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Southern Africa Set to Take `Hard Line' on Zimbabwe

By Mike Cohen

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Southern African leaders will step up pressure on
rival political parties in Zimbabwe to conclude a power-sharing agreement at
a summit in Johannesburg on Nov. 9, South African government spokesman
Themba Maseko said.

``We believe South Africa and the region cannot be held to ransom by three
parties that are failing to reach agreement on the allocation of Cabinet
posts,'' Maseko told reporters in Pretoria today. ``We will be taking quite
a hard line.''

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change won a majority in
parliamentary elections in March. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from
a June 27 presidential runoff vote, citing violence against his supporters,
leaving President Robert Mugabe to extend his 28-year rule unchallenged.

While Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing agreement on Sept. 15,
the establishment of a unity government has stalled amid a disagreement over
how Cabinet posts should be shared. Former South African President Thabo
Mbeki and the 15- nation Southern African Development Community have been
trying to broker an end to the dispute involving Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front, the MDC and a breakaway MDC faction which
also signed the power-sharing accord.

``The failure of the parties to agree is something that is becoming a major
political hindrance to the stability that we desire in the SADC region,''
Maseko said. Southern African ``heads of state must now take urgent steps''
to address the crisis at the summit.

Zuma Push

Jacob Zuma, the leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress,
yesterday also called for greater urgency in addressing the situation.

``I think SADC must put its pressure more strongly to these colleagues
because what happens in Zimbabwe has an effect on the region,'' Zuma said in
an interview on state television. ``I think the region should say to the
Zimbabwe leaders that enough is enough. You must resolve this matter, you
can't leave South Africa without resolving this matter.''

Last Updated: November 6, 2008 05:06 EST

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Zimbabwe opposition says fresh violence kills unity talks

1 hr 45 mins ago

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's opposition on Thursday accused President Robert
Mugabe's party of unleashing a new wave of brutality countrywide that had
"killed" negotiations on forming a unity government.

Days ahead of a weekend regional summit aimed at breaking an impasse in
unity government talks, an opposition spokesman denounced what he called "a
new orgy of brutality."

"ZANU-PF has unleashed a new orgy of brutality and assaults across the whole
country," Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Nelson Chamisa said in a

"ZANU-PF has killed the dialogue despite the hopes, patience and
expectations of the people of Zimbabwe," added Chamisa.

The statement was released as southern African leaders prepared to meet
Sunday in South Africa in a bid to save a power-sharing deal signed by
Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on September 15.

At least 25 MDC supporters were attacked in a Harare township on October 27
by a ruling party militia, the statement said.

Three days later, security agents raided the home of a local MDC leader in
the town of Banket, arresting nine people, including a two-year-old girl, it

The MDC also said that more than 100 activists remained in prison after they
were arrested for holding a march during regional talks in Harare on October

Chamisa told AFP that Tsvangirai would still attend the summit, but said the
attacks highlight Mugabe's lack of sincerity in the negotiations.

"ZANU-PF has to be honest and publicly say we no longer want these talks,"
he said.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed in the September 15 deal to form a unity
government aimed at ending months of political turmoil and allowing the
country to address a deep economic crisis.

But the deal has been stalled over disputes about how to divide control of
the most powerful cabinet posts, particularly the home affairs ministry,
which oversees the police.

On Thursday, the South African government said Zimbabwe's political impasse
was becoming a major hindrance to regional stability and urged the weekend
summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to break the

"We believe South Africa and the region cannot be held to ransom by parties
who are failing to reach agreement on the allocation of cabinet posts,"
government spokesman Themba Maseko told reporters in Pretoria.

"This is becoming a matter of extreme concern for us and we will be taking
quite a hard stance to make sure that agreement is reached," he said.

"The failure of the parties to agree is something that is becoming a major
political hindrance to the stability that we desire" in southern Africa,
Maseko said.

Tsvangirai finished ahead of Mugabe in the first round of the presidential
election in March but pulled out of a June run-off, accusing the veteran
leader's regime of orchestrating a deadly campaign of political violence.

Amnesty International released a report last week that found a total of 180
people had been killed and about 9,000 injured in political violence since
March, most of them MDC supporters.

SADC has held numerous meetings aimed at pressing the rivals into a deal,
and tasked former South African president Thabo Mbeki with mediating in the

So far SADC has failed to take a strong, unified stand on Zimbabwe, despite
the country's stunning economic collapse that has sent waves of migrants
across its borders in search of work.

SADC's security arm has held two summits over the last three weeks that
failed to resolve the impasse.

After the last meeting in Harare, Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed to take their
dispute before an emergency summit of the entire region.

Botswana has already called for holding new elections in Zimbabwe, a
proposal angrily dismissed by Harare.

Many leaders in the bloc are seen as supporters of Mugabe, or are reluctant
to speak out against the liberation hero who has led his country since
independence from Britain in 1980.

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Zimbabwe: Britain calls for agreement

Posted on Thursday 6 November 2008 - 09:37

Sam Banda Junior, AfricaNews reporter in Blantyre, Malawi
Britain has said that it is worried with the situation in Zimbabwe adding
that there was the need for Mugabe and Tsvangirai to agree this time around.
The two have failed to agree on cabinet positions to form a government of
national unity following a deal that was brokered by Thabo Mbeki of South

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in the House of Commons that
they were concerned with the situation in Zimbabwe hence for something to be

"We are monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe and we have sent food aid but
our appeal is for the two parties to agree for the country to move forward,"
said Brown adding Britain was ready to support the Southern African country.

Brown further said they were also monitoring the situation in the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where a fierce fight has erupted between
general Nkunda and the government displacing thousands of people.

A Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit is expected to be
held this Sunday in South Africa for the two parties to come to terms.

A recent summit in Harare, Zimbabwe hosted by Swaziland leader King Mswati
alongside South Africa's president Kgalema Motlanthe and others failed to
bring the two to an agreement.

If successful the power sharing deal will see Mugabe remain the president
with Tsvangirai as the prime minister.

Zimbabwe is suffering with its inflation rising and many basic commodities
being scarce and expensive to buy.

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MDC statement on the recent spate of violence

Thursday, 06 November 2008 13:38
Violence, which arrested this country after the 29th March election
has reared its ugly head again. Zanu PF has unleashed a new orgy of
brutality and assaults across the whole country.

On the 27th of October 2008 over 25 MDC supporters were brutally
attacked in Epworth and five of them had to be hospitalised. In addition,
Zanu PF militia has set up two torture bases in Epworth, Harare, The bases
are in Ward 4 with one at Maulani and another at Rueben Shopping Centre. The
bases are being sponsored and financed by the losing Zanu PF candidate and
former Minister of Mines Amos Midzi.

Midzi is also Zanu PF's chairman for Harare province.
Also involved in running the bases are, Zanu PF Youth Chairman, Zimbwe
and other party cadres Garakara and Chimandira.
On Thursday 30th October 2008 state security agents in Banket,
Mashonaland West province, raided the homes of MDC leadership and arrested
nine MDC members including a two year-old girl.

During the arrests they looted property including a computer and party
documents at the home of MDC's national executive member, Concilia

However, by Monday the police had not brought the accused to court.
MDC's lawyers then filed an urgent court application at the High Court
compelling the police to bring the arrested to court or release them as 48
hours had lapsed since their arrests.

But the police were by Thursday afternoon defying the High Court
Those in police custody are, Ward 22 councillor, Fani Tembo, ward
coordinator, Lloyd Tambwa, Fidelis Musona, Fidelis Chiramba and Ernest
Mudimu, Chinanzvavana and her husband Emmanuel Chinanzvavana and a two
year-old baby.

