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Defence lawyers seek bail for ex-soldier

Zim Online

Friday 03 November 2006

      MUTARE - Defence lawyers on Thursday asked the High Court to grant
bail to an ex-soldier accused of plotting to assassinate President Robert
Mugabe, saying it was unfair to lock him up in jail until the court is able
to conclude his case next year.

      The court, which permanently sits in the two cities of Harare and
Bulawayo, is hearing the matter in the eastern Mutare city where it is on
circuit until today.

      Lawyer Eric Matinenga for the defence told Justice Alfas Chitakunye
that last minute amendments by the prosecution had caused delays to the
start of the trial of Peter Michael Hitschmann, a former soldier in the
former white government of Rhodesia - Zimbabwe's name before independence in

      Hitschmann, who the state alleges was working with a shadowy military
outfit called the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement (ZFM), is accused of illegally
stockpiling arms of war and plotting to murder Mugabe and other leaders of
his ruling ZANU PF party as well as white farmers perceived as sympathetic
to the government. He denies the charges.

      Matinenga said that because of the delays, the court could not
conclude trial in the little time left and would have to finalise the matter
during its next sitting in Mutare in March 2007.

      But it would be unfair to keep Hitschmann in jail until then because
the former soldier "has been in prison for too long," the defence lawyer
      Hitschmann has remained in prison since his arrest last March.
      Chitakunye will rule on the application for bail today.

      Meanwhile, Matinenga cross-examined Zimbabwe army major Israel Phiri,
who is chief witness for the state and who, earlier this week, told the
court that he was recruited by Hitschmann to join the ZFM.

      Phiri said he agreed to join the ZFM in order to gather information on
the organisation and its plans to assassinate Mugabe, adding he did this on
instruction from his commanders in the army.

      Matinenga accused Phiri of cooking up facts and lying, quizzing the
Major why - if he was a government undercover operative - he was arrested,
detained and intensively interrogated by the same state security agents who
should have known he was one of their own.

      "Despite being one of them, surely how could they have interrogated
you for the whole night," Matinenga asked.

      And to which Phiri replied: "That is how the operation had been
planned. I could endure the interrogation."

      Matinenga also told the court that Phiri had lied when he claimed in
his evidence-in-chief that he was given two UZI rifles by Hitschmann for use
to commit sabotage.

      The defence lawyer said Phiri had in fact ordered the rifles from
Hitschmann, who is a licensed arms dealer, adding the Major had wanted to
use the guns at a security company he was planning to set up.

      The hearing continues today.

      Hitschmann was initially arrested together with several opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party officials. But the state later
dropped charges against the opposition officials. - ZimOnline

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Scepticism as Harare pushes new plan to end fuel crisis>

Zim Online

Friday 03 November 2006

      HARARE - Mike Nyambuya, the Minister of Energy and Power Development,
on Tuesday shepherded his Petroleum Bill through the House of Assembly,
confident the compliant legislature would pass with minimum debate proposals
he has introduced that seek to end the crippling fuel crisis in Zimbabwe.

      "This Bill seeks to create a level playing field in the petroleum
sector," Nyambuya, a retired army Lieutenant-General, assured the ruling
ZANU PF party-dominated legislature during the Bill's second reading.

      The minister, who also represents the Mutasa North parliamentary
constituency (ZANU PF), said he was confident fuel supplies would improve if
the Bill becomes law - solely on the basis of "fair competition", the
"licensing" of sector players and the introduction of a fund to "stabilise"
extreme exchange rate movements.

      There are, however, a growing number of people skeptical of Nyambuya's
optimistic projections of the proposed law's effectiveness, who represent a
large cross-section of the country's political, social and economic

      "Let's have a reality check here. We're talking of the situation on
the ground in Zimbabwe in 2006 and the truth is no hard currency, no fuel,"
says an executive with a privately-run energy firm.

      "Our foreign currency situation is unlikely to improve as long as our
economy remains stuck in neutral gear," the executive said, declining to be
identified. "The economy is going nowhere in terms of growth and the
potential to earn the required levels in forex are next to nil."

      Given this scenario, there is increasing talk, especially among those
in the country's power and energy industries, of actively and seriously
exploring alternative sources of fuel, such as ethanol, derived from sugar
cane which is abundant in Zimbabwe.

      Proponents of this ethanol fuel are even suggesting that the country
could soon find itself developing this source of fuel not as one of the
options, but clearly out of necessity, as supplies of imported petrol and
diesel dry up due to a scarcity in hard currency.

      There is equal concern, including among supporters of the government's
current energy policy, that even if the minister's Petroleum Bill is enacted
into law, it would still be tantamount to applying a "Band-Aid" solution to
a chronic problem to which major surgery is recommended.

