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Zimbabwe, constant struggle for survival

November 17, 2008

By Raymond Maingire

HARARE - "The tragedies that we are facing as a people have reached disaster
proportions, threatening to submerge the entire nation.

"The economic and social ramifications of this man-made disaster are dire.
Millions of our children have been denied the right to learn; we are all
being denied basic sanitation - with clean water becoming a luxury. Sewerage
flows on the streets and preventable diseases such as cholera are ravaging

This is an extract from a press statement issued by outspoken National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman, Dr Lovemore Madhuku last week.

Madhuku would find many ready witnesses in millions of Zimbabweans who wake
up everyday to be confronted by rising prices of basic commodities,
prolonged power cuts and dry water taps.

Basic foods have disappeared from most supermarket shelves. The black market
and the recently introduced foreign currency shops have become the only
sources of food. Many Zimbabweans, both urban and rural have been reduced to
existence on a single meal a day.

A loaf of bread now costs $Z1 300 000 ($US2) up from $400 000 only last

A 10kg bag of maize meal costs US$10 while a 2-litre bottle of cooking oil
averages $US8.

Rentals for accommodation are now pegged in foreign currency with the
cheapest single rooms in most of Harare's townships now calling for R150.

Bank clients rub shoulders with hundreds of uniformed policemen and soldiers
in banking halls in a daily scramble for scarce cash.

Technically, most Zimbabweans have billions of dollars in local currency in
their bank accounts. The money is, however, worthless as it is impossible to
access it. Cash withdrawals cannot exceed Z$500 000, enough for a one-way
bus-fare into the city.

While law-abiding citizens endure long hours in bank queues, hordes of
youths line the city's pavements. They carry huge wads of bank notes
sometimes within hours of their introduction by the Reserve Bank of

Those lining up outside the banks, including the police wonder at the source
of this money. No one has the courage to ask, not even the police.

But it is an open secret that the youths are runners employed by corrupt
government and central bank officials who send them to buy scarce foreign
currency from the thriving black market.

Because of endemic corruption in the country, top government officials are
untouchable, even when implicated in obvious scams, for as long as they are
seen to be loyal to the government of President Robert Mugabe.

Overzealous or duty-conscious police officers often land in trouble,
victimized for being professional enough to attempt to arrest top party or
government officials.

Police officers perceived to be sympathetic to the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) face similar fate.  As if in revenge, poorly paid police
officers survive through open exploitation of innocent civilians from whom
they extort sums of money in on-the-spot fines for any of a number of petty

"I can no longer cope with this situation," says a junior police officer,
"It is not easy to continue to steal from people as a means of survival. You
are always in fear of being caught."

Madhuku laments, "For long a time the incumbent holders of political
authority have used the State as an instrument for expropriation, with
resources meant for national development being siphoned off and turned into
personal fortunes.

"As the nation bleeds, they get fat. To deal with dissent to this misrule
and abuse, the incumbents resort to violence and all manner of oppression.
We are forced to accept this betrayal."

A majority of schools has shut down due to the shortage of food and water,
as well as teachers. Teachers and other professionals leave the country in
droves daily to seek jobs abroad or simply take up self help projects

Experts say the country's education system is now operating at below 40
percent of capacity. The civil service has almost been decimated by
continued resignations and desertions as salaries have become untenable.

Due to the deterioration in the value of the Zimbabwe dollar, it has
gradually been replaced not only by the United States dollar and the South
African Rand but also by fuel coupons which have become a recognised form of

To keep up with galloping inflation, pegged now at 2, 5 million percent, the
Reserve Bank has resorted to printing bank notes on ordinary paper and
created a haven for forgers.

"Zimbabwe is probably the only country in the world where the US dollar has
been hit by inflation," says Innocent Moyo, a Harare resident.

"What you can buy for $US3 in the States you can find at twice the price in

Thousands have fled from starvation in Zimbabwe's rural areas. Harare's
moribund health system has long failed to cope.

Electricity supplies in most suburbs are switched off as early as 4am and
restored late at night when consumers are fast asleep.

Many residents now buy water from those who have invested in a borehole on
their property and there are not too many of those.

"Because of the shortage of water," says Irene, a nurse-aid at a Harare
private hospital. "it has become increasingly difficult for me to visit my
in laws in Glen View."

"The moment you enter the yard you are confronted by the stench of human
waste coming from the toilet.

"Huge green flies make repeated trips between the toilet and the kitchen."

The chronic shortage of water, which has been linked to the non-availability
of treatment chemicals, has also affected backyard vegetable gardens, once a
common feature of residential properties in Zimbabwe.

Harare's streets team with petty traders - many of them youngsters of
school-going age.  They peddle anything from pop-corn and sweets to
cell-phone air time recharge cards and, of late, wild fruit. The more
enterprising are the foreign currency dealers. The danger of teenage girls
diversifying into prostitution is very real.

Only families lucky enough to have a member living in the Diaspora are
spared from this permanent struggle for survival.

But the Diaspora has come at a huge social price.

Families are disintegrating through separation of spouses for long periods.
It is not unusual for a wife to live in the United Kingdom while the husband
remains at home or lives in his own part of the Diaspora, say in New
Zealand. The high cost of air travel and a lack of proper documentation
render it virtually impossible for many members of such families to visit
each other.

Lonely spouses often succumb to temptation. This has had a devastating
effect on the institution of marriage in Zimbabwe. As they wrangle over
ministerial portfolios politicians rarely spare a thought for the plight of
the people.

Last week, official figures put the death toll following a recent outbreak
of cholera at 100 since the onset of the epidemic two months ago.
Independent estimates are much higher.

