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Zimbabwe says Khama's election call a "provocation"


Wed 5 Nov 2008, 8:43 GMT

HARARE, Nov 5 (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe's government on Wednesday
accused Botswanan President Ian Khama of interference and said his call for
fresh elections to solve Zimbabwe's political crisis was an "act of extreme

Khama, who has emerged as one of Mugabe's staunchest critics in Africa, told
Botswana's parliament on Monday that an election was the only way out of the
deadlock that threatens to derail a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and
the opposition MDC.

"The statement he has made to his country is an act of extreme provocation
to Zimbabwe," Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying in
Zimbabwe's state-controlled Herald newspaper.

"He has no right under international law as an individual or country to
interfere in our domestic affairs."

The diplomatic row occurred just days before the Southern African
Development Community, a 15-nation regional bloc, was scheduled to hold an
emergency summit in South Africa to discuss the political stalemate in

A smaller SADC meeting in Harare last month failed to break the impasse.

Mugabe and the leaders of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
agreed on Sept. 15 to share power, but talks have stalled over control of

Setting up a unity government is seen as critical to reversing an economic
meltdown in the southern African nation.

Zimbabweans are struggling to survive amid widespread shortages of meat,
milk and other basic commodities as a result of the collapse of the
agricultural sector. The country is dependent on food handouts and
malnutrition is on the rise.

Tsvangirai, would would become prime minister under the power-sharing deal,
has accused Mugabe's ZANU-PF of trying to seize the lion's share of
important ministries to try to relegate the MDC to the role of junior

The MDC won a March parliamentary election. (Reporting by Nelson Banya;
Editing by Paul Simao and Giles Elgood)

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Tsvangirai leaves Zimbabwe for SADC talks

afrol News, 5 November - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai has left the country for extra ordinary Southern African
Development Community regional summit aimed at resolving Zimbabwe's
political crisis to be held in South Africa on Sunday.

Ruling Zanu-PF and main opposition Movement for Democratic Change are
deadlocked over cabinet key positions in a power-sharing government deal
signed on 15 September.

MDC has reported Mr Tsvangirai was forced to travel on a temporary,
Emergency Travel Document, due to Zanu PF's continued failure or refusal to
issue him with a valid passport.

"MDC condemns lack of sincerity and good faith exhibited by Zanu-PF
following signing of the Global Political Agreement and calls upon former
ruling party to engage with the MDC in an open and transparent manner in
order that political leadership can begin to address the suffering of
Zimbabwean people," said MDC statement.

Rebound summit on Sunday aims to bring together all leaders of Southern
Africa to save power-sharing deal, seen as the best hope for ending months
of political turmoil and halting Zimbabwe's stunning economic collapse.

The heads of state of Mozambique, Swaziland and Angola, who form SADC's
security council and Zimbabwean political parties, failed last month to
secure a breakthrough in talks on the formation of Zimbabwe's cabinet.

Mr Tsvangirai won the first-round presidential vote in March, when his MDC
gained a majority in Parliament, forcing Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF into the
minority for the first time since independence in 1980.

But Tsvangirai pulled out of a June run-off, accusing Mugabe's regime of
orchestrating attacks that left more than 100 of his supporters dead.

Meanwhile, president of SA's African National Congress Jacob Zuma has
appealed to SADC leaders to pressure Zimbabwe's rival leaders to settle a
deal on a unity government.

"I think SADC must put its pressure more strongly to these colleagues
because what happens in Zimbabwe has effect on the region," president Zuma

South Africa is to host an extraordinary summit of SADC on Sunday in an
effort to break the deadlock over the formation of a government of national

By staff writer

© afrol News

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Large protests expected at SADC summit on Sunday

By Tichaona Sibanda
5 November 2008

Thousands of demonstrators are expected to take to the streets of Pretoria
in South Africa on Sunday, during the SADC summit on Zimbabwe.

A wide coalition of placard waving Zimbabwean groups will march to the venue
of the summit to hand over a petition to the regional grouping, calling on
the leaders to stop the rot in Zimbabwe.

Leaders from the 15-nation SADC bloc will be meeting to discuss the deadlock
in talks between Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe over the formation of a
coalition government.

Nickson Nyikadzino, a pro-democracy activist, told us from Johannesburg that
Zimbabweans in South Africa will register their discontent over Mugabe's
intransigence in forming an inclusive government. Mugabe and Tsvangirai
signed a power-sharing agreement in September, but the establishment of a
unity government has stalled as Mugabe shows that he is not prepared to
fairly allocate important ministries to the MDC. Former South African
President Thabo Mbeki and the SADC have been trying to broker an end to the

'We want to send clear message to Mugabe and the SADC leaders that people in
Zimbabwe are dying unnecessarily because ZANU PF does not want to share
power equally with its partners in the tripartite power-sharing deal,'
Nyikadzino said.

He said Sunday's march against the regime is expected to be by far the
largest. Authorities in South Africa have remained tight-lipped over the
summit venue but South African based journalist Brian Latham confirmed the
crisis summit is to be held in Pretoria, although authorities have not said
anything about the exact venue.

Nyikadzano said they have information that authorities are trying to
frustrate them from going ahead with their protest, citing their
unwillingness to disclose the summit venue. He said they are working round
the clock to get that information before Sunday.

'We know they (authorities) become averse when it comes to issues pertaining
to protests against Mugabe whenever he's in the country. But that won't stop
us from registering our disapproval against him and his party,' Nyikadzino

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SA growing impatient with Zimbabwe impasse: Zuma

November 05, 2008, 17:15

ANC President Jacob Zuma has signalled to Zimbabwean leaders that South
Africa may be getting impatient with the way power-sharing talks are
stalling. Zuma says Zimbabwean leaders should not be allowed to apply
delaying tactics which could derail power-sharing talks.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders will hold an emergency
summit in Pretoria on Sunday aimed at breaking a deadlock in negotiations.
Zuma says the weekend talks are a last opportunity to compromise on
political disagreements. He says he agrees with those calling on SADC to
exert more political pressure on President Robert Mugabe and the MDC to
immediately enforce the September 15 power-sharing deal.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government has also accused Botswana
President Ian Khama of interference. It says his call for fresh elections to
solve Zimbabwe's political crisis was an act of extreme provocation. Khama,
who has emerged as one of Mugabe's staunchest critics in Africa, has told
Botswana's parliament that an election was the only way out of the deadlock
that has thrown a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and the opposition MDC
into doubt.

Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa says Khama has no right under
international law as an individual or country to interfere his country's
domestic affairs. A smaller SADC meeting in Harare last month failed to
break the impasse.

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Public outcry as RBZ increases cash withdrawal limits

By Alex Bell
05 November 2008

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has once again increased daily
cash withdrawal limits for individuals, from Z$50 000 to Z$500 000 while
companies will now be able to access Z$1 million, up from Z$10 000. But the
move, supposedly to make life easier for the average Zimbabwean, has
prompted mass outcry amid the collapse of the economy.

In a statement yesterday the central bank said the upward review of
withdrawal limits followed the introduction of Z$100 000, Z$500 000 and Z$1
million notes that were released on Wednesday. The central bank last
reviewed withdrawal limits on October 10 from Z$20 000 to Z$50 000 when the
Z$50 000 note came into circulation - a move which did little to ease the
financial burden of Zimbabweans as the local currency continued to lose all

Withdrawal limits for companies had stayed at Z$10 000 per day, apparently
as a way of encouraging companies to use alternative non-cash means of
payment such as cheques and various forms of plastic. But the unreasonable
limit, coupled with the RBZ's decision to suspend the Real Time Gross
Settlement system (RTGS), has instead seen many business close their doors,
unable to pay their bills or their staff.

Former Harare MDC MP, Trudy Stevenson explained to Newsreel on Wednesday
that "the system has completely collapsed." Stevenson returned to Zimbabwe
over the weekend after a few weeks away and said while she had expected the
dollar to have "gone down a bit," she added she was shocked by how valueless
the Zimbabwe dollar has become. Stevenson explained that there is a daily
rush to withdraw and exchange the dollars for American currency, saying the
local currency has been "totally dollarised."

"People are also being caught out by exchanging at the bank," Stevenson
said. "You would be mad to exchange at the bank because the street value is
often 100 times more than the official rate."

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) on Wednesday lashed out at what
it has called the "current wave of dollarisation or Americanisation of the
Zimbabwean economy by the authorities, at a time when most workers in
Zimbabwe are earning their wages in Zimbabwean dollars." It comes as
increasing numbers of local shops have stopped accepting the valueless
Zimbabwe dollar, choosing out of financial desperation to trade in stable
foreign exchange."

The ZCTU questioned whether the spreading acceptance of American dollars was
"another form of colonialism.despite their (the government's) vilification
of whites and colonialism." The Union has demanded that all workers be paid
in American dollars "if they want the use of the American dollar in all
payments to continue."

The Union on Wednesday also said it was disgusted with the central bank's
decision to again increase the withdrawal limits "despite calls from labour,
including different sectors, exhorting the RBZ to remove the cap on cash

The ZCTU wrote letters to the RBZ in July and September about removing the
withdrawal limit and even met a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe official to express
its concerns that the limits were far below what an ordinary family requires
for daily expenditure. The ZCTU even threatened mass action if the RBZ did
not address the worsening financial crisis, but in September called off the
protests after moves by the central bank to resolve the issue.

