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Foreign cash crucial to reviving Zim economy

Mail and Guardian

Godfrey Marawanyika | Harare, Zimbabwe

04 March 2008 07:44

      Reviving Zimbabwe's moribund economy would require
inflation-battered citizens to swallow the bitter pill of reduced state
spending and higher interest rates to attract foreign cash, analysts say.

      The ousting of veteran President Robert Mugabe is essential to
pave the way for reforms to put the country back on track, they believe, and
drastic steps are required to re-instil investor confidence.

      "They would have to completely reverse the policies of the
current government, drastically cut on expenditure and push up interest
rates," said Anthony Hawkins, an economics professor at the University of

      "It's impossible to see a solution without some kind of foreign
assistance, so whoever wins will have to go on their knees to ask for aid."

      Mugabe is to seek a sixth term in office in joint presidential
and parliamentary polls next month at a time the country's official
inflation rate exceeds a mind-boggling 100 000%.

      Zimbabwean unemployment stands at about 80%, even basic
foodstuffs are scarce, and the general infrastructure is rapidly crumbling.
Life expectancy has plummeted to 37 years for men and 34 for women.

      Mugabe is widely blamed for the state of affairs over his
controversial land-reform policies -- seizing white-owned farms for
redistribution to landless black Zimbabweans and all but killing commercial
agriculture and scaring off foreign investors.

       But the octogenarian leader blames his country's woes on
targeted sanctions imposed on himself and members of his inner circle by the
European Union and United States following 2002 elections the opposition and
Western observers said were flawed.

      Mugabe this month goes up against his former finance minister,
Simba Makoni, recently expelled from the ruling Zanu-PF, and Morgan
Tsvangirai, head of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change

      Analysts said any government elected on March 29 would have its
work cut out to attract trade partners.

      "There is need for an immediate post-election programme that
will have to remove price controls [and] subsidies, and interest rates have
to be removed upwards," said Harare-based economist Witness Chinyama.

      "There is also need to come up with policies that will attract
foreign direct investment in this country."

      While Makoni has declined to elaborate on his economic vision,
the MDC said it planned to reduce money supply, liberalise foreign-exchange
markets and restore relations with former trading partners to spur economic

      It would also provide loans to help failed companies back on
their feet, halve the number of Cabinet ministers to save money, and woo
back professionals who have left the country.

      "The MDC does not think that these goals can be achieved easily
or quickly and recognises that any stabilisation and recovery programme will
inevitably involve both sacrifice and hardships," party spokesperson Nelson
Chamisa said.

      "It [MDC] will not only inherit a collapsed economy, failing
infrastructure and a massive humanitarian crisis, but also a civil service
that is highly politicised and decimated by the loss of both skills and

       Tsvangirai has said the country would need $10-billion to revive
the economy.

      Launching his party's election manifesto on Friday, Mugabe
pledged to revive agricultural production by providing farming equipment to
beneficiaries of his land-reform programme.

       He also undertook to plug leakages of precious minerals.

      "The mining sector has remained a place that's closed to us," he

      "Unless we are there as owners or shareholders, we will continue
to be cheated."

      Zimbabwe central bank governor Gideon Gono said last month he
was drafting a new economic blueprint for "price stability, inflation
control, investment promotion, as well as revamping the general productivity
levels of the country".

      Analysts say the country's economic future is closely tied to
the as-yet-unpredictable outcome of the elections.

      "The state of the economy is attached to Bob [Mugabe]. If he
goes, the economy will improve. But if he stays, things would continue as
they are," said Godfrey Kanyenze, chief economist of the Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions.

      Hawkins predicted that not much would change under Makoni, who
was likely to continue pursuing Zanu-PF policies.

      "Tsvangirai would be able to get foreign aid and assistance, but
the question is, will he win?" -- AFP

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Foreign firms deny fund-raising in Zimbabwe poll


Tue 4 Mar 2008, 15:24 GMT

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Brewer SABMiller and Citigroup denied a report in a
Zimbabwean newspaper on Tuesday that they were raising funds for one of
President Robert Mugabe's election opponents.

The Herald said the two were among international corporations raising funds
for former finance minister Simba Makoni, who is taking on Mugabe in the
March 29 vote.

"Information available indicates that the London-based Zimbabwean-born
Christine Thompson, who is the policy issues manager with SABMiller,
co-ordinated a fund-raising lunch held in London last Friday," the paper

London-based SABMiller spokesman Nigel Fairbrass denied the report.
"SABMiller would like to make it clear that it is not funding or supporting
any political campaign in Zimbabwe and neither has this ever been under
consideration," Fairbrass said.

The Herald also reported that Citigroup was involved in raising funds for
Makoni's presidential campaign. Citigroup's spokesman in London, Jonathan
Woodier, dismissed the report as "absolute rubbish".

"Citi does not support political causes and it would be inappropriate of us
to do so," he said.

Mugabe frequently accuses Western powers, especially former colonial ruler
Britain, of working with the opposition to oust him.

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War veterans plot Mugabe victory

Zim Online

by Farisai Gonye Wednesday 05 March 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe's war veterans converge in Harare today for an emergency
meeting to plot strategy to mobilise votes for President Robert Mugabe in a
tricky election in three weeks' time.

The veterans are hardliner supporters of Mugabe who have waged violence and
terror against the opposition at every election to ensure victory for the
Zimbabwean leader and his ruling ZANU PF party.

The former fighters of Zimbabwe's 1970s war of independence were at the
vanguard of Mugabe's controversial land reforms in which several white
farmers and their black workers were killed or injured.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans (ZNLWVA) vice-chairman Joseph
Chinotimba told ZimOnline that today's meeting at ZANU-PF headquarters in
Harare was to map out plans for a peaceful but vigorous programme to win
support for the ruling party which he described as "besieged".

However, Chinotimba ominously warned that the veterans - who he said wanted
to rid ZANU PF of enemies working from within the party - would resort to
violence if attacked.

"We should also discuss deployment plans because our members are actively
involved in campaigning for President Mugabe and our party ZANU-PF. We are
not going to wage a violent campaign," he said.

"In fact, we are urging our members to campaign peacefully and only to
resort to violence when attacked only as an act of self-defence," added
Chinotimba, who led the violent seizure of white farms eight years ago.

Mugabe faces probably his toughest political test in the March 29
presidential poll that is combined with parliamentary and council elections
and in which he squares up against his respected former finance minister
Simba Makoni and popular main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The veterans, who last year led marches across the country in support of
Mugabe, insist that he is the only one fit to rule Zimbabwe despite a
worsening economic crisis and food shortages blamed on his policies.

Nevertheless, insiders say the veterans, whose support is crucial for
Mugabe, are no longer united behind the 84-year old President, citing former
liberation war top commander Dumiso Dabengwa and retired army major Kudzai
Mbudzi's defection to back Makoni as a sign of widening divisions among

However, political analysts say that an unfair electoral field and a
political climate of fear could just be enough to guarantee Mugabe victory.

The veteran leader - who at one time boasted that no one could have run
Zimbabwe better than him - has promised a landslide victory against
Tsvangirai and Makoni to prove he has the support of ordinary Zimbabweans. -

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Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Zimbabwe - White House

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 4, 2008


On March 6, 2003, by Executive Order 13288, I declared a national emergency
and blocked the property of persons undermining democratic processes or
institutions in Zimbabwe, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic
Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 1706). I took this action to deal with the
unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States
constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government
of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe's democratic processes
or institutions. These actions have contributed to the deliberate breakdown
in the rule of law in Zimbabwe, politically motivated violence and
intimidation, and political and economic instability in the southern African
region. On November 22, 2005, I issued Executive Order 13391 to take
additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in
Executive Order 13288 by ordering the blocking of the property of additional
persons undermining democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe.

Because the actions and policies of these persons continue to pose an
unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States,
the national emergency declared on March 6, 2003, and the measures adopted
on that date and on November 22, 2005, to deal with that emergency, must
continue in effect beyond March 6, 2008. Therefore, in accordance with
section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am
continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to the actions and
policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons
to undermine Zimbabwe's democratic processes or institutions.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to
the Congress.