The government has been accused of masking the figures to cover up for the
obvious collapse of the health sector and the incapacity of the State to
handle the catastrophe.

Funerals are hastily arranged affairs; many traditional rituals are being
dispensed with. There is no food to feed mourners for days on end.
Meanwhile, the cost of burying the deceased has soared.

But while the majority of Zimbabweans grapple with the problems of daily
existence, the story is different across the social divide. On the other
side a class of the most appropriately connected politically, both in
government and in the private sector, has benefited immensely Mugabe's
28-year-old rule or from the collapse of the economy.

Trendily dressed young men cruise down potholed streets in the latest
offerings from Germany and Japan. The odd Hummer is not entirely out of
place in Harare, belying the fact that it is the capital one of the poorest
nations on earth.

They rent expensive apartments in the city's most up-market neighbourhoods
and hang out in hotel lounges sipping expensive wines, seemingly unaware of
the dire situation just outside on the pavement.

"They know nothing about politics but if you ask them who they support, some
will not hesitate to tell you they support Mugabe," says one journalist.

He says this is not because they admire any positive attributes of the world's
oldest leader. Mugabe's rule has created an environment of anarchy that has
turned them into overnight tycoons.

""But," the journalist observed, "the situation cannot be riper for
rebellion against the government. Anger is so evident among the people. They
have long been looking for an avenue to express their anger."

Madhuku sums it up.

"We all share in common shame the unfortunate story of our country's regress
from being a jewel, born filled with promise, to what it has become now: a
sad spectacle, an example for others of what never to do."

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Cheque fraud generates $40 sextillion

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Public statement on the rampant fraudlent drawing of Bank cheques in
the Banking sector and false Bidding of shares by Stock brokers by
Dr. Gideon Gono, Governor, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, 17 Nov 2008


1.1 The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has noted with grave concern the
ravaging fraudulent activities that are being perpetrated by some
members of Society with the connivance of employees at some banks.

1.2 At their worst magnitude, these fraudulent activities have
involved the fraudsters approaching bank employees who would issue
unfunded bank cheques, which in turn would be used to purchase shares
on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, foreign exchange and other
speculative assets.

1.3 Having detected these malpractices, the Reserve Bank set up
elaborate traps, with the cooperation of some Stock Brokers and Banks
which have now revealed the true nature of the scams.


2.1 The nature of these fraudulent activities has entailed the
following intricate steps:

(a) Firstly, the fraudsters would secure the backing of a willing
bank to support their scam. This is bank one. The role of bank one
would be to falsely confirm that the fraudster has money with them;

(b) Secondly, armed with the illicit backing of bank one, the
fraudsters then approach an unsuspecting victim bank (bank 2) where
the fraudster, with the connivance of bank staff there gets an
unfunded bank cheque, confirmed by the backing bank (bank one); and

(c) The unfunded bank cheque is then quickly used to buy speculative assets.


3.1 As Monetary Authorities, we have detected that the following are
major accomplices:

(a) Banking institutions who are totally ignoring the minimum
procedures and control systems in the issuing of bank cheques; and
the Know Your Customer principles.

(b) Bank employees and management who are abusing their status and
the general acceptability of bank cheques to create hot air balloons
of fictitious wealth through unfunded bank cheques;

(c) The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange where trades are allowed to take
place without water tight rules and regulations that foreclose wild
fluctuations in stock prices, as well as deployment of non-existent
money balances towards the stampeding of share prices up; and

(d) Stock Broking Firms that bid shares on the ZSE with absolutely no
penny in their accounts.


4.1 During the week ended 14 November, 2008, fraudulent bank cheques
valued at $40 hexillion (21 zeros) were intercepted.

4.2 Some of these fictitious cheques had already been deployed on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, whilst others had found their way in the
illicit parallel market.

4.3 Where a total of $40 sexillion (hexillion) is created from
absolute thin air, no Central Bank in the World, even with the best
printing machines can sustain the cash requirements of the market.

4.4 Equally, the false wealth is aggravating the economic environment
through outrageous parallel market price increases and general asset
price bubbles.


5.1 The Public will recall that recently, the Reserve Bank had frozen
the use of the RTGS system due to the rampant abuses that had taken

5.2 Equally, the public will recall that following the widespread
outcry about the cheque limits, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe opened
up and allowed companies and individuals to write cheques of any

5.3 Without doubt, the explosive conditions on the Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange, as well as the huge fictitious bank cheques that are coming
out of the market demonstrate significant deterioration in the risk
management and control systems in our money and capital markets.

5.4 By allowing individuals and companies to amass false wealth
overnight, the victims are the ordinary workers; women groups;
disadvantaged members of society; the sick and the unborn who fail to
get urgent service due to the non-availability of cash at banks.

5.5 Yes, the Reserve Bank is constrained in terms of the cash it can
print due to the incidence of sanctions, but where a single
fraudulent act gives an individual instant false bank balances well
in excess of the country's entire cash in circulation, as a Nation,
we have also become the worst enemy to ourselves.


6.1 Accordingly, therefore, with immediate effect, the following
measures shall take effect:

(a) All trades on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange are to be supported by
actual credit balances confirmed by the buyer's bank in writing,
signed by that Bank's CEO. This is mainly because as it is banks have
failed to reign in their lower level staff.