But the ZCTU has since renewed its threat, saying in a statement released
Wednesday that it is "demanding that the RBZ remove the cap on cash
withdrawal with immediate effect, and failure to do so means action is in
the offing."

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WOZA leaders granted bail but still in custody

By Violet Gonda
5 November 2008

The WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were finally granted
bail of Z$200 000 each by the Bulawayo High Court on Wednesday.  However at
the time of broadcast the two were still being held at Mlondolozi Prison,
because of administrative delays. A clerical error had been made and the
document to release them had been wrongly signed. By early evening defense
lawyers were still at the High Court to try and get it re-signed.
WOZA spokesperson Annie Sibanda said although the pair have been granted
bail, strict reporting conditions have been attached. But she said the
nature of the conditions are not yet known because of the communication
difficulties. Sibanda said: "Currently we are trying to pay bail for the two
so that we can actually take the 'certificate of liberty' to Mlondolozi
Prison and have them released."
Prison authorities had failed to take the pair to court because there was no
Williams and Mahlangu were arrested in mid October for leading a peaceful
demonstration calling for an end to suffering and a proper government in

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Zim gold sector 'brought to its knees'

    November 05 2008 at 03:07PM

By Angus Shaw

Harare - Zimbabwe's cash-strapped central bank owes private gold
mining companies $30-million (about R298-million), leaving a key industry on
the brink of collapse, the independent Chamber of Mines said.

By law, all gold produced in Zimbabwe is sold through the Reserve
Bank. But the bank has failed to pass on earnings to the mines, in some
cases since late 2007, the chamber, representing mining firms, said in a
statement this week.

The chamber said that has meant gold production fell to about 265
kilograms a month, down from a peak of 2,2 tons a decade ago, losing the
nation an average of $54 million a month at current world gold prices.

"It is not understandable that at a time when the country requires as
much foreign currency as possible, the gold sector has been deliberately
brought to its knees," the chamber said, calling for decisive action "to
save what is left of the gold industry from total collapse."

The central bank did not immediately comment.

Zimbabwe faces chronic shortages of local money and the world's
highest official inflation of 231-million percent.

On Wednesday, the central bank issued a new Zim$1-million bank note,
worth $10 at the dominant black market exchange rate.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, representing most
manufacturing firms, has accused the central bank of raiding corporate bank
accounts and forcing firms to hand over hard currency reserves as loans to
the government.

International aid agencies say they face long delays when they try to
withdraw funds after depositing foreign currency in Reserve Bank accounts.

Earlier this week, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and
Malaria said $7,3-million of the $12,3-million it deposited into its Reserve
Bank account in 2007 did not go to fight the three diseases. The fund has
demanded Zimbabwe return the money.

The government has been spending on items like tractors and other
farming equipment given to party loyalists of President Robert Mugabe.

Gasoline, electricity, water, food and most basic goods are, like
cash, in short supply. Water outages, the worst in recent months, struck
business and residential districts across the capital on Wednesday as health
authorities battled to control a cholera outbreak that has killed at least
130 people, nine of them in the capital.

Mugabe blames Western sanctions for the economic crisis, but critics
point to the often violent seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial
farms that have disrupted the agriculture-based economy in the former
regional breadbasket since 2000.

The government has been paralysed since disputed elections in March.

A power sharing deal between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai signed September 15 has stalled over the allocation of government
ministries. Tsvangirai accused Mugabe of holding out to keep the most
powerful ministries.

A regional summit on the deadlock is scheduled Sunday in neighbouring
South Africa. - Sapa-AP

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Can you break my Z$1m?

    November 05 2008 at 12:04PM

Harare - Zimbabwe issued three new denominations of banknotes on
Wednesday, including a one-million-dollar note, as the impoverished country
struggles to cope with runaway inflation.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said the new Z$100 000, $500 000 and
$1-million banknotes would be available immediately.

The move comes less than a month after the central bank introduced $50
000 banknotes, hoping they would be large enough for Zimbabweans to afford
the skyrocketing prices of basic goods.

However, the $100 000 banknote is now worth only US$1 on the
widely-used parallel black market and is only half the amount needed to buy
a loaf of bread.

Twenty-four new currency denominations have been introduced in
Zimbabwe this year alone.

Once described as a model economy and a regional breadbasket,
Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed over the past decade and there are now
shortages of basic foodstuffs like sugar and cooking oil.

When central bank chief Gideon Gono was appointed in November 2003,
inflation was 619,50 percent but as of July, annual inflation hit 213
million percent.

The southern African nation is also suffering from foreign exchange
and fuel shortages and the majority of the population live below the poverty

President Robert Mugabe's government blames the country's economic
meltdown on sanctions imposed by Britain and other Western nations, while
critics fault Mugabe's chaotic land reform programme as one of the main

To keep pace with the rising costs, shops sometimes change the prices
of goods more than twice a day while long meandering queues have become a
familiar sight at banks as depositors seek to withdraw cash which is rapidly
losing its value.

While the currency, once on a par with the British pound, is in
freefall, unemployment is a staggering 80 percent.

The government has tried several measures - including price controls
and even striking off 10 zeros from the country's currency - to try to rein
in the galloping inflation. - AFP

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Zimbabwe, at odds with US, mum on Obama victory

Harare, Zimbabwe - Official Harare, for a long time at odds with the United
States over human rights abuses, was Wednesday mum about the historic
presidential victory of Barack Obama in the race for the White House, but
analysts said they expected increased US fury with President Robert Mugabe.

Obama, the first African American to be elected president of the United
States, has inspired a massive following in official and non-official
circles in Africa, but Harare has been unmoved throughout his march to the
White House.

After his victory became official Wednesday, the closest to official comment
Obama drew from Zimbabwe was a cartoon in the government-controlled Herald
newspaper which depicted him and his losing rival John McCain preparing to
wear a Yankee-style jacket inscribed: The Presidency Straight-Jacket.

But political analysts in the country said President Mugabe's government
might be in for a tougher relationship with the US under Obama's presidency,
than it was under President George Bush and President Bill Clinton before

Accusing his government of human rights abuses, both the Clinton and Bush
administrations imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, and banned Mugabe from
traveling to the US.

The penalties were tightened further this year after controversial polls
which retained the Zimbabwean leader in power.

Analysts said while Mugabe was able to hide under the banner of racism when
attacked by both Bush and Clinton over human rights in the past, it would
not be possible this time around because he shared the same colour with

Mugabe has over the years craftily blunted US and European attacks on his
government by claiming they were racially motivated in part, a charge which
has resonated in much of Africa.

But this time around, analysts said, Obama's victory has stripped the
Zimbabwean leader of this powerful race weapon, leaving his message open to
doubt in Africa, a constituency Mugabe values so much.

On the other hand, they said Obama would want to make his presidency less
vulnerable to criticism on racial grounds by taking a hardline against
despotic regimes in Africa, of which the US ranks Mugabe's among the top
ones on the continent.

"Barrack Obama has made critical statements (about Zimbabwe) in the past. I
don't see any change at all because this is US policy whether you are
Republican or Democrat, black or white," Bornwell Chakaodza, a political
commentator, said.

"The likelihood of Barrack Obama becoming tougher to Zimbabwe and other
similar countries in Africa is higher because he will not want to be accused
of racial affinity in his political judgments," he added.

The sentiments were echoed by Dr Obadia Mazombwe who said Obama, like any
other American leader, will follow national interests irrespective of
political or racial considerations.

But Chakaodza said Obama's victory sent a powerful message of hope and
change around the world, particularly in Africa, a continent steeped in
hopelessness with little prospect of change on the horizon.

"This is a very astounding achievement by Barrack Obama. The historic nature
of the victory is a powerful message it sends to us in Zimbabwe and Africa
in general," he said.

"It has also shown that the US is a land of opportunity. You can be what you
want to be," he added.

Harare - 05/11/2008


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Obama strips Mugabe of Key argument

Obama's not Mugabe's friend

Official Harare, for a long time at odds with the United States over human
rights abuses, was Wednesday mum about the historic presidential victory of
Barack Obama in the race for the White House, but analysts said they
expected increased US fury with President Robert Mugabe.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Obama, the first African American to be elected president of the United
States, has inspired a massive following in official and non-official
circles in Africa, but Harare has been unmoved throughout his march to the
White House.

After his victory became official Wednesday, the closest to official comment
Obama drew from Zimbabwe was a cartoon in the government-controlled Herald
newspaper which depicted him and his losing rival John McCain preparing to
wear a Yankee-style jacket inscribed: The Presidency Straight-Jacket.

Tougher relationship

But political analysts in the country said President Mugabe's government
might be in for a tougher relationship with the US under Obama's presidency,
than it was under President George Bush and President Bill Clinton before

Accusing his government of human rights abuses, both the Clinton and Bush
administrations imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, and banned Mugabe from
traveling to the US.

The penalties were tightened further this year after controversial polls
which retained the Zimbabwean leader in power.

No more excuse

Analysts said while Mugabe was able to hide under the banner of racism when
attacked by both Bush and Clinton over human rights in the past, it would
not be possible this time around because he shared the same colour with

Mugabe has over the years craftily blunted US and European attacks on his
government by claiming they were racially motivated in part, a charge which
has resonated in much of Africa.

