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Zimbabwe currency tumbles to record 25 million Zimbabwe dollars for one American dollar

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: March 5, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwe currency tumbled to a record low of 25
million for a single U.S. dollar Wednesday, currency dealers said.

With Zimbabwe dollars mostly available in bundles of 100,000 and 200,000
notes, one US$100 note bought nearly 20 kilograms (40 pounds) of local notes
at the new market rate Wednesday.

Currency dealers said uncertainties ahead of elections scheduled March 29
and the world's highest inflation of 100,500 percent led holders of hard
currency to hang on to their money at the same time as the state central
bank pumped more local cash into the market for election costs.

The price of the U.S. currency was also pushed up by central bank buying on
the unofficial market to pay for power, gasoline and vehicle imports ahead
of the polling, said one black market dealer who could not be identified out
of fear of reprisals.

In the economic meltdown, the black market exchange rate for the U.S. dollar
broke the 1 million Zimbabwe dollar mark for the first time in late October.

The value of the Zimbabwe dollar weakened steadily against hard currencies
throughout last year but its fall quickened dramatically in recent weeks,
the dealer said.
With industry and production collapsing, Zimbabweans have become heavily
dependent on imports of the corn meal staple and basic goods. Until last
year, the former regional breadbasket was self sufficient in canned and
processed foods, household goods, soap, toothpaste, toiletries and other
items now imported from neighbors Malawi, South Africa and Zambia and from
as far afield as Egypt, Germany, Iran and Malaysia.

According to latest official poverty line data, an average family of five
needs a monthly income US$35 (€24) to survive while remaining living in

But most general hands and other lower paid workers earn less than the
equivalent of US$10 (€6.75) a month in an economy also suffering record
formal sector unemployment of 80 percent.


Times Online
An unidentified man carries some cash for groceries in Harare, Zimbabwe

(Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP)

Just popping out to the shop: a Zimbabwean man carries cash for groceries in Harare

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Mugabe: Businesses Up Prices To Undermine Him


MAHUSEKWA, Zimbabwe (AFP)--Zimbabwe's veteran President Robert Mugabe
accused businesses Wednesday of hiking prices to turn voters against him
ahead of presidential elections later this month.

"They keep raising and raising prices, and we wonder whether they want to
raise the prices until the prices reach heaven," Mugabe told thousands of
villagers at a campaign rally in Mahusekwa, about 70 kilometers south-east
of the capital Harare.

"Some are doing it for the elections saying: 'Let's make life hard for the
people so that they cry and blame it all on Mugabe's government.

"Getting 1,000% profit. That's not profit. That's profiteering which is
condemned in the bible."

Mugabe admitted Zimbabweans were facing numerous problems, like food
shortages, saying his government had formed emergency committees to expedite
food distribution.

Zimbabweans go to the polls on March 29 to elect a president, legislators,
senators and local councilors.

Mugabe is hoping to secure a sixth term of office as leader of the former
U.K. colony he has ruled since independence in 1980.

The elections are to take place against a backdrop of economic meltdown in
Zimbabwe, which has an official inflation rate of more than 100,000% - the
highest in the world.

The government has tried several measures to rein in runaway inflation,
including ordering business to halve prices after accusing them of colluding
with Mugabe's foes to trigger anti-government protests.

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

Mugabe is being challenged for the presidency by his former finance minister
Simba Makoni, since expelled from the ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires

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Makoni presidency a ploy by Britain - Mugabe


     March 05 2008 at 04:52PM

Harare - Former finance minister Simba Makoni's decision to enter the
presidential race is a ploy by former colonial power Britain to divide
Zimbabweans, a state-controlled newspaper on Wednesday reported longtime
president Robert Mugabe as saying.

Mugabe told ruling Zanu-PF supporters at a rally in Chipinge, eastern
Manicaland province, that voters have to "bury British regime-change
schemes," the Herald newspaper reported.

Mugabe, 84, has been intensely annoyed by Makoni's decision to
challenge him in the March 29 polls. State media in Zimbabwe this week
accused British firm Citigroup of backing Makoni's presidential bid, a claim
dismissed as "absolute rubbish" by a company spokesperson.

Makoni maintains he is aiming for leadership change and not regime
change in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe government regularly accuses its
opponents -including the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai is also standing in the polls - of
working in cahoots with Britain to overthrow Mugabe.

At a rally in Bazely Bridge, also in Manicaland, Mugabe said that "the
British had identified people within Zanu-PF to work with in causing
divisions in the party because it realised the ruling party was a united
revolutionary liberation movement that had to be destroyed from within," the
Herald said.

Mugabe handed out more than 200 computers to schools in Manicaland and
promised farm equipment and food because "food shortages are looming," the
report said.

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Makoni abandons meeting after bomb scare

New Zimbabwe

By Torby Chimhashu
Last updated: 03/05/2008 09:27:49
PRESIDENTIAL candidate Simba Makoni has been rattled by a bomb scare which
rocked a building where he was addressing his campaign team, renewing
earlier fears that the intelligence services have made him their number one
priority just a few weeks before Zimbabweans vote in crucial polls.

The former Finance Minister who is challenging President Robert Mugabe in
elections on March 29 was made to abort his meeting with his top officials
on Monday when an alarm was triggered off at Old Mutual Centre in the

Old Mutual Centre is owned by life assurance company, Old Mutual Zimbabwe.

The building houses many tenants including the Standard Chartered Bank among
other high profile entities.

People who were queuing to pay for British and American visas were made to
scurry in all directions when an alarm went off in the building, forcing the
housekeeper to call for immediate evacuation of all people occupying the
building at the time.

Among the people who were forced to go nine floors below were Makoni and his
election team who were in the middle of a "crucial" meeting, according to
one of his officials.

Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi, one of the co-ordinating members of Makoni's
election drive told New Tuesday that they were forced to abort
the meeting "after a bomb scare".

Said Mbudzi: "In the history of the building, we were told that it had never
happened that alarms -- both fire and explosives -- could go off
simultaneously. We were forced to abandon our meeting as everyone occupying
the building was evacuated.

"It is hard to ignore what has happened to us in the past few weeks and we
have no doubts that this is the work of our enemies."

Makoni believes the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) is on a dirty
campaign against him to frustrate his bid to upstage Mugabe on March 29.

Last week, Makoni's team claimed that they were frustrated in their bid to
secure properties for their election headquarters, and also refused
registration numbers for their election vehicles.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has been fingered as a willing partner in the
CIO project after sending "guards" to protect new premises which
incidentally had been identified for occupation by Makoni.

A defiant Mbudzi said: "We won't be cared or cowed into submission by these
terror tactics. Our candidate realises the battle we face to rescue
Zimbabwe. He is up for that battle."

Makoni has courted the ire of Mugabe and his henchmen since he broke away
from Zanu PF to declare he is vying for the top job on February 5.
Mugabe has come out fighting, smearing the suave former executive secretary
of SADC as a "political prostitute, witch, charlatan and British stooge".

Makoni has pledged to revive the country's economy which is crumbling under
the burden of the world's highest inflation at 100 000%.

Mugabe faces Makoni and leader of a faction of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, in elections which are likely to
define the future of the troubled southern African nation.

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Mugabe accuses Zambia of slowing down food delivery

Zim Online

by Sebastian Nyamhangambiri Thursday 06 March 2008

MAHUSEKWA - President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday said his government had
paid for more than 400 tonnes of maize from Zambia and Malawi but blamed
Lusaka's "lack of urgency" for slowing down efforts to fight off hunger.

Addressing a campaign rally of about 6 000 supporters at Mahusekwa rural
business centre, about 90km south-east of Harare, Mugabe said his government
would dispatch a team of officials to Zambia to assist authorities there to
speed up delivery of maize.

