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Chamber of Mines to press for concessions on new law

Zim Online

by Simpliso Chirinda Tuesday 27 November 2007

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines says it will press for concessions on
a proposed new mining law but conceded it will be futile trying to convince
the government to drop plans to force firms to transfer shareholding to
local owners.

Chief executive officer Douglas Verden on Monday told ZimOnline that chance
permitting, the Chamber would, for example, ask Mines Minister Amos Midzi to
scrap a clause in the draft law requiring firms to surrender 25 percent
stake to the state virtually free of charge.

But doing so would be like "shooting ourselves in the foot", said Verden,
adding that for now the Chamber might have to settle for a review of the
Mines and Minerals Act Amendment Bill that could yield some concessions from
the state.

He said: "Given a chance to engage the Minister of Mines we would probably
ask him to scrap the 25 percent government share. But obviously doing so
would be like shooting ourselves in the foot so we might just settle for
concessions probably having a review of the Bill but I can't give you any
specifics at the moment."

The mining law that analysts say will deliver a devastating new blow to an
economy on the verge of total collapse seeks to force foreign-owned mining
firms to transfer majority shareholding to indigenous Zimbabweans. This
includes giving the government a free 25 percent stake.

The law sponsored by President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party which
enjoys absolute control in Parliament is expected to be presented to the
House and to be approved before the end of the year.

Under the law, the government will take over 51 percent of firms mining
strategic minerals such as coal and coal-bed methane, with the state taking
25 percent of that stake free.

The government will also take 25 percent shareholding in precious minerals
such as gold, diamond and platinum while another 26 percent will go to local
blacks, according to the law that Mugabe says is necessary to ensure blacks
also have a share of the country's lucrative mineral wealth.

The mining law comes hardly two months after Harare passed another
controversial law giving indigenous Zimbabweans majority stake in
foreign-owned companies.

Some mining firms have responded to the new law with threats to scale down
operations or withdraw from the country altogether but Harare has warned
that any company found to be in "willful non-compliance" will have its
licence cancelled.

Verden said the Chamber would engage Midzi on the issue of the forced change
of ownership as well as the 25 percent stake that the government is seeking
to acquire for free.

Analysts say the new laws will worsen Zimbabwe's eight-year economic crisis
that has manifested itself in the world's highest inflation rate of nearly 8
000 percent, widespread unemployment and poverty.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) last September
criticized the new indigenization law saying it will frighten away potential
foreign investors worsening Zimbabwe's unprecedented economic crisis. -

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Political expediency to carry day for Zim budget

Zim Online

by Patricia Mpofu Tuesday 27 November 2007

HARARE - Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi presents the
national budget estimate for 2008 on Thursday with the country badly in need
of a fillip but analysts say political expediency will ultimately carry the

This will be Mumbengegwi's maiden budget presentation since his appointment
to head the finance portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle last February.

He faces the unenviable task of trying to restore long-disappeared
confidence into an economy starved of good news and on an eight-year

Judging by the slide in economic fundamentals during 2007, Mumbengegwi faces
a more daunting task compared to his predecessor Herbert Murerwa.

At the time of the 2007 national budget presentation on 30 November 2006,
Zimbabwe's annualised inflation was a mere 1 070.2 percent as at October.
Although official figures are yet to come out, inflation is now estimated to
have risen to nearly 15 000 percent by October 2007.

One of the most viable options open to the minister would be to tackle
head-on the contentious issue of the exchange rate and in the process
address supply-side bottlenecks that are blamed for goods shortages and the
country's rampant inflation.

Zimbabwe has maintained a dual exchange rate regime comprising an overvalued
official rate and a more market-determined parallel market rate.

This has created serious distortions in the economy, resulting in acute
shortages of hard cash to import fuel and power.

The minister also needs to drastically cut government expenditure by
insisting that ministries live within their means and outlawing off-budget
(quasi-fiscal) spending by the central bank.

But analysts yesterday said Mumbengegwi was most likely to ignore the advice
of the technocrats in his ministry and instead pursue an economic path
designed to ensure the political survival of President Robert Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU PF party.

They said he was likely to announce a populist budget to pacify an angry
electorate and entice voters to give ZANU PF and Mugabe a fresh mandate at
the polls next March.

"President Mugabe needs not only to appease his and ZANU PF support base but
also to woo those that crossed the political divide to the opposition which
he has nearly crushed," said Eldred Masunungure, a professor of political
science at the University of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans vote in presidential and parliamentary elections expected in
March 2008.

Masunungure said despite the economic implications of his patronage
politics, Mugabe would not hesitate to dish out his largesse as he had his
eyes firmly on overwhelmingly winning the polls for himself and ZANU PF.

"In addition, we are likely to see even a supplementary budget before the
elections as well as other interventionist (measures) from the central
 bank," said Masunugure.

Consultant economist John Robertson said, with an election around the
corner, it would be a miracle if Mumbengegwi were to unveil a budget that
would pull the economy out of its current quagmire.

Robertson said like his predecessors at the finance ministry, Mumbengegwi
was well aware of what needed to be done to "right the wrongs in the economy
but all the economic advices are falling on deaf ears."

"What we are likely to see are policies that are election-oriented that will
further dent the economy long at its knees. I don't expect much except a
further devastation of the economy," he said.

It has become a tradition over the years for Mugabe's government to resort
to raiding the national purse to oil its election machinery.

The analysts said Mugabe would not hesitate even to use the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe to print money to fund his party's campaign.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said the 2008 budget must
adequately address the plight of workers who have been the biggest
casualties of the economic crisis that started in 1999.

It demanded the linking of the tax-free income threshold to the poverty
datum line presently estimated at over $24.1 million. Workers have in the
past derived some solace from the budget presentations through favourable
adjustments of tax brackets.

A statement from the labour body said the ZCTU was also proposing that the
maximum income tax rate be reduced from the present 47 percent to 30

The main wing of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said it
did not expect much change from the budget announcement, noting that it
would be another dump squib without any benefits for the economy.

"The current cash shortages are the clearest indicators that the regime is
now comatose and cannot therefore be expected to resolve the crisis facing
the nation," said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe airports refurbishment behind schedule

Zim Online

by Wayne Mafaro  Tuesday 27 November 2007

HARARE - Zimbabwe could miss out on a financial windfall expected from the
2010 soccer World Cup tournament in neighbouring South Africa as upgrading
of airports is lagging behind due to budgetary constraints.

The tournament, the first to be held in Africa, is expected to see a boom in
tourist arrivals in the host nation and its neighbours but civil aviation
bosses in Harare on Monday said work to upgrade airports at Victoria Falls,
Bulawayo and Buffalo Range was yet to start.

Zimbabwe's largest Harare International airport built about five years ago
has capacity to handle larger aircraft.

Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) chief David Chawota told a
special parliamentary committee that the authority had pulled out of a deal
for the construction of a new runway to handle long haul jets at Victoria
Falls Airport because the authority could not sustain a proposed loan from
South Africa's Nedbank Capital.

Chawota said: "We cancelled the tender because the financial proposals given
were such that CAAZ was being offered a loan but our balance sheet could not
support the loan arrangements as proposed by the Ngezi Road Joint Venture."

Ngezi is a consortium of three construction companies Costain, Bitcon and
Tarcon and had bid for the Victoria Falls project with financial backing
from Nedbank Capital, a division of the Nedbank Group Limited.

However, Chawota said CAAZ was still in discussions with Nedbank and
construction work at Victoria Falls could still commence next February.

The CAAZ boss said the authority was hoping to get funding for the other
airport projects from China Development Bank and Dubai World but nothing was
agreed yet.

Lack of funding has stalled the refurbishment of Zimbabwe's major airports
since the country started facing economic problems in 2000.

A sharp decline in arrivals has seen international and regional airlines
shunning Zimbabwe with Zambian Airways the latest to announce at the weekend
that it will no longer be flying to Harare beginning next month.

Major international airlines such as British Airways, Swiss Air, Lufthansa,
KLM, and Air France have long since pulled out of Zimbabwe, where airports
are said to be operating at 25 percent of capacity.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a debilitating economic crisis that is
highlighted by the world's highest inflation rate of nearly 8 000 percent, a
rapidly contracting GDP, the fastest for a country not at war according to
the World Bank and shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel. - ZimOnline

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US to honour Zimbabwe AIDS activists

Zim Online

       by Own Correspondent  Tuesday 27 November 2007

JOHANNESBURG - The United States will on Thursday present the annual
Auxillia Chimusoro Awards to individuals and organisations that have
excelled in mitigating the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe.

Established by the United States Agency for International Development in
2000, the awards recognise individuals and organisations who have
demonstrated commitment and courage in breaking the silence, reducing stigma
and discrimination, and caring for infected and affected people.

The awards were named after Auxillia Chimusoro, the first person in Zimbabwe
to openly disclose her HIV and AIDS positive status in 1987 at a time when
silence shrouded HIV and AIDS.

The US government spends approximately US$30 million on HIV and AIDS
programmes in Zimbabwe per year.

"The funds support a range of prevention, treatment, and care interventions.
The programme is implemented by USAID, the US Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, the Department of Defense, and the US embassy's public
affairs section," said a statement from the US embassy in Harare yesterday.

The awards presentation is meant to coincide with the commemoration of World
AIDS Day, held annually on 1 December.

Awards will be presented in various categories such as media, arts and
culture; community work; leadership awards including community empowerment,
gender equality, greater involvement of people living with HIV and AIDS, and
orphans and vulnerable children and youth; corporate responsibility; and a
special recognition award.

Past winners of the Auxillia Chimusoro Awards include journalist Sarah
Tikiwa, the parliamentary portfolio committee on health and child welfare,
popular musician Oliver Mtukudzi, and medical practitioner Paul Chimedza. -

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Brinkmanship over constitutional talks

JOHANNESBURG, 26 November 2007 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's main opposition, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is threatening to pull out of talks
with the ruling ZANU-PF party over its refusal to give way on key demands
for political reform.