But this time around, analysts said, Obama's victory has stripped the
Zimbabwean leader of this powerful race weapon, leaving his message open to
doubt in Africa, a constituency Mugabe values so much.

Not Mugabe's friend

On the other hand, they said Obama would want to make his presidency less
vulnerable to criticism on racial grounds by taking a hardline against
despotic regimes in Africa, of which the US ranks Mugabe's among the top
ones on the continent.

"Barrack Obama has made critical statements (about Zimbabwe) in the past. I
don't see any change at all because this is US policy whether you are
Republican or Democrat, black or white," Bornwell Chakaodza, a political
commentator, said.

"The likelihood of Barrack Obama becoming tougher to Zimbabwe and other
similar countries in Africa is higher because he will not want to be accused
of racial affinity in his political judgments," he added.

The sentiments were echoed by Dr Obadia Mazombwe who said Obama, like any
other American leader, will follow national interests irrespective of
political or racial considerations.

Message of hope

But Chakaodza said Obama's victory sent a powerful message of hope and
change around the world, particularly in Africa, a continent steeped in
hopelessness with little prospect of change on the horizon.

"This is a very astounding achievement by Barrack Obama. The historic nature
of the victory is a powerful message it sends to us in Zimbabwe and Africa
in general," he said.

"It has also shown that the US is a land of opportunity. You can be what you
want to be," he added.

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MDC statement on Obama's victory

Wednesday, 05 November 2008 14:24

Barrack Obama has been elected the 44th President of the United States
of America. We congratulate Obama, his family, his campaign staff and indeed
the whole of America.

To us, Obama's victory is a victory of hope, faith, change, a restart,
values and dreams which have underpinned our fight as a movement against
dictatorship and the neo-fascism of Robert Mugabe.

Obama's victory will hopefully usher in a departure from the politics
of polarization, fear, unilateralism and arrogance that has defined the Bush
doctrine in the last eight years. Indeed, we hope that Obama will open new
avenues of dialogue of new interaction based on respect of all countries
irrespective of the size of national budgets or the number of fighter jets

We also associate ourselves with the clear messages "to those who
would tear this world down", and to those "who seek peace and security.
Quite clearly, a full-stop has to be put to the years of plunder,
dictatorship and corruption, civil wars, patronage and clientelism that has
characterized many failed states particularly on the African continent. W

We are mindful of the difficulties that lie ahead in Obama's path and
the fact that this is no El Dorado, a construct that Obama himself
acknowledges in his acceptance speech. Indeed it is a task that may take
more than his two terms of office. Perhaps the greatest thing we have learnt
from this victory is that democracy can work and that there is no
alternative to the same.

John MacCain's speech was particularly humbling, instructive and
If in Africa, incumbents would accept defeat and would graciously
depart from the seat of power, this would be a different continent, and
indeed Zimbabwe would be a different place.

For those of us who are still in the trenches, fighting for change and
democracy across the entire African continent, this is our victory.

One which for now we will savour and celebrate.


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Hope that Obama's win affects Zimbabwe

By Violet Gonda
5 November 2008

On Wednesday the world celebrated the election of America's first African
American President, Barack Obama, but for Zimbabwe this significant historic
event received little celebration as millions of people battle to make ends
meet amid the political impasse and the food crisis.

However, there is hope that Obama's extraordinary victory will have a deeper
impact that will go far beyond America's shores, and in time change the mood
around the world, even in crisis torn countries like Zimbabwe.

James McGee, the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, said he felt proud to be
American and to see the will of the people being respected, with American
citizens being given the opportunity to voice their opinion. This is a far
cry from the drama that characterised the Zimbabwean election in March.
While it took just a day to vote and announce the results of the US
election, in Zimbabwe it took five weeks for election results to be known.
Seven months since Zimbabwe's controversial Presidential election there is
still no government in place.

Ambassador McGee, who is accused by the Mugabe regime of interfering in
Zimbabwe's internal affairs, said on Wednesday: "We all spend our lives here
working, trying to improve the lives of people in Zimbabwe and I think, I,
my commitment working here has been redoubled with this election today. What
has happened in the United States, my country, makes me want to work even
harder to bring peace and democracy here in Zimbabwe. And I hope that we can
all rededicate ourselves to doing just that."

Meanwhile reactions on the implications of Obama's victory have been pouring
in. Tendai Biti, the Secretary General of the Tsvangirai MDC, said Obama's
win is not only for America, but "for those of us who are still in the
trenches, fighting for change and democracy across the entire African

The MDC chief negotiator in the power sharing talks said he hoped "Obama
will open new avenues of dialogue, of new interaction, based on respect of
all countries, irrespective of the size of national budgets or the number of
fighter jets owned."

Biti added: "Quite clearly, a full-stop has to be put to the years of
plunder, dictatorship and corruption, civil wars and patronage that has
characterized many failed states, particularly on the African continent."

COSATU, the powerful South African workers' union, contrasted the manner in
which Republican Presidential candidate John McCain accepted his defeat,
with the reluctance of Robert Mugabe and Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki to
bow down when they were defeated in their respective countries.

"It is time to follow McCain's example and accept that there are winners and
losers in every election, but the result is the will of the people and has
to be accepted," COSATU said in a statement.

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Harare Hit by Violence

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

ZANU-PF youths said to have been attacking an opposition stronghold in

By Chipo Sithole in Harare (ZCR No. 167, 5-Nov-08)

A wave of violent clashes has rocked a Harare neighbourhood, apparently
sparked by the ongoing disagreement between ZANU-PF and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, over the allocation of key cabinet

Since October 29, youth militia loyal to ZANU-PF have reportedly been
launching night-time attacks in the dirt-poor slum of Epworth, an opposition
stronghold on the outskirts of the capital, targeting what they term

MDC senator for Epworth Morgan Femai told IWPR that the ZANU-PF youth
militia - who are graduates of the former government's youth-training
programme - were attacking known opposition supporters, claiming that MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was refusing to join a power-sharing government
with President Robert Mugabe.

According to Femai, the alleged attacks resulted in at least 20 MDC
supporters being hospitalised with their injuries. Five were in critical
condition, he said, including one person who had been hacked by a machete.

The whereabouts of one MDC activist was still unknown after he was
reportedly abducted by the ZANU-PF youth militia, who are alleged to have
set up two torture bases in Epworth, in the ramshackle Rueben Shopping
Centre and the poor suburb of Maulani.

Femai said MDC councillor Didmus Bande was in a critical condition after he
was dragged to one of the alleged torture bases and attacked with rubber
truncheons and baseball bats.

IWPR approached the assistant director of information and publicity for
ZANU-PF Gadzira Chirumhanzu about the Epworth allegations, but he was unable
to comment.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told IWPR that the violence exposed ZANU-PF's
"sincerity deficit" in relation to the power-sharing deal which Mubage and
Tsvangirai signed on September 15.

"The behaviour of these ZANU-PF thugs is a violation of the Global Political
Agreement [or power-sharing deal] which recognises the basic freedoms of
people such as association, assembly, speech and movement," said Chamisa.

Following the signing of the deal, the political rivals were supposed to set
up a unity government, the establishment of which is seen as critical to
reversing the economic meltdown in the southern African country. According
to official estimates, Zimbabwe has an inflation rate of 213 million per
cent and almost three quarters of the population is living below the poverty

However, talks held to form a unity government - which have been taking
place between Zimbabwe's rival politician in the five-star Rainbow Towers
hotel in Harare - have now stalled after the two parties failed to agree
over who should control each ministry, particularly that of home affairs.

The most recent round of talks, held two days before the Epworth incidents
broke out, was facilitated by a Southern African Development Community,
SADC, delegation, comprising Angola, Swaziland and Mozambique.

But the meeting failed to resolve the deadlock, with both parties referring
the matter to a full SADC summit expected to convene soon.

Human rights advocates have expressed concern that as the political
disagreement rumbles on, the suffering of Zimbabweans is not being

"We are disappointed that the parties have continued bickering over who
controls what ministries and not looked at finding a long-lasting solution
to the human rights crisis in Zimbabwe," said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty
International's Zimbabwe spokesman.

"Human rights were never at the centre of those talks."

Mawanza spoke at the same time as anti-riot police cracked down on a
demonstration by women and youth activists marching to the venue of the SADC
meeting. They intended to present a petition to the SADC delegation, asking
it to "come up with a logical and balanced power-sharing agreement that will
bring an end to the political and socio-economic crisis crippling Zimbabwe".

"The petition was also highlighting the need for SADC and the African Union
to exert pressure on Mugabe to agree to share power equitably with the MDC
leader," Clever Bere, president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union,
told IWPR.

According to reports, police responded to the demonstrations with excessive
force, and dozens of the demonstrators were arrested at the scene, while
many others were injured.

The violence echoed the crackdown on MDC supporters prior to the
controversial presidential run-off election in June, when more than 100
opposition supporters were killed and over 200,000 internally displaced by
marauding ZANU-PF supporters, forcing the MDC to pull out of the poll.

ZANU-PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa has denied responsibility for the
election-time violence, claiming, "The MDC has admitted in a joint statement
we have issued to also participating in acts of banditry, so it's both sides
responsible for the violence."

In a statement issued on August 6, ZANU-PF and the MDC both condemned
political violence and urged their supporters not to perpetrate it.