(b) Any counterparty who fails to settle ZSE obligations due to lack
of funding will be automatically blacklisted on Zimbabwe's whole
banking system, with all accounts being frozen and closed. The
defaulter will, therefore, not be able to operate a bank account in

(c) Any bank where fraudulent bank cheques are drawn will have its
banking licence automatically withdrawn, with the Bank's CEO being
charged for criminality. Banks are, therefore, being called upon to
completely overhaul their risk management systems to avoid this
punitive eventuality;

(d) Banks who do not report suspicious transactions shall be liable
under the Anti-money Laundering Laws. In the case where the
suspicious transactions turn out to be fraudulent. the unreporting
bank's entire Board of Directors will be deemed unfit and improper to
sit on a banking institution's board. The thrust is, therefore, on
banks taking swift radical steps in overhauling their risk management
and internal audit systems.

6.2 As Monetary Authorities, we will deepen our vigilance and will
leave no stone unturned to deterrence by punishing those found
destabilizing the economy by breaking the law.

Thank you.

Dr G. Dono, Governor, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

17 November, 2008

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Zimbabwe opposition warns against more sanctions

November 17, 2008
STRASBOURG, FRANCE (AP) - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader cautioned Monday
against imposing more sanctions on his country, instead urging immediate
humanitarian aid.

Morgan Tsvangirai said that a Sept. 15 power-sharing agreement with
President Robert Mugabe could still yield results despite fundamental
disagreements between the two sides.

But Tsvangirai said an offer for his party to head the finance ministry was
a trap. Tsvangirai, who was in France for an international development
conference, said his party should be given more power over internal

"The country is broke and therefore he wants us to go and clean up the mess
by establishing financial rules, because he does not have financial
relations with anybody," Tsvangirai said.

The dispute over ministries is leaving Zimbabweans without leadership as
their economy collapses.

Tsvangirai said that, instead of more sanctions, the country must have
emergency humanitarian aid. He said millions of people need food and
medicine to counter the spread of cholera.

The EU has blacklisted 172 people linked to Mugabe's government and four
companies believed to financially support Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party. The
EU also has frozen long-term aid projects in Zimbabwe and imposed an arms

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Passport-less Tsvangirai got to France on Sakozy's 'goodwill'

Posted to the web: 17/11/2008 22:46:12
FRENCH President Nicholas Sarkozy stepped in to arrange for special travel
documentation for Zimbabwe's main opposition leader who has been denied a
passport by the government, an official confirmed.

Morgan Tsvangirai's official spokesman said Tsvangirai had flown to France
from South Africa over the weekend to meet European Union officials and
appeal for urgent humanitarian aid.

The MDC leader was issued with an emergency travel document by Zimbabwean
authorities, but it is only valid for South Africa where he attended a
regional summit dominated by Zimbabwe's flailing power sharing deal last

Zimbabwean authorities, no doubt keen to curtail Tsvangirai's travel to
countries considered unfriendly, were caught unawares when the MDC leader
emerged in France on Sunday where he held a joint press conference with the
European Union's Development Commissioner, Louis Michel.

Tsvangirai's spokesman George Sibotshiwe told a radio station on Monday that
the MDC leader's travel had been negotiated at the highest level of the
countries he was visiting.

"The president does not have a passport. The Zimbabwe government as you are
aware has refused to give him a passport, and therefore violated his rights
and demonstrated that they are not sincere. As prime minister designate, he
should have a passport," Sibotshiwe told the Voice of America's Studio 7.

He added: "Mr Tsvangirai left Zimbabwe on an emergency travel document which
only allows him to travel to South Africa. Any other travel from South
Africa has to be negotiated with governments of countries he is visiting.

"You are aware that Mr Tsvangirai is an agent of change, and is the chief
proponent of democracy in the region and in our country, and therefore has
travelled on the goodwill of other African countries and on the goodwill of
those countries that believe such a man promoting the message of democracy
and change cannot be hindered by a passport.

"So his travel has been largely with the negotiation of the various
governments. For example, in France President Sarkozy and the foreign
affairs department saw it fit to extend an invitation to him and made all
the necessary arrangements in terms of travel documentation."

Sibotshiwe dismissed state media reports in Zimbabwe that the MDC leader was
"globe trotting".

"He is not doing a tour of Europe," Sibotshiwe said. "He is here
specifically for the European Union Development Days conference. The
objective of Mr Tsvangirai is to first of all ensure that we get
humanitarian support for almost half of our country dying of starvation and
hunger. While we carry on with dialogue and negotiations (for a unity
government), the most important thing is to put the people first, so he has
seen it fit to go and talk to the European Union."

Tsvangirai used his visit to Europe to caution against any new sanctions on
Zimbabwe, stressing that what the country needed was humanitarian aid and

Sibotshiwe said the MDC leader would leave France for Tanzania where he is
scheduled to hold talks with President Jakaya Kikwete whose country
currently holds the rotating African Union Presidency.

After SADC failed to get Zimbabwe's rivals to agree on a cabinet for a power
sharing government, the MDC indicated it would approach the African Union to

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Muchakata Tree Saving Rural Zimbabweans from Starvation

By Safari Njema
Chihota, Zimbabwe
17 November 2008

In Zimbabwe, the fruit of the Muchakata tree is saving thousands from
starvation in rural areas. Many villagers now rely on the golden colored
fruit to survive. Voice of America English to Africa Service reporter Safari
Njema spoke to residents of Chihota village, who are creating interesting
recipes from the tree.

In the days of plentiful crops and economic prosperity, the Muchakata tree -
which is dotted across parts of Chihota -- was often ignored.

The evergreen tree can grow up to 10 meters in height and produces golden
fruit which gives off a rich alluring scent detectable from a distance

For a long time the fruit was considered a staple of the poor, used in feed
for donkeys. But the economic downturn and hyperinflationary environment has
resulted in a major turnaround in how the tree and its fruit are perceived.

Maikoro Chikwangu is over 80 years old and lives in Mhizha village. Leaning
on a walking stick, the gray-haired man has to take care of his wife and
grandchild. He says people wake up at the break of dawn to gather the fruit
in large sacks and buckets.

