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Mugabe to draft youth militia into civil service

Zim Online

Wednesday 15 November 2006

      HARARE - President Robert Mugabe will next year draft hundreds of
graduates of the government's controversial youth militia programme into the
civil service but to solely campaign for his ruling ZANU PF party and
bolster its support among young Zimbabweans, sources told ZimOnline.

      The sources, who are senior officials in the Ministry of Youth
Development and in ZANU PF, said the plan to hire the youths on taxpayers'
expense to campaign for the ruling party was first recommended by the party's
politburo last September and approved by Mugabe's Cabinet the same month.

      The youths - accused by churches and human rights groups of beating,
torturing and murdering opposition supporters - will be employed as
government youth development officers and stationed in all provinces of the
country, according to sources.

      "The politburo recommended in September that national youth service
graduates be given government jobs and be tasked with promoting the party.
The Cabinet immediately endorsed the plan," said a senior official at ZANU
PF headquarters in Harare, who spoke on condition he was not named.

      He added: "The youths will spearhead our (ZANU PF) campaigns but they
will be officially recognised as government employees because that is the
only way the party could afford to pay them . . . it is a very innovative
way to re-energise the party if you consider that most war veterans are now
old and tired."

      Veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s independence war have been the mainstay
of ZANU PF's election machine, running violent campaigns especially in rural
areas to ensure victory for the party that has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence from Britain 26 years ago.

      But many of the former fighters are now too old to be able to run
around villages mobilising votes for ZANU PF in 2008 when the next major
poll is due.

      Deputy Youth Development Minister Saviour Kasukuwere confirmed the
planned youth recruitment but dismissed as "downright nonsense" suggestions
that the youths would be tasked to campaign for ZANU PF.

      Kasukuwere said: "When they go for national youth training we teach
them income generating projects and we want them to pass on these skills to
other youths in various wards.

      "As far as we know, these youths have been very disciplined so fears
that they will force people to support ZANU PF in their areas of operation
are misplaced, in fact, it's downright nonsense. We are simply creating jobs
for our youths."

      But an alarmed Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube - a prominent Mugabe
critic - called the plan to place youth militia in every province an attempt
by the government to create a Janjaweed-type militia to terrorise its
political opponents.

      The Janjaweed militia that is backed by the government of Sudan is
blamed of causing mayhem in that country's Darfur region.

      The clergyman said: "It means we will have militias paid through our
taxes roaming our villages, especially during election time, terrorising
people into supporting the government. They are creating a Janjaweed of some

      According to our sources, 200 graduates from the youth militia
programme will be recruited into the civil service by the end of this year
and a further 800 will be employed by the state early next year.

      The youths, who will require no other qualification except a
certificate showing that they completed national youth service training,
will be ranked and paid as Grade C3 employees, the same level as teachers
and nurses.

      The youths will initially be working in rural areas but the plan is to
have them also deployed in urban areas where the government hopes to
neutralize opposition support.

      The government's North Korean-style youth militia programme that began
in 2000 is blamed for brainwashing youths into zealots of Mugabe and his
government, who are only too eager to use force and violence against critics
and opponents of the government.

      The government, which insists the youth militia programme is meant to
inculcate patriotism into the minds of young Zimbabweans, denies that
graduates of the programme victimise opposition supporters. - ZimOnline

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We've not turned back on Zimbabwe, says Pretoria

Zim Online

Wednesday 15 November 2006

      HARARE - The South African government has not given up on Zimbabwe and
is still engaging President Robert Mugabe's government in a bid to find a
solution to its troubled northern neighbour's deepening crisis, a senior
official in the country's department of foreign affairs has said.

      Ayanda Ntsabula, the director-general in the South African department
of foreign affairs, said Pretoria remained committed to helping solve
Zimbabwe's problems, despite accusations it had adopted a hands-off approach
especially after President Thabo Mbeki tried last June to get outgoing
United Nations Secretary General Koffi Annan to handle Zimbabwe's crisis.

      Annan hit a brick wall after Mugabe told him there was no need for his
involvement because former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa was already
mediating between Harare and London, which the Zimbabwean leader claims is
behind the crisis bedevilling his country.

      It has since emerged that Mkapa is not mediating between Zimbabwe and
Britain, which says troubles in its former colony are because of misrule by
Mugabe. Britain also insists that there is no need for mediation between the
two countries.

      "I ... wish to inform you that the government of South Africa is
constantly engaging the government of Zimbabwe at the political, economic
and social levels," wrote Ntsabula in response to accusations by Zimbabweans
exiled in South Africa that Pretoria was abetting human rights abuses in
Zimbabwe because it had failed to criticise Mugabe's excesses.

      "The government of South Africa, together with African Union (AU)
governments and the international community will continue to assist the
government and the people of Zimbabwe to find a lasting solution to the
major challenges that their country is facing," added Ntsabula in the letter
to the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, dated October 9.

      The forum headed by prominent Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Gabriel
Shumba had written to the Pretoria administration accusing it of shielding
Mugabe's government from censure by the international community for its
gross violation of human rights and repressive rule.

      Zimbabwe has since 2000 grappled with its worst ever political and
economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980. Critics blame the
crisis on repression and mismanagement by Mugabe, in power since
independence. He denies the charge.

      The crisis has spawned hyperinflation, shortages of foreign currency,
food, fuel and other basic commodities to leave political tensions on knife
edge in the southern African country. - ZimOnline

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State broadcaster boss ousted in shake-up

Zim Online

Wednesday 15 November 2006

      HARARE - An expected shake-up at national broadcaster ZBH Holdings
started yesterday with the suspension pending dismissal of Newsnet
editor-in-chief Chris Chivinge for going on an unsanctioned trip to China
while sidelined Tarzan Mandizvidza was re-appointed head of the broadcaster's
news arm.