"The parties, acknowledging that violence that is attributable to us and
which has been injurious to national and human security, has, indeed,
occurred in the country after the March 29, 2008, harmonised elections,
hereby call upon all our supporters and members and any organs and
structures under the direction and control of our respective parties to stop
and desist from the perpetration of violence in any form," read their

However, Professor Eldred Masunungure, a political science professor at the
University of Zimbabwe, told IWPR that it was business as usual for ZANU-PF.

He said the alleged violence in Epworth flew in the face of the spirit of
the September accord, which he suggested has had little impact.

"The problem is that the power-sharing deal is not legally binding," said

"There is nothing that says police should respect human rights or face the
law in the deal. It is a statement of intent from a legal standpoint;
otherwise, nothing has changed."

Chipo Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.

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Battling for life in SA from gunscars inflicted by Mugabe

Wednesday, 05 November 2008 09:40
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News)-A top Zimbabwean politician and businessman
has arrived in South Africa for a crucial operation, more than 18 years
after he was shot during election campaigns after he stood against President
Robert Mugabe's deputy, Simon Muzenda.

Kombayi arrived in Johannesburg this week, to seek treatment  at
Carstenhof Clinic, Midrand, South Africa, where he will be operated on,
following the "barbaric shooting" during the run up to the 1990
parliamentary elections against the now late vice-president Simon Muzenda.

But even today, political turmoil is still the order of the day in
Zimbabwe and the country has no functional government as President Robert
Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations
leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, are involved in on-off
power-sharing talks that would lead to an all-inclusive government.

"Zimbabwe is the only country in the world running by the grace of God
(as it is) without a government. God is merciful," said Kombayi, former
executive mayor of Zimbabwe's third largest city of Gweru, who was shot and
suffered permanent disability in a politically motivated incident nearly two
decades ago.

Kombayi, a victim of political violence, believes it is only God who
has kept the country's impoverished people together despite the harsh
economic environment.

He was shot on the left leg and sustained severe injuries.  Now his
left leg requires amputation in Johannesburg, although he is soldiering on
to see if an operation could spare him that eventuality.

The leg has deep wounds oozing blood and fluid substances with
stitches all over.

Kombayi was shot on March 26 1990, and his life has never been the
same as he now walks with the aid of crutches. He turned 75 years last
Sunday, marking 18 years of struggle with his injury.

He was allegedly shot by Muzenda's body guards and members of the
notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives while
challenging the late vice-president in the polls to choose a new member of
parliament for Gweru Central constituency.

To date, Kombayi says he has spent an estimated R12.775 million on
medical bills alone, seeking treatment, which in some instances involved
operations on certain body parts to keep him alive.

"I'm here in South Africa for treatment because in Zimbabwe there are
no proper medical facilities and this is compounded by the non-existence of
motivated professional doctors.

"While I am not here to talk about politics, it is a fact that I am in
South Africa because of politics, and my life is in danger because of
President Robert Mugabe's regime," said Kombayi.

Popularly known in Zimbabwe as the "Lion of Gweru", Kombayi was
talking to CAJ News crew while sleeping on a sofa, as his injuries make it
difficult for him to sit upright.

One would dare not look at his legs for the second time as almost from
toes to the waist, the left leg is swollen with deep wounds.

"These are results of seeking democracy in a dictatorship state. I
recall when coming from the bush, liberation struggle in 1980, Mugabe was
the only African revolutionary leader who was not willing to preach
democracy, let alone talk of unity of the nation, but his main language was
to kill.

"The likes of former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, Tanzania's
Julius Nyerere, Malawi's Hastings Kamuzu Banda and Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta
were all about building their respective nations, while Mugabe was killing
his own people right from independence up to this moment," said Kombayi.

He said Kaunda preached peace and unity in his country, typified by
his slogan "One Zambia, One Nation",  while Mwalimu Julius Nyerere spoke
about "Ujama", meaning "United We Stand".

Kenyatta in Kenya spoke of "Uhuru" meaning unity and respect of
people's rights, while Malawi's Banda spoke of "Tenderere ", peace be unto
the nation.

Kombayi said Mugabe's slogan was "Pasi nemhandu", "pasi NaJoshua
Nkomo" which literally means "kill the enemy, kill Joshua Nkomo", arguing
that his language has hardly changed.

The late Nkomo was described by many as "Father Zimbabwe" and he is
the main revolutionary cadre uniting the African National Congress (ANC) and
other regional liberation movements such as the United Independence Party
(UNIP) of Zambia, Freedom for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) and
Chama Chamapinduza in Tanzania .

He says with the atrocities, killing of innocent civilians during the
Gukurahundi and other unrecorded disappearances, meant that even today
Mugabe and his hatchet men were not genuine about sharing power with the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"I am not so sure if I could find some space in my heart to forgive my
enemies, but if Morgan Tsvangirai (should he become Zimbabwean President)
would preach true reconciliation as well as pardoning our enemies, who among
them include killers, murderers and rapists, then I will forgive the people
who shot me.

"I am a devoted MDC party cadre and would respect what my leadership,
particularly president Tsvangirai, would suggest when the new and democratic
Zimbabwe comes," said Kombayi.

Turning to the on going power sharing talks, Kombayi said Tsvangirai
won the March 29 presidential election and there was therefore no need for
him to hold negotiations with losers.

"In the first place, where else on earth have you heard a losing party
seeking equal powers as the winning party? Well, here we are not talking
about running crèches or nursery schools, but we are talking about governing
a country," said Kombayi.

He said he did not believe Tsvangirai would set out on revenge mission
should he assume power.

"Reliable and honesty as he is, I don't see him killing his own people
like Mugabe is doing. I bet you, Tsvangirai would forgive even Mugabe. But
we need Mugabe to peacefully hand over the power to Tsvangirai, and nothing
else will happen to him," said Kombayi.

Groaning in pain, Kombayi expressed his regret over Tsvangirai's
failure to seize the opportunity shortly after the election results were
being posted in order to claim what was rightfully his.

"Tsvangirai could have ruled Zimbabwe for 13 days or so in accordance
with the constitution of the land when it was quite obvious that Mugabe and
his lieutenants had run out of ideas following the shocking election
outcome. Mugabe and his cronies could not utter even a word. This would have
been the right time for Tsvangirai to seize the glorious opportunity.

Zimbabwe talks are set to resume in Pretoria, South Africa on Sunday,
the same day the SADC Summit will also try to find a solution to the
impasse, which now has narrowed down to the allocation of Cabinet,
governorship and ambassadorial posts.-CAJ News.

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Disaster unit deployed in response to cholera outbreak

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs -
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

Date: 05 Nov 2008

HARARE, 5 November 2008 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe has activated its national
disaster response agency, the Civil Protection Unit (CPU), to counter the
spread of cholera.

President Robert Mugabe's government has stopped short of declaring a
national disaster, although the CPU is usually deployed in the wake of
national disasters, such as floods and droughts.

The government said that in the past seven days nine people had died
nationally from cholera, an easily treatable waterborne disease, but
unofficially the numbers are thought to be much greater.

CPU director Madzudzo Pawadyira told Zimbabwe's local media that the agency
had been mandated to provide clean water, even though this was the
responsibility of the state-owned Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA).
"We are coming in to help with the provision of water," he said.

The capital, Harare, including its central business district, has been
without piped water for the past four days, while sewer bursts are being
left unrepaired, resulting in raw sewerage running in the streets.

ZINWA confirmed that it has been pumping untreated sewage into Harare's
water supply dam, Lake Chivero; when supplies are accessible, the water
coming out of the taps often emits a pungent smell.

The UN children's agency, UNICEF, and the World Health Organisation have
been assisting in the provision of drinking water, while the CPU is setting
up cholera clinics in the capital's high-density suburbs and has embarked on
educational programmes to prevent the disease from spreading.

A ban on vending food in public places has been imposed, and the shallow
wells people have dug to get to water when the taps stopped running are
being decontaminated; refuse, which has not been collected this year, will
now be collected, the CPU said.

According to Harare's health director, Stanley Mongofa, "I can safely say we
have been admitting a number of people suffering from the disease but no
deaths have been recorded. Some might have died in their homes [that] we are
not aware [of]."

An IRIN correspondent visited Harare's Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases
Hospital this week, where 15 people had reportedly died from cholera, and
found the facilities were stretched, with patients being treated in the
hospital grounds because there were no more beds available.

"Some TB patients have been evacuated and the place is now catering for
cholera patients. We are aware that the government is understating the
number of patients who have died from cholera," a health worker, who
declined to be named, told IRIN.

"We are looking at a very serious health disaster, whose effect the
authorities may soon not be able to handle because it appears to be an
uncontrollable outbreak," the health worker said.

Sesel Zvidzai, secretary for local government in the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, said ZINWA should cede the control of water supplies to
local authorities, who had previously performed the task.

"ZINWA is not in a position to maintain water and sewer equipment, since
they do not have engineers; all the engineers have deserted the water
authority because of poor salaries."

Zvidzai said Masvingo in southeastern Zimbabwe, the only town that still
retained control of its water treatment and distribution, had not suffered
any cholera outbreaks because of the efficiency of its water management

This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations

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Hunting for good garbage to eat

Photo: Foto Mapfumu
Remains of the day
HARARE, 5 November 2008 (IRIN) - Desperate entrepreneurs are scouring rubbish dumps, abattoirs and poisoned waterways for scraps of food to eat or sell to other equally hungry Zimbabweans in a bid for survival.