"There are three wild fruit tree species that have served the people well,
such as the mukute, the mutamba and the muchakata. With regards to the
muchakata, people have now learned how to make porridge, buns and bread. You
do not need to add sugar to these recipes because the fruit is naturally

But 52-year-old Steven Jaricha from Mutenda says the Muchakata is a
protected species. He warns anyone caught chopping it down is punished
severely by the local chief.

Jaricha adds some villagers have begun brewing beer or making jam, which
they're selling to townsfolk. He says many villagers spend their time
crushing the fruit, "They brew beer apart from making porridge. They take
those fruits and crush them, then they will refine it into some form of
mealie meal, and then porridge."

He adds the Muchakata also has spiritual value especially for Shonas, who've
been conducting rituals under the wonder tree for generations.

He says post-marriage ceremonies and important family gatherings are marked
by prayers under the so-called wonder tree, "By the time that we grew up,
our fathers used to tell us that trees such as the muchakata are culturally
important in the sense that [they are linked to] spirits.  Unfortunately
this has been diluted by the coming of Christianity."

80-year-old Margaret Kugutarinda, from Samuriwo village, says she's been
amazed by locals' ingenuity. She says poverty has forced many to find
creative means to survive.

But she complains she can no longer go into the forest to gather the fruit:

"It is true that many are surviving from the muchakata,  but people like me
are in a big fix.  I look after some aids orphans, and I can not buy
anything in the shops because they are almost empty and money does not  buy
much. I am not sure whether the government still remembers that there are
people like us who have nothing to fall back on."

However, Kugutarinda, a grandmother, says she's delighted at least some are
feeding their families.

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Press lawyer faces continued harassment

New York, November 17, 2008--Authorities should halt harassment of media and
human rights lawyer Harrison Nkomo, CPJ said today. Nkomo is awaiting word
on whether he will face criminal charges after a client left Zimbabwe in the
midst of a case, said Beatrice Mtetwa, co-founder of Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights.

Nkomo was defending Phillip Taylor, a British national accused of illegally
working as a journalist in Zimbabwe.

"Zimbabwe's security forces are using intimidation tactics against the press
and those who defend the media," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom
Rhodes. "There is no reason for Nkomo to be charged. He should be allowed to
continue his work without harassment or the threat of criminal charges."

Taylor was arrested by members of the Central Intelligence Organization
(CIO) while on a plane that was about to take off at Harare International
Airport on October 30. Taylor was accused of working as a journalist in
Zimbabwe without accreditation during his 30-day stay in the country. Taylor
said he was in Zimbabwe as a visitor.

Taylor was granted bail of 150,000 Zimbabwean dollars (US$7.75) and ordered
to surrender his travel documents, according to the Media Institute of
Southern Africa. Taylor left the country on November 4, the day before his
scheduled court date, according to local news reports. Nkomo informed the
court that he had received a message that his client had left the country.

Police officers from the Law and Order section, the department responsible
for numerous detentions during the country's election crisis, later visited
Nkomo's office in Harare searching for the lawyer, local journalists told
CPJ. Police said they wanted to charge Nkomo with obstructing justice, the
independent weekly The Standard reported.

In May, authorities charged Nkomo with "undermining the authority or
insulting the president" in connection with another case. Two days later, a
judge ordered the lawyer's release. Nkomo has defended numerous Zimbabwean
journalists, including veteran reporter Frank Chikowore. On April 15, police
arrested Chikowore on charges of "inciting public violence" during a strike
organized by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Chikowore was on
the scene to cover the strike.

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Zanu-PF conference in limbo

November 17, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - The prospect of a successful Zanu-PF Annual National People's
Conference, which is scheduled for next month in Bindura, hangs in the
balance following revelations that fundraising activities have not been
entirely successful.

The conference is set for December 10 to 14 in the Mashonaland Central
capital. More than 5 000 delegates are expected to attend.

Expected to top the agenda of the conference is the issue of the ongoing
negotiations between Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
parties. The issue of succession to President Robert Mugabe's normally makes
a token appearance on the agenda before delegates unanimously endorse his
continued leadership.

Last week, the Zanu-PF secretary for finance, David Karimanzira, who is also
the governor of Harare Metropolitan Province, launched an appeal for
donations to fund the conference programme.

It has however emerged that modest donations of money, food stuffs, and
other materials have so far been received.

Information obtained from party officials shows that the conference is in
limbo unless there is a major windfall from somewhere. They say this is
highly unlikely given the state of the economy.

One of the officials said they had been told by some would-be donors that
because of the depressed economic situation the business community could
hardly afford the luxury of donating towards the Zanu-PF conference.

"Things are not at all rosy this year," said one of the fundraisers. "The
party's fundraising teams are sending reports that all is not well in the
provinces. This means that if no surprise package in terms of donations is
secured, then the whole conference hangs in limbo.

"Businesses are said to be reporting negative results and they cannot
therefore be in a position to part with money for the conference. Even some
of the party's usual donors when it comes to conference and congress
activities are not as forthcoming this year as they have always been. It's a

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said some of the regular
donors had this time around only made pledges towards their provincial
fundraising teams whereas in previous years they have splashed large sums of
cash towards the event at the initial approach.

"Some of them are making promises that they will give us this and that
amount of money towards the conference, but none of them has fulfilled their
pledge. It is only three weeks before the conference and funds running into
billions of dollars are required for the conference," another official said.

In a telephone interview Karimanzira acknowledged the poor response of
potential donors. He said, however, that Zanu-PF remained confident the
conference would proceed as planned.