Over and above this, the majority of the MDC elected rural councilors
are unable to execute their mandate due to continuous disruptions, violence
and interruptions by Zanu PF thugs including the former Minister of Local
Government, Chiminya Ignatius Chombo.

In addition, students activist from Zinasu have also been terrorised.
Jennie Williams, Mahlangu and other colleagues from Women Of Zimbabwe
(WOZA) are still languishing in Remand Prison in Bulawayo.

Over and above this, over 100 activists from the Women Coalition of
Zimbabwe were arrested on the 28th of October as the SADC Troika meeting sat
in Harare.

Zanu PF's actions portray a Party that has declared war on its people.
A Party that is bankrupt of any genuine solution for Zimbabwe other
than hunger and violence. To the extent that Zanu PF's actions are clearly a
breach of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and an assault on the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) signed on the 15th of September 2008.

It is quiet evident that Zanu PF has put a full stop to that dialogue.
In short Zanu PF has killed the dialogue despite the hopes, patience
and expectations of the people of Zimbabwe. The bottom line is that Zanu PF
must be upfront with the Zimbabwean people and openly bury the corpse of
these talks.

MDC Information and Publicity Department

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Principle of non-interference no longer acceptable - Kikwete

Thursday, 06 November 2008 09:58
KIGALE - The Chairman of the African Union and President of Tanzania,
Jakaya Kikwete, has dismissed the principle of non interference in domestic
affairs among African countries as being old and no longer acceptable.

Kikwete who was addressing the 10th Ordinary session of the Pan
African Parliament (PAP) in Johannesburg South Africa, said that Africa is
on the move and that the continent is currently undergoing tremendous
changes in the rule of law and democracy, greater economic prosperity and
deeper economic integration which means that all countries on the continent
have a collective responsibility to ensure this trend.

Noting that since the PAP was created in 2004, there have been
elections in 45 countries on the continent, the Tanzanian President said
that organisation and management of elections had improved.

Commenting on regional political and economic integration on the
continent, Kikwete said that recently an agreement was reached in the
Ugandan capital of Kampala for negotiations to merge the Common Market for
Eastern and Southern Africa, East Africa Community and the Southern Africa
Development Cooperation and form one economic integration block to unite all
countries in those blocs.He underscored that these were the first steps of
politically and economically creating one united Africa.

He further added that in recent decades, Africa has had an annual 5
percent economic growth rate and that if this was maintained, the continent
had potential to become an economic powerhouse in the future.

"The global interest in Africa is an opportunity we cannot afford to
lose," Kikwete cautioned the PAP members.

He said that the continent is benefiting from the emergence of "a new
breed of leaders that have introduced appropriate measures to change Africa
for the better."

Kikwete pointed out that in the past decades, Africa was known as a
continent of doom but that today there has been improvement in changing this

"There is greater awareness on the evils of corruption. Democracy on
the continent is becoming institutionalised except for isolated cases," the
AU Chairman emphasised.

The isolated cases he named include Darfur, Somalia, Eastern
Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Chad, Mauritania and Central African

"The AU peace and security force needs to be further empowered in
early warning mechanisms and the detection of conflicts," Kikwete
underscored. - The New Times (Kigali)

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Botswana Govt reiterates stance on Zimbabwe crisis

Friday, November 7, 2008 .Vol No.210

By Puso Kedidimetse

GABORONE - The deteriorating political situation in Zimbabwe left
Botswana with no choice, but to openly express her concern and make calls
for Zimbabwean authorities to create a conducive climate to holding free and
fair elections.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Phandu
Skelemani said this during a lecture on Botswana's position with respect to
the power sharing deal and lessons on quite diplomacy at the University of
Botswana this week. Mr Skelemani explained that relations between Botswana
and Zimbabwe have been underpinned by a common cultural and historical
heritage as well as geography.
"The period following the first round was marked by serious acts of
politically motivated violence and intimidation, including repeated arrests
and detention of one of the candidates, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai," he mentioned.
Regrettably, he noted that there was no change as politically
motivated violence, arrests, harassment and intimidation continued, leading
to the withdrawal of the MDC leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai from the
presidential run off election.
After the one man presidential run off, Mr Skelemani noted that as a
country that practices democracy and the rule of law, Botswana found that it
could not, recognise the outcome of the Zimbabwean presidential run-off
election, and called on other SADC member states to do the same.
"Our decision was based on the fact that the legal process of
producing a government in Zimbabwe had failed and those who claimed to
represent Zimbabwe at the political level should be excluded from attending
SADC and Africa Union meetings," he highlighted.
Mr Skelemani said that other SADC members, for reasons best known to
them, held a different view.
The minister explained that they supported the mediation of former
South African president, Mr Thabo Mbeki in the hope that the negotiations
would bear fruit.
He also mentioned that Botswana welcomed the power sharing deal signed
on September 15 to pave way for the formation of a government of national
Regrettably, Mr Skelemani explained that the deal has not borne any
fruit as parties remain deadlocked over allocation of ministerial
"Botswana is therefore of the view that should the present deadlock
continue without resolution, the only viable solution to the political
impasse is a re-run of the presidential run-off election under international
supervision," Mr Skelemani said.
He said that Botswana employed quite diplomacy because she thought
things would turn out for the better.
The country resorted to speaking out after realising that the
situation had reached crisis proportions. BOPA

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Government under IMF debt pressure

Thursday, 06 November 2008 10:58
HARARE - The government faces an uphill task of immediately raising
US$129 million to repay long-running arrears to the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) to enhance its chances of winning back crucial economic aid from
the Bretton Woods institution.

Analysts say any new Harare administration would have to make painful
decisions to clear the debt otherwise it would fall behind in its payments
due to the country's crushing foreign currency crisis.
The latest information from the IMF shows that the interest component
on Zimbabwe's arrears to the Bretton Woods institution stood at US$32

The IMF declared Zimbabwe ineligible to use the institution's general
resources in September 2001, citing the country's failure to meet its
financial commitments.

Analysts this week said the new cash-strapped government will also be
battling severe foreign currency problems and has to raise funds to import
food to feed starving villagers, at the same time making sure it does not
default on its commitment to the IMF, a move crucial in re-engaging the
international community.

Following the signing of the power sharing deal between President
Robert Mugabe
and the two leaders of the MDC factions on September 15, IMF managing
director Dominique Strauss said the IMF stood "ready" to re-engage Zimbabwe.

"I encourage the government to take steps to show clear commitment to
a new policy direction and to seek the support of the international
community," Strauss said.

"The new Government has a very difficult task of meeting all the
commitments to the international community and risks alienating itself
further from the rest of the world if it fails to do so," Consultant
economist John Robertson said.

The power-sharing agreement states that the parties agree to give
priority to the restoration of economic stability and growth in Zimbabwe and
proposes the establishment of a National Economic Council, tasked with
spearheading economic recovery.

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Zimbabwe blacklisted over missing millions

By Alex Bell
06 November 2008

Robert Mugabe's government has effectively been placed on the Global Fund
blacklist, after the state's central bank failed to account for more than
US$7 million worth of Global Fund grant money.

Global Fund executive director Michel Kazatchkine announced on Monday that
the donor group had ordered that funds under its administration in Zimbabwe
be placed under the Additional Safeguards Policy (ASP), which aims to ensure
that funding is used for its intended purpose and not to benefit the

The Global Fund took the drastic action after the Reserve Bank (RBZ) failed
to release US$7.295 million of the US$12.3 million, which was lodged with
the central bank. The money was part of a US$103 million grant from the
Geneva based 'Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.' Over
US$28 million was destined for the Health Ministry, for the prevention and
treatment of malaria.

