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MDC at crossroads ahead of meeting

November 12, 2008

By Raymond Maingire

HARARE - The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has called for a
high-profile crisis meeting in Harare on Friday to chart the way forward
following Sunday's unpopular ruling by regional leaders that the party
should share the Ministry of Home Affairs with Zanu-PF.

The MDC, which immediately rejected this ruling, now finds itself at a
crossroads as to whether to take its case further to the African Union (AU)
or to simply abide by the SADC decision.

A power-sharing deal signed between Zanu-PF and MDC two months ago stalled
after the parties failed to agree on the allocation of key ministries
between them.

The deal is a culmination of a heavily disputed poll outcome in which
incumbent President Robert Mugabe declared himself winner following the last
minute withdrawal of his challenger Morgan Tsvangirai who cited massive and
brutal state-sponsored violence on his party.

The bitter wrangle over positions has since narrowed down to the crucial
Home Affairs Ministry which controls the police, registers births and
deaths, issues passports  and runs elections.

But a full SADC extraordinary summit convened in Johannesburg, South Africa,
Sunday to look into political conflicts in the DRC and Zimbabwe recommended
that the rival parties share the ministry, over which the MDC is demanding
sole control.

Friday's MDC meeting will bring together the party's 44-member national
executive and the 128-member national council, which are the party's supreme
decision-making bodies.

MDC insiders told The Zimbabwe Times this week that Friday's meeting is
likely to be tense as there are sharp differences over how to respond to the
new development.

Hardliners within MDC feel the party has a compelling case and should
exhaust all options available to win its case.

"If the MDC proceeds to form a government with Zanu-PF being the dominant
party," a source said, "it is highly unlikely that its presence would change
the culture of doing politics in Zimbabwe which has always favoured

The MDC is also under pressure from its traditional allies within civic
society to abandon its negotiations with Zanu-PF, viewed by some of them as
retrogressive, and adopt a confrontational approach.

Prominent organizations such as the ZCTU and NCA this week intensified their
calls for a transitional authority that will usher Zimbabwe into free and
fresh elections as opposed to a unity government headed by President Mugabe.

Said the source, "There is a school of thought that says if the MDC
capitulates to Zanu-PF and joins the unity government in this set up it
risks losing the support of the loyal constituency that saw it win the March
29 elections. People would then not differentiate it from Zanu-PF."

Most Zimbabweans are now disillusioned with Zanu-PF which they blame for the
economic rot that has befallen the once prosperous nation.

That will then create what had generally been a very narrow room for the
successful emergence of a strong political party into the Zimbabwean
political landscape.

Former Finance minister and one of the losing Presidential candidates in the
March elections Dr Simba Makoni would thankfully occupy this space, it is

On the other hand, the option of first exhausting other channels before
joining the unity government will be strongly opposed by a group within MDC
that feels this will not yield any positive outcome as the African Union is
perceived as being full of leaders who are worse off than Mugabe.

This they say is supported by the failure by the AU to censure the
Zimbabwean leader during their summit in Egypt in July when evidence of a
stolen election was still fresh before the eyes of many.

President Mugabe told a campaign rally on the eve of the disputed June 27
presidential run-off election that his peers within the AU had no moral
authority to question his legitimacy because most of them were worse

He said this ahead of the summit in Egypt that went on to prescribe a unity
government between the feuding parties.

"This group," the source said, "feels the MDC should just take up the little
that has been offered and hope Zanu-PF would reform during the course of the
unity government.

"There is too much fatigue within MDC and the feeling among some is that the
party should now change course and abandon its confrontational strategy
towards Zanu-PF."

There are strong fears that if the MDC continues to exist on the periphery
of real power, Zanu-PF will continue to deploy its cohesive instruments on
it to further weaken it.

"Zanu-PF no longer has any source of power except the highly partisan
military," said the source, "Already Zanu-PF hawks may be preparing the
nation psychologically by spreading claims Tsvangirai is plotting banditry."

But some political analysts say Zanu-PF and MDC are mutually dependent.

They say it is now a case of who blinks first. Zanu-PF is obviously buoyed
by the SADC decision and pressure is now on the MDC to play ball.

Zanu-PF is, however, aware it cannot achieve any progress without the
participation of the MDC in government, especially since the MDC enjoys the
majority in Parliament, and is crucial to pushing legislation through the

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SADC sows seeds of regional conflict

Wednesday, 12 November 2008 06:49

Harare - The Zimbabwe crisis has now escalated into a regional
conflict. Octogenarian leader Robert Mugabe, emboldened by the failure of
SADc leaders to force him to share power with MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai, has
raised the temperature by sabre rattling against Botswana.

The situation is rapidly becoming explosive, with Mugabe accusing
Botswana's President Ian Khama of training MDC militias to attack Zimbabwe.
He has provided no shred of evidence that Botswana is doing this, and
Botswana has vigorously denied the accusation and invited the region to send
a fact-finding mission to investigate.

Khama has been consistently critical of mugabe's sham one-man election
in June and his continuing refusal to share power with the MDC. His
principled stand has been met with a vicious attack in the
government-controlled Zimbabwean media. Observers believe all this  could
well be a prelude to an invasion of Botswana to divert attention from
Zimbabwe's internal problems.

It has never been part of the MDC's strategy to use force because they
know this will lay into mugabe's hands. The war-mongering Mugabe, on the
other hand, has very limited options given the will of the people of
Zimbabwe to reject him as their leader. He can only survive by resorting to
violence - has consistently proven that he is more than willing to do so.
Just look at the weapons he has been buying from china lately  - anti-tank
bombs and other massive firepower that is not required for crowd control but
for full scale war. Just last year Mugabe accused the MDC of training
militias on farms in northern South Africa. A number of MDC supporters were
arrested amid much fanfare and taken to court. Relations with South Africa
cooled and Mugabe successfully brought Thabo mbeki to heel. Eventually a
Zimbabwean judge dismissed the case.

Recent abductions
In recent weeks a number of MDC supporters in the Banket area have
been abducted by police and held in various police stations, denied access
to lawyers and family members. Their families fear they are being tortured
to extract false confessions which will then be used as a pretext to invade

"These allegations are utter rubbish and an invention by Zanu (PF) to
distract attention from the ruin of Zimbabwe's economy, the collapse of
essential services and the impoverishment of its people" said Scott.

MDC spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, said the party was committed to
negotiating outstanding issues under the agreement rather than resorting to
violence. "Apart from these outstanding issues is Zanu (PF)'s deliberate and
systematic plot to incriminate the MDC on fictitious charges of banditry and
terrorism," said Chamisa. "We remain committed to peaceful and democratic
change. There is no reason for the MDC to engage in such barbaric acts when
we are the ruling party with majority seats in Parliament."

Meanwhile, the MDC is preparing to face a government crackdown after
it rejected SADc's lame proposal to share the home affairs ministry, which
commands the country's police force and controls its electoral machinery.
"Zanu (PF) are on the war path," said an MDC spokesman.  "Now we have
rejected the carrot, the next thing will be a very, very huge stick."

SADC washes its hands
Tomaz Salamao, executive secretary of the 15-nation SADc, said
regional leaders were asked to vote during the emergency summit in Jozi
Sunday and it emerged that they unanimously agreed that co-sharing the Home
Affairs ministry between Zanu (PF)
and the mDc was the only way forward.

