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Leases alone will not guarantee bumper harvests

Zim Online

Friday 10 November 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe yesterday started issuing 99-year leases to solidify
its often violent and controversial land reforms but analysts said a rebound
in the key agriculture was unlikely unless leases are given to competent
farmers and critical inputs are availed on time.

      President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF has made the land reforms -
which resulted in the wholesale seizure of land from white commercial
farmers for redistribution to blacks - the plank of its election campaigns
since 2000.

      Commercial agriculture, once the country's top foreign currency
earner, has plunged by 60 percent since 2001, which critics blame on the
often chaotic reforms that many also say have caused food shortages.

      Analysts have said lack of security of tenure had hamstrung farmers
from accessing credit from banks to shore up agriculture production.

      Yesterday, the government sought to confound its critics handing out
leases to about a hundred beneficiaries and among them about half a dozen
former white farmers.

      Describing the distribution of leases as an historic occasion, Mugabe
challenged banks to be patriotic and support the new land owners.

      He said: "My call to them (banks) is to take advantage of this
security of tenure to support agriculture. Banks and financial institutions
should restart the elaborate programmes of support for agriculture they had
in place before independence.

      "This moment should indeed presage a new dawn demanding a patriotic
commitment from the whole financial sector."

      But analysts said title deeds were only one of the many components of
what farmers required in order to restore the southern African nation to its
former breadbasket of the region status.

      "It is a step in the right direction," said Bulawayo-based economist
Eric Bloch. "But it is only one of the many things that need to be done to
resolve the problems in the agriculture sector."

      "There is need to ensure the leases are given to genuine farmers who
have the skills to work the land not to people with the right political
connections," said Bloch, adding that issues such as for example
availability of fuel and electricity for irrigation needed to be addressed
to revive agriculture.

      Critics say most beneficiaries of the land reforms are either not well
trained or not trained at all and have used the acquired farms as weekend
holiday spots while the country experiences food shortages.

      Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980, has denied charges that
his cronies have mostly benefited from the land reforms, which he says were
necessary to address colonial injustices at the hands of minority whites.

      Zimbabwe has relied on food imports since 2001 due to mainly to
failure by new black farmers to raise agriculture output to levels attained
by previously white commercial farmers.

      Mugabe blames drought for the shortages while farmers complain of
inadequate inputs especially seed, fertilizer and chemicals.

      As a result of the food shortages Zimbabwe has had to import maize
from South Africa and northern neighbour Zambia, a country it used to feed.

      "The leases are critical but then I think the worrying factor is the
clause that says the government can give a farmer three-year notice to
cancel the lease and that on its own erodes the benefits of having the lease
in the first place," James Jowa, a Harare-based economist said.

      The government last year amended the country's constitution making all
agriculture land state property in a widely criticised move, which
effectively killed chances of attracting foreign investors.

      Poor performance in the agriculture sector has hamstrung the country's
anti-inflation drive as prices of basic food commodities continue to shoot
through the roof. Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rate in the world.

      Agriculture contributes 18.5 percent of Zimbabwe's gross domestic
product while 60 percent of raw materials required in the manufacturing
sector come from agriculture.

      The disturbances in the agriculture sector have had far reaching
consequences as hundreds of thousands have lost jobs while the manufacturing
sector, starved of inputs from the sector, is operating below 30 percent

      "Leases will not guarantee a bumper harvest. It is about capacitating
farmers and having a sound agriculture policy, which at the moment is not
there," John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political scientist said.

      Critics say the land reforms have been dogged by blunders from the
start and point to the latest contract to import 70 000 tonnes of fertilizer
from an obscure South African company as one case in point.

      The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe brokered deal has seen the country fork
out scarce foreign currency to import Compound D fertilizer from Intshona
but tests carried by the Grain Marketing Board show the quality is below
standard and will affect yields.

      Mugabe, whose government has been ostracised by West over the land
seizures, says the economy, which has contracted by 40 percent in the last 7
years, is finally turning the corner, powered by improved agriculture output
although others disagree. - ZimOnline

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MDC unity: a glimpse into the two camps

Zim Online

                 Friday 10 November 2006

      HARARE - As the factions of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party take the first steps towards re-unification
ahead of a decisive presidential election in 2008, the goings-on behind the
scenes point to tough and protracted negotiations between the two bickering
sides on the nature and form of their re-marriage.

      Both the Morgan Tsvangirai-led group and their cousins led by Arthur
Mutambara held two stormy and separate national executive meetings in Harare
last Saturday, with the hawks within both camps dismissing unity overtures
citing "irreconcilable differences."

      Insiders believe the hawks within both camps are the vital cogs that
will decide whether these unity talks eventually succeed.

      On a sunny Saturday afternoon last week at St Lucia Park, an exclusive
conference venue in Harare where the Tsvangirai-led faction held its
national executive retreat, there were tears as passionate and emotional
speakers argued for and against the reintegration of the squabbling

      When the issue of unity came up for discussion, there was explosive
and heated debate that went on for close to four hours.

      The hawks among Tsvangirai's group who spoke strongly against unity,
citing irreconcilable differences, include national organising secretary
Elias Mudzuri, the youth assembly chairperson Thamsanqa Mahlangu, national
chairman Isaac Matongo, deputy secretary-general Tapiwa Mashakada and
committee member Cephas Makuyana.

      Insiders told ZimOnline that journalist and deputy secretary for
international relations, Grace Kwinje, broke down and had to be calmed down
by fellow national executive member Kerry Kay as she narrated the futility
of re-unification, saying all the Tsvangirai group - the larger between the
two opposition factions - needed to do was to work harder on the ground as
it had proved to have majority support.

      Women's wing leader in the Tsvangirai-led MDC, Lucia Matibenga, spoke
passionately as she accused the faction of seeking - by pushing for unity
with the Mutambara-led MDC - to re-infect itself with the same cancer that
had almost led to the collapse of the opposition.

      Matibenga argued that the factors that led to the split had not
changed and as a representative of the women, there was no reason to reunite
with those who almost failed a national dream.

      She said: "We are giving ourselves the same disease that led to the
split. As women we believe that unity, without addressing the causes of the
split will not help anyone."

      The hawks also argued how difficult it was going to be to work with
former secretary-general Welshman Ncube who they accused of having stuffed
the party's Harvest House headquarters with people from his Ndebele tribe.

      Ncube who is now secretary general of the Mutambara faction denies
favouring one group in making appointments to Harvest House.

      Yet others, such as Ian Makone, said it was better to "absorb" the
other group rather than reunite with it. Others demanded to know the nature
of the remarriage and asked whether there would be another extra-ordinary
Congress to elect new office bearers.

      Those who preferred to give unity a chance included former Daily News
boss Sam Sipepa Nkomo, vice national chairman Lovemore Moyo and Tsvangirai

      Tsvangirai told the meeting that he had traversed the country when he
held over 60 rallies in the run-up to the district council elections and the
feeling of the people on the ground was that the party should unite.

      He said the people had made an impassioned plea on him to make sure
all the democratic forces are reunited to confront the common enemy: Robert
Mugabe and ZANU PF.

      In a highly emotional narration, Tsvangirai said even though they had
scored some political victories and won more seats in the council elections,
unity was a bigger prize for the suffering people of Zimbabwe.

      Tsvangirai said: "I have travelled around the country and the people
want the democratic forces to unite. I have suffered a lot personally due to
the split and unity is the best prize we could give to the people of

      It appeared Tsvangirai's intervention somewhat managed to calm
tempers. After his speech, there was stunning silence as the delegates began
to confer quietly among themselves.

      The Tsvangirai-faction eventually set up a five-member team led by
Nkomo that was tasked with negotiating the modalities of unity. The
committee also included Matongo, who demanded that he be included in the
negotiating task force.

      Across town, a similar debate was taking place in the Arthur
Mutambara-led camp. Legislator for St Mary's constituency Job Sikhala,
deputy secretary general of the faction Priscilla Misiharabwi-Mushonga and
Nkayi constituency Member of Parliament Abednigo Bhebhe argued vociferously
against unity.

      They said the two factions had "irreconcilable differences".
Nevertheless, the faction agreed to set up a committee led by Ncube to
negotiate the possibility of remarriage.

      Talks for unity are a result of shuttle diplomacy and secret meetings
between Tsvangirai and Mutambara following their discussion and agreement to
work together at the Christian Alliance meeting held on 29 July 2006.

      It is believed that Tsvangirai hopes to be elected the leader and
presidential candidate for a united front while Mutambara hopes to use his
proximity to Tsvangirai to garner grassroots support and poise himself as
eventual successor to the former trade unionist turned opposition

      Ncube is, however said to be "not too keen" about the re-unification
moves but he remained silent during his faction's meeting, sources said.

      The hawks within both groups seem to be more worried that they could
lose their positions if negotiations for re-marriage succeed. The
Tsvangirai-led faction seemed to have moved towards consensus when a
national standing committee on Wednesday night endorsed the need for

      After that meeting, the larger faction of the opposition party
immediately issued a statement saying unity was in line with a resolution at
its Congress in March where they agreed to reintegrate and work with all the
democratic forces.

      But the hawks are still holding sway. The youth in the Tsvangirai
group, led by Mahlangu, are set to hold an emergency meeting this Saturday
to block any overtures for unity.

      Talk of unity by Christmas by some in the opposition party is probably
positive thinking but events on the ground suggest it might be long time
yet - certainly well beyond December 25, 2006 - before unity is achieved.

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Mugabe orders probe over botched fertilizer deal

Zim Online

Friday 10 November 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has ordered the intelligence
service to investigate central bank governor Gideon Gono and Agriculture
Minister Joseph Made over allegations the two imported thousands of tonnes
of fake fertilizer from South Africa in return for kickbacks, sources told

      The sources said an irate Mugabe - who has in the past backed Gono to
the hilt - ordered an immediate probe last week, while he was still in
Beijing for the Africa-China summit and after he was briefed by intelligence
officials about the fertilizer importation scandal.

      Mugabe has also ordered Made to appear before him next week to explain
why he authorised the importation of 70 000 tonnes of fake fertilizer into
the country, according to our sources who are senior officials in Mugabe's
office and in the spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) that is
carrying out the probe.

      "Mugabe is intimately involved in agriculture these days and when he
heard about the fertilizer boob, he ordered Mutasa (Didymus, the
Intelligence Minister) to get to the bottom of the matter. Some heads will
roll," said a source, who spoke on condition he was not named.