Leading members of the main faction of a divided MDC are meeting this week
in South Africa to discuss a possible boycott of elections next March if
laws limiting freedom of assembly and the independent media remain on the
statute books, MDC treasurer Roy Bennett told IRIN.

The MDC had agreed to talks at the urging of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), mediated by South African President Thabo
Mbeki, on the understanding that both sides would make concessions, Bennett

But while the MDC had ignored the protests of its supporters and in
September backed a Constitutional Amendment No. 18 Bill, allowing Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe to virtually handpick his successor, there was no
reciprocation on the MDC's demands for a halt to political violence and the
repeal of legislation widely seen an undemocratic.

"We have to be able to convince the people of Zimbabwe that there is merit
for them to participate [in the 2008 elections]," said Bennett. "Because of
the lack of a level playing field and continued violence on the ground, in
the current climate it will be difficult to convince them to vote, and that
their vote will count for something."

Bennett said South African President Thabo Mbeki's visit to Zimbabwe last
week to discuss progress in the talks with all sides was "posturing" ahead
of the European Union-Africa summit in Lisbon, Portugal, in December.

However, political analyst and director of the Mass Public Opinion
Institute, Eldred Masunungure, described as "brinkmanship" any threatened
boycott of the 2008 election, as both sides had too much to lose if the
talks failed.

"[The MDC] entered the dialogue process knowing the decks were stacked
against them but, in my view, if they withdraw [from the talks] they will be
the bigger losers; they will not be able to garner any sympathy from SADC or
the AU [African Union]."

ZANU-PF "also desperately needs some kind of agreement that could result in
the lifting of what it terms 'Western sanctions'; ZANU-PF is as desperate as
perhaps the MDC to get something out of the negotiating process,"
Masunungure commented.

Although the ruling party could countenance some concessions, such as those
contained in a newly gazetted electoral reform bill that liberalises media
coverage during the campaign period, "it will not concede anything that
erodes the pillars of its power".

The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN), a rights group, said it was
still studying a proposed electoral reform bill, introduced earlier this
month without any input from the MDC. But amendments to the current law,
which limit independent political oversight of the voting process, were only
part of the solution.

"It's not a complete package until laws that affect the political
environment, allow fair campaigning and a free media are addressed," ZESN
national director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava told IRIN.

Zimbabwe's economy stumbled in the late 1990s, but slipped into crisis in
2000 with the emergence of the MDC as the first significant challenge to
ZANU-PF's hold on power. A violent election campaign and a chaotic land
reform programme divided the country, slashed foreign earnings, and froze
foreign investment, while the government accused the West of pursuing a
regime-change agenda.

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

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Hot Seat Transcript - Peta Thornycroft interview


HOT SEAT TRANSCRIPT:  Foreign Correspondent Peta Thornycroft  on MDC

Violet Gonda brings the final episode of the Hot Seat interview with veteran Zimbabwean journalist Peta Thornycroft.  In the first segment she talked about her concerns on the way the Zimbabwean media has been covering the crisis in the country. In this final part the award-winning journalist gives us her frank assessment of the state of the MDC.

Broadcast 13 November 2007

VIOLET: We welcome journalist Peat Thornycroft on the programme Hot Seat again. Now Peta when we ended the discussion last week we were talking about the turmoil in the MDC. What are your thoughts exactly on what is happening in the MDC right now

THORNYCROFT:  Well, I think one has to really go back to the beginning of the MDC as journalists and look at how we covered the MDC, certainly how I covered it from July 2001. I’m afraid to say I was very neglectful of looking at the MDC. My excuse is that it wasn’t such a big foreign story, it was more of a domestic story - the opposition - but I bitterly regret that I didn’t do more work in finding out about the various fault-lines in the MDC, which I have subsequently discovered were there right from the very beginning and I was totally unaware of it. I had no idea until I think it was July 2005. I had no idea.

And the domestic press, certainly The Daily News and what else was there apart from the Daily News? What ever else, what ever other domestic media there was, also didn’t investigate the MDC - almost at all. And because of the polarization any criticism that appeared in the Herald or on ZBC I think we all dismissed as propaganda, and that’s also a natural thing that would happen. I saw that happening in South Africa as well. Nevertheless if we’d been on our toes, a bit smarter and not so anxious and longing for the end of ZANU PF we would have and should have seen that the MDC was in trouble almost from the day it was launched. And so when it split in 2005 it was not a surprise. I remember I was down in Bulawayo in early October 2005 when I realized that an actual split was coming and that was because I had interviewed the Mayor of Bulawayo and I asked him what he would do if the MDC called for a boycott of Senate elections? And he said to me, ‘We’ll have to field independent candidates because we cannot have ZANU PF taking our space. We down here we have a different experience of ZANU PF a longer experience of ZANU PF than people in the rest of the country. We’ve earned our place, our MPs have earned the right to be MPs for a long time and we want them to stay. We don’t want ZANU PF to have any position in the whole of Matabeleland particularly Bulawayo.’

 And I remember thinking to myself ‘oh oh, this is a tricky situation,’ because in Harare we knew that people were so against the senate elections, participating in the senate elections. So clearly there had been inadequate consultation within the MDC. I reported that only I think for V.O.A because quite frankly the other newspapers were not, you know it was again a very domestic story, very domestic story. Then we came across the violence in the MDC.  I found that out in July 2005 and it wasn’t  particularly nasty, dreadful life threatening violence but it was completely against the public perception that the MDC had put-over of itself as being almost Gambian in its passive resistance and its pursuit of democracy using only peaceful means. Not only was this violence violence but it was also against its own members and I found that deeply shocking. I then discovered that this has been going on and that the first violence, I found out, was in 2001. So now we come to a situation of 2005 and then the party split, dreadful accusations went on – most of the accusations were made against the Mutambara faction although it wasn’t called that faction at the time it split - It seemed to have been loaded against the then Secretary General  Welshman Ncube. I was told by senior members of the party he had a farm here, a farm here, he had a supermarket there he had a shopping mall there, he had this and that. So I went and investigated it and wrote the story in the South African press about the farm which they seemed to just ignore, fair enough. But all of this venom that I was getting from the Tsvangirai faction was aimed at Welshman Ncube. To this day I keep on saying to myself, have I missed something? Have I missed something? What has he done? What has he done? But still I keep on wondering if I just missed something. It seems to me that now there’s terrible anguish against ehm em em em…

VIOLET: Lucia Mativenga?

THORNYCROFT: The new secretary general, what’s his name?

VIOLET: Tendai Biti.

THORNYCROFT: Tendai Biti is in deep problems now. And I can tell you this from Johannesburg that there’s huge turmoil in the MDC in Johannesburg. I think they are reacting to Tendai Biti because they are looking to him for money. The MDC is a source of some kind of employment and resources over the last seven years when there had been no jobs and no resources. So the MDC is one of the few ways that people can get some money in the bank. So it’s a job, it’s a resource. As it is for the MPs - they’ve got jobs and clearly what we’re seeing now is this jockeying for positions ahead of the elections next year. It’s about jobs. It’s not about ideology, it’s about jobs and I think that’s the shock to us. Perhaps we were just naive.

VIOLET: So Peta what exactly are you saying here? Are you saying the MDC got it wrong and that the opposition party is not the party that people thought it was?

THORNYCROFT: I wonder if we ever knew what it was. We just accepted it, didn’t we? I wasn’t there in 2000, I went to one of its rallies in 2000 and I came in July 2001 and I think I just accepted that the MDC had been cheated at the elections and that this was a party that had the majority support in the country and it was only long afterwards that I discovered that in fact of course ZANU PF had enormous support in certain rural parts of the country.

 I first saw that demonstrated to me in the March elections of 2005, I was actually astonished by that and it is in my copy. I then saw it again demonstrated in the Budiriro by-election when 4 000 people continued to vote for ZANU PF and it was quite a peaceful by election. They were just as short of fuel, water and electricity as all the other people in Budiriro. And I think that I realized that I hadn’t taken into consideration that ZANU PF was an old established party, which despite its appalling lack of democracy and its top down style of doing business - because of the liberation struggle and the propaganda it’s been able to feed everyone - it does genuinely have support. And that the MDC as the farm workers disappeared and as the farmers disappeared a great chunk of its support went with it. I think that was important and I think that we didn’t see it and we didn’t sort of realize it at the time, I didn’t realize it at the time. So when the break came (the split), I mean it was deeply shocking, it was amazing, it was amazing  when the Tsvangirai faction seemed to think that it was a triumph and not an absolute shattering disaster from which they would probably never recover . I’m sure the MDC will never recover that from that split.

VIOLET: From the October 12 2005 split?

THORNYCROFT:  Yah yah, I mean wow it has been……

VIOLET: Do you think what is happening now is linked to the troubles in the MDC that erupted on October 12 2005?

THORNYCROFT:  Of course it is, of course it is and it’s also connected with the poverty in Zimbabwe that people are desperate for jobs and desperate for resources. The MDC does get funding from all sort of quarters. Let’s face it, if you going to go to a rally you used to get money. I have seen it being handed out. People got money to just go to rallies, they get money. I’m not saying its paid participation, they might be organizing, putting flowers or whatever it is but an MDC political event provides resources.

And an MDC job as an MP - however poorly paid the MPs are - it’s cheap fuel, it’s a new car every five years, its very low forex rates. Yes there are great advantages in life being an opposition MP.  And that’s why there’s this fight over why they can’t get the corporation agreement between the two factions of the MDC to work because it’s about jobs.

And I’m afraid to say that there was an agreement in April and I saw the agreement. Tragically it didn’t translate into an effective agreement in May when Sam Nkomo was sent in to renegotiate the terms of it. And so it fell aside. So we are going to have a situation as far as I can see that certainly in some key constituencies you are going to have MDC from both factions standing against each other in the elections, dividing the votes and handing victory in that constituency to ZANU PF.