"We are trying (to provide food) but our maize is still across the Zambezi
(river between Zambia and Zimbabwe)," Mugabe said.

"It seems they have no sense of urgency. They are working as if everything
is normal. We have talked to the Zambian government and they have agreed to
be assisted so we are sending our team there. We have set up an emergency
team because of the high level of hunger," he said.

Mugabe - who urged the villagers not to vote for former finance minister
Simba Makoni because he was a "man of no principles" - said the government
paid for 150 000 tonnes of maize from Zambia, 300 000 tonnes from Malawi and
a "few thousand" tonnes from South Africa.

Zimbabwe, also in the grip of its worst ever economic crisis, has battled
severe food shortages for the past eight years after Mugabe's controversial
land reforms displaced established white commercial farmers and replaced
them with either incompetent or inadequately funded black peasant farmers.

A joint crop assessment report by the agriculture ministry and the Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released this week says Zimbabwe could face
another grain shortfall this year because if a shortage of seed and
fertilizers that affected the cropping season.

International relief agencies say up to four million Zimbabweans or a
quarter of the country's 12 million people require food aid between now and
the next harvest in about a month's time.

Mugabe said his government sympathised with the people's worsening plight
telling the rural voters who have been loyal to his party not to be swayed
by Makoni, who rebelled to challenge the veteran leader in the March 29
presidential poll.

"If you vote for him (Makoni) you are lost, this is the truth. You do not
have to join a man of no principles," said Mugabe, who mocked his challenger
as a dreamer who thinks he could just wake up as the new president of the

Mugabe, who could clock more than three decades in office if he is
re-elected for another five-year term, denied responsibility for Zimbabwe's
economic crisis and instead blamed a profiteering business community of
unjustifiably hiking prices to worsen the misery of consumers.

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 has promised a landslide victory against
Makoni and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. - ZimOnline

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MDC says supporters flee homes after threats

Zim Online

by Nqobizitha Khumalo Thursday 06 March 2008

      BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's opposition on Wednesday said ruling ZANU PF
activists were terrorising its supporters in two rural districts in the
south of the country where it said scores of supporters had fled their homes
fearing for their lives.

      The faction of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party led by Arthur Mutambara said ZANU PF militants were especially
targeting MDC supporters in Bubi and Umguza districts who signed nomination
papers for electoral candidates for the opposition party.

      The opposition party's deputy spokesman Abednico Bhebhe said the party
had reported the harassment to the police and to the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC).

      "Our party supporters who signed the (nomination) forms are now living
in fear while some have fled their homes as a result of the threats. We have
lodged a report with ZEC and the police in the province," Bhebhe told

      ZEC deputy elections director Utoile Silaigwana said the matter was
yet to be brought to his attention but added it may still be under
investigation by the commission's provincial office.

      "If the issue was reported with our office in Matabeleland North then
it could still be under investigation but the nature of the case
automatically makes it a police case," he said.

      Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka was not immediately available for
comment on the matter.

      Zimbabweans go to the polls on 29 March to elect a new president,
parliamentarians and local government representatives.

      Politically motivated violence and human rights abuses have
accompanied Zimbabwe's elections since the 1999 emergence of the MDC as the
first potent threat to President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF's stranglehold on

      Hordes of veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war have led a
violent campaign against the MDC, sealing off rural areas that have
traditionally backed the ruling ZANU PF party.

      Analysts say an unfair playing field coupled with political violence
and intimidation of opponents guarantees Mugabe's government victory in the
upcoming polls despite clear evidence it has failed to break a vicious
inflation cycle that has left consumers impoverished and the economy in deep
crisis. - ZimOnline

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70 Zim farmers prepare joint appeal to SADC Tribunal

Zim Online

by Simplicious Chirinda Thursday 06 March 2008

HARARE - A group of 70 Zimbabwe white farmers say they will later this month
file a joint application at the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) Tribunal challenging the seizure of their farms by the government.

John Worswick, the president of the Justice for Agriculture (JAG) pressure
group, said yesterday that they will before the end of the month file a
joint challenge against President Robert Mugabe's controversial land

"At least 70 farmers have so far agreed to file the joint application and we
are looking at having as many farmers as we can before submitting the
application at the Tribunal.

"We are looking at filing the case before the end of March," said Worswick.

The Windhoek-based Tribunal last December ruled that Harare should stop
evicting a Zimbabwean white farmer, William Michael Campbell, from his farm
in Chegutu pending final determination of the legality of the land reforms.

Worswick said he expected more farmers to sign up for the 'group act'
following last week's withdrawal of charges against a group of farmers in
Chegutu who were being accused of resisting eviction from their properties.

Chegutu magistrate, Tinashe Ndokera, dropped charges against 13 white
farmers who had been hauled to court for failing to comply with a government
directive to vacate their properties by 30 September 2007.

"Buoyed by this outcome, we expect more farmers to sign up as a way
 forward," said Worswick.

The Tribunal last month said it had set 26 March as the date on which it
would hear Campbell's challenge against the legality of Harare's land

Campbell first appealed against seizure of his property to Zimbabwe's
Supreme Court last March but took his case to the Tribunal after what his
lawyers said was "unreasonable delay" by the country's highest court in
dealing with the matter.

Campbell wants the SADC court to find Harare in breach of its obligations as
a member of the regional bloc after it signed into law Constitution of
Zimbabwe Amendment No.17 two years ago.

The amendment allows the government to seize white farmland -- without
compensation - for redistribution to landless blacks and bars courts from
hearing appeals from dispossessed white farmers.

The white farmer has also asked the Tribunal to declare Zimbabwe's land
reforms racist and illegal under the SADC Treaty adding that Article 6 of
the Treaty bars member states from discriminating against any person on the
grounds of gender, religion, race, ethnic origin and culture.

A ruling declaring land reform illegal would have far reaching consequences
for Mugabe's government, opening the floodgates to hundreds of claims of
damages by dispossessed white farmers. - ZimOnline

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ZANU PF avails cars to war veterans for campaign

Zim Online

by Patricia Mpofu Thursday 06 March 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe war veterans' leader Jabulani Sibanda said the former
fighters would today discuss strategy to galvanise support for President
Robert Mugabe after spending yesterday deliberating on logistics such as
provision of fuel and vehicles for the campaign programme.

"We want to ensure that our president and the ruling ZANU PF party win
peacefully and comfortably," Sibanda told ZimOnline after a meeting of the
ex-combatants that lasted several hours at the ruling party headquarters in

Sibanda disclosed that the former fighters of Zimbabwe's 1970's war of
independence had received vehicles from ZANU PF to use during the campaign
but did not say how many vehicles they got.

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 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

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.

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

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Mugabe promises to address striking teachers' plight

MAHUSEKWA, Zimbabwe, March 5 (AFP)

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday urged striking teachers in
public schools to return to work promising to address their demand for
better salaries.

"Teachers, we understand your concerns and we are addressing them," Mugabe,
84, said at a campaign rally in Mahusekwa, about 70 kilometres (45 miles)
southeast of the capital Harare, ahead of general elections on March 29.

"But we are against this idea of you going on strike. Children must attend
school without disruption. We cannot guess what is bothering you, but you
can make your recommendations to us.

"Yours is the noblest profession. There is no engineer, doctor or nurse who
just became what they are without passing through the hands of a teacher.
You boycott your work like ordinary factory workers."

Teachers in Zimbabwe's state-run schools launched a strike on Friday to
press for better salaries saying recent increases were overtaken by

The government, which gave teachers a pay rise in January, has ignored fresh
salary demands.

Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn over the past eight years with
inflation now officially at more than 100,000 percent.

At least 80 percent of the population is living below the poverty threshold,
often skipping meals and doing without such commodities as milk and butter
in order to stretch their income.

