Mr Mann if he wished to be interviewed. He said yes and
told our reporter so. We would not be intending to broadcast this interview
if it were not in accordance with Mr Mann's wishes. This is responsible
journalism on a matter of significant public interest." The broadcaster said
it would be appealing against the injunction. A full hearing is due to take
place later this week.

Sir Mark Thatcher was fined after admitting in plea bargaining with South
African authorities that he had financed the leasing of a helicopter, but
that he had no idea it might be used for a coup. A friend of Sir Mark said
he had the "greatest sympathy for the dreadful situation Simon Mann finds
himself in", adding: "He must be very frightened and under considerable
distress and Mark's heart goes out to him, poor man. "As far as the alleged
coup is concerned, everything Mark has had to say to the South African
authorities is a matter of public record."

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