      Up to 200 employees are expected to lose their jobs in yet another
round of restructuring following the appointment of veteran state journalist
Henry Muradzikwa as overall head of the struggling broadcaster.

      The state broadcaster confirmed the shake-up in afternoon television
and radio broadcasts yesterday, announcing Mandizvidza was now new head of

      Newsnet, which is now a department of Zimbabwe Television Services in
the new look ZBH, has anchored President Robert Mugabe's propaganda drive in
the face of what he calls hostile and negative reporting from local private
and Western media.

      "Chivinge has paid the price for his reckless behaviour," a well
placed source at ZBH said, adding that Chivinge was also yesterday handed
his suspension letter pending his dismissal.

      Chivinge had muscled out Mandizvidza as boss of Newsnet after a
satellite television project planned in Namibia - a brainchild of former
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo - failed to take off.

      But the former Herald reporter, who was fast-tracked to his position
and who had seconded himself to cover Vice-President Joyce Mujuru allegedly
for political protection, was undone by his China trip without Muradzikwa's

      Sources said Chivinge had used the unsanctioned China-Africa trip to
conduct his personal business using ZBH funds. He is alleged to have bought
farming equipment for a farming project in the Shamva district during the

      There are other unsubstantiated allegations against Chvinge including
abusing company property and having improper relationships with female

      Muradzikwa could not be contacted for comment yesterday as he was said
to be busy conducting interviews while Chvinge was unavailable for
comment. - ZimOnline

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Deputy minister's trial adjourned

Zim Online

Wednesday 15 November 2006

      HARARE - The corruption trial of deputy government minister Bright
Matonga and former boss of state-owned Zimbabwe United Passenger Company
(ZUPCO) Charles Nherera was adjourned to next month after defence lawyers
argued that Nherera could not be tried twice for the same offence.

      Matonga, who is deputy Minister of Information and was former chief
executive officer of ZUPCO and Nherera were arrested last May for allegedly
soliciting for bribes.

      Nherera is already serving a two-year jail term after he was last
August convicted of soliticing for a US$85 000 bribe from Harare businessman
Jayesh Shah over the supply of minibuses to ZUPCO.

      Adjourning the trial yesterday, Harare magistrate Sandra Nhau said she
needed time to go over the arguments presented by Nherera's lawyer Joseph
Mandizha and Fortune Chimbaru from the Attorney General's office.

      "I need at least three weeks to go over this voluminous record and
plenty of exhibits," said Nhau before she adjourned the trial.

      But Matonga's lawyer tried in vain to have the trial resume next week
while the verdict on Nherera's application was being considered.

      Nherera's lawyers had indicated on Monday that they wanted to make an
application to the Supreme Court arguing that their client had already been
tried and convicted under the same circumstances.

      But state prosecutor, Chimbaru, opposed the application resulting in
the matter being heard in the magistrates' court yesterday.

      Matonga was the ZUPCO chief executive while Nherera was chairman of
the board.

      The state alleged that sometime in February 2002, Gift Investments
occupied a stand number 9 Hood Road in Southerton, Harare on a one-year

      In October of the same year, Matonga in connivance with Nherera wrote
to Gift Investments advising them of the termination of the lease agreement.

      Sometime later, Matonga phoned Shah asking for a $20 million bribe to
reinstate the cancelled lease, the state alleges. The two later received
US$10 000 as inducement to extend and reinstate the lease.

      The duo is also facing a second count of corruption over the purchase
of 250 buses from Gift Investments without a formal order from ZUPCO.

      Nherera and Matonga are denying both charges. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe opposition leaders say food crisis lets government 'manipulate' population

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: November 14, 2006

STOCKHOLM, Sweden: Leaders of the Zimbabwe opposition movement said Tuesday
that a U.N. decision to scale back food distribution to the country would
lead to "tragic" consequences and strengthen the autocratic government's
ability to control the population.

The World Food Program said Monday that the aid reduction was a result of a
shortage in donor funds, even though the agency estimated 1.4 million
Zimbabweans were now in critical need of food aid - a number that could rise
to nearly 2 million in coming weeks because of soaring inflation and food
shortages on the local market.

"The decision is tragic, in that it will affect the ordinary man and woman
in ... some of the most inaccessible areas of Zimbabwe," Tendai Biti, a
secretary general for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, told
The Associated Press.

Biti and other MDC leaders were invited to Stockholm by the Olof Palme
Center, but also met with Swedish Aid Minister Gunilla Carlsson to discuss
the humanitarian situation in the African country.

Welshman Ncube, another MDC secretary-general, said the U.N. decision would
allow longtime President Robert Mugabe's government to use its own food
distribution schemes as a "political weapon ... and therefore in fact weaken
people's capacity to resist the dictatorship."
"That's the tragic consequence of actually pulling back that sort of
support," Ncube said. "The food deficits allow them to actually control and
manipulate the population."

The WFP said the poor donor response followed repeated assurances by the
government that Zimbabwe would be able to feed itself without aid.

"That's what they always say," Ncube said. "But I think the international
community should now be familiar with that trick."

Carlsson said she was thankful for the opportunity to discuss the
opposition's role in Zimbabwe, although no pledges were made of increased
Swedish aid.