      According to our sources, Mugabe himself had not openly accused Made
and Gono of taking bribes to import the fertilizer. But there was strong
suspicion in the intelligence service that the two men may have received
kickbacks particularly because they ignored laid down procedures that
require that fertilizer being imported into the country be first tested.

      Questions were also being asked as to why Made and Gono refused to buy
from traditional and well established suppliers and instead chose an obscure
firm that now appears to be a briefcase company, according to sources.

      Mutasa confirmed the probe by the CIO but said it was not specifically
targeting Made or Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gono - who sourced
hard cash to pay for the fake Compound D fertilizer.

      He said: "It is a lie that we are investigating the two gentlemen per
ser. Food production being a national security issue, we are only interested
in who did what and where the whole deal went wrong. We are not targeting
anyone yet."

      Gono and Made could not be reached for comment on the matter last

      Investigations by ZimOnline have however revealed that Made and Gono
hatched a plan in March this year to side-step the Department of
Agricultural Research and Extension (AREX) in importing fertilizer from
South Africa.

      According to Zimbabwe's laws, all fertilizer imports should be
authorised by AREX's Soils, Chemistry and Research Board which conducts
tests to establish whether foreign manufactured fertilizer is compatible
with Zimbabwean soils.

      But Made and Gono by-passed AREX arguing that involving the
organisation would delay the fertilizer importation programme.

      Although our investigations have revealed a conspiracy between Made
and Gono, we were unable to establish whether the two entered the deal for
monetary gain or other kickbacks. But this suspicion has now formed the core
of the CIO's investigations.

      Gono, the sources said, supplied the name of the South African
company, Intshona, and the contacts to Made, sources said. - ZimOnline

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Air Zimbabwe cancels London flight over debt

Zim Online

Friday 10 November 2006

            HARARE - Troubled national flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe, on
Wednesday cancelled a scheduled flight to London after authorities there
threatened to seize the heavily indebted airline's plane because of an
unpaid debt.

            Sources at Air Zimbabwe told ZimOnline yesterday that the flight
which was scheduled for 10.15pm was cancelled at around 9.30pm following a
crisis meeting between management and the board.

            The sources said Air Zimbabwe has failed to repay debts
totalling about US$2 million to key service providers which include the
Agency for the Safety of Air Navigation in Africa and Madagascar (Asecna),
which manages air spaces.

            ASECNA and other service providers, who are also owed money,
last week threatened to withdraw their services in a bid to coax the
cash-strapped Zimbabwean airline to pay.

            "The national airline owes money to some authorities in Europe
and North Africa ," said the sources who refused to be named because they
are not authorised to speak to the press.

            Air Zimbabwe spokesman David Mwenga confirmed the cancellation
of the flight but attributed the cancellation to some "operational problems".

            Hundreds of stranded passengers were later accommodated at the
Crowne Plaza Hotel in Harare on Wednesday night while others were booked
onto alternative flights for Friday.

            Air Zimbabwe was one of the best airlines in Africa at
independence in 1980. But years of mismanagement and corruption have nearly
brought the airline to its knees.

            The airline has in recent months failed to service some routes
or delayed passengers because planes could not fly due to a lack of spares
or fuel, blamed on an acute shortage of foreign currency to pay foreign
suppliers. - ZimOnline

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SADC troika to deal with Zim: SA

Zim Online

Friday 10 November 2006

            JOHANNESBURG - South African's deputy foreign affairs minister
Aziz Pahad on Wednesday said a team of Southern African Development
Community (SADC) leaders has now been mandated to deal with the crisis in

            Pahad said a three-member SADC delegation shall soon visit
Zimbabwe to push for an end to the country's seven-year old crisis. He did
not say which countries would comprise the delegation but in the past such
missions have included the former, present and incoming chairmen of SADC or
their representatives.

            The deputy foreign affairs minister made the remarks as he
briefed the media in Pretoria yesterday on progress towards resolving the
crisis in South Africa's troubled northern neighbour.

            Pahad did not say when the SADC troika will visit Harare.

            Previous efforts by SADC to help end Zimbabwe's crisis have hit
a brick-wall with President Robert Mugabe refusing to sit down in talks with
the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

            Mugabe dismisses the MDC as a front for Western governments out
to reverse the gains of the liberation struggle, a charge dismissed as false
by the opposition party.

            SADC leaders deferred discussions on Zimbabwe at their last
meeting of head of states in Maseru, Lesotho last August saying they wanted
to give a chance to an initiative by former Tanzanian president Benjamin
Mkapa to resolve the crisis.

            But the Mkapa initiative appeared to have been a ruse with
sources saying there has never been any initiative by Mkapa to act as
mediator between Harare and former colonial power Britain .

            The British embassy in Harare has also poured cold water on the
initiative insisting London was not aware of any negotiations between itself
and Harare. - ZimOnline

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Local government elections and the Zimbabwe voter

Zim Online
Friday 10 November 2006
ZANU PF swept most of the seats that were on offer during the rural district elections
HARARE - Two contending theses stand in opposition to each other in trying to explain the contours and dynamics of electoral politics in Zimbabwe 

One distinguished school of thought has it that Zimbabwean politics is all or largely about ethnicity and ethnic struggles.  

The foremost authority on this was the late Professor Masipula Sithole who used the ethnicity framework to account for the dynamics of nationalist politics in his seminal work appropriately entitled: Zimbabwe: Struggles within the Struggle 

At the time of his untimely death, I know he was preparing a sequel to this on Zimbabwe’s struggles after the struggle.  

The other and recent explanation is the rural-urban argument according to which ethnicity, even if it were salient at one point, has lost its explanatory potency.  

In its place is the rural-urban divide.  

The post-2000 binary division of the Zimbabwean electorate into rural and urban is now legendary. This spatial partition corresponds almost neatly to the twofold polarisation of political society in the country.  

ZANU PF rules the roost in the rural areas while its eternal rival, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), holds sway in the urban areas.  

The rural local government polls served to confirm the unrivalled hegemony of the ruling ZANU PF and the feeble and shallow presence of the opposition formations in rural Zimbabwe 

Previous national elections have equally affirmed the MDC’s supremacy in the country’s urban centres. Virtually all post-2000 elections have also served to demonstrate the hypnotic hold of the opposition forces in the three Matabeleland provinces, again seemingly confirming the regional/ethnic argument about the enduring salience of primordial considerations in voting behaviour.  

The Rural District Council (RDC) and previous national elections also betray Zimbabwe’s fragmented political culture.  

Further, the last rural elections have provided more ammunition for the ‘voter apathy’ thesis, a thesis that mistakenly argues that voters shun the polls because they are not interested. 

I contest this thesis and interpretation of voter ‘apathy’.  

What are the facts about the last slate of elections? The Table below is based on a computation of the results as published in the various media. 

Results of RDC Elections



Unopposed     Electoral victory

Won by MDC


70                  117                     



23                 171


Mat. North

33                   84


Mat. South

33                   80


Mash East

82                  90


Mash Central

81                  53


Mash West

89                     40



63                   130



482                  765


Source: The Herald (1/11/06) and Zimbabwe Independent (3/11/06).

Uncontested Seats: The first level of analysis naturally focuses on the seats won unopposed. ZANU PF won nearly 40 percent of its 1 247 seats unopposed.  

Surely there must be something fundamentally wrong about the electoral process and those who participate in it. Could it be that the MDC was disorganised and therefore failed to field candidates in more than one third of the wards in the 59 RDCs?  

Or were there ‘intervening’ variables that tilted the scales in ZANU PF’s favour? If the former, then woe betide the MDC for it represents a fatal indictment of its electoral (and political) incompetence.  

The 482 seats were won unopposed at the end of nomination on 20 September 2006.  

Predictably, the ‘winning’ party was ecstatic with ZANU PF, through its president, Robert Mugabe declaring that the party was in an unchallenged political position: “We are in a strong position because the other parties have lost confidence in themselves and they are desperate. They know the people don’t like them by and large.”  

President Mugabe then ‘advised’ the opposition to work hard to win the confidence of Zimbabweans. But did the opposition surrender the 482 wards on a silver platter? 

The two MDC factions cried foul after ‘failing’ to nominate candidates in these wards, claiming that ZANU PF played ‘polytricks’ with the electoral procedures one of which involved roping in ‘traditional’ authorities to provide or rather deny aspiring candidates ‘clearance’ letters to verify that the candidates were bona fide residents of the wards. 

ZANU PF naturally pleads ‘not guilty’ to the charge and points at the MDC’s ignorance of electoral procedures, a position that is supported by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. 

Even if the MDC claim is correct, it begs the question of where its ‘intelligence’ arm was when all these ‘goings on’ were taking place or being mooted, or does it not have any. Is it not supposed to sniff and ferret out intelligence information on such ‘plots’? 

Whatever the validity of the ‘polytricks’ accusation, my informed guess is that the governing party would have genuinely and competitively romped to victory in more than 90 percent of the affected wards.  

It would also have had the golden opportunity of testing its real strength in the wards and that of its rivals. If the allegation is valid, then ZANU PF self-destructively denied itself this vital piece of information.  

In short, it was neither necessary nor compulsory for the ruling party to go this extra mile. By so doing, it simply betrays its allergy to competitive elections and confirms the residual grip of the one-party mentality. 

Contested Seats: The two factions of the MDC only managed to capture 81 (less than 10 percent) of the contested seats but taken as a whole, they won a paltry 7 percent of the total wards.  

This is dismal performance by any standard irrespective of the circumstances.  

It is thus difficult to appreciate the jubilation expressed by the Tsvangirai-led MDC spokesman, Nelson Chamisa who reportedly remarked: “While we are certainly disappointed by the Kadoma loss, we are nonetheless ecstatic that we managed to win some wards in the rural areas” and that “now we have pockets of councillors in and around Zimbabwe.”  

An aspiring governing party should never celebrate winning just “pockets” of wards particularly after fielding as many as 680 candidates and winning in only 40 wards (a 6 percent success rate). 

Eleven of the seats were actually won in one RDC, Binga. Later, Chamisa was close the mark when he commented that “Apathy won the polls because the electorate no longer has confidence in the electoral system and its outcome.” 

Commentaries on the outcome of the local government elections have ranged from harsh to pessimistic with The Herald editorial (04/11/06) dismissing the MDC factions as “a bunch of immature political upstarts who have no vision to take this country to the Promised Land” and ‘advising’ the two MDC factions to “just shut up!”  

