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Get tough or call the UN, rights body tells Zimbabwe crisis summit

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Southern African leaders need to get tough with
President Robert Mugabe or ask the United Nations to step in, Human Rights
Watch said Saturday ahead of a crunch summit on Zimbabwe's crisis.

A new 47-page report accuses Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of using Zimbabwe's
police and judicial system against the opposition and civil society despite
a unity accord signed in September.

The New York-based body estimates that 163 people have been killed in
political violence since the country's disputed March elections, which saw
Mugabe lose his majority in parliament for the first time since

"ZANU-PF's institutions of repression remain intact, and there has been no
change in their abusive conduct and attitude," said Africa director
Georgette Gagnon in a statement.

"The regional leaders in SADC need to get tough on the party leader, Robert
Mugabe, or ask the United Nations to intervene," she added.

South Africa will host an emergency summit of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) on Sunday, when heads of state from the 15
members will try to resolve a deadlock over the sharing of key cabinet posts
between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Gagnon said it was time for the regional bloc to put pressure on ZANU-PF.

"It mistakenly trusted former South African president Thabo Mbeki's quiet
diplomacy and his belief that Mugabe would restore the rule of law and
respect human rights," Gagnon said.

Zimbabwe's unity accord brokered by Mbeki is teetering on the verge of
collapse over a protracted dispute on which party will control the most
powerful ministries, especially home affairs which oversees the police.

The South African government this week warned that Zimbabwe's impasse -- 
which has seen the country plunge farther into humanitarian crisis -- was
becoming a threat to regional stability.

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Our leaders must make Africa too hot for Mugabe

Updated 23 min(s) ago
Today, leaders of 15 African States meet under the aegis of Southern African
Development Community in Johannesburg to try to unlock the power-sharing
impasse in Zimbabwe.

They will meet hours after the influential leader of South Africa's African
National Congress Jacob Zuma, who is expected to be SA's president after
election next year, proposed the use of 'force' to disentangle the standoff.

Zuma's country has bore the brunt of the three million refugees fleeing
Zimbabwe, as the think-skinned President Robert Mugabe, presides over the
world's worst case of hyperinflation. Mugabe is accusing peaceful and stable
neighbouring Botswana of interfering in the internal affairs of his tattered

Zimbabwe is not only grappling with the reality of empty shop shelves and
pump station tanks, but worrisome food shortages, and annual inflation that
has now soared above 230 million per cent. Robust America, which is a global
economic powerhouse, just for reasons of comparison, has an annual inflation
rate of three per cent.

It is a sad moment for Africa as Mugabe plays a lethal game of ping-pong
over who will take which seats, given that across in the troubled Great
Lakes region, which was the epicentre of the 1994 genocide, it is another
sordid exodus of hapless humans as a rag-tag militia kills innocent

The prospect of violence in Zimbabwe is real, and this week Mugabe's rival
said torture camps had been set up and opposition sympathisers were being
harangued by goons associated with the President's Zanu-PF.

It has been a long and arduous road for Zimbabwe, whose life expectancy
under Mugabe has dropped by half, even as he blames the economic ruin under
his watch on sanctions by Western states. That would not, however, stop him
from thumping his chest while spewing such 'patriotic' and 'nationalistic'
epithets against Western 'imperialism'.

On September 15, Mugabe and his fiercest rival, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai who is
Prime Minister-designate and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change,
signed the unity government deal to avert war. Mugabe did not mince words,
even before the ink dried up on the deal signed before eminent African
leaders, that it was humiliating. As it turned out he had other ideas,
probably by signing he was bluffing even as he groped for a safety valve
that would help ease the pressure on himself.

The agreement that would have seen Tsvangirai as the PM hit the brick wall
when Mugabe opted to dish out key Cabinet positions to members of his party.
The MDC leader accused Mugabe of unwillingness to compromise and live up to
his end of the bargain.

Today, it is another agonising moment for a country that has not had a full
and functional government since the sham elections in March. Tsvangirai, who
boycotted the rerun because Mugabe took up the instruments of State and its
monopoly of violence, won the first round. Mugabe, in his usual streak of
bigotry and raw display of arrogance, then promised his opponents he would
tear them apart.

It is time the region stopped handling Mugabe with kid gloves in the pretext
of non-interference in the internal affairs of another State. Pressure must
be intensified. To sit on our laurels hoping for divine intervention is to
be his accomplice in the catastrophe.

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SADC says Zimbabwe leaders are running out of time

Sat 8 Nov 2008, 14:57 GMT

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Southern African leaders said on Saturday
Zimbabwean parties should stop arguing about the allocation of government
posts and reach agreement at a summit this weekend.

A political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe has forced millions of
Zimbabweans to leave their country, mainly to South Africa, to escape food
shortages and high inflation.

"At the moment they are quibbling around the distribution of ministries. We
think this is a luxury we can least afford," South African President Kgalema
Motlanthe said on SABC radio.

"They should be striving to form one government for the people of Zimbabwe
so that they can begin to tackle the challenges of economic recovery and
political stability."

The Southern African Development Community is due to meet in Johannesburg on
Sunday to try to solve an impasse between President Robert Mugabe and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai over allocating cabinet posts under a
power-sharing deal they reached in September.

South Africa's government on Thursday said it would take a tough stand at
the summit. This was a sharp change from the style of former President Thabo
Mbeki, whose softly-softly approach as official southern African mediator
has been criticised as ineffective.

SADC's Executive Secretary Tomaz Salamao told reporters: "We have to be
always optimistic. We need to have an optimistic approach when it comes to

"I believe it is the hope of the Zimbabweans, the hope of the region, that
we will have an inclusive government in place so that it can concentrate on
the burning issues ... in particular the humanitarian part. Time is not on
our side."

Past meetings of regional heads of state have failed to produce a
breakthrough and there were signs that the parties may face another round of
difficult negotiations.

Salamao said Tsvangirai was in South Africa for the summit and Mugabe and
Arthur Mutambara of the smaller MDC faction were invited but had not yet

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'Zimbabwe leaders must avoid trivial issues'


November 08, 2008, 15:00

President Kgalema Motlanthe has emphasised that fact that all political
parties in Zimbabwe should get serious and refrain from engaging each other
in what he has called trivial issues. He was speaking after re-registering
in his new voting district in Pretoria.