"This is nothing but an abrogation of their responsibilities," said a
seasoned political observer. "If there is a problem, you cannot expect those
involved to solve it. Because of the nature of the problem, independent
arbitration is required. But SADc is obviously not prepared to shoulder
that responsibility."

He said Salamao's comment: "And within six months, the parties are
free to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of the co-sharing - if they
feel that that is not the best way, then they can decide on the best way to
push it" was a blatant cop out.

Tsvangirai shocked
Tsvangirai has said the issue of sharing the ministry would not work
and expressed shock at SADc's impotence in handling Mugabe's intransigence.

He said his dispute with Mugabe was not only about the ministry of
Home Affairs, but striking a fair balance of power in the entire gamut of
line ministries in the unity government and sharing diplomatic appointments
and assigning key government posts.

"It is about power sharing, it is about equitable power sharing, it is
about giving the responsibility to the party that won an election and has
compromised its position to share a government with a party that lost," he
said. An exasperated Tsvangirai lambasted Motlanthe, who chaired the
meeting, for allowing Mugabe to participate in a discussion from which both
MDC factions were excluded.

"For the record, it had been agreed that all Zimbabwean principals
would recuse themselves to allow an open and unfettered dialogue to take
place among SADC leaders. However, Mugabe refused and the chairman of the
SADC [Motlanthe] did not tell him to leave. Thus Mugabe became a judge in
his own case," Tsvangirai said.

"The concept of co-ministering cannot work," he declared. With two
competing ministers Zanu (PF) would be in a position to sideline the MDC, as
the upper levels of the bureaucracy are its own members, and it would also
threaten the MDC's one-vote majority in cabinet under the political

"Perversely, pressure was brought to bear on the MDC, a party that won
an election but has shown compromise and political maturity in these
negotiations rather than the party that lost an election and has flouted the
spirit and substance of the agreement, namely Zanu (PF)," said Tsvangirai.

"Mugabe is not the President of Zimbabwe without this agreement," he
added, saying that the MDC "hope and pray that the guarantors of the
agreement, in particular progressive members of SADC and the African Union,
will now move very quickly to try and salvage this agreement".

"SADC is made up of a group of leaders that are friends of Mugabe.
Many of them have been in power for a long time and do not respect
democratic decisions," said Fernando Macedo, political analyst and professor
at Luanda's Lusiada University.

"SADC approached this summit without any concrete strategy and did not
have the courage and the decency to look Mugabe in the eye and tell him that
his position was wrong."

Mugabe's strategy
Immediately after the summit, Mugabe announced he would go ahead and
form his new government with support from the breakaway MDC led by Arthur
Mutambara. His chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa said this week a
Constitutional Amendment bill would be rushed through Parliament to create
the Prime Ministership for Tsvangirai, deputy for Mutambara, along with
other posts and changes.

The MDC's top structures will meet on Friday to decide the party's
response. With its 100 seats in parliament, the MDC could delay the passing
of legislation. The balance of power is held by MDC Mutambara, which has 10

"This what Mugabe wanted all along," said the commentator. "He never
intended to rule jointly with Tsvangirai. He has vilified him at every step
of the way. He has never implemented any of the points agreed to in the
memorandum of agreement or the actual power-sharing deal. He can now go
ahead and form a government with Mutambara. He has never stopped abducting,
killing and harassing MDC legislators and supporters.

He has shown not a shred of goodwill towards Tsvangirai - continuing
to this day to deny him a passport. For Mugabe, the agreement has always
been dead - in spirit and in letter."

International outcry over SADC summit

JOHANNESBURG - Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC and prime
minister- designate, has rejected the idea of sharing the Home Affairs
portfolio with President Robert Mugabe's  Zanu (PF) as unworkable.

There is mounting pressure for him to withdraw from the talks, but a
government that excluded him would not win the infusion of foreign aid and
investment that economists and political analysts say is essential to
rebuilding Zimbabwe's shattered economy.

European Union diplomats have expressed concern. "MDC got the finance
portfolio - but with a desk and a chair and not much else. As far as Home
Affairs is concerned, it is clear that Zanu (PF) do not want to hand over
control of the police to the MDC."

"Tsvangirai still doesn't have a passport, he travelled to the summit
on emergency documents,"  said a western diplomat. "That  is another
manifestation of the  clear lack of desire of Zanu (PF) to work with the

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressed
disappointment over the outcome of the SADC summit. "The international
community is quite clear that it expects an equitable agreement on the
allocation of ministries between Zanu (PF) and the MDC," said the spokesman.
"The longer there is a delay in appointing a cabinet, the more difficult it
will be for Mugabe and Zanu (PF) to convince the world of their commitment
to the September 15 agreement." The US State Department deputy spokesman,
Robert Wood, told reporters that the SADC proposal only served to reinforce
Mugabe's grip on power. "The US government is very disappointed by the
outcome of the discussions on Zimbabwe at the SADC summit."

 Human rights group condemns gift giving

HARARE - This week international human rights group, Human Rights
Watch stated its protest and grave concerns about President Mugabe's
systematic attempts to undermine the independence of the judiciary by
providing judges with "gifts."

In August Mugabe presented senior judges of the High court and Labour
court with new generators, 32-inch plasma television sets, satellite dishes
and mercedes-Benz E280 luxury cars as well as utility vehicles including
Toyota and Isuzu trucks.

"There is an established pattern of such "gifts," which are obviously
intended to ensure the loyalty of pro-Zanu (PF) judges or win over those who
seek to maintain their impartiality," Human Rights Watch said in its latest
report titled 'our hands Are Tied - Erosion of the Rule of Law in Zimbabwe.'

"The RBZ itself is a potential litigant," said leading lawyer Harrison
Nkomo. "It may find itself before the same judges who are recipients of its

Beatrice Mtetwa, president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ)
explained that while the country's Bar Association supports proper
remuneration for judges, "remuneration by the Reserve Bank compromises the
administration of justice."

RBZ governor Gideon Gono has rejected criticism on the gifts saying
the RBZ Act legally authorizes the central bank to assist government

Master of the High Court Charles Nyatanga claimed that the RBZ was
merely "[giving] judges essential tools to necessitate them to work

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Rights commission berates Zimbabwe

November 12, 2008

By Junior Sibanda

JOHANNESBURG - The 44th session of the African Commission for Human and
People's Rights has ended in Nigeria with Zimbabwe, currently experiencing
its worst political crisis in years, coming under immense criticism for its
atrocious human rights record in recent years.

This coincided with reports of a new wave of political violence and human
rights violations that supporters of Robert Mugabe and the police have
unleashed on opposition supporters and government critics.

Participants at the session, who raised concern at the human rights
violations, which have included torture and force, called on the African
Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to put pressure
on Zimbabwe's warring political parties in order to reverse the violations.

"Noting that the political crisis in Zimbabwe remains unresolved, we are
further concerned that there are reports of renewed cases of politically
motivated violence and collapse of the social service delivery system,"
reads a memo by participants at the Abuja event.

The comment come hot on the heels of Zimbabwean police violently dispersing
protests by Zimbabwe Students Union and the National Constitutional Assembly
who demonstrated on Tuesday against the deadlock over key cabinet posts, for
which SADC failed to find a solution in South Africa this weekend.

"We call upon the AU and SADC to impress upon Zimbabwean authorities to take
effective measures to stop all forms of politically motivated violence and
allow for free political activity, including the opening up of space for the
media and civil society. We call on AU and SADC to remind Zimbabwe of its
obligations to regional and international agreements and its current
violation of the human rights in relation to continued detentions, threats
and gender biased violence," participants said.