In Johannesburg here I tell you what is going on – and there is a huge number of MDC people here. There’s a fight going on here that one lot of MDC supporters says Morgan Tsvangirai and Roy Bennet have to go, Roy Bennet being the National Treasurer and Tendai Biti has to go as well. In their place they want Tapiwa Mashakada and as President of the MDC this faction is saying they want (Lovemore) Madhuku in Morgan’s place. It’s very serious here in Johannesburg and they are complaining about Biti saying, ‘he’s just as bad as Welshman Ncube was when he was Secretary General and he’s keeping all the money.’ You know if one suspected that Ncube was short of money when he was Secretary General and so is Biti short of money. But this is now translating itself into Johannesburg.

If the stories coming out of London in the MDC are true (infighting), although I have no experience of what’s going on in London and what is happening with the MDC Women’s assembly. I think you have to look at that party and say my God what is that party? What is it - just a few months before the elections?

VIOLET:  It’s really sad that things have come to this because at the end of the day it’s the ordinary people that are suffering and they really do not deserve this confusion that is happening in the pro-democracy movement. But on the other hand some may say Mugabe has skillfully dragged this crisis on for the last seven years, for too long.  To some extent when things go wrong in the opposition it seems people forget the problems created by the regime. Now do you think people have considered these other risks? That the regime is armed, it has torcher chambers against an opposition which does not even have a military wing. What can you say about this?

THORNYCROFT:    No I think that the MDC is being absolutely tormented; we’ve seen it with our eyes. We have seen it before the 2002 presidential elections in particular it has been tormented. Whatever rural structures or peri-urban structures it set up were destroyed. We saw its urban structures being destroyed in April 2007, we saw that. We were there and we witnessed it and we wrote about it and ZANU PF has all the power but there does seem to me, and I don’t know how you’d quantify this - a failure across the top echelons of the MDC of those people who are prepared to actually take risks and they have to take risks. So why aren’t they when there’s now some little spotlight on the country because of the on going negotiations? Where are they in Mashonaland West, Central  -  the three Mashonaland provinces? And I go on and on about this and I was there just a few weeks ago, driving there with a very good cover and nobody knew I was a journalist and I was able to speak to people and they were very open and chatty with me. I mean the MDC just hasn’t tried to go into most of those places. And will they ever or are they going to just remain an urban party you know an urban party in Harare, some in Manicaland…

VIOLET: (interrupts) But isn’t it a fact that some of these rural constituencies are no go areas for the MDC so…

THORNYCROFT: (interrupts) I want to see them, I want to know that it’s still a no go area. You know I need to know that they have tried to go there and that they got chased away. And there are still enough reporters on the ground in Harare, and we’ve all got quite skilled at doing this so that we can be witness to that. And if it is really that they can’t go into Mash West or Mash Central and parts of Mash East - into those big rural areas and the communal areas - if they can’t go there then we need to be writing about that.

VIOLET: And you know Peta, politics aside, is the Lucia Mativenga issue central to the politics of gender in the country? I mean should this be viewed as part of the patriarchal system alluded to by some of the women in the MDC like Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinjeh?

THORNYCROFT:  I think it would, the MDC is still a very young party. I mean seven/eight years old. It was inevitable that there were going to be splits, strains etcetera. I actually think whatever is happening in the Women’s Assembly, in the fight between Lucia Mativenga and Teresa Makoni is probably duplicated in other political parties everywhere around the world especially in their infancies. The problem is that Zimbabwe is in a particular fix at the moment that it’s facing crucial elections next year.  Perhaps under a new constitution, which may deliver what Mugabe is desperately hoping for, which is free and fair elections, genuinely free and fair elections because the MDC is so weak.

And so there are demands on the MDC to be at its very best - to fight the election not as two factions but as together to try and fix these internal problems that they are having or avoid them, suspend these problems until after the elections because there is this moment in time. I don’t think that these eruptions that are going on are particularly significant because they happen in all parties as they are starting up. They haven’t yet got the mechanisms in place to deal with them in an emergency.

I think one of the sad things we saw over the negotiations in South Africa that was clear to me -  was that whereas the Mutambabra faction was able to understand what was going on with the 18th Constitutional Amendment -  somebody, or whoever was responsible for explaining it to Morgan and his people didn’t get around to it until the last minute and there was a lot of misunderstanding and of course a lot of misunderstanding by the civics. And you know I had to say to the civics, why was there a misunderstanding, why didn’t they bother to go and find out, what did they want, do you need an invitation to find out what was happening?   Why where they just hanging about and not making it their business to know every little bit that was going on in the negotiations so they could see the 18th Constitutional Amendment for what it was which may be quite different to the way they reported it or had analyzed it…

VIOLET: (interrupts) But I think to be fair it has been quite difficult…

THORNYCROFT: I think the MDC’s had a hard time Violet, I really think it’s had a hard time.

VIOLET:  Is there a trend , sorry to go back to this particular issue, is there a trend, is there an issue regarding women and politics in Zimbabwe because if you go by the reports that we are seeing some women have come out complaining about these problems . Is there a trend regarding women and politics in Zimbabwe.

THORNYCROFT:  I don’t know. I absolutely have no idea. I think that’s a question that really needs to be given to Zimbabwe’s journalists who are reporting it in a domestic way and who know the MDC much better than I do. As I say I only got into really reporting the intricacies in the MDC almost by default because it’s not really a foreign story. The MDC is only a foreign story if Morgan gets tortured or if they win all these elections.  The actual fighting and infighting within the MDC is largely not a foreign story but unfortunately it wasn’t covered well by the domestic press in the early days. It’s much better now. We get much more information now than we used to. I think you need to ask them I mean I’ve read what you’ve read about the lack of women representation in the MDC. I don’t know if it’s true or not. I just simply don’t know.

VIOLET: Peta let’s move on to ZANU PF. We hear there’s infighting in ZANU PF but there’s no evidence of this, and there’s still no indication of where ZANU PF is going. What are your thoughts on this?

THORNYCROFT:  I think there are indicators that they are fighting. I mean I think they’ve been good reports I think in The Independent newspaper and elsewhere about the extremely tumultuous politburo meetings. We have a situation where a former prominent banker James Mushore who  fled the country and would not have come back into Zimbabwe without believing that he can face up to the allegations against him without ending up in the slammer. He’s still waiting to be freed and he happens to be a relative of retired army general Solomon Mujuru in the Mujuru camp. This is part of the successive struggle and I think we now got a situation where we we must all pretty much expect  that Mugabe is going to be the ZANU PF candidate to stand next year and that he’s going to serve a full term in office for five years. And so he’s managed to crush, it would seem to me, those in the Mujuru faction and perhaps those who might have supported say Gideon Gono as the Prime Minister. We’ve heard a lot about that or even Simba Makoni as the Prime Minister, which would have gone down well in the world. Those seem to have gone.

It seems to me that Mugabe has managed to finally bring a fractured ZANU PF under his wing with, once again, excluding the voice from the floors. This fracture within ZANU PF is a fracture at the top not a fracture at the bottom. ZANU PF has long been a party of the chefs not the people. Whereas I would think that MDC some of its problems is actually the people who are looking for jobs are a lot more involved in their party than the people in ZANU PF are involved at the lower level in their party. ZANU PF is just a joke of a party.

One of the tragedies I think in the negotiations facilitated by the South Africans is that they have not ever understood the nature of ZANU PF. It’s thought of, I imagine, the South Africans think that ZANU PF is sought of like the ANC perhaps not quite like the ANC but after all it fought the liberation war. But it’s completely a different type of party. And ZANU PF has always been run on fear right from the beginning, certainly since in 1980 and people tell me even before then when you think of what happened to people being looked up in Mozambique during the struggle. That it’s been dominated by one man for over thirty years and he’s going to carry on for another five years. Regardless, that some of the better informed and the more literate, economically literate members of ZANU PF sit in the Mujuru faction. I think we have overwhelming evidence that ZANU PF has been incredibly divided. That even though Mugabe is going to be endorsed as the candidate that he is going to be endorsed with a lot of the senior members of ZANU PF being extremely unhappy, that they could not find a solution to Mugabe, an alternative to Mugabe being the ZANU PF candidate.

VIOLET:  A couple of weeks ago I interviewed Professor Jonathan Moyo on this issue and he also spoke about the Third Way. Now newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube also talked about this so called alternative movement that will bring together you know elements from ZANU PF, the MDC and civil society. Does it sound like a viable option to you?

THORNYCROFT:  I read it too and I wondered who the moderate members are of ZANU PF. I understand that Trevor Ncube was asked that question in London when he made that speech. I think to the Oppenheimer Society and he mentioned Emmerson Mnangagwa being a moderate member. I can’t see any Third Way happening because I think that people like Munangagwa know that they just have to hang on, it will only be just five years and then he will take over from Mugabe and unless the Mujuru faction joined up with Trevor Ncube - I think Ncube himself sees a role for himself, perhaps with some from the MDC. He made that remark about 6 weeks ago and I haven’t heard of anything happening since then. Not any discussions other than discussions of what he said. I think it’s too late ahead of these elections for any Third Way.

VIOLET:  On the issue of elections, it seems there’s a crisis in the MDC; no one really knows what is happening in ZANU PF - as you say Mugabe will probably stand again; there’s this talk of the Third Way -although at present it’s not even known who’s behind this and who the actual leaders are. Now elections are around the corner do Zimbabweans have a bleak choice at the polls?

THORNYCROFT:  Say that again do Zimbabweans ….?

VIOLET:  Have a bleak choice at the elections, at the polls?

THORNYCROFT:  An enormously bleak choice and I think it’s terribly bleak. We don’t yet know what kind of elections we going to have. We know they are going to be Westminster-style elections and I think anyone who has seen what proportional representation has done for diversity in South Africa’s parliament will be very sad that the winner takes all solution could not win the day. That Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube could not win that round.

We still don’t know what the electoral laws are going to look like. They’re about a month behind in their negotiations not because of any crook-ery, I think because Biti had to go overseas for something, ZANU PF had to do something, and then Welshman Ncube had to go somewhere and then there was some holidays and there’s some visits and now of course we’ve got the tragedy of Patrick Chinamasa - one of the ZANU PF negotiators’ son having died in America. And so I think they’re about a month behind. That would take us then; we’re talking about now nearly the middle of December before we can expect points one to four. Points one to four being the legal requirements for new laws for elections and in that time we have then got the ZANU PF extraordinary congress.