Motlanthe says Zimbabwe's political impasse cannot be allowed to drag on
forever. He says he hopes the extra-ordinary SADC summit, to be held in
Sandton tomorrow, will come up with a lasting solution.

The extra-ordinary summit was called after the SADC Troika on Defence,
Politics and Security failed to broker a settlement on cabinet allocations
in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa Simon Khaya Moyo says they
are anxious about tomorrow's SADC heads of states summit, which will be the
final push to resolve the current political stalemate in that country.

Leaders of the 15-nation regional bloc are due to meet in Johannesburg. They
will try and solve the impasse between President Robert Mugabe and
opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai over the allocation of cabinet posts
under the power-sharing deal, which was reached in September.

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Opposition: Mugabe's neighbors toughening

By DONNA BRYSON - 43 minutes ago

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - President Robert Mugabe's peers are losing
patience, the top negotiator for the Zimbabwe opposition said on the eve of
an extraordinary regional summit called to deal with the southern African
nation's power-sharing deadlock.

Tendai Biti, who has been trying to form a unity government between Mugabe's
ZANU-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, said in an
interview with The Associated Press on Saturday that Mugabe was increasingly
surrounded by a new, democratic breed of leader. Biti singled out Botswana's
President Seretse Ian Khama, who has condemned state-sponsored political
violence in Zimbabwe and called for internationally supervised elections to
resolve its leadership crisis.

Mugabe's long-ruling ZANU-PF party responded by accusing its neighbor
Botswana of training militants to overthrow him, charges that Khama and Biti
dismissed. Biti said the accusations were the sort of "grandstanding" and
"nonsense" Mugabe's neighbors were no longer prepared to accept.

"With Mugabe, you're dealing with a very arrogant, very experienced
dictator," Biti said. "You've got to deal with Mugabe, first, with courage.
Second, you've got to have a game plan."

Increasingly, Biti said, African leaders were bravely saying to Mugabe:
"You're wrong, wake up."

As for a game plan, Biti said he expected leaders at Sunday's Southern
African Development Community summit in Johannesburg to press for what the
opposition sees as a fair division of Cabinet posts in a proposed unity
government. The opposition in particular wants the ministries that control
police and finance - posts Mugabe has tried to claim unilaterally for

Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed in September to share power, with Mugabe as
president and Tsvangirai as prime minister. But the deal has not moved from
paper to reality because of the Cabinet dispute, leaving Zimbabweans without
leadership as their economy collapses. Inflation is the highest in the
world; health, education and public utility infrastructure is crumbling; and
the U.N. predicts half the population will need food aid by next year.

Biti said Zimbabweans needed an urgent solution, but that they could not
expect a dramatic breakthrough at Sunday's one-day summit. That did not mean
the opposition was ready to abandon the regional bloc's mediation effort,
which has been under way for a year.

"You make progress in small steps," Biti said.

Earlier Saturday, Human Rights Watch recommended the leaders meeting Sunday
seek more help from the U.N. and the African Union. Human Rights Watch has
long questioned the strategy of the regional bloc's mediator, former South
African President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki says confronting Mugabe would be
counterproductive. But critics say Mbeki's quiet diplomacy amounts to
appeasing an increasingly brutal dictator.

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Zim state media urges Mugabe to appoint cabinet

November 08, 2008, 12:00

Zimbabwe's state media blamed the opposition today for the deadlock over a
power-sharing deal and called on President Robert Mugabe to go ahead and
appoint his new cabinet.

"We urge President Mugabe to exercise his constitutional prerogative by
appointing cabinet as soon as possible," the state-owned Herald daily said
as regional leaders gathered for a crisis summit in South Africa.

"We have wasted too much time as it is."

Regional leaders aim tomorrow to put pressure on Mugabe and rival Morgan
Tsvangirai to resolve their differences and form a unity government in line
with a September 15 power-sharing agreement.

The formation of an inclusive government between Mugabe's ZANU-PF,
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and a breakaway faction of
the MDC has been delayed by bickering over the allocation of key cabinet

The Herald blamed the stalemate on the MDC, accusing the opposition party of
making endless demands that were stalling further progress.

Singing a different tune?
"Regrettably, the MDC-T (Tsvangirai) leadership, whose prevarication stalled
previous rounds, is singing a different tune that appears designed to
scupper tomorrow's talks," the Herald said.

The paper suggested the parties should share control of the home affairs
ministry - one of the most contentious portfolios due to its control of the
police and security apparatus.

"Since the parties do not trust each other over home affairs, we believe
ZANU-PF's proposal, endorsed by the (regional Southern African Development
Community) troika, to co-share the ministry is the best way forward," said
the newspaper.

The MDC has accused Mugabe of allocating all key ministries to his party.

Meanwhile, Mugabe and Tsvangirai are under mounting pressure to end their
feud on forming a unity government, ahead of a regional summit this weekend.
SADC leaders are meeting in Johannesburg tomorrow for urgent talks in a
last-ditch attempt to save the power-sharing deal signed on September 15.

The agreement had been hailed as a step toward ending months of political
turmoil and halting Zimbabwe's descent into economic chaos. The inflation
rate is estimated at 231-million per cent. But the deal now hangs on whether
Mugabe and Tsvangirai can agree on who will control the most powerful
cabinet posts, particularly home affairs, with its oversight of the
police. - Sapa

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Zimbabwe state media? You mean Zanu-PF mouthpiece

Michael Trapido

AFP is reporting that the Zimbabwean state media is blaming the opposition
for the deadlock in the power sharing deal and urging President Mugabe to
simply go ahead and appoint his own cabinet.

What a load of cockcustard!

This is so far removed from the reality as to demand an explanation lest all
those who work for the state media be burdened with the hostility which will
surely flow once the situation is resolved. The reality is that Zanu-PF
controls what goes in and out of the state media and any attempt to deviate
from the party line is slapped back into place.

After the power sharing deal was reached certain members of the Herald tried
to put a more balanced slant on the items they were covering only to be told
in no uncertain terms that they were counter revolutionaries and better get
a grip on what Zanu-PF consider the reality.

Or else.

I have received comments from their members to my articles on "Traps" as
well as by email, which suggest that they too would love to see a
restoration of normality in Zimbabwe. They would never, however, dare to
suggest it in public.

Never forget, lest you be too judgmental, that these people earn their
living from working for the state media and, like the National Party
spokesmen and women of the South African press during apartheid, are happy
to go along with the flow.