The government requires that all foreign donations to non-governmental
organisations in Zimbabwe be sent through the RBZ and civic groups have
suggested that the funds were spent by the bank on drumming up political
support for ZANU PF, particularly in the run-up to elections in March and
June this year. The Reserve Bank handed out hundreds of imported cars,
tractors, combine harvesters, plasma TVs and other goods, to win over voters
and pay off Mugabe's cronies.

The government initially denied the money had gone missing, but has since
admitted that it was no longer in the central bank. State media on Thursday
quoted Health Minister David Parirenyatwa as saying that government would
'pay back' the missing millions within the next seven days.

CEO of Zimbabwe's National Association of NGOs (NANGO), Cephas Zinhumwe told
Newsreel on Thursday that aid groups "feel cheated by the bank's decision to
deliberately divert critically needed funds." Zinhumwe explained that NANGO
and other groups are still trying to establish how the RBZ plans to deliver
the funds.
"A lot of our people have been affected in serious ways by the bank,"
Zinhumwe explained. "We really hope they will quickly start putting back the
money that belongs to aid groups."

Under the new measures, which come into immediate effect, the Global Fund
will place special emphasis on the transparency and accountability of the
flow of funds to its intended recipients. The blacklisting of Zimbabwe for
failing to release the funds condemns the country to join other rogue states
such as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Cuba and Sudan,
all of whom have been blacklisted by the Global Fund.

The United States has since also pledged to not fund humanitarian agencies
through the central bank, because of it's 'tendency' to divert funds for
other purposes. US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGhee, said this week
that, for the time being, donor funding should be held out of Zimbabwe and
that non-governmental organizations should be permitted to access it

"We have submitted a letter asking the Reserve Bank to give all
non-governmental organisations operating here in Zimbabwe the ability to
access money from off shore accounts. We are still waiting for a response.
We need to know that our people will have access to their funds when they
need it, so that they can go ahead and help the needy people here in
Zimbabwe," he said in an interview with news agency Voice of America.

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Global Fund deadline missed

Photo: Anthony Kaminju/IRIN
The supply and distribution of drugs has been affected
JOHANNESBURG, 6 November 2008 (PlusNews) - The future of Zimbabwe's AIDS programmes hangs in the balance after the government failed to meet the deadline of Thursday 6 November to return over US$7 million to the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Earlier this week, executive director of the Fund Michel Kazatchkine warned that no future grants from the aid agency would be awarded until the remaining US$7.3 million had been transferred to commercial banks by the due date.

This did not happen, despite assurances from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). "The Reserve Bank has failed to meet the deadline and they have asked to be given a little while longer. This doesn't reflect very well on Zimbabwe," said Jon Liden, the Global Fund's spokesman.

The aid agency has five ongoing grants in Zimbabwe worth US$88 million, and disbursed just over US$39 million between 2004 and 2007, helping to enrol 13,000 people in AIDS treatment programmes and supply 330,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to combat malaria.

Some of the money was held by the RBZ, but was distributed "erratically and only partially", which had affected the implementation of programmes, the Fund said.

Read more
Where's the Global Fund money?
Falling foul of the Fund
Possibility of Global Fund lifts mood
AIDS organisations still grounded
Although there was no evidence of fraud, the Global Fund will not be disbursing any more funds to Zimbabwe until it can "come with some guarantees that can make us comfortable that this will not happen again", Liden told IRIN/PlusNews.

"Given the complexities of the hyperinflationary environment and the lack of confidence in the Central Bank, we could look at having as little cash in the country as possible, with implementers accessing the funds without going through the banking system."

The failure to meet the deadline came a day before the Global Fund's board of directors are to meet in New Delhi, India, to decide on whether to approve funding applications from Zimbabwe and other countries.

Zimbabwe's application for about US$300 million for HIV/AIDS, US$58 million for its TB programme, and US$80 million to revive the ailing health sector was found to be "technically sound", and was widely expected to be approved by the board.

Health Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, who also heads the body responsible for drawing up funding proposals, expressed concern over the effects of a possible grant refusal on the country's AIDS efforts.

"We are eagerly waiting for the funds because our people are really in need of it. We hope the disputed US$7 million will not affect our pending grant proposal, and we are working hard to ensure that money goes back to its intended beneficiaries," he told IRIN/PlusNews.

"We strongly recommend that the Global Fund looks at other means to disburse this money, [and are] recommending that any future grants come straight to programme implementers instead of through RBZ, so that we minimise the interferences," he said. "We hope the Global Fund will consider this proposal and not deny the people of Zimbabwe money."


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

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Gono Says Was Unaware of Health Crisis

HARARE, November 6 2008 - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr Gideon
Gono, on Wednesday shocked the nation when he said he was not aware that
there was a critical drugs facing the country despite major hospitals in the
country having scaled down operations.

Gono told a press conference that he would look into the matter soon
when told that Harare and Parirenyatwa Hospitals were closed to the public
since last week. The hospitals have no drugs and doctors and nurses are on

Gono said he would send drugs to the hospitals starting Friday.

The hospitals have been accepting emergency cases only. This is a blow
to many people since private doctors are now charging in foreign currency or
in cash only. No cheques being accepted.

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Bureaucracy prevents importation of cholera drugs

By Tichaona Sibanda
6 November 2008

Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization,
has deployed its staff into Zimbabwe to help fight the cholera epidemic, an
MDC MP disclosed on Thursday.
Willas Madzimure, MDC MP for Kambuzuma in Harare, said the organization has
brought in badly needed facilities, such as special beds for cholera victims
and gloves for medical personnel. But the organization is still waiting to
get the green light from government to import oral rehydration salts and
drugs to deal with the disease.
The doctors provide aid in nearly 60 countries, to people whose survival is
threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, because of armed conflict,
epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.
The Zimbabwe Drugs Control Council, which regulates the importation and
registration of all drugs into the country, has up to now, almost a month
after the outbreak of the disease, still to make a decision on the request
by Doctors Without Borders to fly in drugs to treat cholera.
'We need the government to declare this a health disaster so that
international aid organizations can bring in medicines without much hassle.
As it is Doctors Without Borders have been waiting since their arrival to
try and get the medicines into the country,' Madzimure said.
The legislator said years of bad governance have taken a serious toll on the
country's social services and outbreaks of the waterborne disease are just
one of the consequences of underinvestment in everything from roads, to
health clinics, to clean water.
MDC MPs, led by Madzimure, went on tour of health facilities handling
cholera cases in the capital. He said all the parliamentarians were shocked
by the gravity of the situation, and blamed the regime for underestimating
the figures. Over 100 people are now believed to have died countrywide since
last month.
'All the facilities we visited in the city were full with children, women
and men suffering from cholera. We are deeply disturbed by the government's
failure to react swiftly to the outbreak of the disease,' he said.
In a late, and partial response to the crisis, the central bank announced on
Wednesday that it had provided R8,7 million, plus Z$374 quadrillion and
vehicles and fuel for the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, to try to bring
the cholera outbreak under control. The bank said the foreign currency had
been paid over the past two weeks to import water treatment chemicals, while
the local currency was released on Wednesday to repair and install pumps and
other equipment that have affected water supply in recent months.
Oliver Mudyarabikwa, a medical health expert, said if not treated
immediately cholera could become fatal. In the most severe cases, the quick
loss of huge amounts of body fluids leads to death within two to three
In less severe cases people can still die of shock and dehydration 18 to 48
hours after the first symptoms of cholera appear. Cholera is a bacterial
infection, mostly transmitted through the consumption of contaminated water.
Outbreaks can occur in any part of the country where water supplies,
sanitation, food safety and hygiene practices are inadequate. Overpopulated
communities, usually in high density suburbs with poor sanitation and unsafe
drinking water supplies, are most frequently affected
Although cholera can be life-threatening, it's easily prevented and treated.
Successful treatment requires the replacement of fluids and salts lost
through diarrhoea.
Mudyarabikwa said depending on the condition of the patient, a pre-packed
mixture of sugar and salts can be mixed with water and drunk in large
If the patient is too weak to drink, fluids can be given intravenously.
Although antibiotics may shorten the duration of the symptoms, they're not
as important as rehydration.