The Zimbabwe Independent offered a pessimistic diagnosis: “Results of rural district council elections held last weekend have illustrated that opposition parties still have an uphill task to weaken the chokehold ZANU PF has on rural voters. Statistics also paint a picture of an opposition struggling to convince rural voters to take them seriously as a challenger to ZANU PF.”  

Meanwhile, in urban Kadoma, the MDC was also trounced in a low voter turnout. Incumbent Mayor Fani Phiri of the ruling ZANU PF attracted 4 614 votes against the 2 491 for his MDC challenger, Jonas Ndenda.  

With only just over 7 000 voters bothering to go to the ballot box out of a registered voter population of 42 000 (i.e. only about 17 percent voter turnout) then surely there is something gravely wrong. The crucial question then is: what is it that is wrong? 

Towards an Explanation: The first and most common ‘explanation’ is that of voter apathy. This is the orthodox explanation and the line of argument taken by Ellen Kandororo-Dingani in her contribution entitled “Voter apathy dilutes value of democracy” in the Zimbabwe Independent (3/11/06).  

This was a critical expose more of what is wrong with the institutional and legal framework governing elections than an insight into the thinking processes going on in the voter’s mind. 

The problem with voter apathy arguments is that they fail to distinguish, as Professor Sithole did, between voter apathy and voter boycott. 

Apathy means lack of interest or concern; it means indifference bordering on the “I don’t care”. Thus defined, “voter apathy” means lack of interest or concern by the voter about how he/she is governed.  

It is indifference to how and who conducts public affairs. To this extent, Zimbabweans are like ‘sleeping dogs’! 

A “stay away”, on the other hand, is a “boycott”; it is a clear but unspoken statement or an expression of disapproval; it is a deliberate political statement.  

Defined in this way, in a voter stay away, the voter is protesting against something in the electoral process, particularly it’s legitimacy, and efficacy - whether the voter can change anything through the electoral process.

In a boycott or stay away, the citizen is communicating something to authorities; it is a deviant or perhaps unorthodox way of speaking truth to power. 

I submit that what happened in Kadoma and the RDC elections was more of a voter ‘boycott’ than voter ‘apathy’. I maintain that Zimbabweans – both elite and masses - are rational political actors that know which side of their bread is buttered.  

Voter apathy suggests some fatalism that then clouds one’s logic and rationality. In other, words, an apathetic voter unconsciously does not vote. On the other hand, a poll boycotter consciously and therefore rationally decides not to vote after engaging in cost-benefit analysis of the act of voting.  

If, in his/her calculation, it does not pay to vote, the prospective voter does other ‘productive’ things but does so knowingly. Enough on this. 

The second possibility that accounts for the low voter turnout is that the Kadoma and RDC elections were not regarded, by the discerning multitude of voters, as ‘critical elections.’  

Critical elections are those that produce major or fundamental shifts in policy and therefore where, citizens, through the electoral process, produce fundamental changes in public policy.  

From this standpoint, the Kadoma and RDC elections did not pass the ‘critical elections’ acid test. Nothing dramatic or spectacular could be expected from those elections, the rational voter concluded, and accordingly abstained from voting. 

The third possibility is more complex but crucial in explaining the MDC’s dismal performance, especially in Kadoma. A political party can be said to be composed of two groups of supporters: active or core party supporters; and passive party supporters.  

Their propensity to vote can be speculated to take the following lines: core supporters will almost always vote and take part in campaigning for that vote; passive supporters will sometimes vote but rarely take part in electoral campaigns.  

Passive supporters are a group in transition and potentially very malleable i.e. their allegiances are unstable. Depending on a particular configuration of events, passive party supporters can either ‘graduate’ into its core supporters or even slide into passive party opponents. 

I would suggest that the trick lies in the mix of the political stratum that a party is able to capture. Ideally, and at a minimum, any party should be able to maintain its base of core supporters while also retaining and/or enlarging the frontier of its passive supporters.  

A party should start to be deeply worried when its core support base is thinning while its passive supporters are also melting away. I suspect that this is what is happening to the MDC. 

Where are the MDC’s hard core supporters, that is, those who support the party through thick and thin and “till death do us part”? A low voter turnout is essentially a battle between the core supporters of the competing parties or candidates.  

The Kadoma elections clearly reveal that the MDC’s core supporters are dwindling; they are melting away. This suggests an unstable or shifting core supporters’ base while that of the ruling party remains intact or stable. 

What appears to be happening is that the MDC’s core supporters have transmuted into either passive supporters or parochials or even passive opponents. If this is the case, then the MDC surely has a case to answer. 

What accounts for this transformation? What is the MDC not doing that allows this attitudinal metamorphosis in allegiances? Is the party sleeping on the job? If the latter, what accounts for this delinquency?  

Are its supporters taking the exit option and if so, why? Let me pursue the latter question. 

I see two dimensions of the exit option, both arising from a rational calculation by the Zimbabwean voter. The first is psychological and it entails the psychological ‘migration’ of the voter from being an active or core supporter to become a passive supporter and from being a passive supporter to a parochial.  

The golden moment for the MDC (1999-2002) was when multitudes of passive supporters became active supporters. Circumstantial evidence suggests that the reverse process is taking place.  

If indeed this is so, then again the MDC has a case to answer for ‘allowing’ this transmutation to proceed unhindered. Why is it ‘allowing’ this ‘support drain’? 

The second dimension of the voter’s exit option is physical and involves the MDC supporters physically leaving their constituency. Though there is no hard, systematic evidence, anecdotal evidence indicates that the typical MDC supporter is a highly mobile person, almost always ‘thinking’ of leaving his/her place of abode for ‘greener’ pastures, often outside the country.  

The typical MDC supporter was originally a middle class person who possessed less of the material property and more of intellectual property. This supporter could easily ‘persuade’ himself/herself to physically migrate with his/her intellectual property and without risking loss of much material property. 

In short, the MDC supporter has nothing or little to lose by taking the physical exit option. In the context of the on-going economic meltdown, the incentive to stay is very low, if what you possess is more of intellectual than material property.

This is for the simple reason that the hyperinflationary economic environment results in a staggering devaluation of intellectual property in the open market while simultaneously overvaluing material property.  

The intellectual property owners have little stake in remaining in the country and no doubt largely explains the country’s brain drain. These people are or were more likely to be the MDC’s support base. 

The import of this is that the physical exit option, courtesy of the rapid devaluation of intellectual property (itself courtesy of the deepening economic malaise) represents a grave threat to the support base of the MDC in the short and medium term. 

Further, it is my submission that the physical exit option is a predominantly urban phenomenon while the psychological exit option is more of a rural tendency.  

In the rural areas, the ruling party is able (albeit with increasing difficulty) to maintain its core and passive support base partly (if not largely) via the patronage governing modality in the form of food aid, heavily subsidised grain sales, food for work, land resettlement and provision of other valued services like agricultural inputs (fertiliser, maize seed, etc). 

Under such circumstances, even the hardcore MDC person is tempted to psychologically either desert the party (in typical rational response to the first law of survival – self preservation) or migrate from active to passive support.  

Either way, the MDC suffers, more fatally so in the first scenario. The difficulty the MDC faces is its incapacity to socially reproduce its active support base, especially in the rural areas. 

In short, while the MDC is losing its core support base, ZANU PF has been able to retain its own. In Kadoma, the MDC’s core supporters (who are more inclined to vote) are now in the minority. 

The MDC support base is now overwhelmingly composed of passive supporters (who are less inclined to vote) who were either once active supporters or have no incentive to be active supporters.  

And to the extent that passive supporters vote only sometimes and not always, this is a big electoral loss for the party. Here lies the challenge for the MDC and its allies.  

What strategies and tactics will arouse (or rather re-arouse) the passive supporters to take part in the electoral race? Though the ruling party may face the same problem, it is of a lower magnitude in that it has managed, through fair and foul means, to keep its active support base. 

Overall, in the interests of electoral democratic development, both the MDC and the ruling ZANU PF – and indeed civic society – must craft appropriate and effective arousal strategies and techniques to excite the Zimbabwean masses in things political.  

Otherwise, Zimbabweans are in danger of becoming less and less of political animals and more and more of politically parochial animals. 

· Eldred Masunungure is a lecturer in the Department of Politics and Administrative Studies at the University of Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwe, 'Outpost of Tyranny,' Seeks Tourists

New York Times

Published: November 12, 2006
HOW does a pariah state convince the rest of the world to come visit on
their next vacation?

Zimbabwe's tourism industry surely would not pose the question that way. But
that is the near-insuperable marketing challenge the country - which
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice classified as an "outpost of tyranny"
last year - has faced since its autocratic president, Robert G. Mugabe,
started a scorched-earth campaign against all vestiges of Western
colonialism six years ago.

In 1999, just before the government's first seizures of thousands of
white-owned commercial farms sparked both an economic downturn and Western
condemnation, tourists streamed to Zimbabwe to visit sites like Victoria
Falls. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority recorded 2.2 million arrivals at its
airports and border posts, 600,000 of them from overseas. Last year there
were 1.56 million - and barely 200,000 were foreigners. "Tourism was growing
at the rate of 15 percent a year, and then came the land reform program,"
Shingi Munyeza, the chief executive of ZimSun Leisure Group, one of the
nation's top hoteliers, said in a telephone interview from Harare.

Zimbabwe's loss has been its neighbors' gain. Botswana's international
tourist receipts have soared to $280 million a year, and Zambia, on the
other side of Victoria Falls, has seen its tourism take quintuple this
decade, to $150 million a year. Meanwhile, tourism revenues in Zimbabwe came
to just $30 million last year, said the Harare-based economist John
Robertson, compared with $200 million at the height of the country's

It appears that many tourists have the idea that because Western governments
have plastered Zimbabwe with travel warnings, that because a million or more
citizens have gone into voluntary exile, that because the government
bulldozed or burned the homes of at least 750,000 slum-dwellers last year,
sending them fleeing into the countryside - that because of all that and
more, a vacation there might be less than idyllic.

And they are, for the most part, right. The economy is a mess, and for the
tourist that means frequent shortages not only of essentials like gasoline,
but of everything else, from Coca-Cola to toothpaste, and lately, electrical
power for hours at a time. And with inflation nipping along at a rate of
1,200 percent a year, prices, denominated in Zimbabwean dollars, rise almost
daily. (Tourists can exchange their currency for Zimbabwean currency, but
only the highly risky black market will deliver their money's worth; the
government-rigged legal exchange rate robs visitors of up to half their
money's true value.)