"We are suffering with the Zimbabwean people, but we would also like to see
that we can foster democracy and rule of law," Carlsson said. "It's a really
sad situation and hard for us, because what can we do? What we can do is to
support those people who are fighting for the case of Zimbabwe."

Zimbabwe needs about 1.8 million tons of corn a year, but in the last
harvest produced less half that amount, according to independent surveys.

The country is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence in
1980, with more than 1,000 percent inflation, the highest in the world, and
acute shortages of hard currency and gasoline. The crisis has been largely
blamed on the chaotic and often violent seizures of thousands of white-owned
commercial farms since 2000 in Zimbabwe, a former regional breadbasket.

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Victoria Falls threatened by massive hotel complex

From The Independent (UK), 14 November

By Steve Bloomfield, Africa correspondent

The Victoria Falls, one of Africa's most popular tourist destinations and
most precious ecological sites, are under threat from plans to build a giant
holiday complex nearby, environmentalists have warned. Zambia's wildlife
authorities have given permission to a consortium of Zambian and foreign
investors to build two hotels, a golf course and hundreds of holiday chalets
in a park next to the waterfalls. But environmental groups in the southern
African country said yesterday that the development risked destroying the
park and putting the status of the falls as a world heritage site at risk.
An official from the World Heritage Centre, the UN body responsible for
choosing the sites, said that a team would visit the falls later this month
to examine reports of "uncontrolled and unplanned urban developments"
affecting the site. Lazare Eloundou Assomo, the Africa specialist at the
World Heritage Centre, said depending on the seriousness of the mission's
findings, the UN organisation could place the Victoria Falls on the world
heritage endangered sites list. "There are reports that the issue of
uncontrolled and unplanned urban development is affecting the integrity of
the world heritage property. The site may be threatened," he said.The falls,
which are known in Zambia as Mosi-oa-Tunya, the "smoke that thunders", are
about a mile wide and 420 feet high, making them the largest falls in the
world - far bigger than the Niagara falls in North America. Victoria Falls
is along the Zambia/Zimbabwe border on the Zambezi river, one of Africa's

As the economy in neighbouring Zimbabwe has collapsed, Zambia has attempted
to capitalise by marketing itself as the true home of the Victoria Falls.
The government hopes to bring in one million tourists every year by 2010,
generating more than $500m - quite a large sum for a country where 68 per
cent of the population live on less than $1 a day. The latest development,
by a firm called Legacy Holdings, would see the construction of two luxury
hotels, a golf course and 450 chalets on the edge of the Zambezi river,
close to Victoria Falls. The company claims that the project would create a
total of 2,000 new jobs, attract 150,000 additional tourists to the area and
provide Zambia with $170m more per year in foreign exchange. But such
development, environmentalists warn, could put the ecology of the park
beside the Falls, which includes rare black rhinos, at risk. Peter Sinkamba,
a local environmental campaigner, accused the Zambian government of failing
to carry out a proper study into the potential for ecological damage. He
claimed that Zambian law had not been followed. "The whole project has been
done in reverse," he said. Environmental groups have threatened to ask the
courts to block the project if the government allows it to proceed. Mr
Assomo added: "World heritage sites have a value that must be protected. If
the values are threatened by urban development it could be placed on the
endangered list." A spokesman for the Zambian government was unavailable for
comment yesterday.

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'We want sadza': Zimbabweans reject cassava despite food shortages

      By Ian Nhuka

      BULAWAYO - since he was born in Chiredzana, a village in Zaka
district, some 600 kilometres south of Harare, sixty-six year-old Madzudzo
Bere's staple food has always been sadza.

      A subsistence farmer, Bere, grows maize on his 10-acre field and
      harvests enough for his consumption together with his wife Ndakaitei
(60) and their three grandchildren. Like the majority of Zimbabweans, sadza
is almost part of their every meal.

      But faced food recurrent deficits spawned by droughts and the
      controversial land redistribution scheme launched in 2000, which has
slashed agricultural production by about 50 percent, President Robert Mugabe
now seeks to introduce an almost unknown food on the Zimbabwean menu -
cassava. But the people do not like it.

      "It tastes very badly," chuckled Bere, referring to the tough tropical
      crop with edible roots and leaves.
      "The last time I ate it, after it was prepared by a Mozambican friend
      during the liberation war in the 1970s, I knew I did not like it.  It
      during a war situation and I was very hungry, but I did not like it,"
reflected Bere, a war veteran.

      Cassava, known as mujumbuya in Shona is a shrubby, drought-tolerant
crop, commonly eaten by humans in West Africa and parts of Malawi, Angola
and Mozambique in Southern Africa but processed into animal fodder in Latin
America and Asia. It is also an industrial crop, which can be processed into
glue, glucose, and ethanol among other products.

      But in Zimbabwe it grows wild in certain areas and is not for human
      consumption. Some of its varieties are classified as "sour" because
they contain a high percentage of cyanide, which makes them highly poisonous
if eaten.
      "The sour varieties are very toxic," warns Dananai Mutero, Bere's
      neighbour. "You die immediately after eating it.  But the problem is
that not many people know which is a sweet or sour variety.  So they play it
safe by avoiding it."

      In areas where it is grown for human consumption, the root of crop is
harvested, dried in the sun, ground into a powder and cooked in boiling
water to form a thick porridge.  Its tender leaves can be used as a relish.
But desperate to alleviate the recurrent food shortages, the government this
year established a Cassava Promotion Taskforce in the Ministry of Women's
Affairs, Gender and Community Development to spearhead a national scheme to
encourage people to grow and eat it.