You might suggest that this lacks courage, which in a way it does, but that
is far too simplistic. Like the apartheid crowd many of them grew up
believing in papa Zanu-PF or the National Party and were taught that
anything good flowed from Mugabe and all evil emanated from those who dared
to oppose him.

Pretty much the same as we in South Africa were taught about the terrorists
in the ANC who would slaughter every white and impose communism on the day
they seized power.

As in the case of many South Africans who refused to accept the evil of
apartheid, they could have refused to work for the Zimbabwe state media. Of
course that presupposes that before they started working there they were of
the view that Mugabe and the Zanu-PF were in the wrong.

That is not the case for many.

In the main much of the worst of the Zanu-PF onslaught occurred post the
2000 referendum. (Yes I am fully aware of the massacres and history prior to
that). The slow train to genocide, which has now become an express bullet
train, was not in most of their contemplation as yet.
Now that they are fully involved and aware that this train is going to
derail, they are "voting" Zanu-PF, through their writing, but hoping that
the power sharing deal stops the train in time.

In other words where the "state media" suggests that Mugabe appoint the
cabinet, which will effectively destroy any hope of Zimbabwe's power sharing
deal coming to fruition, it is a Zanu-PF functionary who has dictated what
the government mouthpiece has said.

As is common knowledge, if the MDC don't obtain Home Affairs and Finance as
part of their 13 cabinet portfolios, the international community will laugh
off the new cabinet in terms of any investment into Zimbabwe.

As we all know the overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans, the international
community and dare I say it the SADC region now wants to see Tsvangirai
taking the reigns in a power sharing deal.

And that includes many in the State media.

This entry was posted on Saturday, November 8th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

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MDC Denies `Ridiculous' Claim It Has Military Bases

By Brian Latham

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change denied as
``absolutely ridiculous'' a claim made by President Robert Mugabe's party
that it has established militia bases in neighboring Botswana.

The allegations were made as members of Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front party and the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai prepare to
meet for talks in South Africa tomorrow. The negotiations are the latest bid
to break a stalemate that has pitted Mugabe against Tsvangirai since
disputed presidential and parliamentary elections on March 29.

Two days ago, Zimbabwe's state-controlled Herald newspaper, which backs
Mugabe, quoted senior Zanu-PF official Patrick Chinamasa as saying the MDC
plans to destabilize Zimbabwe from bases in Botswana. Chinamasa, who is
Zanu-PF's chief negotiator in talks with the MDC, alleged that unnamed
western backers hoped to use Botswana as a base to undermine Zimbabwe.

``It is typical Zanu-PF tactics, but it is they who have the sinister agenda
because they're desperate,'' Nelson Chamisa, an MDC spokesman, said in a
telephone interview from Harare today. ``As before, they have concocted
charges and created false stories to justify targeting and victimization of
their political competitors.'' Zanu-PF has throughout its history ``made up
stories of political destabilization to undermine democracy,'' he said.

Botswana dismissed the claim yesterday and invited the Southern African
Development Community, or SADC, a development body comprising 15 African
states based in Botswana, to investigate immediately.

Zanu-PF, the MDC and a splinter group of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara
will meet with SADC officials in South Africa tomorrow. In a Sept. 15
agreement brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the
parties agreed to share power without specifying which of them would control
each ministry.

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SA raises volume on Zimbabwe as summit looms

From The Cape Times (SA), 7 November

Deon de Lange

The South African government has raised the volume in its approach to the
ongoing political crisis in Zimbabwe, moving closer to "megaphone diplomacy"
and away from the much criticised "quiet diplomacy" of former president
Thabo Mbeki. The Cabinet yesterday expressed "extreme concern" over the
failure of Zimbabwe's political leaders to conclude a power-sharing deal. It
said the Southern African region "cannot be held to ransom" by the three
parties' failure to agree on ministerial posts. "This is becoming a matter
of extreme concern to us and we will be taking a pretty hard stance to make
sure that an agreement is reached quickly," government spokesperson Themba
Maseko told journalists at a post-Cabinet briefing yesterday. The Cabinet
meeting came as regional heads of state prepare for an extraordinary
Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit to be held at the
Sandton Convention Centre on Sunday, where the situation in Zimbabwe and
renewed violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo will be

The Zimbabwean parties are all expected to attend the meeting, which will be
hosted by President Kgalema Motlanthe as the current chairperson of the
multilateral body. "It is our view that the (SADC) heads of state must now
take urgent steps to make sure that political solutions are found to the
situation . (and) we believe the failure of the parties to agree on a new
Cabinet is becoming a major hindrance to the political stability we so
desire in the SADC region," said Maseko, in one of the strongest
condemnations yet by the South African government of the lack of progress in
the Zimbabwe talks. He said the government "will be taking a very firm
position" to make sure the negotiating parties in Zimbabwe "understand the
urgency of finding a settlement". The United Nations World Food Programme
has appealed for $140 million to feed nearly four million Zimbabweans who
face starvation as hyperinflation, unfavourable weather conditions and the
ongoing political deadlock lays to waste the country's domestic food

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Budiriro cholera death toll rises to 15

Herald Reporter

SIX more people from Budiriro, Harare, have succumbed to cholera,
bringing the death toll to 15 following an outbreak that hit the suburb last

The latest deaths occurred at Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases
Hospitals this week. The hospital was designated for cholera cases along
with Budiriro Polyclinic.

In a statement yesterday, the City of Harare's Health Department said
more than 260 people had been admitted at Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases
Hospitals and Budiriro Polyclinic.

"Budiriro high-density suburb has been subject to an intense cholera
outbreak since last week. The outbreak has to date caused 15 deaths - all
from Budiriro suburb - while 267 patients were attended to at Beatrice Road
Infectious Diseases Hospitals.

"Harare has set up an exclusive cholera camp at Budiriro Polyclinic to
deal with the outbreak and Beatrice Road Infec- tious Diseases Hospitals as
a referral centre.

"This is meant to concentrate council's resources towards the war
against the disease. Staff has also been increased at the Beatrice Road
Infectious Diseases Hospitals to ensure sufficient attention to patients,"
the statement said.

The two centres will remain functional until the outbreak is

The statement further appealed to residents to seek urgent medical
attention at the slightest suspicion of cholera discomfort such as vomiting
and diarrhoea.

It also urged them to boil drinking water, wash hands with running
water and avoid shaking hands at funerals.