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Who's to blame for Mugabe's grip on power?


     March 05 2008 at 11:49AM

By Basildon Peta

A German company has been accused of propping up President Robert
Mugabe's extensive patronage network by helping his government in printing
the trillions of Zimbabwean dollars needed to pay soldiers and buy votes
before crunch general elections in March.

With official inflation having spiralled to more than 100 000 percent
and the highest denominated Z$10-million (about R 2 663,90 ) note now worth
only R5, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had long run out of the printing
capacity to match the demand for bank notes.

The London Sunday Times said it had obtained documentary proof which
showed that heavily guarded plane loads of banknote sheets were being flown
into Harare almost every day to keep up with the demand for cash.

The documents showed that a Munich-based company, Giesecke & Devrient
(G&D), was receiving more than $500 000 a week for delivering the sheets to
Harare at the astonishing rate of Z$170-trillion a time.

The newspaper said G&D delivered 432 000 sheets of banknotes every
week to Fidelity printers in Harare, where they are stamped with the
Z$10-million denomination. Each sheet contains 40 notes and the current
production is entirely in Z$10-million notes.

Last week Mugabe awarded huge pay rises to soldiers and selected civil
servants in an apparent bid to buy their loyalty before the presidential and
parliamentary elections next month. Other civil servants, like teachers who
belong to the pro-government Zimbabwe Teachers Union (Zimta), were also
awarded hefty raises in unbudgeted increases.

Soldiers were awarded increases of between Z$1,2-billion for privates
and Z$3-billion for officers, while teachers received Z$500m on average.
Teachers belonging to the Zimbabwe Progressive Teachers' Union (ZPTU), which
criticises Mugabe, were excluded.

In Zimbabwe, it is common cause that Mugabe has been printing money to
keep his government going. But it has not been known how the RBZ has been
able to keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for money, which had by
far outstripped its capacity to print notes.

A senior RBZ official, whom the IFS asked to comment on the Sunday
Times story, said; "We have certainly been getting outside help with
printing money but I cannot say from whom."

G&D's involvement with the Zimbabwe government is likely to embarrass
the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, which has been very vocal
against Mugabe's human rights abuses.

Merkel took the lead in launching a broadside against Mugabe at the
EU-Africa summit in Lisbon in December 2007.

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SA urged to 'pull the plug' on Mugabe


      Hans Pienaar
    March 05 2008 at 11:56AM

South Africa should threaten to switch off Zimbabwe's electricity if
President Robert Mugabe's government continues to intimidate the electorate
or contrives to sabotage presidential challenger Simba Makoni's campaign, a
British professor says.

Professor Gwyn Prins of the London School of Economics was one of the
speakers at an Africa Dialogue meeting on the Kenyan crisis at the
University of Pretoria.

The ongoing series is run by the Centre for International Political

The doors of history were creaking on their hinges, Prins said of the
"compound tragedy" that hit Africa when ethnic conflict broke out in Kenya
after the December 27 elections.

Along with the continent's failure to save the people of Darfur, and
the poison spread by the failure to deal with Mugabe, Kenya's collapse put
South Africa on the spot.

It was now the remaining military pivot on a continent with the worst
peacebuilding capabalities.

Its external security has been destroyed, which will compel it to play
a much more proactive role to protect itself against forces meaning to do it

"If you want peace, you have to prepare for war," Prins said on
Tuesday night.

This would have to replace the dictum from the times of the Mandela
presidency, "if you want peace, prepare for peace".

This meant that South Africa would have to change its military
strategic policies, to enable it to develop expeditionary capabilities
allowing it to act on its own to stop conflicts destabilising the region.

However, the South African army was "in a sad state" and this would
not easily happen.

Prins was particularly scathing about the SADC's "puzzling failure" to
rein in Mugabe.

Prins said South Africa at the very least should proclaim that its
infamous "quiet diplomacy" was a failure.

Zimbabwe in effect did not have a president, as he did not govern the

"Mugabe is an outlaw awaiting trial alongside Charles Taylor in The
Hague," he said.

"I hope Mugabe will answer for his crimes before he dies," he said.

He warned that endemic conflict south of the Sahara was now
threatening South Africa.

Zimbabwe could act as a toxin that would further poison the country,
or it could become a vaccine, warning South Africa's leaders off from
following the same path.

There were five million Zimbabwe refugees in the country playing a
destabilising role, Prins said.

This article was originally published on page 11 of Cape Argus on
March 05, 2008

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Zimbabwe Opposition Alleges State Security Offensive Ahead Of Elections


By Blessing Zulu
04 March 2008

The branch of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change headed by
presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai says police and state security
agents have escalated violence and intimidation against their candidates and
supporters in the approach to national elections set for the end of this

The Tsvangirai formation on Tuesday appealed to Zimbabwe's high court for
relief and filed a complaint with the Zimbabwe Election Commission's
multi-party liaison committee alleging official harassment of its candidates
and supporters.

In a related development Tuesday, a magistrate in Chitungwiza, near Harare,
refused to grant bail to the Tsvangirai MDC grouping's candidate for Saint
Mary's, Marvellous Khumalo. He was arrested last week for alleged political
violence while campaigning door to door and is to appear in court March 18,
11 days before the elections.

The Tsvangirai opposition formation said it has been receiving reports from
all of the country's 10 provinces of mounting violence, intimidation and

Tsvangirai formation spokesman Nelson Chamisa told reporter Blessing Zulu of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the party believes that the continued
detention of Khumalo is intended to sabotage the candidate's political

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Mugabe Stumps in Eastern Province As Fissures Widen In His Party


By Blessing Zulu
04 March 2008

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, seeking re-election and continued
control of parliament for his increasingly troubled ZANU-PF party in
national elections March 29, launched into a round of rallies in eastern
Manicaland Province on Tuesday.

Mr. Mugabe presided over"star rallies" in the towns of Chipinge and Marange
in which he assembled supporters from the province to introduce ruling party
candidates from across Manicaland, a ZANU-PF stronghold on the border with

Challenger Simba Makoni, meanwhile, was on a meet-the-people tour in Kadoma
in Midlands Province, while opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai was
taking a day off from campaigning, sources in his Movement for Democratic
Change formation said.

As Mr. Mugabe went on the road, tensions in his ruling party were

ZANU-PF insiders said hardliners Didymus Mutasa, minister of state security,
and Elliot Manyika, the party's political commissar, were pressing Mr.
Mugabe to expel top officials including retired general Vitalis Zvinavashe,
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, party stalwart Dzikamai Mavhaire and
Matebeleland North Governor Angeline Masuku for allegedly lining up in
secret behind Makoni.

Makoni's campaign Web site says Zvinavashe and Mavhaire have endorsed him,
while avowed Makoni backer Dumiso Dabengwa says Masuku and Chinamasa were
among ZANU-PF rebels who met in South Africa late last year to plot the
political downfall of President Mugabe with an electoral challenge by

Masuku has admitted being in South Africa, but said she went there with
Dabengwa on business and did not meet Makoni at that time. Mavhaire refused
to comment to VOA. and Zvinavashe and Chinama's phones went unanswered.

Local media say Makoni is working with retired army general Solomon Mujuru,
spouse of Vice President Joyce Mujuru, but he has refused to comment on his

Vice President Mujuru was quoted this week in the state-controlled Herald
newspaper endorsing Mr. Mugabe's re-election, though for quite some time
signals emanating from the government suggested she and Mr. Mugabe were at
daggers drawn.

Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mugabe's grip on power looks increasingly

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Mugabe vows quicker food imports in poll battle


Wed 5 Mar 2008, 20:11 GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

MAHUSEKWA, Zimbabwe, March 5 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe is seeking to rush in
maize imports from southern African states, President Robert Mugabe told an
election rally on Wednesday, saying the country faced an emergency.