      But what, exactly, is ethanol fuel?

      And, could this alternative source of energy be a possible panacea to
ultimately halt Zimbabwe's fuel blues - which manifests themselves in petrol
selling for up to Z$1 700 a litre, more than five times the Z$340 a litre
the government is recommending?

      Brazil, the world's top sugar producer, pioneered ethanol fuel
production from sugar cane beginning 30 years ago, investing billions of
dollars in research and development.

      The South American country now boasts one of the leading ethanol
production industries in the world, with a majority of its service stations
having two sets of pumps, one for ethanol fuel and the other for petrol or

      Brazil introduced its ethanol programme in 1975, in the wake of the
much-publicised  global energy crisis of 1973, and 10 years later more than
800 000 vehicles that were being manufactured or assembled in that country
were running on ethanol fuel of the sugar cane variety.

      This year, President George W Bush of the United States publicly said
his administration would financially support research and development into
new technologies designed to improve production of ethanol fuels. His call
was prompted by global prices of oil hitting the US$70-a-barrel mark.

      In Zimbabwe, ethanol is produced only by Triangle Limited, a sugar
estate in the country's Lowveld area. To be sure, the energy and power
minister deserves credit for encouraging the use of ethanol fuel during his
tour of the Triangle Limited plant in September last year.

      Triangle Limited, controlled by a South African-based conglomerate,
suspended production of ethanol fuel at the height of the 1991-92 drought
which led to a drastic cut in the production of sugar cane.

      Nyambuya offered the government's support in helping revive the
ethanol plant, which notched an average of 40 million litres of ethanol fuel
prior to its operations being suspended. It has since been limiting its
production to small quantities of industrial ethanol.

      Farai Musikavanhu, the director of agricultural planning at the
Triangle estate and one of the officials who oversees the ethanol project,
was unavailable for comment this week.

      He, however, has previously indicated the plant requires upgrading to
achieve commercial capability - an exercise, no doubt, that would involve a
substantial outlay in foreign currency resources.

      Back in Parliament on Tuesday, Innocent Gonese, the chief whip for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, insisted on engaging
a somewhat reluctant Nyambuya in debate over the Petroleum Bill.

      Queried Gonese, who represents the Mutare Central legislative
constituency: "How does the minister propose the government generates the
foreign currency for fuel?"

      Nyambuya, with a straight face, wondered loudly how the legislator
would even bother to ask such a question. He said it was, after all, the MDC
that had urged the imposition of economic sanctions on the ZANU PF-led
government, whose ability now to raise sufficient levels of foreign currency
was severely hampered. - ZimOnline

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Human rights campaigner still detained

Zim Online

Friday 03 November 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe police were by late Thursday still holding prominent
human rights campaigner Lovemore Madhuku and two others who they arrested
earlier this week for demanding a new and democratic constitution for the

      Harare lawyer Alec Muchadehama, who is representing the jailed
activists, said he will apply to the High Court if the police fail to
release them by end of day today.

      "We might have no option but to resort to the High Court," said

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvunzijena was not immediately available to
shed light on when the law enforcement agency planned to release the
activists or take them to court.

      Madhuku, who is chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
that campaigns for a new constitution, was part of a group of about 150
members of the civic alliance who were marching in Harare demanding a new
constitution when armed police pounced on them.

      The police severely assaulted the demonstrators who they also
arrested. They later released the rest of the demonstrators except Madhuku
and two other activists whom the police allege stoned one of their
vehicles. -ZimOnline

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Civic Leader Madhuku Charged In Connection With Harare Protest


By Blessing Zulu
      02 November 2006

Police have charged National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore
Madhuku with breaching the draconian Public Order And Security Act for
having organized a protest Wednesday in central Harare by more than 200
members of his group.

Witnesses said police beat the protesters while arresting Madhuku, NCA
Masvingo official Marko Shoko, and member Frank Nyagumbo. The two men have
alleged that they were severely assaulted by police and others believed to
be army troops.

NCA lawyer Alec Muchadehama told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe that Shoko and Nyagumbo were severely beaten by the police.

The Zimbabwe National Students Union has condemned Madhuku's arrest, calling
it an "illegal detention" ZINASU threatened to protest in solidarity with
the detained.

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Zimbabwe House Panel Sees Cabinet Suppressing Corruption Report


By Blessing Zulu
      02 November 2006

Sources in the Zimbabwean house say that President Robert Mugabe's cabinet
has blocked the presentation in parliament of a committee report on alleged
asset-looting at the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, or ZISCO, in a
burgeoning scandal.

