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Special Briefing on Zimbabwe's Current State
James D. McGee, Ambassador
Robert Wood, Deputy Spokesman
Via Video Conference
Harare, Zimbabwe
November 20, 2008

View Video

MR. WOOD: Okay. Well, good morning, everyone. Good morning in Zimbabwe. Ambassador McGee, welcome. This is Robert Wood, the Deputy Spokesman. Ambassador McGee is here and he’s going to talk to you all about the political situation in Zimbabwe. So without further ado, I will turn it over to Ambassador McGee. Welcome, sir.

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: Thank you, Robert. Let me start off by saying that we have a multifaceted issue here in Zimbabwe. We have a very bad, dire political situation that’s being – leading to a food and health emergency, manmade, in this country.

I think you’re all aware of the problems on the political side of the house. Let me just briefly go over those. There was an agreement signed for a unity government on September 15th of this year. Here we are, approximately eight, nine weeks later, and we still have no government formed here in Zimbabwe. The ZANU-PF, Robert Mugabe’s ruling party, has refused to act in good faith. They want to maintain all the power ministries, all the security ministries, as well as the financial ministries, under their control and give a group of smaller social ministries to the control of the MDC, the Movement for Democratic Change, headed by Morgan Tsvangirai.

This impasse seemed to have been broken a week and a half ago during the SADC summit that was held in Johannesburg. But still, even after that, we have not had any forward movement on that situation. And the political situation still remains at a critical impasse here in Zimbabwe.

I think what’s even more important today, though, is the humanitarian crisis that is following up from this political impasse. We’re seeing the humanitarian situation here in Zimbabwe really go down the tubes. Food situation, food and security situation, is extremely dire. Estimates from the United Nations community is 1.5 million Zimbabweans are at risk of food insecurity right now, and by the end of this crop season that number could jump up to over 5 million people.

The health system has totally collapsed. The three major hospitals here in Harare have closed. They’ve closed their doors for patients. We have anecdotal stories of clinics in the countryside being unable to operate. People are routinely turned away from clinics. And in some places, police have been stationed outside of clinics to ensure that no one can enter the premises. Doctors and nurses are not being paid. So that’s the reality of the situation on the ground here in Zimbabwe on this health system.

The water situation, sanitation situation, has gone through the ceiling. I just received a confirmed report about 15 minutes ago there are now 294 confirmed deaths from cholera here in Zimbabwe. There are over 1,200 confirmed cases of cholera, and another 2,500 unconfirmed cases of cholera. South Africa – the South African parliament just released a statement this afternoon, saying that they would provide assistance to Zimbabwe to try to deal with this cholera epidemic, because much of it is occurring on the border where Zimbabweans are trying to leave this country and make their way into South Africa.

So you can see the political situation has created a concurrent situation on the health and food side of the house that is, frankly, intolerable. So we have a very, very bad situation. I don’t see anything that’s going to alleviate these problems until the government of Robert Mugabe starts to act in good faith and deal with the Morgan Tsvangirai MDC faction in a true manner. They need to continue to look at what happened back on March 29th, when the people of Zimbabwe clearly expressed their will in the election and voted Morgan Tsvangirai with about 49 percent of the vote. And if you look at the three opposition parties, 56 percent of the people in Zimbabwe voted against Robert Mugabe and his stale policies in this country.

QUESTION: Sue Pleming from Reuters. Mr. Ambassador, you spoke about a cholera epidemic. What is the United – and the South Africans were looking to send in teams. What is the U.S. doing to try and ease the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, and particularly the health crisis that has emerged?

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: We are working with the other – with the international community. We’re trying to – we’re bringing in assistance and trying to provide clean water. Cholera is something that is fairly easily treated. You need salt, you need sugar, you need clean water. Unfortunately, those are three things that the average Zimbabwean does not have. So we’re working with NGOs and local communities to try to provide water tablets, saline tablets, the things that are necessary to take care of the epidemic here in Zimbabwe.

QUESTION: Ambassador, do you feel that – this is Desmond Butler from the Associated Press. Do you feel that Mugabe has played you, given the September 15th agreement? Has he employed a strategy from the North Korea-Sudan playbook of pretend to play along with the – with the – what the international community wants and – but merely stalling for time and trying to hold on to power?

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: Desmond, I don’t think he’s even trying to be coy about this. He’s made it clear that he is not easily going to give up power here in Zimbabwe. The SADC, the Southern African Development Community, clearly came out with statements saying that the – there should be a unity government, there should be power sharing. And Mugabe has pretty much said that Morgan Tsvangirai would never sit in a government here in Zimbabwe with any true power.

So, no, I don’t think it’s really – he’s trying to play us. I think he’s just saying -- he’s snubbing his nose at the international community and pretty much saying this is my country and I’ll do with it as I please.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) need a new strategy for the problem?

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: I think the strategy here is we continue to put the pressure on Mugabe. We have our targeted sanctions. The European Union, the Australians, and many other likeminded Western nations are following us with those sanctions. The other issue is that we need to continue to work with SADC, the African Union, and the United Nations to continue to spin up their sanctions, their actions against this repressive regime headed by Robert Mugabe.

QUESTION: Lach Carmichael from AFP. I just wanted to follow up on Desmond’s question. How is he holding on to power? And what weaknesses do you see, if any, within his power structure? Are there any factions that are tilting away from him?

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: I’m sorry. I lost you for a second there. I missed the first part of your question.

QUESTION: Yeah. Can you analyze how he’s holding on to power? And if he has any weaknesses or any factions leaning away from him, can they be exploited? Is his grip on power as strong as it was, say, this time last year?

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: Actually, I think his grip on power may be actually stronger than it was this time last year. Mugabe continues to hang on to power through the political patronage system. There’s still a lot of money that flows through the formal and even more money that flows through the informal economies in this country. The president uses a lot of political patronage, political payoffs to ensure loyalty. He does have the absolute loyalty of the security – the heads of the security forces. Once we get down to little – to lower levels in the security forces, probably at the major or colonel level, and then in the enlisted ranks, that loyalty isn’t nearly as great. But those people who control those services are absolutely loyal to President Mugabe because, number one, they continue to receive funding from him, and number two, their hands are absolutely as bloody as his.

And as far as that goes, last year, there was a power play to strip Mugabe of power. One of the factions within his own ruling party, ZANU-PF, did make a power play. They lost. Frankly, they lost. Mugabe stood up to them. They backed down. And I believe that he is as strong today as he was a year ago and maybe even in the last five years.

QUESTION: Sylvie Lanteaume from AFP. So doesn’t – doesn’t it mean that, actually, you need another strategy? Because if he’s stronger than last year, it means that the actual – the current strategy doesn’t work.

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: The current strategy still takes in the reality on the ground. The people of Zimbabwe need to do something for themselves. The regional communities here need to step up and do something to help the people of Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe are those who are suffering.

And as much as we can help them with the humanitarian assistance and as much as we try to assist them with our political stance against this country, if there is going to be meaningful change in Zimbabwe, it’s going to occur because of a peaceful democratic change here within the country.

QUESTION: Michelle Kelleman with National Public Radio. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about financial issues, the currency collapsing. I understand there’s all sorts of different currencies being used now. You were talking about his patronage systems. How does he – you know, where is he getting his money?

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: From a variety of sources. As I mentioned, the formal economy here – according to the latest World Bank estimates, the formal economy brings in about 1.8 billion U.S. dollars each year. And it estimates that about twice that much, or upwards of 3.5 billion, comes into the country through the informal economy. Inflation is at over 210 million percent. That’s a number that I can’t quite get my head around, but it’s high.

The ability of this government to continue to perk along is unbelievable. They do find ways to make certain that the – those who need payoffs receive those payoffs. Much of the economy has been dollarized. The government of the central bank about two months ago dropped ten zeroes off the currency. Seven of those zeroes have been added back on to the new currency as we speak today.

So the economic situation is bad. I am not going to say that it’s going to cave in on itself, because for whatever reason, it continues to move along successfully enough that they can continue to operate as a government.

QUESTION: The South African parliament decided today to – I think it was the parliament, anyway – to cease giving farm aid to Zimbabwe until there has – until there is a power-sharing deal. Do you think that is a useful tool? And also, you said you’re going to continue the same strategy. Does that mean that you’re going to impose more sanctions? And they don’t seem to have had much of an impact so far in changing the situation.

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: I have not seen the entire statement from the South African Government, so I’m not going to comment on that fully. What I do know is that the South Africans said that they would be willing to put additional money into the humanitarian situation here in Zimbabwe, especially as it affected those on the border areas and the agricultural inputs for the start of the planting season here in Zimbabwe.

As far as our sanctions are concerned, yeah, we do – we have additional sanctions that we are prepared to roll out if this political impasse continues. Right now, we’re – we continue to look carefully at what’s going on here in country, and we feel that unless something does happen in the very, very near future, we have no choice but to become more difficult, tougher on our sanctions.

Our sanctions really do work. I meet, with some regularity, with one of the top leaders here in Zimbabwe. And he has about $7 million of his funding that’s been frozen because of U.S. sanctions against Zimbabwe. And he starts out each and every meeting with the same thing: Where is my money? It hurts them. We have people who have children who were studying in Australia, studying in the United States. Those children have been removed from school. They are forced to return here to Zimbabwe. That hurts these folks. So these targeted sanctions do have an effect.

The government tries to spin it off that our sanctions are the cause of all the problems, the humanitarian issues here in Zimbabwe. That’s absolutely untrue. Our targeted sanctions do work, and they are effective against those that they’re against.

QUESTION: If you impose more targeted sanctions, are you going to give more food aid; for example, counter the sanctions on the bigwigs by providing more food aid to those in need?

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, our total assistance package this year has jumped up to about $218 million. And that’s a combination of food assistance and health assistance. And that number I don’t even think includes the amount of money that we’re giving to the Global Fund and other institutions for assistance to Zimbabwe. That’s direct interventions from the United States and the United States only.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about your ability to get around, your ability to get aid in? Have there been any problems on that front?

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: I missed the first part of that question, Elise.

QUESTION: Oh, yes. I was wondering if you are having problems personally doing your job, getting around, and also the ability of the U.S. to get assistance into Zimbabwe.

