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Mugabe plots to seize 'imperialist' British firms

The Telegraph

By Stephen Bevan in Pretoria and Michael Gwarizo in Harare, Sunday Telegraph

Last Updated: 12:34am BST 27/05/2007

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe plans to seize majority stakes in
all the country's foreign-owned businesses in what economists warn could be
a repeat of the regime's disastrous land reform policy.

Under legislation approved by the cabinet two weeks ago, all companies
will be required to give up at least 51 per cent of their shares for
allocation to economically disadvantaged, "indigenous" Zimbabweans.

There are signs that the government intends to use the laws to attack
the commercial interests of countries such as Britain, the former colonial
ruler, which Mugabe accuses of plotting to remove him from power. However,
companies linked with friendly regimes, such as China and Malaysia, will be

The hit list might include British banks such as Standard Chartered
and Barclays. A minister told The Sunday Telegraph that the banks were seen
as having "sabotaged" Mugabe's land reform programme by refusing to extend
financial support to black farmers.

"The president made it clear, when cabinet approved the Bill to be
tabled before parliament, that the time had come to empower our people.

"He said the indigenisation exercise must be undertaken in the same
fashion as the land reform programme."

The minister added that Mugabe had vowed that "imperialist companies"
would be targeted as they had been operating with what the president
described as a "sinister, regime-change agenda."

Standard Chartered, which has 26 offices employing 900 people in
Zimbabwe, declined to comment. A spokesman for Barclays, which has 29
branches and more than 1,000 staff in the country, said: "We are currently
assessing the potential impact of the proposed legislation on our business
in Zimbabwe. It is early days and the proposed Bill may not become law."

Other British companies likely to be targeted are BP, which has 37
service stations in Zimbabwe, British American Tobacco and Unilever - which
is listed in both the UK and Holland.

The proposed new law would give black -Zimbabweans controlling stakes
in foreign companies and allow them to appoint their own managers. They
would also be able to set pricing policy - a sensitive issue in a country
battling with the highest inflation in the world, currently exceeding 3,700
per cent.

Paul Mangwana, the minister for "indigenisation and empowerment", said
the legislation, which is now before parliament, would affect all sectors of
the economy from banking to manufacturing. He added that companies would be
"free to look for partners who are black", but that government would "make
suggestions" if they could not find any. "The objective is to ensure that
black Zimbabweans take control of the economy and the resources of their
country," he said. Mr Mangwana said a special fund would be created to help
"indigenous" investors pay for their stakes.

However, with the economy in free fall and the government desperately
short of foreign currency, there is little prospect that the companies will
ever receive the money.

As with the land reform programme, many in business suspect the real
beneficiaries of the asset grab will be Mugabe's cronies and officials of
the ruling Zanu PF party, who will take control of the companies under the
guise of business consortiums.

"Mugabe operates on patronage, and to try to bolster his position he
will hand over these companies to people who support him. He's been
threatening it for a long time," said an executive with a major British

While many British interests are threatened, people close to the
businessman Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, who is an ally of Mugabe, said that
they believed that he would be spared. The British tycoon, whose farm in
Zimbabwe was exempted from seizure in recognition of his financial support
for Zanu PF, has stakes in NMB Bank, the Hwange Colliery and hotel company
Rainbow Tourism Group.

With the country in crisis following the government's seizure of
white-owned farms and the resulting collapse of commercial agriculture,
economists warn that the new asset grab could be the final straw. One
independent Harare economist, John Robertson, said the legislation would be
a major blow to the country's manufacturing industry, which once accounted
for 25 per cent of GDP but has shrunk to 15 per cent. "Nearly all the big
commercial firms are already owned by Zimbabweans, but a number of the
manufacturing operations are still owned by foreigners - some of them by the
big multinationals like Unilever and Nestlé," he said. "I imagine some of
these would close down, rather than relinquish control."

Mr Mangwana said he was not concerned that foreign companies might
pull out.

He denied that British or American firms would be specifically
targeted, saying the government was "not that petty".

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Zimbabwe arrests belie claims of progress

Financial Times

By Tony Hawkins in Harare

Published: May 27 2007 17:42 | Last updated: May 27 2007 17:42

While South African President Thabo Mbeki claims that "good progress" is
being made in talks between President Robert Mugabe's government in Zimbabwe
and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the reality on the ground
is very different.

On Saturday, police raided the MDC's head office in Harare arresting an
estimated 200 officials and supporters. Mr Nelson Chamisa, party spokesman,
said three truckloads of police had broken up a routine meeting of the
party. "They had no search warrant. They gave no reasons but they have taken
in our members who were holding meetings there."

A police spokesman said that "quite a number of people" had been "picked up"
in connection with recent petrol bomb attacks.

The government claims that the MDC launched a number of petrol bomb attacks
on "state institutions" between March 12 and April 22, but the MDC insists
that it was not responsible for any such attacks, accusing the government of
trying to "frame" the political opposition by carrying out the bomb attacks

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said: "Our position remains that this is a
campaign to destroy us before the elections, and that the so-called MDC
violence is being stage-managed by the government to justify this

The opposition says that the country is under an effective state of
emergency and that serious political negotiations to end the crisis are
simply impossible under such conditions.

MDC officials fear that President Mbeki's comments about good progress in
the negotiations are part of his strategy to blame the opposition and civil
society for the inevitable breakdown in negotiations and use this as grounds
for supporting President Robert Mugabe's government in presidential and
parliamentary elections scheduled for March next year.

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Zim opposition activists detained over 'bombings'

Mail and Guardian

Cris Chinaka | Harare, Zimbabwe

27 May 2007 01:14

      Zimbabwe police say more than 200 opposition activists and
officials arrested on Saturday are suspects in recent petrol-bomb attacks on
police stations, shops and some government supporters.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says
allegations that its supporters have launched a violent campaign against
President Robert Mugabe's 27-year rule are designed to justify a brutal
crackdown on its structures ahead of general elections next year.

      MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said riot police, armed with
pistols and batons, raided the party's head office in Harare on Saturday and
detained more than 200 people, and gave no reason for the move at the time.

      But on Sunday, police spokesperson Andrew Phiri told Zimbabwe
state media they had detained MDC activists "suspected of being involved in
a criminal bombing campaign". The activists will be taken to court in the
coming days.

      "A number of MDC activists have been arrested as suspects in the
recent spate of bomb attacks across the country -- criminal bombing
attacks," he said, without giving details on the number of detentions.

      Mugabe's Zanu-PF administration has routinely deployed police
riot squads to crush anti-government rallies in the Southern African country
that is suffering from severe shortages of food and fuel.

      An MDC MP and 31 other party activists were detained in March
and are awaiting trial on charges of terrorism, banditry and sabotage.

      "We are hunting for more suspects following leads supplied by
those who have already been arrested," Phiri said.

      But Chamisa said the arrests on Saturday were part of a drive to
cripple the MDC ahead of parliamentary, presidential and local council
elections due by March next year.

      "Our position remains that this is a campaign to destroy us
before the elections, and that the so-called MDC violence is being
stage-managed by the government to justify this crackdown," he said.

      The Saturday arrests came a day after Zimbabwe extended a ban on
political protests in Harare that the country's embattled opposition has
likened to "a state of emergency".

      Veteran Zimbabwean leader Mugabe has come under heavy criticism
for the new clampdown on the opposition, which he accuses of trying to
organise "terrorist" government protests he says are bankrolled by some
Western countries.

      But Mugabe remains defiant, blaming Zimbabwe's economic crisis
on sabotage by his opponents and threatening to deal harshly with any
attempt to overthrow him unconstitutionally.

      The 83-year-old Mugabe accuses the MDC of being stooges of
Zimbabwe's former colonial power Britain in an effort to oust his government
as punishment for seizing and redistributing white-owned commercial farms to
landless blacks.

      But critics say Mugabe's economic policies have sent the
once-prosperous nation into a crisis marked by inflation of more than 3 700%
and unemployment of more than 80%. -- Reuters

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Zimbabwean police free bulk of detained opposition activists

Yahoo News

Sun May 27, 11:27 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwean police on Sunday freed the bulk of 200 youth
opposition activists arrested in a raid on their party headquarters, as a
police official said they were suspects in a spate of recent firebombings.

Alec Muchadehama, a lawyer representing the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) opposition members arrested on Saturday, told AFP: "They (police) have
detained 41 MDC youth members out of about 200 who were arrested."
"As far as we know they have not been charged and the police say they are
only being questioned," he said.

Armed police barged into a meeting at the MDC headquarters in central Harare
and picked up scores of youth on Saturday, two days after Zimbabwean police
extended a ban on political rallies and processions in parts of the capital.

Police spokesman Andrew Phiri was quoted on state radio as saying that the
youths were suspects in a spate of firebombings across Zimbabwe, adding that
they had been implicated by their colleagues during interrogation.

MDC lawmaker Paul Madzore and 31 activists are in prison on remand after
being arrested in March during a police crackdown on the opposition and
charged with terrorism, banditry and sabotage.

They were accused of undergoing training in neighbouring South Africa on how
to make and use firebombs.

The MDC, which launched a campaign to pressure the government to release its
members, said the charges were "mere fabrication."

Dozens of MDC activists including leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were detained by
members of veteran President Robert Mugabe's security forces and assaulted
in March after they defied the ban on rallies and tried to hold an
anti-government prayer meet.

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Zimbabwe opposition says detainees mistreated


POSTED: 1735 GMT (0135 HKT), May 27, 2007
(CNN) -- Zimbabwe police had mistreated some of the more than 200 opposition
party members detained on Saturday, an opposition spokesman said Sunday.
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's
main opposition movement, said 115 opposition members had been released,
leaving about 85 still in government custody.

Chamisa denied a Reuters report citing police who said the detainees were
suspects in recent petrol bomb attacks on police stations, shops and
government supporters.

"It's propaganda; meant to justify their dictatorial actions," Chamisa said,
adding that the detainees had reported being mistreated, including one woman
who reportedly was forced to drink 10 liters of water.

"There is always detention without trial; we don't know when they're going
to be released; Mugabe is the rule of law," he said, referring to Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe, who has maintained an iron grip on power in his
country, long beset by economic problems. His security forces have regularly
cracked down on MDC members.

Police did not respond to requests for comment.

Chamisa said the arrests occurred Saturday in the capital city of Harare,
where party members had gathered to "just discuss political issues."

Police broke down doors and seized the people, detaining them at the Central
Police Station.

The action was reminiscent of the recent detention of opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, who was beaten after his arrest.

Saturday's detentions occurred a day after police extended a ban on rallies
and protests in the capital.

Chamisa likened the atmosphere in the capital to a state of emergency and
said the detentions show the regime is panicking.

Mugabe's government has accused the MDC of using brutal tactics to oppose
the government.

CNN's Luciani Gomes contributed to this report

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40 MDC supporters still detained

Zim Online

Monday 28 May 2007

By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri

HARARE - Zimbabwean police were on Sunday still detaining about 40
supporters of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
who were arrested on Saturday in Harare.

They were part of 200 MDC supporters arrested while attending meetings at
the opposition party's Harvest House headquarters in Harare.

Police spokesperson Andrew Phiri told ZimOnline yesterday that the MDC
supporters are likely to appear in court today facing public violence

Phiri said the police suspected that the MDC supporters were behind a spate
of petrol bomb attacks that began last March on police stations and other
state institutions.