Meanwhile, twenty people from Mupandawana growth point in Gutu district,
Masvingo have contracted rabies after being bitten by dogs infected by the
deadly disease.

Masvingo provincial medical director Dr Robert Mudyiradima said they would
investigate the origins of the disease and start working closely with the
Department of Veterinary Services to put down all infected dogs.

No fatalities have been reported so far, but there are fears some of the
infected people might be in danger because of a shortage of anti-rabies
vaccines at nearby health centres and hospitals.

Reports say the outbreak has hit areas such as Gona, Mushayavanhu and
Makuvaza on the outskirts of Mupandawana. Jackals prowling villages in
search of food are believed to have infected dogs in the area.

The district's health referral centre, Gutu Mission Hospital, and other
health centres have run out of anti-rabies vaccines in their stocks.

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WOZA leaders finally released

By Violet Gonda
6 November 2008

The leaders of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Magodonga
Mahlangu and Jenni Williams, were finally released on bail on Thursday after
spending three weeks at Mlondolozi Prison. However the two outspoken
activists have been put under strict bail conditions.

Speaking after her release Williams told SW Radio Africa: "Our freedom of
movement has been curtailed. We cannot move more than 40km out of Bulawayo
which means I cannot visit my rural home. Magodonga cannot visit her rural
home at all. And we have to report twice a week to the nearest police

"So yes we may be out on bail but our freedoms, our liberties have not been
fully restored, until the case has been dropped," The WOZA leader added.

The two leaders who were arrested during a peaceful demonstration in
Bulawayo were suffering from lice infections and said conditions in the
prisons are appalling.

Zimbabwe's prisons are notoriously unhygienic and overcrowded. After
spending 71 days in prison as a political detainee Luke Tamborinyoka, an MDC
official, said upon his release last year; "I am not sure which one is
worse - hell or Mugabe's prisons."

During the course of their unjust detention Mahlangu was moved into a yard
inhabited by mental health patients and dangerous prisoners, both on remand
and convicted. WOZA said: "She was put in a cell with a patient that is
allowed to wander around naked and was moved from Ingutsheni Mental Health
Hospital for murder. She was unable to sleep at night due to the antics of
this and other patients."

The women said there is extreme hunger in the prisons and inmates fight over
scraps of food. The human rights defenders said abuses are rampant and at
Mlondolozi Prison male guards are allowed to wander around the female prison
and can also see into washing facilities. "Prisoners in Yard Two are also
stripped naked every day for inspection by prison officers as they are
locked down. At least three minors (aged 15 and 16) were being kept in the
same cell as Williams."

The WOZA leaders are expected in court on November 10th for their remand

SANTOC (South African No Torture Consortium) welcomed the release of the
WOZA leaders but said it was "deeply concerned' about the conditions under
which prisoners are being held, especially women in Zimbabwe.

SANTOC member Hugh Lewin told us: "Isolation and prison conditions can be
defined as torture and it's not anything that people should be subjected

South African anti torture groups have called on their government and the
regional body, to press Robert Mugabe at this weekend's SADC summit to allow
International Red Cross immediate access to prisons in Zimbabwe.

Williams believes investigations should also be made into police detention,
which can often be worse. She said there is generally no water or food at
all in police cells.

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Panic as banks suspend opening new accounts

Thursday, 06 November 2008 11:03
HARARE - A wave of panic has swept Zimbabwe as banks have suspended
opening of new accounts across the country.

People have been shocked to learn that facilities to save cash have
been stream-lined by banks as the banking system is grinding to a halt in
Zimbabwe. Some bank account holders have even woken up to learn that their
accounts were closed without notice.

Those affected by unexpected closure of accounts are low income
earners whose earnings can not meet the monthly service charges required by

Some serving and retired civil servants who bank with Beverly building
society could not access their October salaries as the Building Society had
hiked the minimum amount not retrievable to Z$50 000, the minimum amount
permissible for any transaction. Pensioners earn less than $50 000.

Contacted for comment, officials at headquarters CABS, Intermarket and
FBC said they had suspended opening of new accounts until further notice.
They could not elaborate.

A senior official with the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said the
central bank was not aware that errant financial houses were no longer
accepting new clients. He promised to investigate and take appropriate

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Civic Groups Call For Debt Audit

HARARE, November 6 2008 - A Zimbabwe civic group with interests in
trade, economic and development issues is launching a campaign for debt
audits on money borrowed by president Robert Mugabe's government from
International Financial Institutions (IFI) during its time in office.

The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), a
representative of civil society groups working in the areas of trade and
development, says it is launching a debt audit campaign to try and make the
Mugabe government accountable for its debts.

"We are moving towards developing debt audits through the new
parliament of Zimbabwe," said Jonah Gokova, ZIMCODD, chairperson at a
meeting on the state of the Zimbabwean economy currently underway in Harare.

"We want to establish who we owe money and how that money was used. If
it was used for illegitimate purposes such for example tear-gasing
demonstrators then the people of Zimbabwe should refuse to pay back this
kind of debt."

This comes soon after reports that the government emblezzled US$7, 3
million donated by the Global AIDS Fund last year to buy anti-retroviral
(ARV) drugs for people living with HIV in Zimbabwe.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has demanded
that government reimburse the US$7,3 million stolen from the US$12,3 million
it gave to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe last year to buy medicine for sick
people in Zimbabwe, before the close of business on Thursday. The
organisation's board willmeets Friday in Geneva to decide whether to grant
the Zimbabwean government a request for an additional US$400 million to
fight AIDS in the crisis-torn country.

Gokova said his coalition believes it has a role to play in monitoring
how money borrowed or which will be borrowed by the new government will be

"We have a role to monitor money coming into the country and how it
will be used. We can't leave this to technocrats in government. In other
words we don't want to end up in a debt crisis and make political decision
makers accountable to the people," said Gokova:

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its latest human
development report says debt among African countries is an obstacle to human

It estimates that Sub-Saharan governments transfer to northern
creditors four times what they spend on health and others social services.

Zimbabwe in its eighth year of economic recession is now one of the
few countries with high and unsustainable level of indebtness. Some of the
debt was accrued from International Financial Institutions (IFI) credits
during the 1990s during the disastrous Economic Structural Adjustment
Programme (ESAP).

ZIMCODD says Zimbabwe's total external debt currently stands at US$
4,9 Billion almost the size of Zimbabwe's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while
the domestic debt stands at $790,6 Quadrillion as of July 2008.

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Is S Africa now on the side of our people?

November 6, 2008

By Tendai Dumbutshena

AFTER a cabinet meeting this week South Africa threatened to take a strong
stand on the Zimbabwe issue at the SADC summit scheduled for Sunday in

Its spokesman Themba Maseko told journalists that cabinet now led by new
President Kgalema Motlanthe was dismayed by the failure of Zimbabwe's
political leaders to implement the September 15 power-sharing agreement.

Soon the world will know if this is just empty talk.

There are a few steps South Africa as the leading country in the region can
take to demonstrate its seriousness on the Zimbabwe issue.. The first is to
remove Thabo Mbeki as the SADC appointed mediator and replace him with
another South African preferably Motlanthe himself.

Mbeki should be removed with his entire team. For eight years Mbeki has
abused his position as mediator to shield Robert Mugabe. In regional blocs
the most powerful countries drive the economic and political agenda. Mbeki
used South Africa's dominant position in SADC to steer the body in the
direction of colluding with the Harare regime.