So unless ZANU PF agreed to delay the elections so that if there are reforms people can get confident that these reforms will work. Its going to be very shoddy isn’t it, it’s very shoddy. They may even have it all down on paper but not any time to get used to it.

And they’ve got a terribly bleak choice haven’t they? I mean they’ve got the same old guy whose led them into poverty, who allowed the country to be dismantled. We’ve seen the best and the brightest of all flee Zimbabwe for better pastures and I doubt whether any of those will come back. And they’ve got a country that is a wreck, literally a wreck! That is what there is to show for 28 years of ZANU PF rule.

But on the other hand you’ve got these two MDC parties which, one of the factions is fighting with itself, and the other faction seems to only operate in Bulawayo or in Matabeleland. I keep on getting notes saying that they are down to Insiza etc etc. I’m sure they would do very well in Matabeleland but I haven’t seen Arthur Mutambabra hanging about in Rafingora either and I’m wondering when he’s going to make it and it would be nice to see Welshman Ncube in Mashonaland West too. I just think they all going to concentrate on their familiar stamping ground so that they can keep the positions they already have. So that they don’t lose more seats because these seats are jobs they see themselves as an opposition party now and not a party that’s there to win any national elections that’s what it has got to. I feel, I wonder if Zimbabweans would be bothered to vote. Would you really be bothered to vote when the choice is so bleak? I can’t imagine it.

VIOLET:  It’s a difficult one. Finally Peta do you think the West has made a huge mistake where Zimbabwe is concerned? If so how?

THORNYCROFT:  Well (pause) I think there are two ways: I think when the MDC started in 2000, what a pity that they where addressing people in Santdon mostly white people in Sandton north of Johannesburg instead of being in Dar es Salaam or Ghana or Abuja. They failed to make contact with Africa for so long, they were in London, we’ve just seen it again, Morgan Tsvangirai’s just been in America. Why isn’t he in Cairo? Maybe he needs financial support and he can’t get it outside of America or the UK and the same would go for Mutambara. They have not done enough in Africa and that was also one of the reasons for the split, I must say, as those reasons emerged. Please remind me of your question again.

VIOLET:  The International community, you know what about……

THORNYCROFT:  The international community, you then had Tony Blair in about 2004 making a dreadful statement about how he’s working with the MDC, when he must have known that would feed into, that would be absolutely marvelous for ZANU PF. And you saw the State Department in America say it was working with the MDC.

Yeah it wasn’t particularly helpful but actually I think the West at least fed Zimbabwe. Thank God they provided the food for Zimbabweans. There is not going to be an Ethiopia-type situation. Zimbabwe is not particularly hot story apart from inflation and I think it’s a symbolic thing for the British. Zimbabwe was a colony - there was the Rhodesian war. There is a kith and kin element in it, whether we like it or not there is a kith and kin element in it. I think Claire Short made a terrible mistake in 1997 when the Labour party came to power and that letter she wrote to Zimbabwe saying; ‘Land in Zimbabwe has never been part of our problem.’ Of course it has been.

 And so they have withdrawn, the West have withdrawn haven’t they? Gordon Brown is going to be exiled from his own continent in December, he has to stay in London. He can’t even go for the two hour flight from London to Lisbon because he’s got himself into a corner saying he won’t go there when Mugabe is there. Somehow those are battles that were okay, but I think it’s become a domestic issue for Gordon Brown, it affects his votes and it’s got nothing to do with the reality of Zimbabwe.

And the West is obviously simply hypocritical. It depends on if you have got oil and you haven’t got oil, how your foreign policy is handled. I think the West is an ex-player in the Zimbabwe situation. And if there ever is a solution it has to come out of Africa and one doesn’t have great hopes over that. One doesn’t have great hopes over the South African foreign policy successes, so far they’ve had very few. One would hope that that this time they’ll do better.

There are five points on the agenda for the negotiations. The first four are legal points, the fifth point is the political climate. Will Mbeki deliver on that? Because that’s going to be up to him to deliver. If they really get a new constitution or new electoral laws through parliament in the first week of January, will Mbeki have the guts to stand up and say to Mugabe; ‘we can’t possibly have elections in March, we have to delay these elections until June and if you don’t then I’m afraid SADC is not going to support you.’ Are we going to see that? Those are great unknowns. I mean how we can possibly have an election like we had in 2002 and the voters roll in 2005? For a start for example I’ve been cut off the voter’s roll. There are a lot of people like me. For no reason my name’s just been taken off.

VIOLET:  Even though you’re a Zimbabwean citizen?

THORNYCROFT: Yah, I’m a Zimbabwean citizen absolutely.

VIOLET: Well I guess the struggle continues and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens now in Zimbabwe. Thank you very much Peta Thornycroft.

THORNYCROFT: Okay Violet thank you.                    

Comments and feedback can be emailed to



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As inflation soars, Zimbabwe short on cash

The Telegraph

By Sebastien Berger in Harare
Last Updated: 2:03am GMT 26/11/2007

After running out of basic foods like bread and milk, Zimbabwe is now running out of bank notes.

 Cash crunch as Zimbabwe's inflation soars
A man leaves the bank after withdrawing Z$40million in Harare

The soaring inflation rate - the world's highest at 15,000 per cent - means locals are being forced to use more bank notes to buy less.

The largest denomination note, the Z$200,000 bill, is worth about eight pence and the standard unit of exchange is a packet of 100 wrapped in plastic bands.

Cash is in such short supply that ATM withdrawals have been limited to Z$10million (about £4) per person per day and huge queues form outside banks every day.

One customer in Harare had been waiting in line for six hours.

Asked if there was money available or whether any would be delivered, another said: "I don't know."

Gideon Gono, the reserve bank governor, said last week that the launch of a new currency, dubbed Operation Sunrise II, was imminent.

But the last Operation Sunrise - when three zeros were knocked off prices and notes - proved a false dawn and no one expects any different this time.

While the situation is a goldmine for blackmarket currency traders, it does pose a logistical problem.

Keen to remain inconspicuous, they stuff their pockets with notes, while large-scale dealers, operating from vehicles, are regularly exchanging blocks the size of bricks.

"Everybody is buying and selling money to each other," one trader said. "Most of the guys can't put their money in the banks because they are losing value - so they buy US dollars."

The government itself was driving down the Zimbabwean dollar by paying a premium on transactions just to ensure they got currency quickly, he said.

Usually cash is traded at a 20 per cent premium to bank deposits. But with foreign exchange deals, the premium could reach almost 100 per cent. "The government froze the supply of cash to the banks," the trader said.

It is as if Mr Mugabe, having failed to control inflation by neo-communist price controls, has converted to Thatcherite monetarism.

But the reality is more prosaic.

"They can't print it fast enough," said John Robertson, an independent economist in Harare. He suspects the presses are secretly being used for soon-to-be issued Z$500,000 and Z$1million notes.

The government was still driving up the money supply with cheap credit and the absence of goods to buy was fuelling inflation, he said.

"It's just become such an inefficient mess because of incredible shortsightedness on the part of the government," he said.

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Mugabe's divide and rule policy weakens rivals

Irish Times
24 November 2007

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai (centre) sits inside a house in a slum during a recent tour of
Hatcliff township in Harare.
Photograph: Reuters
Zimbabwe : In the second of two articles from Zimbabwe, Aoife Kavanagh looks
at problems facing the country's divided opposition movement.

On the face of it, things look good for Zimbabwe's opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Three months away from scheduled
presidential elections next year, Robert Mugabe's government has failed
miserably to stem the country's downward economic spiral.

Voters don't usually support a party that cannot even guarantee them water
or electricity, nor is doubling the price of food every few months the best
way to curry favour with a population in pre-election mode.

And yet despite all this, the MDC is weaker now than it has been since its
foundation back in 1999.

"Zanu is strong by default," says veteran Zimbabwean journalist and
commentator Sydney Masumve, referring to president Mugabe's ruling party,

Masumve works with the International Crisis Group in Johannesburg, a think
tank specialising in conflict resolution. "While Zanu are not in a strong
position, they are buoyed by the fact that the opposition is paralysed."

The fact that the MDC is so divided is to some extent the result of Mugabe's
ruthless manipulation of his rivals, but it is also due to protracted
infighting within the party itself.

In 2005 the MDC split into two bitterly divided factions, a split that has
become even more entrenched since then.

Morgan Tsvangirai was voted in as the first president of the MDC eight years
ago, and he remains on as leader of the party and head of one faction.

He paid dearly for his opposition to Mugabe's rule last March, when he was
arrested, detained and savagely beaten by a commando unit at an army
barracks in Harare.

En route to an interview with Tsvangirai in the city last week, his security
men explained that, while his movements, telephones and e-mails are all
regularly monitored, it was a good time to meet with their boss. "The heat
is off," the driver explained as we approached MDC headquarters. "Right now,
the CIO are taking a holiday," he said, referring to the Central
Intelligence Organisation - Mugabe's much-feared secret police force.

Tsvangirai doesn't accept that the ruling party's likely victory in next
year's elections has anything to do with the fact that the opposition is in

"That we are divided does not make us irrelevant. We were united in 2000 and
Mugabe stole the election," he argues, "We were united in 2002 and Mugabe,
again, stole the election. So it's not about the opposition, it's about the
conditions for elections."

At best, Tsvangirai is viewed as a charismatic leader who, until recently at
least, did have genuine support, particularly in traditional opposition
strongholds - mostly the urban areas.

At worst, he is accused of driving divisions within the party because he
will not tolerate challenges to his leadership.

Claims that infiltration of the MDC by the secret police, the CIO, have
helped stoke divisions within the party, are well founded, but the
opposition is also its own worst enemy.