"All along, we have managed to hold our conferences," said Karimanzira. "We
will not fail this time around. Of course, we have had challenges here and
there in raising the money and other things but we are confident that we
will overcome these challenges and hold our conference as expected."

He said the party was currently not considering slashing the number of
delegates, saying the figure of 5 000 was still in place despite the

"We will not cut down the numbers as yet. We are working with the initial
figure of 5 000 delegates and we will take care of all these people," he

Party officials say a total of 124 herd of cattle, 81 goats and 18 pigs have
already been sourced for consumption of delegates at the conference.

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Registrar General's Office Stops Producing IDs

Bulawayo - The Registrar general offices in Bulawayo are turning away
national identity card seekers citing lack of polythene material,  used in
the production of the cards.

The Office is only issuing green waiting passes which are not accepted
by most institutions and banks.

A visist by Radio VOP News crew at the RG offiecs in the city revealed
the office had stopped issuing national identity cards.

It is a punishable offence in Zimbabwe for anyone over 16 to walk
around without an identity card.

"I urgently need a proper national ID to open a bank account.For the
past three weeks I have been visiting the RG offices and officials there
have turning away people saying they do not have plastic cards.I have even
tried Gwanda and I have been told the same story," said Marko Ngulube.
Another ID seeker, Charity Moyo said she had travelled as far as
Victoria Falls to get a national identity card but had failed to get the
document. " I desparately need an ID to process my papers to go and
undertake my studies in Canada in January next year. I have in vein tried
to secure an ID card in Hwange but the story is the same. If I fail to
secure the document, I will be travelling to Harare next week ," she said.

Plastic ID cards were introduced in November 2004 to replace metal
identity cards which had became extremely expensive to produce as a result
of the current foreign currency in the country.
An official manning a collection point for identity cards at the
Registrar General offices in Bulawayo confirmed that they had run out of
consumables to produce plastic identity cards.
The RG's office is also facing critical shortage of material for
producing passports.

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Local Officials Hindering Delivery Of Zimbabwe Food Assistance

By Patience Rusere
17 November 2008

Though Zimbabwe's food crisis is deepening daily, non-governmental
organizations involved in the distribution of assistance continue to face
obstruction by local authorities from whom they must obtain letters of
clearance to hand out food aid, say sources informed on conditions.

Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition Advocacy Officer Gladys Hlatshwayo said NGOs
are at times refused such letters, complicating efforts to provide aid to
the hungry. She said contacts with villagers indicate that such problems are
widespread and worsening the crisis.

Hlatshwayo said this had been a particular problem with ZANU-PF members of
parliament and district council members in the Makoni district of Manikaland

The government banned most distribution of food and other humanitarian aid
by NGOs between June and August of this year, accusing such groups of
promoting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the June
presidential run-off election.

Elsewhere, Zimbabweans being expelled from Botswana through Plumtree border
post are being provided with food aid to help them resettle in Zimbabwe, as
Martin Ngwenya reports.

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Mugabe wants to use the MDC-Tsvangirai

Local News
November 18, 2008 | By Staff
Movement for Democratic Change(MDC) leader has accused ZANU PF of seeking to
use the MDC to get the economy on track and also cautioned against imposing
more sanctions.

Tsvangirai said that a Sept. 15 power-sharing agreement with President
Robert Mugabe could still yield results despite fundamental disagreements
between the two sides.

But Tsvangirai said an offer for his party to head the finance ministry was
a trap. Tsvangirai, who was in France for an international development
conference, said his party should be given more power over internal

"The country is broke and therefore he wants us to go and clean up the mess
by establishing financial rules, because he does not have financial
relations with anybody," Tsvangirai said.

The dispute over ministries is leaving Zimbabweans without leadership as
their economy collapses.

Tsvangirai said that, instead of more sanctions, the country must have
emergency humanitarian aid. He said millions of people need food and
medicine to counter the spread of cholera.

The EU has blacklisted 172 people linked to Mugabe's government and four
companies believed to financially support Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party. The
EU also has frozen long-term aid projects in Zimbabwe and imposed an arms

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Zim civic bodies stage peace concert

by Simplicious Chirinda Tuesday 18 November 2008

HARARE - Some Zimbabwean civic society organisations on Saturday hosted a
peace concert aimed at rehabilitating and uniting victims of political
violence that descended on the country in the run up to the June 27
presidential run-off election.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Artists for Democracy in
Zimbabwe Trust (ADZT) and Savanna Arts teamed up to stage a peace concert in
Karoi, 200km northwest of Harare.

Concert organiser and MISA advocacy officer, Thabani Moyo, said the
initiative is meant to restore dignity, spirit of togetherness and humanism
among the people of Zimbabwe.

"There is no-one worth killing for, the blood of the Zimbabwean child is far
important than anyone and it should not be spilled because of political
expediency," Moyo told an audience of about 500 people gathered in Karoi's
Chikangwe Hall for the concert.

The initiative was launched under the "One Love Peace Festivals" banner in
Harare and Bulawayo in July, following the June 27 election that left about
200 mostly opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters dead
in politically motivated violence.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai eventually pulled out of the election because
of state orchestrated violence against his supporters, leaving President
Robert Mugabe to claim victory in a widely condemned election in which he
was sole candidate.

The peace concerts make use of young musicians and performing artists to
spread messages of peace, neighbourly love and remind people that elections
are events that come and go.

"We want to restore the spirit of humanism. There is no reason whatsoever
why we should kill each other whenever we go for elections. It's not worth
it, children of Zimbabwe we should never for whatever reason be seen to be
killing each other because of politics or on behalf of anyone," said Moyo.

Organisers of the concerts said the shows would be taken to different
centres around the country so as to build and restore hope among the people.