Among others that criticized the Mugabe regime are the chairperson of the
African Commission, Sanji Monageng and the Executive Director of the Centre
for Democracy and Development, Mr Jibrin Ibrahima, who echoed each other's
sentiments on Zimbabwe's worsening human rights violations record and
mentioned it in the same breath with other rogue states around the

Zimbabwe Exiles Forum director Gabriel Shumba, who participated at the
African Commission on Human and People's Rights in Abuja, condemned the
latest round of violence.

Shumba, himself a victim of torture at the hands of state security agents
said, "The continued violations of the rights to freedom of association and
assembly in Zimbabwe should be condemned. In its latest report, the Zimbabwe
election Support Network observes that despite the signing of the agreement
(between Zimbabwe's political parties on September 15 and the initiation of
the talks a violent clampdown of human rights defenders continues to take
place," he said.

Zimbabwe, where criticism of the government is stifled, is rated among the
world's worst violators of human rights particularly against supporters of
the opposition and private media journalists. The country's elections, the
latest being the June 27 presidential elections, have been marred by
violence that the ruling party has used to maintain its stranglehold on

The human rights violations have continued despite the parties signing a
power-sharing deal, which however has been derailed by a deadlock over the
allocation of key cabinet posts as Mugabe and Zanu-PF stubbornly attempt to
hold on to the major cabinet berths.

Recently the police violently dispersed a demonstration of more than 150
members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise and arrested 42 of them for calling for a
resolution of the political impasse in Zimbabwe.

On Tuesday police descended heavily on students who voiced their frustration
over the ongoing deadlock that has derailed the power-sharing deal that
former South African president Thabo Mbeki brokered between Zimbabwe's main
political parties.

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Defying SADC would be harmful for MDC: Analysts

by Cuthbert Nzou Thursday 13 November 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party meets on Friday to plot its next move but analysts said insisting on
defying a directive by regional leaders to form a unity government with
President Robert Mugabe could do irreparable damage to the party's standing
in Africa.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders at an emergency
summit in Johannesburg on Sunday ruled that Zimbabwe's rival political
leaders form a power-sharing government "forthwith" to end a debilitating
political stalemate gripping the country since Mugabe's controversial
re-election last June.

The SADC, which brokered Zimbabwe's September 15 power-sharing
agreement, ruled that the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC and Mugabe's ruling ZANU
PF co-manage the ministry of home affairs, in charge of the police and whose
control had been a stumbling block to the formation of a unity government.

Tsvangirai - who wants the MDC to have sole control of home affairs -
immediately rejected the call to co-manage the portfolio with ZANU PF and
said his party would not join the unity government.

He will meet the top leadership of his party tomorrow in Harare to
decide the next step forward.

But a leading analyst, Eldred Masunungure, saw little viable option
for Tsvangirai, saying failure to comply with the SADC ruling could leave
the opposition leader shunned across Africa, the same way the late UNITA
leader Jonas Savimbi was after rejecting African calls to end his rebel war
in Angola.

Masunugure, a political science professor at the University of
Zimbabwe (UZ), said under the tough circumstances that the opposition finds
itself in their best bet would be to backtrack on their earlier threat to
defy the SADC and instead agree to join the unity government "under protest".

"Given the resolution of the SADC - which was not a recommendation but
a final decision - there are very few options for the Tsvangirai-led MDC
other than to participate under protest," said Masunungure.

"It appears to me that the SADC resolution brings the Cabinet
formation impasse to finality and does not seem to leave room for an appeal
process," he said.

On Sunday SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao was emphatic that the
15-nation bloc wanted Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal implemented immediately.

In his words the SADC wanted a unity government quickly established in
Harare, "whether (all the Zimbabwean) parties agreed or not".

Mugabe readily accepted the summit ruling, not least because it
endorsed his plan to deny the MDC sole control of home affairs while leaving
all the other security arms of government including the army in the hands of
his ZANU PF party.

Tsvangirai told journalists in Sandton, the venue of the regional
summit, that he was "shocked and saddened" by the decision of SADC and
suggested the African Union (AU) should step in to try to salvage the
power-sharing agreement.

However, another UZ political scientist Michael Mhike saw little hope
in Tsvangirai taking his case to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital and seat
of the AU.

"Tsvangirai is now caught up between a rock and a hard place," Mhike

"He has to be part of the all-inclusive government because taking the
issue to the AU will not help his agenda. SADC is an organ of the AU and the
AU will definitely adopt the same position reached by the regional block."

Mhike said Tsvangirai should participate in the unity government and
should try to continue arguing his case from within the government.

Masunungure concurred: "Frankly, the road for appeals is blocked. To
this extent, the MDC-Tsvangirai has to weigh its options very carefully and
with sensitivity to its image and place within SADC (and Africa)."

Masunungure, who is also head of the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion
Institute political think-tank, said Tsvangirai had to play his cards in
such a way that any attempts to stick the detested Savimbi tag on him would

While the MDC and Tsvangirai enjoy unquestioned popularity at home,
being likened to Savimbi and his UNITA movement who were reviled in many
parts of Africa would cripple attempts by the opposition to increase
pressure on Mugabe by pushing for his isolation within Africa and beyond.

Mugabe's government has already made strong attempts to draw parallels
between UNITA and the MDC by accusing the opposition of recruiting and
training youths in neighbouring Botswana to destabilise Zimbabwe.

The MDC and the Botswana government have dismissed the charges as
unfounded and baseless, while Gaborone has also asked the SADC to send a
fact-finding mission to Botswana to probe the allegations.

Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal retains the 84-year old Mugabe as
president while making Tsvangirai prime minister and Arthur Mutambara, who
heads a breakaway faction of the MDC, will be deputy prime minister.

Analysts say only a government of national unity could be able to
tackle Zimbabwe's unprecedented recession seen in the world's highest
inflation of 231 million percent, 80 percent unemployment, acute shortages
of food and basic commodities.

However prolonged bickering between Mugabe and his two younger rivals
over allocation of key Cabinet posts has led many analysts to ask for how
long the unity government - if it is eventually established - will be able
to survive the three principals' deep-seated animosity towards each other. -

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Group vows more anti-government protests

by Simplicious Chirinda Thursday 13 November 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) said on Wednesday
it will step up public protests to demand a transitional authority to
re-write the country's constitution and conduct free and fair elections.

The NCA - the country's biggest political pressure group - says a
transitional authority and not a government of national unity between the
country's main political parties would be best placed to break Zimbabwe's
long running political and economic crisis.

The group on Tuesday staged protests to demand establishment of a
transitional authority in the cities of Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare and
Gweru. But heavily armed police brutally crushed attempts by the group to
stage protests in Harare, arresting some of the group's activists and
injuring scores of others.

In a statement on Wednesday NCA, chairman Lovemore Madhuku urged Zimbabweans
not to be deterred by police brutality and promised his group would stage
more protests in the days to come.

He said: "As a nation, we have to come to terms with the fact that no amount
of international support to our struggle will come to bear without local

"As citizens we must take back what we have resignedly outsourced: the right
to save our country from the jaws of the brutal regime that has dominated us
for far too long."

Madhuku said his organisation would work with other civic organisations to
try to mobilise more protests despite the risk of a severe reprisals from
the police, well known for their high-handed methods in dealing with
anti-government protests.