Concerns over widespread food shortages deepened after a government report
on Tuesday showed Zimbabwe would fail to meet its targeted harvest this
year, further highlighting the plight of an economy gripped by

"Maize is there (in Zambia) ... but we are having problems moving it,"
Mugabe told about 8,000 party supporters during a campaign rally in
Mahusekwa, a rural settlement 70 km (43 miles) south of the capital Harare.

"We sought permission from the Zambian government to send our people to load
the maize into trucks because we have already paid for it," said Mugabe.

"We have 150,000 tonnes in Zambia and more than 300,000 tonnes in Malawi and
a few thousands from South Africa. We have an emergency because we have
areas that face shortages."

Mugabe also promised to tackle escalating prices of basic goods, review the
salaries of teachers who frequently strike over low pay, and give more
equipment to farmers resettled under a controversial land reform programme.

Economists say the government's seizure of white-owned farms to resettle
landless blacks has deepened the economic crisis.

The March 29 election presents Mugabe with one of the biggest challenges to
his rule since taking office in 1980.

Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni was expelled from the ruling ZANU-PF
last month after deciding to run against Mugabe as an independent. He has
been backed by senior party politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa, a major blow
to Mugabe.

The defections may have bruised Mugabe, a former liberation hero Western
foes accuse of human rights abuses and ruining the country's economy,
allegations he denies.

But the wily 84-year-old leader could still capitalise on the opposition's
failure to unite, analysts say.

Makoni has suggested he has the backing of many senior ZANU-PF officials but
there is no sign of this. Most party officials have lined up to publicly
back Mugabe.

"You do not just fall from nowhere and declare yourself a presidential
candidate. That is what Makoni did. The power of leadership comes from the
people," Mugabe told his rally.

His other main challenger is long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of
the biggest faction of the divided main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC).

All three election candidates have promised to tackle the economic crisis
but they have produced few concrete proposals to ease hardships worsening by
the day.

While the campaign hots up, ordinary Zimbweans are more concerned with
chronic food and fuel shortages and the world's highest inflation rate of
over 100,000 percent. (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say
on the top issues, visit:

(Editing by Michael Georgy and Jon Boyle)

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MDC Candidate And 9 Others Denied Bail Over Alleged Violence

SW Radio Africa (London)

5 March 2008
Posted to the web 5 March 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

Marvelous Kumalo, the Tsvangirai MDC candidate for St Marys, plus 9 other
MDC members are still in police custody after they were denied bail by a
Harare magistrate on Tuesday.

The group was arrested on Friday in Chitungwiza after an incident at the
home of the ZANU-PF Acting Mayor of Chitungwiza Darlington Nota. There are
two conflicting versions of what transpired at the time. What is known for
sure is that Kumalo and 9 others are in police custody and one MDC member is
fighting for his life with serious cuts to the skull.

Police allege that Kumalo and the others were in possession of illegal
weapons when they walked around the St Marys' area. It is also alleged that
they threw stones at the home of the acting Mayor. What is puzzling is that
no-one was injured and no property was damaged.

Kumalo's lawyer, Alex Muchadehama, said the MDC members deny all the
charges. They claim it the security guards at Nota's home fired 6 to 10
shots in the air when they saw the MDC people passing by. Muchadehama said
there was an altercation and one of the guards hit an MDC member on the head
with an axe. The victim is at the Avenues Clinic with serious head injuries.
At that point Kumalo and his supporters retreated, but Nota had called the
police, who arrested them. None of the staff at Nota's home were arrested.

Muchadehama said the MDC members appeared in court on Tuesday and were
denied bail by a magistrate who said that they might cause more violence if
allowed to go free. The lawyer immediately filed an appeal in the High
Court. He complained that his clients are in police custody yet there is no
evidence of any stone throwing such as injured victims, broken windows or
damaged property.

On Tuesday MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa reported that police continue to
arrest their candidates and supporters while they are campaigning peacefully
around the country. He said the ruling party wants to curtail their campaign
activities through intimidation.

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Election Observers From Southern African Grouping Due Soon In Harare


By Studio 7 STaff & Correspondents
Washington and Bulawayo
04 March 2008

Election observers from the Southern African Development Community are
scheduled to arrive in Harare on Sunday, a senior SADC official said on

A pre-election assessment team has been in Harare working with the
government and the Zimbabwe Electoral commission for two weeks, SADC and
other sources said.

Tanki Mothae, director of SADC's organ on politics, defense and security,
said the regional group's observer mission will arrive in Harare on Sunday.

Mothae, who will lead a separate delegation from the organization's
secretariat, said SADC expects to field over 100 observers from various
member states. Mothae holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Lesotho
Defense Forces.

Critics including civil society organizations have complained that SADC
should already have deployed observers to assess pre-election conditions,
including the registration of voters and public inspection of voter rolls,
as well as the general environment.

Mothae told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
SADC is clearly operating within its guidelines which say that an election
observer mission should be in place in a country at least two weeks before
election day.

Commenting on the deployment, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition National
Coordinator Xholani Zitha told Ntungamili Nkomo that the SADC pre-election
assessment team should meet with all stakeholders so as to prepare a
comprehensive report.

Elsewhere, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has declined to say how soon
after the election the results will announced, generating further skepticism
as to whether it can properly run a demanding set of elections March 29.
Presidential, house, senate and local council elections will be held the
same day with separate ballots.

A commission official who declined to be named said ZEC will not commit
itself to a date. News website ZimOnline quoted the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network as saying results could take up to week to come out as ZEC
is not ready logistically.

But National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku told reporter
Patience Rusere that results are likely to be announced within two days
because Zimbabwe has ample capacity to process all of the ballots quickly.

Meanwhile, some voters in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North, say they don't
know who to vote for on March 29, blaming insufficient campaigning by
candidates as well as the opposition split and Simba Makoni's late entry
into the presidential race.

Correspondent Netsai Mlilo reported from Tsholotsho.

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Zimbabwe must swallow bitter pill - analysts

Business Report

March 5, 2008

By Godfrey Marawanyika

Harare - 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, some analysts

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

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

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

Mugabe will seek a sixth term in office in polls this month at a time when
the official inflation rate exceeds a mind-boggling 100 000 percent.

Unemployment stands at 80 percent, basic foodstuffs are scarce and general
infrastructure is crumbling. Life expectancy has plummeted to 37 years for
men and 34 for women.

Mugabe is often blamed for his land reform policies - handing over
white-owned farms to landless blacks, all but killing commercial agriculture
and scaring off foreign investors.

Mugabe goes up against his former finance minister, Simba Makoni, and Morgan
Tsvangirai, the head of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change

Analysts said any government elected on March 29 would have its work cut

"There is need for an immediate post-election programme that will have to
remove price controls [and] subsidies, and interest rates have to be moved
upwards," said Harare-based economist Witness Chinyama. "There is also need
to come up with policies that will attract foreign direct investment."

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

It would provide loans to help failed firms recover, halve the number of
cabinet ministers to save money, and woo back expatriate professionals.

"The MDC recognises that any stabilisation and recovery programme will
inevitably involve both sacrifice and hardships," said party spokesperson
Nelson Chamisa.

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

Tsvangirai has said $10 billion (R80 billion) would be needed to revive the

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

He also undertook to plug leakages of precious minerals.

"The mining sector has remained . closed to us," he said. "Unless we are
there as owners or shareholders, we will continue to be cheated."