"Our aim is to take these festivals to all corners of the country and try to
preach the message of peace and harmony among Zimbabweans, said ADZT
coordinator Ethel Mapiye, adding; "We want to restore hope among Zimbabweans
after a very difficult past in which we saw neighbour turning against
neighbour, friends becoming enemies, brother turning against brother. In
short, we want to build a base for a better tomorrow."

The concerts are being held at a time when rights groups are reporting that
violence is continuing in some parts of the country despite a commitment in
September between Zimbabwe's two main political parties to come together to
form a government of national unity.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) said in its latest report released early
this month that cases of political violence and human rights abuses shot up
39 percent from August to September. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe police torch land invaders' huts

Tuesday, 18 November 2008 02:07

More than 41 families in Southhall farm, 20 kilometers east of Masvingo,
were left homeless early this week after police razed their huts to the
ground, as sporadic farm invasions continued in the provice.

Southall farm, near Mutimurefu prison, is at the centre of controversy after
a city businessman and losing ZANU PF Mavingo urban aspirant, Josby Ommar,
is said to be eying it.

While no comment could be obtained from Ommar, disgruntled villagers, who
occupied the farm in 2000, said they were surprised to see gun-totting
police officers ordering them out of their huts, eight years after they
settled there.

"At around ten in the morning on Sunday, some armed police officers ordered
us to take all our things out of the houses, before they torched we speak, we have been sleeping in the open since Sunday,"
said one settler.

Some of the settlers who tried to resist eviction were taken to Masvingo
Central police station where they languished in cells for three days,
according to the source.
The police were accusing the villagers of unlawfully occupying the farm,
although no notice were given to them tom leave the farm. A lands officer,
whose name could not be established, only addressed them a day before the

"One lands officer who notified us of the eviction a day before accused us
of unlawfully occupying the farm, yet we have been here at the height of the
farm invasions," added the source.

Officer Commanding Masvingo province, Assistant Commissioner Mekia
Tanyanyiwa said the settlers' stay at Southall farm was illegal.
"The settlers, especially those on the Eastern side, were illegal. They
settled themselves unlawfully," he said.

Asked on where he expected the villagers, who were already preparing land
for this farming season, would go, Tanyanyiwa said; "They should go back to
where they came from."
However, Masvingo rural District Administrator (DA), James Mazvidza said the
government would resettle the villagers.

"The farmers were staying at the farm temporarily, and I am sure they were
told when they entered the farm. They will be given a permanent place to
stay," Mazvidza said.
But, ironically, the officials here were on record as saying that land for
resetlement had run out in the province.

Provincial war veterans chairman, Isiah KMuzenda, who is also the secretary
for lands in Zanu PF party, could not be reached to comment on the matter.
It is believed that Muzenda and other war veterans instructed the police to
evict the settlers.

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Church leaders lament SADC failure

November 17, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE- World ecumenical leaders have said the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) has failed the people of Zimbabwe by failing to find a
lasting solution to the country's crisis.

In a statement, the church leaders said: "By failing to fully address the
growing humanitarian catastrophe and question of illegitimacy of the current
government, SADC leaders have let down the people of Zimbabwe who dutifully
went to vote for a new government on March 29, 2008 and are today still
waiting for a government of their choice," said the Christian leaders.

The statement was signed by representatives of the World Council of
Churches, Lutheran World Federation, World Alliance of Reformed Churches,
World YWCA and the World Student Christian Federation.

The church leaders said political leaders had made the plight of the people
of Zimbabwe worse by failing to agree on a positive way forward for the

They said it was time to give priority to the people through servant
leadership instead of self-serving power politics and for Africa's leaders
to face up to each other with honesty and truth.

Firm decisions were needed to provide a foundation for a durable solution to
the protracted crisis in Zimbabwe.

"Since August a severe cholera outbreak has claimed hundreds of lives and
more are dying everyday across the country," the statement says.

"People living with HIV/AIDS have no access to life-saving drugs or food.
Schools and hospitals are closing daily because there are no teachers,
doctors, nurses or medicines.

"Millions of Zimbabweans are starving despite the best efforts of aid
"Church leaders in Zimbabwe have confirmed that many are now surviving on
wild fruit. Gaining access to water, food, electricity and even cash from
the bank has become a daily nightmare for ordinary Zimbabweans.

"Everyday women and children are bearing the brunt of these hardships as
providers, care-givers and vulnerable members of society," said the
ecumenical leaders.

Amid all this suffering, said the church leaders, the state was guilty of
misappropriating funds mobilised to buy life-saving drugs for the sick as
well as providing jobs for at least 50 000 Zimbabweans in the health sector.

The ecumenical leaders also said up to four million Zimbabweans were now
trapped in southern Africa and beyond, unable to return home in the absence
of a credible resolution of the political and economic meltdown.

"With a hungry and demoralised civil service, no one is taking proper
responsibility to ensure accountable and efficient public service delivery,"
they said.

"We call for an urgent affirmation and protection of the right to life and
dignity for all Zimbabweans, and we call for adherence to democratic
principles and processes in the mediation process and a return of the rule
of law inside Zimbabwe.

"Since the current negotiations began in 2007, ordinary Zimbabwean people
have been further and further excluded from a process that affects their
present and future.

"We further note with great sadness reports of escalating violence and
violations against human rights defenders, especially Zimbabwean women and
youth organisations calling for an end to the humanitarian crisis.