Furthermore, if you get sick or hurt, there is little medical care - or even
medicine - available. And getting around the country is also problematic.
Air Zimbabwe has had many breakdowns and in-flight emergencies in recent
years, and the trains are not particularly reliable either.

And yet. Zimbabwe still has magnificent Victoria Falls and Hwange National
Park, which teemed with wildlife until 2001, when government mismanagement
and starving poachers began killing much of it. But what remains - giraffe,
antelope, all the big five game - is impressive. There are still comfortable
lodges, vibrant Harare night life and stunning art, from elegant Shona
sculpture in soapstone and verdite to handmade textiles and pottery.

But the ethical considerations in visiting such an autocratic state are
double-edged: many tourists avoid Zimbabwe for fear of helping finance its
regime, while the tourism industry and its desperate workers could use some
foreign exchange to feed their families.

All that, however, is a tough sell in the face of travel warnings, like the
latest from the United States State Department, which raises the specter of
political and economic turmoil, food shortages and violent crime. "These
travel warnings have really prejudiced both the travelers from North America
and Europe from coming here and enjoying the attractions and facilities we
have," Mr. Munyeza said. Zimbabwe's government says its tourism woes are
rooted in Western economic sabotage and propaganda, which it calls foreign
aggression. "After we embarked on what we think was the right thing to do -
to redistribute the land - Zimbabwe was really ravaged, not only as a
destination, but as a country," said Karikoga Kaseke, the chief executive of
the government's Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.

The government's image-polishing counterinsurgency is called the Perception
Management Program, and it consists in part of handing out junkets to travel
writers, travel agents and tour operators. Last year, Mr. Kaseke said, the
program brought 533 such people to Zimbabwe from around the world, including
the officially reviled United States and Britain. "The people are now
hearing another side, and they are making a decision with information," he

At the same time, Zimbabwe officials began a diplomatic campaign, lobbying
foreign embassies to soften or even lift their travel warnings.

President Mugabe's government has also looked to Asia to replace lost
Western investment and tourism. Mr. Mugabe's Look East policy, focused
mostly on Beijing, has brought to Zimbabwe Chinese shoes, buses, passenger
planes, jet fighters, clothes and, increasingly, Chinese and other Asian
tourists - Asian arrivals are up 75 percent this year, the government says,
although the absolute number is unclear.

Finally, both the government and the tourist industry have taken some
practical steps to reassure visitors. Victoria Falls now has a squad of
tourist police, modeled on those at Egyptian tourism spots, whose job is to
disperse beggars and pickpockets and to project an aura of security. The
country's parks agency has begun to renovate some of its prime properties,
including lodges along the Zambezi River. While Sheraton gave up on Zimbabwe
this year, turning over its nouveau-Soviet tower to a local operator, other
hoteliers are sprucing up: ZimSun, for instance, is refurbishing its Crowne
Plaza hotel in Harare, one of the city's largest, to the tune of $5 million.
For the Christmas holidays, the company plans to give fuel coupons to South
African vacationers who come by car.

Whether any of this has made a difference depends on whom one consults. Mr.
Kaseke's tourism authority says that visitor arrivals in Zimbabwe leaped by
one-third in the first half of 2006, to over a million arrivals, compared
with the same period in 2005. While visits from Europe were down, he said,
American tourism - mostly adventurers and hunters - rose sharply, and
arrivals from Germany and Asia soared more than 75 percent.

"We thought it would work," Mr. Kaseke said of his agency's campaign, "but
we never thought it would work as good as it has."

Alas, however, none of that success was reflected in the hotel business.
Occupancy rates fell to 32 percent, from 38 percent in the same span of
2005, according to the tourism authority. Hotel operators say that is
because the crashing economy has made hotels too expensive for domestic
clients, offsetting a rise in international visitors.

And the latest numbers indicate that overseas tourism in 2006 was virtually
flat compared with 2005. That was the year in which the government's
slum-clearance project, dubbed Operation Drive Out Trash, rendered hundreds
of thousands homeless and loosed a torrent of international condemnation.
Foreign tourism seems not to have recovered from that blow.

Perhaps the answer to whether a vacation in this particular Outpost of
Tyranny is worthwhile and even ethical, lies in the type of tourist one is.
Even casual tourists should abide by some precautions. Tourism Web sites
abound with stories of visitors who innocently snap photos of forbidden
sites, only to find themselves under interrogation in the local police
station. Changing money outside official channels can make economic sense
but is dicey, risking arrest or, perhaps, a clever fraud.

Having said that, tourists can comfortably revel in the marvel of Victoria
Falls or Hwange's wildlife in considerable luxury and with little risk,
though more luxurious - and costlier - accommodations are available across
the river in Zambia. Tourists who travel in groups are virtually assured of
a trouble-free trip.

Still, the visitor who totes a backpack instead of a cartload of Tumi
luggage may be the most satisfied category of tourist. Victoria Falls has
bungee jumping, microlight aircraft flying and extreme whitewater rafting,
and the rest of the country, a rough-hewn work in progress, is the sort of
place that may actually appeal to travelers whose sense of adventure cannot
be quelled by police roadblocks and fuel shortages.

MICHAEL WINES is the chief of the Johannesburg bureau of The Times.

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Zim watchdog to enforce price controls


          November 09 2006 at 02:11PM

      Harare - The Zimbabwean government is to establish an official
commission to monitor prices and incomes in the latest attempt to stall
skyrocketing inflation, a government minister said on Thursday.

      "We are hopeful that the (incomes and pricing) commission will be in
place soon," Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu told AFP.

      "The commission will be an independent body which will look at a whole
range of issues affecting price adjustments which are driving inflation and
see whether incomes are commensurate with the price increase.

      "The commission will also look at profiteering but not profiteering
exclusively but also interrogate reasons preferred by businesses to justify
price movements."

      Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn in the last five years
characterised by runaway inflation which stood at 1,023 percent in September
and perennial shortages of basic commodities such as cooking oil, fuel and
the staple cornmeal.

      The government slashed three zeroes from its currency back in August
but the move failed to put the breaks on the inflation rate.

      President Robert Mugabe's government first introduced price controls
for selected goods four years ago to snuff out a burgeoning black market
where scarce goods were sold for up to three times the state-imposed price.

      The government occasionally deploys police to raid businesses and
arrest price control violators who are usually released after paying a fine.

      The planned law provides for the appointment of a commission "to
monitor price trends of goods and services... producing price monitoring
reports and initiating corrective measures in cases of unscrupulous
businesses affecting Zimbabwe's pricing system," according to a draft
version of the bill. - Sapa-AFP

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Opponents say Zim uses tough media laws


          November 09 2006 at 02:06PM

      Harare - A Zimbabwe court has fined two Botswana reporters for
breaching a law barring journalists from working in the country without
government approval.

      Critics say President Robert Mugabe's government is using tough media
laws - which also bar foreign journalists from setting up base in Zimbabwe -
to terrorise the media and curb criticism in the face of a severe economic

      The official Herald newspaper said on Thursday TV reporter Beauty
Mokoba and cameraman Koketso Seofela were fined Zim$5 000 (about R146) each,
or two months in prison, after pleading guilty to illegally crossing the
Botswana-Zimbabwe border and filming an animal disease control checkpoint
earlier this year.

      The two were arrested and released on bail in April and have appeared
at a Zimbabwe district magistrate's court on the border with Botswana.

      The Zimbabwean government says its media laws were designed to bring
order to an industry operating unprofessionally and denies it has targeted
its opponents and critics. - Reuters

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Botswana journalists fined in Zim

      November 9, 2006

      By Savious Kwinika (CAJ)

      TWO Botswana Broadcasting Service journalists have been fined $4 000
for allegedly practicing without accreditation from the country's media
regulatory body, the Media and Information Commission headed by Tafataona

      Beauty Mokoba, a reporter and Koketso Seofola, a cameraman from
Botswana pleaded guilty of contravening a section of the Access to
Information and Privacy Act (AIPPA) which calls for journalists to obtain
accreditation from the MIC before practicing. Mokoba and Seofola were fined
$4000 or 40 days in prison for practicing without MIC accreditation. They
were also fined $1000 or 20 days in prison after they pleaded guilty to
contravening the Immigration Act when they entered the country illegally.

      In his judgment on Tuesday, Plumtree senior resident Magistrate, Mark
Dziba said the two were fined $5000 after he took account that they were
first offenders and that they did not waste the court's time after pleaded
guilty to the allegations.

      The agreed facts are that Mokoba and Seofola on 30 April at around
12pm the pair entered the country illegally through the Matsilodge border
while doing a documentary on foot and mouth disease. The post is adjacent to
Zimbabwe 's Mphoengs border post. The documentary which was for marketing
purposes of Botswana beef to the European Union was based on that country's
efforts in combating the foot and mouth disease.

      The two allegedly crossed into the country illegally after noticing
that Zimbabwe was facing a foot and mouth outbreak at a river point
separating Matsilodge and Mphoengs border post. The Zimbabwe foot and mouth
control point was mounted before Zimbabwe 's Immigration point when coming
into the country.

       The two allegedly defied orders from the Zimbabwe 's Department of
Veterinary Services officials who told them to seek permission from higher
Plumtree offices before crossing into the country for their documentary.
They were arrested after Seofola who was in the river separating the two
countries had started filming the Zimbabwean border post and the clearing
point. Mokoba and Seofola were both represented by Promise Ncube and Kucaca
Phulu both from Coghlan and Welsh in Bulawayo . The state's case was led by
Prince Butshe-Dube.

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Mugabe issues leases to Zimbabwe's seized farms

Yahoo News

by Fanuel Jongwe Thu Nov 9, 10:47 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has doled out long-term
leases to land which had been confiscated from white farmers, warning the
former owners not to expect government compensation.

Senior government officials along with five white farmers were among the
recipients of the 120 99-year leases presented by the veteran president at a
ceremony in an international conference centre in downtown Harare.

Zimbabwe launched its controversial and often violent land reforms seven
years ago, seizing at least 4,000 properties formerly tilled by white
farmers and pledging to redistribute them to landless blacks.

Mugabe called the farm seizures a correction of historical imbalances that
favoured colonial settlers and gave his blessings to bands of veterans of
the country's 1970s liberation war who led the farm seizures.