      These measures come as the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)
estimates that more than one million people are in need of food aid after
widespread shortages of inputs marred the 2005 farming season. The WFP,
which a few months ago launched a global appeal for food aid for Zimbabwe
has failed to get enough donor funding to feed the hungry in the country.

      It estimates that some 1, 4 million people in Zimbabwe are in dire
need of food aid now, warning that the number will rise to up to two million
in coming weeks because of soaring inflation and shortages of food on the
local market. Independent analysts put last season's maize harvest at
between 800 000 -1 000 000 tonnes of maize.

      In the absence of significant donor support, this leaves the foreign
      currency-starved country needing to import another one million tonnes
of maize to bring the food reserves to about 1,8 million tonnes needed to
cover annual national requirements.

      Arnold Mashingaidze, an agro-economist recently said while there have
been attempts to encourage people to eat cassava, traditional dietary
preferences among the population have been the stumbling block.
      "There is a history of official attempts to have it eaten as an
      alternative to sadza.  But people just do not like it," he said.
      "It does not taste like sadza which they know.  It has its own taste.
      People have not acquired the taste for cassava yet.  Hence the
      resistance.  It is just a desperate measure by authorities."

      He however said with the recurrent droughts and lack of agricultural
      inputs, the crop could be ideal for poor farmers since it grows well
in dry environments and is cheap to produce. Although it is high in starch,
cassava has a very low protein content, which means that if it were to be
eaten, one would need a protein supplement.

      Undeterred, government has identified drought prone areas in Masvingo,
Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and Matabeleland regions as potential
cassava-growing zones. While it is foreign on Zimbabwean dining tables, the
Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that cassava is a staple food
for about 500 million people worldwide especially in Asia, Latin America and

      In Africa, it is mainly eaten in many West African countries such as
      Cameroon, Benin and Nigeria and Malawi, Mozambique and Angola.
      But Zimbabweans do not have a history of eating cassava.
      "We could be facing food shortages, but cassava does not make a good
meal for me.  That possibly may apply to most Zimbabweans."
      While traditional tastes remain unchanged towards cassava, some
experts say, it can go a long way in alleviating hunger in the country.
      Tungamirai Rukuni, the head of the Development Technology Centre (DTC)
at the University of Zimbabwe said despite its potential as a delicacy and
being a high yielding cash crop, it is still grown as a "backyard" crop.

      He however noted the country could benefit more from it if it is
      produced as an industrial not as a food crop. "Although it takes long
for a new food to be a widely accepted, the crop has proved to be very good
in terms of food security in other areas outside
      Zimbabwe," said Rukuni.

      He said a study conducted in the 1990s along the Zambezi Valley by a
traditional beer manufacturing firm established that, if it uses
      cassava, the company could save on maize use in its brewery by about
20 percent without changing the taste of the drink.
      "It can reduce the volume of wheat we use to make flour for bread and
maize used to brew beer by up to 20 percent without changing the taste of
the bread or beer," he said.

      This, he added would free up more maize that would them be used for
human consumption by the likes of Bere. Despite widespread resistance to
cassava consumption, Oppah Muchinguri, the Minister of Women's Affairs,
Gender and Community Development, remains undeterred. Acknowledging recently
that the crop is generally not eaten in Zimbabwe and that dietary
preferences do not change in the short term, she said it could be processed
into bread or sadza in the wake of the ever-soaring prices of bread and
maize meal.

      But, despite President Mugabe's desperate attempt to encourage the
people to eat cassava, it may take ages before the much-maligned crop
becomes part of their diet.

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Elephant calves seized from the wild in Zimbabwe, say animal protection groups

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: November 14, 2006

HARARE, Zimbabwe: At least 15 young elephants were captured in a Zimbabwe
national park and were to be trained take tourists on rides by private
safari operators, according to animal protection activists who say the
transfer was cruel and exploitative.

Five of the calves were taken from the Hwange National Park in western
Zimbabwe to pens near the resort town of Victoria Falls, the independent
Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said last

John Chikomo, an inspector for the society investigating the capture at the
scene, said the animals were darted from the air and separated from family
groups in the wild, causing severe trauma to both the adult elephants and
the young.

Cow elephants are known for fiercely protecting their young. Only young
elephants can be tamed enough for tourism projects including elephant riding
adventure safaris. Under international conservation practice, orphaned
elephants are normally used.

No immediate comment was available from the state national parks
headquarters in Harare.
Chikomo said he inspected permits for the capture issued at the
headquarters, making it legal.

But Hwange rangers acknowledged it was a breach of official conservation
policy to break up family groups and said they were ordered not to intervene
by ranking state officials.

Ian Du Preez, head of elephant operations of Shearwater Adventures, one of
Zimbabwe's best known adventure tourism safari companies, participated in
the capture.

"I am not in a position to discuss it," he said by telephone from Victoria

The head of Shearwater, Allan Roberts, was not immediately available for

On its Web site, Shearwater promotes African adventure holidays said to be
"environmentally friendly and ecologically sound."

The International Fund for Animal Welfare said the captured juvenile
elephants, aged between seven and 10 years old, were "condemned to lives of
captive suffering as safari entertainment for tourists."

"It is disgraceful and a shame that Zimbabwe is prepared to sanction the
abuses inherent in capturing wild elephants and subjecting them to lives in
captivity. The fact that the animals are being taken from herds in Hwange,
which is one of the worlds most renowned game reserves, beggars belief,"
said IFAW Southern Africa Director, Jason Bell-Leask.