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: Since the problems in the run-up to the run-off election in late June, we have not had any issues with traveling throughout the country. As a matter of fact, I just made a road trip from Johannesburg back here to Harare. I spent about a full day driving through the countryside of Zimbabwe after crossing the South African border into Zimbabwe, just to get an idea of what was going on out there, to see firsthand the situation in the countryside. And it’s grim. It’s very, very grim.

There are a lot of people sitting around doing absolutely nothing. There are a lot of distended bellies out there with small children. There are a lot of people picking absolutely sweet but non-nutritious foods off trees, trying to find anything to eat. When you pass through villages, it’s a total look of hopelessness on the people’s faces there. So the situation in the countryside is bad, and we’re starting to see the same thing happen here in the city.

As far as the NGOs’ ability to get out and about and do their jobs, that situation has been alleviated somewhat. The government put a ban on the ability of NGOs to distribute food back in June. We’ve worked with the government and that ban was finally lifted about two weeks ago. What this means is that we’re very, very far behind in our annual food distribution cycle. So we are working desperately now, as hard as we can, to try to catch up.

We’ve had some other issues in that regard where the government did not allow NGOs to use foreign exchange, foreign currency, to fund their operations. We finally got a break on that about a week ago where the government now has sent out a letter saying that NGOs can use foreign currency to fund their operations. And this means that we are going to be able to get better coverage out in the countryside. We’ll be able to rent the trucks that we need to deliver the food. We’ll be able to pay the salaries to the additional people that we need to deliver the food.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) We’ve all seen reports a few months ago on education that not only the teachers hadn’t been paid, but that the teachers unions had called for a repeat of the entire school year. And I’m wondering if you can give us an update on the situation.

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: That’s absolutely true. I think some of the most telling figures that I’ve seen recently is back during the ‘80s and early ‘90s, the Government of Zimbabwe spent 25 percent of its budget on education. Today, that figure is 18 cents per student per year. So many schools have closed. I was just – I was coming into work this morning, and my driver informed me that the public school where his children go to school had just asked for a $700 U.S. top-up additional fee for their expenses for the remainder of this school year. That’s just well beyond the ability of normal Zimbabweans to pay.

So the school system has totally fallen apart, not only at the primary education level, at secondary and also at the university level. University students are not in class. There’s no hope that they’re going to get back to class anytime soon. So this situation has totally fallen apart in a country that at one time had a higher literacy rate than the United States of America.

QUESTION: Lachlan Carmichael again. What about abuses against the opposition? Do you see more of the abuses that you mentioned earlier this year, opposition being beaten, and worse?

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: The overall levels of violence have decreased. We’re still hearing quite a few stories about how people are being mistreated, abused, and in many cases, abducted around the countryside.

From October 27th until November 1st, Zimbabwean security authorities seized 12 individuals, including a mother and a two-year-old child, affiliated with the Movement for Democratic Change, the opposition party. This includes local and national officials who are complicit on these actions. The adults are reportedly being interrogated for alleged involvement in paramilitary camps in Botswana, a charge that the Botswana Government has roundly denied.

On October – on November the 12th, the high court issued a court order to the home affairs minister to – and the police commissioner to produce the evidence against these folks, or immediately produce the 12 individuals whose whereabouts are still unknown to their lawyers. So, yeah, we still have issues here in Zimbabwe. They’re not as pronounced as they were during the run-up to the run-off election in June, but still very serious, serious issues.

QUESTION: Ambassador, Viola Gienger from Bloomberg News. Can you tell us anything about what kind of actions you’re urging or discussing with the neighboring countries, with SADC and so forth? What can they realistically do next to address the situation? What do you think they should be doing next specifically?

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: Well, we think that SADC has done quite a bit to begin with. The negotiations that led to the signing of the September 15th agreement were very good. Frankly, they were very good. They were a watershed moment for SADC. The agreement itself still leaves a lot to be desired, but it is a beginning. It is a base. We feel now that SADC needs to continue to pressure this government, the Mugabe government, to ensure that the will of the people of Zimbabwe is met, number one; and number two, that the agreement for a unity government is established.

I think one of the key issues is that SADC should not recognize Robert Mugabe as the legitimate president of Zimbabwe unless this agreement is implemented. Robert Mugabe, pretty much, swore himself in as the president of Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe did not vote him in as their president. So SADC needs to step forward and continue to do what they are doing, more pressure on the Mugabe regime to respect the will of the people of Zimbabwe, and to put in an honest government into this country.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? Has SADC, at this point, acknowledged him in any way as the president? What is his status (inaudible)?

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: During the recent SADC summit in Johannesburg, he was seated as president of Zimbabwe, so I think that speaks volumes, right? As a matter of fact, during the deliberations on whether – on how the government should divide up the ministries, he actually was allowed to stay in the room, as the president of Zimbabwe, during those deliberations. That was a key issue during the deliberations that the opposition party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, took great exception to.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Sue Pleming again from Reuters. You’ve painted such a dismal picture of what’s happening in Zimbabwe with inflation – runaway inflation, cholera epidemics, children with distended bellies. I mean it’s – what do you think could turn this around, apart from – I mean, how long do you think it’s going to take before the country can get back on its feet, before you can have plantings again, before you can sort out the health system?

AMBASSADOR MCGEE: Yeah. As bad as Zimbabwe seems, it started at such a high level as compared to many other African nations that I think the turnaround time could be very rapid here in Zimbabwe. What we do need, however, is a government that’s committed to taking care of its people. Again, this is wealthy country. As recently as six years ago, the World Food Program actually came to Zimbabwe to buy grain, to buy food to help feed other countries at risk here in Africa. Six years later, that situation has turned itself around.

With correct inputs, with correct agricultural methods, we could easily turn Zimbabwe back into the breadbasket of Southern and Central Africa. That would be fairly simple to do. Getting back to a market economy, a market-driven economy, getting rid of the corruption that’s endemic now in this country, that’s going to take more time. But again, if there is goodwill on the part of government, we and the international community are willing to step forward and help them as much as possible to achieve the results that they need.

MR. WOOD: Ambassador McGee, thank you very much, sir, for being with us today. We greatly appreciate it.



Released on November 20, 2008

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Mbeki to chair new round of Zimbabwe power-sharing talks

November 20 2008, 3:25:00

South Africa has confirmed that a new round of Zimbabwe talks, to end
the constitutional crisis in that country, may be held soon. The Foreign
Affairs Department says former President Thabo Mbeki is expected to convene
a meeting between Zimbabwean political parties in the next week in an
attempt to break the impasse.

The talks will centre on a draft amendment, which seeks to codify the
September memorandum of agreement signed by the parties. The Zimbabwe
government earlier said talks will be held in South Africa next week.

The South African government has meanwhile expressed extreme concern
about Zimbabwe's political impasse, which has created a humanitarian crisis
in that country. Cabinet says it will withhold R300 million earmarked for
agricultural aid to Zimbabwe until a representative government is in place.

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Elders to visit Zimbabwe despite government snub

By Violet Gonda
20 November 2008

A showdown is looming between the Mugabe regime and the globally respected
group of Elders. The group, led by former United Nations Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, said it will be going ahead with plans to visit Zimbabwe to
assess the escalating humanitarian crisis. This is in spite of reports in
the state controlled Herald newspaper saying the group had been told to
postpone their intended visit.

A spokesperson for the group told SW Radio Africa on Thursday "there is no
change of plan" and the mission will be arriving in Zimbabwe on Friday. The
spokesperson said: "The Elders have written to President Mugabe to seek a
meeting in Harare, but have received no formal reply."

Annan will be joined by former United States President Jimmy Carter, and
international advocate for women and children's rights Graça Machel - wife
of former South African President Nelson Mandela. They have experience in
conflict resolution and belong to a group of prominent personalities and
former statesmen, who include Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The delegates say the purpose of the visit is to meet those working on the
ground to better assess the extent of the crisis and how assistance can be

But, according to the Herald a 'government' source said the group was
advised to delay the visit claiming this was not a convenient time "as
Zimbabwe was currently occupied with the ongoing inclusive government talks
and preparations for the summer cropping season."

The regime also accuses the Elders of having some members, such as Annan and
Tutu, who are hostile to them and who favour the Tsvangirai MDC.

However in a statement issued on Thursday Annan stressed: "We have sought
meetings with political leaders in Zimbabwe and would be pleased to hear
their views. As we said earlier, we have no intention of becoming involved
in the ongoing political negotiations in Zimbabwe. My colleagues and I look
forward to our visit."

The news comes as the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
announced on Thursday that there is an extremely serious situation in
Zimbabwe that has resulted in the total collapse of the health delivery

Many hospitals throughout the country have been forced to shut down, while
sick patients go home and often simply die. In Harare alone the two
government maternity hospitals are closed, putting the lives of pregnant
women in grave danger.

Aid groups and journalists say the situation in the country is beyond
belief, with Zimbabweans burying family members almost everyday and spending
the rest of their time in queues for food, fuel and cash.

Associated Press correspondent Angus Shaw says starving villagers are
competing with wild animals for fruits and berries and that many are dying
from malnutrition.

It is reports like this that have left many people wondering why the Mugabe
regime would try and block this group of globally respected leaders, who
want to offer their experience and independent voices to support innovative
and cooperative approaches to addressing the problems.

Journalist Innocent Chofamba writes: These are mature diplomats whose
operational strategy is not to appear disagreeable to the people they seek
to engage - otherwise how do you bridge gaps and facilitate conciliation? It
is obvious that their mission is not to come for the mere pointless
satisfaction of announcing on Zimbabwean soil their 'utter condemnation' of
the regime. Zimbabwe's foreign policy right now appears utterly uncreative
and still locked in the Third Chimurenga propagandistic mode. You don't
rubbish everyone and tell them off because you think they report to
'imperialist masters'."

Civic leader Jenni Williams said people are desperate for the Elders to go
to Zimbabwe but their mission must be more than just issuing a report. "One
of the key considerations right now is that they should be considering
finding pilots brave enough to fly over Zimbabwe and to just drop food. This
is how crucial this catastrophe is and if they can organise things like
that, that will be a step further than just writing reports," the leader of
Women of Zimbabwe Arise said.

Meanwhile, Zimbabweans will have to brace themselves for another round of
negotiations between the political rivals. Former South African President
Thabo Mbeki, the facilitator of the Zimbabwe talks, has summoned the
negotiators representing the three main parties to South Africa next week,
to discuss the draft of the Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill. The
Tsvangirai MDC claim the draft was sent to Mbeki by Zanu PF, who compiled it
without consulting the MDC.