But the move precipitated a collapse in agricultural production, once the
mainstay of the Zimbabwean economy, which is now blighted by inflation
running at more than 1,000 percent and previously unheard of food shortages.

In his address to the recipients of the leases, Mugbabe made a rare
acknowledgement of the troubles now affecting the farming sector as he urged
the beneficiaries to exploit the land to the full.

"We need more maize, much more than we were able to produce last year. (We
need) more wheat, more cotton so that we can produce enough so we can
export," said the 82-year-old Mugabe, who has been in power since Zimbabwe
won independence from Britain in 1980.

"You should guard it (the land) jealously and you should be prepared to die
for it. Land for us is about life and death," he added.

Only several hundred white farmers are now believed to be still operating in
Zimbabwe and many of the former landowners have since left the country.

Mugabe ruled out any prospect of compensation from his regime, saying the
former white farmers should look to look to Zimbabwe's old colonial master.

"On the issue of compensation, I wish to reiterate that all the sums we
acquired are inspected and compensated for," he said.

"That (the money) you will get from (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair. We
will not give it to you."

One of the white farmers who was given a land lease was Dennis Streak, the
father of Zimbabwe's former cricket captain Heath Streak.

He had been earmarked for eviction after being handed a confiscation notice.
But he is now being allowed to stay on the land after impressing authorities
with the levels of production since the notice was issued.

Although he was not present at the ceremony, another white farmer said he
was delighted to get the opportunity to continue working land which he first
acquired shortly before the start of the land reform programme.

"What has happened this afternoon is a tremendous occasion and I think it
will be a tremendous boost for agriculture in Zimbabwe," said Michael
Belensky who grows maize and soya beans west of Harare.

Among the other recipients were the chief of protocol in Mugabe's office,
Munyaradzi Kajese, and the chief correspondent on Zimbabwe state television,
Reuben Barwa.

The Commercial Farmers' Union, the mouthpiece of the white farmers, gave a
guarded welcome to the distribution of the leases, while warning that the
move was mired in legal uncertainty.

"It's going to be interesting to see how the 99-year lease mechanism is
going to work out because while the facility might bring some partial
stability back to the sector, no transaction of transfers of leases has
taken place between the government and former owners," said CFU spokeswoman
Emily Crookes.

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Public wants top officials prosecuted for corruption at ZISCO

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      09 November 2006

      Members of the public took part in a debate on Tuesday focusing on the
controversial ZISCO corruption case. The event was hosted by Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the corruption
watchdog Transparency International- Zimbabwe Chapter.

      It has been alleged that top government officials engaged in wholesale
looting at the government run steel giant. The National Economic Conduct
Inspectorate (NECI) produced a detailed report on activities at ZISCO which
concluded there was gross mismanagement and corruption by top officials. But
the report has been kept from public scrutiny and from a parliamentary
committee that is also investigating ZISCO.

      Many participants at the debate Tuesday said they believe the report
is being suppressed because it contains the names of top chefs from the
ruling party who looted millions of dollars with impunity. Jacob Mafume from
the Crisis Coalition said the public consensus was that the looting at ZISCO
is no surprise. Contributors felt strongly that what is needed is a
wholesale solution to the Zimbabwe 's problems. They want the culprits in
the ZISCO case to be prosecuted no matter what office they hold.

      On Thursday, two days after the public debate, management at ZISCO
dismissed the NECI report in a story published in none other than the
government controlled Herald newspaper. They said the report was full of
speculation "clearly from self-serving sources" and that the NECI had
transformed media speculation into a report.

      Political commentator and UZ lecturer Dr John Makumbe, who has worked
for years with the corruption watchdog Transparency International, said they
have been aware for some time that ZANU-PF people were and still are looting
at ZISCO. He said the ZISCO management's claim in the Herald that NECI did
not understand the inner workings of the company was hog wash.

      Makumbe said wholesale looting is taking place all over the country
because there is no-one in charge. He added that everyone dips in when the
person running things is an old 82 year old man who is asleep. Makumbe
explained that systems of checks and balances that are in place are not
followed up and those who guard these systems are in bed with the looters.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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The final solution...

      By Andrew Matiba

      In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the
silence of our friends - MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

      Zimbabwe is bedevilled by economic woes of unimaginable magnitude,
corrupt from the State House to the lowest pauper in the land, riddled with
ministers who can not tell the difference between
      their knees and their elbows and yet the ZANU PF government has got
the nerve to call who-so-ever opposes or criticizes it is unpatriotic.

      My fellow countryman it is time we wake up and smell the coffee,
      this government has failed and is by day running out of ideas, it is
now time to look for a precedent.

      Have we not gone to the polling stations to cast our votes and have
them stolen from us?

      Has MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai not sat down and tried to reason with
this butcher from Zvimba with his cronies? I am sorry to say that I do not
see this man relinquishing power under any diplomatic circumstances.

      It is time we thought about this hard and realise that probably it
      is time for ultimate sacrifices to bring stability and normality in
our beloved country.

      Like our forefathers before us who fought the colonialists in the
first Chimurenga, the courageous liberation fighters who fought the
oppressive Smith  regime which brought about the independence which we
(ZIMBABWEANS) so rightly deserved, even though it has
      not come without its short-comings.

      As a people, putting aside our ethnic differences colour or creed,
      we are impelled to do the right thing for the generations to come for
if we are not careful, we will never see a prosperous and dignified Zimbabwe
in this generation.

      Please pardon my aggressive approach, but after realizing that there
is never been a DICTATOR who has admitted to his short-comings or
relinquished  power on his own accord.

      I have looked at history, no one comes to thought. When I look at
us( ZIMBABWEANS) I see a lot has changed in our genetic make-up, we have
lost our mettle and have grown timid. This ZANU PF monster has seen and
taken advantage of this.

      Just the thought of mass demonstration to exercise one of our
fundamental rights or to complain of the deplorable conditions we
      are living in, the mention of Black boots and national army we quiver
and run like dogs with our tails between our legs. Who is supposed to make
that change for us? The WEST, SOUTH AFRICA, who? Please someone tell me.

      The army itself is looking for a way out, but we the masses have
become too weak to support. Hats off to Tsvangirai, one man who has stood
firm and held his ground against this tyrant and what happens next, a
divided cause, fighting within.

      I will touch on this topic in my next article but people let us use
common sense and stop this playground politics because dismal
      failure is written all over it and for the record we will never
achieve any great things with wrangling over a name and it strengthens the
enemy we are trying to depose.

      I feel very livid at people who look at the Zimbabwe situation on
ethnicity, colour or creed. Mugabe and his wives (ZANU) has had his
tentacles of corruption, deceit and violation of every possible human right
touch Shona, Ndebele and White.

      Too much hate and mistrust has been instilled amongst ourselves to the
benefit of ZANU PF.

      We constantly talk each other down, belittle each other and always
bickering about each other's ethnicity and background while the blood
sucking vampire with his concubines, bleed us all dry with no
      remorse to our backgrounds.

      ZIMBABWE, ZIMBABWE only we can deliver ourselves from this evil. We
are a very resourceful people, look at what we have gone through over the
years, surely we can rid us of this tyrant.

      Let us think outside the Pandora's box of passive demonstration and
peaceful means, for we have tried to be peaceful and passive but it has

      Fear only breeds misery, HEROES are not born but made. This
      government has been holding us to ransom for more than
      a quarter of a century, surely personally I have just had enough, I am
ready to go to the next level.

      A wise man once said to me 'A perfect world belongs only to the realm
of the imagination.' I am not saying I have the perfect solution to our woes
but just look at where we are now.

      Is this the independence we all craved for? As a people I say lets
rise up as we did before and take our country back from the dogs and I
      mean by any means necessary.

      ZIMBABWE, ZIMBABWE ARISE FROM YOUR SLUMBER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Andrew Matiba can be contacted on

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Financial Meltdown Fears

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

With the failure of recent currency reforms, analysts warn country faces
absolute collapse.

By Godfrey Bepe in Harare (AR No. 82, 9-Nov-06)

Restaurant customers in Zimbabwe are again paying with heavy brick-sized
wads of local currency heaved around in carpet bags despite the removal
three months ago by the Reserve Bank of three zeros from the country's
inflation-wracked currency.

With inflation having topped 1,200 per cent, a takeaway beefburger now sets
you back 10,500 Zimbabwe dollars, or 6.6 US dollars at the commonly used
black market rate, compared with 2,100 Zimbabwe dollars on August 1, the
date on which the old currency was abolished and issued new notes with three
zeros lopped off.

Awash with old notes in a system in which the International Monetary Fund
says inflation will top 4,400 per cent, Zimbabweans relieved their misery by
joking that they were "the world's poorest millionaires".

The scrapping of those old notes and of three zeros from the new ones robbed
them of the title, which was of little comfort living as they do in the only
country in Africa which for the past seven years has recorded annual
negative growth rates.

But already Zimbabweans are heading once again towards becoming "the world's
poorest millionaires". Real estate buyers are again handing over deposits of
millions of Zimbabwean dollars in notes stuffed into suitcases and car

Before August businesses were handling such huge volumes of notes that they
needed currency counting machines even for the simplest transactions. After
a brief lull, following Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono's "reform",
newspapers are again advertising currency counting machines for sale.

With inflation out of control, massive foreign currency shortages following
the collapse of export-earning industries such as commercial agriculture,
tourism and gold mining, and a minimal tax base with unemployment at 80 per
cent, the collapsing value of the Zimbabwe dollar is just one sign of the
nation's wider economic disintegration.

"We are looking at total meltdown," one economic analyst told IWPR. "In the
next few months the country could be pushed into absolute collapse. Gono's
so-called currency reforms have not worked."

On the black market, which all Zimbabweans and visitors use extensively, the
value of the Zimbabwe dollar fluctuates. Over one recent period of four
days, the black market rate for just one US dollar swung from 1,200 to 1,600
Zimbabwe dollars. [The official exchange rate, which everyone avoids
wherever possible because it is so unrealistic, is one US dollar to 250
Zimbabwe dollars.] "The rate is changing by the hour," one black market
dealer told IWPR.

Troubled Central Bank officials are running out of the new currency faster
than they can print it as black marketers and money launderers withdraw
massive amounts of bank notes to buy hard currency for future speculation.
The government introduced regulations to limit withdrawals to 100,000
Zimbabwe dollars at a time, but it is being flouted as the big-time dealers
pay bribes to bank tellers who, like all ordinary Zimbabweans, are
struggling to survive.