The city, read the statement, would continue providing clean water
through bowsers to Budiriro residents while an assessment of the boreholes
to be sunk in the suburb is being carried out.

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Plunder of HIV drug funds sparks outrage

November 7, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Zimbabweans have reacted angrily to the plunder of US$7.3 million
donated by the Global Fund to buy medicines for Zimbabwe's sick, with people
living with HIV/AIDS calling for a national apology, investigation and
prosecution of those responsible.

Outraged Zimbabweans said they were incensed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ)'s squander of US$7.3 million, part of US$12.3 million that the
Geneva-based donor group, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and

The money was deposited with the central bank last year to help in the fight
against the three major communicable diseases in Zimbabwe, HIV/AIDS,
tuberculosis and malaria.

Dr Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund, confirmed
Friday that the RBZ had late Thursday night reimbursed US$7.3 million of the

The Global Fund had requested the immediate release of the money in
September, but the Reserve Bank promised it would return the funds by
November 6. Through its release Thursday night, the Reserve Bank honoured
that commitment, Kazatchkine said.

"The Global Fund greatly appreciates this development which will accelerate
the live-saving activities of the malaria, TB and HIV programs supported by
the Global Fund in Zimbabwe," said Kazatchkine.

"We expect that this signals a more effective way of working in Zimbabwe,
accelerating delivery of interventions against the three diseases in the

The Reserve Bank also informed the Global Fund that all funding recipients
would be permitted to use US dollars for all transactions within Zimbabwe,
eliminating exchange rate risks in Zimbabwe's hyper-inflationary

The Global Fund said it would continue its work to ensure that future
disbursements to Zimbabwe reach recipients without risk of diversion or
delay, Kazatchkine said in a statement to The Zimbabwe Times Friday.

Outraged Zimbabweans said if the Global Fund had not publicly raised this
issue, the funds would have been chewed by the central bank.

Nyasha Murota, a 32-year-old woman living with HIV/AIDS said she was shocked
by the "stunning silence" of the Anti-Corruption ministry or the
Anti-Corruption Commission on this case of misuse of public money.

"Even the State media is complicit in trying to cover up this scandal," she
said.  "Why are they not telling us how the RBZ used our money? What form of
justice is that which makes fools of us?

"The people who stole this money must face the music, period. The RBZ has
committed genocide; people have died because they could not get treatment.
And the people who stole the money are allowed to walk this earth? What form
of justice is that? Shame on us."

Irene Petras, director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said it
was pertinent to note that, although the RBZ had publicly admitted that the
funds had been used and not paid over for projects approved by the Global
Fund, there had been "a resounding silence" over the matter.

She said no explanation had been given as to where exactly the funds went
and what they were being used for.

"For this reason, the RBZ's misdemeanours substantiate accusations and
perceptions by all reasonable people that it is contemptuous of the
suffering of the majority of Zimbabweans and their fundamental rights,"
Petras said.

"The revelations by the Global Fund further confirm the long-held argument
that the RBZ is unnecessarily deviating from its core mandate and using
funds held on behalf of non-governmental and inter-governmental
organizations in an unlawful and non-transparent manner."

The Anti Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT - Southern Africa) issued
a statement expressing shock at the misuse by the Government of Zimbabwe of
money from the Global Fund and calling for a national apology and
investigation and prosecution of those responsible.

Health Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, sought to shift blame to the central
bank for the theft.

"We strongly recommend that the Global Fund looks at other means to disburse
this money, recommending that any future grants come straight to programme
implementers instead of through RBZ, so that we minimise the interferences,"
Parirenyatwa said.

"We hope the Global Fund will consider this proposal and not deny the people
of Zimbabwe money."

Cephas Zinhumwe, chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe 's National
Association of NGOs (NANGO), said those who looted the funds must face
justice, adding the people felt cheated by the central bank.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights demanded that the RBZ immediately
provide information about how these funds were utilized, in terms of what
laws, and why, as it is a matter of public interest.

The lawyers also want the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to explain
why the funds were seized and utilized by the RBZ when it is the Country
Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) chaired by the ministry, which applied for the
administration of the grant, is responsible for its correct and transparent

The human rights lawyers are also demanding that the Anti-Corruption
Commission immediately institutes an urgent public inquiry into the
developments and undertakes a complete and transparent audit of the
activities of the RBZ, particularly the use of donor funds on a wide scale
for unknown projects.

"Organizations such as the UNDP and other sub-recipients of such public
funds need to carry out close monitoring of the movement and usage of the
funds to ensure that only those who are approved beneficiaries of the funds
and the related projects benefit from them," the statement says.

"The RBZ and the de-facto government should cease blaming undue political
influence for the country's political and socio-economic woes when it is
clear that such state institutions, themselves, are contributing to the
failure to deliver for the most vulnerable people and groups affected by the
escalating humanitarian crisis."

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How does the man called Gono sleep at night?

So the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria did an audit on
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and discovered that £4.5 million of the
£65 million grant money allocated to Zimbabwe was no where to be found. They
are demanding the money back, and rightly so.

Mr Gono is understood to have said the money was diverted "for other
national priorities". Just when you thought the regime had their fill of
looting, they sink even lower.

But it is no secret where the money was diverted to. The Mugabe government
has spent a fortune importing tractors, combine harvesters, limousines,
plasma televisions and a range of other expensive items. These were handed
out to Mr Mugabe's cronies, magistrates and others, while cash was used to
bribe voters.

If ever the ICC needed an excuse to haul somebody before its grand courts,
now is the time. I think the greatest crime against humanity is deliberately
denying individuals, and a whole nation in our case - the opportunity for
better health care and leaving them to die from preventable diseases.

How does the man called Gono sleep at night?

That Gono has so far returned  $7.3 million of the money is also of no
consequence. This is a complete outrage and we as the beneficiaries of that
fund and the rest of the global community must ensure that this does not
happen again. This regime has been allowed to trample us underfoot for too
long. We demand proper accountability for that money, not the shallow
diversion Gono gave yesterday when he said:  "Only cheap minds would go as
far as to suggest that the money was used to buy tractors and TV sets."

Oh Really?