The MDC said: "As far as we are concerned, the draft that has been sent to
Mbeki is a Zanu PF document with Zanu PF perspectives. Our draft is also
ready and will be sent to Mbeki for consideration. The final Bill to be
tabled before parliament should be inclusive of the three main political
parties' views."

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Elders statement

The Elders visit to Zimbabwe
Johannesburg, Thursday 20 November 2008
For immediate release

Former United States President Jimmy Carter and former United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan are arriving in Southern Africa on Friday to
make a first hand assessment of the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.

They will be joined in this assessment by fellow Elder and international
advocate for women's and children's rights, Mrs Graça Machel.

Mr Annan said: "The Elders are deeply concerned about the impact of the
deteriorating economic situation in Zimbabwe on the population. The purpose
of our visit is to meet those working on the ground to better assess the
extent of the crisis and how assistance can be improved.

"Food shortages, a lack of seed and fertiliser for planting and the
breakdown in health services are all having a serious effect on the people.
We understand that the situation requires an urgent response and that delays
will only prolong the people's suffering.

"We have sought meetings with political leaders in Zimbabwe and would be
pleased to hear their views. As we said earlier, we have no intention of
becoming involved in the ongoing political negotiations in Zimbabwe. My
colleagues and I look forward to our visit."

About The Elders
Convened in 2007 by Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel, The Elders is a group
of globally respected leaders who offer their experience and independent
voices to support innovative and cooperative approaches to addressing global

The Elders are: Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Harlem
Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Graça Machel, Mary
Robinson, Desmond Tutu and Muhammad Yunus. Aung San Suu Kyi is an honorary

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SA withholds R300 million aid until new government in place

By Tichaona Sibanda
20 November 2008

The South African government has ruled it will not disperse the promised
R300-million aid package to Zimbabwe, until a power-sharing government is in
The media in South Africa reports that this is the clearest indication yet
that Pretoria's patience with Robert Mugabe's intransigence is wearing thin.
South Africa's cabinet spokesman Themba Maseko, said the decision to
withhold the life-line followed the failure of ZANU PF and the MDC to reach
an agreement over the power-sharing deal. He said the cabinet was 'extremely
concerned' about the political impasse, which has 'deepened the humanitarian
He said the outbreak of cholera in Zimbabwe was a clear indication that
ordinary Zimbabweans were the true victims of the leaders's lack of
political will and the failure to demonstrate seriousness to resolve the
political impasse. The MDC has accused Mugabe of reneging on the deal and
making unilateral decisions that favour his party.
The funds were originally aimed at rescuing the country's collapsed
agricultural sector. The South African government decided that the approved
package, which was announced by the Cabinet in September, will be retained
for agricultural assistance to Zimbabwe.

But Maseko said the money will only be disbursed once a representative
government is in place, hopefully in time for the next planting season in
April 2009. The blocking of the financial life-line at this time means the
country's ailing agricultural sector will lack crucial agricultural
investment at the peak of the planting season. The money was earmarked for
farm inputs such as fuel, seeds, equipment and fertiliser.
Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC have deadlocked on the
allocation of key ministries, following a government of national unity deal
brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki. Mugabe has made it
very clear that he has no intention of sharing power and one of the most
contentious portfolio's is Home Affairs, which controls the police force and
also the Registrar General's office where births, deaths and voters are

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SA cabinet disappointed by Zimbabwe

afrol News, 20 November - South African cabinet has express a disappointment
on the worsening Zimbabwean crisis saying leaders are putting political
interests at the expenses of ordinary citizens.

A cabinet meeting held in cape town yesterday, called for urgent steps to
finalise amendment of the constitution and allocation of remaining cabinet
posts for the formation of a unity government.

"No amount of political disagreement can ever justify the suffering that
ordinary Zimbabweans are being subjected to at the moment," it said
emphasising that like Southern African Development Community (SADC), South
Africa would like to see a political settlement for Zimbabwe in order for
the region to focus on rebuilding the country's economy.

President Robert Mugabe signed a power sharing agreement with Movement for
Democratic Change on 15 September to unravel a long dragging political
impasse in economically battered southern African state, but allocation of
key mineterial posts have stalled deal.

South Africa's cabinet has also decided to address cholera outbreak in as
well as scaling malaria control along its border with Zimbabwe. "South
Africa is already in discussions with multilateral agencies such as SADC and
the World Health Organisation (WHO) in this regard," it stated.

SA has decided to retain R300 million for agricultural assistance to
Zimbabwe, after the country failed to form representative government.

"However, this money will be only disbursed once a representative government
was in place and in time for the next planting season in April 2009. The
Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs will prepare a proposal on South
Africa's contribution to address the immediate humanitarian situation in
Zimbabwe," cabinet said.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has announcged a new round of power sharing talks next
week in South Africa over constitution amendment bill.

The power-sharing deadlock follows disputed presidential elections earlier
this year, where Mr Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round in March, but not
by enough to secure outright victory, but pulled out of a run-off in June,
citing a campaign of violence against his supporters.

Zimbabweans grappling with the world's highest inflation 231 million
percent, severe shortages of food and basic commodities had hoped a
power-sharing government would be quickly established to allow the country
to focus on tackling an economic crisis.

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Tsvangirai: Zimbabwe needs gov't within 2 months

Originally published 01:28 p.m., November 20, 2008
BERLIN (AP) - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader said Thursday that he and
President Robert Mugabe need to form a government within two months in order
to stave off a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

Morgan Tsvangirai said he fears that hunger and frustration, along with the
continued dismantling of services such as schools and hospitals, could fuel
unrest or violence if a legitimate government does not step in.

"The possibility of chaos and the spontaneous reaction because people have
nothing is very, very high every day that passes without this agreement
being implemented," Tsvangirai told The Associated Press during a visit to

Zimbabwe's economic meltdown has led to chronic shortages of food, gasoline
and most basic goods; daily outages of power and water; and the collapse of
health and education services.

The country is also in political deadlock, with a power-sharing deal signed
Sept. 15 between Mugabe's party and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
Change having stalled over the allocation of ministries.

Tsvangirai came first in a field of four in a first round of presidential
voting in March, but did not avoid a runoff against second-place finisher
Mugabe, who has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980.

Tsvangirai withdrew from the June 27 runoff because of attacks on his
supporters. Mugabe went ahead with the vote, which was denounced as a sham
by observers at home and abroad.

This week, Tsvangirai visited Berlin and Paris to ask European governments
for aid as food supplies in Zimbabwe run short. The opposition party
estimates that 5.5 million people there could be reliant on food aid by

German Deputy Foreign Minister Reinhard Silberberg met with Tsvangirai
Thursday and pledged euro500,000 ($625,000) to Zimbabwe.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner pledged support in Paris on Tuesday
but no new commitments on aid, saying access to the needy in Zimbabwe is a
major obstacle for aid groups.

Tsvangirai planned to fly from Germany to South Africa on Friday, though was
traveling without a passport because he said Mugabe's government had refused
to renew it.

"This is a manifestation of a lot of bad faith on his part and abuse of
power that he legitimately does not have," Tsvangirai said.

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Talking in secret in Zimbabwe, with a 'Mugabe man' who isn't really

A senior officer of the CIO, the nation's intelligence agency, discusses the
waning loyalty to Zimbabwe's president.
By Robyn Dixon
November 20, 2008
Reporting from Harare, Zimbabwe -- The man is nervous. He's from the
"President's Office," and that doesn't mean serving tea to Robert Mugabe.
It's Zimbabwe's version of the KGB: the Central Intelligence Organization.

He says all his phones -- cell and land-line -- are bugged, so we're meeting
in secret at a house belonging to a go-between in suburban Harare. His voice
is barely audible, and he can't sit still. As loyalty to Mugabe wanes,
disillusioned insiders like the CIO man are becoming more willing to speak
out. Still, he's worried that talking to a foreign journalist could land him
in serious trouble.

In Zimbabwe, even the spies are watched.

I'm worried too, in case the meeting backfires. Mugabe's regime routinely
denies foreign journalists entry to Zimbabwe, so I have no option but to
work here illegally, undercover. There's always an element of risk.

The CIO casts a long shadow. Small, everyday encounters become fraught with
fear. Common coincidences are magnified into something sinister. Everyone
knows how the CIO guys work: You never notice them until you spot a car
behind you, then drive around the block a few times and find it's still

There are plenty of terrifying stories about what happens to the people who
are arrested, ranging from lengthy interrogation to torture. So I'm a little
taken aback by the man from the President's Office. He turns out to be
thirtysomething, educated, articulate and urbane. Had he been born in any
other country, he might have found a career at a bank, a think tank, a law
firm. Instead, he learned about dirty tricks and disenchantment.

For years, the Mugabe regime has used the CIO to undermine and frighten the
opposition, keep an eye on journalists and neutralize threats. But these
days the name President's Office is a misnomer, says the senior officer,
who, unsurprisingly, speaks on condition of anonymity. He estimates that 60%
to 70% of CIO officers -- all but the hard-line ideologues -- no longer back

That the dark heart of Mugabe's web of fear is abandoning him underscores
how tenuous his grip on power has become.

Like most of the population in this country besieged by inflation of 231
million percent -- from the starving rural unemployed to hungry soldiers to
bureaucrats whose salaries don't cover their bus fares -- the CIO staffers
want change.

"There are a lot of professional [CIO] people who feel opposed to what's
going on," the senior officer says. "But that doesn't mean you don't
conform, or don't obey your instructions, see what I mean? It's
disgruntlement, not rebellion.

"The current system has ceased to be functional. When you come to that
stage, you obviously want change. Service delivery is dismal. Education is
worst affected. There are no drugs in public institutions," he says, reeling
off the problems like an opposition speechwriter.

CIO headquarters, a drab, nine-story red-brick building on Selous Avenue in
central Harare, has many small windows, like eyes gazing at the city. Just
walking by evokes a chill.

Members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change obsess about the
organization. They avoid mention of meeting places in phone calls, talk in
code, use encrypted e-mail and drive circuitous routes with an eye on the
rear-view mirror.

Several years ago, MDC supporters said they were certain the party had been
infiltrated by CIO spies determined to undermine the opposition by sowing
discord among members.