He said no laws were in force to govern methods of training elephants. He
said tour companies claimed they were saving young elephants from sure death
during culling to reduce overpopulation of elephants destroying their

"IFAW disagrees - they are often taking young elephants from the wild to be
subjected to confinement and training that is wrong, cruel and exploitative.
The training pays no attention to the physical, behavioral, psychological
and social needs of these highly intelligent creatures," said Bell-Leask.

Zimbabwe has not culled its prolific elephant herds for several years.

Bell-Leask said his organization urged "all tourists to appreciate watching
elephants in the wild, where they belong, and avoid cruel activities."

Zimbabwe's tourist industry is struggling to make up for revenue losses
after six years of political and economic turmoil in the troubled southern
African nation suffering its worst economic crisis - with acute shortages of
hard currency, food, gasoline and essentials imports - since independence in

In a report last month, the independent Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
said the economic conditions were affecting wildlife management. The task
force said Zimbabwe's nature reserves, with revenues hit by a sharp decline
in foreign tourism, were staffed by under-equipped and poorly trained and
paid rangers. The report revived criticism that some state wildlife
authority rangers were profiteering on meat and illegal ivory.

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Clock Ticking Towards Launch of Independent Media Council

      By Cynthia Manjoro

      HARARE - The combination numbers are now being set to unlock the doors
for the launch of the envisaged independent, self-regulatory media council
before the end of this year following overwhelming endorsement of the
project by publishers, journalists, civic society organisations, political
parties, church groups and the business community.

      This comes in the wake of extensive nationwide consultative meetings
that were led by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and MISA-Zimbabwe
under the auspices of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe.

      MAZ comprises ZUJ, MISA-Zimbabwe and the Media Monitoring Project of
Zimbabwe (MMPZ).

      Strategic planning and report-back meetings were also held with key
stakeholders, namely the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef), Zimbabwe
Association of Editors (ZAE), Federation of African Media Women in Zimbabwe
(FAMWZ) and MMPZ as part of the consultative process which kicked off with
the first meeting in Bulawayo on 21 January 2006.

      Close to 400 signatories among them journalists, editors, publishers,
civic society organisations, representatives of political parties and
Members of Parliament from across the political divide endorsed the
principle of media self-regulation through the establishment of an
independent regulatory body as long overdue.

      The consensus among those consulted including the Ministry of
Information and Publicity and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Transport and Communications during a series of meetings held in Harare,
Bulawayo, Gwanda, Bindura, Mutare, Kwekwe, Chinhoyi, Marondera, Masvingo and
Gweru, was that MAZ should proceed accordingly and put the structure in
place before the end of this year.

      Messages of support and encouragement also poured in from within the
region with the Media Councils of Eastern and Southern Africa whose member
countries such as Tanzania , South Africa , Kenya and Botswana which have
successfully set up or are in the process of establishing independent
regulatory councils, leading the crescendo of calls for the establishment of
the envisaged independent body. The World Association of Press Councils has
also sent in its message of support for this historic event.

      The advanced state of preparedness for the launch of the independent
body is exemplified by the identification of candidates who will be elected
into the Media Council and the ethics committee. Notification letters have
already been sent to the candidates who are prominent Zimbabwean citizens of
high integrity.

      Responses accepting the nominations have already been received from
some of the identified candidates who will be elected into office at an
all-stakeholders convention to be held in December 2006.

      Inputs from the consultative meetings have already been incorporated
into the proposed nationally-binding code of conduct and constitution of the
media council. The two documents will be presented for further endorsement
and adoption at the convention.

      This stage of advancement followed a strategic planning meeting held
in Kadoma in October where representatives of MAZ, Zinef and ZAE agreed to
proceed as mandated during the consultative meetings and in line with the
regional and international declarations signed by Zimbabwe .

      The 1991 Windhoek Declaration, for instance, stresses the need for
Southern African countries to promote, free, independent, diverse and
pluralistic media while the Banjul Declaration on the Principles of Freedom
of Expression in Africa unequivocally states that self-regulation is the
best system of promoting high standards in the media.

      Failure to proceed as envisaged would be retrogressive, as Zimbabwe
would continue to lag behind other southern African countries, namely
Tanzania , Zambia , South Africa , Mozambique and Botswana which have
introduced codes of conduct and media self-regulatory bodies in compliance
with the two Declarations.

      However, with the successful convening of the strategic planning
meeting on the back of the consultative meetings which overwhelmingly
endorsed the principle of media self-regulation, the clock is fast ticking
towards the launch of the envisaged independent media council.

      Cynthia Manjoro is a third year student with the National University
of Science and Technology's Journalism and Media Studies Department on
attachment with MISA-Zimbabwe.

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No talks to unify opposition, Mutambara MDC claims

      By a Correspondent

      HARARE - No talks are currently underway to bring together two rival
factions of Zimbabwe's embattled Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), one
of the groups said Monday.

      It has been a year since the opposition MDC, once seen as the biggest
hope for Zimbabweans disenchanted with President Robert Mugabe, split in
two, and recent media reports have speculated that a rapprochement between
the camps was likely.

      But there have been no such talks, said a spokesman for a smaller
faction led by Arthur Mutambara, a robotics professor who was a relative
unknown on Zimbabwe's political scene before the end of last year.

      In a statement, spokesman Gabriel Chaibva accused the rival faction,
led by MDC founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, of being insincere, dishonest
and of practising double standards.

      Chaibva said the Tsvangirai-led camp had abandoned a process launched
some time ago that he said was meant to establish mutual respect and
recognition between the two groups.