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Red Cross fights cholera in Mozambique and Zimbabwe

International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies

Date: 04 Mar 2008

By Martina Schwikowski, International Federation

Mozambique has been affected by a cholera outbreak that hit several areas.
'Cholera is spreading to eight provinces rapidly. The Tete province is the
most affected. It is flood-related and about 20 people are getting sick per
day,' says Ernestina Jama, the Mozambique Red Cross Society's
health-coordinator. 'A health technician is working there now to support the
volunteers,' she adds. These volunteers are carrying out door-to-door visits
to educate people, hand out medicine and tablets for water purification. But
despite all efforts, the situation is worsening. In Mutarara district, 825
cases have been reported and 14 people have already died.

Out of eleven provinces in the country, cholera has spread to Zambezia,
Tete, Sofala, Manica Province, Cabo Delgado, Gaza, Maputo and Maputo City
Province. Countrywide 48 people died and a total of 4452 people have been

When the outbreak started in Mozambique in October, 100 cholera cases were
reported daily in some provinces. In Maputo province and in the capital
province itself 80 cases needed urgent treatment on a daily basis. 'That
number has gone down to two people per day,' says Jama. 'But in Cabo Delgado
the epidemic is increasing.'

The Ministry of Health set up 71 treatment centres in all affected areas
where chlorine and oral re-hydration medicine is provided. The World Health
Organisation (WHO) has delivered information and materials, but according to
the Mozambique Red Cross Society (CVM), the situation is still not under
control. The displaced population is sheltered in over-crowded tents and
faced with water and sanitation problems.

The CVM appealed for US$ 99,749 to address the cholera crisis and has so far
received a cash donation of US$ 32,000 USD from the French Embassy in
Maputo. 'We need more financial support and also more incentives for 575
volunteers working hard on the ground to help people,' she said. In Maputo
60 volunteers are involved in daily first aid action and house visits before
referring patients to the treatment centres.

In the flood-affected provinces, the CVM is facilitating prevention and
diarrhoea monitoring, while in other cholera-affected areas less awareness
campaigns have been carried out.

Cholera has also spread across the border to neighbouring Zimbabwe where the
National Red Cross Society is also fighting to prevent new cases which occur
on a daily basis in the two provinces of Mashonaland Central and East.

Reports indicate that traders crossing the Mozambique border to conduct
informal business may have been infected with the disease, but also the
contamination of water in flooded areas contributed to the outbreak in
Zimbabwe which resulted in 92 cases of cholera and 9 people losing their

In Mashonaland Central, the two districts of Mt Darwin and Centenary are
affected. In Mudzi District, in Mashonaland East, the outbreak was first
reported at Kotwa Growth Point Hospital and currently 35 people have been
admitted and are been treated.

The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare set up a treatment camp at the main
district hospital and also MSF Holland assisted in constructing a separate
treatment centre so that the numbers of re-infections could be reduced.
Initially the admission rate was high, but figures have dropped to a few
cases a day.

'The situation is getting better. Even if Zimbabwe Red Cross has been
providing the hospital with relief material like water makers and latex
gloves, there is a need to improve water and sanitation,' says
relief-coordinator Pauline Ngoshani.

Some villagers do not have pit latrines. Boreholes, water pumps are broken
and they only have poor supply of clean water. The current situation also
affected the overall health conditions in villages and most likely
contributed to the cholera outbreak. 'If people do not have any other choice
they go to unsafe water sources,' concludes Pauline Ngoshani.

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Makoni: No backlash against Mugabe

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

04 March 2008 11:13

       Former Zimbabwe finance minister Simba Makoni has said there
will be no backlash against veteran President Robert Mugabe if he topples
him at this month's general election.

      "President Mugabe is someone who has a very special place in our
history," Makoni said in an interview, ruling out retribution against Mugabe
over his tainted human rights record.

      "He led our country together with [the late] vice-president
Joshua Nkomo into independence in 1980. He led our people with distinction
in the decade and a half of our independence. We will not take those away
from our elders.

      "We will accord them the due respect that our African culture
and African standards demand of us. We want President Mugabe to know that
under our Mavambo/Kusile ("New Dawn" government) they have the same rights
as other citizens.

       "We are not about retribution and victimisation. We are about
togetherness, oneness and I believe this is what the people of Zimbabwe

      Mugabe has been castigated by the West over alleged human rights
violations, including the massacre of thousands of "dissidents" in the early
1980s and the detention and assault of his opponents.

      United States President George Bush has listed Zimbabwe among
what he has termed "outposts of tyranny".

       But Makoni said he will only consider the concerns of

      "We are not going to be looking at concerns from the West," he

      "We are looking only at concerns of Zimbabweans. We are offering
national re-engagement, national healing, national reconciliation."

      Makoni, who was expelled from the ruling party last month after
he announced his plan to take on Mugabe, said he was expecting to get at
least 72% of the vote.

       Zimbabweans go to the polls on March 29 with the population
grappling with runaway inflation that breached the 100 000% mark in January
according to official statistics, while basic goods like cooking oil and
sugar are often in short supply.

      Makoni, who quit as finance minister in 2003 before the economy
went into freefall, said he could not wave a magic wand, but wanted to
"facilitate the people of Zimbabwe to turn around the economy".

      "Our slogan is 'Let's get Zimbabwe working'. I single-handedly
will not be able [to], and will not even think of trying to turn around the
economy around by myself."

      He also pledged to restore Zimbabwe's strained relations with
its former trading partners in the West.

      "We are offering Zimbabwe into the international community," he
said. "We are not in isolation. We belong to the region, African continent
and we belong to the world community."

      Makoni has been castigated by Mugabe as a stooge of the West.

      But the 57-year-old said he was "no one's tool" and claimed the
support of many disillusioned Zanu-PF members.

      He said despite challenging Mugabe he does not fear for his
personal security.

      "I don't believe that any sensible Zimbabwean in his right mind
would want to harm me for offering myself to work for them."

      'You should vote for Mugabe'
      On Monday it was reported that Mugabe's deputy, Joyce Mujuru,
has thrown her weight behind the veteran ruler's bid for a sixth term,
dispelling speculation linking her to Makoni.

       Mujuru was quoted by the state-owned Herald newspaper as saying
at a rally: "Firstly, you should vote for comrade Mugabe, our presidential
candidate, then Zanu-PF councillors, MPs and senators.

      "You should vote for Zanu-PF."

      Since Makoni announced in early February that he was challenging
Mugabe for the presidency, there has been widespread speculation he enjoyed
the tacit support of Mujuru, as well as her influential husband, Solomon
Mujuru, a former head of the armed forces.

      Joyce Mujuru was at one stage seen as Mugabe's chosen successor
before the 84-year-old decided to seek another term in office.

      Before declaring his candidacy, Makoni had been a member of
Zanu-PF's politburo and has since claimed that he has the backing of many
disillusioned party cadres.

      Meanwhile, Mugabe on Friday predicted victory in the polls as he
launched the election manifesto of his ruling Zanu-PF party.

      "We certainly are going to win," he told thousands of supporters
at a rally in the capital, Harare.

      "We of Zanu-PF have gathered here to mark the start, the
official start of our march to another victory, another electoral victory."

      Zimbabwe's last elections, won by Mugabe in 2002, were dismissed
as rigged by Western observers and the opposition.

      Mugabe is also being challenged for the presidency by main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai. -- 

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Zimbabwe sees lower food output, might need imports


Tue 4 Mar 2008, 11:05 GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE, March 4 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's food output this season could fall
short of expectations due to lack of fertiliser and heavy rains, and imports
may be needed to meet domestic needs, a report showed on Tuesday.

Since 2001 the southhern African nation hasgrappled with food shortages,
which critics partly blame on President Robert Mugabe's seizure of
white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks. They in turn lack adequate
seed, fertiliser and fuel.

A crop assessment report by the agriculture ministry and the Food and
Agriculture Organization, obtained by Reuters on Tuesday, said farmers had
only received up to 10 percent of required fertiliser during the current
2007/8 summer farming season.