This entry was posted on November 8th, 2008 at 9:12 am by Natasha Msonza

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End Ruling Party's Abuses

08 Nov 2008 04:20:15 GMT
Source: Human Rights Watch

 (Johannesburg, November 8, 2008) � Despite a power-sharing agreement,
Zimbabwe's de facto ruling party continues to use the police and justice
system as a weapon against opposition supporters and civil society, Human
Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch said
Southern African leaders meeting on November 9, 2008, should insist the
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) fulfill its formal
commitment to respect human rights, made when it signed an agreement on
September 15, to share power with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The 47-page report, "'Our Hands Are Tied': Erosion of the Rule of Law in
Zimbabwe," documents how ZANU-PF has compromised the independence and
impartiality of judges, magistrates and prosecutors and transformed the
police into an openly partisan and unaccountable arm of ZANU-PF. The report
also documents how police routinely and arbitrarily arrest and detain MDC
activists, using harassment and detention without charge as a form of
persecution. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will hold its
summit meeting on November 9 to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe.

"ZANU-PF's institutions of repression remain intact, and there has been no
change in their abusive conduct and attitude," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa
director at Human Rights Watch. "The regional leaders in SADC need to get
tough on the party leader, Robert Mugabe, or ask the United Nations to

Human Rights Watch researchers conducted more than 80 interviews in August
2008 with victims of political violence, lawyers, academics, serving and
retired magistrates, and police officers in six provinces of Zimbabwe. It
found that after the first round of general elections on March 29, senior
police officers issued specific instructions to police officers across
Zimbabwe not to investigate or arrest ZANU-PF supporters and their allies
implicated in political violence. Almost all senior police officers in
Zimbabwe openly support ZANU-PF, in breach of their duty to remain
politically neutral.

Human Rights Watch found that, although there have been at least 163
politically motivated extrajudicial killings since the March elections, the
police have only made two arrests, neither of which led to prosecutions.
Almost all the victims have been MDC supporters.

The report also highlights the fact that ZANU-PF militia and supporters
continue to suffer no penalty for abuses carried out in the aftermath of the
recent elections. Members of the ZANU-PF militia who have been accused of
killing six people in Chaona on May 5 continue to walk free. ZANU-PF
supporters who have been accused of killing an MDC councilor, Gibbs
Chironga, and three others in Chiweshe on June 20 have not been
investigated. The killing of Joshua Bakacheza, an MDC driver, on June 24 has
not resulted in any arrests. The police also refuse to investigate the
abduction and beating by ZANU-PF youth of thousands of MDC supporters.

This lack of accountability for mistreatment in Zimbabwe remains entrenched
despite the signing of the power-sharing agreement on September 15. Police
continue to detain accused persons beyond the 48-hour statutory limit, show
contempt for court rulings, and frequently deny detainees access to legal
representation or relatives. Several former detainees have reported to Human
Rights Watch that police officers frequently beat or mistreat those in

On September 18, police in Masvingo arrested the president of the
Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Takavafira Zhou for
organizing a strike to protest poor salaries. He was held without charge in
solitary confinement for four days without access to water, a toilet, or
blankets, before being released. There are new reports this week of MDC
supporters being abducted and tortured.

"SADC has had numerous opportunities to condemn ZANU-PF's abusive behavior
and demand change," Gagnon said. "It mistakenly trusted former South African
President Thabo Mbeki's quiet diplomacy and his belief that Mugabe would
restore the rule of law and respect human rights. SADC must now make sure
that ZANU-PF respects both the letter and spirit of sharing power. Only then
will we see the fundamental reforms necessary for restoring normality and
human rights protection in Zimbabwe."

HRW news

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Green snake

Saturday 8th November 2008

Dear Family and Friends,
Going to visit a friend in trouble this week I saw a very large green snake
trying to cross a main road. I was on a service road which ran parallel to
the highway and watched in horror at the events that followed. The snake
must have already been hit by a car because as hard as it tried, it couldn't
get off the road. It raised its head and neck and tried to lunge forward but
barely moved at all. Thrashing from side to side, tongue flicking, the snake
managed to creep forward a little towards the bush on the roadside but it
wasn't enough and freedom and safety was so near and yet so far. Suddenly a
stream of cars came by and one hit the snake full on. A gruesome end was
inevitable and intervention was impossible. Later, when I passed the same
place again, the snake had gone but a handful of people were standing around
looking at something on the roadside and the assumption was obvious.

This is exactly how it feels to be in Zimbabwe this November 2008. No matter
how hard we try, we just can't move forward. Change and democracy is so near
and yet so far away.

People have almost given up hope of ever getting to the other side of the
road to freedom and safety in Zimbabwe's journey. It's been eight years
since farms were seized, Title Deeds rendered worthless and commercial
agriculture destroyed. It's been five years since independent newspapers,
radio stations and television channels were closed down. Its been four years
since we've been able to buy fuel from filling stations and nearly two years
since we've been able to buy food in supermarkets. It's been seven and a
half months since we voted to change the government of Zimbabwe. Throughout
all these years the assault on opposition politics, private businesses,
charities, professionals and all sectors of civil society has been
unrelenting as time and time again we've been hit head on but still we
struggle desperately to reach the end.

Its a shocking thing to admit but most of us don't know how many Zimbabweans
have died in the struggle to change the governance of the country. A
conservative estimate must be of at least seven hundred people who have been
killed in political violence in the last eight years. Multiple thousands
have been arrested and incarcerated for their political associations or for
daring to protest. Included amongst these are the outstandingly brave women
of WOZA whose leaders Jenni and Magodonga were finally granted bail this
week having spent 3 weeks in prison after being arrested during a peaceful
demonstration in Bulawayo. We also don't know how many Zimbabweans have had
no choice but to leave the country since the year 2000. A conservative
estimate must be of at least four million people living in self imposed
exile in the region and abroad.

As I write this letter the leaders of the Southern African Development
Community are about to meet, again, to discuss Zimbabwe. We wonder if they
know that ordinary people here have no food - no maize meal, flour or rice.
If they know that it is our main growing season but ordinary people have no
seed to plant and no fertilizer for the soil. If they know we are forbidden
from drawing enough of our own money out of the bank to buy more than 2
loaves of bread and are having to buy imported food in US dollars and South
African Rand. Do they know that hospitals have no medicines and that nurses
earn enough to buy only two loaves of bread a month. Do they know that
children at most rural government schools have had no lessons for many
months and have not written public examinations.