Individuals on both sides of the divide have failed to put their differences
aside in order to face down the government, and it is reported that their
failure to do so is driven by disagreements over who will get which
government portfolio if the party ever does come to power.

As part of the the so-called "quiet diplomacy" being pursued by South
African president Thabo Mbeki, talks are taking place now between Zanu-PF
and the MDC. They are being facilitated by SADC (Southern African
Development Community) and are aimed at constitutional and electoral reform.

The most likely outcome of these talks, if any, is that elections due to
take place in March will be postponed until June or even September.

The negotiating teams are debating measures to ensure greater transparency
at the ballot box, but many observers of the process wonder if Mugabe would
stick to a deal on fairer elections, even if one is agreed.

"To believe him is to believe anything under the sun," says Masumve, who
described progress at the talks as "painfully slow".

In previous elections the opposition has relied as much on anti-Mugabe
sentiment as it has on widespread support for the MDC to win votes. However,
allegations that the ruling party rigged the ballot in 2000 and 2002 are
backed up by international observers.

As extraordinary as it may seem, though, Mugabe does have genuine support
among the electorate, particularly in rural areas. His political patronage
runs very strong and it can't be assumed that the opposition movement in
Zimbabwe would win at the ballot box, even if the electoral process was
cleaned up.

"I think European leaders should understand that if there is to be a change
of leadership in Zimbabwe, then it will most likely be a Zanu-PF led
transition," says Masumve.

Tsvangirai does have a point, however, when he asks how the MDC can
vaccinate against a strong and brutal dictatorship that continues to weaken
and oppress the population. It is now illegal for the MDC to hold public
rallies. There is no doubt that Mugabe's tactic of violently oppressing his
rivals while at the same time generously rewarding those loyal to him is
very effective.

Community chiefs - who are hugely influential, particularly in the rural
areas - are regularly seen driving new cars through small towns and villages
in the countryside, while gifts of property or other pieces of valuable
equipment are also common.

As election year approaches, human rights monitors say they are expecting
levels of violence and intimidation against the opposition to rise.

Richard Udah (35) was an active member of the MDC until the consistent
hounding by the CIO and the Zimbabwean police forced him to quit. "They beat
me, they beat my elderly father and my brother and they petrol-bombed my
home," Udah explained.

But the final straw was when Mugabe's recruits wrote a letter to his
pregnant wife threatening to kidnap her and their child if he continued his
work with the MDC. "They are thugs and we are all suffering," he said. "I
pray every night that Mugabe will die. Nothing will change unless he goes."

The streets of Johannesburg, in South Africa, are full of MDC activists,
forced to flee Zimbabwe because of political oppression. But it's believed
that CIO operatives are even infiltrating the few safe havens on offer for
exiles there.

In what was the first formal meeting of the two leaders in as many years,
Mugabe met his South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki in Harare last week.

Observers say the meeting was instigated by Mbeki ahead of the controversial
EU/African Union summit in Lisbon next month which British prime minister
Gordon Brown has threatened to boycott if Mugabe attends.

That kind of megaphone diplomacy is seen as clumsy and unhelpful in this
part of the world.

What is not clear is whether Mbeki's more subtle approach will deliver
anything for the opposition movement, or for the people of Zimbabwe.

© 2007 The Irish Times

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New Laws Published for Zimbabwe Elections


By Peta Thornycroft
26 November 2007

In Zimbabwe, new electoral laws have been published that are to be used in
national polls due early next year. Peta Thornycroft reports for VOA the
proposed laws emerged after six months of negotiations between the ruling
ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Political analysts in Zimbabwe say the proposed election laws are a
"significant" improvement over the old legislation.

The proposed new laws were produced after more than 40 meetings since April
between ZANU-PF and both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change.

Harare political scientist Eldred Masungure said the new laws provide a
better electoral framework, but free and fair elections will only take place
if President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party honor them.

Musungure, who is also director of the Institute of Mass Public Opinion,
said, "The taste of the pudding will be in the eating, and precedent teaches
us we cannot invest much confidence in ZANU-PF".

A major change to the electoral law is that the polls can no longer be run
by members of the security forces.

In addition, political parties are entitled to an electronic version of the
voters' rolls, which are based on Zimbabweans identity numbers. It is
considered the only way to check for double voting.

In the 2002 presidential election, the founding leader of the M.D.C., Morgan
Tsvangirai, failed repeatedly to gain access to the electronic roll in an
effort to prove his allegations of vote rigging.

The proposal also says state-owned media must provide equal editorial time
to all contesting parties. And they may no longer ignore opposition parties
or refuse their advertisements. The two daily newspapers are both
state-controlled as are all four radio stations and the country's only
television station.

It would also be much easier for voters to register as they will not have to
provide a dossier of documents, including service bills. Voter registration
will be ongoing and only close the day before candidates are formally

The new law allows for foreign election observers, but the justice minister
may ban some groups. The European Union was prevented from observing the
last presidential polls in 2002.

Masungure and other analysts fear Zimbabwe's civil society activists and the
opposition will not be up to the task of monitoring electoral law abuse. He
says civil-rights groups are divided and have lost the will to act in the
national interest while pursuing their own agendas, and the opposition lacks
the leadership to mount significant or coherent monitoring.

Another analyst studying the new electoral bill said although there were
improvements these will not be of any use if the elections are held as
scheduled in March. Civic groups and the opposition say there is not enough
time to disseminate information on the new laws. They want the vote
postponed until later next year.

Analysts also say President Thabo Mbeki must ensure that civic groups and
the M.D.C. in particular are able to operate normally without fear of arrest
before the polls.

The negotiators that finalized the new election rules are working to draft a
new constitution, which is to include further reform to the electoral

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Rein in Mugabe, Britain Tells Museveni

The Monitor (Kampala)

26 November 2007
Posted to the web 26 November 2007

Grace Matsiko

BRITAIN has given President Yoweri Museveni his first assignment as the
chairman of the 52-nation Commonwealth club of mainly former British
colonies to convince under fire Zimbabwean leader, Robert Mugabe to restore
democracy and the rule of law.

During their meeting on the sidelines of the Chogm at Munyonyo Resort
yesterday, Mr Museveni promised to use his new office to rein in Mr Mugabe.

"The President said that in his capacity he can influence President Mugabe
because previously he had no capacity to involve himself in Zimbabwean
politics," the President's Press Secretary, Mr Tamale Mirundi, told
journalists yesterday.

The President cautioned the West that Mr Mugabe is a revolutionary who
fought for the emancipation of his people and therefore he will not accept
to be given orders.

"His views (Mugabe's) should be listened to," Mr Mirundi quoted Mr Museveni
as having told Mr Brown, the prime minister of the United Kingdom. But Mr
Brown said Mr Mugabe had refused to listen to other views apart from his

"If Mr Mugabe can accept to restore order in Zimbabwe, Britain was willing
to participate in the rehabilitation of the country's economy whose
inflation rate has shot up to over 15000 per cent," Mr Brown was quoted as
having said.

At the meeting Mr Museveni asked Britain to support a fund which squatters
in Uganda bibanja (land) owners can use to pay landlords or mailo owners. Mr
Museveni told Mr Brown that the land disputes were created by the British
which created mailo land and made the initial owners into serfs of the land

"(Late President Idi) Amin abolished mailo land but the NRM government
restored it because Amin had tampered with the right to property of land
owners," Mr Museveni added.

Mr Brown in response to Museveni's request on the fund said that starting
this financial year, the UK would commit 70 million pounds in budget support
to Uganda, part of which the country can use towards the land fund.

Mr Museveni also asked Britain to pay Uganda's World War II veterans who
have remained unpaid since 1945. He said Britain promised to pay but has
not. Mr Brown promised to put the issue of veterans before the UK

Mr Brown commended Uganda's education system but said the UK is concerned
about its quality. He promised that Britain would provide scholastic
materials to improve the quality of education.

The UK premier also asked mr Museveni to intervene in Sudan's war-torn
region of Darfur but Mr Museveni said the region is very far from Uganda's
border. He advised Mr Brown to hold a meeting with the leader of South Sudan
Government, Gen. Salva Kiir.

Mr Brown also said that Britain was concerned about the outcome of the South
Sudan mediated peace talks between Kampala and the rebel Lords Resistance
Army (LRA).

But Mr Museveni said with or without the talks the security situation in
Northern Uganda is irreversible.

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SADC tribunal delays Zimbabwe farm case - again

By Tererai Karimakwenda
26 November, 2007

The case brought to the SADC Tribunal in Namibia by Zimbabwean farmer
Michael Campbell has been delayed for a second time, raising concerns that
these are just delaying tactics. Campbell's Mount Carmel farm in Chegutu was
taken by the government and he is contesting the seizure, saying it was
racially motivated and discriminates against white farmers.

The regional court was established to monitor the rule of law in member
states and Zimbabwe is a signatory to the SADC Charter.

The court date was changed from November 20th to December 4th because the
Tribunal registrar had failed to notify the office of the Zimbabwean
President and government of the date - claiming a fax machine was not
working. The case is now re-scheduled for December 11th, the day the farmer's
legal counsel Jeremy Gauntlett will not be available. Campbell brought his
case to the regional court after failing to get justice in Zimbabwe. He has
been waiting 9 months for a judgement on this case from the Zimbabwe Supreme

In a statement released by his lawyers' Campbell said chief counsel Jeremy
Gauntlett had made himself available on six separate days in the first two
weeks of December. He explained: "This was communicated verbally and in
writing to the registrar and yet we are now given a date when our lead
counsel cannot be there! They are aware it's urgent, we know this is their
first case and that they have no other cases so why is the court being so
unreasonable in our matter?"

In the same statement, Campbell's son-in-law Ben Freeth said he believes the
delay is linked to the upcoming European Union/ Africa summit in Portugal.
He said: "They don't want the case to be heard before the summit because the
issues at stake are too sensitive. This is a test and so far it is not going

Attorney Walton Jessop, who is on the team assisting the farmer, confirmed
the delay and said their lawyers on the ground in Namibia are appealing
strongly to the Tribunal not to change the date that was agreed to. He said:
"Our Windhoek lawyers have made very firm, if you like, representations to
the registrar saying the matter must be heard on the 4th."