Producers had also failed to meet the targeted cropping area of 2 million
hectares for the staple maize grain mainly due to shortages of fuel, which
along with electricity, foreign currency and water shortages mark a
devastating economic crisis gripping the country.

"The total expected production from this season may not meet the expected
targets," said the report, compiled after a crop assessment exercise carried
out from Feb 3-11.

"For this reason there is need to look into contigency plans for food
imports," it said, adding that a final assessment would be conducted early
next month.

Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo was unavailable for comment but he has
previously said Zimbabwe would produce 3 million tonnes of maize this year,
more than the country's needs.

Food shortages have helped drive prices higher, pushing inflation past
100,000 percent in January and adding political pressure on Mugabe, who
faces a challenge from a former ally and the main opposition leader at the
polls later this month.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, will
contest for the presidency against former finance minister Simba Makoni, who
was expelled from the ruling party three weeks ago and long time rival
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Zimbabwe, which has lost its status as the regions's bread basket status
over the last seven years, has had to import grain from South Africa, Zambia
and Malawi.

Last December, Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi said the food import bill
was expected to more than double in 2007 to $405 million, straining the
country's scarce foreign exchange resources.

Mugabe denies his policies have plunged a once prosperous country into
crisis and instead blames Western powers for punitive sanctions he says have
crippled the economy. (Editing by Michael Roddy)

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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai Rejects Mugabe Charge He'll Reverse Land Reform


By Blessing Zulu
03 March 2008

Presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement
for Democratic Change has accused President Robert Mugabe of propagandizing
with a claim the MDC will roll back land reform by returning formerly
white-owned farms.

Mugabe said in launching his political manifesto late last week that white
farmers were already trooping back into Zimbabwe in anticipation of an MDC

Tsvangirai said his manifesto calls only for an audit of land ownership to
bar holdings of multiple farms - a number of Mr. Mugabe's ministers own more
than one farm and vast tracts of formerly productive farmland are lying
fallow across the country.

Tsvangirai said the size of the plots allocated will depend on the region -
i.e. that they will be larger in the drought-prone southern regions than in
the temperate north.

Rival candidate Simba Makoni, a former finance member and until recently an
official of the ruling party, has also ruled out giving land back to its
former white owners.

Tsvangirai told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe in an
exclusive interview that his manifesto prioritizes economic recovery
following a "stabilization" phase in which the focus will be on meeting
urgent humanitarian needs.

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Government ponders Zimbabwe ban


Monday, 3 March 2008, 23:35 GMT

      By James Pearce
      BBC sports news correspondent

The British government is considering banning all Zimbabwean sports
people from competing in the United Kingdom.

The BBC's Inside Sport programme has learned that this is one option
being discussed to prevent Zimbabwe's cricket team touring England next

Cricket chiefs have warned that England could lose the rights to host
the 2009 World Twenty20 if Zimbabwe are banned.

But Downing Street sources say Prime Minister Gordon Brown wants to
take a tough stance against Robert Mugabe.

Denying visas to all Zimbabwe sports people would be a highly
controversial decison.

For example, Cara Black could not defend her Wimbledon women's doubles
title, Olympic swimming champion Kirsty Coventry would not be able to enter
the UK and golfer Nick Price would be unable to play in the Open.

There could also be a knock-on effect for England's World Cup bid for
2018 and for Zimbabwe's competitors at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in

There would be no issue with the 2012 Olympics, as the government has
already had to sign the host city contract that guarantees entry into the
country for anybody with International Olympic Committee (IOC)

A more likely compromise would be to stop Zimbabwe's cricketers from
coming to the UK although this would not please the sport's governing body,
the International Cricket Council.

Or the government could stop the tour but allow Zimbabwe to compete at
the Twenty20 World Cup later in 2009.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has refused to ban Zimbawe
despite numerous protests during matches involving the country and a source
told the BC there was no chance of it changing its mind.

Tony Blair's government stopped short of banning England's cricketers
from touring Zimbabwe, although authorities in Australia and New Zealand
have done so with their sides.

Former Zimbawean cricketer Henry Olonga welcomed the renewed attention
given to the issue.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "It's great to see that Gordon Brown is
taking a much stronger stance than his predecessor.

"Zimbabwe's in a desperate position, 100,000 per cent inflation,
there's poverty across the whole country, so it's a deperate, desperate

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is trying to reach a
financial compromise with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) to call off next
summer's two Test matches and three one-day internationals.

But the ECB does not yet seem to be close to any deal.

The government will want to wait until after the elections in Zimbabwe
at the end of March before making a decision.

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Government denies ban on Zimbabwe athletes

The Telegraph

By Simon Briggs
Last Updated: 4:50pm GMT 04/03/2008

The Prime Minister's spokesman has denied reports that Gordon Brown is
considering a blanket ban on all Zimbabwean sportsmen who wish to enter the

Instead, the Daily Telegraph understands that the government will use
passport legislation to block Peter Chingoka, chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket,
from attending the International Cricket Council's annual conference at
Lord's in June.

Visas could also be refused to Zimbabwe's players if Chingoka insists on
pressing ahead with their scheduled tour of England in 2009.

In public, the government is sticking to its standard position, which is to
pass the buck on to the England and Wales Cricket Board.

But at a meeting with the ICC last week, it was made clear that there is no
appetite for Zimbabwe's tour.

The tour presents an awkward conundrum as Zimbabwe are due to return to
England later that same summer to participate in the World Twenty20

Any attempt to eliminate them from what is supposed to be a global
tournament could lead to the whole event being shifted to a neutral
The government may feel that they can be selective about visas, granting
them for the Twenty20 tournament but not for the tour (which would consist
of at least three 50-over internationals).

Such an approach would risk the wrath of the ICC, who are committed to
enforcing the completion of all scheduled tours on pain of hefty fines and a
possible one-year ban for any countries that default.

But the imminent appointment of former ECB chairman David Morgan to the ICC
presidency should at least give England a sympathetic ear within the

In contrast to the government's non-committal response, both the
Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats supported the idea of political

"I think the Prime Minister is right to try to ensure that the cricket tour
doesn't go ahead," said the Conservative leader David Cameron.

Don Foster, shadow secretary for Culture, Media and Sport for the Liberal
Democrats, said he agreed that Chingoka should be denied entry to the

But he also criticised the idea that individual Zimbabwean sportsmen - like,
for instance, the Manchester City striker Benjani Mwaruwari - should suffer
because of Robert Mugabe's dictatorship. Mugabe faces elections later this
month, but has previously been accused of manipulating the system.

His information minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, suggested that any ban would be
racist. "I don't think the British Government will sink so low as to
implement that," he said, and if they do, well, we are appealing to the
world community to express their concern and urge the British to stop that

Meanwhile, the accountancy firm KPMG have been investigating claims that
Zimbabwe Cricket's lavish funding from the ICC has been misappropriated.

Their findings are due to be discussed at the ICC board meeting in Dubai on
March 17-18, and if any of these allegations can be substantiated, the whole
affair will take a new twist.

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Tories 'would back ban on Zimbabwe sportsmen'

The Independent, UK

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The Conservative leader David Cameron today gave his backing to calls for an
official ban on next year's planned tour of England by the Zimbabwe cricket

Mr Cameron was responding to BBC reports - denied by Downing Street - that
Prime Minister Gordon Brown is considering action to exclude all visits by
sportsmen from the southern African country in order to isolate the regime
of President Robert Mugabe.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said No 10 was "surprised" by the BBC report,
and insisted that it was a matter for the English cricket authorities
whether the tour went ahead.

"It is not the case that the Prime Minister is considering a blanket ban on
Zimbabwe's sportsmen," Mr Brown's spokesman said.

"If (the cricket authorities) decided they want to ban Zimbabwe, we would
support them."

Speaking at a press conference before the Downing Street comments were made
public, Mr Cameron made clear that he would be ready to offer his party's
backing if the Government opted for a blanket ban.

"I think the Prime Minister is right to try to ensure that the cricket tour
doesn't go ahead," said the Tory leader.