The house committee on trade and industry conducted its own investigation
into the alleged high-level corruption in and around ZISCO, producing the

Recommendations in the report urge parliamentary leaders to invoke special
powers to prosecute Trade Minister Obert Mpofu for giving "contradicting,
false" evidence.

The investigation arose from the collapse of an agreement with Global Steel
of India to Indian inject US$400 million into the state-owned firm over 20
years. The deal is said to have collapsed when Zimbabwean officials demanded
stakes in the venture. The Indian partner is also said to have been appalled
by the state of operations at the enterprise, which has been hobbled by
irregular deliveries of iron or and coal.

Mpofu has acknowledged that the deal cannot be revived, and ZISCO is now
hunting for a new chief executive following the collapse of the short-lived
joint venture.

The committee first learned from Mpofu that the National Economic Conduct
Inspectorate had issued a report said to implicate ministers, lawmakers and
senior ZISCO managers in the diversion of assets and resources of the

Called before the committee a second time, Mpofu backtracked and said the
unnamed officials that he had implicated were not personally involved in
looting ZISCO but merely had ties to companies that were connected with the

Sources close to the investigation said senate president Edna Madzongwe and
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa ordered the chairman of the trade and
industry committee, Enoch Porusingazi, to shelve the report until the return
Tuesday of parliamentary speaker John Nkomo, said to be away this week in

Porusingazi's committee has written to Nkomo asking him to open proceedings
to prosecute Mpofu for giving misleading testimony to the committee.

Meanwhile, Anti-Corruption Minister Paul Mangwana, countering charges from
house officials that the cabinet is stonewalling the ZISCO scandal, said
there was no reason to think that the government would interfere with the
business of parliament.

Lawyer Dewa Mavhinga, a program officer for the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt
and Development, said the scandal illustrated the extent of corruption in

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Election monitors allege food was used to influence vote

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

HARARE , 2 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - As Zimbabwe's ruling party romped home to
victory in the recent rural district council elections, an independent
election monitor has expressed concern over the alleged hold traditional
leaders had over voters.

"The influence of the traditional leaders over voters was widespread. In
many areas they abandoned their neutrality in the community," claimed
Reginald Matchaba-Hove, chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN), an electoral monitoring organisation.

In many districts, traditional leaders used access to state-subsidised maize
to influence voters, alleged a ZESN report on the elections. "It was
reported that residents were told that if the election outcome was not
favourable to ZANU-PF the price [of the state-subsidised maize] would be
increased. Voters who were turned away on polling day were disgruntled
because it would mean that they would be unable to purchase maize. Even a
polling officer who was ineligible to vote in that ward, asked to have her
finger dipped in the indelible ink so that she could claim to have voted and
have access to purchase the maize".

ZESN observers said they had also received reports of delivery of
state-subsidised maize in districts a week before the elections. The
election monitor said intimidation and threats to influence the vote were
electoral offences and has urged action.

The weekend's rural district council elections were the first to be held
under the supervision of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission since its
inception in 2004. The last rural council polls were held in 2002.

Utoile Silaigwana, the spokesman for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, told
IRIN that they had not seen any anomalies during the elections.

"The elections went on smoothly and we did not experience any problems that
had been anticipated by some. Everything was in place when the elections
kicked off. It was a tranquil and peaceful election."

The ruling ZANU-PF, whose support-base is largely rural, took 1,247 out of
the 1,340 seats, with the two factions of the largely urban-based, main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, managing to make a small dent
with 89 seats in the elections held on 28 October.

Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of one of the MDC factions, cited alleged
intimidation by traditional leaders as a reason for their failure to make
significant inroads in the rural areas and said there was no consultation on
issues such as voter registration and location of polling stations. "...We
had polling stations being moved away from MDC strongholds and being located
in ZANU-PF strongholds".

However, in one significant result in the Kariba rural district in the
northern Mashonaland West province, the home of President Robert Mugabe, an
MDC faction snatched two rural wards away from the ZANU-PF.

The election was also marked by a low voter turnout, according
Matchaba-Hove. The ZESN had yet to calculate the numbers of votes registered
in all the district councils, but said the voter turnout was as low as nine
percent in the mayoral election in the town of Kadoma in Mashonaland West,
which was also held on the same day.

"People are aware of the uneven playing field - they know they will not be
able to bring about any meaningful change," explained John Makumbe, a senior
political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

ZESN has proposed an intensification of the voter education exercise.

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Zim power tariffs to climb


      02/11/2006 19:12

      Harare - Zimbabwe's cash-strapped power company, in the firing line
for its erratic supplies, has been given the green light to raise rates by
up to 270%, the electricity regulator said on Thursday.
      The commissioner-general of the Zimbabwe electricity regulatory
commission, Mavis Chidzonga, said the increase was long overdue and the
state-run Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZEDC) had been charging
"sub-economic tariffs" as a result of the country's record inflation rate.