Asked if he believed there were outside forces at work, Jessop said:
"Their failure to act efficiently and fulfil their duties properly is
alarming but in my view it's not sufficient to give evidence of collusion or
improper influence."

Meanwhile Campbell himself is still recovering from injuries sustained on
November 18th when he caught armed poachers firing shots on his farm. The
intruders included settlers from a neighbouring farm, who abducted and
dumped him at the police station. While detained Campbell was severely
assaulted by police officers. He is also facing charges that he failed to
vacate his property, despite the fact that there is a court order barring
any interference on his operations.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Mugabe 'plotted' life presidency

The Zimbabwe Guardian

Itai Gwatidzo 19.NOV.07
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's assertion that the decision by his government to
harmonise the country's crucial presidential and parliamentary elections
next year was bent on cutting costs and that it was a position agreed upon
by his administration is untrue, it has now emerged.

Part of the audio interview (listen below), which Mugabe gave OMNI, a
Canadian television station last year and which was not broadcast due to
time limitations, was made available to The Zimbabwe Guardian. In the
interview President Mugabe suggests that he decided, not Zanu PF, that
elections be married without making any consultations - seemingly for his
own ends.

The revelation crystallizes the widely held political view that President
Mugabe made the controversial decision to call for polls next year so as to
grant himself a life presidency while monopolizing his candidature to
maintain a strong grip on power.

The disclosure could portray Mugabe in unflattering light with the Southern
African Development Community (Sadc) heads of states who mandated South
African President, Thabo Mbeki, as chief negotiator between Mugabe and the
opposition so as to resolve Zimbabwe's deepening crisis.

It will also come as a shock to many ruling party and government officials
who hitherto thought the issue of holding the harmonised elections in 2008
was done altruistically.

President Mugabe who is set to be endorsed as the ruling Zanu PF candidate
next month during a special party congress gave a cosmetic impression all
along through state media that his party and government had brainstormed the
issue of harmonizing elections.

Vice President Joice Mujuru's husband, Retired General Solomon Mujuru, who
heads a faction opposed to President Mugabe's continued stay in office,
tried to block Mugabe from extending his tenure to 2010.

In the audio interview Mugabe is asked by his interviewer: "I have had talk
that the presidential elections are in 2008 and the rest of them in 2010 and
you might harmonise the two. What are your thoughts on that? Do you have an
opinion on whether they should harmonise them?"

Mugabe retorts, "Well, well the suggestion came from me earlier on. I said
the six year term for a president was far too long. And then of course it
produced the disparity, the imbalance, and the discord between the
parliamentary elections and the presidential elections.

"Whereas before when we still had the ceremonial president, and I was Prime
Minister by the way I began as Prime minister, only in 1988 I became

The new twist to Mugabe's disputed and contentious endorsement to lead his
party against a splintered opposition next year, comes on the backdrop of
the veteran politican giving assent, a fortnight ago, to Constitutional
Amendment Act (No 18), a legal measurement which gives him sweeping powers
and provides for the harmonisation of the presidential and parliamentary

Legal critics argue the new legislation will deliver to Mugabe an easy win
next year as aspiring parliamentarians from his party will campaign on his
behalf to seek re-election, therefore bolstering their own ballots.

President Mugabe is currently battling for political survival owing to
growing resistance to his rule within his own government and the Zanu PF

President Mugabe has bulldozed himself to become the party candidate in next
year's crucial Presidential elections as a measure to thwart his imminent
oust from office, sources within the inner circles of his party said.

Sources added that Zimbabwe's economic crisis has also exacerbated the
situation for Mugabe, thus explaining why he wants to keep a grip on power.
Others argue that he's bent on possibly dying in office in order to evade
possible indictment for 'crimes against humanity' he is alleged to have
committed in office.

Zanu PF officials contacted last week preferring anonymity maintain that the
President no longer trusts anyone in his party especially members from the
Mujuru faction who have put up strong resistance to his self-imposed
candidature which is due to be forcibly endorsed on December 14 when his
party convenes an extra ordinary congress.

Mugabe's pendulum is now heavily tilted to his former bodyguard and current
rural amenities minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa who has thrown his weight
behind his controversial candidacy.

Mugabe's press secretary, George Charamba could not be reached for comment
last night as his mobile phone went unanswered. Charamba was also said to be
attending meetings after numerous calls to his office last week.

Mugabe who has clearly fallen out of favour with the ruling party's old
guard as their choice for President next year, has turned to war veterans
for support and the party's youth so as to intimidate his opponents inside
the party, critics say.

The Zanu PF Women's League is also drumming up support for Mugabe, who is
all but set to be the ruling party candidate next year after the two Vice
Presidents publicly endorsed him, with Joseph Msika on Saturday calling for
Mugabe to rule for life.

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Bob's path to a sixth term

Mail and Guardian

M&G reporter

26 November 2007 11:59

      With inflation reported at close to 15 000%, a quarter of the
population in need of food aid and a currency so worthless even the
government charges for services in foreign currency, no sitting leader
should win an election.

      Unless, of course, he is Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

      Hard as it may be for many of his critics to figure out,
especially those outside Zimbabwe, Mugabe has an open road to a sixth
successive term as leader.

      Mugabe has already made light work of what was supposed to be
the hard part -- taking out what internal Zanu-PF opposition there was in
his path to a nomination for yet another term. Those previously reported to
be plotting against his candidacy have now been smoked out and paraded on
national television to deny they had any ambition to succeed Mugabe.

      Now comes the easy part, winning an election under the sort of
conditions that will shrivel any other incumbent.

      A range of factors combine to carry Mugabe past next March's

      First, the opposition is in disarray and is unlikely to bother
him too much.

      Street clashes on Sunday between youths loyal to the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and supporters of Lucia
Matibenga, sacked by Tsvangirai as leader of the women's wing, ended all
remaining doubt about what is preoccupying the opposition.

      Since it split into two bitterly opposed factions in October
2005, the MDC's threat to Mugabe has diminished sharply. The MDC took nearly
half of all contested seats at its first election in 2000 and Tsvangirai
lost only marginally to Mugabe in the presidential polls in 2002. Both polls
were considered by foreign observers to be deeply flawed.

      But the MDC was already losing momentum by the time the next
elections came in 2005, hobbled by personality clashes and sharp differences
over how to confront Mugabe.

       Earlier this year, attempts were made at least to forge a
coalition -- so bitter were divisions that talk of outright unity was
taboo -- against Mugabe. But, the negotiations fell through because,
incredibly, the two factions bickered about which side would get the
choicest government posts should Mugabe be defeated.

      As late as this week Tsvangirai and his party were still to
commit fully on whether or not they would go into the election. It all
depended on the outcome of the Thabo Mbeki process, Tsvangirai said.

      The hesitation and constant fighting have disillusioned voters.
People who would be likely to vote for the MDC might stay away from the
polls. According to Thabani Moyo of Crisis in Zimbabwe, a coalition of
opposition groups, young voters and traditionally opposition supporters,
have grown weary of politics.

      "They [the youth] are preoccupied with issues of unemployment
and see the political process as a dirty way of expressing themselves," said

      The MDC relied largely on anti-Mugabe sentiment in previous
elections; people voting to get rid of Mugabe rather than because they
believed in what the MDC had to offer. These days though, there has been
deeper scrutiny of the opposition.

      In contrast, Mugabe can rely on a faithful core support, where
voting for him is a tradition for some, whatever the circumstances. Even in
areas where he has lost to the opposition, votes for Mugabe have remained
fairly constant, whereas MDC numbers have fluctuated.

      Mugabe's biggest wish is to thump the MDC in its urban
strongholds, where he is still reviled. His attempt to win urban voters
over, a price slash in June, has backfired so badly that a meeting of his
own MPs in August called for an end to the crackdown to keep Zanu-PF's urban
hopes alive.

      Mugabe's deputy, Joseph Msika -- while declaring that Mugabe
should be president for life -- this week acknowledged the difficulty of
winning urban votes, citing the collapse of service delivery, with power and
water cuts lasting weeks.

      Even though Mugabe could well give up trying to get urban voters
to vote for him, he will try and make sure that his party bolsters its
two-thirds Parliamentary majority -- which must be protected at all costs to
allow for more constitutional amendments.

      So, his party may put to use an experiment that worked very well
in the last general election, in 2005. The only seat Zanu-PF won in Harare,
the Harare South constituency, had been cunningly demarcated so that a large
chunk of neighbouring farmland was grafted into the constituency, diluting
the urban vote and handing the Zanu-PF candidate a narrow victory.

      Constitutional amendments passed in September increase the
number of constituencies in 2008 from the current 150 to 210. To maintain
his party's two-thirds majority in the lower house, Mugabe is certain to
push for more constituencies in his rural strongholds. the MDC remains
largely vulnerable in the countryside, where its message of change has not
appealed to the immediate needs of impoverished rural voters.

      Mugabe, on the other hand, is able to promise rural voters plots
of land, and has, since September, handed out more than 1 200 tractors and
about 500 000 basic farm tools -- from ploughs to animal drawn carts -- for
free. He has also been dishing out free seed, fertiliser, and grain.

      His opponents call it vote buying. Mugabe insists it is all part
of his agriculture revival programme.

      So confident is Mugabe that, this week, he published a Bill
giving his opponents a bit more of what they wanted. The draft Electoral
Laws Amendment Bill would bar the military, police and prison officers from
any involvement in elections beyond providing security, a key demand of the
MDC at ongoing talks mediated by President Thabo Mbeki.

      The new laws would also now allow aggrieved candidates to demand
recounts and require the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to check with all
parties before demarkating constituency and ward boundaries.

      The country's sole broadcaster would be compelled to "report
impartially and give equal airtime to all candidates". The Bill is expected
to be tabled in Parliament within the next 30 days.