They are right to be concerned, the CIO officer says. "Infiltration is the
name of the game."

He guffaws at the idea that the MDC might find that shocking. "It's to be
expected. It's very normal." His term for it is "information management."

"With the opposition and some influential members of society, there is a
standard procedure. It's keeping an eye on everything they do. You want to
know what's happening and where, so that you can win."

Likewise, he says, the opposition should expect plenty of dirty tricks in
any power-sharing government.

If such a government comes to pass, that is. Even though Mugabe was forced
into a power-sharing deal after African observers rejected the results of
the June presidential election, it's an idea that neither the regime nor the
opposition is comfortable with, as witnessed in the tortuous negotiations
ever since about who gets control of the economic posts and security forces.

Meanwhile, Mugabe holds on. The only solid obstacle he faces is of his own
making: the economy, which is in such chaos that there's not a lot of actual
governing he can do.

The man from the CIO confirms that the agency set a trap for the former
Roman Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, one of Mugabe's most
vociferous critics. A CIO camera was placed in Ncube's bedroom last year,
and he was filmed in bed with a married woman. Photos were splashed across
the state-owned Herald newspaper, which said the film was made by a private
detective hired by the woman's husband. Ncube resigned and has been silent
ever since.

"If you are not only outspoken but staunchly against the head of state,
surely things can go wrong," the CIO man says. "You should be on guard. When
you shoot at someone, you can expect them to shoot back."

Hard-liners in the agency were crowing about Ncube's humiliation for days,
the officer says.

"There was a kind of happiness that this outspoken priest had been exposed.
For others, this didn't move the economy one inch. It was just a stunt,
something you would rejoice over for one hour. It didn't achieve anything."

The officer has enough education and seniority to put him above having to
get his hands dirty, like the agents who interrogate and torture suspects.
He's polite, sophisticated and wears a crisp suit.

He joined the CIO because of political ambition. Now, with Mugabe fading, he
fears that his career in the CIO might not get him far after all.

Slowly and cautiously, he is trying get a foot into the opposition camp as
well, by leaking information to the MDC's security wing through an
intermediary. But it's a nerve-racking business, given the ruling party's
predilection for watching its own as avidly as it watches the enemy.

In years past, the officer says, the CIO higher-ups saw opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai as a buffoon. They poked fun at his chubby cheeks and
looked down on his lack of education. To them, he was no match for Mugabe,
with his numerous degrees and stinging rhetoric.

But most people in the CIO don't joke about Tsvangirai anymore. They poke
fun at Mugabe.

"People talk openly [about it] in the organization. There are certain things
you would not have said openly, like statements against his excellency the
president. Ah, but these days, people even say that.

"They say the old man should go. They even use, in a derogatory way, the
term mudhara. It means 'old man,' but it's not a respectful word."

Tsvangirai is "not seen as very bright, but he's accepted because of the
leadership change that everyone wants to see. There's no alternative. He is
the alternative to the system. By virtue of that, he's accepted."

During the elections this year, CIO officers cruised around Harare, the
capital, in search of suspicious-looking foreigners. I picked up a tail near
the U.S. Embassy shortly after the March 29 vote. To make sure, I pulled
suddenly into a coffee shop parking lot, without using my turn signal.

The car screeched in behind me. I walked into the coffee shop. I had a
coffee, peeked out, and the car was still there. I ordered more coffee and
sipped it slowly. It was still there.

I dawdled on and on. It was getting late. The coffee shop was about to
close. I decided to go to a supermarket, and trawl among the almost empty
shelves. Then maybe I could go somewhere for dinner. But where next, if he
was still following me?

My tail, however, had a short attention span. He was gone by the time I left
the coffee shop.

The CIO has always been one of the best-funded agencies. Regular police
might struggle to find fuel for cars or charge sheets or typewriters that
work, but the CIO has computers and reliable transportation.

"If you compare it with other ministries, you might say that the
organization is well resourced. But if you compare 2000 and 2008, you will
see that they [resources] are depleted," the officer says.

"You start having situations where you are fighting for resources. We are
looking at a situation where you are supposed to do A, B and C in a specific
time. But where there are no resources, you can't do A, B and C. What
happens is compromised or half-baked information management. You end up
coming up with a more crude than refined process."

He sees the violence unleashed during the recent elections as primitive,
crude and counterproductive. The so-called securocrats, he says, "are not so
intellectually gifted; they're shortsighted."

"It's not easy to align yourself with a diabolical or cruel way of doing

When he joined the CIO, he was hoping for a speedy political trajectory in
the ruling ZANU-PF party -- and by that measure he has been successful. But
he's come to despise the deadening political conformity and stifling of
criticism in the party.

To him that's the systemic flaw that is killing Zimbabwe: the crushing of

"What has always happened -- which I think is the weakness in the system -- 
is that when a decision is taken, wrongly or rightly, you will have to end
up conforming if you want to remain part of the group."

So in public, he remains part of the system. But not in his heart.

Dixon is a Times staff writer.

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In Zimbabwe, Mugabe Clings On, But His Power Is Waning

By Megan Lindow Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008

What with the world economy in the throes of a precipitous slowdown and even
Africa's crisis agenda now dominated by the upheavals in eastern Congo and
the exploits of Somalia's pirates, it's easy to forget all about Zimbabwe -
which is exactly what President Robert Mugabe may be hoping will happen.
Mugabe and his inner circle have doggedly fought to maintain absolute
control over Zimbabwe, despite having agreed on Sept. 15 to share power with
the opposition, in order to resolve the political crisis resulting from the
ruling party's refusal to accept the results of the March 28 elections in
which it finished second. And Mugabe appeared to move closer to getting his
way, when Zimbabwe's Southern African neighbors two weeks ago chose not to
pressure the 84-year-old president over his intransigence, but instead urged
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to accept a greatly diluted
share of government. Still, as limited as its leverage may be, the
opposition has one key factor working in its favor: the collapse of
Zimbabwe's economy and the resulting humanitarian crisis, which Mugabe's
ruling party will be unable to address without international help.

Zimbabwe's neighbors, grouped as the Southern African Development Community
(SADC), had been called in to mediate after Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the MDC
failed to agree on how to allocate the 31 cabinet posts in a prospective
unity government. The ruling party insists on retaining control over the
police, army and intelligence apparatuses, which have been the bedrock of
its control. But the MDC had expected to be given authority over the
Ministry of Home Affairs, which controls the police force, and warned last
Friday that it will stay out of any new government in which it is offered
less than an equal share of power, which was the principle of the Sept. 15
agreement. But at a summit held Nov. 9 in South Africa, SADC leaders
recommended that the MDC and ZANU-PF should share control of Home Affairs -
a proposal that would keep the balance of power tilted firmly to Mugabe's
advantage, and would effectively make the opposition the junior partner in a
unity government. (See pictures of political tension in Zimbabwe.)
Zanu-PF would be quite happy to govern without the participation of an
opposition party against which it has repeatedly unleashed systemic
violence, except for the fact that only with the MDC on board will Zimbabwe
be able to attract the international aid and investment desperately needed
to avoid social and economic collapse. Mugabe's party is widely seen
internationally as having stolen the election, and international donors and
investors are unlikely to do anything that might be seen to be propping up
his regime. And the social and economic pressure on Mugabe is clearly
mounting. (See pictures of the Robert Mugabe's reign.)

Unemployment is upwards of 80% and inflation is pushing 231 million percent,
while cholera outbreaks have been reported in cities and the failure to
plant crops will leave 5.1 million Zimbabweans needing food aid by January.
The World Food Program was recently forced to shrink the food ration made
available to each needy person, due both to its lack of funding from
international donors and to stretch its existing resources to expand the
reach of its feeding program from 2 million to 4 million people. (The WFP
has warned it will run out of money by January unless more donor funds are
forthcoming.) Across the country, schools are shuttered for lack of teachers
and students able to pay, and in hospitals patients are dying because they
can't withdraw money from banks fast enough to pay for simple procedures,
according to news reports.

The fact that Zanu-PF needs the MDC's support to stay in power creates a
dilemma for the opposition, which risks diluting its own popular legitimacy
by joining a government over whose decisions it would have limited
influence. "[The MDC has] the choice between the devil and the dark sea,"
says Elinor Sisulu, a Zimbabwean analyst and human rights activist. "Already
people are saying that Zimbabwe is in this mess because these politicians
are bickering over a cabinet post."

Despite Mugabe's threat to walk away from talks and form a government
without the MDC, sources inside both the opposition and the ruling party
have told TIME that the octogenarian strongman will soon have to yield to
some opposition demands. "We believe that eventually a government will be
formed because we can't continue without one," a top official of the ruling
party, speaking on condition of anonymity, told TIME. "Obviously it will
include our colleagues in MDC. We are just waiting for them to make up their
minds so that we can kick-start the process of national healing."

Harare-based political analyst John Makumbe told TIME that the MDC still
hopes to force more concessions out of Zanu-PF as the price for joining a
government. Unless a government that includes the MDC can be formed in the
next few months, most experts agree that Zimbabwe's future looks dire.
Without the MDC, "Mugabe won't be able to change anything to avoid
disaster," says Sisulu. "He will have to keep ruling through violence." And
while he has proved all too willing to unleash his security forces on
opposition supporters, at some point the economic collapse could begin to
eat into the loyalty of rank and file soldiers and policemen.

The growing social and economic crisis, which tends to spill over Zimbabwe's
borders, will also keep the SADC focused on Zimbabwe's political stalemate,
and potentially weaken Mugabe's legitimacy among his peers. "I think he
cares about that," says Makumbe. "And if he doesn't care, some of his
members in Zanu-PF care, because they can see the suffering of the people,
and their own businesses are going to the dogs. They don't see a future for
this country or themselves without the MDC."

- With reporting by Simba Rushwaya/Harare

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MDC Refutes Divisions

BULAWAYO, November 20 2008 - The opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC-T) has dismissed claims by the state media that there are
divisions rocking the party and that some party members are plotting a coup
against party leader Morgan Tsvangirai during next year's congress.

The two state daily newspapers the Chronicle and the Herald carried
stories quoting unnamed sources confirming that a plan is in place to ditch
Tsvangirai. The two papers further alleged that a South African based
businessman was funding and leading the plot to ditch Tsvangirai.