He also said the rest of the MDC supporters were released yesterday without

Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the main faction of the MDC, last month said at
least 600 of his supporters had been arrested since March as President
Robert Mugabe intensifies a crackdown on the resurgent opposition.

The MDC supporters join another group of about 30 other activists who have
been languishing in remand prison since March after they were accused of
spearheading the petrol bomb attacks on government institutions.

The MDC denies that its activists are behind the petrol bomb incidents
saying Mugabe was using the charge to crack down on the opposition in order
to decapitate and weaken the party ahead of next year's key elections. -

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War veterans want cash to campaign for Mugabe

Zim Online

Monday 28 May 2007

By Farisayi Gonye

MUTARE - Veterans of Zimbabwe's independence war at the weekend demanded
cash first before they could campaign for President Robert Mugabe and his
government in crucial presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

The veterans are the main cog of the government's campaign machine, waging
violence and terror against the opposition to secure victory for the
government but they told former army commander Solomon Mujuru they would not
campaign unless they were paid because they were tired of being used by
Mugabe and his ruling elite.

Mujuru, himself a war veteran and who commanded Zimbabwe's army at
independence, was tasked by Mugabe to mobilise the ex-combatants and draft
them into a reserve force, in what analysts have described as a bid to
bolster the government's hold on power and to clamp down growing opposition.

Mujuru told the veterans at a Saturday meeting in the eastern Mutare city:
"It has been agreed that you will undergo military training. You are already
trained cadres, but this is just meant to get you back into shape and
acquaint you with modern military techniques and values as you will be
joining the army as a reserve force."

Undercover ZimOnline reporters attended the meeting.

The ex-combatants, who in 1997 staged violent protests to bully Mugabe into
giving them billions of dollars in gratuities and pensions - all
unbudgeted - told Mujuru to go and report to Mugabe that they were not
interested in campaigning for him and his ruling ZANU PF party unless they
were paid. They did not say how much exactly they wanted to be paid.

"Mugabe has never consulted us on anything in a very long time. He has
refused to address us over the years," said one visibly angry former
fighter. "Why does he (Mugabe) need us now? Tell him we are not interested,"
added the former guerilla, whose name ZimOnline reporters could not obtain
as this would have blown their cover.

"You have ignored us all this time only to resurface because there is an
election tomorrow," another veteran shouted from the back benches in the
Chiefs' Hall where the meeting was taking place. He continued: "We are tired
of being used. We are not going to campaign for the President or the party
(ZANU PF) until you give us more money."

Yet, another veteran had to be held back by his colleagues as he made a
charge towards Mujuru and Manicaland provincial governor Tinaye Chigudu.

Struggling to free himself from his comrades' hands, the former fighter
shouted abuse at Mujuru: "Look at you Rex (Mujuru's war name). You are all
chubby meaning you are living a good life, And you want us to go into the
trenches again to defend your positions, so that you can continue to enjoy
the good life while we sink in poverty."

Efforts by Mujuru to calm the war veterans by promising to fund income
generating projects met with even more angry interjections, although the
former army commander managed to calm down the veterans by promising to
personally ask Mugabe to come and address the veterans before the end of the

Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba was not immediately available to shed
light on whether the Zimbabwean leader would agree to meet the veterans.

It was from such a direct meeting between Mugabe and the Zimbabwe National
Liberation War Veterans Association that the President buckled under
pressure and agreed to award the veterans, then numbering about 50 000,
gratuity payments of $50 000 each and a host of other perks.

The Zimbabwe dollar resultantly crashed on November 14 1997, driving up
inflation and setting off the economy on a downward spiral from which it is
yet to escape.

Withdrawal of balance-of-payments support by the International Monetary Fund
in 1999 and chaotic government farm seizures that began in 2000 only helped
quicken the pace of economic decline, according to economic experts.

Without the backing of the war veterans, Mugabe's government's
electioneering strategy would be thrown into disarray just when political
analysts say it faces its toughest electoral challenge yet because of a
bitter economic crisis that most Zimbabweans blame on mismanagement by the

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since its 1980 independence from Britain but his
controversial policies are widely blamed for an economic meltdown, which has
left the majority of Zimbabweans mired in poverty as unemployment rockets
and inflation surges to nearly 4 000 percent. - ZimOnline

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ZANU PF, opposition supporters clash ahead of by-election

Zim Online

Monday 28 May 2007

By Regerai Marwezu

MASVINGO - Scores of people were injured at the weekend when ruling ZANU PF
party youths clashed with opposition supporters at Bvukururu business centre
two weeks before a low-key by-election in the Zaka East constituency.

United People's Party (UPP) provincial co-ordinator Anthony Kundishora told
ZimOnline that several of his party's supporters were injured following the
violent clashes at the business centre last Friday.

"We had a rally at the business centre on Friday afternoon. While our rally
was on, ZANU PF youths raided the business centre and ordered all shops to
close down.

"They (ZANU PF youths) started beating up everyone and some of our officials
and supporters were injured," said Kundishora.

Kundishora said ZANU PF had sought to shut out the opposition party from
campaigning in Zaka East saying chiefs were under strict instructions not to
allow any political party other than ZANU PF from campaigning ahead of the
by-election on June 9.

"We are failing to campaign effectively because traditional chiefs are under
strict instructions not to allow any political party to campaign in the
area," he added.

Police in Masvingo confirmed that there were political clashes in Zaka last
Friday but sought to play down the incident saying it was minor.

"We are just investigating a minor case in which ZANU PF and UPP supporters
clashed at Bvukururu business centre," said Masvingo police spokesperson
Inspector Phibion Nyambo.

"We have not arrested anyone since it was a minor incident but the election
campaign period has generally been peaceful," said Nyambo.