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Retiring Mugabe

The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

24 November 2007
Posted to the web 26 November 2007

Aryeh Neier

At least for purposes of public consumption, southern Africa's political
leaders continue to stand by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, despite his
country's ever-deepening economic crisis, which is directly attributable to
his tyrannical rule.

Indeed, years of economic mismanagement have produced an unemployment rate
of 80%, with annual inflation nearing 5,000%.

Though Zimbabwe was once known as "the breadbasket of Africa," many of its
citizens now go hungry and depend on international food donations for
survival. About 3,000 people flee the country every day, often risking their
lives when crossing the crocodile-infested Limpopo River - celebrated in
Kipling's tale of "How the Elephant Got Its Trunk" - and scaling a border
fence to enter South Africa.

By now, emigration is more than three million, about a quarter of the
population. Yet when Mugabe was introduced at the most recent meeting of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Zambia's capital, Lusaka,
his fellow heads of state heartily applauded him.

There are reports that, behind the scenes, things are different. South
African President Thabo Mbeki is said to be trying to negotiate a way for
Mugabe to leave the scene. Yet there have been similar rumors before, and it
is difficult to know whether Mbeki and the other southern African leaders
are finally willing to tell Mugabe that he must go. Up to now, paying their
respects to him as a revolutionary leader, and catering to his megalomania,
has been more important to them than alleviating the suffering of Zimbabwe's

The obvious way for Mugabe to leave at age 83 would be to announce that he
has changed his mind about running again in the presidential election now
scheduled for March 2008. Of course, should Mugabe stand down, a fair
election next March probably would not be possible.

The political opposition would have little capacity to organize an effective
campaign in an environment in which Mugabe has shut down independent media,
rewritten electoral rules, and used the police to pummel - literally - his

So a period of transition would be required for a proper election to be
organized under the auspices of the SADC, with support from the African
Union, Europe, and the United States, in order to get a fair result and
launch a recovery process. Yet, given the brief period that remains until
the scheduled election, an announcement is required soon if a fair result is
to be achieved and a recovery process launched to halt the country's slide
into chaos.

A big factor in any timetable for Zimbabwe's rescue is Thabo Mbeki's tenure.
He has just over a year-and-a-half to go to complete his second and final
five-year term as South Africa's president. In certain respects, he has been
a success. Under his leadership, South African's multiracial democracy has
been consolidated, and, in dramatic contrast to neighboring Zimbabwe, its
economy is flourishing.

Yet Mbeki's achievement is severely marred by two failures. Domestically,
his poor performance in addressing South Africa's HIV/AIDS epidemic will
ensure that he is judged harshly. Internationally, his record is stained by
his lack of leadership up to now in dealing with Zimbabwe.

Nevertheless, even at this late date, Mbeki has a chance to salvage a good
part of his reputation by taking the lead in organizing a transition in
Zimbabwe. But, given the amount of time a transition will take, he must act

Even when a transition does take place in Zimbabwe, the crisis will not be
over. The country has been so devastated by the Mugabe regime that
substantial international engagement will be required to put it back on its
feet. For now, however, the SADC should, at long last, tell Mugabe that he
must step aside, and it should take responsibility for managing an electoral
process whose result Zimbabweans will recognize as fair, thereby providing
the legitimacy needed for recovery to begin. (Project Syndicate)

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Air Zambia follows BA, ends flights to Harare

26th Nov 2007 01:07 GMT

By a Correspondent

HARARE - Barely a month after British Airways stopped its three-days-a-week
direct flights to Zimbabwe, Zambian Airways says it is following suit due to
continued viability problems, worsened by Harare's foreign currency problems
and currency flactuations.

Hardly a year after Air Zimbabwe signed code-share agreements with Air
Malawi and Zambia Skyways that would see Air Zimbabwe flights to London
going through Malawi and Zambia, Zambian Airways, which plies the
Lusaka-Harare route daily said:

"Business has been quite rough. We will, however, be observing market trends
and we will keep in close touch with Air Zimbabwe so that we know when we
can come back on the route."

Mutembo Nchito, the airlines chief executive said the airline has been
forced to end its daily flights to Harare due to high fuel costs and
currency fluctuations.

He said the airline would be suspending its services from December 1.

Like the British Airways, Nchito said the airline would either reimburse or
make other travelling arrangements for clients who had already booked to
travel with Zambian Airways. BA also withdrew from Harare citing viability

The suspension affects CAAZ which collects charges from all airlines that
use Harare International Airport in terms of landing and associated fees.

Business people using the airline will be hardly hit. The small Zambian
Airways planes have been very useful in providing a daily source of
transport for businesspeople in the country.

BA, which ended its service on October 28, was the only European carrier
that flew to Harare, leaving from Heathrow Airport. BA, however, still
continues to serve Harare through a flight routed via Johannesburg.

The Johannesburg-Harare leg is being run by franchise partner airline Comair
which flies in BA colours.

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Refugee Legal Centre: Zimbabwean asylum seekers face destitution

New Zimbabwe

The following is a statement by the Refugee Legal Centre reacting to the
November 23 AIT judgment in HS (Zimbabwe) which clears the way for the UK
government to begin deporting failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers:

Last updated: 11/27/2007 00:05:31
"THOUSANDS of Zimbabwean asylum seekers may now be forcibly returned to
persecution, as a result of today's AIT decision, or may continue to face
destitution on Britain's streets.
An Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ruling announced today overturned a
landmark decision in 2005 that all Zimbabwean asylum seekers faced a real
risk of persecution in Zimbabwe if they were forced to return.

This new decision now puts thousands of Zimbabweans who have already been
refused asylum in Britain in fear of being forcibly returned, or leaves many
in destitution on Britain's streets. The RLC is considering whether to

There have been no removals to Zimbabwe since August 2005, pending decisions
on this case, although the Home Office has continued to try to remove many
to neighbouring countries, from where they can face deportation to Zimbabwe.

Instead, many refused asylum seekers from Zimbabwe have been given the stark
choice of either returning voluntarily to the country where they fear
persecution or staying in Britain and living in destitution.

Most asylum seekers who have been refused asylum receive no financial help
from the Government 21 days after losing their appeals. They are then
evicted from their accommodation and are not allowed to work. Given the very
real risk of human rights abuse in Zimbabwe it is unsurprising that many
have chosen destitution."

Caroline Slocock, the Chief Executive of the RLC said on Monday:

"This decision leaves thousands of Zimbabweans at risk of being put in
detention centres and forcibly removed to the country where they fear
persecution. The situation in Zimbabwe is highly dangerous and is only
likely to get worse in the run up to the Presidential and Parliamentary
elections next March.

The Refugee Legal Centre is considering whether to appeal against this
decision, which overturned a ruling in 2005 that all Zimbabwean asylum
seekers faced a real risk of persecution if they were to return. The RLC
will also continue to support individuals who are able to challenge removal.

In the meantime, we hope the Government will build on Britain's long
tradition of protection for persecuted people and grant a temporary period
of stay to all Zimbabwean asylum seekers, until such time as conditions in
Zimbabwe improve.

Many Zimbabweans who have been refused leave to stay face destitution here,
with no housing or financial support, but still choose not to return home
because they have a genuine fear of persecution. We hope the Government will
allow them to stay and work to support themselves."

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Zimbabwe Opposition Objects To Electoral Commission Appointments


By Carole Gombakomba
26 November 2007

Zimbabwe's political opposition and civil society groups have criticized the
government for filling positions on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in
anticipation of elections in 2008 without reference to crisis talks between
the ruling party and opposition.

The Standard newspaper said the commission filled positions including deputy
chief inspector and the directors of administration, polling and training,
election logistics and human resources following a recruitment drive begun
in October.

The two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change and the Zimbabwe
Election Support Network said that with an Electoral Laws Amendment Bill
still pending and the principals in the South African-mediated crisis
resolution talks still discussing the creation of an independent commission,
the posts should not have been filled.

The MDC formation headed by Morgan Tsvangirai said it is also concerned
about the background of the appointees - all former government employees.
The MDC faction of Arthur Mutambara has also complained about the
composition of the commission.

Political commentator Chido Makunike said the lack of a truly independent
commission raises doubts even at this early stage about the credibility of
next year's elections.

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Zim retailers bring back credit


Nov 26 2007 10:48 AM
Chris Muronzi
Harare - Zimbabwe's retail outlets have agreed to offer credit facilities
again after talks with the country's central bank, reports said.According to
the state daily, The Herald, central bank chief Gideon Gono held talks with
a union representing retailers where they agreed to restore credit
facilities.Retailers scrapped the facility at the height of President Robert
Mugabe's price controls saying once inflation was brought down to manageable
levels, shops would restore the facility.The talks between Retailers
Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ) and the central bank are part of efforts to
ensure that normalcy returns in the sector, which is still battling to
recover from a quarter long price mayhem that left stocks depleted.Now,
according to Gono, department stores first have to consider the
creditworthiness of their customers.Shops agreed to re-introduce the credit
facilities with shorter credit periods of between 21 and 30 days.The stores
hoped cutting credit facilities would help hedge against the country's
runaway inflation now believed to be above 15&nbnsp;000%, the world's
highest.Clothing retailers were feeling the pinch of the current
hyper-inflationary environment as evidenced by a slowdown in sales figures
in the third quarter.Retailers who were offering credit facilities include
Meikles, Barbours, Greatermans' clothing and food units and
Clicks.Truworths, Topics and Edgars Stores had also scrapped credit
facilities.Edgars Zimbabwe Limited executive chairperson Themba Sibanda a
few months ago said the group anticipated a loss after panic buying saw
"higher-than-expected" July sales that left stocks at precarious
levels.Sibanda said August sales fell because of low stocks while admitting
that the SA controlled clothing retailer has found it challenging to restock
to normal levels ever since.In fact, Edgars fears this quarter will be worse
than the current one because Christmas and the festive season's stock has
not be secured.This is because under normal circumstances, such stock would
have been secured but the company says it will miss the biggest party of the
year on the country's retail calendar.The company says it traditionally
sells the majority of its stock and generates close to 60% of its earnings
in the last quarter of every year.Sibanda says the company might only be
able to successfully restock in April next year because the merchandise
supply line has been severely damaged.Despite Zimbabwe having the highest
inflation rate in the world, retailers have been charging minimal rates of
up to 25% with others offering zero deposit facilities while other furniture
retailers charged then ruling market rates of over 600%, making credit
purchases meaningful but very expensive.Civil servants, especially teachers,
soldiers and policemen, who were affected by the scrapping of credit
facilities, have over the years largely depended on credit facilities.Edgars
management told the market at an analysts briefing earlier in the year that
his company has traditionally enjoyed the bulk of its credit business from
civil servants.Civil servants and security guards are the lowest paid
workers in the country and would have had to bear the brunt of cash
purchases. - Fin24

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Court In Mutoko, Zimbabwe, Arraigns Ruling Party Activists In Assault


By Jonga Kandemiiri
26 November 2007

A magistrate's court in the Zimbabwean town of Mutoko admitted charges of
malicious injury to property and assault against two members of the ruling
ZANU-PF party on Monday in connection with the stoning of an opposition
vehicle Saturday night.