However in a statement released by the party the MDC-T said the whole
story was an imagination of the state media with the backing of Zanu PF.

"The story published in the Herald and The Chronicle is simply a
manifestation of kwashiorkor of facts, imagination and ideas on the part of
Zanu PF and the state media," the MDC said.

The MDC said it was Zanu PF, which is facing internal divisions as
evidenced by the breaking away of some of its members to revive PF-Zapu.

"Just a week ago Zapu members broke away from Zanu PF. Zanu PF is
trapped in a series of set backs and misfortunes which they hope to see
replaying themselves in the MDC, Zanu PF suffers from three decades of the
same leadership and is trapped in a succession crisis as Robert Mugabe
continues to succeed himself,"the MDC-T said.

MDC-T said the reports were misleading, further expressing concern
that state media has continued to violate the agreement signed on 15
September by the three parties which stipulates that public media should
provide balanced and fair coverage to all political parties.

"The Herald has become dangerous to peace and stability in Zimbabwe as
it continues to poison the minds of the people, fomenting division and
fertilizing genocide. It is a fact that MDC is at its strongest, united in
purpose, direction, objectives and action. The party is a united, dynamic
and a happy family of democrats."

The MDC-T said the state media, should stop poisoning the minds of
Zimbabweans and instead focus on critical challenges affecting the country
such as the recent cholera outbreak, the closure of hospitals and schools
and the cash crisis.

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Government Bribes lecturers To Attend Graduation Ceremony

BULAWAYO, November 20 2008 - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has promised
ZD5 million cash to lectures at the National University of Zimbabwe (NUST)
who will attend the graduation ceremony on Friday.

Lectures at NUST revealed that they have been lured with cash by the
central bank and all lecturers who attended graduation ceremonies in other
univiersities where President Mugabe officiated were also given the money.

"They said we have to come with our gowns and register in the morning
and then join the procession with the president and sit the whole day and
then when the event is finished, we will be given cash," said a lecturer at

Last weekend Zanu PF forced residents of Masvingo to attend a
graduation ceremony to beef up numbers since Mugabe was officiating.
Hundreds of graduating students were also forced to attend the ceremony.

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Zimbabwe gold output plummets as mines close


Thu 20 Nov 2008, 9:10 GMT

By Nelson Banya

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's gold output, which accounts for a third of its
export earnings, hit an all-time monthly low of 125 kg in October as
economic crisis forced more mine closures, a mining official said on

The sector has virtually shut down as miners cannot fund operations, senior
Zimbabwe chamber of mines official Douglas Verden told Reuters.

At its peak, Zimbabwe produced more than 2,400 kg of gold monthly, but
miners, who are owed millions of dollars by the central bank and have to
cope with the world's highest inflation rate above 231 million percent, have
ground to a halt.

"Gold production came in at an all-time low of 125 kilogrammes in October,
down from 275 kilogrammes in September and we expect it to go below 100
kilogrammes in November as more mines stopped production," Verden said.

Gold contributes a third of Zimbabwe's export earnings after the collapse of
commercial agriculture following President Robert Mugabe's seizure of
white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.

The mining chamber says gold miners, who receive only 40 percent of their
earnings in foreign currency, are owed over $30 million by the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

Zimbabwe's gold output fell by a third to below 7,000 kg in 2007, having
come in at 11,000 kg the previous year. The country produced almost 30,000
kg in 1999.

Earlier this month, Zimbabwe's largest gold miner, Metallon Gold, which is
owed $20 million by the RBZ, closed its five mines, putting about 3,500 jobs
in jeopardy.

Verden said Metallon -- which accounts for more than half Zimbabwe's total
gold production -- had not resumed operations.

"They are still not operating, we have made representions to the mines
ministry and the central bank. The authorities know the situation, but we
don't know if they are unwilling or unable to do something about it," he

Apart from funds owed by the central bank, Zimbabwean miners are plagued by
frequent power cuts, the flight of skilled labour and foreign currency

Many Zimbabweans have pinned hopes for economic recovery on a power-sharing
deal signed by Mugabe and opposition rival Morgan Tsvangirai, but the pact
has been threatened by a dispute over the control of key ministries.

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$60 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 fraud!

November 20, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono has frozen the accounts of
eleven companies and  nine individuals who have been involved in  fraudulent
cheque activities totaling Z$60 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 ($60 hexillion)
over  the past ten days which they deployed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
to bid for shares.

This amount effectively dwarfs the $1, 1 hexillion that is the total of all
quasi-fiscal operations the central bank has engaged in over the past five

The accounts of nine individuals and directors of blacklisted companies were
frozen while they were barred from opening any other banking accounts in
Zimbabwe for "indiscipline, corruption, fraudulent activities and underhand
manipulation of the money and capital markets".

Gono blamed rogue and fraudulent activities for the cash shortages that have
forced depositors  to sleep in queues outside commercial banks and building
societies in order to withdraw the $50 000 proclaimed by the central bank as
the maximum daily withdrawal limit.

While the fraudulent activities in question have, in the words of Gono,
taken place over the past 10 days, the bank queues that the Reserve Bank
governor refers to have been in existence for months now.

Gono made these shocking revelations as he put in place new measures to curb
fraudulent banking activities and trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
which he said "had become the most devastating vehicle of economic

In the past, Gono has labelled inflation as the Number One enemy hampering
his much talked about economic turn-around programme. His previous efforts
have achieved little success in reining in inflation which is now currently
pegged officially at 231 million percent

"The current cash shortages are a combined effect of the rogue trading on
the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange," Gono said. "Insurance companies have stoked
the flames of financial instability through flouting of the statutes that
govern their operations."

The central bank has immediately stopped entertaining unsecured
accommodation from commercial banks and threatened to eject those who flout
regulations out of the clearing houses.

"Any banks or stock-broking firm which writes cheques that are not funded
will have their accounts closed. Any bank where bank cheques are
fraudulently drawn will automatically lose their trading licences and the
CEO charged with criminality," Gono said.

For instance, one bank branch authorised a cheque that far exceeded the
whole company's assets put together. Some players in the banking sector had
relaxed controls and risk management systems leading to officials engaging
in corrupt activities, he said.

Other proposed deterrent measures include penalizing a bank's entire
management and board of directors in cases where the bank does not report
suspicious transactions that turn out to be fraudulent or money laundering
proceeds and closing accounts for any stock broking companies that fail to
settle their obligations on the ZSE register

"The victims of these fraudulent activities are the hard-working workers
going for months without access to their salaries at banks; the sick who
cannot get treatment at hospitals and clinics due to lack of cash; the
commuting public who fail to go from place to place because of rampant
increases in transport costs and children having to go to school of empty
stomachs and the disadvantaged members of society who can barely make end
meet," Gono said.

Gono routinely uses populist excuses and lays blame on the banking sector to
cover up for cases of clear mismanagement at the Reserve Bank.

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'Mugabe uses torture to foil opposition'


            by Jameson Mombe Thursday 20 November 2008

JOHANNESBURG - State security agencies and ruling ZANU PF party
militants have in recent months systematically used torture to thwart
growing opposition to President Robert Mugabe's rule, Zimbabwe's main human
rights group has said.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum told the ongoing 44th session of
the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) that it had
recorded 653 cases of torture in the country between April and June alone,
adding that many opposition supporters were left maimed or dead after being

The Forum said: "Torture has been used systematically in Zimbabwe by
ZANU PF youth militia, war veterans and state agencies in order to thwart
growing opposition against the government and the ZANU PF party."

Zimbabwe witnessed some of the worst political violence and torture
after a March parliamentary election won by the opposition MDC while the
opposition party's leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a parallel
presidential poll but with fewer votes to avoid a second run-off ballot.

In a bid to ensure Mugabe regained the upper hand in the second round
vote, ZANU PF militia and war veterans unleashed violence and terror across
the country, especially in rural areas many of which virtually became no-go
areas for the opposition.

The Forum said: "Most rural constituencies became no-go areas as ZANU
PF youth militias and war veterans set up torture bases at schools, shopping
centres and other public places.

"There were reports of collusion by state security agents such as the
police, army and central intelligence officers with alleged ZANU PF
supporters in setting up these terror bases."

Tsvangirai later withdrew from the June 27 run-off election because of
violence against his supporters, leaving Mugabe to win uncontested in a
ballot that African observers denounced as a shame and Western governments
refused to recognise.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and his Home Affairs counterpart
Kembo Mohadi were not immediately available to respond to charges raised by
the Forum.

But Harare has in the past rejected such criticism by the Forum and
other non-governmental organisations that it accuses of seeking to use false
claims of human rights abuses by state agents as part of a wider Western-led
plot to tarnish and vilify Mugabe's government.

The Forum called on the ACHPR to "actively engage the government for
the eradication of torture in Zimbabwe as well as to urge the government of
Zimbabwe to ratify and domesticate the Convention Against Torture."

The MDC, which together with its breakaway faction led by Arthur
Mutambara dominates Parliament, has asked the House to set up a joint
committee to probe political violence after the March poll and for
perpetrators to be brought to justice.

The House is expected to debate the matter when it resumes sitting
next month. - ZimOnline

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Confusion over Bill as MDC says did not see draft

      by Cuthbert Nzou Thursday 20 November 2008

HARARE - Confusion reigned over Zimbabwe's proposed constitutional amendment
19 on Wednesday as the government insisted it had forwarded the Bill to the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party but the opposition
insisted it had not seen the draft law.

The main formation of the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai said it had not been
consulted and dismissed the draft Bill as a ruling ZANU PF party document
that it would reject.

Party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said the government had violated a
September 15 power-sharing agreement between the two MDC formations and ZANU
PF by unilaterally drafting Constitutional Amendment Bill No.19 and
dispatching to mediator, former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The amendment that seeks to give legal effect to the power-sharing accord
creates the office and powers of the prime minister and two deputy prime

Tsvangirai is set to become prime minister and his deputy in the MDC
Thokozani Khupe and the leader of the other formation of the opposition,
Arthur Mutambara, the two deputy prime ministers.

But all three political parties - none of which commands absolute majority
in Parliament - need to cooperate and support the Bill for it to become law
and Chamisa said ZANU PF should have consulted the opposition in drafting
the proposed legislation.

"The constitutional amendment was supposed to be co-drafted by the three
parties to the global political agreement," Chamisa said. "It's not a ZANU
PF amendment. It should be an inclusive amendment."