The government has repeatedly refused to devalue the currency properly as
part of an effort to stem the country's decline. The black market has been
stoked by the severe hard currency shortages, with the unofficial exchange
rate being pushed up by the day as even desperate state-owned enterprises
seek the hard currency the government is unable to provide in order to
settle debts for imported fuel and electricity and other external fees. Many
of those debts, especially for coal, seed and fertiliser, are being

Faced with new uncontrollable inflation despite its "three zeros" tactic,
the Central Bank is warning that it will introduce yet another new currency
soon - and this time citizens will be given only 24 hours to trade in their
old notes before they become "useful only as manure", in the words of Gono.

In the bewildering world of Zimbabwean money, the highest existing banknote
is for 1,000 Zimbabwe dollars - four US dollars at the official exchange
rate, 60 cents at the black market rate - which buys very little. Most
transactions up to 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars are in so-called "bearer
cheques", printed on low quality paper because the government no longer has
enough foreign exchange to import the kind of high quality paper necessary
for printing standard bank notes. Bearer cheques have no security and they
expire as a means of exchange beyond a date printed on them.

Besides robbing Zimbabweans of the kind of standard cash enjoyed elsewhere
in the world, travel over small and long distances has become a nightmare
because of the lack of foreign exchange. There is no petrol, for example, at
stations along the 260 kilometre trunk road between Harare and the main
eastern Zimbabwe city of Mutare. Oil industry executives say the shortages
have been caused by the dearth of hard currency to pay for state-controlled
imports and the near-collapse of the government's main deal with a supplier
that provides 70 per cent of the country's monthly fuel requirements.

The fuel crisis has been exacerbated by the state-owned National Oil
Company's strategy of pegging fuel prices in an ultimately futile bid to
stem inflation. With petrol set at a controlled price of 325 Zimbabwe
dollars a litre, it is, when available, the cheapest anywhere in southern
and central Africa, half the price of a local pint of milk or beer.

The trickle of fuel imports are heavily subsidised by the state. Private oil
industry executives say that on the open market fuel could be bought and
shipped into the landlocked country at a cost of 1,200 Zimbabwe dollars a
litre, giving consumers assured and plentiful access at a retail price of
slightly above 1,500 Zimbabwe dollars a litre. Without allowing oil
companies to import freely and charge market prices, analysts say the fuel
crisis will worsen.

Meanwhile, some 3.5 million people in a remaining population of 11.5
million - some three million or more have fled to other countries - face
hunger in the coming months because of a disastrous drop in agricultural
production as a result of badly planned reforms, including the violent
seizure of largely white-owned commercial farms from 2000 onwards, and the
inability to afford the import of such essential imports as seed and

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe reported that the price of washing powder
rose 47 per cent, bread 42 per cent and sugar 39 per cent in October.
Electricity increased by a crippling 270 per cent. John Robertson, the
country's leading independent economist, said the country's industrial base
had shrunk 65 per cent in the last six years

Godfrey Bepe is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.

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Diamond Mining in Zimbabwe

----- Original Message -----
From: Eddie Cross
Sent: Thursday, November 09, 2006 9:05 AM
Subject: Diamond Mining in Zimbabwe

Joel Gabuza - the MDC SEcretary for Mining and the current Chairman of the
Parliamentary Committee on Mining, said he has visitied this site and saw as
many as 30 000 people digging diamonds on the claim. He said the road
approaching the claim was jammed with traffic and that many illegal buyers
were present.

The illegal mining was suddenly stopped just prior to the recent elections
and reopened when the local people re-elected Zanu to their Rural District
Council. It continues as we write and marks a serious violation of the
rights of mining houses doing exploration in Zimbabwe. The suggestion is
that local Zanu PF interests are deeply involved in the operation.

Eddie Cross
9th October 2006

State sanctioned illegal diamond mining in Zimbabwe
By: Rodrick Mukumbira
Posted: '30-OCT-06 11:00' GMT C Mineweb 1997-2006

WINDHOEK ( --Politics superseded rational thinking when
industrial diamonds were discovered in Marange, in eastern Zimbabwe along
the border with Mozambique, last May, as politicians advocated for a
free-for-all policy and ordered villagers to extract the precious mineral at

In a plot straight from the fairy tales, diamonds had transformed very poor
and illiterate villagers into millionaires by Zimbabwean standards over
night - forget the national pride diamond wealth has brought to Botswana -
as they sold the precious stones extracted from a claim owned by LSX listed
Africa Consolidated Resources to illegal middlemen under the "watchful" eye
of the police and state security organ, Criminal Intelligence Organisation.

The middlemen, in turn, sold the diamonds to Minerals Marketing Corporation
of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), the official mineral buyer for a profit. Industrial
diamonds are said to also have a ready market in Zimbabwe's southern
neighbour, South Africa.

Local teachers and their pupils, policemen and council workers had joined in
the rush that revealed the sad state of Zimbabwe's economic policy in which
politics take precedence over rational thinking.

When senior ruling ZANU-PF politicians, intent on consolidating their hold
on the poor, gave the villagers the go-ahead to mine, no environmental
impact assessment had been carried out at the mine and its environs. There
are no toilets or safe drinking water for the huge throngs gathered there

Media reports spoke of villagers from this low rainfall area, dominated by
rocky terrain and thorny bush, being overwhelmed by their new-found wealth
competing among themselves on spending the windfall with beers being bought
in crates instead of rounds and prostitutes reporting a brisk business.

They do not know what to do with the vast amounts which they carry around,
it appears. That they are overwhelmed by their new-found wealth is evident
in the way they appear to be in competition with each other to spend it as
quickly as possible.

Marange also remained poor and underdeveloped despite the diamond rush. The
local council was not collecting any royalties or levies from the miners.
The buyers and miners were not paying any taxes, as Zimbabwe's answer to a
five-year foreign currency drought was being exploited to satisfy political

Since the controversial move by the government in 2000 to take over white
owned commercial farms for distribution to landless blacks, Zimbabwe has
been going through an economic recession that is characterised by foreign
currency, fuel and food shortages.

Since last week the cash-trapped government has been clamping down on the
illegal trade on diamonds, as it, without confirmation, heeds calls by
economic analysts that it was losing millions in foreign currency earnings.

On Friday, the government suspended activity and ordered everyone off the
claim, ironically to allow them to prepare to vote in Saturday's rural
district council elections.

This week army and police units are due to be deployed.

"We have to put a stop to the illegal activities," police spokesperson Wayne
Bvudzijena, is quoted as saying.

Amos Midzi, Minister of Mines and Mining Development, is on record as
advocating the establishment of a full mining operation on the claim, as
opposed to the free-for-all enforced by politicians.

On Monday, fears were abounding that the villagers were being snubbed in
preference for a few selected "connected" local companies that would be
awarded contracts to mine the diamonds.

Uncontrolled digging has left many mini-craters in the area. Press reports
from Zimbabwe quote several villagers saying they were forced to sell
illegally to middlemen because MMCZ was failing to cope with the swelling
number of customers.

"The MMCZ people just don't want to admit the truth," one villager was
quoted as saying, "which is that they don't have enough money and staff to
handle the volume of the trade. They are always running out of money. This
week they were still paying people who were put on a list a week earlier.
And they didn't even pay everyone on that list."

Meanwhile, Africa Consolidated Resources was this week taking legal action
against MMCZ, which was in June granted diamond mining rights for Marange,
to stop the state-owned company from seizing the claim.

The British company is arguing that MMCZ has no legal right to the claim as
Zimbabwe's Precious Stones Trade Act prohibits any licensed dealer from
engaging in mining activities.

MMCZ is licensed to deal with all precious minerals with the exception of

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Zim develops 'revolutionary' antibiotic


November 09, 2006, 07:45

Zimbabwe has developed an animal antibiotic that is set to "revolutionise"
the agricultural sector, Harare's Herald newspaper reported today. Its
website said the new drug would bolster the control of internal and external
parasites in livestock.

Robson Mafoti, the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre
(SIRDC) chief executive, said the antibiotic, Sirdamectin, was one of the
most effective animal drugs ever produced.

"Our animal antibiotic Sirdamectin will revolutionise the agricultural
sector. SIRDC continues with its research agenda in order to come up with
other products, some of which we shall soon be commercialising," he said.

Mafoti said with the introduction of the locally-made drug, Zimbabwe would
be able to fight diseases at a lower cost. SIRDC was working with the
Medical Control Authority of Zimbabwe to get its manufacturing facility
qualified. The organisation, he said, was working with the department of
veterinary services in carrying out an efficacy trial for the drug. Large
numbers of cattle die from tick-borne diseases in Zimbabwe every year,
especially during the rainy season. - Sapa

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Arresting Democracy

      By Stephen Kuuzabuwe

      THERE is a remarkable resemblance between the present day Zimbabwe
Republic Police Force and apartheid South Africa's police. During the days
of apartheid political activists, students, civil society, workers and their
representatives were always being arrested
      and detained over trumped up charges.

      The same thing is happening with our very own Zimbabwe Republic
      Police in Independent Zimbabwe. Barely a week passes by without any
member of these groups being picked up by the police or a demonstration
being disrupted and organizers arrested.

      The fact that lawyers representing the detainees are not allowed to
see their clients and end up being arrested themselves makes the whole
procedure a criminal act.

      Last week the National Constitutional Assembly's demonstrations to
demand a new constitution for Zimbabwe was disrupted by the state's
machinery of violence, the ZRP riot squad. Students demonstrating against
worsening learning conditions were disrupted
      and the leaders were detained and arrested.

      The NCA is not committing a crime by demonstrating and demanding
      a new constitution for the country. Dr Lovemore Madhuku is not a
criminal in any way. He is the leader of a properly constituted civic body
representing the ordinary peoples' views.

      Promise Mkwananzi is not a criminal in any way. He is just a leader of
a national students' body. To demonstrate and demand a new
      constitution for one's country is not a crime nor is it a crime to
demand better working and learning conditions.

      It is only a despotic regime that tries to stifle such innocent civil
action by its citizenry using draconian legislations that should not even
have been on the statute books. This certainly is against the ideals of a
democratic society.

      Zimbabwe students, like any other students throughout the world have
an inalienable right to stand up and defend academic

      Students have a right to participate in the country's affairs without
hindrance from such brutal forces like the ZRP.