"We therefore call on the SADC facilitator, SADC and the African Union to
enhance transparency and broaden the talks to include civil society and
churches to bring in voices from the streets, townships and villages.
African leaders must re-commit themselves to protecting the integrity of
elections and the right of citizens to freely elect governments of their

The church leaders called upon Zanu-PF and the MDC to form a government
based on the will of the voters, true equity and in the interest of real and
durable political progress, socio-economic transformation and national

"Unilateral decisions on the formation of the new government will only lead
to further international isolation and exacerbate the suffering and misery
in Zimbabwe," said the leaders

"We also call upon Zimbabwe's uniformed forces to treat their fellow
citizens humanely and with respect. To politicians that have lost their
conscience and seek to profit from the misery of fellow Zimbabweans, the
world is watching. Justice as we have witnessed elsewhere in the world, will
one day be served.
They called upon the United Nations, the European Union and the
President-elect of the United States of America, Barack Obama to mobilise
and increase direct humanitarian support for the long-suffering people of

"To international human rights and humanitarian agencies please keep your
focus on Zimbabwe and diligently exercise your responsibility to protect the
right to life in this country," said the statement.

The statement issued in Geneva was signed by Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, General
Secretary, World Council of Churches, Rev Dr Ishmael Noko, General Secretary
of the Lutheran World Federation and Rev Dr Setri Nyomi, general secretary
of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

Other signatories were Ms Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, general secretary - World
YWCA, Rev Michael Wallace, general secretary of the World Student Christian
Federation, and Marlon Zakeyo of the Zimbabwe Advocacy Office in Geneva

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'Botswana using P1.2m on Zim refugees monthly'

by Own Correspondents Tuesday 18 November 2008

JOHANNESBURG - Botswana is looking after more than 1 000 Zimbabwean
refugees at a cost of 1.2 million pula (about US$150 000) per month, Vice
President Mompati Merafhe said at the weekend, urging a quick solution to
Zimbabwe's political impasse.

Merafhe, who spoke on Sunday and whose country has emerged as the
region's foremost critic of President Robert Mugabe's controversial rule,
called on southern African leaders to remain engaged in finding a lasting
solution to the political impasse in Zimbabwe.

"The Vice President (Merafhe) affirmed that progress in Zimbabwe was
very much in Botswana's own self interest, while the current political
standoff in that country was having a negative local impact," the office of
Botswana President Ian Khama reported.

"In this respect, he noted that there are currently over 1 000
Zimbabwean refugees in Botswana, whose upkeep and general welfare cost
government about 1.2 million pula a month."

Zimbabwe's long running crisis has spawned a huge refugee problem in
the region with an estimated three million Zimbabweans now living in
neighbouring countries - the majority in more prosperous Botswana and South
Africa - after fleeing home because of political violence and worsening
economic hardships.

According to statistics provided by Botswana's government, Gaborone
has since 2005 repatriated over 175 000 illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe
while spending 62 million pula building facilities to hold illegal
immigrants, feed and transport them back home.

Merafhe noted that a Southern African Development Community (SADC)
summit last week ruled that Zimbabwe's rival political leaders urgently form
a government of national unity in line with a September 15 power-sharing

However, the Vice-President said in the event the Zimbabwean parties
fail to implement the power-sharing agreement as ordered by SADC, then "it
was in the logic of circumstance for democracy to be allowed to take its
course through the holding of new elections under international supervision".

A similar call by Khama for fresh elections in Zimbabwe two weeks ago
drew an angry response from Harare which accused the Botswana leader of
unwarranted interference and said his call for new elections amounted to
"extreme provocation".

Mugabe's government subsequently accused Botswana of training youths
from opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party to destabilise Zimbabwe.

Gaborone dismissed the charge and has asked SADC's Organ on Politics,
Defence and Security as well as the Zimbabwean government to undertake a
fact-finding mission to Botswana to probe the allegations.

Relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana have long been strained with
the Gaborone authorities accusing illegal Zimbabwean immigrants of stoking
crime in their country while Mugabe's government accuses Botswana of
ill-treating Zimbabweans.

Zimbabwe has suffered a severe political and economic crisis since

Hopes that a power-sharing government would help ease the political
situation and allow the country to focus on tackling the economic crisis
look dim after the opposition refused to join the unity government before
outstanding issues in power-sharing talks with Mugabe are resolved. -


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The Absolute Worst Currency in the World: Zimbabwe

Monday, November 17, 2008

$1 USD = 642,371,437,695,221,000 Zimbabwean Dollars

It's hard to keep track of just how fast the Zimbabwean dollar has fallen since the government reinstated electronic parallel market transfers on Nov. 13, but even before that the currency of Zimbabwe was the most worthless in the world.

While the official rate on Monday was 19,393.94 Zimbabwean dollars to the $1 USD, the old mutual implied rate, generated from comparing the Zimbabwe and London stock exchanges, valued the currency at more than 642 quadrillion to one.

When the currency was revalued this summer, an egg cost about $35 billion Zimbabwean dollars.

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JAG open letter forum - No. 584 - Dated 17 November 2008


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

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1.    Births, deaths and voters

2.    Sadc Tribunal Judgement

3.    What next

4.    Exerting pressure

5.    Country at war


1. Births, deaths and voters

Dear Family and Friends,

Most nights between 11pm and midnight a Spotted Eagle Owl patrols my
neighbourhood. He's a big grey and brown owl with bright yellow eyes and
distinct ear tufts but it's his haunting, Hu - huuu call that alerts me
to his presence in or near my garden. The arrival of the owl often comes
at just about the time the electricity is switched on and I think that in
the years ahead whenever I hear the Spotted Eagle Owl hooting I will
always remember these darkest of days when my home country was
collapsing. It is a time when the losers of an election held eight months
ago are still clinging onto power even though they cannot even provide
the most basic requirements of life.