      "The commission ... has granted to ZEDC a tariff increase of 95% for
vulnerable groups such as high-density domestic consumers, rural consumers
and agriculture and government institutions," Chidzonga said in a statement.

      Rates for heavy-duty consumers would go up by 270%, the statement

      ZEDC last increased its tariffs in June. But Chidzonga said the power
utility said was unable to generate or import more power due a paucity of
funds and added that even the new rates would not meet its expenses.

      Zimbabwe has been hit by skyrocketing inflation, which now stands at
more than 1 000%.

      Power supplies have become frequently erratic

      "The percentage increases (in tariffs) take into account soaring
generation, transmission and distribution costs involved in the supply of
electricity," the Chidzonga said.

      "The commission also considered the cost of importing an average of
35% of Zimbabwe's electricity requirements ... as local generation capacity
is insufficient to cover the national maximum demand of around 2 000

      The southern African nation imports 40% of its power needs - 100
megawatts a month from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 200 megawatts from
Mozambique and up to 450 and 300 megawatts from South Africa and Zambia

      Imports are expected to stop in 2007 due to an anticipated power
deficit across southern Africa resulting from increased demand.

      Zimbabwe's once-model economy has been on a downturn for the past five
years, characterised by four-digit inflation and shortages of foreign
currency and basic commodities.

      Power supplies have become frequently erratic and families in the
cities are turning to firewood for cooking and heating because of outages.

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Hitschmann's Trial Finally Kicks Off

      By Dennis Rekayi

      MUTARE - Peter Michael Hitschmann, the former police constabulary
facing charges of illegally possessing dangerous weapons, finally got
underway on Tuesday with the
      State alleging he tried to recruit a senior army instructor to join
the Zimbabwe
      Freedom Movement, a shadowy group the government has linked to the
opposition MDC.

      The State alleges Hitschmann, 46, violated provisions of section 10
(1) of the controversial Public Order and Security Act (POSA). He is alleged
to have plotted to assassinate President Mugabe and two senior Zanu PF
members in Manicaland province after he had stocked dangerous weapons of war
for purposes of carrying out an insurgent, banditry, sabotage or terrorism.
If convicted he can be sentenced to life in prison.

      After delays caused after the state had included new sets of
ammunition which was being disputed by the defence the trial eventually
kicked off on Tuesday.

      The defence conceeded to the state's application to have the new sets
of ammunition brought in as exhibits.
      A senior army officer, Major Israel Phiri, who is stationed at the All
Arms Battle School in Nyanga, told a packed courtroom that Hitschmann
approached him with the intention of enlisting him into the Zimbabwe Freedom

      Major Phiri said Hitschmann contacted him through an SMS on his cell
requesting the two meet in Mutare.

      "I queried why a whiteman who did not want to disclose his name wanted
to see me," Phiri said. "He (Hitschmann) went onto say the meeting had a
serious bearing on my personal interests."
      Phiri said he became suspicious and immediately advised his superiors
at the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. Phiri said he was given the green light to
meet Hitschmann and the two eventually met at Aloe Bar, behind Holiday Inn.

      He claimed Hitcshmann then invited him into his vehicle and drove to
the Cecil Kopje, a game park overlooking the city.
      Phiri said Hitschmann told him he had been given his details including
his war credentials which included military operations he conducted in
Mozambique, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
      He said Hitschmann declined to disclose the identity of the person
that had given him his details promising to do so after he had undergobe a
"credibility test" in South Africa to ascertain his loyalty to the group
that was enlisting his services.

      "He told me that the political wing of the MDC had failed to remove
the government and it was now time for military action to be taken," Phiri
told the court. Phiri said Hitschmann told him the objectives of the
operation was to effect regime change and to reverse the land reform

      "He said he was not looking at a pro-longed armed insurgency but a
hard hitting commando like operation," Phiri said. Phiri said after the
first meeting he went straight to Three Brigade in Mutare and gave a
detailed and documented report of what Hitschmann had allegedly told him to
the military intelligence desk. He said the report was
      forwarded to the army headquarters in Harare who were already in the
picture of what was transpiring.

      Phiri said he communicated on several times with Hitschmann until they
met again on 12 December 2006 in Mutare and proceeded to Cecil Kopje. This
time, Phiri said, he told Hitschmann he was ready to take up the job but
wanted security guarantees.