ZANU PF's Livingstone Chineka, will lock horns with Sheila Zenga of the UPP
and Lameck Batsirai of the little-known United People's Democratic Party in
the by-election that is being boycotted by both factions of the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

The by-election was called to fill in a seat left vacant following the death
of ZANU PF legislator Tinos Rusere last February.

Human rights groups and Zimbabwean opposition parties have often accused
ZANU PF of unleashing party youths and war veterans to beat up and harass
opposition supporters during election times.

ZANU PF however denies the charge saying the MDC and other opposition groups
are bad losers who refuse to magnanimously accept defeat at the polls. -

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Mbeki 'summoned' Zim ministers


27/05/2007 14:33  - (SA)

Johannesburg - Two Zimbabwean cabinet ministers recently rushed to South
Africa after they had been summoned by President Thabo Mbeki to attend
talks, the Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport said.

Zimbabwe's justice minister Patrick Chinamasa left Accra for South Africa
while labour minister Nicholas Goche flew out of Harare.

Rapport said Mbeki had summoned them to attend secret talks outside Pretoria
to prepare for Zimbabwe's elections in March.

Rapport said Mbeki was upset because they had failed to arrive for the
discussions. A telephone call, probably to Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe, ensured their attendance.

Mbeki was appointed by the Southern African Development Community as a
mediator to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis, and has to report back on his
progress next month, Rapport said.

Mbeki's spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga said on Sunday: "If it concerns the
Zimbabwean dialogue process we are not commenting on it.

"We will not engage in the media about whatever talks are happening."

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Zim needs 'even-handed approach'


    May 27 2007 at 04:42PM

President Thabo Mbeki's mediation in Zimbabwe must reflect fairness
and an understanding of both government and opposition in that country, the
Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.

Reports that Mbeki had given pre-conditions to the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) before the dialogue could resume were
disturbing, said DA spokesperson Joe Seremane.

"Unfortunately, there are no conditions given to the other side
(government), and that is unfair."

Mbeki was appointed by the Southern African Development Community as a
mediator to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis.

According to Seremane, the MDC was required to accept and recognise
that Robert Mugabe is the President of Zimbabwe and that he won the 2002

"Mbeki is also asking the opposition to denounce violence."

When that was done, an enabling environment [for mediation] could be

The MDC had to comply with the conditions, while the ruling Zanu-PF
continued to brag about the free rein given to Mugabe by Mbeki, said

"What Zimbabwe needs so desperately is an even-handed approach by its
mediator, President Mbeki.

"Both parties must be committed to designing a new road map for
democracy in Zimbabwe, and the approach to the mediation and dialogue taken
by Mbeki must reflect fairness and an understanding of both sides," said

He said it was widely known and accepted that the 2002 elections,
during which Mugabe was re-elected as president of Zimbabwe, were anything
but open and fair.

The MDC was engaged in a daily struggle for survival in Zimbabwe,
submitted to extreme police violence, arbitrary arrests and human rights

"President Mugabe has become increasingly dictatorial and undemocratic
in his reign. The number of refugees from Zimbabwe to South Africa attest to

"The situation in Zimbabwe cannot be turned around if the opposition
is forced to accept and adhere to undemocratic elections and the whims of a
dictatorial leader."

If Zimbabwe was to re-establish democracy, then both sides should
commit to democratic principles and practice, said Seremane. - Sapa

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Mbeki remarks 'may jeopardise impartiality'

From The Sunday Independent (SA), 27 May

Peter Fabricius

President Thabo Mbeki told southern African leaders in March that "the fight
against Zimbabwe is a fight against us all", according to Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe going public with Mbeki's alleged expression
of solidarity has caused concern, even within South African government
circles, raising fears that it might jeopardise Mbeki's impartiality as
mediator in the Zimbabwe conflict. According to Mugabe, Mbeki made the
remarks at the meeting in Dar es Salaam in March of the leaders of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), where Mbeki was appointed as
mediator in the Zimbabwe conflict. Mugabe told the New African magazine in
an interview just after the summit that the SADC leaders had all agreed that
Zimbabwe's cause was also their cause. Mugabe said he had gone to the summit
to explain to SADC leaders the assaults by Zimbabwean police on opposition
leaders including Morgan Tsvangirai on March 11.

The SADC leaders had been concerned about that, but he said he had convinced
them that Tsvangirai and other members of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) had been involved in a campaign orchestrated by Britain and the West
"to overthrow his government". The SADC leaders had eventually shown
solidarity with Zimbabwe, Mugabe told the New African. "And in Dar es
Salaam, President Thabo Mbeki put it very clearly," Mugabe said. "He [Mbeki]
said: 'The fight against Zimbabwe is a fight against us all. Today it is
Zimbabwe, tomorrow it will be South Africa, it will be Mozambique, it will
be Angola, it will be any other African country. And any government that is
perceived to be strong, and to be resistant to imperialists, would be made a
target and would be undermined. So let us not allow any point of weakness in
the solidarity of SADC, because that weakness will also be transferred to
the rest of Africa.'"

Mukoni Ratshitanga, Mbeki's spokesman, refused to confirm or deny whether
Mbeki had made the remark. While sources close to the government
acknowledged that Mbeki had said that or something similar, they said Mugabe
had quoted him out of context. The sources said that Mbeki had been trying
to say that Zimbabwe's problem must be sorted out internally, with the help
of the neighbours, not through forcible regime- change backed by the United
States or Britain. They said that Mbeki believed it was important to get
SADC unanimity on Zimbabwe and would make whatever arguments necessary to
achieve that. Mbeki's intervention at the SADC summit was a good example of
his diplomatic approach and its pitfalls. To narrow differences between
conflicting parties, Mbeki was prepared to go to great lengths to couch his
messages to each side in ways they would find reassuring and persuasive.