In other international fora his diplomats and ministers moonlighted as
Mugabe's spokespersons. The end result was an absence of meaningful pressure
on Mugabe to put the interests of Zimbabwe before his own. Mbeki became part
of the problem.

It is an undeniable fact that no country in the world or region has more
leverage on Zimbabwe than South Africa. A strong principled stand on
Zimbabwe by South Africa would have yielded a just solution many years back.
The SADC region would have responded positively to South Africa's lead on
the issue. Former Botswana president, Festus Mogae, hinted as much when he
said it was difficult for small countries such as his own to take a stand on
Zimbabwe while powerful ones were supportive of Mugabe.

In less coded language they were expecting South Africa to take the lead. To
their dismay they saw Mbeki go out of his way to mollycoddle Mugabe. When in
the face of Mugabe's appalling behaviour after the March 29 elections
Botswana decided to go it alone when it became obvious that South Africa
would continue to keep the Zimbabwe leader in its warm embrace.

The second step South Africa must take is to provide strong leadership on
the issue within SADC but make it clear that it reserves the right to adopt
a unilateral position should its views find no traction. It is possible that
countries such as Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia may
resist calls for a tough position on Zimbabwe.

Should that be the case at Sunday's summit South Africa must state that as
the country most affected by the chaos in Zimbabwe it will pursue a policy
that advances the interests of Zimbabwe's people as well as its own. South
Africa's position must be premised on the non-recognition of the June 27
presidential run-off election. There should be a clear understanding that
the people of Zimbabwe did not freely elect Mugabe on June 27. It is
encouraging that Motlanthe's government has made the release of a R300
million aid package to Zimbabwe conditional on the establishment of a
recognized multi-party government. Mbeki would have unconditionally released
the funds to prop up Mugabe.

A multilateral approach does not preclude a country from taking a unilateral
position in defence of its principles and interests. Botswana has just
demonstrated that. South Africa and Botswana are the countries most affected
by the situation in Zimbabwe. It is to these countries that distressed
Zimbabweans flock. In Botswana, given the smallness of its population, the
impact of the influx is painfully felt.

The presence of illegal Zimbabweans has become a thorny internal political
issue. The terrible violence against African foreigners in South Africa
which claimed over 60 lives was in part attributable to the influx of
Zimbabweans into that country's slum areas. The savage fight for scarce
resources triggered the shocking violence. Botswana and South Africa
therefore have a strong vested interest in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis.
They should provide leadership on the issue in SADC.

In a letter written to ANC leader Jacob Zuma last week Mbeki listed Mugabe
as one of the liberation heroes he had been honoured to work with. His
policy on Zimbabwe was informed by an ideological imperative to show
solidarity with a liberation comrade and hero. He subordinated the interests
of South Africa, Zimbabwe and the region to the dogma of revolutionary
solidarity. It is this position that Motlanthe's government must break with
beginning on Sunday at the summit.

Motlanthe is the current chair of SADC. In that capacity as well as that of
South Africa's president, he must make it clear to Mugabe that the carte
blanche he got from Mbeki to do as he pleased no longer exists. He must
spell it out that he either demonstrates a genuine commitment to the
agreement or he will face new internationally- run elections. He must not
perpetuate Mbeki's habit of putting all the pressure on the MDC while
treacherously colluding with Mugabe. If Motlanthe takes such a bold and
principled stand he will get support from the majority of SADC countries
yearning for such leadership. They were silenced and intimidated by the
position taken by the then leader of the strongest country in the region -

But Motlanthe will only be in power for a few months. It is therefore
important that his likely successor Jacob Zuma weighs in. In his capacity
as ANC president Zuma should not leave Mugabe under an illusion that the
Mbeki policy of appeasement and complicity will continue. He should act in
tandem with Motlanthe to drive a new policy on Zimbabwe that delivers a just
and lasting solution.

The SADC summit should seriously consider Botswana's proposal that
internationally supervised elections be held to determine who governs
Zimbabwe. This position is informed by a recognition of the obvious - that
the power-sharing agreement, thanks to an unwillingness on Mugabe's part to
honour it, will not work. It does not provide a solution. It heralds a false
dawn. It is an exercise in futility that will only deepen and prolong the
crisis. South Africa is uniquely positioned to insist on a real solution.
The words of cabinet must be translated into deeds. The SADC summit on
Sunday convened to discuss Zimbabwe is a good starting point to show that
South Africa is now ready to stand on the side of the people of Zimbabwe.

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Analyst Says President-Elect Obama Could Spur Zimbabwe Peace Effort


By Chinedu Offor
06 November 2008

One of the African issues to face the President-elect Barack Obama is the
worsening economic, humanitarian and political situation in Zimbabwe. Some
analysts say he is uniquely positioned to help Zimbabwe get back on track.

Others feel President Robert Mugabe will continue to pursue the same
policies regardless of who is in the White House.

John Makumbe, professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe,
says an Obama presidency will put the country back on track.

"We were celebrating yesterday and they are still at it, some of them they
are hoping Barack Obama will be firmer with Robert Mugabe in terms of
getting him to do the right thing," he said. "Barack Obama is expected to be
allergic to dictators, particularly in Africa, and the people of Zimbabwe
are hoping that he will push harder than George Bush was doing to get rid of
Robert Mugabe from the seat of power in Zimbabwe."

Makumbe says Mr. Obama has the potential to make a significant positive
impact in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis.

"I think he will have more political clout being an African American; he has
a very powerful platform to stand on.. The African Union.will take very
seriously what one of their own sons would say and so Barack Obama would
have the ear of most African leaders and if he would be saying the situation
in Zimbabwe is untenable, it's embarrassing to Africa, it's embarrassing to
African Americans, it's embarrassing to mankind - they will take that
seriously, yes," he said.

The political science professor says Mr. Obama will probably implement the
same policies as President Bush.

"With two wars in Iraq, there is precious little [he would do] because I
don't think even Barack Obama would open another military front, least of
all in Africa, but I think there will be an intensification of sanctions
against the Robert Mugabe regime," he said. "I think there will be more
diplomatic effort to get not just the SADC countries, but also the Africa
Union, to apply pressure on Robert Mugabe to do the right thing."

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US Expected to Change Tactics in Zimbabwe Crisis

Constructive engagement key for Africa as Obama takes charge

Gibbs Dube

Published 2008-11-06 17:26 (KST)

Washington, DC -- The United States government is expected to change
tactics in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis and other issues affecting the
African continent following the election of the first black American
president, Barack Obama.

"Obama is likely to take a strong interest in African conflicts and
other issues as he brings to the presidency a world view that he has lived
other cultures. He is expected to have a more focused interest in Africa
than President George Bush in tackling issues like the Zimbabwe crisis,"
said Steve McDonald, a senior programme officer of the Wilson Center, a
Washington think tank devoted to international affairs.

He said although Bush should be commended for showing interest in
various issues in Africa such as HIV/AIDS, poverty alleviation and conflict,
he may have achieved remarkable result if he consulted African leaders.

"Obama is expected to change his strategies in dealing with most
African conflicts and chances are high that he will consult widely when
tackling these issues. I can imagine a situation where he will one day chair
a meeting convened by leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community
to chat the way forward in resolving conflicts and other problems," said
McDonald. "In situations like Zimbabwe where the former president of South
Africa Thabo Mbeki has failed in his mediation efforts, that is when a
leader like Obama may come up with a consultative strategy to help in
resolving the conflict. I think he will have the right people to do such
consultations worldwide and I know some of the people that he is targeting
for such diplomatic initiatives."

He noted that while leaders like the late Zambian president Levi
Mwanawasa had taken a direct lead in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis, the
American government should have done a lot in engaging SADC leaders in
resolving the conflict.