      Civic groups, opposition activists, trade unionists and students all
have tales to tell about our brutal police force. It has been said before
and will be said again that the ZRP is a brutal police force that only
serves the interests of ZANU PF and not the nation.

      It should not be surprising that I am comparing them to police in the
Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa era.

       'An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach
is more so." M. Ghandi

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Zimbabwe's clergy awakening from their slumber

      By Stephen Kuuzabuwe

      LONDON - It was interesting to read that Zimbabwe's clergy are finally
awakening from their slumber over so many years and coming to the people's

      The most disheartening thing was they did so after the four-hour lunch
at State House. It is with this background that I and a host of others view
this document with suspicion and more so when no attempt was made to consult
with all stakeholders.

      One thing that is quite obvious in the document is they are still
dreaming of Sugarcandy Mountain when the country is burning. That they had
to wait this long baffles the mind.

      Only a few have dared to stand up and speak out against Mugabe and
ZANU PF's tyranny.

      Until the church starts calling a spade a spade, the whole exercise of
coming up with volumes and volumes of declarations and blue prints becomes
an exercise in futility.

      Mugabe is a tyranny. Period. That is a fact. That he needs to go as
soon as possible is a foregone conclusion in every Zimbabwean's mind. Even
those within his own party want him to go.

      While they could not come out openly to put Zimbabwe's demise at the
front door of State House, it is noteworthy that the Church has not
forgotten its theological mandate of addressing issues concerned
      with good governance, justice and peace.

      The invitation to State House could not have come at a better time for
the Men of the Cloth. They could have gone a step further to make it known
to His Excellency that the people have not enjoyed these three aspects of
life under his government and that people are
      starving because of his controversial land grab exercise.

      They could have also made it known to His Excellency that anyone who
thinks differently from the ZANU PF line of thinking is not an enemy.

      They could also have made it known to His Excellency that justice
      demands that everyone, rich or poor, white or black are equal before
the law.  Lastly they could have reminded His Excellency that party
faithfuls, CIO agents and policemen are not above the law and that
      these security organs are not an extension of the ZANU PF department
of security.

      Typical of the Men of the Cloth, they skirted around the truth. The
trip to State House was basically to legitimize the illegitimate. That trip
should have been undertaken at the height of the Gukurahundi
      atrocities, at the height of the political disturbances and food
riots. It should have been undertaken when the illegal land invasions were
taking place, when people had all their livelihoods destroyed
      under operation Murambatsvina, when students were being tear gassed
and tortured at the country's institutions of higher learning.

      How many members of the clergy spoke out when the two pieces of
      legislation AIPPA and POSA were in conception? Did they make any
attempts to halt these two pieces of legislation that have consumed what
little democratic space remained in Independent Zimbabwe?

      In principle what I am saying is the Church should be advocating for
dialogue to facilitate regime change.

      Mugabe and ZANU PF have failed the nation. It need not be Archbishop
Desmond Tutu telling Mugabe that he has failed the nation but our own
Clergy. Just imagine what difference it would have made if we had twenty
clerics like Archbishop Pius Ncube!

      As a representative of the people, the Church has failed to stand up
for the downtrodden. Instead they have been taking the 'hear no evil, see no
evil' stance for a long time. The Church's role should be to teach
injustice, conscientise and act instead of being mere spectators, as has
been the case for a long time.

      Every Church leader should be asking themselves the question 'Have we
looked after God's flock?' Preaching about the afterlife is not enough when
God's people are suffering at the hands of a brutal and corrupt regime.

      If the document 'The Zimbabwe We Want' came about as a spontaneous
decision to act and save God's suffering humanity, then the Church leaders
should refuse to be used as pawns in the power struggle and start calling a
spade a spade. It is of no use to come up with a document like this after
4-hour lunches at State

      In conclusion, I wish to urge the Churches to 'walk the talk'. They
have identified issues concerning Zimbabwe as a nation without antagonizing
the Executive. Fair enough. For me the way forward is to involve all
stakeholders in coming up with a homegrown constitution and facilitating
dialogue for a regime change.

      The latter suggestion obviously will not go down well with the
Executive. We have seen the clenched fist and the message it sends to party
faithfuls and the rogue security organs.

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Lawyer says no deportations of failed asylum seekers taking place in UK

      By Lance Guma
      09 November 2006

      A lawyer working with asylum seekers in the United Kingdom has moved
to quell speculation that massive deportations of failed asylum seekers are
taking place quietly away from the public glare. In an interview on
Thursday, Newsreel was told that failed asylum seekers have been granted
permission to take their case to the Court of Appeal where they are trying
to get Zimbabwe declared an 'unsafe destination.' Although the Asylum and
Immigration Tribunal (AIT) ruled in August this year that deportees did not
face 'automatic risk' the failed claimant in the case, referred to only as
AA, has appealed and this means the matter is yet to be concluded.

      What has added to the confusion however is the fact that 'Zimbabweans'
who went into the UK on Malawian passports, those who have overstayed their
visas and others in jail for criminal offences are not covered by the
temporary amnesty. If the Malawian embassy in the United Kingdom certifies
that a passport being held is genuine then any other document the
'Zimbabweans' are producing will not be considered the lawyer explained. It
is these deportations that are at the centre of the confusion. The appeal by
'AA is likely to be finalised by the 19 th December according to press

      Yeukai Taruvinga a failed asylum seeker, who is also a member of the
radical Free-Zim Youth UK, told Newsreel that the standard of legal
representation let them down in their applications. She called on the UK
Home Office to allow them to lodge fresh applications using competent
lawyers, saying this would make a big difference. Taruvinga says they are
getting a raw deal from the legal process in terms of time and meanwhile
their lives are in limbo. 'We are not allowed to work,' she explained, 'and
we are not getting any money from the state to survive.'

      Sarah Harland from the Zimbabwe Association told the New
website on Tuesday that, 'Permission has been granted to appeal, and we
should expect that to be done before December 19. It will be on very
technical grounds and on points of law. The issue is whether the tribunal
came to the correct decision in August. Until the appeal is heard, and a
decision handed down, no Zimbabweans on Zimbabwean passports should be
detained or deported.' She estimates that there are between 15 and 20 failed
asylum seekers in detention and that some of these entered the country on
Malawian passports while some have just completed prison sentences.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Zisco dismisses report

From The Herald, 9 November

Herald Reporter

The Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company has dismissed a report by the National
Economic Conduct Inspectorate alleging financial mismanagement,
externalisation of funds and corruption by top executives that could have
resulted in the firm losing millions of dollars in foreign currency. Zisco
management said the NECI report was full of speculation "clearly from
self-serving sources". They said it appeared NECI had transformed media
speculation into a report. "It is stressed that this speculation emanating
from these nefarious sources is thoroughly misplaced. The fact of the matter
is that sensible business decisions were made based on the environment
facing management and the board," said the Zisco management in an 83-page
response to the NECI allegations. In its report, NECI alleged that Zisco
could have been prejudiced of millions of dollars in foreign currency
through underhand deals with South African and Botswana companies, bypassing
exchange control regulations between 2002 and 2004. NECI alleged that Zisco
could also have been prejudiced of hard currency through the underpricing of
its steel exports on the international market and hiring second-hand
equipment outside the country.

The inspectorate has recommended that Zisco top executives, including former
managing director Dr Gabriel Masanga, be charged and prosecuted for abuse of
office and grossly mismanaging the country's sole steelmaker. The Zisco top
executives should also be charged with contravening the country's exchange
control regulations and the Prevention of Corruption Act, the inspectorate
said in a report of its investigations. However, the Zisco management hit
back at the NECI, saying some of its observations and recommendations showed
that it was not well-versed with operations at Zisco. It denied the
allegations levelled against Dr Masanga and Zisco marketing executive Mr
Rodwell Makuni, saying they never benefited personally from the deals at
Zisco. The management said whatever they did at Zisco was with the knowledge
of the company's board, chaired by Mr David Muringari. "But more important,
is the fact that there is no specific contention that they received a gift
or consideration for themselves as an inducement or reward for doing the act
prohibited by section (3a) to (f)" of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The
contentions merely deal with speculative/conjectural suppositions that the
executive benefited from such transactions. The contentions consequently
fail or, alternatively, have been made prematurely without any
investigations covering the specific contentions as required by statutory

"It is not the intention of the legislature, in terms of the Prevention of
Corruption Act, to punish an agent for having made a less prudent decision
or to have caused a loss to his principal which will suffice for a
prosecution in terms of the Act. It has to be proved that the imprudence or
act leading to the loss was deliberately done after the party making the
decision had been induced by a gift for himself or any other person," they
argued. The Zisco management denied externalising foreign currency and
overpaying Tswana Steel, a Botswana company it acquired. "Payments for the
acquisition of an interest in Tswana were authorised not only by the board
of directors, but by the exchange control authority . . ." On payments of
directors' fees in foreign currency, Zisco said these were made in terms of
the exchange control regulations and the companies that paid the fees,
although wholly owned by Zisco, were not based in Zimbabwe, hence were
justified to pay in foreign currency. The Zisco executives also denied
allegations of abuse of office through the purchase of fuel, billets and
clearing of goods at Beitbridge border post, saying everything was done
above board and no laws were violated. They also said there was nothing
sinister in their donating fuel to Zanu PF and Vice President Mujuru for
campaign purposes. Zisco, they said, did not operate in a vacuum but in an
economic and social environment and this must be viewed within the context
of the country's politics.

The Zisco managers said the inspectorate's findings were an under-estimation
of the serious production challenges being faced by the company. They said
what was emerging from the NECI report was lack of knowledge about how Blast
Furnace Number 4 as well as other sections at the steelworks operate. The
Zisco management defended its decision to hire second-hand dump trucks and
front-end loaders from South Africa, saying this originated from survival
strategies formulated during various weekly management meetings attended by
all senior managers. They also said it was "unfair and unkind" for NECI to
vilify management over the deal with Macsteel International South Africa. As
the economic environment changed, they said, it became imperative for Zisco
to adapt and be responsive to shifting conditions while at the same time
adhering to the principles of prudence with regard to management corporate
governance. As a result, the management came up with the idea of
pre-financing with Macsteel, which involved a request to the customer to pay
in advance for consumables and sometimes spares that would be used for the
production of the ordered products. Without Macsteel's pre-financing
support, they contended, production at Zisco would have ground to a halt.
"To vilify management for such an innovative idea is both unfair and unkind.
This can only be expected from enemies of our country who would want
Zimbabwe and Zisco, in particular, to sink deeper into trouble," they said.