The NCA - which is a coalition of civil societies, non-governmental
organisations and political parties - wants a transitional government to run
the country, craft a new democratic constitution for Zimbabwe and prepare
for free and fair elections to be monitored by the international community.

The group is opposed to a planned power-sharing government between the
ruling ZANU PF and opposition MDC parties and says both President Robert
Mugabe and main MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai should be excluded from the
transitional authority.

The push by the NCA for a transitional authority in Zimbabwe comes amid
increasing fears that a September 15 power-sharing deal between Mugabe,
Tsvangirai and head of a breakaway faction of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara,
could collapse.

The three rivals have failed to set up a unity government outlined under the
power-sharing deal because they cannot agree on the allocation of the most
powerful ministries, especially the home affairs ministry that oversees the

An emergency summit of the regional Southern African Development Community
(SADC) group called to break the deadlock over ministerial posts resolved
that a unity government be formed "forthwith" and that the home affairs
ministry be co-chaired by ZANU PF and the Tsvangirai-led MDC.

Tsvangirai rejected the decision and his party's national executive and
council will meet on Friday to decide the way forward while Mugabe has since
said he would "as soon as possible" constitute a government.

Mugabe said he would invite Tsvangirai to submit names of members of his
party to be appointed into the 31-member Cabinet. The opposition leader is
expected to decline the offer.   - ZimOnline

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Death Toll From Cholera Outbreaks In Zimbabwe Exceeds 100


By Sylvia Manika, Carole Gombakomba & Irwin Chifera
Harare and Washington
12 November 2008

Cholera is spreading in Harare and outlying areas, independent health
sources said on Wednesday, with the death toll from the epidemic rising to
at least 100 with the country's virtually collapsed health care system hard
put to cope with the outbreaks.

Experts warned that until the causes of the cholera outbreak are addressed,
in particular the lack of safe drinking water and deterioration of
sanitation systems, the epidemic will continue, claiming more lives.
A nurse at a Harare hospital speaking on condition of anonymity said her
institution was without rehydration fluids for two days until a consignment
of about 100 drips from the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF,
arrived on Wednesday.

Correspondent Sylvia Manika reported from Harare.

Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for
Human Rights, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that with the disease on the rise the Harare region and drugs in short
supply, the death toll could mount.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's justice system has become the latest victim of the
water shortages that have beset the capital for months: the Harare High
Court suspended sittings due to a lack of water at its offices in Samora
Machel Avenue, a main thoroughfare.

Members of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights were turned away as they
tried to file an urgent chamber application for the release of opposition

Communications Officer Kumbirai Mafunda of the legal defense group expressed
the concern that the closure was tantamount to denying justice
Correspondent Irwin Chifera of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.

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Zimbabwe Prices In Stratosphere As Political Power-Sharing Falters

By Jonga Kandemiiri
12 November 2008

Zimbabwean consumers are blaming the breakdown in the political
power-sharing process for a major surge this week in prices of basic goods
and services.

A loaf of bread now costs around Z$400,000, double last week's price of
Z$200,000. Two kilograms of sugar cost Z$1 million and a kilo of maize meal,
Zimbabwe's staple food, goes for one U.S. dollar or Z$400,000 at the current
parallel market exchange rate.

However, in the frenzied market in transactions carried out by check,
someone holding a U.S. hundred dollar bill could receive Z$5 quadrillion - a
five followed by 15 zeros.

Speculators call such transactions "burning money," using checks in
far-fetched amounts to buy, for instance, phone cards which they sell on the
street for scarce cash notes.

Consumers are only allowed to withdraw Z$500,000 from their bank accounts,
but as financial institutions allow larger withdrawals for emergencies,
those trying to beat the system present bogus invoices from funeral homes
pleading the necessity of more cash for a burial.

Others have tried the more direct expedient of bribing bank tellers.

Such extreme financial measures are driven by hyperinflation. The annual
rate of increase in the cost of living was last officially measured at 231
million percent. But the prominent U.S. economist Steve Hanke recently
pegged it at 2.79 quintillion percent.

Consumer Alice Mutengu of Harare told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that many people have felt themselves compelled to
engage in illegal activities because of the desperate economic situation in
the country.

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Chaos in Zimbabwe currency continues
12th Nov 2008 23:10 GMT

By a Correspondent

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has reinstated the Real Time Gross Settlement System transactions and internal bank transfers while reducing the foreign currency surrender requirements for foreign currency shops.

Banks are now required to enforce the "Know Your Customer" requirements whose weak enforcement had encouraged indiscipline.

Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate - already the world's highest - now stands at 231,000,000%.

Suspension of the RTGS had been motivated by widespread abuse by a "breed of selfish and unrelenting money launderers and speculators" who include individuals, corporate entities and some banking institutions, RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono said last night.

Among measures announced last night are:

  • Companies can withdraw cash equivalent to 120 percent of their previous week’s cash deposits;
  • Measures will soon be announced to deal with the long cash queues at most banking halls to restore confidence in the banking sector and credibility to the national payments system;
  • Building societies, property developers and real estate agents will be licensed as Foreign Exchange Licensed Entities, allowing them to sell houses in foreign currency, but will have to sell 10 percent of their receipts to the central bank.
  • Multiple bank accounts will have to be justified or closed.
  • Foreign Exchange Licensed shops will now sell 7,5 percent of their proceeds to the central bank down from 15 percent, with effect from Monday this week. The measure will be applied in retrospect. This is expected to encourage the availability of more goods at lower prices.

Foreign currency shops that are able to raise external lines of credit will now only sell 5 percent of their earnings to the central bank while banks that on-lend their own resources to these shops will be entitled to 2,5 percent of the shops’ gross proceeds.

All banking institutions will now be required to keep their minimum capital requirements in foreign currency, and will be required to demonstrate the adequacy of their foreign currency-denominated capital bases on an on-going basis.


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'Arrogance is Mugabe's hallmark'

      Basildon Peta
    November 13 2008 at 06:29AM

Robert Mugabe secretly pleaded with his arch-rival, Morgan Tsvangirai,
to join him in a unity Zimbabwean government after regional leaders
instructed the leaders this week to form one immediately.

But Tsvangirai again declined and refused to name members of his
Movement for Democratic Change to be appointed to a new unity cabinet.
Tsvangirai earlier rejected a Southern African Development Community (SADC)
leaders' resolution to "co-manage" the crucial ministry of home affairs with
Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

Upon arrival back in Zimbabwe on Monday after the SADC summit in
Johannesburg, Mugabe vowed to appoint a cabinet unilaterally this week or
next, but has since been holding back.

Sources said Mugabe had sent a senior emissary, Simon Khaya Moyo, a
former cabinet minister and Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa, to try to
persuade Tsvangirai to come home immediately to co-operate in the forming of
a new government in line with the SADC's recommendation.

But Tsvangirai, who has remained in South Africa since the summit,
turned down Mugabe's plea.

Sources said Tsvangirai's stance meant that Mugabe could now proceed
to name a cabinet immediately.

Some observers believe he might wait for the MDC's national council
meeting on Friday, hoping that Tsvangirai will be overruled by a majority
within his party and forced to join the unity government. A cabinet would
then be named next week.

"Arrogance is Mugabe's hallmark and he could have proceeded to appoint
the cabinet without Tsvangirai soon after his hand was strengthened by
SADC's decision. But he also realises the futility of proceeding without
Tsvangirai and hence his uncharacteristic effort of reaching out to him on
Monday," said a Zimbabwean government source.