The implicit health hazards of rotting food and fish are a secondary concern to Saidi Arufandika, 60, who regularly cycles 34km from the dormitory town of Chitungwiza to the capital, Harare, to sift through the garbage at Mbare Musika market, where the traders discard heaps of tomatoes, cabbages, carrots and potatoes as unsuitable for sale.

"I have joined many other people in scrounging for food at this dumping site, because that is my only way of ensuring that my grandchildren have food," Arufandika told IRIN. "For my age, cycling almost 70km a day is very taxing, but that is the only way of beating the hunger that we are facing."

''I have joined many other people in scrounging for food at this dump site, because that is my only way of ensuring that my grandchildren have food. For my age [60], cycling almost 70km a day is very taxing''
At home he picks through the best of his harvest to feed his bed-ridden son and three grandchildren left in his care after his two daughters left home to become sex workers.

The excess food is dried in the sun to disguise its rotten state and sold in the neighbourhood, where he finds a ready market, as few people can afford to buy fresh vegetables.

"I have been coming to Mbare since February this year. I made the decision after my grandchildren went for two days surviving on water alone," said Arufandika, whose monthly pension has been made worthless by the country's official inflation rate of 231 million percent.

His Chitungwiza neighbour, John Murombedzi, 48, has cast his net wider in his effort to survive. "I have a tight schedule in which I alternate between visiting the garbage sites in Mbare, waiting for offals and other meat products that are thrown away at a nearby abattoir, and going around the lakes close to Harare to look for fish," he told IRIN.

Murombedzi combs the shores of the reservoirs, picking up fish succumbing to oxygen depletion in weed-choked waterways, and uses some of the catch for his own consumption and then sells the remainder at informal drinking establishments.

"My clients do not know that the fish I sell to them would have died of poisoning, and that the offals are collected from a garbage site. Even though I sometimes feel bad about it, I have come to the conclusion that it is better to ensure my own survival than to be honest to others," he said.

Leather disguised as meat

Occasionally the abattoir's owner has given him animal hides, "but no-one is making shoes in Zimbabwe these days, so I carefully work the hide and boil it thoroughly to sell as meat to beer drinkers." Murombedzi suspects that his are not the only such acts of "dishonesty" and that others are doing the same to stay alive.

His 13-year-old son has been battling cholera, an easily treatable waterborne disease that spread through Chitungwiza, claiming several lives as a consequence of interrupted water supplies and sewer pipe bursts left unrepaired.

"Water supplies are so irregular where I stay and in some cases I am forced to give my children food that would not have been properly washed. My son could have died due to cholera. Ours is a vicious cycle of hunger, death and the struggle to survive," he said.

''Hunger in urban areas, like food security in rural areas, is spiralling out of control and the scale of need is shocking''
"Hunger in urban areas, like food insecurity in rural areas, is spiralling out of control and the scale of need is shocking," Fambai Ngirande, spokesperson for the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), told IRIN.

The UN predicts that more than 5.1 million people, or nearly half the country's population, will require emergency food assistance in the first quarter of 2009.

"The issue of food insecurity in Zimbabwe, from the perspective of humanitarian organisations, has largely tended to have rural dimensions, and even though there is focus on vulnerable groups of society in towns and cities, more attention has been given to rural communities," Ngirande said.

He said increasing hunger and poverty in urban areas could easily cause civil unrest, and blamed the government, which recently accused NGOs of hoarding food in order to create discontent among the people.

"The government ought to re-engage the international community in good faith because without that, people are going to die. As it is, a lot of uncertainty surrounds the next harvests because there are no inputs for the current farming season, Ngirande said.

Renson Gasela, an agriculture expert and spokesman on the sector for the opposition the Movement for Democratic Change, told IRIN: "The reality for urban areas is that there are those who are living comfortably - mostly through hook and crook - but they belong to the minority, and there are those that are struggling to put food on the table.

"Tension is growing, and one day they might take to the streets in protests, despite the presence of big guns and tear gas."


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

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Zimbabwe targets church leaders

Wednesday, 5th November 2008. 2:16pm

By: Obert Matahwa.

Victoria Falls: During the 1970s, Zimbabwe's church leaders were
beleaguered and accused of being supporters of President Robert Mugabe and
his guerrilla fighters in the country's independence war.

Church leaders are once again in the line of fire: this time for
co-operating with an "international conspiracy" to oust Mugabe and push for
his prosecution by a tribunal at The Hague.

However, church leaders who voice their concerns about gross human
rights abuses, deny these allegations saying they are fighting for the poor
and the oppressed.

A University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Professor Elphias
Mukunoweshuro, says attempts by these church leaders to facilitate dialogue
between political parties and at finding solutions in the worsening
political crisis, stem from their conciliatory task to ease injustice and
suffering. "The church has a role in protecting the suppressed and it should
take a leading role in any kind of society by expressing its concerns about

In the period preceding independence in 1980, churches were persecuted
and threatened with violence by the regime of the then-prime minister Ian
Smith. A bomb explosion at the time at the Catholic Church's Mambo Press in
Gweru is still imprinted in the memory of people as one of the worst
atrocities of that war.

Catholic leaders including Bishop Douglas Lamont had been imprisoned
by the Smith regime and subsequently deported on charges of conspiring with
the guerrillas like Mugabe. Other church leaders simply vanished.

At the time, Mugabe praised church leaders, asking the church for its
support. That same section of the church is now constantly under fire,
accused as opposition supporters and acolytes of the West.

Mugabe's critics, including disgraced Catholic Bishop Pius Ncube, are
harassed and have been detained by police for questioning. Ncube has gone
into hiding after years in the forefront of human-rights issues and, despite
threats to his life he persevered in his criticism of Mugabe's human-rights
abuses. Ncube resigned from the Catholic Church after Mugabe's secret police
set him up in an adulterous affair. Zimbabwean churches tried to facilitate
dialogue between the most important opponents in the crisis - the ZANU-PF
party and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The Rev Trevor Manhanga of Upper Room Ministries and bishops Patrick
Mutume and Sebastian Bakare of the Catholic and Anglican churches
respectively, have had several talks with Mugabe and opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai with this aim in view, to no avail, however.

They have been left in the lurch in the current negotiations brokered
by former South African president Thabo Mbeki. In fact, state-controlled
media have accused the churches of "hypocrisy" and labelled them agents of
the MDC. They have been berated and ordered to "relinquish their MDC
membership" otherwise Mugabe would not take them seriously.

Bishop Bakare was named winner of a Swedish human rights prize for
"having given voice to the fight against oppression." Bakare was also cited
for his work to promote "freedom of speech and of opinion in a difficult
political situation."

The agency Living History Forum in Stockholm, Sweden said Bakare was
an "important voice" who has "received threats as a result of his open and
clear criticism of the government, his condemnation of local police
brutality and his defence of human rights" in Zimbabwe. Bakare was installed
as the Anglican Bishop of Harare earlier this year.

Bakare and other church leaders insist they don't belong to any
political party and that threats would not hinder their attempts at bringing
the two parties together.

"The problem in our country is not between Tsvangirai and Mugabe; it
has now spiralled down to grass-roots level. We have spoken to both leaders
at their levels, hoping the peace and reconciliation process can start with
them. "We are concerned about the suffering endured by the people and we are
asking everyone involved in the dialogue process to put Zimbabwe first, and
ahead of their selfish agendas," says Manhanga.

Church leaders wear false collars, Mugabe's government contends.
Despite their emphatic denial of being involved in party politics, ZANU-PF
legal secretary and chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa insists that church
groups are a front for the opposition.

"Self-interest is driving them. They are MDC activists in religious
collars," said Chinamasa. Chinamasa insists churches should be denied a role
in the talks between ZANU-PF and the MDC. MDC secretary Tendai Biti says his
party appreciates churches' efforts to try to find a solution to the
Zimbabwe crisis.

"The church should set moral standards and integrity. The government
has neglected these issues. The church should not stop exposing government
abuses of the kind the Bible talks about," he says. Church leaders have been
unable to present a united front over the crisis in the country. In fact, it
appears churches are vying for God's blessing for their viewpoint. Civil
society organisations and the opposition are complaining that churches have
woken up late as to the gravity of the crisis the country is facing. The
Rev. Samuel Madondo of the Baptist Church admits to a "period of confusion",
claiming his church now wants to be a role player. "A kind of deadlock has
been reached where people want to talk about themselves and not to each

"Mugabe and Tsvangirai each represent their own followers. We would
like them to get together and put the interests of the country first," he

Without a deal, Zimbabwe is left without leadership as its economy
collapses. Roads, power and water services, schools and hospitals are
deteriorating. Food, fuel and medicine are scarce, and even if people could
find goods in the stores, they could afford to buy little with official
inflation of 231 million percent -but believe to be much higher.

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Zimbabwe facing small cereal harvest in 2009, famine unit says

From Bloomberg, 5 November

Zimbabwe is facing another small cereal harvest next year because of severe
shortages of seed and fertilizer, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network
said. The southern African nation has 19 percent of the corn seed required
to meet its planting plans, and even if it is able to import more, the
country is unlikely to be able to get it in the ground in time, the US
agency said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday. Corn is traditionally
planted in the last two weeks of November and the first week of December, to
coincide with the onset of the rainy season. Zimbabwe is also facing a
fertilizer shortage, with current stocks standing at 1 percent of
requirements, the aid agency said. "Given the critical shortages of seed and
fertilizers, 2008-2009 prospects are poor unless resources can quickly be
mobilized to address these shortages," it said. The United Nations estimates
between 5 and 5.5 million Zimbabweans will need emergency food rations this
year after last year's harvests failed because of fertilizer and fuel
shortages. "Given current economic turmoil, political instability, and the
necessity to direct resources to import and distribute food, improving
access to inputs remains a challenge," the Famine Unit said.