      Tensions between the two groups have been simmering for months, coming
to a brutal head in June when Trudy Stevenson, a prominent white member of
parliament from the Mutambara-led faction, was attacked and beaten by youths
supposedly loyal to Tsvangirai.

      Tsvangirai condemned the violence, and a Harare member of parliament
rumoured to have had a hand in the attack has been suspended.

      But levels of suspicion and rivalry between the two camps remain high,
frustrating many once-keen opposition supporters, reports say.

      Four members of the Mutambara camp are currently embroiled in a
defamation case against Tsvangirai following comments he made to Western
diplomats several months ago alleging his former colleagues were out to
eliminate him.

      Unconfirmed reports on Monday said the four were close to winning
their case.


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Zimbabwean women's group to launch 50-50 equality campaign

      By Violet Gonda
      14 November 2006

      The Women in Politics Support Unit (WIPSU) has said it will march in
Harare on Thursday to launch the 50-50 campaign, an action that demands 50%
women representation at all levels of political leadership and
decision-making. WIPSU Director Rutendo Hadebe said the idea is to introduce
both quantitative and qualitative women in leadership who can influence the
legislation to also suit those at voter level.

      Zimbabwe's population constitutes 52% women but they only constitute
22% in political representation. Hadebe said; "This has really come out now
when we had the Domestic Violence Bill, where we can see that we can fight
all we want but if we want legislation that will suit women, we need to have
women's voices in their numbers. Not two or three."

      Hadebe said it's also time to put pressure on legislators as the
quality of discussion in parliament has become unacceptable. She said there
is an urgency to understand the role of parliament and also the role of the
voter. "When you go into parliament there is a lot of egotism. There is a
lot of jockeying and often you get the feeling that people are speaking from
their personal views and very little of the constituencies are represented."

      The group urged interested parties to participate in the solidarity
march that will start at Africa Unity Square in Harare. They said; "Women
participating in this march and all over Zimbabwe are encouraged to wear
black and white on this day to represent our demands for Zebra Listing (one
man: one woman ratio) in all aspects of political and decision-making

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Matonga under fire amid corruption probe


          November 14 2006 at 12:38AM

      Harare - A Zimbabwe deputy minister on Monday denied graft charges
which arose during his tenure at a state bus company.

      Bright Matonga is the second highest ranking official to face graft
charges after former finance minister Chris Kuruneri went on trial for
breaching foreign exchange regulations.

      The charges against Matonga, President Robert Mugabe's deputy minister
of information and publicity, arose amid a government crackdown on

      They relate to his time as chief executive of Zimbabwe United
Passenger Company (ZUPCO).

      Matonga and jailed former ZUPCO chairperson Charles Nherera are each
accused of soliciting $10 000 in bribes in order to award a tender to a
private bus supplying firm in 2002.

      On Monday their lawyers denied the charges and asked the court to
investigate the owner of the private bus supplier, who is also the key state

      Nherera's lawyer, Joseph Mandizha said he would make an application on
Tuesday to the presiding magistrate to be allowed to take the case to the
Supreme Court, alleging that his client's rights were being violated.

      "There is an apparent plot by the state to prosecute him (Nherera)
piecemeal and in instalments which seems to give the attorney general
sadistic pleasure," Mandizha told the court.

      This was in reference to Nherera's two-year jail term in August on a
separate corruption case, where he was found guilty of demanding $85 000
from the same bus supplier.

      Earlier this year, the country's central bank governor launched an
attack on graft, saying that corruption, especially among influential
officials, threatened to derail economic recovery efforts.

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Chombo Hits Out At Chideya for 'Incompetence'

The Herald (Harare)

November 14, 2006
Posted to the web November 14, 2006


LOCAL Government, Public Works and Urban Development Minister Cde Ignatius
Chombo yesterday castigated suspended Harare town clerk Mr Nomutsa Chideya
for alleged gross incompetence, which he said led to poor service delivery
in the capital.

The minister told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government
that Mr Chideya's administrative shortcomings contributed to the failure by
the city authorities to provide essential services.

Cde Chombo was responding to questions by MPs during a briefing on local
government issues.

Acting chairperson of the committee, Highfield-Glen Norah-Glen View Senator
Cde Charles Tawengwa (Zanu-PF), had said the MPs were concerned by council's
poor service delivery and wanted to know what Government was doing to deal
with the situation.

Cde Chombo said the city was failing to provide services due to the growing
urban population coupled with poor management.

"We are also looking at the governance of the city, the best way to run such
a metropolitan city. We also have a civil service in the city which did not
measure up," he said.

The minister said Mr Chideya was so incompetent to the extent that he was
dismissed as Marondera town clerk before joining the Industrial Development
Corporation (IDC) as a chief executive where he was again fired on the same

Mr Chideya, Cde Chombo said, was later to be sacked again as Harare town
clerk by former executive mayors the late Cde Solomon Tawengwa and Engineer
Elias Mudzuri, all because of incompetence.

"Now under (Harare commission chairperson Ms Sekesayi) Makwavarara, he was
dismissed. The civil service was also not up to scratch. We need someone
with the capacity to deliver," he said.

The commission running Harare City Council has resolved to fire Mr Chideya
on the grounds of misconduct and the Local Government Board has approved its
application to dismiss him.

Mr Chideya is challenging the dismissal.

He was accused of failing to resolve outstanding labour disputes between the
council and suspended directors, allocating council houses to undeserving
people, abusing fire tenders and failing to properly handle the council
collective bargaining process.