      "I told him it was a risky job since i had a family and he said they
will be given Mozambican visas," PHiri said. He said he was told by
Hitschmann his family would be evacuated to Mozambique and given sanctuary
should the operation flopped. Phiri said he was promised US$500 a month as
remuneration. He told the court he was promised a firearm for his personal

      He said on their third meeting on 11 January 2006 they discussed the
matter while driving around the suburbs in Hitschmann's vehicle he was told
him that donors were not happy because some arms that were supposed to be
delivered for the operation had not yet been delivered. Phiri said
Hitschmann told a certain white man had gone to the United Kingdom
pertaining to the funding of the operation.

      Phiri told the court that Hitschmann told him donors wanted to see
military action on the ground.

      "He said there were individuals they were targeting who should be
taken out before the President's birthday," Phiri said.
      The trial continues on Wednesday with Phiri giving more evidence.
Hitschmann is denying the charges.

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Beijing hosts its biggest diplomatic party as it joins scramble for Africa

From The Times (UK), 2 November

By Jane Macertney

China aims to make new friends and show the West that it is a force to be
reckoned with

Chinese tour guides are brushing up their Swahili, most cars have been
ordered off Beijing streets and officials have been told to cycle to work.
Hotel chefs have created African menus, the flags of African nations fly
over Tiananmen Square and the airport highway has been closed to everyone
but African leaders arriving for the largest diplomatic gathering the
Chinese capital has seen. The Beijing summit runs over the weekend with as
many as 48 of the heads of Africa's 53 countries in attendance. It will be a
landmark in the foreign policy of the country most likely to become a new
superpower. It is not insignificant that China - which calls itself the
world's biggest developing nation - is eager to give prominence to its
relations with the largest bloc of developing countries. The summit is not
only an opportunity for China to nurture its ties with countries that are
becoming among its most important sources of raw materials to feed its
industrial boom. It is also a chance to underline the view of itself as the
closest and most reliable friend to the Third World and to show the West
that its diplomacy makes it a force to be reckoned with.

This is no longer the Cold War age, when Beijing sought "anti-imperialist"
friendships in Africa to counter the United States and its allies. This time
cold, hard business will be at the root of whatever statements on strategic
partnership and mutual trust emerge on Sunday. Trade deals are the main
incentive behind the slogan "Friendship, Peace, Co-operation and
Development" that has appeared on billboards across Beijing. Reductions in
tariffs, more aid and training programmes and possibly debt forgiveness will
also be on the agenda. China's trade with Africa ballooned to $40 billion
(£21 billion) last year from $5 billion a decade earlier. Trade soared 30
per cent and is expected to grow by at least 25 per cent this year to more
than $50 billion. Angola has overtaken Saudi Arabia as China's largest
supplier of oil and African oil now accounts for one third of total imports.
Africa's natural resources are attracting Chinese investment across the
continent: phosphates from Morocco, copper and cobalt from the Democratic
Republic of Congo and Zambia, iron ore and platinum from South Africa,
timber from Cameroon and Gabon and cotton for China's textile plants.

China is interested not only in minerals; it also wants more diplomatic
partners - specifically the five African countries that recognise Taiwan as
the government of China. Beijing has invited representatives of Gambia,
Malawi, Burkina Faso, Swaziland and São Tomé to attend the summit as
observers, clearly with the aim of persuading them that they have more to
gain by switching recognition to Beijing and away from an island that China
regards as a renegade province. While officials do not yet know how many, if
any, of the five will send representatives, any who do attend are certain to
be offered financial incentives to switch sides. Taiwan gives medical aid
and infrastructure assistance to diplomatic partners but does not reveal the
amounts. Oil-rich Chad was the latest country to switch, recognising Beijing
in August and becoming the sixth country to change allegiance since 2000.
China has rolled out a red carpet for the visitors and more than a million
police and volunteers will maintain security. Posters of elephants, giraffes
and zebras with the slogan "Africa - the land of Myth and Miracle" line city
streets; conference centres have been carpeted with grass. Hoardings show a
black hand and a yellow hand clasped or touching fingers. However, one false
note was struck on a billboard displaying huge photographs of tribesmen with
painted faces and a curved bone piercing their noses - only these were from
Papua New Guinea.