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Zimbabwe ruling party probes calls for splinter party

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF party has launched a probe
into attempts by its dissidents from the western region of the country to
revive a rival party disbanded 20 years ago following the signing of a
power-sharing agreement, state media has reported here, APA learnt here

The Herald daily said ZANU-PF had set up a commission of inquiry to
investigate circumstances surrounding attempts by disgruntled former members
of PF-ZAPU to resuscitate the party last week.

PF-ZAPU was disbanded in December 1988 after its leader Joshua Nkomo signed
a unity agreement with President Robert Mugabe.

Nkomo and other senior PF-ZAPU members were co-opted into ZANU PF and the
government but have lately been disgruntled after feeling sidelined in the
negotiations that led to the September 15 signing of another power-sharing
agreement between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

"The commission's terms of reference include investigating the state of the
party in the province," the newspaper quoted Information Minister Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu, himself a former senior member of PF-ZAPU, as saying.

The revival of PF-ZAPU raises the spectre of a major split on Zimbabwe's
ruling party at a time it is struggling to regain ground lost in general
elections held in March.

PF-ZAPU has its support base in Matabeleland, one of the poorest regions of
the country which borders Botswana.

A meeting called by the dissidents - including war veterans from
Matabeleland - was aborted on Saturday after senior ZANU PF officials from
the region hastily left the venue amid demands for them to address the

  JN/nm/APA 2008-11-05

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Couple lost £50 000 worth of goods destined for Harare

Wednesday, 05 November 2008 14:39
BRADFORD, UK - A BRADFORD couple's dream of sending aid to their home
country of Zimbabwe was left in tatters after arsonists destroyed a
container holding their gifts worth £50,000 pounds.

Refugee Martha Danga, 41, and her partner Shame Murimi, 40, fled
Zimbabwe in 2001, and have spent seven years buying and collecting
electrical equipment, clothes, shoes, school books and toys to make lives
better for families in the African capital, Harare.

Now their dream of returning to Africa, when the country is safe
enough to do so, with the container-load of goods for their family and the
city's poor has been destroyed.

The goods, valued at £50,000, were destroyed when the lorry they were
being stored in was deliberately set on fire on private land near their home
in Bradford early on Monday.

Mum-of-three Martha, a support worker at a care home, said: 'We are
destroyed. We are devastated and our family is devastated. We have been
working for seven years for nothing.

"We do not know why people would do this. We were looking forward to
going home after the political situation changed but now we do not know what
will happen."

The couple were woken shortly after 1am by firefighters who had been
called to the small, privately-owned car park where three large trucks
belonging to them were parked.

Two were empty and left untouched but the third, fully-laden with
goods, including items donated by well-wishers for Zimbabwean children, was

A Fairweather Green fire station spokesman said the Iveco lorry was a
write-off along with most of the goods inside. "There were also other arson
attacks on cars in this area a couple of weeks ago," a fire investigation
officer said. "We are looking at the incident being arson." Source:
Yorkshire Post

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CITES ivory sale will increase poaching and illegal trade

Last Updated: 6:01pm GMT 05/11/2008

Renowned Kenyan conservationist, Dr Richard Leakey, founding Chairman
or WildlifeDirect, denounces the ongoing CITES-sanctioned one-off auctions
of ivory stockpiles.

He says the auction will open up the market for illegal ivory and
result in poaching. He condemns the inclusion of China, the largest
destination for illegal ivory, into the legal ivory trade.

I am deeply concerned about the ongoing one-off ivory auction that
started on 28 October in Namibia and ends on Thursday November 6 2008 in
South Africa.

I have spent many years looking at issues of elephant conservation and
ivory trade and played a major role in successfully eliminating the massive
ivory poaching that characterised what is considered the darkest period for
African elephants in Kenya in the late 1980s.

I believe that auctioning the ivory stockpiles will cause poaching to
increase particularly in the central, eastern and western African elephant
range states where poaching is not yet properly controlled.

Namibia auctioned its nine tons of ivory on October 28 raising $1.2m.
Zimbabwe and Botswana have also auctioned their ivory to the exclusive
Chinese and Japanese buyers making $480,000 and $1.1m respectively.

On November 6 South Africa will auction the largest cache of ivory -
51 tons - to conclude this controversial sale.

According to the Convention for International Trade in Endangered
Species (CITES) and the parties to the auction, the funds generated from
this sale will be channelled directly into conservation. I am sceptical and
wonder if there is a way of knowing whether these funds will actually help

The entry of China into the legal trade is also a cause of concern for
It is hard to believe that a country which in 2002 scored only 5.6 out
of 100 points in the CITES Elephant Trade Information Systems (ETIS)
ranking - which ranks countries on how effectively they tackle illegal
ivory - could have scored 63 points this year.

China has admitted losing track of 120 tons of ivory from the
government's official stockpiles in the past 12 years.

Recently, Kenya saw the successful conviction of Chinese nationals
accused of smuggling ivory that appears to have originated from 22 out of
the 37 African elephant range states.

The entry of China - the destination for most of the illegal ivory in
the market - is an ill advised move that will only serve to open up the
illegal ivory markets.

Reports already indicate that poaching is increasing in most parts of
Africa. The Kenya Wildlife Service - Kenya's official wildlife authority -
has reported that poaching is increasing in key elephant zones.

Central and west Africa have also witnessed escalating poaching in
recent times. The Democratic Republic of Congo, caught up in a complex civil
strife, has become a haven for poachers.

Although CITES secretary-general Willem Wijnstekers says that southern
African states have everything under control, it cannot be true for

Reports by bloggers at and on independent media
show that Zimbabwe is experiencing an unprecedented decimation of wildlife.

Reports indicate that Zimbabwe may have lost up to 80 per cent of its
wildlife. There is reason to believe that a large percentage of this
wildlife consists of elephants.

As the hammer falls for the last time in South Africa on Thursday, we
cannot in any way say that this is a victory for conservation. It is indeed
a great disservice to conservation.

I categorically denounce this auction and call on CITES to rethink how
they run endangered species affairs.

It should not be lost to CITES that they exist to protect the
endangered species against trade malpractices, not to serve partisan
interests that work against the species.

 * WildlifeDirect is a non-profit conservation organization based in
Kenya that uses the internet to create awareness about conservation issues
and to raise funds for conservation through blogs written by field
WildlifeDirect endeavours to create a movement powerful enough to
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Demystifying Zimbabwean Politics

By Silence Chihuri

Zimbabwean politics has for too long been a big myth that has been shrouded
in evil secrecy. It has been a curse of three evils i.e. lack of
accountability, lack of the will to deliver and self-indulgence. Those who
can actually sway things into the right course of direction have at crucial
times chosen to keep quite when it suits them only speaking out when they
fall foul of their silence. That has been the real enemy to progressive
politics in the Southern African country and I shall dwell on it.

The obtaining situation in Zimbabwe has been mainly so because those who are
or have been or are seeking to be, at the heart of our political system have
always wanted it that way: A self centred, self-serving, self indulging and
under-delivering political system in which the movers (so-called leaders)
call the shorts at the expense of an entire nation. Those currently at the
helm want the political status quo to stay that way and those coming after
them simply want to replace the politicians and not the political system.
They are as crazy for power and lustful for riches as the incumbents. The
net result is simply effectiveness.

Those who dare speak against the establishment have met their untimely
deaths, unsolicited suffering or if they are lucky in the evil sense, have
been bribed into submission. In other words real messiahs of the people have
been turned into Judases who sell out the people's cause for the comfort of
improved existence. On the other hand those who have dared to speak against
the ineptness of the opposition have been called traitors of the democratic
movement. The most common line of argument that has been propagated is that
let us all close our eyes from the weaknesses of an unwitty opposition until
Mugabe has been removed from power and only then can we start to focus on
them. The losers in such a stillborn mentality have always been the ordinary
and suffering people of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe today is a country in a state of complete collapse and despair but
let us remove the suffering and replace it with prosperity, replace the
rotten evil government with a benevolent and people oriented delivering one.
Where then does the opposition fit in? Nowhere on the political map! The
problem we are saddled with today is that we have a bad government and an
opposition that has no agenda to seriously look at dislodging that
government from the power base. Why? Because the government is not doing
anything to improve the lot of Zimbabweans and the opposition is doing
equally nothing to worsen the lot of the government! It is as plain as that.

Coming to what I would referred to as the long rope phenomenon by which most
people would want to say that we need to allow more time for such and such a
thing to happen before we constructively criticise well, this has now become
unacceptable to say the least. Why? Because during all this endless
gestation period lives have been lost needlessly and how would those people
who have died benefit from the long awaited new dispensation? Where certain
people have called for extra time for clueless people to come to, lives have
perished and there will never be any recompense for the dead people because
to them it is now a lost cause.