"If the sort of steps he is speaking about are necessary, then he will have
our backing. The end he is trying to achieve is the right end, so I would be
very happy to hear what the means are he thinks are necessary to achieve
that end."

BBC1's Inside Sport programme last night cited "Downing Street sources" as
saying Mr Brown was keen to take a tough stance on the Mugabe regime's human
rights abuses and was considering a blanket ban.

A compromise option could be only to stop Zimbabwe's cricketers from coming
to the UK, although this would not please the sport's governing body, the
International Cricket Council (ICC).

The programme said cricket chiefs were warning England could lose the right
to host the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup if Zimbabwe was banned.

Currently, the Zimbabweans are due to play two five-day and three one-day
internationals next summer.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) would have to pay an estimated
£225,000 in compensation under ICC rules if the one-day matches were
cancelled. There would be no penalty for scrapping the five-day games as
Zimbabwe was no longer classed as a Test-playing nation.

The ECB has already held talks with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) to try
to reach a financial settlement to call off the tour.

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: "There are
ongoing discussions between the Government and the England and Wales Cricket
Board, but no decisions have been made."

An ECB spokesman said the board would not comment until it had discussed the
matter with Government officials.

Last month, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said a Zimbabwean tour of
England would not send out "the right message".

"The situation in Zimbabwe is obviously deeply concerning. I think that
bilateral cricket tours at the moment don't send the right message about our
concern," he said.

Former Zimbabwe bowler Henry Olonga - who protested against Mugabe at the
2003 Cricket World Cup - said he would welcome any action from Mr Brown.

"It's great to see that Gordon Brown is taking a much stronger stance than
his predecessor (Tony Blair)," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Zimbabwe is in a desperate position - 100,000% inflation and there's
poverty across the whole country, so it's a desperate, desperate situation."

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said: "Any action to highlight the
dire situation in Zimbabwe and isolate the regime is to be welcomed.

"But rather than posturing about sport, what is urgently needed is tougher
sanctions from Europe and the rest of the world, and for Gordon Brown to
deliver on his promises to turn the heat up on Mugabe.

"Zimbabwe's leaders continue to go unpunished, and even Robert Mugabe was
able freely to visit Europe just a few months ago."

Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster said: "It's vital that the
Government sends a clear message to Robert Mugabe that this country will not
tolerate a regime that continues to show such blatant disregard for
democracy and fundamental human rights.

"While ultimately being a decision for sports governing bodies, the
Government mustn't shirk from taking the lead and calling for a ban where

But he added: "We cannot have a situation where ministers grant visas to
people like Peter Chingoka, the chair of Zimbabwe Cricket, whenever it suits
them, but seek to penalise sportsmen and women making an honest living in
this country.

"A blanket ban on all athletes is not the way forward. Each case must be
considered on its merits."

Meanwhile, Manchester City Football Club called on the BBC to apologise to
Benjani Mwaruwari after Inside Sport named the Zimbabwean striker as someone
who could be caught up in any ban.

City spokesman Paul Tyrrell said: "Although we are pleased that the BBC have
today been quickly distancing themselves from the claim regarding Benjani,
it is important to make the position crystal clear regarding his ability to
live and work in the UK.

"The player last month received a three-and-a-half year work permit from the
Home Office to play for Manchester City. We have been assured work permits
are non-negotiable.

"The programme-makers and the BBC should apologise to the player

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Excerpt: 'A Billion Lives'
A Billion Lives

Tents Are for Arabs

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe looks older and frailer than I remembered him from photographs and film footage. He moves slowly and is thinner. He leans on the right arm of his chair for support as he speaks. As someone who campaigned against apartheid during my student years, I am slightly in awe of the hero of the liberation struggle against Ian Smith's white minority regime as he peers at me through thick glasses. I feel like a student undergoing an examination by an eminent professor.

The president is notorious for keeping people waiting and I think we have done quite well to see him by 9:15 a.m. this rainy Tuesday, December 6, 2005, after only fifteen minutes in an anteroom of the presidential palace in Harare. I know this will be one of my most difficult missions and meetings ever. Nearly three years earlier, my predecessor as UN relief coordinator, Kenzo Oshima, a more polite and diplomatic envoy than me, had been kept waiting for hours in the presidential antechambers before being lectured for an hour about UN shortcomings. This time, probably because of the international publicity surrounding my mission, we do not have to wait and it seems I will be allowed to speak uninterrupted. It is a unique opportunity to speak truth to power.

Zimbabwe was called "the jewel" and "the bread basket" of Africa after its liberation from white minority rule in 1980. The economy, the infrastructure, and the educational system were among the best on the continent. Twenty-five years later it is synonymous with economic collapse and political repression. It started at the end of the 1990s. Large and productive farms were nationalized and white farmers were forced to hand over their estates to ill-prepared veterans from the liberation struggle and political activists from Mugabe's party, the Zanu-PF.

The need for land reform in a country where a few white colonizers had claimed the best farming land is indisputable. But reform was brutally enforced in the worst possible manner for the farmers, the agricultural sector, and the population at large. Production plummeted, the black farm laborers lost their jobs, and little food made it to the markets or to foreign exports. A country that had had a large food surplus could not feed itself, and had to rely on foreign emergency aid and remittances from the growing number of Zimbabweans who have to leave the country to make a living.

As both domestic and foreign investors fled the country, a general breakdown in the rule of law fueled the economic crisis. Mugabe's government was however undeterred and continued to fund ambitious public programs that principally benefited the political and tribal groups that supported the government. To cover the enormous state budget deficits the National Bank was instructed to print additional money that created inflation, and later hyperinflation. Today the Zimbabwean economy is arguably more mismanaged than any other in peacetime.

I am primarily going to discuss the massive homeless problem Mugabe has created almost overnight through his "Operation Restore Order," a brutal eviction campaign that began seven months ago. I spent hours yesterday walking among some of the seven hundred thousand destitute and homeless people who are living under makeshift plastic sheeting or in the open after being evicted from shantytowns across Zimbabwe. The evictions were not only particularly brutal and chaotic in the way they spread throughout the country, but profoundly political, turning out many who did not support the government party and leaving urban areas to regime supporters who would like cleaner and leaner cities and less competition for jobs. Those evicted were not only among the poorest and most vulnerable in the country, many were sick with AIDS or tuberculosis.

I saw and spoke to dozens of families who had lost everything when their tiny "illegal" brick houses were bulldozed, or their small vending shacks burned and torn apart by security forces in an operation that began in May.

The presidential office is smaller and nicer than the grotesquely oversized staterooms that so many African presidents preside in. As planned, I start our discussion by describing the shocking scenes I saw in the slums of Hopely Farm, and the Whitecliff and Hatcliff suburbs on the outskirts of Harare. I explain that we need to discover how we can most rapidly and effectively help with food and shelter for the homeless.

President Mugabe carefully enunciates each syllable in his academic En­glish as though addressing someone who does not speak his language. He is immediately on the defensive. While acknowledging his awareness of "a problem," he seems intent on downplaying a situation that has scandalized the world with its callous indifference to human suffering. His most outrageous comment comes as I try to impress upon him the urgent need for emergency shelter for the thousands of families with children who are at great risk with no shelter, no food, and no income. The UN is willing to supply tents immediately as a short-term answer to the problem.

As I press, the tenor of Mugabe's calm, lecturing tone rises. There is a hint of barely repressed anger as he says, "We do not feel comfortable with the term 'shelter.' Shelter has connotations of impermanency and we build for permanency." As I seek to return to the need for immediate action he is clearly angered. "Keep your tents, we do not need them. Tents are for Arabs!" Stunned, I ask him to repeat what he said. "We want to give real houses to our people. Tents are for Arabs," he says again. It is a phrase that in its absurdity will reverberate through my office.

"We may have an accommodation problem," Mugabe continues, "but the 700,000 figure is exaggerated. People can be sheltered by their families." He embarks on a semantics lecture, suggesting the term "shelter" sends the wrong meaning: "The word connotes impermanency. We want permanent housing here. In terms of humanitarian needs it is not even as bad here as in South Africa. The South Africans have sent delegations here to learn from our housing programs.