Cde Chombo said Harare City Council was trying its best to improve service
delivery although the city's sewage and water reticulation system was not
coping because of the growing population.

Turning to issue of water supply, he said in the case of Harare, the
Government deemed it expedient that the Zimbabwe National Water Authority
takes over the water provision responsibility from the source, treatment
works and distribution to households.

"However, as of now Zinwa is only in charge of conveyance of water up to the
reservoir stage. It is critical that the transfer process be managed with
dexterity," Cde Chombo said.

He said a taskforce had been put in place to look into the envisaged
transfer of water provision from councils to Zinwa.

The minister said it was important to note that total Zinwa takeover implied
revisiting the Zinwa Act, Urban Councils Act, Rural District Councils Act
and Water Act.

"The changeover must also be managed in such a way that it does not
prejudice councils in terms of revenue raised by the water account and the
cost of water as it impacts on the tariff thresholds," he said.

Cde Chombo said proposed increases in water tariffs by Zinwa for Harare had
been put on hold.

"In the past, the residents of Harare enjoyed low cost water because they
owned 85 percent of the dams and infrastructure for water provision.

"It becomes unfair for Harare residents to be charged the same with
Chitungwiza residents who do not own water infrastructure," he said.

The minister assured the committee that the taskforce would look into
recommendations by the committee that urban councils should retain water
provision and let Zinwa concentrate on rural areas and farming communities.

On the Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle housing programme, Cde Chombo said
his ministry had made bids for $50 billion in the budget for next year.

Under phase one, 5 742 houses had been allocated of which 2 579 had been
occupied out of a target of 7 478 houses.

At least 1 736 houses were at various stages of construction.

Government this year allocated a total of $1,3 billion to the project with
the Public Sector Investment Programme chipping in with a similar amount
largely for infrastructural development.

Cde Chombo said the State had acquired 65 farms around Harare for housing
developments and would strive to provide low-cost housing to urban dwellers.

He said the housing delivery programme had enjoyed appreciable support from
pension funds and the private sector but not to the extent expected.

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Zupco to Acquire 100 More Buses From China

The Herald (Harare)

November 14, 2006
Posted to the web November 14, 2006


Zupco will soon be acquiring 100 more buses from China to service the
country's rural routes, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.

Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development Minister Cde Ignatius
Chombo told the Parliamentary Committee on Local Government that Government
was committed to resuscitating Zupco as a lasting solution to transport

The minister was briefing the committee on local government issues.

"We will soon be travelling to China to conclude a deal of 100 buses," he

Cde Chombo said Zupco's turnaround programme had been a success as the bus
company recently repaid $31 billion it owed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
having repaid another $41 billion to Government.

The company had also paid the second quarter dividend and was ready to pay
the third quarter one.

Cde Chombo said Zupco had purchased 15 new engines as its refurbishment
programme gathers momentum.

"So we should be able to see a Zupco bus in each of the 58 districts," he

The five luxury coaches that were recently bought were deployed with two
servicing the Bulawayo-Johannesburg route and the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls

The other three will ply the Harare-Johannesburg, Harare-Victoria Falls and
Harare-Bulawayo routes.

The company was refurbishing more than 100 buses to service rural routes and
ease transport problems.

Zupco's fleet of broken-down buses has been growing over the years as a
result of lack of maintenance and repair.

Most of the buses, which were parked at Zupco depots for years, had been
reduced to shells as parts were cannibalised for the running fleet.

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Zimbabwe economy on tailspin

      November 14, 2006

      By Savious Kwinika (CAJ)

      Zimbabwe economy on tailspin

      By Jimmy PhelansCAJ News ReporterJohannesburg Bureau JOHANNESBURG:THE
latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) report has painted a bleak picture
on the economic outlook of  the Sub-Saharan region. The forecast predicted a
marginal decline of the economy from 5.6% to around 4.8% this year. This
development comes on the background of higher petroleum prices burdening oil
importing countries, and this has subsequently intensified pressure on their
production frontiers.  However, the regional inflation rate is expected to
drop from 8.2% to 6.9%, attributable
      to prudent macro-economic policies from selected countries, with the
exception of Zimbabwe which is reeling under a four-digit inflation of over
1 500% Inflation in  Botswana, Malawi and Zambia has been falling since July
to September 2006, whilst that of other countries has been mixed.  Zimbabwe
is the only "black goat" case in the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) region and there seems to be no immediate solution to the Zimbabwe
economic crises as the Mugabe government  stubbornly and tenaciously clings
to power, despite the tailspinning economic meltdown and  growing
unpopularity of the Mugabe regime.   Analysts have said that Zimbabwe's
economy remains problematical,and could have adverse effects on the SADC
region and there has been a call to step up all the efforts that can bring
down the inflation level to manageable levels, if Zimbawe's problems are not
to spill into the region.-CAJ News.

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China sends first shipment of assistance to Africa after landmark summit

People's Daily

      China sent 22,000 tons of fertilizer to Zimbabwe on Tuesday, the first
aid shipment to Africa following a landmark gathering between their leaders
in Beijing early this month.

      According to a framework agreement reached at the Beijing Summit of
the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on Nov. 4-5, China will provide
200,000 tons of fertilizer to Zimbabwe, an inland country which uses
fertilizer to grow tobacco and farm produce.

      The first shipment is aboard the vessel "Aristeam" that departed from
north China's Tianjin port Tuesday morning.

      Tianjin port authorities said the journey will take weeks. "It's hard
to tell how long it will take exactly," said a spokesman. "The product will
transit via Beira port in Mozambique."