The danger is that the parties might use his words to show he is biased,
leading to charges of bad faith. The same method had destroyed Mbeki's
mediation in Ivory Coast, where he was also accused of being biased in
favour of President Laurent Gbagbo in negotiations with the latter's
opponents. Ratshitanga said he could not recall Mbeki making the remarks
that Mugabe had attributed to him and that there was no written speech
containing the remarks. He said that the transcript of an interview, which
Mbeki gave to the British Financial Times after the SADC summit, "is the
official position of the presidency and the government with regard to the
issue of Zimbabwe". Mbeki said in that interview that the SADC leaders had
"said, quite openly, they were very disturbed to see these pictures of
people beaten up. So, let us do something about it". Mbeki said in that
interview that the SADC mandate was to get Zanu-PF and the MDC talking about
"what should be done . to create a climate in which you have free and fair
elections whose outcome would not be contested by anybody." Mbeki has
meanwhile persuaded Zanu PF and the MDC to meet next month to begin formal
attempts to resolve their differences.

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Veld fire kills more than ten elephants in Zimbabwe

China Daily

Updated: 2007-05-27 20:35

More than 10 elephants and an undisclosed number of smaller animals were
burnt to death in the Hwange National Park, the largest of its kind in
Zimbabwe, after a veld fire engulfed the game reserve last year, it has been
learnt, according to The Sunday Mail.
This has been described as a serious threat to the country's tourism sector,
amid calls by players in the industry to come up with stringent measures,
including prosecution of those found liable of contravening the Forest Act.

The National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority's senior warden Trumber
Jura said elephants and other wild animals were burnt to death by the blaze.

The fire affected the Matetsi, Zambezi and Robins conservancies.

"Last year in Matetsi, Zambezi and Robins conservancies many species died
including elephants which were more than 10, whilst some had to be shot as
the animals were seriously burnt," said Jura.

He would not disclose the number of jumbos that had to be mercifully put

Jura said wild animals play a pivotal role as tourist attractions and also
contributed immensely to revenue generation in the country through hunting
and photographic safari expeditions in the western Zimbabwean province of
Matabeleland North.

The Parks official said the Parks Authority had over the years been forced
to channel most of its budget towards the prevention of veld fires and
stated that the inferno was also a threat to the welfare of their workforce.

Senior Assistant Commissioner Edmore Veterai said law enforcers would bring
to book all those found liable of contravening the Forestry Act, citing that
igniting unwarranted fires, especially in natural conservancies, is an act
of sabotage against the government's initiatives.

The Governor of Matabeleland North province Thokozile Mathuthu expressed
outrage at the rate of veld fires that occurred in natural conservancies in
the past years, stating that most wildlife-based tourism was developed in
national parks and game reserves.

She said the destruction of the forests was a loss of tourism revenue.

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Zimbabwe rent costs up 1 500 percent


    May 27 2007 at 04:46PM

Rents in crisis-ridden Zimbabwe have shot up by as much as 1 500
percent since the authorities announced a record new inflation figure last
week, it was reported on Sunday.

Landlords are now demanding a host of other payments, including toilet
rolls, groceries and compulsory dress codes, the state- controlled Sunday
Mail newspaper said.

Inflation has been on a relentless upward climb in Zimbabwe since the
turn of the century, linked, critics say, to President Robert Mugabe's
controversial policies including his programme of white land seizures.

Last week the Central Statistical Office said the figure had reached 3
714 percent.

After reading about the new rate of inflation, a number of landlords
hiked their rentals as a way of hedging them against the negative effects of
inflation, Abraham Sadomba, a board member of the Estate Agents' Council,
was quoted as saying.

In the central Avenues area, popular with trendy young professionals,
rentals have been hiked from around ZIM$300 000 (about R8 500) to
five-million dollars a month, the newspaper said. It said the hikes were

Mugabe's government is fighting what appears to be a losing battle
against rising prices as retailers and property owners peg their prices
against sliding parallel market rates for the Zimbabwe dollar.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has painted a gloomy picture of
Zimbabwe's immediate recovery prospects, forecasting inflation could exceed
6 000 percent next year. - Sapa-dpa

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Zimbabwe under sanctions: the inconvenient truth

New Zimbabwe

By Kuthula Matshazi
Last updated: 05/28/2007 04:57:24
NEUTRAL observers and progressive elements are variously shocked and
delighted when Zimbabweans engage in discourses aimed at solving problems in
our country because the way we do it is laughable at best, and awry at

The neutral observers are shocked because of our tendency to misrepresent
facts only to satisfy our respective dialogical positions.

For instance, when Zimbabweans discuss our preferred economic model, or
political issues, we tend to depoliticise these subjects. We strip these
discussions of the politics that is inherent and discuss them as if they
have no political dimensions at all.

Two types of groups push this tendency. The first group deliberately does it
as a strategy of smuggling their discredited neoliberal project or ideas
that are alien to the Zimbabwe situation, which of course would, if
introduced, work to their benefit. The second group is simply ignorant.

Unfortunate to say, but very true, these people sometimes know very little
or nothing and yet that little information or total ignorance appeals to
their sensibilities.

Those from the first group know quite well that there is such a group of
vulnerable people, and therefore deliberately unleash their ideological
propaganda to win their support. The ignorant, therefore become gullible,
not by choice but by their unfortunate sheer ignorance.

It's unfortunate if we, as a country, are going to try and build our nation
based on lies and deception. Such an approach is unsustainable and is the
reason why neutral or progressive elements would be shocked to see anyone
ever promoting such ideas for nation building.

In fact, the interesting thing is that these very people who prey on the
gullible claim to be trying to build a sustainable nation. Of course, it
does not mean that the gullible consume the messages passively, but they may
indeed resist or even try to make sense of the messages.

Unfortunately these messages end up appealing to many. Part of the reason
these message appeal is because of the limited understanding of the much
deeper fundamental ideas that inform these positions that many of the
gullible do not understand. And it is this lack of understanding that these
people from the first group exploit.