Earlier in the day, MDC secretary general Tendai Biti told journalists that
the opposition had not seen the Bill, adding that in any event the Bill was
only one of a variety of other issues yet to be resolved before the party
could agree to join a unity government with ZANU PF.

Bit said: "We have not seen the draft constitutional amendment number 19. We
don't have it. Even if they say constitutional amendment number 19 is
complete, there are a number of issues which are still outstanding."

But Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga told ZimOnline that the
government had delivered the Bill to both factions of the MDC.

"We don't understand the MDC," Matonga said. "The amendment was sent to
them. We are not saying they should take hook, line and sinker the contents
of the draft. It remains a draft and is subject to change based on
deliberations by the party's negotiators and principals."

State media also quoted Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu on Tuesday as
having said that the Bill was completed and sent to Mbeki "after scrutiny by
the parties concerned".

Secretary general of the Mutambara-led MDC formation Welshman Ncube said his
party had received the draft law and would review it first before making any
public statements regarding the document.

"We have received the draft constitutional amendment and we are going
through it before issuing a public statement," Ncube said. "We got it on

Tsvangirai, Mutambara and President Robert Mugabe agreed to form a
power-sharing government to tackle Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis
only after several weeks of intense negotiations under the mediation of

But the power-sharing accord has since run into problems over the allocation
of Cabinet portfolios, enactment of the constitutional amendment,
distribution of provincial governors' posts, the composition of a proposed
national security council and the appointment of permanent secretaries and

Zimbabweans - grappling with the world's highest inflation 231 million
percent, severe shortages of food and basic commodities - had hoped a
power-sharing government would be quickly established to allow the country
to focus on tackling an economic crisis once described by the World Bank as
the worst in the world outside a war zone. - ZimOnline

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Opposition accuses govt of unlawful arrests

      by Own Correspondent Thursday 20 November 2008

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party on Wednesday accused
President Robert Mugabe's government of unlawfully arresting its activists,
adding the government may be plotting to frame its members on charges of
banditry and terrorism.

In a statement certain to fuel political tensions in Zimbabwe, the MDC said
it feared for the whereabouts of a dozen of its activists snatched from
their homes by police last month in what the MDC said was a "systematic
crackdown on its members".

"The regime has begun a systematic crackdown on the party members in the
country as it tries in vain to solidify trumped-up charges of banditry and
terrorism against MDC supporters," the MDC said.

The opposition party said the activists, among them a provincial women's
leader and her husband who is also a councillor, were "abducted in predawn
raids" on their homes in Banket and Chinhoyi areas - some 100km northwest of
Harare - at the end of October.

"Among the 12 detained MDC activists is Concilia Chinanzvavana, the Women's
Assembly provincial chairperson for Mashonaland West and her husband
Emmanuel Chinanzvavana who is a councillor in Banket," said the statement
issued by the party's information and publicity department.

No comment could be obtained from the police at the time of publication.

Harare early this month accused Botswana of interfering in the internal
affairs of Zimbabwe, alleging that it was training youths from opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party to destabilise its crisis-ridden

Gaborone denied the charges and immediately asked the inter-state defence
and security committee of the regional Southern African Development
Community (SADC) grouping's Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Troika
as well as the Zimbabwean government to undertake a fact-finding mission to
Botswana to probe the allegations.

The opposition party said it was concerned about the safety of its members
and urged the government to stop harassing MDC supporters.

"The MDC fears for the lives and safety of its members as ZANU PF and the
police have failed to account for their whereabouts," the opposition party
said, adding; "These unlawful arrests, detentions and abductions of MDC
activists should cease as a matter of urgency."

The Morgan Tsvangirai-led opposition said that repeated attempts to locate
the victims had yielded nothing with the police apparently unable to account
for their whereabouts despite a High Court ruling that the victims be
brought to court by close of business on November 11.

A September 15 deal to form a power-sharing government between the ZANU PF,
MDC and a breakaway faction of the opposition led by Arthur Mutambara has
hit a snag over control of powerful ministerial posts, distribution of
gubernatorial posts, ambassadorships and other top government posts.

The MDC which last Friday resolved not to join a unity government with ZANU
PF until all contested issues including the enactment of a key
constitutional amendment Bill had been resolved has said it will wage a
campaign of peaceful resistance against any new administration unilaterally
appointed by Mugabe. - ZimOnline

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NCA activists still in custody, 7 days on without charge

By Lance Guma
20 November 2008

Eight activists from the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) who were
arrested last Thursday, are still locked up in Mutare Remand Prison, even
though they are yet to be formally charged. NCA spokesman Madock Chivasa
told Newsreel police in Mutare picked up all the known activists from the
group, without offering any explanation or justification for the arrests.

Last week Tuesday the group embarked on a series of countrywide
demonstrations, demanding a transitional authority to solve the political
crisis. Students and NCA activists combined to march on the streets, but
were met by a brutal response from the police, who beat up and arrested
several protesters. Even innocent people in bank queues were beaten up.

Although all the activists arrested during Tuesday's demonstration were
released on bail, the police in Mutare followed up on the victimization by
going house to house and arresting prominent leaders. The NCA have vowed to
demonstrate every Tuesday until a transitional authority which will also
oversee a new people driven constitution is put in place.

Chivasa told Newsreel they only skipped demonstrating this week because most
of their key leaders were in custody and a police 'witch hunt' for other
members hindered their plans. He called on all Zimbabweans to join them next
Tuesday in another series of countrywide demonstrations. Asked if their
demands for a transitional authority were realistic, given Mugabe's
intransigence, Chivasa said ZANU PF behaved that way because there was not
enough pressure coming from the ground.

Meanwhile 12 MDC activists abducted from Banket towards the end of October
are still missing. Their whereabouts remain unknown 22 days after they were
abducted. 'The MDC fears for the lives and safety of its members as ZANU PF
and the police have failed to account for their whereabouts,' the party said
in a statement. The 12 were abducted from Banket and Chinhoyi in pre-dawn
raids on their homes. Lawyers and relatives have been denied access to them
triggering fears they may have already been murdered.

High Court Justice Charles Hungwe on the 11th November ordered the police to
produce the detainees in court, but 9 days later the police continue to defy
the order. Those missing include Concilia Chinanzvavana, the Women's
Assembly provincial chairperson for Mashonaland West and her husband
Emmanuel Chinanzvavana who is a councillor in Banket.

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Lawyers Demand Information On Missing Zimbabwe Opposition Members

By Jonga Kandemiiri
19 November 2008

Lawyers for the dominant grouping of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic
Change said Wednesday that they will soon file a motion with the country's
high court asking it to find top police officials in contempt for failing to
account for 13 seized opposition members.

Lawyers for the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by party
founder and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai obtained a high court
order last week compelling police to bring the MDC activists to court or to
release them. But the lawyers said the police have failed to date to produce
or disclose information regarding the MDC members.

The opposition activists are said to have been seized by state agents in
Mashonaland West province three weeks ago and accused of plotting to topple
the government. But they have yet to be arraigned and MDC lawyers have not
been able to determine their whereabouts.

Cited in the motion seeking contempt charges were Home Affairs Minister
Kembo Mohadi, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Chief
Superintendent Crispen Makedenge and a Criminal Investigation Division
detective-sergeant named Muuya.

Police told the court that they had handed the suspects to Makedenge, who
had subsequently gone on leave. Makedenge was said to have returned from
leave, but the lawyers said he has not cooperated with their inquiries. VOA
was unable to obtain comment from the police.

MDC lawyer Alec Muchadehama told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe that he plans to file a report of missing persons on Thursday.

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MDC statement on draft Constitutional Amendment No.19

     Thursday 20 November 2008

MDC not involved in drafting Constitutional Amendment No. 19

The MDC dismisses ZANU PF's frivolous and mischievous claims that the draft
Constitutional Amendment No. 19 is an inclusive Bill and has the input of
all the three political parties.

Contrary to reports being peddled by ZANU PF, the draft does not have any
input from the MDC and we are not privy of its contents. We have never seen
the draft and we are surprised that such key positions on the way forward
are being communicated through the media.

As far as we are concerned, the draft that has been sent to Mbeki is a ZANU
PF document with ZANU PF perspectives. Our draft is also ready and will be
sent to Mbeki for consideration.

The final Bill to be tabled before parliament should be inclusive of the
three main political parties' views. The Bill should also be premised on the
GPA document initialed on the 11th of September 2008 as the one signed on
the 15th of September was tempered with.

When the MDC National Council met in Harare last week, the party resolved
that it would not get into an inclusive government with ZANU PF unless the
Constitutional Amendment No. 19 had been passed into an Act by Parliament
and all the outstanding issues have been resolved.

The MDC's outstanding issues including the appointment of Provincial
Governors, senior government officials such as Permanent Secretaries and
Ambassadors have been prevented from discussion by ZANU PF.

Other sticking issues include; the equitable distribution of ministerial
portfolios and the composition and constitution of the National Security

The MDC also calls for the immediate convening of Parliament to carry out
its normal mandate of overseeing the Executive.

MDC Information and Publicity Department - ZimOnline

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Zim's epidemic may move south

    November 20 2008 at 07:40AM

By Peta Thornycroft

With sewage seeping into the Limpopo River from the border town of
Beitbridge, people in Musina say they are nervous that Zimbabwe's cholera
epidemic is moving south.

Speaking on 702 Talk Radio on Wednesday, a Musina resident said the
town got its water from the Limpopo, and she said sewage was seeping into
the river from Beitbridge, which, like many Zimbabwe towns, has no
functioning water supply or sewage disposal.

Scores of people infected with cholera are being treated on the South
African side of the border.

A caller to 702 said two Zimbaweans had died, although this was not
confirmed by the provincial health authorities.

Many more are streaming continuously across the border via the border
post and illegally in search of food and health care.

Cholera is raging across Harare, particularly its western areas, and
hundreds have died, according the doctors in the city.

"Since Saturday we have received and treated a total of 68 cholera
patients from Zimbabwe," said Phuti Seloba, spokesperson for the Limpopo
Health Department in the town of Musina.

"Sixty-six of them are Zimbabweans, while two others are South
Africans engaged in cross-border business. Only 14 of them are still in the

"We have set up a centre near the border to handle cases and to
relieve the hospital. Not all patients need to visit a hospital to get
treated for cholera," Seloba said.