"When I was a boy herding my godfather's cattle and it rained I looked for 'shelter' where I could find it — under a tree or in a nearby hut. That is shelter. You can provide food if you want to and build permanent houses with us, but not provide 'shelter' in the form of tents."

It is one of those situations when you do not know whether to cry, laugh, or shout. With the UN resident coordinator Agostinho Zacarias and my OCHA colleagues Agnes Asekenye-Oonyu and Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, I am failing to get the head of state to admit the gravity of the situation in his country — that his people are in desperate need of precisely the things we offer. Through the UN agencies, the International Organization for Migration, and excellent local and international NGOs, we can help meet acute emergency needs. But instead of saying "How can we help you help our people," the man wants to lecture me about the shortcomings of official UN terms and concepts!

I try to explain that there is no money for any form of more permanent housing since the donors are reluctant to help even with temporary shelter. They regard Zimbabwe's problems as the direct result of Mugabe's evictions, and his agricultural and economic policies.

"Donors will only pay for temporary shelters. They think it's indefensible that there are no tents allowed. Disaster victims accept tents in Louisiana, Florida, and in Europe. Why not here?" I ask.

"The UN is politicized," Mugabe says. "You want to provide an image of refugee camps here. Our attitude to tents is negative." Nodding from the nearby black leather sofa in Mugabe's small, white-walled office are the permanent secretary of the President's Office and the ministers of foreign affairs and defense. It is difficult to know whether he believes what he is saying because the nodding ministers never seem to tell him what he does not want to hear.

The UN is politicized, Mugabe says, because it is dominated by Britain and its stooges — among whom I, a Norwegian, am soon lumped. Mugabe is particularly angry with the UN because a field visit several months earlier by Anna Tibaijuka, the African head of UN Habitat, our organization for urban issues and housing, had first alerted the world to the full extent of Zimbabwe's housing disaster.

He suggests that Tibaijuka would be better advised to visit Nigeria, which has a far greater "cleanup" program under way than Zimbabwe. "It is clear to us that the UN is being used by Britain for political purposes," he repeats. "That is why we are sensitive to your own presence."

Mugabe's body language and that of his ministers express their profound skepticism about the motives behind the UN's work in Zimbabwe. Mugabe speaks slowly. "We are beginning to lose confidence in the United Nations and even the secretary-general."

Urban renewal campaigns and removal of unauthorized buildings and squatters take place all the time all over the world. I had, however, called Zimbabwe's eviction program "the worst possible thing at the worst possible time" when it was at its brutal height in May, June, and July. I had no interest in castigating the government of Zimbabwe. Apart from protesting against apartheid, I supported our Scandinavian assistance to the liberation struggles against the white minority regimes of both Rhodesia and South Africa. But we have to tell the truth about what is taking place in the country that President Mugabe rules.

I lean forward, seeking eye contact, and try again: "The purpose of my mission on behalf of your fellow African, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, is to discuss how we can more effectively contribute to meet humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe. The challenges here are, as we all know, daunting: There are more than three million who need food assistance. There are one million orphans caused by AIDS. We are willing and able to assist the people if we know whom you will cover and if you will do more to enable the work of the humanitarian organizations. We are less effective here than in most other places due to all the restrictions on our work. We use tents in the emergency phase for the homeless in Europe, America, and Asia. Tents will only be one of the ways we would like to provide shelter to the most needy of the hundreds of thousands who are homeless. I saw thousands yesterday who have nothing. Your government housing programs are small and still not completed. Those who live under plastic sheeting or out in the open want the tents that we can provide."

"Yes," he says, fixing me with a challenging stare. "Kofi Annan is an African, but he and the organization are being used politically, or, more specifically, manipulated by Britain and Blair. Even the innocent Prince Charles is now being manipulated."

Mugabe says his government embarked long ago on a "massive housing program" at a time when people were living in shanties and housing was scarce.

"Everyone in Zimbabwe has somewhere to go, everyone is rooted somewhere in the country, in rural areas. Harare is never a permanent home and those who come from outside behave like people from other countries. We have a situation here but even in terms of humanitarian aid our needs are not as bad as South Africa's. South Africa sent a delegation here to look at our housing program," he repeats.

I tell him that I spoke to an old woman yesterday who was looking after her daughter's children because their mother had died of AIDS. I met the old lady in a hut made of plastic sheeting and branches that she had built with her grandchildren on the same spot where the security police had bulldozed her brick house. Operation Restore Order had failed to send her back to "where she came from." She had nowhere else to go. His campaign had only managed to raze the result of a lifetime's toil.

Mugabe is tired of discussing the eviction campaign and moves on. "The food system is under control. All we need," says the president of a country that was once the breadbasket of Africa, "are the agricultural imports. The situation is not as severe as people make out. We give food to everyone despite the propaganda stirred up by NGOs for political reasons. We can organize food for our people although perhaps not always of the kind that they like the most," he says. "We even provide assistance to others. We also have cattle. We sent beef to Europe..."

When I urge that his government enable the work of the essential NGOs, Mugabe remains unimpressed. "The problem with NGOs is that they cannot accept that Zimbabwe can do it better. They want to bring in their own people, outsiders, and we don't like outsiders. We have invested a lot in education and have the most highly skilled workforce in Africa."

My mission has been planned in detail with Kofi Annan and Ibrahim Gambari, former Nigerian foreign minister and currently UN undersecretary-general for political affairs. If in the course of my visit, progress can be made on providing assistance to the victims of eviction, Annan might later visit Zimbabwe to deal with political issues. At first Harare had rejected my mission, but Gambari spoke to Mugabe at an African Union meeting in October and managed to convince him to agree to see me in Zimbabwe.

Relations between the United Nations and the government are at an all-time low. Anna Tibaijuka's report concluded that the eviction campaign had made more than 110,000 families, or close to 600,000 people, homeless. More than 100,000 others had lost their principal source of income, leading to the widely quoted figure of 700,000 victims of the operation.

Relations between the donor nations and Mugabe are even frostier. The United States, United Kingdom, and other Western nations have had repeated diplomatic rows with the government. In my meeting with the ambassadors of donor countries two days earlier there was resentment against government policies. Some of the longest-serving ambassadors were even expressing a deep personal anger against the government. "We will not give any money, ever, to build housing for the evicted people," one ambassador said. "Why should we pick up the bill for the atrocities committed by the government?"

The donor meeting concluded that we could have money for tents, but not for permanent housing. Again, we humanitarians find ourselves in a political crossfire: Mugabe will not agree to tents, and the donors will only fund tents!

Ignatius Chombo, Mugabe's minister for local government, was even more blunt when I met him yesterday in my hotel: "Anna Tibaijuka is nothing but a tool in the hands of those who want to undermine us. The report is a fabrication of facts. It is the same people who attack us for taking land from the rich." The meeting with Chombo in my hotel had been an open confrontation. He refused to admit any problems when I insisted that the Tibaijuka report was the official UN line based on available facts and that the situation would only deteriorate unless there was a government policy change.

After an hour and a half in ­Mugabe's office, we are running out of time. We are due this afternoon to meet church leaders in the southern city of Bulawayo, where opposition to government policies has been strong and suppression of dissent brutal. I ask the president for a few private minutes, to which he agrees immediately. As his ministers and my UN colleagues leave, Mugabe leans forward for the first time to listen to me. "The situation is very bad and it is my impression that it will get worse unless you move from confrontation to finding common ground and new policies between yourself and international actors, including donors and the U.K. Can we in the UN help facilitate such a dialogue under the leadership of the secretary-general?"

In private Mugabe becomes less a headmaster and more a real interlocutor. "We did not want confrontation, neither with the U.K. nor with other Western powers," he says. "If you in the UN or other international actors can help provide dialogue among equals, we want to make progress." In the next few minutes we agree to set up a task force of the government, UN agencies, and selected donors to look at the reasons for Zimbabwe's disastrous food production. We agree to facilitate access for humanitarian agencies, and to start a pilot program for 2,500 temporary shelter "units" for the evicted. It is not what I had hoped for, but it is a step toward a working climate that can only improve.