Concrete examples would help. Currently, we are discussing whether there are
economic sanctions in Zimbabwe and yet many, especially in the opposition,
deny that. The interesting thing is that while denying that there are
economic sanctions, they still defend their positions using the very
features that constitute economic sanctions. The trick has been that they do
not provide the conceptual definition of economic sanctions, or if they do
(but rarely) they give us half definitions that would not run counter to
their positions.

Ironically, they will go on to blame the government for having brought the
"restrictions" upon themselves. Well, firstly, in such a statement, there is
acknowledgement that indeed there are economic sanctions (termed
"restrictions") because those very restrictions are economic sanctions, even
if being denied. Secondly, by not defining economic sanctions, we are not
shown whether these people understand what economic sanctions are.

A clear example of this strategy was used this past Tuesday in a
British-based radio station which is run by Zimbabweans when the
interviewees failed to give us a clear definition of economic sanctions, but
went on to give us types of economic sanctions.

But there is a difference between types of economic sanctions and the
definition of economic sanctions. Prominent in that debate was the way the
interviewees were picking and choosing the types of sanctions that they
wanted to use to argue their case against the presence of economic sanctions
in Zimbabwe.

Underlying that debate on economic sanctions is the suggestion that these
measures - even if we are told they are non existent - is that they are
based on nothing else but good nature of the West to see a Zimbabwe that is
well administered. The politics that is around Zimbabwe - such as the anger
by the West against the land reforms - is totally disregarded. To argue that
there are ulterior motives by the West to get involved in Zimbabwe is viewed
as crazy.

The fact that the West is involved in Zimbabwe for their strategic national
interests is completely taken out of the picture. The fact that the West is
using the Bretton Woods institutions to apply pressure on Zimbabwe to
structure the economy in the manner Zimbabweans would be disadvantaged and
foreigners benefit, is underplayed or even completely dismissed. The fact
that an economy that is deeply integrated into the global economy is a
disadvantage to the Zimbabweans is discredited.

Instead, we are simplistically told how everything would be good if we only
change the Zanu PF government. But we are not told how we are going to
change the international economic system (a problem which has persisted for
over 50 years), which has failed to progress on issues such as the stalled
trade talks, the skewed political economy and closely linked economic

If a Zimbabwean would argue profoundly to introduce a system that would
perpetuate the current skewed international order, then certainly our
enemies are happy to sponsor those elements to sustain such a discourse and
its attendant programmes.

On the other hand, those neutral observers and progress elements are shocked
when Zimbabweans relegate themselves to destructive discourses that have
affected the country for individual benefit.

The remedy of destructive elements going forth: more "individual
restrictions" for the government officials. The subtext of that phrase is
"more economic sanctions"!

Unfortunately, it is the ordinary people who feel the pinch and not the
government officials.

Kuthula Matshazi is a Zimbabwean journalist and blogger writing from Canada.
Visit his blog:

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2008 may already be a done deal

New Zimbabwe

By Mutumwa D. Mawere
Last updated: 05/28/2007 01:49:29
ZIMBABWE has never missed an election since independence and one can
confidently say that the 2008 elections will be held on schedule
notwithstanding the sentiments expressed by the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

Only last week, Africa celebrated the 44th anniversary of the founding of
the Organisation of African Unity, which was in July 2002, succeeded by the
present Africa Union.

The leaders of the then independent Africa made history and gave significant
impetus to the continent's collective but incomplete struggle for
independence by establishing this pan-African body.

More than four decades later, the dreams of the founding fathers of the
Africa project have been realised only to the extent of decolonising the
continent from colonial hegemony.

Africa is still a victim of social inequality, exclusion, bad governance and
corruption. Even with the end of the Cold War, Africa remains a challenged

The hope that foundation of Africa's post-colonial states would be based on
the consolidation of democracy, the rule of law, good governance, respect of
constitutionalism and the observance of human rights has been sufficiently
discredited by Africa's founding fathers and their successors to give
credence to the observation that the continent is cursed.

From renaissance Italy to Dubai, the development of the world's wealthy
nations that are meeting in Germany this week has been driven by a
combination of responsible and responsive government intervention coupled
with strategically timed private sector investments.

History has shown repeatedly that no amount of force can induce capital
investment in environments where returns are not assured on a sustainable
and predictable basis. No nation can ever be stronger than the strength of
its citizens who often achieve the collective desire for progress through
self interest and initiative.

The logic that one cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong is
equally valid for Africa and yet Africa's leaders have made it a habit to
target the rich countries at a global level and the business sector at the
national level for ridicule in the misplaced hope that doing so will
distract the attention of the governed from holding them accountable for
condemning the continent to a lower standard of leaving.

I have often observed that even if all the rich nations were tsunamied and
wiped from the face of the earth, the condition of the poor will not
materially change. Equally, even if the rich were to be eliminated, the poor
may remain where they are and more importantly may have no hope for a better

If the above is true, why would leaders with a demonstrated track record of
failed policies and programs seek to entrench themselves in power? It is
important that conversations be started among Africans on the key
ideological questions that should inform the strategic options for the

Some often hold the position that the poor are poor because of the rich or
the conspiracy of the rich nations and, therefore, it is the responsibility
of the government to intervene in order to level the playing field. At the
global level, the expectation is that multilateral institutions should be
used as instruments for challenging and reforming the governance model and
architecture while at a national level, the view is that the state in the
name of the people must be the custodian of national morality and economic
progress. There are many who see in the government a friend of the masses
and in business a parasite of the people.