The court set bail of Z$15 million, about US$10 at the parallel market
exchange rate, for ZANU-PF activists Gift Katanha and Rodgers Saidi. The
ruling party members are accused of stoning a truck belonging to the
Mashonaland East provincial branch of the Movement for Democratic Change,
the country's main opposition party.

MDC sources said one person was injured in the attack.

The court dismissed two MDC members who were arrested on their arrival late
Saturday at the Mutoko police station to hand over their alleged assailants.
They were charged with assaulting the two men in the process of apprehending

MDC Organizing Secretary for Mashonaland East Piniel Denga told Jonga
Kandemiiri that political intimidation continues though crisis resolution
talks between Zimbabwe's ruling party and the opposition continue under
South African mediation.

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Billboard activism on the rise in South Africa

By Lance Guma
26 November 2007

A group known as ‘Zimbabwe Democracy Now’ is causing quite a stir in South Africa after putting up over 5 large billboards in Johannesburg, all with a call for action on Zimbabwe’s crisis. Washington Times journalist Geoff Hill told Newsreel that the billboards seem to have been put up between Saturday and Sunday this weekend, although officials from the organisation are unwilling to confirm the exact date. Hill says he accompanied someone travelling to Zimbabwe and dropped them off at the Park Station bus terminus. There he was met by a huge billboard with the words, ‘Zimbabweans Demand; POWER TO THE PEOPLE; We demand, one citizen, one vote, independently run elections and an end to political violence.’

Several journalists have also confirmed sighting similar billboards in a number of other Johannesburg locations including Orange Grove suburb, Thembisa Township and Diepsloot in Soweto. The other design for the billboards reads, ‘There is a reason so many Zimbabweans are in South Africa: FREEDOM.’ The message ends with the same demand for independently run elections.

Hill managed to speak to a woman activist who is part of Zimbabwe Democracy Now and she confirmed they were behind the first billboard that was erected in Musina in October. At that time armed South African police, accompanied by 9 soldiers in a troop carrier, swooped on the two advertising workers erecting the billboard. The billboard read, ‘We know why you are in South Africa: Life in Zimbabwe is Murder; But please go back to vote in March. We can all be free.’ Musina city council allegedly ordered it to be pulled down, before a backlash from the media, politicians and the courts forced a u-turn and the billboard was left alone.

It’s now unlikely the authorities will tamper with the wave of new billboards sprouting up all over Johannesburg. Hill says it will take a very bold politician to try and get them pulled down. The people behind the campaign want to remain anonymous but the one who spoke to Hill said
Zimbabwe Democracy Now is a coalition of church and NGO groups that work in and outside Zimbabwe. The publicity surrounding the first billboard in Musina has apparently helped them secure more funding to put up more billboards in South Africa.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Kingstons Workers 'Sleep-In' At Work As Government Fails to Meet Pay Demands

SW Radio Africa (London)

26 November 2007
Posted to the web 26 November 2007

Henry Makiwa

Workers at a government-owned company have taken a bizarre form of protest
at poor pay by sleeping-in at work.

At least 70 workers from Kingstons Limited, which specialises in stationery
and music, have been sleeping at the Kingstons' head office for a week now.
The workers, from eleven branches across Harare, are protesting at poor
working conditions and a paltry salary.

According to reports, the Kingstons' employees have converted the company's
forth floor offices, at the corner of Leopold Takawira Street and Kwame
Nkrumah Avenue, into a "dormitory". A nearby gymnasium is said to be
providing them with toilet and bath facilities.

Kingstons has interests in books, music, stationery and newspaper
distribution. Its fortunes have been failing since the government acquired
the company from its private owners in 2003, and started using it as a tool
to expand its propaganda campaign against the opposition.

The workers are accusing the government of paying them "slave wages" as they
can hardly cover transport costs with their monthly wages. They reportedly
earn as little as Z$11 million a month, when transport costs each worker an
average of Z$20 million.

According to The Standard newspaper, the workers wrote to appeal to the
Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to "restore order in
our organisation" or face a "sleep in". Government is yet to respond to the
demands except to offer some lip service promising to "look into the issue".

Trade unionists have accused the government of turning a blind eye to
workers amidst a harsh economic environment. According to statistics
released by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the dilemma of Kingstons
workers represents the plight of over 80% of workers who can no longer
survive on their salaries.

Meanwhile the government has said it is unable to raise salaries to end

a strike of magistrates and state prosecutors that has crippled the court

According to the state owned Sunday Mail newspaper the Public Service
Commission said magistrates were classed as civil servants whose salaries
were only due to be reviewed early next year.

Other civil service pay demands have been put off, after the government said
it had run out of money in the current budget to meet pay increases in the
crumbling, hyperinflationary economy.


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Press Statement - US Department of State

US Department of State

Press Statement
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 26, 2007

Zimbabwe: Civil Society Organization Beatings During President Mbeki's Visit
We strongly condemn the severe beating of 22 members of the National
Constitutional Assembly, a pro-democracy civil society organization,
following a peaceful November 22 demonstration in Harare. We call on the
Government of Zimbabwe to end immediately the violent attacks against
democratic activists and civil society organizations, to respect the rule of
law, and to allow the Zimbabwean people to exercise peacefully their
political rights. That such a brutal attack would occur during South African
President Thabo Mbeki's visit demonstrates the Mugabe regime's continuing
disregard for democracy, internationally accepted human rights standards,
and the opinion of the international community.

We fully support the Southern African Development Community's (SADC)
initiative in bringing together Zimbabwe's ruling and opposition parties for
talks on resolving the political and economic crisis and commend President
Mbeki for his leadership and public commitment to deliver free and fair
elections in Zimbabwe.


Released on November 26, 2007

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Zanu PF and Mugabe taking people for granted

The Zimbabwean

 Monday, 26 November 2007 07:25

The current cash shortages are the clearest indication that the regime is
now comatose and in a permanent state of hibernation and therefore cannot be
expected to solve the crisis facing the nation.

It is an open provocation to the people of Zimbabwe to make them spend
nights outside banks as they seek to withdraw their hard-earned cash. It is
criminal for any government to be the source of the people's agony and

People simply want to withdraw their hard-earned money so that they can buy
food, uniforms and other basic commodities for their families. They want to
buy maize seed and fertilizer. They want to maintain their dignity. They do
not want to negotiate for what is supposed to be an ordinary service. They
want peace and economic stability. They do not want to be taken for granted.
Accessing their money is their basic right.

The month of November is supposed to mark the beginning of the festive
season. The fanfare has since gone due to Zanu PF's mismanagement but
Zimbabweans still want to maintain their dignity. They do not want yet
another queue where they spend productive time seeking to withdraw their own
money which banks are supposed to be holding in trust. They have every right
to withdraw their limited daily maximum even though it will not take them
anywhere. They cannot bear the brunt of a crisis authored and nurtured by
the Zanu PF regime through decades of patronage, corruption and

Cash shortages are a an insult to business, a blow to families and
households, a mockery to civil servants and workers in general and a death
sentence to investment possibilities. For our parents, grandparents and
women in the rural areas, is the last straw to their hopes of ever enjoying
a better life under this regime. In short, the cash crunch punctures the
economic wheels of the nation, rendering it stagnant.

It has become a monthly ritual by the regime to inflict pain and suffering
on Zimbabweans. A few months ago, the regime emptied supermarket shelves
of basic commodities. This month, the weapon of cash shortages seems to have
been retrieved to bludgeon Zimbabweans. Instead of giving a Christmas
present to Zimbabweans, the regime offers penury and impoverishment.

It is a shameful indictment on this heartless regime that it has run out of
the worthless paper that it imposed on the people as currency. Even though
the purchasing power of token wages has since been eroded, it is a
provocation to the innocent people of Zimbabwe to make them spend long hours
outside financial institutions. After spending nights in bank queues, there
is no guarantee that they will be able to find basic goods on the black
market as the supermarket shelves are still empty owing to a populist price
blitz which has since backfired.

Zimbabweans are now clear that Zanu PF does not deserve any month, any week,
any day, any hour or any minute longer in office. Zanu PF is better as
history and part of the archives. People want the dawn of a new era through
free and fair elections which will effect a legitimate and accountable
government that will address the current crisis besetting the nation.
Zimbabweans want to recover the lost years and prove to the world their
capacities, competencies and utility to the global family of nations. They
want a new Zimbabwe and a new beginning. They want 2008 to be the year of
change, prosperity and reversal of all that is bad about Zimbabwe..

The MDC is the people's alternative. It offers a leadership for change, a
leadership for jobs, a leadership for stability and a leadership for quality
and affordable health care and education.

The MDC has a comprehensive economic blueprint that will take Zimbabwe along
the route to economic recovery. The MDC will give Zimbabweans real and
valuable currency not bearer's cheques or "tissue" money.

The MDC is the party of choice. It is the people's only hope to stability
and economic prosperity.

Nelson Chamisa, MP

Secretary for Information and Publicity

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