Perhaps the SADC leaders do know all these things and will find the courage
to insist at last that the voices of the ordinary people must be heard and
respected. We voted in March, chose new leaders and have been writhing on
the road for too long.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy

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A letter from the diaspora

7th November 2008

Dear Friends.
Tuesday November 4th 2008 was a day to remember. Watching the millions of
people waiting patiently in line to vote in the US elections was to see
democracy in action. There were people of every race and colour and of all
ages, standing for as long as five or six hours to cast their votes for a
new president of the most powerful country in the world. Whatever one's
feelings about the United States, it was hard not to be impressed by the
absolute commitment of the American people to exercise their democratic
right to choose a new government. A comment by one of the people standing in
line said it all: "It's like you see in developing countries," she said
referring to the thousands of people waiting in line. And she was right,
that unknown voter. I was reminded of 2002 in Zimbabwe when people turned
out in their thousands to vote and we saw long lines snaking around the
polling booths only to have our hopes dashed yet again of a free and fair
election as Zanu PF and Tobiawa Mudede once again stole the people's
victory. As the saying goes, 'It's not who votes that counts but who counts
the vote.'

Not in the States or not this time anyway. No endless delays, no mysterious
pauses while the figures were massaged and manipulated; within hours of the
last vote being cast in this vast country the first results were announced.
People had stayed up all night and not just in the UK but all round the
world, glued to their televisions waiting for early results to come in. When
I went down to my local newsagent at six o'clock the next morning the
results were already in and to my astonishment every single newspaper, even
the tabloids, normally only concerned with images of half-naked females or
sporting heroes, had Obama's victory as the front page story. It was history
in the making but for some reason known only to themselves and their
political masters, the Zimbabwean state-controlled media as far as I can
discover chose to ignore one of the most important political developments of
this new century. An African American had been voted overwhelmingly by
people of every colour and none as the 44th President of the United States
and Zimbabwe's ruling party has nothing to say!

Watching Obama's acceptance speech in Washington later that day was to
witness a moment of history similar to Mandela's installation as President
of a new South Africa, or the collapse of the Berlin Wall or Martin Luther
King's 'I have a dream' speech. One knew instinctively that something had
changed forever; a wrong had been put right and the balance had been
restored. Nothing can expunge the horrors of slavery but the for the first
time the White House will be inhabited by a young African American family
who as Obama himself pointed out have the blood of slaves and slave owners
running in their veins. As he spoke the cameras panned the vast crowd and
many were openly weeping. It was the sight of Jesse Jackson with tears
streaming down his face that will remain forever in my mind. Such a long and
bitter struggle it has been for men and women like him but they have never
given up hope. "We never gave up hope," said Maya Angelou, the African
American writer. "Hope is all you have in the struggle for freedom. We knew
it would come but we never believed it would be in our lifetime."

No matter which side you were on you could not fail to be impressed by the
dignity and grace of Obama's acceptance speech. It will go down in history
not only as an example of great oratory but for the leadership and vision
that it demonstrated to a fractured and divided nation torn apart by wars in
Iraq and Iran and by an economic crisis that threatens the lives of
thousands of ordinary Americans. Obama will I believe be a president for all
Americans , "Whether you voted for me or not" as he said. It has nothing to
do with skin colour; it is a question of national identity.

Compare the generosity and magnanimity of Obama's speech with the hatred
that pours from the lips of Mugabe and his cohorts and you see the
difference between true leadership and the arrogance of power for its own
sake. The argument I have read this week that the election of an African
American to the White House will weaken Mugabe's hand against the US is not
supported by past examples of racist rhetoric from the master of hate
speech. It seems not to matter to him whether his perceived enemies are
black, white or any shade in between, the truth is that if you are not with
him you are against him.

As we head to yet another SADC Summit to resolve 'the Zimbabwe problem' what
is desperately needed is not misguided pan-Africanist loyalty for Mugabe and
his outdated policies but real leadership and vision from the assembled
African leaders. The lives of millions of Zimbabweans depend on their
ability to force one old man to see sense. It is beyond belief that the
political survival of an 84-year old dictator who has ruled for almost
thirty years carries more weight with these African leaders than the fate of
11 million African citizens. Dare we hope that this time common sense,
decency and human compassion will prevail and the nightmare for Zimbabweans
will end before too many more die of aids, cholera or plain starvation?
Yours in the (continuing) struggle, PH

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Talking politics with bus passengers in Zimbabwe

We are on the eve of yet another gathering of African leaders aiming at
trying to break the deadlock between the country's disagreeing political
parties. Whether the summit will succeed in breaking the deadlock is still
to be seen, but actions by Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF seem to portray otherwise
as reports of as resurgence in politically motivated violence and abductions
filter through.

I boarded a commuter omnibus from Chitungwiza with a couple of bold men who
were not afraid to discuss politics and share their political opinions
freely in a public setting, something not very popular in these parts of the
world where fear of Mugabe and his repressive machinery reigns.

The whole bus went silent when we began discussing politics, re-affirmation
of 28 years of living in fear in this so called democracy of ours, a
democracy where people are even scared to share their opinions. It made me
wonder how we as a people are expected one day to take the bull by the horns
and confront Mugabe and his administration when we are scared of him to the
extent that we can't speak out against his misrule and debauchery.

A story was shared about how last week on a trip into town an unknown guy
was manhandled and almost assaulted after telling some passengers who were
exercising their right to freedom of expression to shut up and stop politics
talk. Tempers easily flare these days, as the current economic hardships
people are facing on a daily basis result in them bottling up anger and
depression to be released at the slightest provocation. I was to learn that
the angry guy had spent the past 4 days trying to retrieve his money from
the bank, had just resigned from his job as policeman, and had lost his wife
to another man who offered her better financial stability.

The guys I talked to expressed shock and outrage at the cholera outbreak and
how the Mugabe administration is handling it and denying that people are
dying of the deadly infection. One of the guys was in the high density
suburbs of Glenview and Budiriro and said that he saw the cholera outbreak
coming as the residents had gone for more than a month without clean
drinking water and relied on water from nearby unprotected wells.

In regards to the starvation in rural Zimbabwe, I learnt that Stan Mudenge,
a Zanu PF stalwart openly admitted that people are dying of hunger in his
Chivi constituency, in direct contrast to fellow Zanu PF MPs who are still
denying that their constituents have gone hungry and are in desperate need
of food aid. Emphasis was put on the idea that Zanu PF MPs should visit
their respective constituencies regularly and personally asse the impact of
their ruinous policies instead of denying the status quo and pretending
everything is OK in the house Robert Mugabe built.