On the hiring of Chartwell Capital Group of South Africa to restructure its
balance sheet, the Zisco management said the company was chosen because its
charges were relatively cheaper and it had extensive experience to do the
job. The agreement was also approved by the Zisco board. Allegations that
Zisco hired used equipment from another South African company, Reclam, to
benefit the latter were also wrong as this was all done above board. The
Zisco management also alleged that the whole NECI probe was orchestrated by
an MDC Member of Parliament from the Midlands Province as part of an agenda
to remove "the Zanu PF aligned management" from the company. They said the
motive of the MDC could be understood as part of its sanctions agenda
against the country and "any actions that counter these sanctions".

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Women's 'tough-love' protest demands change

From The Swazi Observer, 9 November

By Miriam Madziwa

Women in Zimbabwe are taking to the streets to show their frustration with
poor governance, lack of basic social services and unprecedented increases
in the cost of education. In the process, police have arrested nearly 1000
members of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), for their
attempts to hold their leaders accountable. This past October, WOZA members
scored three legal victories after the State failed to substantiate its
charges against some of the women arrested while demonstrating, prompting
the magistrates to set the women free. Others have not been as successful.
Some women spend months detained in filthy prison cells, sometimes with
babies on their backs, attending continually postponed hearings while the
prosecution teams try to find charges that will stick. Some have gone into
labour while in police detention. Jane Mlambo* is from a low-income suburb
in Bulawayo. At 62, the widow explains how jam has become a luxury, and she
cannot even afford to buy bread on which to serve the spread. Her peer in
rural Insiza district, Thembi Ndlovu is frustrated that her grandchildren
are no longer attending school because of prohibitive school fees and costly
uniforms demanded before admission. Both reminisce about the past and dream
of a brighter future for their grandchildren. Such recollections and pent up
frustrations have stirred up strong discontent not just in Mlambo and Ndlovu
but also in hundreds of other Zimbabwean women who have joined WOZA.

WOZA's mission is to restore the dignity of the country's women by speaking
out against social and economic injustices that have eroded the well-being
of the majority of the country's citizens. Guided by their motto 'The power
of love can overcome the love of power' the women peacefully show their
displeasure. WOZA is now known for it's non-violent but highly imaginative
demonstrations during which they persistently call for 'tough love' among
the country's leaders to resolve the crisis that has made not just women',
but all Zimbabweans' lives unbearable. A major plus for the organisation is
that the protests always catch State security agents napping because WOZA
does not publicise actions beforehand. By the time security agents catch on,
the women have already had their say. With its street action and frequent
visit to 'the garden' (WOZA lingo for police cells), the organisation is
slowly chalking up victories against a repressive government. While in the
garden, the women seize the opportunity to share some sisterly love through
song and dance. The songs also send a message to the arresting officers to
realise that they are also victims of the socio-political environment.

Additionally, the women highlight the fact that Zimbabwe's situation is
untenable but things are bound to change if they continue speaking out. So
effective has this strategy been that police officers who have heard the
women's 'tough love songs' now refuse to arrest lead singers within the
organisation. WOZA members say through their homemade, hand written placards
and leaflets they are communicating with a government that has cut off
communication links with its people. Listening and watching WOZA members
plan and stage their projects, one gets the impression that here are women
determined to have their voices and opinions heard. Here are women who
invest their time and meager resources to stage protracted protests for
their dream of a 'socially just future.' These women put passion and
conviction into their street actions. These women are serious. The women's
commitment is evident through their style of doing things. Members receive
intensive training programmes to maintain the organisation's philosophy of
non-violence and to always show love. Now even brutal baton-welding police
officers have conceded in court that when they go to break-up WOZA
demonstrations, "the women are very co-operative and sit down and allow
themselves to be arrested."

The spirit of sisterhood ensures packed courtrooms when WOZA activists
appear in court. Members who escape the police dragnet after protests go and
offer themselves for arrest so that they can be together with their sisters.
With such an impressive record of accomplishment, maybe it is about time
disgruntled Zimbabweans start taking WOZA seriously. Currently debate in
opposition political circles and civic society is revolving around the need
to a 'united and brave leader to direct a popular revolt." Maybe it's time
to draw helpful lessons from WOZA's experiences. Essentially, it is not
about how strong the leadership is but how involved, committed and prepared
members are in identifying a cause and planning how they will achieve their
stated objectives. It's about unshakeable belief in what you are doing and
love for a brighter tomorrow. Just as the old adage notes, "it's love that
makes the world go round". WOZA is using love to unsettle an oppressive

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Of condoms and the Zimbabwe crisis

Zim Online

Friday 10 November 2006

      HARARE - This week we start a new column called Straight Talk and we
hope our readers will find it entertaining and once in a while educational -
hopefully useful.
      We will talk about anything under the sun so rest assured nothing is

      I also hope that you will find this column a useful stress buster. I
however promise I will not hesitate to delve into politics but mostly in a
light manner.

      I realise we are living in a period replete with misery and I really
would not like to make you cry unnecessarily. So we shall have some giggles
here and there for as long as we can.

      This week we look at how the condom has become Zimbabwe's best friend.

      In a country where at least 3 000 people die of HIV/AIDS every week,
it is encouraging to note that more and more people are beginning to take
the responsibility of not spreading the scourge or ensuring that they do not
contract it.

      I go to church once in a while and I have heard many elders in the
church decry the use of condoms but hey, you ignore the condom at your own

      In an ideal world we would all live like puritans - abstain or wait
until we marry and then stick to one partner but this is the real world
where even with death at the doorstep people still succumb to the allure of
the forbidden fruit.

      According to Population Services Zimbabwe, with sales of more than 3.8
million female condoms and 163 million male condoms over the last five
years, our country is leading on the African continent in condom use - wow!

      Recently a friend pointed out that the condom might not just save our
sexual lives but might come in handy in other aspects of our lives.

      She said she tried to buy 20 litre plastic containers to store
household water in these dry days but the price had gone up. A group of
young men on one of the capital's streets tried to get at least Z$20 million
now Z$20 000 per container out of her.

      She said she was so disgusted and almost went off to buy a pack or two
of male condoms. Each pack contains three and is way, way cheaper than the
containers but apparently according to someone she knows and seems to trust,
one condom can hold up to 18 litres of water.

      Fill six up, tie them neatly and store in a cool place and you have
yourself a nice supply of water for bathing, toilet and if push comes to
shove for drinking and cooking.

      Don't knock the condom, these are tough times and I might just try and
see for myself how they hold up as water containers. If you decide to store
your water this cheaper way, remember to boil it because Harare water aint
what it used to be.

      But do not forget the most important use of the condom - if you cannot
control your sexual appetite please protect yourself and those unfortunate
enough to fall into your bed.

      And you girls, the ball is in your court, you want it badly then be
prepared keep your own stash of female condoms and no matter how much you
love the man, insist on using them.

      God knows I am an old woman - likely to be a granny soon so I know how
young people behave.

      No matter how much we preach about the dangers of HIV/AIDS some will
still take the plunge. The figures of new infections are going down so let
us keep it that way.

      Enough said about condoms.

      Lately there have been major discussions on the Domestic Violence
Bill. I have heard it described as a women's Bill.

      Very few people I have spoken to know exactly what is contained in the
Bill. Some women's organisations have praised legislators for coming up with
something for their protection.

      Even opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party legislator
Timothy Mubhawu does not sound like he has fully understood the import of
the Bill.

      Men should not rush to think it is in favour of women. It is aimed
hopefully at protecting abused men and women. If your wife batters you, you
can use it to get the law to sort her out and vice versa.

      What I would really like to understand is the issue of denial of
conjugal rights and obsessive possessiveness. How do you measure reasonable
and unreasonable possessiveness? How do you measure reasonable conjugal

      I hear some people do it once a month, once in two or three months and
others once every week or every two days. I am not sure anybody can expertly
and reasonably say how many times would be considered fair or adequate.

      If I have a low libido should my spouse take me to court for something
I am not in control of? Would men be happy to make love to someone who just
lies there because she does not want it that day or that month for that

      People go off each other for various reasons - at times it is because
one party has been unfaithful or they just have too much on their mind to
prioritise sex.

      Some women always have a headache and some men are always tired so I
am sure if the Bill becomes law we might witness thousands of Zimbabweans
going to the courts to demand their conjugal rights. God spare our children!

      Whatever happens with this Bill both men and women have to be very
careful what they want in it for they might find they have bitten off more
than they can chew.

      Violence is bad irrespective of who perpetrates it. But will
legislating against it make people stop and will many seek the justice of
the courts?

      In the past we have had several cases of battered women who chose to
remain married and refused to report their men because they were the bread
winners and because there was pressure from family to avoid publicising
"family matters", will a new law change people's attitudes?

      All we have at the end of the day is each other and if we cannot
protect each other and seek to understand each other better without
exchanging blows and throwing hot water at each other then we are in serious

      Until next week, be blessed.

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Zimbabwe Opposition's Tsvangirai Faction Overhauls Troubled District


By Jonga Kandemiiri
      09 November 2006

The Zimbabwe opposition faction led by Movement for Democratic Change
founding president Morgan Tsvangirai has taken steps to rebuild its
organization in the Harare district of Mabvuku, whose former leader was
dismissed from his post there after he embarrassed the party by coming out
against domestic violence legislation.

The Tsvangirai faction named former Harare city councillor Falls Nhari of
Mabvuku to head up an interim committee for the party in the troubled
district, also the scene of an attack on a rival MDC faction leader in July
which left her seriously injured. Ousted district leader Timothy Mubhawu
fell under suspicion in that political violence.

Mubhawu stirred the ire of MDC women and faction leaders recently when he
said in parliamentary debate on legislation to toughen penalties for
domestic violence that establishing women as the equals of men ran against
God's will. That provoked a demonstration by opposition women and
disciplinary action by the faction, which dismissed Mubhawu as Mabvuku
leader and dissolved the local organization.

Elections for a permanent committee will be held in two months, Tsvangirai
faction officials said. Some Mabvuku party members complained that there was
no local consultation in the three Mabvuku wards before the interim panel
was named.

But Harare province chairman Morgan Femai told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the process adhered to the party's

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