A cabinet without Tsvangirai would probably guarantee Zimbabwe's
collapse as donors and investors are unlikely to deal with Mugabe alone.
Even South Africa's R300-million pledge to help resuscitate Zimbabwe's
mainstay agricultural sector was offered on conditional that a unity
government was formed first.

Neither Tsvangirai nor Moyo could be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Observers believe it is unlikely that the MDC's national council will
overrule Tsvangirai and ask him to join the unity government

Eddie Cross, who is in charge of the MDC-T faction's policy
formulation department, warned this week that the MDC would have to make a
tough decision.

In a circular entitled "What Next?" he said the decision on whether to
proceed with the unity deal would "be the most difficult decision for the
MDC since we were formed in 1999".

"This time the consequences of rejection of a flawed deal for our
people will be immediate and terrible," said Cross, warning that up to a
million Zimbabweans could perish of hunger.

Zimbabwe's currency is worthless, with inflation officially at
231-million percent but calculated by the private sector at eight billion

The World Food Programme said this week it had fed two million
Zimbabweans in October, and expected to feed four million this month. It
warned that it would not be able to continue the feeding programme because
of a lack of donations.

Tsvangirai berated the SADC leaders over their "lack of courage to
look Mugabe in the face and tell him that he is wrong". He has called for
the establishment of an "eminent persons group" to salvage the unity deal
signed on September 15.

This article was originally published on page 4 of The Mercury on
November 13, 2008

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Corruption Hits High Levels in Zimbabwe

Health delivery system in dire straits

Nelson G. Katsande

 Published 2008-11-13 11:24 (KST)

Nursing staff at most government hospitals are taking advantage of the
collapse in the health delivery system to line up their pockets. Patients
already hard hit by the acute shortage of medicines are reportedly paying
nurses in return for preferential treatment.

Patients already struggling to meet the high costs of treatment are forced
to fork out large sums of money in payments to nurses in order to receive
treatment. The poorly paid nurses are creating artificial shortages by
hoarding medicines which they in turn clandestinely sell to patients.

Others are reported to have opened mini pharmacies at their homes where they
refer patients to purchase medicines at exorbitant prices. The shortage of
medicines at government hospitals is so dire that thousands of patients are
turned away without getting treatment.

The nurses are said to be working in cahoots with some doctors. At
Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, the largest medical center in Zimbabwe,
nurses are selling food stuffs to patients as the hospital struggles to feed
the patients owing to severe shortages of basic food stuffs. Patients lucky
enough to be admitted at the hospital are advised to bring their own food
and linen.

Even the dead are feeling the pinch. Officials at some local authorities are
reportedly refusing to issue burial orders unless they are paid large sums
by relatives of the deceased. Burial orders are documents issued in order to
facilitate the burial process.

As fears of cholera outbreak heightens in most parts of the country as
people drink contaminated water, the number of deaths at home by patients
turned away from hospitals has increased.

The government refuses to acknowledge that it has failed to provide basic
care to millions of people and blames sanctions and western countries for
the worsening situation.

Almost two months after the signing of the power sharing deal between
President Robert Mugabe and his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai, the people are
still waiting to see if the deal will bring any joy. So far, the parties to
the deal have failed to reach a consensus on the sharing of ministerial

Zimbabwe is at a precipice as the country faces its worst economic woes
since attaining independence from Britain in 1980. Mugabe has repeatedly
blamed the former colonial ruler for his country's problems and stifling in
the country's internal affairs.

Despite signing the power sharing deal, Mugabe still refers to his rival as
"a British puppet." There has been growing pressure for Mugabe to relinquish
power after 28 years. Analysts blame Mugabe for ruling Zimbabwe with an iron
fist and his refusal to acknowledge that the people have lost confidence in
his leadership.

In the March presidential elections which were won by Morgan Tsvangirai,
Mugabe conceded defeat but denied the opposition outright victory. He called
for an election re run in which he won after the opposition pulled out.

His supporters and war veterans have unleashed a reign of terror with
thousands of opposition supporters killed in the aftermath of the March
presidential ballot.

The country is faced with severe food shortages, high unemployment levels
and political instability. Millions of Zimbabweans have sought sanctuary in
neighbouring countries. And those that have remained in their native country
continue to suffer at the hands of a man who has been branded a "dictator"
the world over.

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Time for Zimbabweans to fight back

12 November 2008

By Fortune Tazvida

History has proved time and time again that the length of time a brutal
dictator gets to stay in power is dependent on the threshold of oppression
tolerated by the oppressed people. Zimbabwe has reached such a threshold
were it is crystal clear and obvious elections, talks and condemnation have
done nothing to convince the Zanu PF elite their time is up.

This year alone over 180 opposition activists were assasinated and over 10
000 displaced from their homes in a brutal campaign masterminded by Emerson
Mnangagwa at the helm of the Joint Operations Command. Previous elections
have led to the deaths of hundreds more MDC activists. The Gukurahundi
Massacres of the eighties serve as another dark reminder of the propensity
for violence and murder exibited by Mugabe and his regime.

What is our response as Zimbabweans to this group of geriatric, blood
sucking vampires? We have seen the consequences of mortgaging our fate into
the hands of foreigners like Thabo Mbeki and the entire timid SADC region.
Mugabe and his lot never sat down with Ian Smith and the Rhodesian regime
before 1980 to share power in a new Zimbabwe. We had a complete break from
the past despite the present day betrayal.

How is it that a few hundred people in Zanu PF have managed to control the
police, army, intelligence and prison agencies to such an extent that the
human beings working for those departments have lost all human decency and
taken part in violence and murder. While it is true money is the root of all
evil and financial rewards have bought some of this loyalty, all Zimbabweans
are being affected or have relatives affected by this crisis.

Targeted sanctions, elections, demonstrations, unity talks, regional and
international condemnation have all proved futile in the fight against
Mugabe's regime. As a people we always shy away from discussing the one
option that clearly Zanu PF understands and that is military action. Mugabe
and his colleagues have grown accustomed to their monopoly of violence and
they remain aware Zimbabweans are peace loving people.

But my fellow citizens, I ask you today, what use is it to be peace loving
when your mother is going to die of hunger tomorrow? What use is it to be
peace loving when your sister will die in a hospital because they did not
have drugs to treat a simple headache? What use is it to be peace loving
when your brother gets killed because he voted for the party of his choice?
Before independence Zimbabweans were confronted with a similar choice on how
to deal with the rascist Rhodesian government. They chose war for freedom.

It is almost shameful we tetter from one summit to another putting faith in
regional leaders whose relevance expired long ago. The MDC for all their
courage have limitations on what they can do as a democratic movement trying
to operate within the law. We as Zimbabweans should now shape our own rules
out of our suffering and say, you know what we have had enough of Zanu PF
and should get rid of them by all means necessary.

Zanu PF accused Botswana of training insurgents to destabilize the country.
These ludicrous claims although untrue were an interesting betrayal of what
Zanu PF actually fears might happen. This should be the route we take as
Zimbabweans. Zanu PF does not have a monopoly on violence and Zimbabweans
should now rise to the challenge and put up a fight.

We now have a reputation worldwide as the cowards who can't remove an 84
year old geriatric and his cabal of bootlickers. My fellow countrymen how
many are willing to join this fight? It is a good fight for which good will
ultimately prevail over evil.