This often leads one to wonder what, if any, is the role of business in
social and economic progress. In Africa, the political elites often hold the
view that it is a privilege to operate a business in the continent and not a
right. The logic advanced is that the output of any human endeavor
ultimately belongs to society and the state as a representative of the
nation has unfettered rights to private property under what ever

To the extent that most African states share a common colonial heritage,
most of the continent's leaders often benefit from the colonial legacy by
constantly reminding their subjects of the risks of colonial resurrection
through opposition parties that are often labeled as surrogates and puppets
of the rich and powerful nations.

Zimbabwe provides a classic case study for anyone to better appreciate how
incumbent parties that have liberation credentials can stay in power
indefinitely using state power as a carrot and stick. I set out below my
observations of how the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has now been
transformed into an election agent for the decisive 2008 elections and how
the opposition may not have any chance in hell to prevail.

On Wednesday last week, the state-run Herald newspaper carried an article
entitled "RBZ in drive to create jobs" which best illustrates the unfolding
drama in Zimbabwean politics. It was reported that the RBZ had embarked on a
massive project that will see it setting up institutions throughout the
country that manufacture animal-drawn farming implements. It was also
reported that the RBZ and not the government was conducting the project in
collaboration with technical colleges under the mechanisation programme.

This is what the RBZ governor Dr Gideon Gono was reported to have told
Zimbabwe's elected representatives:

"We are going to set up the institutions in 62 districts of the country as a
way to create employment for the youths as well as to bolster agricultural
production. Communal farmers contribute to the country's national food
security so we decided to recognise them and assist them improve their
traditional way of farming through the provision of these implements.

"We will provide them with the working capital and equipment for them to
start running the businesses. It's time now that we stopped importing maize
and even wheat, wasting the little foreign currency we have. We have to
produce and this we can do as we have the capacity."

The political import of the Governor's comments to a parliamentary portfolio
committee in an election season that has already begun in Zimbabwe requires
a critical evaluation. While it is evident that the role of the RBZ in
Zimbabwe is inconsistent with its charter, it is not clear what, if any, is
the role of the cabinet of Zimbabwe.

The President is the head of state and government and one would expect that
he would be the one responsible for overseeing the operation of the civil
service and government agencies and would be at the centre of any new
initiative to expand the services of the government to the people. It is
common cause that the RBZ has been at the forefront of advancing the logic
that the end justifies the means and, therefore, there is no rationale for
parliamentary oversight into the allocation of national resources to certain
projects and initiatives.

In this vein, one can understand the implications of the RBZ confusing
voters with seemingly harmless infrastructural and hardware support. Would
the beneficiaries of such irregular government interventions be in any
position to punish the ruling party on election day?

On May 24, 2007, another article appeared in the Herald entitled: "No going
back on forex surrender requirements" in which the Governor of the RBZ was
reported in one of his on the spot guidance tours at Renco Mine to be saying
that the RBZ would not succumb to any pressures seeking the revision of the
40 percent foreign exchange surrender requirements for exporters. This is
what the Governor is reported to have said:

"The levelling of the playing field in this regard seems to have jolted a
player or two in the platinum sector and these seem to have chosen a
defiance route and are geared to protect their entrenched position through
extensive lobbying of various political figures, the international
community, certain banks and other stakeholders to garner support for the
confrontational route they have chosen.

"The management of our economic affairs will not be dictated to us by
outsiders. To invite outsiders to intervene in domestic disputes such as
that emanating from some requirements announced legitimately by a legitimate
central bank, in legitimate circumstances, for legitimate purposes, will
produce illegitimate results which this Governor will not tolerate.

"I seem to have stepped on raw nerves of some of these guys. When policies
are revised in their favour, they see nothing wrong but when we announce
certain policies which may not go down well with them but are for the good
of the economy, they become very defiant,"

"For instance, this economy is facing drought conditions. This economy is
facing shortages of medical drugs, this economy needs to retool in many
areas of local authority, parastatal and government operations. This economy
requires fuel, fertilizer and electricity among other foreign
exchange-driven demands."

Those with genuine difficulties with the new foreign exchange surrender
requirements would be engaged "in as sober a manner as possible rather than
through antagonistic boardroom resolutions", he said.

On May 27, 2007, the Herald reported that the platinum mining companies had
agreed to the extortion. To the extent that Gono's methods of inducing
demanded and expected economic behaviour seems to produce the results ahead
of the forthcoming elections, it is clearly unlikely that any pocket of
resistance to regime continuity will be left.

The platinum companies like their brothers and sisters operating in an
environment where a Governor of the central bank can issue public ultimatums
as an intimidation tactic should naturally be in a state of shock and may
have been persuaded in closed doors to accept the prescription on the
promise that they would be beneficiaries of selectively determined exchange
rates that are often given to compliant players at the sole discretion of
the Governor.

In such an environment the playing field can never be expected to be level.
The threats of the nature given by the Governor suggest that blind obedience
to policy dictates is the order of the day.

In such an environment where hyperinflation and associated economic
challenges are expected to be the real variables to determine the continuity
of the incumbent, the role of an activist and partisan Governor of the
central bank can be better understood. Anyone who dares challenge the status
quo is assured of the consequences and it will not be surprising that
citizens would like obedient sheep be shepherded into political compliance
with a predetermined election outcome.

Mutumwa Mawere's weekly column appears on New every Monday. You
can contact him at:

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U.N. commission votes itself into disrepute

Environmental policy
From The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier

Once again an organization of the United Nations has voted itself into
disrepute, this time by choosing Zimbabwe's environmental minister to head
the Commission on Sustainable Development, the main U.N. intergovernmental
body on the environment.

Nothing quite matches the absurdity of the appointment of the environmental
minister of a government that has destroyed its own economy to guide
environmental policy for the world. Under the cruel, capricious and
irrational rule of President Mugabe, Zimbabwe has gone backwards.

Rogue members of the United Nations turned human rights into a farce and are
now doing the same to international environmental policy.

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Zimbabwe jails compared to Paris Hilton in jail...