"We were always seen to be on the sidelines and giving moral support
in resolving conflicts in countries like Zimbabwe, Sudan, Chad, Somalia and
the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is the time when there is need for
very serious consultations with African leaders in order to resolve these
conflicts. I am not saying that the USA will abandon all its domestic issues
and focus on African problems and solutions," he said.

Although the president-elect would in the short term be expected to
address domestic issues in America such as the economic meltdown and the war
in Iraq and Afghanistan, Africans are eagerly waiting to see what the son of
a Kenyan father would do for the continent, ravaged by famine, poverty,
conflicts and HIV/AIDS.

There is hope among Africans that he would make an impact in Africa.

"I think Obama's win is a victory for all Americans but as a son of
Africa I hope his concerns about America's negative international image will
translate into more constructive engagements with African leaders," said
South African citizen, Eaton Prince, a Fulbright fellow at the University of
Maryland College Park and lecturer at Rhodes University.

His colleague, Grace Githaiga of Kenya, was a bit apprehensive about
Obama's impact. "While I am very excited about his election, I am aware that
he is the USA president and that will not lead to a lot of changes in Kenya.
Personally, I don't expect a lot of change in my life but the best thing he
has done is to put Kenya into the world map."

For African Americans, the election of Obama has brought hope of a
united nation based on someone's abilities and not skin colour.

"This is a tremendous moment for the celebration of the election of
the first black president of America. Although he may not immediately bring
to an end racial discrimination in some parts of the USA, his presence will
be felt in terms of racial issues. I never dreamt that one day we will have
a black president. This is a great honour for all Americans," said Professor
Ronald Walters, director of the African American Leadership Institute,
distinguished leadership scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of
Leadership, and professor in government and politics at the University of

Professor Walters who was also the deputy campaign manager of Reverend
Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign in 1984, a board member of the Black
Leadership Forum and National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, said
Obama would certainly change the way people view racial issues.

"This unique election has a lasting effect in changing racial
attitudes. Obama may not effectively deal with the issue of race while at
the White House and so I think we should be cautious on this matter. We are
not yet in the post-racial America but there are high expectations that
things would change in this country," he said.

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Elias Mugari, "Obama has had a profound effect on many Zimbabweans"

Photo: Wikipedia
US President-elect Barack Obama
HARARE, 6 November 2008 (IRIN) - Businessman Elias Mugari squeezed into a crowded hotel lobby in Harare, Zimbabwe, on 5 November to watch a TV tuned to a satellite broadcast of the victory speech of US President-elect Barack Obama. With tears in his eyes, he told IRIN what he hoped an Obama presidency would mean for his crisis-ridden country.

"We held our elections in March, and this is November and they have not been finalised. On television we watched Obama win an election which was free of violence and with none of the controversy [which plagued] ours. The loser, John McCain, quickly conceded defeat when it became clear that he would not win.

"Zimbabweans as a people, who are hurting because of election violence, are yearning for such a peaceful transfer of power. Even our rogue politicians would feel bad about subjecting us to this bad lifestyle when a fellow black person in the USA is assuming power in a peaceful manner.

"It is good for Zimbabwe in particular, and Africa in general, that a young African-American has become the most powerful man in the world. For decades, African dictators have always hit back at Western countries which suggest they practice the rule of law and democracy, [accusing them of being] racists and imperialists.

"When Obama preaches democracy and the rule of law to the same African despots, they can't accuse him of being racist. An additional dilemma for any African dictator would be the mere fact that Obama has such charisma and appeal among Africans, a verbal fight with him would make them [even more] unpopular in their countries.

"For Zimbabweans in particular, comparing the ages of [President Robert] Mugabe, who is 84, and Obama, who is just 47, will change the thinking of many of us who suddenly realise that younger leaders can offer new ideas and new solutions.

"Many Zimbabweans, including elderly people who rarely follow global politics, have followed the rise of Obama, and they have identified with his ideas. Obama has had a profound effect on many Zimbabweans, with the younger generation regarding him as one of their own, while the elderly view him as some favourite nephew whose ideas they have quickly embraced."

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

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Zimbabwe's biggest gold miner shuts down five mines

5 hours ago

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's largest gold mining firm has stopped operations at
its five mines across the strife-torn country, resulting in 5,000 people
losing jobs, an official said Thursday.

The closures resulted from long delays in receiving payments for gold
delivered to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which has a monopoly on the
country's gold trade, Collen Gura, chief executive officer for Metallon Gold
told AFP.

"We have no mine which is operating at the moment," he said.

"We cannot continue to produce when we are not getting paid, so there are no
operations at any of our mines across the country," said Gura.

Metallon Gold, which produces 40 percent of the country's gold output, is
owned by South African mining mogul Mzi Khumalo.

Gura added that it did not make business sense to borrow money from
commercial banks "as we are being asked to pay 9,500 percent per annum,
which is not sustainable to any operation."

According to the Chamber of Mines, Zimbabwe's gold production plunged by 61
percent to 295.57 kilogrammes (652 pounds) in March, compared to February
this year.

Average monthly gold production has declined from 2,259 kilos in 1999 to 267
kilos, said the Chamber.

Gold contributes 35 percent of Zimbabwe's total foreign currency earnings.

The Chamber of Mines said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) owes gold
producers 30 million US dollars (23.3 million euros) in unpaid fees, dating
back to end of 2007.

"The failure by the RBZ to pay for gold delivered to it has decimated the
entire gold industry," the organisation said in a statement.

Gold has traditionally been one of Zimbabwe's main foreign currency earners,
but the mining sector has been crippled in recent months by power cuts,
shortages of foreign currency and the exodus of experienced personnel.

The southern African nation, currently gripped by a post-election crisis,
has been ravaged by hyperinflation which shot up to 321 million percent on
October 9, along with a high unemployment rate and food shortages.

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Marange's silent war of stones


Last updated: 11/07/2008 15:11:41
THE ruins of the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe which lie in Masvingo remain
one of the country's treasures. Built of stone but without mortar, the ruins
tell a story of a once rich and glorious past.

So when the new nation was christened with a new name, Zimbabwe, in 1980, it
was a statement of aspiration to an illustrious civilisation; a statement of
dreams to engineer and reconstruct a 'house of stone'.

Few imagined at the time, however, that barely thirty years later, the
country itself would be a mirror image of the Zimbabwe Ruins - political and
economic ruins that conjure only beautiful memories.

But for the people of the eastern parts of the country, the SaManyika, few
would have imagined that the notion of a 'house of stone' would take an
entirely different and ominous meaning meaning. Because here, in this
beautiful land of rolling hills and mountains; the land of the affable
SaManyika, there is a new, most beautiful stone, which carries on its
sparkling surface, some very hideous baggage, a load that may be far too
heavy to carry.

Little known by much of the world, a gory story of avarice, corruption and
blood is unfolding in these parts.

It is a far cry from the innocence that has characterised this area for a
long time. For years, the one feature for which Marange was renowned was its
flock of the faithful whose song and prayer always had an unmistakable
presence and resonance across the country. Mapositori ekwaMarange (the
Apostles of Marange) remain faithful servants of the Word. But, perhaps, not
even they could have foreseen the mosaic of wealth and depravity that would
befall their lands.

It's been just over a couple of years now since the existence of the
beautiful stone in Marange became public knowledge. There are those who say
a diamond is a woman's best friend. Others have gone further to say that
diamonds are forever.

But for the girls and women of Marange, violated and raped in the lawless
climate as they are caught up in the diamond rush, this stone has taken a
more sinister meaning that far outweighs the apparent signification of
wealth. For the villagers who have been displaced; made strangers in their
own homes, the beauty of the stone would seem like a curse.