It is unquestionable that the opposition has the support of the people and
it is genuine support that is premised on the possibility that real change
of the state of affairs may come about. But nothing what so ever is being
done to channel that massive support into real solutions to the problems of
the suffering people of Zimbabwe. The reason for this acute impotence of the
opposition in the face of a vicious government is that those at the helm of
the opposition do not have the right approach, the right strategy and the
right vision to harness the support of the people into something fruitful.
Put bluntly, they lack the courage, real courage, to confront an evil regime
in the legitimate name of the people using the right means.

During the liberation struggle we were faced by an evil minority regime that
was ruthless in its suppression of opponents and callus in its dealing with
the supporting masses but it was defeated. Why? The determination to
dislodge it was there and the strategy was in place to back it. There is no
point in talking or entering into a defective pact with a regime that is
still determined to maintain its stranglehold on power. This is why the
so-called government of national unity has never taken off the ground some
eight months or so after a flawed electoral charade. The opposition has
again been exposed of its ineptness and lack of smartness because the way
they entered into the whole process was as flawed as they entered into
politics in the first place. The only reason why they got away with the
entry into opposition but not the exit from it is that the stakes are higher
in government than they are in the opposition trenches.

No matter how people may choose to blame it all on the bunny (in this case
Mugabe) surely the opposition must also learn to take some blame. Where in
this earth can we ever find a supposedly would-be government signing a
supposed agreement with a supposedly willing sitting government to share
power where the articles of the supposed agreement have not been adequately
thrashed and agreed? What were they signing on then? I am sure those leading
the opposition were old enough to follow or for the younger ones, they are
literate enough to read the history of the proceedings at Lancaster House
and see how this very Mugabe when he was still adequately masked and the
likes of Joshua Nkomo handled the process that brought about the agreement
that ended the war. There was real shrewdness there!

 This is not the first time however, that the opposition has missed out on
opportunities to dislodge ZANU PF from power. This is the same opposition
that split at the height of its potency thereby literary throwing life
jackets to the entire crew of a sinking ZANU PF sheep. The result was the
sinking of an empty ship with the entire crew swimming ashore and here they
are still rocking the waters of our national politics. The architects of the
split of the MDC i.e. Welshman Ncube and Morgan Tsvangirai are the same
people who are being entrusted with the so-called power-sharing process.
What a joke! Ncube orchestrated the split of the MDC and Tsvangirai
sanctioned it with the infamous words "If the party has to split so be it!"

The revelations that Ncube and Chinamasa tempered with the supposed sacred
contents of the hither-to-signed document only goes to explain that as long
as Tsvangirai and Ncube are put together to find a solution for Zimbabweans
they will first of all have to settle their old scores while the country
burns. Ncube is still as scheming as ever and Tsvangirai is as naïve and
unwitting as originally.  The difference between the two is that one of them
has already been punished by the people by rejection at the polls. The other
one is just a lucky fellow who is credited for doing nothing and enjoys
massive approval even when he should be jettisoned out of national politics.
The fact that he signed a defective agreement just shows how defective
Tsvangirai is for a leader

Most people credit Tsvangirai for what they call daring to stand up to
Mugabe but what they forget is that the man is not the only one who dared to
do that. And he has been standing up to Mugabe for nearly a decade now but
Mugabe has not moved an inch. The only difference between Tsvangirai and the
others who took Mugabe head on is that he has kind of benefited more than
his not so lucky compatriots. While Tsvangirai is not the one who prescribed
the messy that we find our country in he is not going to be the solution
either, no matter how much people may think otherwise and look up to him. It's
like looking to a sunny sky for rain. He has survived largely to his very
powerful movers who have very sinister motives for keeping him where he is
while Zimbabweans are wasting away in abject poverty and diseases.

Lately there has been a growing chorus of disquiet with Tsvangirai's
leadership and strategy coming from within the civic society and trade union
quarters. But that should have been head since long back were it not that
some of the civic and union leaders tried hobnobbing with him and when they
realised there was nothing for them in his project they opted out and have
now regrouped on the side of common sense. It can be a lonely affair on that
side however because sometimes common sense can be a cause for national
rejection. This is what has got us where we are. People are glorified not
for what they have achieved for our country, but for what they have not

It is true that ZANU PF has trashed our country and they are killing our
people but no body is stopping them. The support of the masses has now
become something of a prized possession that can be admired, measured daily
and treasured in a glass cabinet with no use whatsoever for the benefit of
those aggregating it. For how long can we wait for the lame calls of the
international community to "do something" about our situation when there is
no sign whatsoever they really intend to so? Rallies are not going solve the
problems in our country. They are becoming an abuse of the people because
the congregants get there by foot bare footed while those addressing them
drive down in snaking convoys of luxury cars with bling blinding the
watching masses.

Silence Chihuri is a Zimbabwean who writes from Scotland. He can be
contacted on

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Regime Change

Wednesday, 05 November 2008 12:04

Until recently, Robert Mugabe, the eighty-four-year-old president of
Zimbabwe, has answered those who criticize his regime by telling them to "go
hang." He has expressed contempt not only for the concerns of the
international community, but also for the opinion of the Zimbabwean people,
whom he has tried to buy off or bully for most of three decades.

In March, after losing the first round of an election to opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe sent out soldiers and armed gangs to
torture, rape, and kill people associated with the main opposition party,
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Tsvangirai was forced to withdraw
from the June run-off election and take refuge in the Dutch embassy. The
crackdown was referred to as CIBD-Coercion, Intimidation, Beating, and
Displacement. By the time it was over, more than a hundred people had been
killed, and more than two hundred thousand displaced. Observers from
neighboring African countries declared the run-off undemocratic, but
democracy, too, can go hang when it gets in Mugabe's way. "We are not going
to give up our country because of a mere X," he said in June. "How can a
ballpoint pen fight with a gun?"

Not even Mugabe, though, can ignore the disastrous effects of his
government's corruption and incompetence. Zimbabwe is now a failed state.
Eighty percent of its population is unemployed, and 3 million of its 12
million people have fled the country. Meanwhile, most of those who remain
aren't getting enough to eat. The inflation rate is the highest in the world
and one of the highest in history-officially 230 million percent, though
some economists say it's really in the billions. In August the government
knocked ten zeros off the country's currency, so that it could recycle old
bank notes that had become worthless. The government can't afford to pay
teachers, collect garbage, or bury the dead piled up in its morgues. The UN's
World Food Program is now feeding 2 million Zimbabweans and, according to
projections, may soon have to feed another 3 million. Mugabe himself remains
comfortable, of course, but he can no longer pretend not to notice these
things, and neither can the rest of the world. Nelson Mandela, long a
defender of Zimbabwe's government, has publicly lamented the country's
"failure of leadership."

Once it became clear that Mugabe's African allies were no longer
willing to look the other way, he finally agreed in September to share power
with the MDC. He would remain Zimbabwe's president, Tsvangirai would become
prime minister, and cabinet posts would be split evenly between the two
parties. The details were to be worked out in negotiations mediated by Thabo
Mbeki, then president of South Africa. The MDC and its Western supporters
had originally demanded a transitional government, but the September
agreement was better than nothing, and maybe good enough-as long as Mugabe
honored his part of the deal.

But in early October, Mugabe unilaterally gave his party control of
all the most important ministries, including those in charge of the courts,
the army, and the police. The MDC was offered a few leftovers-for example,
water management-and later, when it insisted on something more important,
the finance ministry, which is now powerless to stop the country's economic
meltdown. Then, in a final proof of bad faith, Mugabe refused to give
Tsvangirai a passport so that he could travel to Swaziland, where
negotiations between the two men were supposed to take place. Mugabe showed
up anyway, and acted as if he had been stood up. The talks were rescheduled,
but the message was clear: Nothing has changed.

Nothing will change until the international community intervenes.
China and Russia must be persuaded to stop blocking UN resolutions that
would freeze the assets of Mugabe and his senior officials, ban them from
all foreign travel, and impose a strict arms embargo. The fourteen
member-states of the Southern African Development Community need to replace
Mbeki-who was recently forced from power in South Africa-with a new
mediator, one more concerned with Zimbabwe's welfare than with protecting
Mugabe and his generals from future prosecution for political violence.

Finally, the United States and the European Union, which have taken
the lead in opposing Mugabe's dictatorship, must keep up the pressure.
Mugabe is counting on the West to lose interest in his country's problems
now that he's promised a unity government. But it should be clear to
everyone that his promises are worth as little as his country's money.


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Border officials work overtime to help Zimbabwean asylum seekers

05 Nov 2008
16:39:14 GMT
Source: UNHCR

MUSINA, South Africa, November 5 (UNHCR) - Bravieouse Moloi still can't get
over how quickly it took for officials to grant her permission to remain in
South Africa while her asylum request is processed. Less than a week after
crossing the border from her native Zimbabwe, the 19-year-old has an asylum
seeker permit and is looking for work.

"I will find myself piece work to support my family back home," she told
UNHCR late last month at the Refugee Reception Office in Musina, a town
close to the northern border with Zimbabwe. Hundreds of her compatriots were
queuing up to request their own permits, which prevent deportation and allow
the bearer to work and study while their application for refugee status is
being determined.

Since it opened in July, a dozen civil servants from South Africa's
Department of Home Affairs (DHA) backed by UNHCR have issued close to 18,000
asylum seeker permits to Zimbabweans fleeing persecution or violence.