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Zimbabwe's Foreign Aid Raid


The following is an ediorial reflecting the views of the US Government

12 November 2008

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, caught with its hand in the proverbial cookie
jar, has returned more than $7 million it confiscated from an account
intended for groups fighting AIDS and other diseases there.

Threatened with a possible cut-off of other aid funds, bank officials
reversed themselves and repaid the account without saying where the money
went. In the future, though, aid recipients under the Global Fund to Fight
AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will be able to use U.S. dollars for all
local transactions, thereby eliminating foreign exchange and loss of value
from the country's massive inflation, now measured around 231 million

That's welcome news for humanitarian aid groups and the people they serve.
Zimbabwe has one of the world's worst AIDS epidemics, a collapsing health
care system, and a serious and growing hunger crisis. The country's banking
problems and cash shortages are severely hampering international aid efforts
to feed the hungry and care for the sick.

The government of Robert Mugabe has made things worse by treating the
foreign aid accounts as a source of the hard currency it badly needs to fund
operations and remain in power. Besides the Global Fund, other aid groups
have had money on account in the Reserve Bank frozen or diverted for
possible government use. This comes on top of severe restrictions that the
Mugabe government placed on aid groups this summer during the presidential
elections because of their alleged political interference.

The Reserve Bank's reversal may be too little and too late, however, to
preserve the government's access to the aid accounts. "We do not want to see
the people of Zimbabwe who need this money disadvantaged," said U.S.
Ambassador James McGee. The United States and other foreign donors will now
be looking for other means to fund hunger, medical and other humanitarian
projects, possibly through accounts in banks outside Zimbabwe. The U.S. is
committed to helping the people of Zimbabwe in any way it can.

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Mugabe and the destruction of Zimbabwe

13th Nov 2008 04:09 GMT

By Jon Lee Anderson

NINE hundred years ago, at a site on a high plateau north of the Limpopo
River called Great Zimbabwe, Shona kings built stone palaces where they
lived in splendid isolation from their subjects, with absolute authority
over their means to sustain life-cattle herds, land, and the gold that came
out of the earth.

In the nineteen-sixties, members of a liberation movement in what was then
Rhodesia, among them Robert Mugabe, adopted Great Zimbabwe's name to refer
to the notional state they were fighting for.

Today, Mugabe can be said to be the owner of the riches that remain in the
nation of Zimbabwe. After twenty-eight years, he remains in power--Zimbabwe's
only President since the end of whiteminority rule, in 1980. His nephew Leo,
therefore, leads a cushioned life. He is an entrepreneur and has stakes in
several companies, among them a mobile-phone network. He is a director of
Zimbabwe Defense Industries, which purchases the weaponry for his uncle's
Army-most of it, these days, from China.

He also controls at least one large farm that had been seized from its white
owners. In the nineties, Leo earned notoriety for his alleged role in
securing kickbacks, on behalf of his uncle and other officials, in the
construction of Harare International Airport. In 2005, he was arrested for
the contraband export and sale of government-owned food, but the charges
were withdrawn for lack of evidence. (Leo said the allegations in both cases
were unfounded.) That year, he was a candidate for Parliament for the
Zimbabwe African National UnionPatriotic Front, known as ZANU-P.F., the
ruling party. He won in a landslide.

Earlier this year, Leo was added to a sanctions list first imposed by the
United States in 2003 against Robert Mugabe and members of his government.
The sanctions included a travel ban and the freezing of foreign assets, and
also prohibit Americans from doing business with those on the list. Leo was
also named on a sanctions list maintained by the European Union, for his
arms-dealing activities. The new sanctions came in response to a wave of
terror that Robert Mugabe had unleashed in the country's Presidential
campaign. More than a hundred and fifty opposition supporters were murdered,
many were raped, and thousands of people were beaten or tortured, often
after being herded into so-called reëducation camps.

Because of the violence, Mugabe's rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, whose Movement
for Democratic Change, or M.D.C., had won a slender majority in the country's
first round of voting in March, dropped out of the race and went into
hiding. In the runoff vote on June 27th, Mugabe was unopposed and was
quickly declared the winner.

Leo Mugabe works from an office building he owns in Harare, where I met him
this summer. His brand-new silver Toyota Land Cruiser Amazon was parked
outside. He is a slim, goateed man of fifty-one, and was dressed in a dark
tailored suit. On the wall behind his desk hung a map of Zimbabwe made out
of a patchwork of animal skins. His secretary, a young woman wearing a tight
skirt and jacket, very high heels, and a great deal of jewelry, sat down
with us. Her hair was arranged in red-dyed cornrows, and as Leo spoke she
scribbled everything down on a notepad, expressing approval whenever he made
a point, like a personal cheerleader. He was in a good mood, emanating
confidence and optimism over Zimbabwe's future.

"Have you seen anyone beaten up since you've been here?" he asked. "There
was less violence here than in Nigeria! And we all know why Zimbabwe's
violence is being exaggerated-it's about the fortune in the land. We have
certain resources here, such as nickel, gold, and platinum. I think
Zimbabweans now understand that they are suffering because of sanctions by
the United States, Great Britain, and the Europeans." Otherwise, Zimbabwe's
prospects were excellent-his uncle had been distributing computers to rural
schools, for example. "In a few years, rural Zimbabwe will be
computer-literate. We are a nation which is moving, and these children will
understand what empowerment really means."

That week, however, the inflation rate in Zimbabwe had officially reached
eleven million per cent, the highest in the world; analysts later reckoned
it to have been two hundred and thirty million per cent. Eighty per cent of
Zimbabweans were out of work. Chronic malnutrition was prevalent, and
starvation was spreading in the countryside. Close to two million
Zimbabweans depended for survival on food handouts from international aid
agencies. Twenty per cent of the population was infected with H.I.V./AIDS.

Zimbabwe's life expectancy is forty-four years for men, forty-three for
women. But Leo Mugabe scoffed at the idea that the situation was dire.
"People are going about their business," he said. "No one is starving-they
are driving nice cars! As a Christian, though, I think it is a challenge by
God, and the attention being drawn to Zimbabwe is maybe to highlight that we
are the new people of Israel, and that we have our own Moses." I understood
"Moses" to be his uncle. His secretary greeted the analogy with an
exclamation of delight.

Under Robert Mugabe's leadership, in 2000 his most militant supporters-many
of them veterans of the seventies civil war-began forcibly occupying the
country's five thousand white-owned commercial farms, with the help of armed
gangs and, frequently, ZANU-P.F. officials. By almost all accounts, these
actions precipitated the country's economic decline. Leo disagreed. "We have
no regrets-he has none, and I have none," he said.

"We have taken the land," Leo went on. "So what is the next move? The next
move is the mines, the minerals. We know we are very rich-without the
British or the Americans. Yes, they invested, but if we have to we will go
and take over the mines, too." Zimbabwe has the world's second-largest
platinum reserves and is relatively rich in other minerals. The country's
mining industry accounts for some forty per cent of its export income. In
2006, Robert Mugabe threatened to nationalize the mines by assigning
Zimbabwe a controlling fifty-one-per-cent stake in them. Negotiations with
the mine owners, which include South Africa's Implats and Anglo Platinum,
and the United Kingdom's Rio Tinto, have dragged on ever since.