I have a final issue to raise: "As you know there has been a lot of interest in my mission. I have avoided speaking to international media while here in Zimbabwe. Tomorrow in Johannesburg I will, however, have to report on what I have seen to a press conference. You may subsequently find the coverage tough, but I hope the improved dialogue to seek policy change can continue?"

"As long as you speak the truth and do not undertake the errands of others it is all right," Mugabe says. We have been talking for thirty minutes. He rises to shake my hand.

My journey to Bulawayo in a tiny single-engine plane is a nightmare as we fly through intense turbulence, falling through deep air pockets in driving rain. I arrive exhausted to a scene of misery as bad as anything I saw in Harare and accompanied by an atmosphere of suffocating political oppression. As I am meeting courageous priests and spokesmen for the homeless and poor in our hotel, my local UN contacts interrupt us with a message: "The authorities say that we must either allow them to sit in on the meeting or they will send the police to break it up."

We quickly agree that I will leave by the back door, and the clergymen will go out through the front door. In this way, I hope to avoid putting them at risk by appearing with me.

The media attention for our mission and the political fallout will soon be even greater than expected. The following day, we travel to South Africa and urge the South African deputy foreign minister to do more to encourage and enforce policy change in Zimbabwe.

Before I fly back to New York, the OCHA regional office sets up an international press conference at Johannesburg Airport. Forty journalists, including from all international news agencies and most large television networks, are in the room as I enter. As always, and as I promised Mugabe, I try to tell the simple truth, what I saw, heard, and smelled: the dramatic realities of Zimbabwe.

There is a freefall in life expectancy from more than 60 years in the early 1990s to between 30 and 40 today. The eviction campaign and the agricultural policies of the government have been "the worst possible things at the worst possible time" and have contributed to changing the country from being the breadbasket of the region, with admirable standards of living, to a place of widespread starvation — unless there is massive international assistance. I try to end my remarks on a note of optimism: "I believe the country has a real chance to turn the corner as there is more awareness nationally, regionally, and internationally, but we have to work together to change the situation."

I am then asked to characterize the social decline. I reply that the halving of life expectancy can only be described as a "meltdown." I repeat this word in a long interview with the BBC, which has set up a temporary studio next door. Harare has banned the BBC from reporting inside Zimbabwe and I know that Mugabe will not like what he hears on its television and radio broadcasts.

The president is indeed unhappy with the next ­day's banner headlines in the international and South African media: "UN envoy: Zimbabwe in meltdown." Two days later, in a stormy address to activists in his Zanu-PF party, Mugabe calls me "a liar and a hypocrite." "He came here to see our achievements, we receive him, and then he goes away telling lies about Zimbabwe to Western media. He did not even speak proper En­glish," he says in a parting shot at my Norwegian accent. Several thousand party activists stand to cheer with raised clenched fists.

The public shouting match notwithstanding, my colleagues in Harare afterward report increased dialogue on policy change in the failed Zimbabwean agricultural sector, and improved access for humanitarian organizations, including to the victims of the eviction campaigns. The World Food Programme continues its very effective and well-funded food distribution and South Africa engages more actively in helping Zimbabwe improve its dialogue with international financial institutions. But hard-liners remain in control of most policies and neither the evictions from unauthorized housing nor the equally disastrous evictions of many farmers from their well-organized farms has stopped. Kofi Annan did not go to Zimbabwe.

"I see you called it a 'meltdown,' " the secretary-general says when I call him to report. "Yes, it was actually a term that a leading Zimbabwean diplomat had used to describe the situation in his country. I thought it was a good word, considering what has happened," I answer.

Since my visit to Zimbabwe, the deep social and economic crisis has continued to worsen, while Robert ­Mugabe's regime has solidified its grip. It is the only peacetime economy that has suffered a dramatic decline of some 30 percent in recent years. Inflation has grown from 100 percent in 2003 to several thousand percent in 2007. Perhaps as many as three million have fled the economic turmoil to seek work in South Africa, Europe, and elsewhere. When I visited a clinic for people with AIDS in Zimbabwe in December 2005, I was told there are more trained Zimbabwean nurses in Manchester, En­gland, than in Harare.

The political opposition has for years been harassed, persecuted, and detained. But the political parties are also weak because of infighting that prevents the formation of any real alternative to the Zanu-PF and Mugabe. This former hero of the struggle against white minority rule has succeeded in maneuvering so that neither the African Union nor the Southern African Development Community (SADC) can or will challenge the terrible governance in Zimbabwe. In mid-2007, when its mismanagement was glaringly evident for all to see, the summit meeting of the SADC in neighboring Zambia concluded that Mugabe was doing his best to solve the problems of Zimbabwe. Since then the Zanu-PF "unanimously" selected the eighty-three-year-old Mugabe to be the only candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in 2008.

Zimbabwe is thus yet another case where those who could press for positive change, its African neighbors, look the other way. Conversely, those who once refused to support the struggle against apartheid, and still have little moral authority in this part of the world, the U.K. and the U.S., are spearheading the attacks against Mugabe. At the 2007 summit between the EU and Africa, U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown was alone in boycotting, while the African leaders felt compelled to "stand by" the symbol of Africa's inability to get rid of its worst rulers.

The international paralysis and the internal rivalries among opposition groups signal continued crisis and collapse in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is greeted with applause in many African countries because of his image of "standing up" to unpopular and rich Western powers and white estate owners. Only a united, effective, and democratic national opposition movement, supported by principled African neighbors in the SADC, and international organizations such as the AU and the UN, can foster real change. Only then can Zimbabwe regain its position as the jewel and breadbasket of Africa.

Copyright © 2008 by Jan Egeland

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Tsvangirai Campaign Gathers Pace

SW Radio Africa (London)

4 March 2008
Posted to the web 4 March 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has stepped up his campaign for the harmonised
presidential and parliamentary elections, due to take place on 29th of this

His spokesman George Sibochiwe told us the former trade unionist has had a
tremendous start to his campaign trail, which has seen him set foot in
Zanu-PF strongholds. On Saturday he addressed an enthusiastic crowd of over
15 000 supporters at Chipadze Stadium in Bindura.

'We know there was a concerted effort led by Elliot Manyika to stop people
from attending the rally in Bindura, but despite death threats thousands
defied the Zanu-PF machinery to come and hear what our leader had to offer
in a new Zimbabwe,' Sibochiwe said.

The MDC leader told the crowd that the 29th March elections were a chance
for every Zimbabwean to vote for change; 'This year's elections are a chance
for everyone to vote for a new beginning and a change that you believe in
and trust in. For the country to come out of its current mess, every
Zimbabwean should go out and vote for a better future of our country and our

At the rally Tsvangirai also introduced the MDC candidates from Mashonaland
Central province who are participating in the elections. A statement from
the MDC said after Chipadze, Tsvangirai addressed another well-attended
rally at Chakonda Business centre in Shamva also in Mashonaland central
province. An estimated 10 000 people attended the rally.

But a rally that was supposed Tsvangirai at Juru Business centre in
Mashonaland East was cancelled after the police sealed of the place and told
people gathered to disperse, as they claimed that the police had not been
notified about the event.

Contrary to these claims, the police in the province had been notified by
the MDC Mashonaland East provincial leadership of the event seven days
before, in line with the amended Public Order and Security Act.

Various parliamentary, council and senatorial candidates in different parts
of the country held other successful rallies with large gatherings.

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Police Arresting MDC Election Candidates And Supporters

SW Radio Africa (London)

4 March 2008
Posted to the web 4 March 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

The MDC formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai have reported that police
continue to arrest their candidates and supporters as they peacefully
campaign around the country.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said the police are coming up with trumped
up charges in order to keep them in detention. He believes they are trying
to curtail their campaign activities by intimidation.

The latest arrest took place in Bulawayo on Monday. According to Chamisa
police arrested Tabitha Khumalo, a party official and parliamentary
candidate, while she was meeting voters door to door. It is not clear why,
but Khumalo was released around midnight.