      The largest sea port in north China sends ships to more than 400 ports
in at least 180 countries and regions. Its cargo throughput is expected to
total 250 million tons this year.

      At the Beijing Summit in early November, Chinese President Hu Jintao
announced a package of major assistance, investment, trade and other key
cooperation projects with Africa in an effort to forge a new type of
strategic partnership.

      Hu said China will double its assistance to Africa by 2009, providing
3 billion U.S. dollars of preferential loans and 2 billion dollars of
preferential buyer's credits, establishing a special fund of 5 billion
dollars to encourage Chinese investment in Africa and canceling debts owed
by certain heavily-indebted or least developed African countries that have
diplomatic ties with China.

      China and Zimbabwe established diplomatic relations on the day
Zimbabwe declared independence on April 18, 1980.

      Source: Xinhua

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Iran plans enhancement of commercial ties with Zimbabwe

Iranian Students News Agency



            TEHRAN, Nov. 14 (ISNA)-Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
proposed in a letter to Iran's parliament speaker, an agreement bill of
mutual encouragement and support in investments between Iran and Zimbabwe.

            The referred bill, suggested by the ministry of economic and
finance was proposed to Gholam Ali Haddad Adel by Ahmadinejad to endure its
official and legal procedure in the parliament.

            End Item

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U.N. Decision Angers Zimbabwe Opposition

Nov 14, 4:36 PM EST

Associated Press Writer

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- Leaders of Zimbabwe's beleaguered opposition said
Tuesday a U.N. decision to scale back food distribution to their country
would lead to "tragic" consequences while strengthening autocratic President
Robert Mugabe's control over the population.

The World Food Program said Monday that the aid reduction was a result of a
shortage in donor funds following repeated assurances by Zimbabwe that it
would be able to feed itself ahead of the next harvests in March.

The agency estimated 1.4 million Zimbabweans are in critical need of food
aid now and predicts the number will rise to nearly 2 million in coming
weeks because of soaring inflation and shortages of food on the local

Leaders of Zimbabwe's opposition said the aid cut would hurt the population,
while strengthening Mugabe, whose policies have helped exacerbate Zimbabwe's
deep economic crisis.

"The decision is tragic, in that it will affect the ordinary man and woman
in ... some of the most inaccessible areas of Zimbabwe," Tendai Biti, a
secretary general for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, told
The Associated Press.

Biti and other MDC leaders were invited to Stockholm by the Olof Palme
Center, a human rights and peace group named for the murdered Swedish prime
minister, but also met with Swedish Aid Minister Gunilla Carlsson to discuss
the humanitarian situation in the African country.

Welshman Ncube, another MDC secretary-general, said the U.N. decision would
allow Mugabe's government to use its own food distribution schemes as a
"political weapon ... and therefore in fact weaken people's capacity to
resist the dictatorship."

"That's the tragic consequence of actually pulling back that sort of
support," Ncube said. "The food deficits allow them to actually control and
manipulate the population."

The WFP said the poor donor response followed repeated assurances by the
government that Zimbabwe would be able to feed itself without aid.

"That's what they always say," Ncube said. "But I think the international
community should now be familiar with that trick."

Zimbabwe needs about 1.8 million tons of corn a year, but in the last
harvest produced less half that amount, according to independent surveys.

The country is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence in
1980, with more than 1,000 percent inflation, the highest in the world, and
acute shortages of hard currency and gasoline.

The crisis has been largely blamed on the chaotic and often violent seizures
of thousands of white-owned commercial farms since 2000 in Zimbabwe, a
former regional breadbasket.

Mugabe blames drought, sanctions and his government's isolation by Western
nations, donors and investors for the economic crisis.

The Movement for Democratic Change, founded in 1999 as the first significant
challenge to Mugabe's rule, narrowly lost parliamentary and presidential
elections in 2000 and 2002 in polling independent observers said was marred
by violence, intimidation and rigging.

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Zimbabwe and IMF Schedule Overdue Article IV Consultations


By Blessing Zulu
      14 November 2006

A team from the International Monetary Fund will make a long-delayed visit
to Harare in early December to conduct so-called Article IV consultations on
the economy and government economic policies, IMF and government sources
said Tuesday.

IMF Senior External Relations Officer Gita Bhatt confirmed that the team
would arrive early next month, while sources in the Ministry of Finance said
the mission would run from December 4 through December 16.

The purpose of such Article IV visits is to are monitor the compliance of
IMF members with previously expressed commitments to adopt recommended
economic policies that will foster economic growth while maintaining the
stability of prices. The consultation visit to Zimbabwe was initially set
for July but was repeatedly pushed off by Harare.

Finance Ministry sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the
delays arose from a widening rift between the government and the Fund, which
has criticized the government's economic policies, refused to reinstate the
country's voting rights and declined to extend further credit despite
payments made on Zimbabwean arrears.

Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa charged last month that the IMF was being
used as a tool of Western nations seeking "regime change." The accusations
echoed president Robert Mugabe's remarks before the United Nations General
Assembly in September.

The IMF says Harare must put sound economic policies in place to reverse the
steep decline of the economy. Zimbabwe is in its seventh year of recession
and inflation at last measurement in October was running at 1,070%. IMF
officials have warned that unless Harare takes urgent action, inflation
could hit an average 4,000% in 2007.

Sources said the timing of consultations was an issue. Harare wanted
consultations to take place only after the IMF Executive Board had taken up
Zimbabwe's status. But IMF officials were adamant that the Article IV
assessment must come first.

Harare economic analyst James Jowa told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that putting off the Article IV mission has not helped

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