Last month central bank governor Gideon Gono said he was drafting a new
economic blueprint for "price stability, inflation control and investment

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World church body to monitor Zimbabwe elections, U.N. head told

Episcopal Life

By Peter Kenny, March 05, 2008
[Ecumenical News International, Geneva] The general secretary of the World
Council of Churches, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, has told his U.N. counterpart,
Ban Ki-moon, that the ecumenical body and its member churches in Africa are
planning for the monitoring of elections scheduled in Zimbabwe on March 29.

In a statement released after Ban met Kobia on March 3 at the invitation of
the WCC leader, the world church body said that in private talks, the U.N.
general secretary had said the WCC had played an important role in the
democratization of his home country, Korea.

The WCC also said it had reached an agreement with Ban for the United
Nations and the WCC to work more closely on several global issues,
particularly climate change.

"We would like to maintain a close partnership with the WCC," Ban was quoted
as saying in the WCC statement. "You have high moral power and what you are
doing is based on your Christian beliefs."

Their discussions touched on democratic electoral processes with references
by Kobia to Kenya and to the upheaval in Armenia after recent disrupted
elections. "I want to thank you for helping in Kenya as you did," said
Kobia, who is also a pastor of the Methodist Church in Kenya.

Ban spoke of plans to place a focus on issues of intolerance which have led
to some of the struggles and violence surrounding electoral processes. "This
is another area where the WCC can make a contribution," said the U.N.
secretary general. "The world has suffered for too long with intolerances."

Kobia said WCC work on inter-religious dialogue and cooperation helps
understanding and tolerance between people of different faiths. He also
announced that the WCC and its member churches in Africa were "planning for
monitoring" of the Zimbabwe elections.

Separately, the acting Anglican bishop of Harare, Sebastian Bakare, had told
church, civic and opposition leaders who gathered in Harare on February 25
to pray for peaceful elections that lawlessness and violence perpetrated by
those entrusted with ensuring law and order were destroying Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans will on March 29 choose a president, parliament and local
councils. The Zimonline non-governmental news agency reported, however, that
observers say a repressive environment in which intimidation and organized
violence against perceived government opponents leaves little likelihood for
the polls to be free and fair.

Bakare was quoted as saying that chaos in the run-up to the polls was
promoting anarchy. "The environment of lawlessness is destroying us," the
bishop stated.

Bakare was part of a three-member committee of senior bishops that met
President Robert Mugabe and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in 2007
in a failed attempt to broker dialogue between the political rivals.

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Only more defections can unseat Mugabe

From The Star (SA), 5 March

Analysts believe he can beat a divided opposition despite economic chaos

Cris Chinaka

Only if other high-profile members of Zimbabwe's ruling party desert
President Robert Mugabe might the scales tip against the veteran leader at
this month's election. The defection of politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa at
the weekend to join the presidential campaign of ex-finance minister Simba
Makoni has certainly rocked Zanu PF. But political analysts believe Mugabe
(84) can still beat a divided opposition despite economic turmoil that has
left Zimbabweans struggling with shortages of food, fuel, water and power,
as well as the world's highest inflation. "The fight is still going on, it's
getting exciting but I think it would be foolish and very premature for
anyone to write off Mugabe yet," said John Makumbe, a political commentator
and fierce Mugabe critic. Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from
Britain in 1980, faces his biggest challenge to power from Makoni, now
expelled from Zanu PF and longtime opponent Morgan Tsvangirai.

Dabengwa called Makoni's bid for the March 29 election a rescue operation
for the country, where many blame government policies for the economic
disaster. Political analysts said that although Dabengwa could mobilise some
support for Makoni in the restless Matabeleland province, the former
guerrilla commander's political clout was already in question there after
losing parliamentary elections twice in the past eight years. Matabeleland
has long been a stronghold of the opposition, mainly over simmering anger
stemming from a government crackdown against an insurgency in the 1980s,
which human rights groups say killed thousands of people. Dabengwa, a former
intelligence chief in Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army
(Zipra) during the 1970s independence struggle, has also been involved in a
turf war with veterans backing Mugabe's bid for re-election. Affectionately
known by his guerrilla name "Black Russian" under his comrades, Dabengwa on
Saturday lined up with a number of former senior Zipra fighters to publicly
back Makoni.

"There is no doubt this is a big blow against Mugabe, but on its own, and
measured against the hesitancy we are seeing in other officials in Zanu PF,
and measured against other senior officials coming out in support of Mugabe,
it's not a knockout blow," said Eldred Masunungure, a political science
professor at the University of Zimbabwe. "I think a really devastating blow
would be the defection of several top officials, including those generals
the (local) media have linked to Makoni," he said. Makoni has long said his
campaign had the support of several senior Zanu PF officials, but they have
not come out openly. In fact, many top officials have been at pains to make
public their support for Mugabe. Mugabe, who has branded Makoni a political
prostitute, has not yet publicly commented on Dabengwa's defection, but his
spokesperson, George Charamba, dismissed it as insignificant. "What is
Dabengwa worth by way of supporters? He brought none to Zanu PF and he takes
none to the independent (Makoni)."

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Regime change in Zimbabwe is critical for SA labour and business

Comment from The Cape Argus (SA), 5 March

Moeletsi Mbeki

Once seen as a progressive and dynamic movement that was going to deliver
Africa from bondage to modernity and prosperity, African nationalism has
turned out to be a huge disappointment. Half a century after its liberation
from colonialism, Africa has dropped so far down the development scales that
experts refer to Africans as mankind's Bottom Billion that can only come out
of the black hole they have dug themselves into through interventions by the
rest of the world. There is no better illustration of the failure of African
nationalism than Zimbabwe under the leadership of liberators Zanu PF and its
leader, Robert Mugabe. In the past decade Zimbabwe shows how an African
country travels from relative prosperity to a basket case. At independence
Zimbabwe was one of the most diversified economies in Africa, today it is
breaking every negative growth indicator one can think of. Life expectancy
at birth has fallen below 40 years; a quarter of the population has fled;
inflation has reached numbers that boggle the mind; and agricultural and
manufacturing output is a fraction of what they were only eight years ago.
Zimbabwe's commercial beef herd fell from 1.68 million in 1999 to only 0.53
million in 2002. Incomes per head in Zimbabwe have fallen to where they were
before World War 2. Zimbabweans are not the only people who are suffering
from Zanu PF's follies. South Africans are also taking a beating and so are
several other countries in the region.

South Africa's exports to Zimbabwe reached their peak around 1997-98 when
Zimbabwe's per capita incomes also peaked. After a few years of a steep
decline South Africa's exports have stagnated throughout the present decade
at about R7 billion a year. Before we can answer what must be done to find a
solution to Zimbabwe's crisis and by whom, we need first to understand who
is affected and how they are affected by the failures of the Mugabe regime.
The people of Zimbabwe have clearly been the primary victims of Mugabe's
repressive misrule and economic mismanagement. Thousands have been killed
and many brutalised by Mugabe's security machine. Over a million people have
been uprooted from their homes in the regime's Operation Clean up Rubbish
and in the confiscation of commercial farms.

The second group of casualties has been South African workers, especially
the poor and the unemployed. The meltdown of the Zimbabwe economy has led to
declining exports from South Africa to that country. In practice this meant
loss of jobs by South African workers whose companies were exporting to
Zimbabwe. Secondly, due to repression and the meltdown, millions of poor
Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa and have been compelled to live in
South Africa's slums, thus putting further pressure on the limited resources
South Africa's slum dwellers have access to. The third casualties were South
African companies that, besides losing export markets, have lost their
investment which became devalued in the meltdown. Many of the South African
companies invested in Zimbabwe are listed at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange
and several of their shareholders are ordinary South African workers whose
pension savings are invested in these listed companies. South Africa's
workers have thus taken a triple blow from Mugabe's attempt to impose his
dictatorship. They have lost jobs; they have had to share meagre resources
with fleeing Zimbabweans and they have had their pensions undermined.