Meanwhile the MDC candidate for St. Mary's, Marvellous Kumalo, plus 12 MDC
supporters, are in police custody. Chamisa said they were arrested on Sunday
while distributing posters. The police allege that they were carrying
prohibited weapons and are charging them with inciting public violence.
Chamisa said there was no violence at any time and they had no weapons. The
group was remanded in custody till March 18th.

Chamisa said there have been other arrests of candidates and supporters
around the country under similar circumstances. Reports this week have come
from parts of Masvingo province and from the Mbare high-density suburb of
Harare. But the MDC said rural areas are being targeted even more.

Chamisa complained that there is no way the elections can be free or fair.
He explained that the Tsvangirai MDC is only participating because they want
to "utilise every instrument of democracy" at their disposal.

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NCA spokesperson nominated for a big award

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) is humbled by One World
organisation's nomination of NCA National spokesperson Madock Chivasa for an
award of fighting for democracy and good governance.

One World a coalition of more than 1500 organisations across the globe for
fighting to promote social justice and human rights last Friday nominated
Chivasa to win international award tilted: "One World's Person of 2007" for
fighting for democracy, good governance and working to improve governments'
policies towards marginalized people in Zimbabwe.

Announcing the nomination One World (OW), said Chivasa was arrested more
than 20 times by the police agents sympathetic to President Robert Mugabe's
regime since he was a student leader at University of Zimbabwe.

In 2002 he was given a life ban at the University of Zimbabwe where he was
leading more than 15000 students who were demonstrating against
privatisation of education at tertiary institutions.

The human rights watchdog said irregardless of the fact that "he is young;
he is currently amongst the most vocal people and critics of the current
human rights violations and dictatorship in Zimbabwe where a lot of people
are persecuted for speaking against the Zanu-PF government".

Responding to the nomination Chivasa 28 said: "The nomination is a clear
indication that there is human rights crisis in Zimbabwe and it is a clear
indication that there are people out there who appreciate the work activists
are doing in Zimbabwe", he said.

"I will not be disappointed if I am not the final winner of that
international award but the fact I was nominated still carries a massage on
the need to fight for human rights in Zimbabwe", added

Chivasa was nominated among international human rights defenders and Girl
Child Network (GCN) Zimbabwe director Betty Makoni.

Makoni was nominated for her fight against violence towards women, women's
human rights and her advocacy work against the cultural acceptance of abuse
and exploitation of girls and women in the world.

She is a notable activist and advocate for girls who do not have access to
education, and whose rights have traditionally been ignored.

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Have the homeless been disenfranchised?

Residents at Hopley Farm

Residents at Hopley Farm

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights sent out this press release today, concerning the residents of Hopley Farm. Read this link for more about Operation Murambatsvina. Both the images above can be downloaded from our Flickr account in high resolution format.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) expresses its deep concern and anger at the continuing miserable state of affairs at Hopley Farm just outside Harare. The continued desperation of people residing there has become all the more acute in light of the upcoming elections. Hopley Farm is an area to which destitute and generally deprived people were taken in the wake of Operation Murambatsvina which caused alarming levels of economic, social and now political dislocation. The travails of this displaced community are many:

  • The residents of Hopley Farm have experienced serious problems in being able to register to vote. Some were advised that they are aliens and therefore are barred from registering in continuing misinterpretation of Zimbabwe’s citizenship laws. Others were told they needed as proof of residence a letter confirming their residency at Hopley Farm from the local authority on the ground. This local authority is the District Chairman of the local ZANU-PF Committee who gave his letter of authority with an arbitrariness which was generally linked to his position as an office-bearer for the ruling party. It was only after affected residents registered complaints with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) that some were able to register.
  • A transparent and elected Residents’ Committee has been informed that is has been dissolved by ruling party cadres and members are harassed when they attempt to carry out their functions.
  • Food and other aid is allegedly being grabbed for political purposes with confirmation of political allegiance allegedly required if one is to benefit from this aid. Distribution of any aid that does come has been taken over by the ruling party cadres.
  • Donors who sourced food aid have allegedly been banned from the community and there are reports (which ZLHR is currently seeking to verify) that some individuals have died of starvation.

ZLHR notes the failure of Hopley Farm residents to register. This is sad vindication of our warnings during the forced evictions that such disenfranchisement would occur due to the Operation. It begs the simple question - are the homeless disentitled from voting … in which case creating homelessness as happened with Operation Murambatsvina amounts to deliberate disenfranchisement by the party in power.

The requirement for proof of residence from an office-bearer of a contesting party who manipulates the procedure is shameless proof of absence of the rule of law and manipulation of the electoral process which does not augur well for any hopes of a free and fair election. Also notable is the refusal to allow residents to be represented by the persons they elect. Shameful as it is, it is merely a replication of the city level position where the citizenry was to the very end disenfranchised of their right to city-level mayoral representation. In the broader national context of past elections whose results have been contested, this repudiation of democratic values is merely symptomatic of a national democratic deficit.

ZLHR notes the abuse of poverty struck individuals and wishes to state categorically that should the allegations regarding starvation as a result of manipulation of food aid be true, they could amount to serious crimes at both local and international law.

In the circumstances, ZLHR calls upon:

  • ZEC and the office of the Registrar-General to investigate the allegations that some poverty-stricken people were barred from registering to vote by the deprivation of proof of residence or misinterpretation of citizenship laws, and take swift corrective measures;
  • ZEC to take action as required in terms of their mandate to investigate allegations of electoral misconduct, including manipulation of food aid to secure votes or dissuade voters from supporting the party of their choice
  • All person involved in voter intimidation, harassment, vote-buying and other such activities to forthwith cease such conduct
  • All person interfering with the rights of persons to life and food to forthwith cease such conduct
  • The government to take action to protect persons living on the edge at Hopley Farm and ensure that their fundamental right to participation in government is protected and that they are not deprived of basic sustenance
  • Humanitarian organizations and the international community to take action to ensure that persons at Hopley Farm obtain urgent humanitarian assistance.

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Simba Makoni: who is he and what are his chances?

By Bram Posthumus


Science, business, politics; just three areas where Simba Makoni, 57, has built extensive experience. You can add to that international trade and diplomacy. He will need all of that and more to overcome the biggest challenge he has set himself: becoming Zimbabwe's next president. Elections are slated for 29 March.

Newsline's Paul Anstiss interviewed Zimbabwe's newest presidential candidate Simba Makoni. (click here to listen) His colleague Bram Posthumus now takes a look at the man himself.
His life story resembles that of many Zimbabweans of his generation. Born in then Rhodesia, he left the country to study in the UK and earned himself a couple of degrees: a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry and Zoology from Leeds University and a PhD from Leicester Polytechnic in Medical Chemistry.

He then went home to celebrate the end of the last white supremacist government to rule this land, Ian Smith's. Soon after, at age 32, he found himself in Robert Mugabe's cabinet - and in Parliament.

Winds of change
But Mr Makoni did not last very long in the new Zimbabwe. He joined the fledgling Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 1984 and ended his career as its Executive Secretary. This was the time when civil war raged in Angola and Mozambique, when South Africa's apartheid operatives bombed targets in Zimbabwe, Zambia and elsewhere.

Dr Simba Makoni
Dr Simba Makoni

But even though he presided over SADC in very difficult times, Makoni's legacy remains unclear. He was - and is - very much the technocrat; competent, yes, as his admirers never fail to point out. But never quite the visionary, which probably explains how he could weave seamlessly into his next job: head of Zimpapers, the state-run newspaper conglomerate and publisher of the daily government mouthpiece, The Herald. In the meantime, he also ran his own consultancy business.

Clearly, he never had major difficulties with party politics. After all, he served as a member of the ruling ZANU-PF's inner sanctum, the Politburo, until he was sacked when he announced his plans to run for the presidency as an independent candidate. But he did clash, on a number of occasions, on economic policy.