"Rio Tinto can stay there in London, but their mines and their equipment
will stay here. Is that what they want? Because that's where they are
headed," Leo said. "We can give the mines to the black Zimbabweans, the
people who work them now," he added. "We are not going to go back on the
land issue, and the wealth that lies underneath the land will remain ours,
too." ----

Jon Lee Anderson works for The New Yorker, where this article was first

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Zimbabweans lose hope

Thursday, November 13, 2008 .Vol No.214

By Potso Thari
FRANCISTOWN - Almost two months ago Zimbabweans had their hopes raised when
three political parties signed a power sharing deal, but all those hopes
seem to have been shattered.
The deal was signed by the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) leader, Mr Robert Mugabe, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and the breakaway MDC leader, Mr Arthur
In the deal, Mr Mugabe became the president while Mr Tsvangarai emerged as
the Prime Minister and Mr Mutambara got the Deputy Prime Minister portfolio.
However, the hopes of the Zimbabwean people has crashed as nothing positive
has come out of the power sharing deal yet except for more poverty and
escalating inflation, which is said to be at 231 million per cent.
The two parties could not agree on the selection of cabinet as they both
want some key ministries especially that of Home affairs, which oversees the
To make matters worse, the special Southern African Development Community
(SADC) summit held in South Africa on Sunday failed to resolve the current
political impasse.
The summit issued a communiqué calling the Zimbabwean rivals to share the
disputed key ministry of Home Affairs, but the MDC rejected the proposal as
The impasse has made Zimbabweans lose hope on the agreement as they believe
SADC has failed Zimbabweans.
BOPA took to the streets of Francistown to gather what individuals had to
A women, who preferred anonymity, but travels regularly from Zimbabwe to
Francistown to buy commodities said she supported the Botswana government's
view that the only solution to the current impasse was to call for fresh
elections and let the Zimbabweans choose their leader.
"With the current disagreements between the two leaders, I do not see any
positive results coming out of it more so that they do not trust each other.
How do we expect them to work together after this, I do not see it
happening. I think we Zimbabweans are the only people who can break the
impasse if they call for fresh presidential elections which to me are the
only solution now," she said.
Two friends, waiting to board a passenger train to Gaborone to look for
piece jobs, Ms Tendai Moyo and Ms Shirley Farai said SADC has failed the
Zimbabweans as their meetings failed to end the current political
instability in Zimbabwe.
They told BOPA that only fresh presidential elections can end the end the
saga as Zimbabweans will be able to choose their own leader.
They called for the monitoring of elections by international bodies to avoid
the recurrence of violence that characterised both the March elections and
the run-off in June.
The same sentiments were echoed by Mr Isaac Dube, 34, who expressed
disappointment over the regional bloc, saying it cannot help the people of
Zimbabwe. He said the deadlock on the talks of key ministries which both
parties want, brings more pain and hunger while inflation continues to rise.
He said when the peace deal was signed, he had hoped that the political
situation in his home country would improve and his trips to Botswana will
be minimal and in the long run come to an end as his country's economy would
have improved.
A 31-year-old woman from Bulawayo who preferred anonymity said both leaders
should go away as they do not have the interests of Zimbabweans at heart.
She believes that if they did, they could have long resolved the issue of
cabinet and the living standards in Zimbabwe would be improving. She said
she comes to Francistown almost once a month to buy basic necessities as it
is much cheaper than buying in Zimbabwe where they have to use foreign
Until the two parties reach an agreement in the issue of key ministries it
seems the current situation in Zimbabwe will prevail. BOPA

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US, EU should help develop Zim agriculture: SA

by Own Correspondent Thursday 13 November 2008

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa on Wednesday called on the European Union (EU)
and the United States (US) to help Zimbabwe develop its agriculture and
attract investment rather than impose sanctions that have hurt ordinary

"The EU, the United States and other countries should begin to support the
farmers to plant, to get fertilisers, to get business people to invest in
Zimbabwe," South Africa's foreign affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
told reporters in the Belgian capital city, Brussels, where the EU is

"It will help the people, they will get jobs, they will get money, they will
be able to plant, they will be able to have food and not only to rely on
aid," she added.

Last month South Africa said it had set aside a whooping R300 million to
assist Zimbabwe's crippled agricultural sector.

The US and EU have since 2002 maintained visa bans and asset freezes on
President Robert Mugabe and senior officials of his government following
controversial elections and human rights abuses. US sanctions also bar
Americans from engaging in any transactions or dealings with them.

"They (the sanctions) hurt the ordinary people . . . if you have sanctions
against the government then obviously investors will not want to deal with
that government, tourists get frightened," Dlamini-Zuma said, adding; "They
hurt the people that deserve the help, they hurt the whole people."

Once a net food exporter, Zimbabwe has seen its agriculture fortunes plunge
along with an imploding economy largely blamed on Mugabe's populist
nationalist policies such as the land seizures and plans to forcibly grab
major shareholding in foreign-owned companies, especially mines.

But the ageing Mugabe, who has held power since independence in 1980 instead
blames Zimbabwe's misfortunes on bad weather and Western sanctions he says
have crimpled the importation of fertilizers, seed, and other farming
inputs. - ZimOnline

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JAG open letter forum - No. 582 - Dated 12 November 2008


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

To subscribe/unsubscribe to the JAG mailing list, please email:
with subject line "subscribe" or "unsubscribe".
1. Cathy Buckle - Green snake

Dear JAG,

Going to visit a friend in trouble this week I saw a very large green snake
trying to cross a main road. I was on a service road which ran parallel to
the highway and watched in horror at the events that followed. The snake
must have already been hit by a car because as hard as it tried, it couldn't
get off the road.

It raised its head and neck and tried to lunge forward but barely moved at
all. Thrashing from side to side, tongue flicking, the snake managed to
creep forward a little towards the bush on the roadside but it wasn't enough
and freedom and safety was so near and yet so far.  Suddenly a stream of
cars came by and one hit the snake full on. A gruesome end was inevitable
and intervention was impossible. Later, when I passed the same place again,
the snake had gone but a handful of people were standing around looking at
something on the roadside and the assumption was obvious.

This is exactly how it feels to be in Zimbabwe this November 2008. No matter
how hard we try, we just can't move forward. Change and democracy is so near
and yet so far away.

People have almost given up hope of ever getting to the other side of the
road to freedom and safety in Zimbabwe's journey. It's been eight years
since farms were seized, Title Deeds rendered worthless and commercial
agriculture destroyed. It's been five years since independent newspapers,
radio stations and television channels were closed down. It's been four
years since we've been able to buy fuel from filling stations and nearly two
years since we've been able to buy food in supermarkets. It's been seven and
a half months since we voted to change the government of Zimbabwe.
Throughout all these years the assault on opposition politics, private
businesses, charities, professionals and all sectors of civil society has
been unrelenting as time and time again we've been hit head on but still we
struggle desperately to reach the end.

It's a shocking thing to admit but most of us don't know how many
Zimbabweans have died in the struggle to change the governance of the
country. A conservative estimate must be of at least seven hundred people
who have been killed in political violence in the last eight years. Multiple
thousands have been arrested and incarcerated for their political
associations or for daring to protest. Included amongst these are the
outstandingly brave women of WOZA whose leaders Jenni and Magodonga were
finally granted bail this week having spent 3 weeks in prison after being
arrested during a peaceful demonstration in Bulawayo. We also don't know how
many Zimbabweans have had no choice but to leave the country since the year
2000. A conservative estimate must be of at least four million people living
in self imposed exile in the region and abroad.