What must be done? Mugabe's attempt over the past eight years to impose a
dictatorship has led to major losses for South African businesses and
especially for South Africa's black workers. The slow death of Zimbabwe can
be reversed, but it cannot be reversed as long as Zanu PF and Mugabe retain
power and carry on along their destructive path. South Africa's government
elite is not motivated to take practical action to change the situation in
Zimbabwe because it does not feel that its interests are affected by the
crisis in that country. It is, therefore, up to South African business and
South African workers to assist the people of Zimbabwe to bring about regime
change in Harare. South Africans must be educated by business and labour
that the poor Zimbabweans that have fled to South Africa are not their enemy
and that attacking them, as is becoming increasingly frequent, will not
solve the damage to South Africa caused by the Mugabe regime.

Moeletsi Mbeki is deputy chairman of the South African Institute of
International Affairs, an independent think-tank based at the University of
the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg

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'O' Level Results Out Next Week

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

5 March 2008
Posted to the web 5 March 2008


The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council "O" Level results, which were
expected at the end of last month, will be released next week, Zimsec
information and public relations manager Mr Ezekiel Pasipamire said

In an interview, Mr Pasipamire said the results were delayed due to a number
of problems, including power cuts, disruption of water supplies, low turnout
of examiners and lack of staff motivation, because of the level of
allowances. "Zimsec would like to acknowledge delays in the release of the
November 2007 Ordinary Level results, but we would like to assure the nation
that the results would be distributed to the various centres by the end of
next week," he said.

He said Zimsec was also affected by constant power cuts from December 11
last year until January 9 this year. "During that period, processing of
results could only be undertaken using a generator which is only accessible
to one wing of the complex. After this long period, the period after that
was characterised by weekly power disruptions and efforts by Zimsec to be
spared from load-shedding were not heeded by Zesa," Mr Pasipamire said.
Zimsec also cited water cuts as another cause of the delay. "When there is
little or no water, Zimsec is forced to either remain with skeleton staff
that can be accommodated in the complex or has to completely shut down the
place," he said. Mr Pasipamire said the "O" Level examinations where also
affected by low examiner turnout which in some cases was as low as 50
percent of the expected number of markers. "Reasons advanced for the low
turnout were largely to do with low remuneration and high transport costs,
which saw marking being extended to the second week of January this year.
The processing of marks also started late," he said.

Zimsec staff were not happy with the salary increases because they were
convinced they had been short-changed by as much as 200 percent, Mr
Pasipamire said.

"Representation has been made and continues through the parent ministry for
Treasury to address the anomaly and although staff has threatened to go on
an industrial action if the issue of adjustments is not addressed they have
continued to report for duty."

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Election campaigns go hi-tech

BULAWAYO, 5 March 2008 (IRIN) - Savvy text messaging and cheeky ring tones
are the new face of cost-effective political campaigning in Zimbabwe in the
run up to the 29 March election, despite the creakiness of country's cell
phone networks.

"Call it an SMS [short message service] craze if you like ... It's a simple,
inexpensive and effortless way of campaigning for candidates of one's
choice," Aleck Ndlovu, a political activist, told IRIN.

"We need change in our country and what we are doing is to encourage each
other [via text messages] to use our right to vote to achieve that change,"
said Nobuhle Dube, a resident of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city.

Simba Makoni, an independent candidate who broke ranks with the ruling
ZANU-PF party in February by declaring his presidential bid, and Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the main group of the splintered Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), are President Robert Mugabe's chief opponents. The
fourth presidential hopeful is another independent, Langton Towungana.

"Vote for Simba", Makoni's supporters SMS, while Tsvangirai's faithful ask,
"Have you not suffered enough? Morgan is the solution."

Picture messages with Mugabe cartoons are a huge draw, but the most
captivating novelty is an anti-Mugabe ringtone based on a local song, which
asks in Shona: "How long will you vote for ZANU-PF?". The ringtone has
become a hit, according to Alfred Sibanda, who runs a small electronic
services café in Bulawayo.

"Alongside my main business, I burn music ... [write music to CDs] and we
get at least 15 people per day who want the ringtone uploaded to their
phones," he said.

However, this may not always be wise. "Some people have returned to us,
requesting that we remove it after clashing with government sympathisers,"
Sibanda commented.

In ZANU-PF circles, messages extolling the party and Mugabe are doing the
rounds. "Land to the people. Vote for president Mugabe", says one. "Down
with the opposition", suggests another.

Political blogs are another popular campaign communications mode. "My blog's
feedback section is always brimming with responses from those sympathetic to
Mugabe, Tsvangirai or Makoni, and some have sent me links to their blogs ...
The network cuts across the political divide," said Busani Moyo, another
Bulawayo resident.

The polls are crucial to Zimbabweans, as the almost dysfunctional economy
has left them with an inflation rate of around 100,000 percent and
widespread food shortages.

The recent endorsement of Makoni by ZANU-PF heavyweight Dumiso Dabengwa and
two other former cabinet ministers has given the elections an interesting
turn. John Makumbe, an anti-ZANU-PF political scientist at the University of
Zimbabwe, said it had improved Makoni's chances, and "was a major blow for

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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NGOs struggle to feed the hungry

HARARE, 5 March 2008 (PlusNews) - Njabulo Sibanda, 15, who lives in
Highfield, a low-income suburb in southwestern Harare, capital of Zimbabwe,
is one of the more than one million children in the country orphaned by the
AIDS epidemic.

After his parents died of AIDS-related illnesses over a year ago, he had to
drop out of school to care for his two brothers, the youngest of whom is
only eight. Sibanda does odd jobs, trying to scrape together enough money
for school fees, food and the rent for their backyard shack, but it's a
mammoth task.

The three children were mostly living off handouts from sympathetic
neighbours, or sometimes going without food, until the headmaster at
Sibanda's brother's school told them about the Child Protection Society
(CPS), a Harare-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) that runs an urban
food programme.

The programme was started by Action Aid International (AAI) in 2004, with
funding from the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), and
is implemented by CPS and other NGOs. The Sibanda children now receive
rations of maizemeal, cooking oil, beans, porridge and soap.

"The rations are modest but our lives have become a lot better," Sibanda
told IRIN/PlusNews. "There is a bit of decency in the way we survive now, as
we no longer have to beg for food from neighbours and strangers like we used
to do. I can manage to put aside for other needs part of the money I earn by
cleaning other people's cars and selling cigarettes.

The urban food programme operates in Harare and Chitungwiza, a dormitory
suburb south of the capital; in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city;
and Gweru, capital of Midlands Province. It targets home-based care clients
who are chronically ill, families caring for large numbers of orphans and
vulnerable children, single-parent households and families without
able-bodied adults.

Norah Hunda of CPS said her organisation was reaching 300 households, mostly
those with orphans, or those in which the head of the family had little or
no source of income.

"The programme is doing a lot to reduce urban food vulnerability, but it
should be understood that it is merely supplementary," Hunda told
IRIN/PlusNews. "The handouts do not vary with the size of the family or
dependants, and where the household is too big this becomes a challenge to
those meant to benefit, as they have to find other means of augmenting their

If families have a garden or space to make one, they are taught low-input
gardening and provided with seeds and gardening tools; when they do not have
land of their own, the city council provides them with some or they are
given mobile bags in which to grow vegetables.

Grace Kachitu, 75, of Harare, who lives on her own, has been able to grow
tomatoes and beans with the help of the programme. "Due to my advanced age,
I have ailments that need good food. I don't have a source of income and
with this garden I can adequately feed myself. I even sell some of my
produce to buy other things."