"They have worked flat out to accommodate the needs of the people as well as
prevent a situation where they would be queuing for days without getting
their permits," said UNHCR Senior Regional Protection Officer Monique Ekoko,
who works closely with the staff at Musina.

The DHA set up the Musina office to handle the increased volume of
Zimbabweans crossing the border to seek asylum. The office is also part of
the DHA's stepped-up effort over the past two years to clear the backlog of
new applicants for refugee status - currently close to 100,000 - improve
services, eradicate corruption and meet its obligations to refugees and
asylum seekers.

It ensures that the protection needs of asylum seekers without documentation
are addressed soon after they enter South Africa. "In the past, when asylum
seekers tried to reach Pretoria or Johannesburg [to apply for a 14-day
transit permit], they would be arrested, detained and deported before they
got the chance to present themselves to a refugee reception office," Ekoko

The reception office has become a safe haven for thousands of Zimbabweans
seeking international protection. Mzukisi Makatse, acting director of the
office, said the participation of UNHCR had contributed significantly to its
ability to deliver on its mandate and obligations to refugees and asylum

"First of all there is a fundamental basis for us to have a relationship
with UNHCR and over the years our relationship has grown in leaps and
bounds. In Musina though, we have taken that relationship a step further
because we have productive relations with the different officers from the
Pretoria office who have offered us nothing but constant support and expert

UNHCR supports the Musina refugee reception office with legal and technical
expertise. The centre's eight refugee reception officers and four refugee
status determination officers process up to 350 asylum applications a day,
five days a week. Most are from Zimbabwe, but there are also small numbers
from Somalia, Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The refugee agency provides country of origin information to help determine
the status of the applicants. It has also provided equipment and stationary
to ensure that the registration of asylum seekers is carried out smoothly
and expeditiously.

In the area of legal counselling, UNHCR works with Lawyers for Human Rights
and the Musina Legal Advice Office, who monitor the undocumented refugees
and asylum seekers and intervene where their rights have been violated. They
also give legal advice and financial assistance to asylum seekers who wish
to go elsewhere.

South Africa, with the most dynamic economy on the continent and a liberal
policy toward asylum seekers, has been a magnet for both refugees and
economic migrants seeking to improve their lives. Unlike many other
countries in Africa, South Africa does not operate refugee camps and asylum
seekers are free to work while their cases are considered.

"It is very rewarding to see the joy in people's faces when they're issued
the asylum seeker permit," said Makatse. "Whatever the outcome of an
individual's asylum application, they are in the interim allowed to earn a
living and regain the dignity that is stripped of them during flight from

By Pumla Rulashe
In Musina, South Africa

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ZCTU's response to the cash withdrawal limit and dolarisation of the economy

Wednesday, 05 November 2008 14:14

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has received with disgust
the news that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has decided to review cash
withdrawal limit from $50 000 to $500 000 despite calls from labour,
including different sectors, exhorting the RBZ to remove the cap on cash

The ZCTU wrote letters on 22 July, 4 September, 8 September, 22
September 2008 and even met a reserve bank of Zimbabwe official, a Mr
Nyarota on 19 September 2008 to express its concerns that the withdrawal
limits were below what an ordinary family requires for daily expenditure.

It appears everything came to naughty.

This therefore means that the RBZ is not only taking workers for
granted, but also not taking workers' concerns seriously. It appears the RBZ
is enjoying seeing workers queuing for their hard earned cash.

As some might be aware, The ZCTU General Council met on Saturday 20,
September 2008 and gave the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) a seven-day
ultimatum to address the deepening cash crisis affecting the generality of
Zimbabwean workers. However, following moves by the RBZ to resolve the
issue, the General Council noted the response by the Governor of the RBZ and
decided to shelve the Mass Action that was penciled for 1st of October  2008
to test the sincerity of the RBZ.

It appears the RBZ took workers for fools.

We are therefore demanding that the RBZ remove the cap on cash
withdrawal with immediate effect and failure to do so action is in the
offing. This time there is no going back.


The ZCTU is perturbed by the current wave of dolarisation or
Americanisation of the Zimbabwean economy by the authorities at a time when
most workers in Zimbabwe are earning their wages in Zimbabwean dollars.

We all remember that in 1979, the then Prime Minister of Zimbabwe
Rhodesia, Bishop Abel Muzorewa was castigated left right and center for
naming this country Zimbabwe Rhodesia, but 29 years later the country has
been named, in a subtle way, Zimbabwe-America. This is because all
operations are now based on American dollars despite the racist rhetoric
from the authorities that appear to be anti-American.

So who is fooling who?

How do our leaders feel moving around with notes bearing the head of
George Washington despite their vilification of whites and colonialism? Is
this not another form of colonialism? It is so embarrassing and shameful
that they no longer want to see the Zimbabwean dollar.

If they do not want to use the Zimbabwean dollar, why can they not use
currencies from other African States like the Rand, the Kwacha, the Pula and
even the Meticas?

The ZCTU says no to dolarisation and the extension of America into
Zimbabwe. If they want the use of the American dollar in all payments to
continue, then the ZCTU is demanding that all workers be paid in American
dollars, since it seems we are now part of America, despite the veiled
denials by our politicians, particularly President Robert Mugabe.

Wellington Chibebe

04 November 2008

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Guns, rockets, and the DRC's filthy minerals

From Mineweb, 3 November

Can Bernard Kouchner and David Miliband halt Africa's next potential
genocide, as the eastern Congo continues to implode?

Barry Sergeant

Johannesburg - Is Africa ever so pitiful as when on the brink of another
potential genocide? And when is it as sad as when there are no African hands
in sight? This weekend, France's foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and his
British counterpart David Miliband held crisis talks for 90 minutes with
Democratic Republic of Congo president Joseph Kabila in a diplomatic push in
what is politely referred to as the wish to "halt a rebel advance and
looming humanitarian disaster in the east of the country". Millions of
people have already died. The First Congo War, which stretched from November
1996 to May 1997, was nothing on the Second Congo War, known also as
Africa's World War and the Great War of Africa. This started out in August
1998 in the DRC and "officially" ended in July 2003, but hostilities,
particularly in the east of the vast country, continue to this day. The
Second Congo War is ranked as the biggest war in modern African history,
directly involving eight African countries, as well as about 25 armed

Until now the war and its aftermath has killed at least 5m people, mostly
from disease and starvation, ranking the conflict as the deadliest in the
world since World War II. Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe and a number of
his cronies were directly involved in the conflict, where "Zimbabwe" would
be recompensed for its army's "support" of the DRC by Zimbabwe's
participation in various pots of the DRC's vast and rich resources
endowment. Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who had overthrown DRC dictator Mobutu
Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga ("The all-powerful warrior who, because
of his endurance and inflexible will to win, goes from conquest to conquest,
leaving fire in his wake") in May 1997, was shot and wounded by a bodyguard
in an assassination attempt, on 16 January 2001, and taken wounded to
Zimbabwe, only to die two days later. Angolan troops were seen wall-to-wall
at Kabila's funeral cortege in Kinshasa.

The roots of the ongoing crisis in the DRC, characterised by unspeakable
violence, wanton lootings, mass rapes, cannibalism, and genocide, are
complex but can be traced back to the 1994 Rwandan genocide when around 1m
Tutsis were hacked to death by the Hutu Interahamwe, militant wing of the
MRND, and the Impuzamugambi, militant wing of the CDR. Today, fighting
between the rebel group Congrès national pour la défense du peuple(CNDP),
led by rebel military strongman Laurent Nkunda, and the national Congolese
army, the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo(FARDC), has
escalated sharply in the past few days, as CNDP troops have advanced closer
to the eastern city of Goma which sits at the top of Lake Kivu, an exploding
lake, and is also subject to assaults from Nyiragongo, a violent active
volcano. According to some of the latest reports, around 220,000 people have
now been displaced since the most recent fighting broke out, this time in
August, bringing to more than 1m the number forced from their homes in
Nord-Kivu (which borders Rwanda) of a population of 5m.

The head of Uruguay's military, which contributes 1,300 troops to the
17,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, was quoted
on Friday as saying that the CNDP was "backed by tanks" and "artillery" from
Rwanda. General Jorge Rosales was quoted as saying that it was "not easy to
identify rebel forces," but indicated the "high probability that troops from
Rwanda are operating in the area". Meanwhile the UN refugee agency is
flapping in a never-ending panic. The DRC's eastern provinces of North and
South Kivu are rich in minerals, notably cassiterite (tin ore), gold and
coltan. The mineral trade has underpinned the war since 1998, according to
Global Witness, an NGO: "Almost all the main armed groups involved in the
conflict, as well as soldiers of the national Congolese army, have been
trading illegally in these minerals for years, with complete impunity".

In July-August 2008, Global Witness documented extensive involvement of
armed groups and Congolese army units in the cassiterite and gold trade in
North and South Kivu. Those who are buying the illicit mining output are
funding another potential genocide. Foremost among the armed groups active
in the mineral trade are the predominantly Rwandan Hutu Forces démocratiques
pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), some of whose leaders, says Global
Witness, allegedly participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Meanwhile,
the formal mining sector in the DRC, such as it is, has been harshly sold
down during this year's global equities sell off, but more than the average.
The stock price of Katanga Mining, which owns the biggest brownfields
project in Katanga Province, in the south, was recently trading 94% below
its high levels, seen in January this year.

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