It is unlikely to harm China's prospects in Africa, even though there have
been murmurings in some countries that the Chinese buy their resources and
sell light industrial goods without regard for African economies. Paul
Wolfowitz, the President of the World Bank, accused China recently of
disregarding social and environmental standards when lending to developing
nations in Africa. China has defended its scramble for Africa. Wei Jianguo,
the Vice-Minister for Commerce, said that its soft loans and investments
were "like sending firewood in the snow". Chinese products were better
suited to African consumer needs, he said. "Chinese investments have greatly
benefited the local people and have been popular among them." Zimbabwe has
been a big beneficiary, with Beijing funding a new university department
that will offer Chinese language and culture courses. In June Harare
announced a $1.3 billion deal with China to set up coalmines and three
thermal power stations. As President Mugabe said shortly before leaving for
the summit: "We have nothing to lose but our imperialist chains." Critics
say China's dealing with countries with poor human rights records, such as
Sudan, and its principle of non-interference in other countries' internal
affairs could jeopardise the long-term benefits of its investments. And it
is far from certain that when China builds a railway or a stadium it will
also transfer technology to African countries. China rejects the criticisms,
emphasising that its help comes with no strings attached - unlike Western
countries or the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Wen Heping, an
Africa expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: "China wants
them to boast of sustainable development. Western countries are interested
only in resources. To give them aid is not to put cash in the pockets of a
few presidents."

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Zim women 'selling sex for fuel'


          November 02 2006 at 04:11PM

      Harare - Women in central Zimbabwe are selling sex to truck drivers
for fuel, reports said on Thursday.

      They say it is more profitable than being paid in cash, police
spokesperson Costa Taduwa told the Daily Mirror, which is a private but
mainly pro-government newspaper.

      It said the young women, from Midlands province, were soliciting truck
drivers on the busy highway between Harare and Beitbridge, the border post
with South Africa.

      "It is really alarming that young women are exchanging sex for
20-litre containers of diesel or petrol," said Taduwa.

      Fuel has been in short supply in Zimbabwe on and off for several years
now, and there is a lucrative black market.

      The government has set the price of fuel at just over ZIM$300 (about
R9) a litre, but it sells on the streets and in privately-run service
stations for up to ZIM$2 000 a litre.

      Sexually-transmitted infections were increasing in the area, the
acting matron of a local hospital confirmed.

      Gladys Takawira of Mvuma District Hospital told the Daily Mirror that
the cases of STIs treated by her institution monthly had dramatically risen
in the last five months.

      "Every day we treat different cases and we are seriously worried about
this," she said.

      Around 3 000 people die from HIV and Aids in Zimbabwe every week. -

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Test player Vermeulen charged with arson

Daily Mail, UK

Last updated at 18:23pm on 2nd November 2006
 Former Zimbabwe cricketer Mark Vermeulen has been with arson over a fire
that destroyed the offices and pavilion of the country's cricket academy.

Police spokesman Andrew Phiri said 27-year-old Vermeulen, who reportedly
suffers from depression, was being held in custody and was due in court on
Friday. He could be jailed for at least two years.

Zimbabwe Cricket, the sport's governing body, quoted witnesses saying
Vermeulen was seen near the site of the fire that razed the two-storey
straw-thatched building in eastern Harare late on Tuesday.

The fire destroyed national squad equipment including kit used by players
preparing for a trip to Bangladesh, computers and files in offices at the
pavilion. There were no reports of injuries.

Officials said Vermeulan, who played eight Test matches and 32 one-day
internationals for Zimbabwe, had recently been under medical care for head
injuries received in a car accident.

In September, he was banned from playing in England for three years after
throwing a ball at spectators and brawling with one of them. Two of the
three years were suspended.

Vermeulan was rumoured to have returned to Zimbabwe to fight for a place in
the team for next year's World Cup and may have been rebuffed by officials.

He was briefly arrested last month after presenting himself at the gate of
Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe's heavily guarded official residence in
Harare. He was demanding an interview with the patron of cricket in the
troubled southern African nation.

Suspicion of arson arose after Zimbabwe Cricket reported an earlier fire,
damaging carpets and curtains, in the boardroom of its offices on Monday.

Cricket in Zimbabwe has been afflicted by internal rivalry and charges of
racism between officials, resulting in a strike by national players and the
departure to play abroad of most experienced white players, including former
captain Heath Streak.

Zimbabwe is one of a dozen Test-playing nations but has only played one-day
internationals since the exodus of its main Test players.

Tatenda Taibu, Streak's successor as skipper, fled Zimbabwe after allegedly
receiving death threats during a dispute over the captaincy.

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Grain marketer dispels food security concerns

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

BULAWAYO, 2 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's state-owned Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) said this week that it had only collected 480,000 metric tonnes of
maize, about 25 percent of the country's requirement.

But GMB chief executive Samuel Muvhuti dispelled any concerns of food
security arguing that the grain collected so far was a reflection of the
surplus attained and not all the harvested maize.

Next month heralds the critical lean season, when the farming season starts
and lasts until March 2007. During this period households traditionally have
limited access to food stocks and lack the money to buy food even if it is

Zimbabwe's annual cereal requirement is about 1.9 million mt. Independent
estimates suggest only 800,000mt of maize was harvested this year, or less
than half of the country's annual requirement; the government has insisted
that around 1.8 million mt were produced.