A 2007 assessment of the urban food programme found that it benefited 3,145
people in its first two years, but the squeeze on resources resulting from
Zimbabwe's economic crisis restricted the number to 2,000 in 2007.

Zimbabwe has been in the throes of an economic meltdown for the past eight
years, with hyperinflation of 100,000 percent and still rising, unemployment
at an estimated 80 percent, around 80 percent of the population living on
less than US$1 dollar per day, and consumers surviving without basic
commodities such as water and fuel.

Harare's city council last year said more than a third of the capital's
population, officially estimated at around 1.3 million, were living on one
meal a day and cases of malnutrition were on the rise. Consecutive years of
drought and chronic shortages of agricultural inputs have left millions of
people needing food aid.

In an attempt to cushion its beneficiaries from inflation, the urban food
programme arranged a food voucher system with a number of supermarket chains
to provide households with monthly food packs worth US$18.

The system was disrupted in June 2007 by an acute shortage of basic
commodities after the government forced businesses to reduce their prices,
which led to manufacturers stopping production because they found the price
controls unsustainable.

"Because of the shortages in shops, we are now resorting to placing money
into the accounts of beneficiaries, who are being urged to speedily withdraw
it and buy their items wherever they can find them, even if it means going
to the informal market, where they tend to be more readily available albeit
more expensive," said George Jijita, a programme assistant at Padare, a
local NGO implementing the urban food programme in Harare and Chitungwiza.

Giving beneficiaries money has its own set of problems, because by the time
the payments reflect in the recipients' bank accounts and they are able to
withdraw them, the prices of commodities have usually risen even more.

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Financial inquiry seeks Zimbabwe answers

From The Guardian (UK), 5 March

An audit being conducted by KPMG could prove one way out of the impasse
between the UK government and world cricket over the Zimbabwe issue. Last
July the International Cricket Council engaged the accountancy firm to
review the financial affairs of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union amid allegations
of embezzlement at the ZCU. One ICC paper said that elements of the Zimbabwe
accounts had been "deliberately falsified" and if the allegations are proved
the government hopes sanctions might be imposed by the ICC. The firm's
investigations will lead to renewed acquaintances with an old KPMG employee.
Afaras Gwaradzimba is the chief executive partner of AMG Global (Zimbabwe),
whose website states he is a member of the ZCU's finance and audit
committee. He spent 15 years at KPMG's Zimbabwe branch, becoming its first
black partner in October 1995, having been the firm's senior audit manager.
Gwaradzimba also acted as KPMG Zimbabwe's liaison partner for other African
states. Since setting up AMG Global he has received several government
contracts from the regime of Robert Mugabe, who is also president of the
ZCU. There is no suggestion of Gwaradzimba having been involved in any
wrongdoing at ZCU. An ICC insider said yesterday that its board was sure to
have been aware of Gwaradzimba's KPMG link before appointing the firm as
ZCU's independent auditor and discounted it as a potential conflict of
interest. A spokesman for KPMG (South Africa) did not return calls last

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Zimbabweans may be denied 2009 tour visas

The Telegraph

By Simon Briggs
Last Updated: 3:03am GMT 05/03/2008

The Prime Minister's spokesman yesterday 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 himself
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.

In contrast to the Government's non-committal response, both the
Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats yesterday supported the idea of
political intervention. Conservative leader David Cameron said: "I think the
Prime Minister is right to try to ensure that the cricket tour doesn't go

Don Foster, shadow secretary for culture, media and sport for the Liberal
Democrats, agreed that Chingoka should be denied entry to the country, but
he criticised the idea that individual Zimbabwean sportsmen, such as the
Manchester City striker Benjani Mwaruwari, should suffer because of Robert
Mugabe's dictatorship.

Mugabe's information minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, yesterday 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 madness."

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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JAG open letter forum - No. 521 Dated 05 March 2008

Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.

Dear JAG - Ben Freeth, Chegutu


It is clear that while there is a place for lobbying, advocacy and agreements
between ourselves and the powers that be, such agreements neither have
the binding nature and the teeth to meaningfully impact on our lives,
nor the durability over time, that a clear cut binding legal judgment has.
There is nothing to hold the powers that be to agreements and so agreements
may be broken with no consequence.  Where a legal judgment is not upheld
there are legal consequences to that non adherence.

There are various milestones on the legal road that we are now drawing
close too.  It is important, for various reasons, that now that this road
is finally being recognised, we do not lose momentum in our forward march
along it.

Where to after Windhoek?

Our main objectives must be that:

1. Property rights be respected and that in so doing compensation and
restitution become a reality. Without property rights we do not have a
chance of putting an engine back into the vehicle that is called Zimbabwe.
On the wider front and in the future we need to work towards getting
a political will to ensure title be given to people in the traditional
communal areas as well.  In so doing the collateral value of land and
its improvement may be used for development purposes there.  We are well
aware of the huge advantages that result from security of tenure and the
disastrous consequences of not having it.
2. Discriminatory practices, more specifically in this instance, anti
"white" discriminatory practices, policies and laws, must be stopped from
building momentum through the African continent, especially in South Africa
where we will increasingly depend for business, health facilities etc.
If we as white people do nothing to address these discriminatory practices,
policies and laws, they will continue to destroy us and those that depend
on us. We will ignore this critical area of injustice to the peril of
many more than ourselves.  What the black American Civil Rights movement
achieved must be emulated by white Africans too.  As white Africans this is
perhaps the most significant legal area that we need to focus our attention.
Up until now we have never dared touch it.  The white population has been
depleted to less than ten percent of what it was.  The ninety percent have
left because they could not see a future for themselves here. More will
leave unless we make an e!
ffort to the reverse the trend.  We can not have property rights respected
for black farmers and trampled upon for white ones.
3. Accountability must be brought about for the perpetrators of the events
over the last 8 years that has led to so much poverty, hunger death and
destruction.  Crimes against international law are committed by men not
by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such
crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced.  As Jackson
said in Nuremburg "The idea that a State, any more than a corporation
commits crimes is a fiction.  Crimes always are committed only by persons."
4. Our ultimate objective must be to do everything we possibly can to
ensure that what has happened over the last 8 years in Zimbabwe must not
happen again.

The current Mount Carmel Campbell case addresses some of these areas.
Either this is won; or SADC fudge it.  If we win we will be well on the
road to meeting many of the above objectives.  If SADC fudge it, we will
have a problem.

Alexander Hamilton, the legal architect to the masterly American constitution
wrote in 1787 that "The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged
for amongst old parchments or musty records.  They are written as with a
sunbeam on the whole volume of human nature by the hand of divinity itself,
and can never be erased or obscured."  The effect of the upholding of those
rights and values is plain for all to see in terms of the development of
the USA. What Hamilton didn't say was how easily such rights can be erased
and obscured in our own troubled continent of Africa.  Where they have
been eroded disaster has struck.  We need to look at ways of minimising
the way that such rights continue to be erased or obscured.

In the text book entitled Judicial Organisation in the USSR Vyshinsky writes
"The laws of the Soviet power are a political directive and the work of
the judge amounts not just to the application of the law in conformity
with bourgeois judicial logic, but to the application of the law as a
political expression of the party and the government ….the judge must
be a political worker, rapidly and precisely applying the directives of
the party and the government".

 If we do not continue to hound the international courts, a dictatorial and
 destructive system such as this will continue to be rapidly implemented.
 We need to think creatively and broadly at ways of stopping unjust laws
 in their tracks.