There is something very ugly about these beautiful treasures. As moths are
drawn to candlelight, so have all manner of characters been attracted to
Chiadzwa Village in Marange all in pursuit of the good stone.

I am told they have come from far and wide - from many parts of the country.
They have also found a new home in the cooler climes of the beautiful
Eastern Highlands, all the way from Lebanon, Israel, South Africa, Belgium,
Mozambique, etc. Suddenly, they all love Marange.

I am told that Mutare's Chikanga suburb is awash with the latest models from
the production line at Daimler AG and Bavarian Motor Works (BMW). They say
Mutare is the new City of Diamonds, the city with the sparkle. It is the
place to be for the hunters of fortune.

The diamond is a bewitching stone. It pleases the eye and the heart. From
royalty to paupers, everyone loves the stone. It is part of the collection
which they call 'bling-bling' in modern parlance.

Young men wear heavy chains of gold and diamond around their necks and sing
about love. They also sing about guns and power, oblivious of the origins of
the stones they so covet.

But the diamond also pleases the pocket, which, for a people suffering
untold hardships, must be a great relief. But as we have seen in many parts
of Africa, diamonds can also be a plague; a cancer that ravages the society,
if not properly managed. And that is why the apparent lawlessness and chaos
surrounding the Marange's beautiful stone is worrying.

Last week, I wrote in these pages about the possibilities of civil conflict
in Zimbabwe and when I read feedback from kind readers, it dawned on me that
in fact the beautiful stone of Marange could easily become a catalyst for

Famous Zimbabwean writer, Chenjerai Hove, wrote last year in an article
entitled, 'Chiadzwa, a community devoured by diamonds', in which he lamented
the corruption of an innocent land that he had visited a decade before. At
the time, few took notice and media coverage has been sporadic. It is a
story that has been dwarfed by the seemingly endless political soap opera in
Harare. Yet, this circumstance provides the most worrying point as Zimbabwe
slides further into the quagmire.

There are real fears that the situation in Marange's diamond fields is being
grossly underestimated by all politicians. I am told there are increasing
concerns about injurious and fatal clashes between the treasure hunters.
Last week, it was reported that five people had been killed in a helicopter
raid by the authories.

It is said many more are dying because of the clashes. The clashes are not
just between the diggers, they also involve the men in uniform deployed
there ostensibly to 'look after' the diamonds. Those who have been asked to
guard demand bribes - 'protection fees', they call them. Everyone is digging
in Chiadzwa - teachers, pupils, villagers, the uniformed men, etc; they are
all digging for the stone. If they are not digging, they are buying or

Many hands are dirty, bloody even. There are big and small politicians;
there are men with guns, others with a lot of money and many more
impecunious villagers who do the digging. Some media reports say that
schools have become deserted as teachers and pupils seek to eke out a living
in the diamond fields.

All this is a result of lawlessness. That is what happens when a country
waves goodbye to the rule of law. The government spilt the milk a few years
ago when it allowed lawlessness to decide the land reform exercise. Then we
had the new breed of 'New Farmers'. Today, the same lawlessness defines the
activities in Marange. We have a new breed of 'New Miners'. It is just a
continuation of the same old and tragic theme.

Not even the locals of Marange who should benefit most are getting just
rewards. Instead, they have been displaced and used. The company that owns
legal title to the claims, African Consolidated Resources plc, founded in
Zimbabwe and listed on the London Stock Exchange, was reportedly evicted
unlawfully from Marange - this is a country which hopes to attract foreign
investment; a country where property rights are decided by the fist, not by
the law.

The big diamond companies may have declared a few years ago that they would
not deal in illegally mined diamonds, the so-called 'blood diamonds', but
the reality is that someone somewhere up there is buying the Marange
diamonds. And some celebrity somewhere is carrying them around their ample

I write about Marange's stones because anybody who cares to follow the
pattern of conflict in Africa knows that bitter conflicts on the beleaguered
continent have centred on these stones. From Sierra Leonne, Liberia and the
DRC, diamonds have been at the centre of and the fuel that drives civil
conflict. The current tragic events in Eastern DRC are most telling.

Other than South Africa and Botswana, where the government has managed to
create a mutually beneficial commercial partnership with large diamond
merchant De Beers, most places in Africa where diamonds have been discovered
in recent times have generally experienced civil war and anarchy. Sierra
Leonne, Liberia and the DRC are prominent examples, where the issue of
'blood diamonds' has been contentious for many years. The terrible scenario
was immortalised in the Hollywood film, the appropriately entitled, 'Blood

The horrific scenes in that film may not be far off given the rush and
lawlessness in Marange. The battles start at a small scale but they soon
escalate, fuelled by the wealth that diamonds bring. Today, Zimbabwe is poor
and tired but it is a house sitting on beautiful stones, just as it rests of
fertile land. These resources, however, have become dormant or fuel for
chaos. Imagine the foreign currency that a few diamonds would bring to
Zimbabwe? Imagine what the earnings for the nation could do for the
hospitals, roads, schools and the infrastructure across the country? Imagine
the sparkle the stones could give to the whole nation?

But no. These stones are for the few who have power. If ever there was an
instance of poor management of resources, and we know that land is a prime
example, but surely the handling of the beautiful stone of Marange is right
up there. We complain in Africa that Europeans and Americans exploit us but
sometimes I cannot help thinking that if they do, perhaps, we make it far
too easy for them. The beautiful stone of Marange could well become the
ugliest curse on the nation.

I do not know if the famous Mapositori ekwaMarange (the Apostles of Marange)
are still there. Perhaps they, too, have been lured to the diamond fields.
But if they are, and if they still sing as beautifully as they used to, they
must sing even louder; and if they still pray like they used to, they must
pray even louder, because this land now requires the Hand that wrote it all.
Otherwise the country could be brought down very easily by the beautiful
stone on which it sits.

Alex Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, The University of Kent. He can be
contacted at

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Denial of water is denial of life

Zimbabwe's urban areas have for the past years been operating without
adequate water supplies among other basic necessities such as food and
electricity. Most cities have been transformed into rural areas as hordes of
men and women carrying buckets of water for use at home are now a common
sight. The only available sources of water are unsafe dug up wells and burst
water pipes. Water taps have become relics of urban yesteryear life. To see
water coming out of taps is now seen as a privilege and favour not a basic
human right. Seeing water coming out of the taps now induces an element of
fear, anxiety and uncertainty as people wonder when this privilege will end,
somewhat bestowed on them by some mysterious water god.

If the water comes in the middle of the night, one is jolted out of deep
sleep by the purring sound of pressure that spurs one into filling up
containers before the life saving liquid disappears into the night.
Zimbabweans have been stripped bare of their rights by an insensitive
government concerned only about its survival. People move around with
buckets in their hands and cars while some go to work carrying towels and
soap with the hope of finding somewhere to fetch water or bath. Despite poor
delivery of such basic social services Zimbabweans have continued to endure
the suffering without any signs of spontaneous protests.

The situation however, seems to get worse by the day. Budiriro, Glenview and
surrounding residential areas in Harare have been hit by a cholera outbreak
which the government seems to play down. One of my friends recently lost a
brother in Budiriro because of cholera and in that neighbourhood about five
people have died during the month of October 2008. These deaths are a result
of negligence and disrespect for human life by the responsible authorities.
Budiriro has been without water for more than six months and the deaths I
have mentioned are only those I am aware of. I believe there are many people
who have died without being mentioned under the pretense of not wanting to
cause alarm and despondency in the City of Harare.

Harare residents have been left to their own means and devices and they
await the day cholera will strike them. Their life is at the mercy of the
Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and the government who does not
seem to be moved at all by this calamity.