It was then brought up that the Zimbabwean people are very thankful of
Robert Mugabe's service to the nation and but he should just go as he won't
be able to lead a people who despise him and a parliament where he has no
majority for the first time since 1980. The man no longer has a "legacy" to
defend as he personally took it upon himself to destroy it and now is
embarrassed to be man enough to step down.

In regards to the summit, the guys predicted that it would probably end in
failure as Zanu PF is not prepared to lessen its grip on political power and
the way forward for the country being the holding of another election under
tight international supervision, a demand that Zanu PF wont yield to as its
leaders know how unpopular the party is.

This entry was written by Freedom Writer on Saturday, November 8th, 2008

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Surviving Zimbabwe just gets harder and harder

November 08, 2008 07:35 AMBy
Sokari Ekine

3 weeks after being arrested WOZA activists, Jenni Williams and Magodonga
have finally been released from Mlondolozi Prison... They report some
horrific conditions such as having to share cells with mental health
patients and being subjected to body searches everyday whilst male prison
guards are free to wonder around.

The extreme hunger experienced by most prisoners means that even orange
peels and the scraps on dirty plates are fought over. There is also no
privacy for the female prisoners. Male prison guards are allowed to wander
around the female prison and can 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

Life on the outside of prison is not that great either. Apart from women
being invisible in the media and political landscape they are also living to
survive a life expectancy of just 34 years. Living to survive physical and
sexual violence and 300 million % inflation (don't even bother to do the
math) forage for food and scrape through the days. Shereen Essof comments on
the political infighting and maneuvering over the past 6 months none of
which has addressed the needs and priorities of women and therefore the
freedoms of everyone.

The polarisation of Zimbabwean politics means that women only have two
options (now three in truth, with the split in the MDC producing MDC
Tsvangirai (T) and MDC Mutambara (M), along with the ruling ZANU-PF). If you
take the time to examine the parties' constitutions, election manifestos,
and programmes, none adequately addresses or expresses a commitment to the
priorities and needs as identified by women, thus none provides a really
viable alternative for a new dispensation that seeks alternatives that allow
for the freedom of all. For this freedom is not something to be decreed and
protected by laws or states, it is something that we shape for ourselves and

But despite the very real dangers, women are also struggling hard against
the daily tyrannies of living. How many have survived these past months and
years is incredible as the odds against them are high on every level not
just from the tyranny of the state and their truncheon carrying battalions
of bullies but also from sexism and local patriarchies and as she writes
"being held hostage by three men"!.

The eternal', according to Spinoza, 'is now', and women in Zimbabwe are
living history and taking it very personally. The worst cruelties of life
are its killing injustices. Zimbabwean women's acceptance of adversity is
neither passive nor resigned. It's an acceptance that peers behind the
adversity and discovers there something nameless. Not a promise, for women
know that (almost) all promises are broken; rather something like a hiatus,
or parentheses, in the otherwise remorseless flow of history. And the sum
total of these parentheses is eternity and in that the knowledge that 'on
this earth there is no happiness without justice'

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Exiles still skeptical despite assurances

November 7, 2008

By Mxolisi Ncube

Johannesburg - South Africa-based Zimbabwean exiles remain skeptical of the
Southern African Development Community's (SADC) ability to resolve Zimbabwe's
political crisis, despite recent assurances by top South African officials
that the country will adopt a tougher stance against political leaders from
its northern neighbour this weekend.

The 15-member SADC bloc will Sunday hold a full summit in South Africa,
which seeks to resolve the ongoing haggling over the sharing of cabinet
posts between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition, which has delayed
the implementation of a government of national unity.

On Wednesday, Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa's ruling African
National Congress (ANC) called on the regional leaders to find a solution to
the Zimbabwean deadlock and warned that failure to do so would seriously
affect other Southern African countries, some of which are already bearing
the brunt of Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.

A day after Zuma's statement, cabinet spokesperson, Themba Maseko, also
promised that his country would move away from the quiet diplomacy that was
favoured by its ousted leader, Thabo Mbeki, and adopt a tougher stance
against Mugabe and opposition leaders, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur
Mutambara of the splintered Movement for Democratic Change.

However, some Zimbabwean exiles still believe that despite South Africa's
recent shift, the SADC might still fail to reign in the Zimbabwean leaders,
especially Mugabe, believed to be under pressure from security chiefs and
his Zanu-PF party's Politburo, to call off the deal if the opposition does
not accept a weaker role in the all-inclusive government.

"It is good news that South Africa has at last heeded our calls for it to
abandon its appeasement of Mugabe, but in this new policy, it should have
the consensus of the region. From past experience, I doubt if this will
happen, because other SADC leaders are still bedfellows with Mugabe," said
an official from the Southern Africa Centre for Survivors of Torture (SACST)
on Friday.

Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Director, Gabriel Shumba, said that the Sunday summit
would provide a stern test on the regional bloc, and described the
Zimbabwean crisis as SADC's second biggest challenge, eclipsed only by the
war situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"Apart from the DRC, Zimbabwe has been the biggest challenge for the region.
Success or failure in resolving this issue before it explodes into a civil
war will be portentous for the future of the region's ability to resolve its
own conflicts," said Shumba.

Shumba added that even if the regional leaders manage to force a compromise,
it was highly unlikely that Mugabe would respect the deal, saying that the
geriatric leader would only hand over key ministries to the MDC to
"legitimise his illegal regime, as well as paint florescent red lipstick on
intolerance, tyranny and corruption".

"It would be naļve to think that Mugabe is negotiating in good faith," said

The exiled human rights lawyer added that if the SADC fails to get the
Zimbabwe deal working, ordinary Zimbabweans would be acquiescence to the
repression under Mugabe, more mass action to push for internationally
supervised free and free elections, fleeing to neighbouring countries or a
civil war, which would mean untold suffering to the masses.

"We are depressed and disillusioned as exiles, that where there was a
glimmer of hope that we would go back and rebuild Zimbabwe, there is now
only anxiety and gloom as to what the future holds," said Shumba, on the
apparent failure by the Zimbabwean politicians to resolve the crisis in the

The exiles called on the SADC leaders to remind Mugabe that he lost the
election and should therefore, not dictate terms, but allow the opposition
to be an equal partner in the all-inclusive government, which is expected to
steer the country out of a the multi-facetted crisis that has dragged on for
close to a decade.