As I write this letter the leaders of the Southern African Development
Community are about to meet, again, to discuss Zimbabwe. We wonder if they
know that ordinary people here have no food - no maize meal, flour or rice.
If they know that it is our main growing season but ordinary people have no
seed to plant and no fertilizer for the soil. If they know we are forbidden
from drawing enough of our own money out of the bank to buy more than 2
loaves of bread and are having to buy imported food in US dollars and South
African Rand. Do they know that hospitals have no medicines and that nurses
earn enough to buy only two loaves of bread a month. Do they know that
children at most rural government schools have had no lessons for many
months and have not written public examinations?

Perhaps the SADC leaders do know all these things and will find the courage
to insist at last that the voices of the ordinary people must be heard and
respected. We voted in March, chose new leaders and have been writhing on
the road for too long.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.
2. Eddie Cross -  What next?

Dear JAG,

As you all know the SADC summit took place on Sunday, 5 heads of State
attended with officials and Ministers representing those that could not
attend. They deliberated for 12 hours and then issued a communiqué that
basically endorsed the position adopted by Mr. Mbeki and then the SADC
Troika. The most significant part of the whole exercise was that all 14
States supported the decisions reached, there were no disputing views.

It was a minor political victory for Mr. Mugabe, Mr. Mbeki and the Troika.

It was a major failure of leadership.

The final decision that the two main parties should share control of the
Ministry of Home Affairs and that the rest of the power sharing deal should
stand as agreed by Mr. Mbeki, is neither rational nor workable. It ignores
the political realities in Zimbabwe, reduces the chance of success for the
new Government and could lead to the total collapse of the deal if the MDC
decides to reject the package.

In a rerun of the Kenyan situation where regional leaders striving for
compromise, imposed a solution on Kenya that is a hydra headed monster,
barely capable of walking let alone running the country, the SADC States
have taken the easy route out and in doing so have run the risk of creating
a failed State in Zimbabwe and unleashing uncontrollable violence and

But take it or leave it, it's a done deal and an appeal to the AU or the UN
- both themselves dysfunctional institutions, will change little. This is
the end of the road for negotiations.

At this stage the future of Zimbabwe is totally in the hands of the MDC and
Morgan Tsvangirai. If we accept what has been decided and go into the new
government on this basis, we will be committing ourselves to a near
impossible task. It will be up to us to turn the economy around, establish
conditions for free and fair elections in two years time and to try and heal
the country, now more deeply divided than ever.

In this exercise neither Zanu PF nor the Mutambara group have anything to
offer, except to try and not be spoilers. They bring nothing to the table
except failure and corruption and unrepresentative participation in the
institutions of the State. Not one of the Mutambara representatives in the
new government will be elected while the great majority of the Zanu
representatives hold their seats through intimidation and rigging.

The problems facing any new government are staggering - GDP has collapsed to
less than half of what it was 10 years ago, the local currency is worthless
and cannot be used for ordinary transactions any more, thousands are dying
weekly from starvation, malnutrition and disease. 95% of all teachers in the
public sector are not working, 3 million children are out of school and
hospitals and clinics are either closed or non-functional. Food supplies
have run out and everywhere people are desperately looking for whatever food
is available.

The news today that the aid agencies feeding the majority of the people will
run out of food in January and are cutting allocations by half in December
to try and reach 4 million of the most affected people. The dilemma of the
MDC is that if they walk away from the SADC deal they will leave ordinary
Zimbabweans naked in a blizzard that will offer only death or flight.

The tragedy of this situation is that Mr Mugabe and Zanu PF do not give a
damn - they want the deal to fail and think that they can in fact do "very
well" on what is left of the Zimbabwe economy. They do not worry in any
sense about the impact of the final collapse of Zimbabwe on our neighbours.

They are only concerned about one thing - how to hold onto their total
control of the State and thereby protect their standard of living and
personal security.

The tragedy of the SADC summit is that it is clear that after all these
years and numerous declarations of commitment to democratic principles and
to all the recognised human and political rights, when it comes to applying
those lofty principles to a real time political crisis in their midst, they
mean nothing.

But that is the reality of African politics at this stage in our history.
Not pretty or easy, but the stark reality.

So what do we do? Our National Council will meet this week and receive a
report from the leadership together with recommendations on the way forward.

It will be the most difficult decision for the MDC since we were formed in
1999. Unlike our compatriots, we care, we care deeply for the plight of
Zimbabweans - all of them affected by the collapse and crisis created by
failed leadership, greed and corruption.

This time the consequences of rejection of a flawed deal for our people will
be immediate and terrible. Morgan stated in Johannesburg that a million
people face death from starvation if the SADC brokered deal collapses. He
was not exaggerating.

Eddie Cross
12th November 2008
3. Jerry Erasmus

Dear JAG,

Clifford Mashiri has hit the nail on the head. Nothing is going to change
whilst Bob & his henchman are around. They are playing games to buy time.
Mugabe has never been serious about anything unless he can have his cake &
eat it. The rest of the African leaders should adopt the stance of Botswana
& call for fresh elections supervised by the SADC & the international
community. This is what Mugabe & his cronies do not want as they know that
they will lose miserably. One would hope that Morgan does not capitulate
with the devil or be duped into some deal that will not be worth the paper
it is written on. Many lives have already been sacrificed & the atrocities
are still continuing. Why should there be power sharing? This is so that
Mugabe & his murderers can get away with their evil deeds. Morgan should not
make any deals. All these meetings they have been having is to pander to
Mugabe. Morgan must stand firm. He has the support of the majority of
Zimbabweans. Unless Morgan has true power no meaningful aid will be
forthcoming & neither will there be any recognition from the international
community. We see that SA is giving R300million for agriculture. This money
is going to the thieves & murderers that destroyed agriculture in the first
place, & caused thousands of farm workers & their families to loose their
jobs & their homes! The money will disappear just as so much money & aid has
done before! It would have been better spent if it was used to benefit the
people who need it the most.

Jerry Erasmus, New Zealand.
4. Joe Whaley - LEST WE FORGET!

Dear JAG,

On the eve of International Armistice day, when the world remembers its
fallen, I feel very strongly that we need to remember those of our
compatriots callously murdered by the "regime", in the ongoing war mounted
by the government of Zimbabwe against its own citizens.

The murderers of Terry are seen in the background of the photo callously
watching the `Police' do their investigations, and these gentlemen still
roam free in Zimbabwe protected by the sinister machinations of the

May his memory remain untarnished with us. RIP Terry.

With respects to Martin Olds, Gloria Olds, Dave Stevens, Alan Dunn et al,
victims of the Zimbabwe Holocaust.

Joe Whaley
5. S Taylor

Dear JAG,

Whatever is decided at any talks about talks about power sharing between the
MDC and zanu-pf/Mugabe, it must be borne in mind that the whole issue is
sordid, as Mugabe lost an election by an extremely wide margin and shouldn't
even be in the scheme of things - why is everyone so dead scared of the guy?
He's a failed politician - or is this the expected norm for Africa? Africans
do not seem to WANT to be part of the global village - it is all "one for
one and none for all" - I said long ago that Mugabe would add Zimbabwe to
the scrapheap that is Africa - and he hasn't failed me!!! But shortly we
will see a great revival - Mugabe is in the final chapter of his big
failing; no legacy to pass on must be rather embarrassing - "The year of the
Peoples' Storm", "The Year of The Peoples' Power", "free medical for minimum
wage earners", "housing for all by the year 2,000","free primary education
for all" must ring in his ears like a nightmare - or does he REALLY care? I

S. Taylor.
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of
the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for

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