There are a number of areas that I believe we need to work on: I list some
thoughts and ideas below:

a. On the discriminatory issue we need to look at the "UN Convention on
all forms of Racial Discrimination" which was signed in 1969 in response
to the discrimination taking place in South Africa at that time.  It has
a committee, currently twiddling its thumbs, which, with the consent of a
State, individuals can apply to.  I have already approached one State on
this and will pursue it further.

b. The African Commission of Human Rights [1981] recently set up the African
Human Rights Court.  It established international law against racism and
an application into this arena needs to be progressed.

c. The International Criminal Court in The Hague was established on 1
July 2002.  Unfortunately the Prosecutor can only act if referred by
the UN Security Council or by nationals of a State that has ratified its
convention.  Zimbabwe has not fully ratified the convention.  We need to
look at creative ways of trying to use this court through the intervention
of the Security Council.  More research needs to be done on this.

d. In Belgium there is a court that has Universal Jurisdiction.  A ruling
in this court would be useful. This needs to be further explored.

e. Article 7 of the Rome Statute [ICC] was used in reference to the Kosovo
situation where there was "forced displacement of the person concerned by
expulsion or other coercive acts from the area in which he was lawfully
present."  Prosecution can be on a single act [so long as it is known that
there were multiple atrocities].  The crime of "persecution" is defined as
the "intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to
international law committed against an identifiable group by reason of its
politics race or culture."  The land reform programme has caused forced
displacement of well over a million people and persecution is demonstrable.

f. The third purpose of the UN charter is "promoting and encouraging respect
for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without discrimination as
to race, sex, language or religion."  The land reform programme is clearly
discriminatory in its effect and goes against the UN charter as a result.

g. In article 20 of the civil covenant "any advocacy of national racial or
religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination hostility or
violence shall be prohibited by law."  Amendment number 17 to the Zimbabwe
Constitution has in effect legalised the discriminatory process of the
land reform programme.

h. In Article 10 of the Universal declaration it says that "everybody is
entitled to full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and
impartial tribunal in the determination of his rights and obligations and
of any criminal charge against him".  Our courts are no longer impartial.
The bench is stacked with beneficiaries of the land programme.

i. In 1986 the General Assembly said that the right to development is an
"inalienable right."  The "economic argument" is well documented in Zimbabwe.
The destruction of property rights have led to the reverse of development.
We need to bring this out into the open wherever we can.

j. The Convention against Torture [1984] establishes a committee against
torture with complaints able to come from individuals. It has Universal
Jurisdiction and so has a wider scope to be used than crimes against

k. I believe that we need to honestly look at the possibility of getting
the cumulative crimes of the last years 8 years branded as "a crime against
humanity".  In so doing the objectives outlined above have a very significant
chance of being realised.  Chapter 7 of the UN Charter gives the power to
create a criminal court to punish crimes against humanity.  Article 6[2]
relates to "persecution on political, racial or religious grounds".
A crime against humanity is "part of a widespread or systematic attack
directed against a civilian population pursuant to or in furtherance of
State or organisations policy to commit such an attack".  The land reform
programme in its violent implementation and its disastrous effect has
resulted in massive displacement, hunger, destruction, economic chaos etc.


What is clear is that there are a number of legal initiatives that we need
to be investigating and planning for but are not.  Our main objective in the
short term must be to collect data, statistics, transcripts of interviews
with displaced farmers and farm workers, film footage, affidavits, survey
information, newspaper reports, sitrep reports, research work and the like
that is able to be presented in court. and into the International arena
in the future. This will take organisation, time and finance.

However unpalatable to some, farmers and farmer groups, there must be an
understanding, recognition and facilitation of what I understand Jag is now
doing in this regard.  I would suggest that Jag is asked to explain what they
are doing and how they are doing it so that the other organisations can work
together for a common purpose that relate to the 4 objectives listed above.

Ben Freeth, Chegutu.


JAG has a holistic step by step comprehensive documentation process
designed under international law governing expropriation of property
and the damages that arise out of what has happened to the vast majority
of farmers and farm workers over the past eight years. JAG also has a
comprehensive legal strategy into the international arena (having exhausted
all legal avenues here) by way of constructing an International case which
encompasses all the numerous property rights and human rights issues.
For obvious reasons, much of the detailed information pertaining to the
above cannot be disseminated via this means.  JAG welcomes consultation
and participation of all farmers irrespective of membership affiliation
and farming organisations in this essential iniative.  Simply call in at
the JAG Office for a chat (17 Phillips Avenue, Belgravia).

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Cosatu Plans Protest March to Press for Free Zim Elections

SW Radio Africa (London)

5 March 2008
Posted to the web 5 March 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

The Congress of South African Trade Unions, and other civil society
organisations, will march to the Zimbabwe embassy in Pretoria on Friday as
part of a protest campaign to press for free and fair elections on the 29th

COSATU spokesman Patrick Craven told us Wednesday that no one can claim not
to know by now, that SADC is facing a serious problem, arising from the
political and socio-economic crisis facing Zimbabwe.

'The world has at best lamented and at worst collaborated with the aggressor
regime of Mugabe. This is why the new initiative, called the South African
International Solidarity Front currently convened by COSATU, has taken the
bold initiative to confront Zimbabwe and demand justice for the sister
people of this country,' Craven said.

He added; 'With the Zimbabwe elections to be held on 29th March, what stands
out clear is that the conditions for elections militate against free and
fair elections.We shall therefore be holding a march to the High Commission
of Zimbabwe on Friday, 7 March 2008 in Tshwane (Pretoria), starting at 11am.
This march will bring together all activists and organisations working for
democracy and social justice,' Craven added.

Craven also called on all progressive people of the world to do something
now to end the looming disaster and stop the suffering of the people in

COSATU also noted that in recent weeks the crisis in the country has scaled
new heights. It said in the statement it has now become the norm for police
to raid the offices of the ZCTU and of other political activists,
particularly the MDC - harassing, threatening and beating staff, searching
offices and seizing fliers, files and videotapes.

'They have arrested union activists campaigning in support of democracy and
social justice in the country. The (Mugabe) government is stopping at
nothing to crush the resistance of opposition parties, civil society
organisations and the trade unions and ruthlessly trample on human rights,'
the statement added.

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London Rally for Dignity And Democracy

SW Radio Africa (London)

5 March 2008
Posted to the web 5 March 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

This Saturday is International Women's Day and Action for Southern Africa
(ACTSA) in London have chosen the occasion to hold a rally, calling for the
right to dignity and freedom from violence for Zimbabwean women.

ACTSA campaigns officer, Simon Chase, said they are using the opportunity to
also call for free and fair elections. The rally will be in Trafalgar Square
and three speakers from civil society in Zimbabwe have been invited to
address the crowd.

Lucia Matibenga, Vice-President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions,
Takavafira Zhou, President of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe
(PTUZ) and Maureen Kademaunga, the Gender and Human Rights Officer for the
Zimbabwe National Students' Union (Zinasu) will each share their experiences
and describe the atmosphere on the ground ahead of the elections on March

Each one of them has experienced state-sponsored violence and harassment.
They have also been arrested and assaulted by police while carrying out
their official duties. Just a few weeks ago Zhou was assaulted in Harare
while distributing fliers with other PTUZ officials. Kademaunga was arrested
last month while meeting with other students in Bulawayo. Matibenga and her
colleagues at the ZCTU have a long history of being arrested and assaulted
by the police, yet they continue to fight for the rights of workers in

There will also be speakers from the powerful Trade Union Congress, a
federation of trade unions in the United Kingdom that has sixty-five
affiliated unions with a total of about seven million members. The TUC has
been supportive of labour groups in Zimbabwe.

Chase explained that ACTSA has a history of fighting against such
oppression. He said the group developed out of the anti-apartheid movement
that fought against oppression in South Africa until 1994. With the name
change they broadened their campaigns to include issues such as HIV and Aids
and are assisting in countries like Angola and Swaziland.

The rally starts in Trafalgar Square at noon on Saturday.

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