Muvhuti was confident that the increase in the producer price of maize,
announced by government on Wednesday from Z$31,350 (about US$175) per mt to
Z$52,450 (about US$209) would motivate farmers to deliver their grain to the
GMB depots.

"We take delight in that we are about to reach our target of 500,000mt of
the 2005/2006 harvest, and with the new producer price, we may even slightly
surpass our target as farmers will surely be motivated to deliver their
stocks...After all the next farming season is about to start and the grain
that we have will definitely take us to the next harvest," insisted Muvhuti.

But independent food security analysts noted that Muvhuti's revelations
about the 2005/2006 grain produce appeared to be true, and expressed concern
that Zimbabwe would be unable to pull through to the next harvest.

A recent USAID-funded report on informal trade in Southern Africa said
Zimbabwe would have to import cereals. According to the South African Grain
Information Service, Zimbabwe has imported nearly 100,000mt from South
Africa since April this year.

Faced with a fast crumbling economy, dubbed the worst perfomer outside a war
zone by the International Monetary Fund, Zimbabwe has grappled with serious
food shortages, since 2000 when government embarked on a fast-track land
reform programme.

Humanitarian aid agencies estimate that 1.4 million people out of a
population of about 12 million are in urgent need of food-aid.

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Unions Fight Expulsion Drive By Mugabe

      By a Correspondent

      HARARE - Zimbabwean trade union leaders have asked parliament to stop
a bid by President Robert Mugabe's nephew to demand the state fire labour
officials opposed to the government.

      Leo Mugabe, a lawmaker from his uncle's ruling ZANU-PF, has tabled a
motion in parliament for the removal of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions leaders "for unethical conduct" and "abandoning its core business of
representing workers".

      Mugabe was expected to move the debate this week, but officials say he
did not because there were other issues on the legislature's diary as well
as ongoing consultations around the the proposal.

      Under Zimbabwean law, the labour minister can in special circumstances
suspend or fire union officials over cases of gross mismanagement, criminal
conduct or the failure to execute the mandate of unions to represent workers
on labour issues.

      The government charges that ZCTU leaders are involved in what it calls
a Western-sponsored programme to end its rule after the seizures of
white-owned commercial farms for landless blacks.

      In an open letter to Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo ZCTU
Secretary-General Wellington Chibebe said the motion tabled by Mugabe and
co-sponsored by another member of parliament was sub judice because some of
the issues were before the courts.

      "The motion contains factual and legal inaccuracies," he said, adding
parliament could not debate a case in court and that the ZCTU had not been
given a chance to comment on the "scandalous" charges Mugabe and his
colleague were making.

      "The honourable members of parliament have taken the liberty to
gratuitously condemn the ZCTU without giving them an opportunity to
respond," Chibebe said.

      "This is against the rules of justice."

      The ZCTU secretary-general and two other union officials have a
pending case in court over charges of breaching foreign exchange

      Chibebe and his colleagues say this and other accusations that they
are mismanaging union affairs are part of a drive by the government to oust
them over political differences.

      Chibebe and 30 other union leaders were arrested six weeks ago and
accuse police of assaulting them while in custody over accusations of
holding an illegal protest over wages.

      President Mugabe has said the union leaders -- who are out on bail and
want to challenge the constitutionality of their arrest -- had defied
authority and deserved the beating.

      On Sunday the ZCTU denounced Leo Mugabe's parliamentary motion as
another attack on democracy.

      The president's nephew was not immediately available for comment on


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China defends ties with repressive African states

Zim Online

                 Friday 03 November 2006

      JOHANNESBURG - The Chinese government on Thursday defended its close
ties with African countries accused of human rights abuses saying it will
never impose its will on the impoverished continent.

      The remarks come a day after the United States-based human rights
group, Human Rights Watch, issued a damning report on China 's role in
propping up dictatorial regimes in Africa .

      Human Rights Watch said China should use its clout to press for
improved human rights record in troubled African states such as the Darfur
region in Sudan and Zimbabwe.

      The human rights body accused China of propping "up some of the
continent's worst human rights abusers" and weakening "the leverage of
others trying to promote greater respect for human rights."

      Speaking ahead of a summit with 40 African states in Beijing
yesterday, foreign affairs spokesman Liu Jianchao dampened hopes that China
could whip Harare and other rogue states into line.

      "Our principle when handling our relations with other countries is to
never try to impose our social system, development mode, values and ideology
upon other countries," said Jianchao.

      President Robert Mugabe's government has over the past six years
increasingly looked to China and other Asian countries for support after the
West imposed sanctions on Harare over human rights abuses.