Economic reform
Neither Makoni the businessman nor Makoni the politician have ever been against economic liberalisation. This policy was forced through in the 1990s to revitalise Zimbabwe's stagnant economy. For the more robustly socialist of his fellow party members, that was absolute anathema. Still, most of them changed their minds when they found out how quickly they could get rich on the back of hastily and shoddily executed economic reform. There was, however, one big voice against the way things were going and it was not Mr Makoni's. That voice belonged to Morgan Tsvangirai, then a union leader, now the main presidential candidate for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The only widely reported policy clash came in 2000, when Mr Makoni was hailed as one of the few who could take Zimbabwe out of the economic tailspin, which was only just beginning. He proposed to bring the value of the Zimbabwe dollar in line with market value. In one word: devaluation. "NYET", thundered President Mugabe and Mr Makoni was fired. Since then, the value of the Zimdollar has plummeted to almost nothing.

Set to lose
And now, he runs as an independent candidate. What are his chances? Pundits in the Zimbabwe press say: considerable but if there were a second round (that happens when no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote), he'd probably lose. A minor faction of the MDC has decided to back Makoni. Dumiso Dabengwa is the first ZANU (PF) heavyweight to pull behind the independent. Hardly surprising. Dabengwa hails from the disadvantaged southwest of Zimbabwe. Between 1982 and 1987 he spent five years in jail while Mugabe's troops slaughtered an estimated 30,000 of his fellow Matabeles. Symbolically, Makoni started his election campaign in the capital of this region, Bulawayo.

But there are still more reasons why Mr Makoni is considered unlikely to prevail. One: bar one of two other bigwigs, ZANU-PF is unlikely to be split by the Makoni candidacy. In the past 12 months, party leader Robert Mugabe has neutralised two potential breakaway factions that could have posed a challenged to his leadership. Two: the rural areas, which is where the vote is traditionally decided, are still under ZANU-PF control, through a combination of genuine support, vote buying and intimidation. This is very difficult to break into and since hundreds of thousands of people were dispersed in operation "Murambatsvina"(clean out trash) in 2005, a large part of the urban constituency, hostile to Mr Mugabe, has been physically removed.

Finally and sadly, one must also take cognisance of the fact that the president and his friends have a reputation for dealing with their political opponents with merciless, ruthless efficiency.


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Zimbabwe among worst tourist destinations

Zim Online

by Thenjiwe Mabhena Wednesday 05 March 2008

      HARARE - Zimbabwe is among the worst tourist destinations in the
world, according to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) that was
released on Tuesday.

      The troubled southern African country that is in the grip of a severe
economic crisis came a distant 117 out of the 130 countries that were
surveyed in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report for 2008.

      The report, the second after last year's inaugural report, lumped
Zimbabwe among countries such as Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Lesotho and
Chad, which anchored the rankings at number 130.

      Switzerland was ranked as the most attractive tourist destination
followed by Austria and Germany. Spain, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada
and France were all in the top 10.

      The WEF report measures factors that make it attractive to develop the
travel and tourism sectors looking at the regulatory framework, the business
environment and infrastructure as well as human and natural resources.

      Zimbabwe's tourism sector, that was one of the biggest foreign
currency earners, has been in the doldrums since 2000 when President Robert
Mugabe began a crackdown on critics that drove away potential tourists.

      Harare has since 2004 been splashing millions of dollars to spruce up
Zimbabwe's battered image without much success as tourists continued to shun
the country.

      Zimbabwe's dismal ranking is further confirmation of the country's
bitter economic crisis that has spawned shortages of food, electricity,
essential medicines and just about every basic survival commodity.

      The country is also grappling with the world's highest inflation rate
of over 100 000 percent, massive unemployment and poverty that critics blame
on mismanagement by Mugabe. - ZimOnline

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Edo to Partner Farmers

Vanguard (Lagos)

3 March 2008
Posted to the web 3 March 2008

Adekunle Aliyu

EDO State government has opened talks with white Zimbabwean farmers with a
view to allowing them to farm in the state.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Communal Farming, Mrs. Uwa Osunbor,
said in Benin that with the fresh initiative, the Edo governor was
determined to take agriculture to a new level in the state in line with his
campaign promise on agriculture.

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Freedom fighter - Johannesburg

Monocle - Issue 11, Volume 02
March 2008

Trevor Ncube has been arrested more times than he can remember. The
46-year-old Zimbabwean newspaper editor has been in jail, had his passport
taken and his citizenship revoked. His staff at The Zimbabwe Independent and
The Standard have been tortured. The vendors who sell his papers have been
beaten up, and readers slip them into brown paper bags at the newsagent.
There were times when people found holding a Ncube publication risked being
beaten to death by lynch mobs. "Life has not been short of excitement," he
says with a smile and little understatement.

Sat in a boardroom in an affluent Johannesburg suburb, Ncube can afford to
smile. Not only has he established the two biggest-selling independent
newspapers in Zimbabwe, he also revived the fortunes of a prestigious South
African publication, the Mail & Guardian while taking control of its mother
publisher, M&G Media.

Now Ncube is plotting his next move: building a pan-African media company.
"For Africa to take its rightful place within the international community it
needs a media that is independent and vibrant," he says. "We see ourselves
as important players in building a democratic and accountable continent." No
one is likely to be more important in this than Ncube, a man who has become
successful in one of the continent's least democratic countries. He grew up
in Bulawayo, the son of domestic workers. His interest in news was spurred
by his father, who brought papers home from the wealthy white family he
worked for.

Trevor started a scrapbook, cutting out articles about key international
figures. "I didn't care for Michael Jackson, it was Henry Kissinger and
Gerald Ford." Rather than getting a job when he left school and earning
money for the family, he went to university to study economics. "It was
selfish," he says, "but I had my parents' support."

His first break in media came through an unlikely source. A major economics
conference took place in Harare in the 1980s, and after the event Zimbabwe's
national broadcaster decided to run a series of discussion programmes. "The
question arose: 'Who is going to chair this thing?' I had been very vocal
from the floor, asking questions. Out of the blue they chose me." Ncube was
soon seen as a celebrity and became assistant editor at what was then the
country's only independent newspaper, the Financial Gazette. "I didn't have
any training as a journalist," Ncube admits.

Many have doubted Ncube's journalistic talent. Editors at the Mail &
Guardian, which he bought in 2001, turned him down for a job in 1994. "I do
have the letter somewhere," he jokes.

His business acumen has never been in doubt though; after rising to the
editor's chair at The Financial Gazette he was fired for his critical stance
on Robert Mugabe's government. So Ncube launched The Zimbabwe Independent in

He bought out his partners and within six months it was running a profit;
within a year he set up The Standard, a Sunday newspaper. The group owns a
share in a printing press and the country's largest independent distribution

His biggest challenge has been in Johannesburg. The Mail & Guardian had a
reputation as an ANC paper through the years of struggle against apartheid.
By the time Ncube bought it, seven years after the election of Nelson
Mandela, that reputation had changed. "It was regarded as an enemy by South
Africa's liberators," he says. "It was seen as anti anything that was black.
A line had been crossed."

In the years he has been in charge, those perceptions have changed. A
readership that Ncube characterised as "white and conservative" is now 60
per cent black. Its website is the largest newspaper site on the continent.
The paper's readers include government ministers and the country's decision

Buying the paper was a risk for a man who readily admits he "didn't have a
clue" about the South African market, but it has paid off. While its
circulation is just one-tenth of the established Sunday Times, the Mail &
Guardian has seen its numbers rise. From 36,000 copies a week in 2001, it is
now selling 52,000 - with a target of 70,000 in the next two years.

For all his hopes, Ncube cannot hide his concerns for South Africa. The
paper's success comes at a time when the media there is facing huge
challenges. Journalists have been threatened over stories attacking the
government. Newspapers also criticised Jacob Zuma, the leader of the ANC -
expected as the next president.

Ncube worries that press freedoms may again be limited. "The test often
comes during bad times," he says. "Bad times come when politicians feel
under threat. With 20 million South Africans living below the poverty line
there could be a revolution. But one gets comfort from our constitution and
the vibrant, civil society. It is important for the whole world that South
Africa works."

Ncube now has his sights set on the rest of the continent. He is in
negotiations with investors in Nigeria, East Africa and the south. However,
his motives are not about profit. "Africa has to become a continent where
dictatorship is unacceptable." As someone who stood up to Mugabe and lived,
Ncube is not to be taken lightly.

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