Doctors Without Borders said on Tuesday that up to 1,4-million people
in Zimbabwe were at risk of the water-borne disease.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights issued a grave
warning yesterday that the public health system had collapsed and urgent
action was needed to rescue it and prevent the worst cholera outbreak in
living memory from spreading.

"The main referral hospitals in the country - Harare Central Hospital
and Parirenyatwa Hospital, in Harare, and Mpilo Hospital and United Bulawayo
Hospital, in Bulawayo, have been closed. Most district hospitals and
municipal clinics are barely functioning or are closed," the association

"Health workers have continued to attempt to deliver health services
in extremely difficult circumstances and planned to march to the offices of
the minister of health and child welfare to present a petition calling for
urgent action to be taken to restore accessible and affordable healthcare to
Zimbabwe's population."

The doctors called on the government to declare the cholera outbreak a
national disaster and called on President Robert Mugabe to "solicit
international support to bring it under control and restore the supply of
safe water and sanitation".

They also called for drugs and equipment to be provided urgently.

This article was originally published on page 7 of The Star on
November 20, 2008

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Red-tape nightmare ensnares Zimbabwe teacher

20 November 2008

Franny Rabkin


Staff Writer

ZWELANI Ncube, a qualified teacher, came to SA because his teacher's pay in
Zimbabwe came to less than R150 a month.

In papers in the Grahamstown High Court, Ncube said he could not afford to
feed his family or send his younger siblings to school. So he applied for a
job to teach English at a school in a small Eastern Cape town. There was no
qualified South African applicant and he was given the job. He was told that
he needed to apply for a work permit.

Assisted by the Legal Resources Centre, Ncube is now asking the court to
step in and either grant him his work permit or compel the minister to
decide on his appeal. His application is based on the Promotion of
Administrative Justice Act, which says that a court can review the
government's administrative action if it has an "adverse effect" on a person's

From January 15 this year, Ncube was subjected to an almost farcical tale of
endless unanswered phone calls, numerous fruitless trips to the home affairs
department in Queenstown, lost files and uncaring, aggressive and biased

Ncube says he went to the home affairs department 11 times. Twice he was
told that the person he needed to see "was in a workshop". He was also told
several times he would be contacted by phone, but never was.

"I found that the phone was typically not answered at all, and that on the
rare occasion when someone answered, I was invariably told that whoever I
needed to speak to was out but they would return my calls," he said in his

After seeking legal assistance, Ncube says: "While I was at the (home
affairs) office, Mr Tiyo (a home affairs official) told me that I had 'gone
about this the wrong way' by seeking legal assistance, and then he said to
me 'you will suffer'. I asked him what he meant by this comment, but he did
not reply."

Ncube's allegations are not admitted by the government in its answering
affidavit, but nor are they specifically denied. Desmund Lackey, on behalf
of the government, said he did "not intend to comment upon the vast amount
of material placed before (the court) by way of background". But Lackey said
this did not mean that he was admitting the allegations were true.

Eventually, seven months after he was supposed to start teaching, Ncube was
denied his work permit. The reasons given were that the school had not tried
to get a South African to fill the position and that, since teaching English
was not a "scarce skill", the certificate given by the labour department was
"not favourable".

But Ncube says that the school advertised the job all over Eastern Cape. It
got one response from a South African, who showed no qualifications. He also
said he had applied for a general work permit, and not a quota work permit -
the former did not require that he fall into the "scarce skills" category.

Ncube has not worked for seven of the 10 months he has been in SA and has
not been paid. He has not been able to send anything home to his family. The
students at Molteno High School, including matriculants, have been without
an English teacher for most of their academic year.

As the law allows, Ncube then appealed against the department's refusal to
Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Thirty days later, receipt of
his appeal had not been acknowledged.

Ncube says the school has told him that if his permit is not sorted out by
November 27, it will have to re-advertise the job.

Ncube says the government's conduct has infringed on his rights to just
administrative action, equality and dignity . He is also claiming R16325 in
compensation for the loss of salary and the costs of the 11 two-hour taxi
rides to the home affairs offices in Queenstown.

But Lackey says in his answering affidavit that the appeal was received and
is being dealt with. He said there was no requirement for the minister to
acknowledge receipt of the appeal, but that "it is expected that a decision
on the appeal will be available before November 27".

Home affairs also tried to settle the matter before it came to court by
undertaking that the appeal would be finalised.

The government says the delay on the minister's part is "insubstantial" and
not exceptional enough to warrant the court stepping in to grant the permit.

"Exceptional circumstances do not exist which would justify the substitution
of this honourable court for that of (the minister and) would not do justice
to the overriding principle of fairness to both sides."

It also says that the court should not entertain Ncube's claim for
compensation because in law, it would be available only if Ncube does in
fact obtain his permit. This is still the subject of the appeal, Lackey

The case will be heard today in the Grahamstown High Court.

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No Toilet Facilities At Beitbridge Border

BULAWAYO, November 20 2008 - The busiest border post in the southen
region, Beitbridge border post, has been without a public toilet and running
water for the past four months.

Officials at the border revealed that workers and travellers passing
through the border to South Africa and from that country risk contaminating
cholera because the border post has no public toilets and running water.

The public toilet at the border was closed four months ago after water
was cut because of burst pipes.

"The toilet was closed to the public four months ago and people now
relieve themselves at the back of the toilet that is why it's smelling like
this. We also do not have water here and with this cholera, we have a
disaster in our hands," said one official.

The situation has caught the attention of a South African company, New
Limpopo Bridge Company which has pledged to rehabilitate public toilets and
the water system at the tune of USd 5 000.

South Africans at the border town of Musina have also been hit by
cholera and blame it on Zimbabwe where more than 40 people have died in
Beitbridge, nine in Gweru and hundreds in other parts of the country like
Harare and Chitungwiza.

Meanwhile, five deaths related to cholera have been reported in
Bulawayo and the city's health department said it would issue a full report
later in the day on Thursday. Two deaths were reported in Makokoba on
Wednesday and three at Nketa.

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Kingsley Sibanda, "You feel like a bandit fighting a sitting government"

Photo: Kubatana
A risky profession
HARARE, 20 November 2008 (IRIN) - All Zimbabwean journalists are required to register with the state-appointed media board that vets applicants. Kingsley Sibanda (not his real name), 30, is struggling to survive as an unaccredited freelance journalist writing for foreign publications.

"I was last employed formally as a journalist in 2003, when the newspaper I worked for, the Daily News, was closed down by the government, which accused it of operating without a licence. Since then I have gone underground, writing stories for two newspapers, one in South Africa and another in the United States.

"I know there are so many others who are doing what I am doing - literally operating from underground — and the going is extremely tough. Working as an unaccredited freelancer in this country gives you the daily burden of feeling as though you are a bandit fighting a sitting government, thanks to AIPPA [Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act] and the prowling security agents, who are only too happy to hunt you down like a rat.

"Writing stories is made even more difficult by the fact that, since I don't have resources of my own, I have to travel into town regularly to use the internet, whose rates go up every day because of inflation, just like commuter fares. Sometimes I am forced to borrow money from friends and while I await payment, which comes after long periods, my family lives from hand to mouth.

"It is difficult to make appointments for interviews because cellular phone networks are bad and even if they were not, the tariffs are prohibitive.

"I travel to South Africa to collect my money after every three or four months and it is always a hassle raising money for the visa. Crossing the border to and from Zimbabwe gives me the goose pimples, as the immigration officials treat me with suspicion simply because my passport indicates that I am a journalist, and at times hold onto to my passport for too long, apparently to check if I am not on the government black list.

"It is always a relief to get my money in foreign currency, as the local dollar is now virtually useless. I never imagined I would do this, but when I get paid, I join hundreds of other people on the streets selling foreign currency to ensure that I don't just spend, but generate more foreign currency.

"I have given up on the idea of getting into formal employment once again in this country. The media industry is now so small, mostly because of the government closures, but also due to the fact that media houses are operating in a hostile economic environment.

"Journalism, like other professions, is painfully low paying. In fact, I know of several colleagues working for the state media who are freelancing for the so-called hostile news organisations, and that is understandable, because they are battling to survive." 


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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In Zimbabwe, payback time for some

Those who used terror for Mugabe now feel its sting
By Robyn Dixon
Los Angeles Times / November 20, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe - The "green bomber" dropped into Club M5 the other day to
get a bottle of Lion beer to go, but he wasn't fast enough. Right away he
was surrounded by five members of the opposition, people he used to beat up,
in a township bar where he used to be king.

"They just surrounded me. They started accusing me of this and that. They
just wanted revenge. They said: `Now we got you alone. You used to trouble
us during your heyday. Now it's our day.' "
He ran, chased by the drunken group.

The green bombers were the ruling party's shock troops, thugs who killed and
terrorized in the name of President Robert Mugabe before elections this
year. Just a few months ago, the thought of challenging one of them was
unthinkable in Harare's townships, stagnant and hopeless places where young
men hung around sharing cheap beer in plastic bottles and waiting for the
"Old Man" to die.

But after Mugabe was forced into a power-sharing deal with the opposition in
September, there was a quickening: People were impatient, exuberant, hopeful
and fearful of betrayal all at once. Now that the deal has collapsed, the
frustration in the capital's townships is palpable, and the specter of
spiraling violence looms over their shabby streets.

People want justice - and without it, some warn darkly, they'll take matters
into their own hands.

Samson Bopoto spent months hiding in the countryside. Every night, he and
other MDC activists expected to be killed.

"Now the tables have turned. It's now ZANU-PF are panicking," said Bopoto,
an MDC youth organizer who lives in a Harare township. He and his comrades
have taken back the local bar. They sit for hours singing MDC songs, and the
former ZANU-PF thugs are nowhere to be seen.

"When they see us coming," the 34-year-old said, "they panic."

Sometimes they come to his house secretly at night, trying to buy
forgiveness or at least protection.

Bopoto says it isn't easy to stop the MDC members from taking revenge. Many
are waiting for payback after the Cabinet posts are settled and the MDC
takes its share of power.

"Still, our wounds are open. . . . Just imagine seeing somebody who's the
guy who beat up your mom. They say, `Sorry guys, I was forced to do that.'
But we still have a lot of pain."