      The international human rights body wants China to halt the supply of
materials and technology to Harare that could be used to suppress human

      Mugabe is expected in Beijing on Friday for the China-African
summit. - ZimOnline

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Hospital goes for 2 days without water

The Herald

Herald Reporter

HARARE Central Hospital - one the country's largest referral centres - has
gone for two days without water, which has compromised the hygiene of
patients, staff and the public.

The hospital is relying on water bowsers from the City of Harare after the
intervention of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.

Hospital chief executive officer Mr Jealous Nderere told dignitaries
gathered for a handover ceremony of US$200 000 worth of laboratory equipment
donated to the Ministry by World Health Organisation yesterday that the
situation at the hospital was bad.

"We had no water since yesterday (Wednesday). This is the longest period we
have gone without water as a result of these water cuts. Our hygiene
standards are being compromised.

"I have already informed our Minister of Health and Child Welfare and he is
aware of the situation. He is putting pressure on the city council and
Zinwa," Mr Nderere said.

Mr Nderere said the hospital had requested the City of Harare to provide
mobile water bowsers.

The Harare City Council and Zinwa are failing to cope with the water demand
and have resorted to water rationing.

Zinwa, which is responsible for bulk water treatment, only treats about 550
megalitres a day, which is far less than the required water in the capital

Of the 550 megalitres, almost half is not accounted for as it is lost
through leakages and clandestine water use by companies and individuals.

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Exam Paper Leakage Worries Zimbabwe Lawmaker, Teachers Union


By Jonga Kandemiiri
      02 November 2006

It is exam season again in Zimbabwe's schools from grade seven through
advanced levels, and once again reports are circulating of the theft or loss
of exam papers, obliging education officials to recall and reissue

Last month, ordinary level exams were stolen from a headmaster in Karoi, a
town in Mashonaland West, by a man to whom he had given a ride in his car.

Kwekwe district schools failed to receive scannable exam sheets from the
Zimbabwe School Examinations Council, or ZIMSEC, which oversees the exam
system. So grade seven students wrote their answers on ordinary paper with
teachers later transposing answers to scanner sheets, raising the
possibility of alterations in the process.

The secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Raymond
Majongwe, commented recently that the exam system is deeply flawed. An
official of the school examinations council, Taonashe Dube, demanded
questions in writing when approached for comment about the troubled
examination system.

Chitungwiza parliamentarian Fidelis Mhashu stated in the house yesterday
that the continued leakage of examination papers discredits the national
education system.

Mhashu,who is education spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change
faction of Morgan Tsvangirai, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio
7 for Zimbabwe that the government must address the problems at the
examinations council before Zimbabwean students become discredited

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JAG open letter forum No.451


JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 610 073 If you are in trouble or need advice,
 please don't hesitate to contact us - we're here to help!
+263 (04) 799 410 Office Lines

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


Letter 1 - S. Taylor

Dear JAG

I'll bet you a pound to a pinch of sh...... that our great "leader" will not
end up in the Hague.

For starters, the world and its lawyers seem scared of him - secondly,
everyone that says he must go, are so busy procrastinating that by the time
anything is done about it, he will be too old.

Meanwhile, we die a slow death.  We are down but not out, and if you have
the bucks (I don't know how I'm still around, as I have NO bucks - but am a
little resilient!), you can get anything in Zim and we are still a great
nation with a great people - but the top management must now look elsewhere
for jobs.   It's done its damage and must just be replaced, as this country
needs to be driven by more than just a bunch of revolutionaries and bandits,
especially the agricultural industry, an extremely sophisticated and complex

Maybe we should think about a different m.o. instead of just whining about
our lot.  Imagine if 2million people just woke up one morning and said
they'd like to vote before they did another day's work!!

Go well.
S. Taylor.


Letter 2

Dear JAG

N Herley of New Zealand comments that only those still living in Zimbabwe
should down tools, stop paying their dues etc to bring an end to the
madness.  He really does not know from afar exactly how we - who are left
behind - are managing to survive daily intimidation.

Store owners are thrown in jail for minor things like not having price
stickers on packets of milk and other such perishables - firstly having to
report to pint-size interrogators to admit guilt - then face jail and the
courts.  (a) there is no sticker available that will STICK on fridge items,
and  (b) the prices change so rapidly it is impossible to keep re-sticking
prices on items.

This is one of many incidents that are ongoing.  There is no protection, no
law that can help the very ones struggling on in already difficult
conditions, to provide much needed services to the public.

I cannot see how anyone can risk the wrath of downing tools and sitting in
jails of horrendous conditions and abuse.  Remember jails here are a death
sentence, after being gang-raped with HIV rapists.

If anything, ending the madness is only likely to come from afar, where
there is freedom to operate successfully.

(for obvious reasons)

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

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