If we are lucky nowadays the electricity comes on in the middle of the
night when we are asleep. It doesn't last long. On good nights we have
maybe five hours of electricity before it goes off for the next 19 hours.
It is impossible to run a home, business or institution with just a fifth
of our power needs. The electricity supply (ZESA) is a government run
enterprise and is in a state of almost complete collapse. Zesa no longer
send bills to customers - they say they have no paper on which to print
the accounts. You have to volunteer payment, usually guessing what you
owe, or risk disconnection - leaving you without even those four or five
hours of power in the middle of the night. This week the government run
ZESA refused to accept cheques from customers - customers who are paying
them for not supplying electricity.

Water supply, controlled by ZINWA, a government enterprise, has collapsed
everywhere and this week came the chilling news from Medicens Sans
Frontiers that one million people in Harare alone are currently at risk
from Cholera.

In cities, towns and villages around the country our taps are dry most of
the time, apparently because there are no chemicals to treat raw water.

Desperate people resort to desperate measures including collecting water
from shallow wells dug on open roadside land - even that alongside
cemeteries - and from cloudy pools in stagnant streams where mosquitoes
swarm in their thousands. Despite this, still we are required to pay
water bills every month, for the dirty, smelly water that sometimes
splutters out of our taps and into our toilets. ZINWA do not warn us to
boil the water, they do not send out accounts and they say that from
December they too will not be accepting cheques from customers -
customers who are paying them for not supplying water, paying them for

In the middle of this week I went with a cheque to pay for my telephone
connection with Tel-One - a government controlled enterprise, and the
only fixed line telephone system in the country. To connect to a number
outside of my home town has become almost impossible in the last few
months with the exchanges being out of order for multiple hours every
day. Tel- One no longer send out accounts to customers so you must pay
what you think you owe, or be disconnected. Tel- One refused to accepted
a cheque for less than two million dollars. The next day a friend went to
pay for their telephone connection and had a cheque for three million
dollars. Tel- One refused to accept the payment saying they no longer
accepted cheques for amounts of less than ten million dollars and said
that from next month they will not be accepting any cheques at all.

Government controlled systems are collapsing all around us and ZANU PF
have no solutions for any of the massive problems which are closing the
country down, chasing away the tourists and leading a nation into
starvation and disease. It is time for a new election in Zimbabwe, one in
which losers actually lose and winners really win. I leave you with one
last thought for those who do not know: the contentious Ministry of Home
Affairs does not only contain the Police but also the Registrar General's
office where births, deaths and voters are registered.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.


2.  Sadc Tribunal Judgement

Dear Jag

Although it SEEMS as if all is lost, with Sadc giving mugabe a mandate to
continue the violence, torture, death and destruction, which is his own
hallmark, we have the result of the tribunal on the handful of brave
commercial farmers from Chegutu and elsewhere, still to come; it is with
little doubt that it will go the farmers' way and this will actually show
that within sadc, the left hand knows not what the right hand is doing -
African leaders are, in my opinion, a cartel of hoods just out to loot
their own domains, and to see who can benefit the most - with the prize a
dishevelled and manky continent, fit for no human habitation.

Mugabe set out to destroy a particular class, yet he has succeeded in
destroying his own kith and kin, to the extent that those that are left
hate him. He and his puppets have not long to go - he may have won a
small victory against Tsvangirai, but pride comes before a fall.

S. Taylor - aloota for not much longer!


3.  What next

Dear JAG,

Don't you think, too, Zanu PF is unwilling to chance anything? Are you
not convinced, too, that they are praying hard, that nothing will change
for them?

Who really believes that things are changing for the better through the
so called government of unity? Is it not by far more likely that the MDC
will be blown up completely after a short time while embedded with Zanu

Don't you fear, too, the precious men and women from MDC will be worn and
torn out while taking part of a government where nothing really can be
changed, because half are behaving like ever? Is it not better to spare
the democrats, for Zimbabwe will need unspoiled people in government
posts as soon as Zimbabwe has managed either by fighting or even
waiting that real power is taken over by the MDC?



4.  Exerting pressure

Dear Jag

I was discussing the Zim situation with a friend the other evening. She
has no links with the country at all apart from knowing that I lived
there for 34 years and have told her lots about it. She seems to feel
that SADC and even UK, USA, and the EU  have some sort of ulterior motive
in holding back from exerting pressure on Mugabe . There must be a reason
she says  , Is Mugabe promising them something in return for holding
back.  ?  I couldn't think of anything, I could only come up with what I
have said so often that if there had have been oil in Zim, then they
would have been there boots and all.  Does anybody  else have any
thoughts along these lines or is my friend missing the point. The point
being that Mugabe does as he likes and the rest of the world are so pre
occupied with, money, Al Quaeda. and their own skins, that Zim and its
peoples are on the back burner.

I have asked a question  of Kubatana but have not had an answe, so I will
ask it here.

Where are the  Matabele warriors ? Dont they know that it is time for
them to get up off their bottoms and do something.? They are Zimbabwe's
last hope, all other hope is gone.

Gina Rademan


5.  Country at war

Dear Jag

People of Zimbabwe must see by now that the country is at war. There is
no leadership and so the hunger, cholera, unemployment, broken currency,
HIV and dirty broken half-truths attack at will. Cardboard gangsters that
make up Zanu-Pf and the drab olive green 'Bombers' who make up their
spineless shadow, drift about willy nilly; scratching around for farms
and swear words. Come out and fight and play by the same rules. This is
no time for talk, unless you are happy with a glass of dust and a very
long walk to Deadmantown. Forget the past, it's war now my friends and
it's no quarter asked, nor should any be given.

Liam A Forde.


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 Agriculture.


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