ZINWA's motto:-"Water is Life" is emblazoned on ZINWA vehicles and office
walls. The irony is amazing. An institution mandated to facilitate
accessibility of water is now infamous for denying people their right to
life. People continue to die because they are being denied water, a basic
human necessity.

How many people will have to die for ZINWA to act and provide people with
safe water?

This entry was posted on November 6th, 2008 at 3:02 pm by Fungisai Sithole

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Comment from a correspondent

The only peaceful option left for Zimbabwe

To borrow from the television comedy, ‘Alo Alo’- ‘you must listen very carefully because I shall say this only once’. Not that there is anything humorous or funny about the goings on in Zimbabwe at the moment but that we have reached a stage in the history of our country whereby something has to be said once and for all.

As a Zimbabwean patriot my heart bleeds when I see daily television and other media images of malnourished children, hospital wards with no medical drugs, and stories of mass unemployment, unpaid or poorly paid doctors, teachers, nurses and workers in general, of Zimbabweans reportedly eating dogs (in Wedza), roots, tree leaves (in Matebeleland) and sleeping in bank queues for days in order to afford bus fares only.

I think that the Zimbabwe power sharing agreement is a waste of innocent lives, time and money and that it is time the MDC led by His Excellency Mr Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the deal and called for UN/EU/AU/SADC supervised presidential elections at least in three months time under a UN transitional government.

Despite the so-called power sharing deal people continue to die of political violence in towns, rural areas and on farms, from preventable diseases like cholera and hunger in Africa’s ex-bread basket because of Mr Robert Mugabe’s selfish grip on power

The alleged doctoring of the power sharing document by some of the participants with the full knowledge of the so-called mediator clearly demonstrates bad faith and that the deal is a gigantic fraud against the majority of Zimbabweans who voted unanimously for MDC – hence humiliation of Mr Tsvangirai by being denied a passport for travel beyond the country for which he is supposed to be the Prime Minister.

In my view Mugabe’s cold feet and refusal to form an all inclusive government are proof of the true intentions of ZANU(PF) and its biased mediator in the first place and these were

i. to weaken the opposition against ZANU(PF)’s dictatorship – by grounding Mr Tsvangirai while giving Mugabe freedom to travel around the world with a huge entourage;

ii. to buy time and save face for the discredited Robert Gabriel Mugabe who still sees himself as the freedom fighter and liberator of Zimbabwe and a pan-Africanist, despite losing elections decisively;

iii. to try to use the MDC to entice the international community for the much needed foreign aid and investment hence the reported concession to allow MDC to head the Finance Ministry but only after protracted talks, deadlocks, walkouts – you name it;

iv. to secure from MDC immunity for Mugabe and his war veterans as well heads of the security forces against prosecution for genocide and crimes against humanity – hence refusal to let go of the Home Affairs Ministry as it holds the keys to the prisons and police dockets etc;

v. to protect Mugabe’s paranoia about possible military intervention by any frustrated neighbouring African or western countries (a la Saddam way) - hence ZANU(PF)’s refusal to give the defence ministry to MDC come rain or thunder;

vi. to keep the media muzzled under the notorious media laws ironically enacted with impunity by the ex-colonised against their own nationals although even Ian Smith allowed Moto, the Observer, the Zimbabwe Times and other progressive publications to be published in racist Rhodesia of course under difficult conditions – hence not a single attempt by the power deal to free the air waves and lift the ban on the Zimbabwe Daily News to ensure balanced reporting at least during the talks

Sadly, black Zimbabweans, who should be their own liberators are today their own oppressors–not the western colonialists or imperialists. It is nave to trust that Mugabe and his Zanu PF) army generals will ever agree to relinquish power and form any meaningful Government of National Unity through the mediation of SADC or the AU. Just forget it. The whole idea of seeking on forming a government suggests that there will deadlocks on virtually everything of substance such as the budget, land redistribution, a crackdown on corruption, international representation and so on. We can’t be going to SADC or the African Union for that. The power sharing deal makes Zimbabwe ungovernable – that was the only thing Thabo Mbeki achieved as a mediator.

The only peaceful option left for Zimbabwe is a final round of peaceful and democratic elections under the auspices of the United Nations and a new constitution. Meanwhile no guarantees of immunity should be given or be assumed to have been given to anyone under the doctored power-sharing deal because it is void and hence non-issue.





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Animal rights activists slam South Africa ivory auction

Submitted by Sahil Nagpal on Thu, 11/06/2008 - 13:19.

Pretoria - Animal rights activists and a renowned conservationist on
Thursday slammed the sale by South Africa of 51 tonnes of ivory, calling
four recent auctions of tusks to Asian buyers "irresponsible" and a
"disservice to conservation."

The ivory trade has been banned since 1989. However, the 171 members of the
UN-backed Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
last year gave the go-ahead for the governments of South Africa, Namibia,
Zimbabwe and Botswana to sell ivory accumulated in their national parks in
one-day sales. The four countries have healthy elephant populations.

Thursday's sale in Pretoria - the last and the biggest of the auctions that
began in Namibia on October 28 - got underway after a nearly two-hour delay
caused when buyers refused to start bidding in front of the media.

Animal rights groups have objected to the auctions, saying all sales of
ivory - even legal - stimulate black market trade in the so- called "white
gold" and, consequentially, elephant poaching.

Renowned Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey said in a statement he
believed auctioning off ivory would fuel poaching "particularly in the
central, eastern and western African elephant range states, where poaching
is not yet properly controlled."

Last year, some African countries, such as Kenya and Mali, had objected to
the sales.

Leakey accused CITES of failing to protect endangered species and of being
beholden to "partisan interests."

The United States-based International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
released a statement saying the sale of an "exorbitant amount of ivory to
flood the market" was just "plain irresponsible" and would increase illegal
hunting activities.

The sale takes place nearly a decade after the last permitted sale of ivory
in the region, in 1999.

Dozens of journalists were ordered out of the room at the Reserve Bank in
Pretoria after about two dozen Chinese and Japanese traders objected to the
public knowing how much they purchased. The other three auctions also took
place behind closed doors.

The ivory itself was not on show. Images of the tusks, which are being
stored in Kruger National Park and sold in lots, were displayed on a big

Ivory is used mainly in carved ornaments, including dagger handles, and is
particularly popular in Asia.

Where elephants were killed for their tusks, park rangers also often lost
their lives trying to protect them, IFAW said.

"The situation is very clear: more ivory in the marketplace equals more dead
elephants - and rangers," Wamithi said.

Both IFAW and Leakey also took exception to the origin of the buyers.

Traders from China and Japan were the only two groups CITES approved to buy
the ivory. IFAW protested the choice, arguing that they are "among the
world's largest illegal ivory markets." Raw unworked ivory sells for upwards
of 850 dollars a kilogramme in Asia, according to IFAW.

Leakey also complained that China had a bad track record on controlling the
illegal ivory trade.

Defending the auctions, the South African government said the four countries
involved in the auctions have over 312,000 elephants and that those
populations were increasing.

CITES has stipulated that the proceeds from the ivory be put towards
wildlife management and community development.

In total, 108 tonnes of ivory, harvested mainly from elephants that died
accidentally or of natural causes in national parks, went on the auction
block over the past two weeks.

The 55 tonnes sold in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana through Thursday sold
for around 7 million dollars, around 127 dollars per kilogramme.

Of the 51 tonnes for sale in Pretoria, 46 tonnes comes from the world-famous
Kruger National Park.

Of this stock, local media reported that some was from elephants culled
before 1994, when the practice was allowed to control the pachyderm
population. South Africa only last year relaxed a 13-year moratorium on the
practise, allowing culling as a measure of last resort.

After Thursday's sale is over, the trade will have to wait at least another
nine years before CITES says it can envisage another sale. (dpa)

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