From Bulawayo Morning Mirror

The media over the past few weeks in many parts of the world, has been
totally obsessed
with wealthy playgirl Paris Hilton and her impending jail sentence.... "poor
little Rich
Girl".... Such nightmares await her in her 45 day (now reduced to 20 odd
confinement away from the Highlife...

Photographs of her impending jail cell show a neat, pristine, although small
space with a
double bunk bed sporting a substantial padded mattress, air conditioning and
a sparkling
clean toilet.

Poor Paris will however not be allowed to wear makeup ...horrors of all
horrors.... no hair
extensions are allowed...ghastly thought ..
She will be in an orange jump-suit and her cell phone, her crystal-encrusted
will be banned as well. But not being able to text and talk with her
celebrity friends will be
the least of Hilton's worries.

"She's going to be assigned a two-person cell, Hilton, like all inmates,
would be confined
to her quarters 23 hours a day.
She will be allowed out of her cell once a day for an hour to shower,
stretch her legs, use
the telephone or watch television in a jail-house day room according to

Hilton's cellmate, if she gets one, will be another individual serving time
for a serious
driving infraction or other non-violent offence.

Paris will get three meals a day, all taken in her cell, but like the jail's
furnishings, nothing
fancy - cereal or yoghurt with fruit for breakfast, a sandwich or hamburger
for lunch, and
a hot meal such as chicken for dinner!

The jail's schedule also will make it hard for Hilton to keep the late hours
she is
accustomed to. Breakfast is served between 6am and 7.30am, and lights are
turned out at
Hilton landed in hot water for driving her car without a valid license
earlier this year while
on probation for an alcohol-related reckless driving offence.
County officials stressed that Paris Hilton will be equipped with protection
when she enters
jail. The hotel heiress will be provided a panic button to alert jail guards
if she feels
threatened by her fellow prison inmates.

Most educated people are just shaking their heads at all the hype, she did
after all break
the law, and that's what counts in civilised countries.

We Women of Zimbabwe are shaking our heads in disgust at what the poor lass
has ahead
of her, someone should come to Zimbabwe and interview one of our Gallant
Woza women
and ask them what life in a Zimbabwe jail entails.

Jeni, Magodonga, Abigail and hundreds of our brave WOZA women have spent
days and nights in jails ... and for reasons totally different to those of
Miss Hilton. Dare to
stage a peaceful Valentines day march, handing out roses and kind words.
Dare to sit
peacefully in front of an office protesting quietly and without any
violence, praying against
horrifying human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Show one inch of spunk and the Zimbabwe Government gets into a panic, sends
in its
police and riot troops, and our women, babies, mothers and grandmothers are
beaten and thrown into jail without any recourse to legal representation,
without food and
water and without doubt into the filthiest jail conditions the world over. I
quote a reporter
from the London Times who dared to fall foul of the authorities.

" After five days in a concrete and iron-bar tank, with no food and only a
few sips of water,
my skin was flaking and my clothes were slipping off. A prison blanket had
given me lice.
The water I had palmed from a rusty tap in the shower had given me
diarrhoea. Under a
24-hour strip light, I hadn't slept more than a few minutes at a time. And I
stank. So many
men had passed through Cell 6 that they had left their smell on the walls,
and while I was
making my own stink, the walls were also passing theirs onto me."

The journalist was one of the lucky Zimbabwean prisoners, he had a cell to
himself, most
Zimbabwean detainees are not so lucky. They are usually crowded into cells
where there
is standing room only, where if one needs to lie down the rest must stand.
Where the
latrine is overflowing onto the floor ....... where there are no blankets,
where there is no
food, edible or inedible.

Its June in Zimbabwe and our temperatures can get below freezing at night
.... but then i
suppose when there are forty of you in a cell meant for two, cold is not an
issue !

Sadly the world has its priorities all wrong.......

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Polls: ZRP to beef up force

The Herald - published by the government of Zimbabwe

Bulawayo Bureau

THE Zimbabwe Republic Police has established a committee to spearhead
preparations for next year's presidential and parliamentary elections and
envisages increasing the number of police officers from the current 29 000
to 50 000 before the polls, a senior officer has said.

The committee started operating on May 7 and is based at the Police General
Headquarters in Harare.

In an interview during a passout parade at Ntabazinduna on Thursday, the
chairman of the committee, Senior Assistant Commissioner Faustino Mazango,
said his committee's role was to create a peaceful environment, before,
after and during the elections to guarantee a credible election process.

The committee will also supervise resource mobilisation and the deployment
of both human and material resources.

The country will next year hold presidential and parliamentary elections
simultaneously in a bid to cut down on costs. The development will also see
presidential and parliamentary terms running concurrently.

"As ZRP, we have already started preparations for the elections and are in
the process of mobilising manpower.

"We have started a massive recruitment exercise so that we have a minimum of
50 000 police officers by the time we have elections," he said.

"If we fail to get those numbers, we will use members of the police
constabulary because right now we have about 29 000 police officers, which
falls short of our requirements."

Snr Asst Comm Mazango said the ZRP had also requested the Government to
assist with the acquisition of vehicles, which would be used during

"But I must point out that even with the available resources, we can still
deploy effectively especially if the deployments are carried out on time,"
he said.

Snr Asst Comm Mazango said police were not ruling out the possibility of
violence erupting ahead of and during the elections, given the politically
motivated violence which gripped the country in March.

Several police stations, business premises, buses and a train were
petrol-bombed in the orgy of violence.

He, however, said police would be pro-active to ensure that the elections
were held in a peaceful environment.

"But in the event that violence does indeed occur, we are still capable of
dealing with the situation just as we managed to contain the violence which
broke out a few months back.

"We have the capacity to deal with any situation although our priority is to
ensure that there is calm before, during and after the elections," he said.

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