The September power-sharing deal leaves the way open for prosecutions.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says Mugabe should not be held
responsible for past crimes, but the question of immunity or prosecution for
others hangs unanswered, poisoning the talks.

The green bomber used to beat up children just for wearing the wrong color,
and set houses on fire with people inside. Interviewed in June, when he was
still living at the base, he said he was just "following orders." Now that
his own life is in danger, his remorse seems heartfelt.

"It makes me feel bad about myself. At that time I should have realized what
I was doing was wrong. I should have resisted. But I couldn't even do it. I
was just trying to protect my family."

His life feels poisoned.

"I feel . . ." He paused. "that I don't want to feel."

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Pregnant women under threat as health system crashes

By Alex Bell
20 November 2008

Many of Zimbabwe's pregnant women and their unborn babies are facing an
almost certain death, after the country's only two government maternity
hospitals in Harare have been closed.

Most hospitals across the country have been turning away the sick and
injured and the majority of government institutions and local clinics have
closed their doors. Public health workers have said there is a critical lack
of medicine, equipment, services and staff, and the closures are resulting
in preventable deaths. This means there is no access to care for those who
cannot afford private clinics.

The latest blow to the already beaten health system is the closure of the
maternity hospitals that offer lifesaving surgical and emergency obstetric
care. The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) on
Thursday said the closure "will result in the unnecessary deaths of many
other healthy women and an even larger number of infants."

Its believed that an average of 3000 women deliver their babies per month in
public hospitals in greater Harare and between 250 and 300 of these women
require lifesaving caesarian sections.  ZADHR said that many more have
deliveries assisted by forceps or vacuum extraction, when their babies show
signs of distress and a lack of oxygen. The association also explained that
mothers who miscarry earlier in pregnancy require surgery to evacuate the
uterus to avoid serious and often fatal infections and bleeding.

ZADHR said in Thursday's statement that fatalities are not the only concern
of the closure of the hospitals, saying there will likely be "a dramatic
increase in the number of stillbirths and of infants who will suffer
irreversible brain damage which will result in cerebral palsy and severe
mental retardation." The association has called for the immediate
establishment of a temporary facility at one of the main maternity hospitals
in Harare capable of providing emergency obstetric care, including caesarian
Section, for the indigent population.

Meanwhile international organisation, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has
called for an international crisis response to Zimbabwe's collapsed health
system to prevent more unnecessary death in the country. The group said on
Thursday that unless the United Nations and individual governments provide a
'robust and immediate response', massive loss of life will occur.

Frank Donaghue, from PHR, who recently returned from Zimbabwe, said on
Thursday that the health situation there is 'untenable'. He said the
international community, particularly the US and British government's, need
to take the lead in urging international response to the crisis in Zimbabwe.
He added that without this kind of response "thousands of people will be
dead by the end of this year."

The group has launched an online petition calling for international support
for the call for a crisis response, available on

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Mutambara must step down for Zimbabwe

November 19, 2008

By Chenai Chipikri

LISTENING to Arthur Mutambara's interview with Violet Gonda last week sent
chills down my spine. This man represents everything that is wrong about
Zimbabwe today! This is it folks! It is official that Mutambara like the
Great Uncle, is a leader who leads no one on the "road to nowhere".

If a Professor of Robotics says that he agrees wholeheartedly with Morgan
Tsvangirayi that the MDC must control the Ministry of Home Affairs and then
turns around and says to an interviewer, "SADC has ruled and we cannot go
against 15 Head of States, so please tell me what I should do!"

And this from a professor who would be a Deputy Prime Minister!

So Professor Mutambara does not know that SADC has no legal authority to
determine what happens in another country. Mutambara apparent is in such a
big rush to become Deputy Prime Minister that he is prepared to overlook all
the technicalities of power-sharing even if it means leaving Zimbabwe in the
current limbo we find ourselves in.

Who, exactly, is Mutambara and what role has he played in delaying the
freedom that Zimbabwe so much longs for?

In the interview with Violet Gonda, Mutambara uses the phrase "strategic
thinking" or "strategic ideas" about 25 times. This has been a favourite
theme of the Professor's since his re-entry into the Zimbabwean political
discourse. This has been an important part of a coordinated "strategy" by
Thabo Mbeki, Zanu-PF and MDC-Mutambara to undermine the real MDC by
highlighting Morgan Tsvangirayi's lack of a university education.

Tsvangirayi's lack of university education has been variously decried in the
past by Nathaniel Manheru (I &II) as well as the big man himself who has
suggested the sophisticated word "ignoramus" as an appropriate label for the
man who would be our President. The big man of course also used the same
expression to label one of the leaders of the two factions within his party!
And have you noticed, by the way, how the current turmoil in the ANC in
South Africa has basically the same root cause?

But I digress.

Mutambara is so full of his academic achievements that he falls headlong
into that very common sin of all common humanity; pride. He did not take
time to strategically evaluate the state of the opposition movement in
Zimbabwe before accepting Thabo Mbeki's invitation that propelled him into
the leadership of his MDC. If you listen to him you will be reminded of the
former mayor of New York who lost in the Republican Party primaries in the
United States early this year. One opponent noted that this candidate's
sentence structure was always something as follows; nounverb 9/11 and
repeated ad infinitum. So it is with our Professor. Once he opens his mouth
it is almost to come up with something like; "Iverb strategic"  or "I verb,
brilliant"  or even "I verbstrategic thinker"  etc.

Now how did such a brilliant man get caught up in the foolishness that is
the MDC-Mutambara? It is simple really. His brilliance has led to his own
downfall. Mutambara was trapped by the love of power. Mugabe and his
sidekick Mbeki knew this. With the assistance of Professor Welshman Ncube it
was easy to divide the MDC on the lines of Ignoramuses versus the Academics.

Mutambara has confessed to some of his close friends that he was misled into
believing that Professor Ncube's academic faction had the support of the
Zimbabwean masses. How could Zimbabwe's most brilliant mind get it so
totally wrong?

For someone who preaches, glorifies and gloats over his strategic thinking
abilities and almost propelling same self into some form of deity, Mutambara
shows a serious lack of strategic thinking on his part. In the words of the
United States losing presidential candidate, it is apparent that Professor
Mutambara  "is not only naive but shows a seriously flawed and dangerous
lack of judgement."

Mutambara cannot grasp that he has no basis legal or otherwise, to speak on
behalf of anybody following his dismal performance in the most recent
parliamentary elections.

During that election, Mutambara who considers himself a "strategic thinking"
party leader only competed for a parliamentary seat in Chitungwiza and
leaving Zanu-PF to "strategically" pick up the Matebeleland presidential
vote from Morgan Tsvangirai and thus "strategically" denying him the victory
and thus driving Zimbabwe to the current limbo! How "strategic" can one get.

How more Zanu-PF can one be?

Having "strategically" delivered a result of sorts one can understand why
Mutambara desperately and "strategically" needs the agreement to work at
whatever cost. He is proud to "strategically"announce that neither Zanu-PF
nor MDC-Tsvangirai can go it alone without him.  While this is true, the
irony is lost on him that it is the people of Zimbabwe who are held hostage
by this standoff.  Then with the killer punch he "strategically" says lets
put aside "petty differences on such small things" as the Ministry of Home
Affairs! And with that he would have delivered the MDC to Zanu-PF the very
"strategic" reason why he was brought in by Professor Welshman Ncube, Thabo
Mbeki and the big man.

There is a huge fallacy in Mutambara's proposal on the way forward for
Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is in the current state not for lack of educated and
"strategic thinking" people. To the contrary, the country has some of the
best brains around the African continent. Some of the best and "strategic"
brains are the ones who have been responsible for the state of affairs that
we find ourselves in.

Professor Mutambara is part of that elite and "strategic" group.

We are hostage to the soldiers of fortune who are "strategically" pillaging
and picking at what remains of the entrails of a raped nation, while
Mutambara is cheerleading. Mutambara's attempt at appeasement with the
powers that be are similar to the actions of a man who finds another man
raping his wife and then starts arguing with the man as to whether or not he
is wearing a condom. And in the meantime the other guy carries on.


While Mutambara was wandering around the world and acquiring a US Green Card
in the process, Zimbabweans in their millions correctly diagnosed the nature
of their problem ten years ago. That was the first part of strategic
analysis. And in their millions Zimbabweans strategically evaluated and came
to one conclusion; the dictator could only be removed peacefully for he is a
violent man. They came up with action plans; various plans indeed;
coordinated plans and uncoordinated plans.

Then they implemented.

They set up an opposition party through the labour movement. They stayed
away from work. They walked to work. They formed pressure groups at home and
abroad. They used the press. They used the internet. They voted. In 2000
they voted Zanu-PF out of power but the command centre suppressed the
results. The big man's anger told the whole story. In 2002 they voted out
the old man while he ran out of the country temporarily and only to be
called back by the JOC at the Command Centre.

His anger and defiance told the story. They were beaten up. They were
arrested but refused to give up. In 2005 again they kicked out the ruling
party but guess what? Still the party held on!  And on March 29, 2008 we got
him. We got them too. And even the big man's party was tired of him. And we
know we beat him big time in 2008. And now look who is agreeing to talks!
Talking to whom! MDC - the puppets? That Professor Mutambara, is the measure
of our success without "strategic thinkers" like you. Even the rest of
Africa has refused to recognise the big man.

It's because they know.

But since then Professor Mutambara has been helping the dictator to hold on.
To answer your question to Violet on what you should do Professor here is
the answer: Step down Professor. Let the 10 seats return to the original
MDC. Let the people of Zimbabwe decide. We don't want leaders who spend time
strategizing and then end up coming back to us for solutions. Step down for
the good of Zimbabwe. Step down for the good of your family. Step down to
save what's left of your tattered image. Step down to save your family name.
Step down for the sake of those in academia. Step down for the sake of the
Gukurahundi victims and their families. Step down for the sake of those who
died during the 2000 election period. Step down for the sake of those who
died in the 2008 election re-run. Step down for the sake of those dying of
cholera. Step down for those dying of hunger. Step down for the sake of
those dying without medication. Step down for the workers who work for no
pay. Step down for those who have been made hopeless. Step down for those
daughters raped by the militia. Step down for those who suffered xenophobic
attacks in South Africa and Botswana. Step down for the sake of the
traumatised Zimbabwean Diaspora.

Mutambara, please, step down for Zimbabwe.

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