"The current suffering of the masses of Zimbabwe can be blamed on the
inability by the SADC leaders to find common ground in dealing with Mugabe.
So far, we have witnessed the gradual loss of credibility and integrity of
the SADC as a representative body for the entire people of Southern Africa.
This issue must be resolved now and Mugabe must know that he cannot continue
to hold the people at ransom because he lost the election," said Andrea
Sibanda, chairperson of the Johannesburg-based Matabeleland Freedom Party.

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DRC conflict comes back to haunt Zimbabwe

Saturday, 08 November 2008 17:07 Ashley D. Mwanza

Exactly ten years since the last conflict dubbed the Second Congo War in the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), it is back to haunt Zimbabwe.

We reminiscence how imprudent our leaders were to support the war to a far
fetched extent, stretching Zimbabwe's resources. Main question to be asked
is who it really benefited. At that time in 1998 the first African countries
to respond to Laurent Kabila's request for help were fellow members of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), with Zimbabwe and Angola at
the forefront.

On August 2, 1998, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) deployed troops to the
DRC, almost half of the army at the time, to defend the regime of slain
Congolese leader Laurent Kabila against a rebel incursion backed by Uganda
and Rwanda.

While officially the SADC members are bound to a mutual defence treaty in
the case of outside aggression, many member nations took a neutral stance to
the conflict. However, the governments of Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola
supported the Kabila government after a meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe on 19
August Several more nations joined the conflict for Kabila in the following
weeks: Chad, Libya and Sudan.

A multisided war thus began. In September 1998, Zimbabwean forces flown into
Kinshasa held off a rebel advance that reached the outskirts of the capital
city while Angolan units attacked northward from its borders and eastward
from the Angolan territory of Cabinda, against the besieging rebel forces.
This intervention by various nations saved the Kabila government, and pushed
the rebel front lines away from the capital. However, it was unable to
defeat the rebel forces, and the advance threatened to escalate into direct
conflict with the national armies of Uganda and Rwanda that formed part of
the rebel movement.

Rebels in DRC are now accusing Angola and Zimbabwe of mobilizing troops to
fight in Congo in a repeat of a 1998-2002 war that drew in armies from a
half-dozen African nations. The Zimbabwe officials vehemently deny this
accusation. The current conflict is said to be fuelled by tensions left over
from Rwanda's 1994 genocide. Angola and Zimbabwe fought for DRC in exchange
for access to copper and diamond concessions. Rwanda and Uganda backed rival
rebel factions.

President Robert Mugabe, lured by DRC's rich natural resources and a desire
to increase his own power and prestige in Africa sent troops to assist
Kabila, was the most ardent supporter of intervention on Kabila's behalf.
Kabila and Mugabe had signed a US$200 million contract involving
corporations owned by Mugabe and his family, and there were several reports
in 1998 of numerous mining contracts being negotiated with companies under
the control of the Mugabe family. Mugabe resented being displaced by Nelson
Mandela as the premier statesman of southern Africa. The war was a chance to
confront another prominent African president, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. As
the head of the SADC's Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Mugabe
believed he could reclaim his position as southern Africa's premiere
statesmen by aiding Kabila. Mugabe pitched the war as an effort to shore up
a "democratically elected government." Involvement in the war triggered a
precipitous decline in Zimbabwe's economic performance and the value of the
Zimbabwean dollar. In addition, it caused severe shortages of hard currency.

Despite protests at home that Zimbabwean lives were being put at risk in an
ill-fated adventure, as well as pleas from Nelson Mandela that the conflict
should have been resolved by negotiations rather than firepower, in November
of the same year Mugabe stepped up his support for Kabila. Zimbabwe then had
6,000 troops in the DRC along with tanks, helicopters and Mig fighter
planes, costing an estimated £1million a day. The budget at the time saw a
46 per cent increase in defence spending. While Mandela wanted a negotiated
settlement in the Congo, Mugabe believed that military intervention will
establish Zimbabwe as a regional sphere of influence and refuses to
countenance talks with the rebels. Oh right we are exactly that, the
negative centre of influence.

Years went on and then a bodyguard shot and wounded Laurent Kabila in an
assassination attempt on 16 January 2001. Two days later Kabila died from
his injuries, some sources say he died on the same day. It is unknown who
ordered the killing but most feel Kabila's allies were to blame as they were
tired of his duplicity, in particular his failure to implement a detailed
timetable for the introduction of a new democratic constitution leading to
free and fair elections. Angolan troops were highly visible at Kabila's
funeral cortege in Kinshasa.

In April 2001 a UN panel of experts investigated the illegal exploitation of
diamonds, cobalt, coltan, gold and other lucrative resources in the DRC. The
report accused Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe of systematically exploiting
Congolese resources and recommended the Security Council impose sanctions.

There was even criticism from within the upper ranks of the ruling party,

The increasingly outspoken then chief whip, Moses Mvenge, accused the
government of getting its priorities wrong. In an apparent reference to the
fact that more than 1,200 Zimbabweans were dying each week as a result of
AIDS, Mr Mvenge said, "It is sad to note that the death rate in Zimbabwe has
gone to levels above those found in any war situation...The resource
allocators do not seem to realise that the war back home is more serious
than the war in the DRC."

Plain and simple the main reason as to why the war was supported was down to
greed and pride.exactly what has destroyed Zimbabwe. The DRC war was a war
with no victors. The DRC war has done more harm than good to the late
president's allies, despite the immediate economic and security benefits for
Zimbabwe and Angola. The commitment of forces to the Congo accelerated the
decline of Robert Mugabe's regime as the Zimbabwean opposition made
opposition to the war into its battle cry. For Zimbabwe, involvement in the
DRC was also an economic affair. The president committed $200m to funding
the first war and entered the second to defend the integrity of the country,
support his old friend Kabila and, not least, protect his investments.

Although some of the commercial holdings established at the time lined the
pockets of the regime's bigwigs, they have done little for Zimbabwe itself.
The international financial institutions penalised Zimbabwe specifically for
its involvement in the DRC war, among other things by holding back a loan of
$240m, and the regime found itself in deep crisis.

Africa's "first world war" was a defeat for the regime, Zimbabwe, the
Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now (African Union) AU. Despite all the
meetings and summit conferences, and the appointment of then Zambian
president Fredrick Chiluba as mediator, the OAU proved incapable of imposing
a settlement. The UN, too, has suffered a major setback. The war flashed
again and now it brings bad memories to Zimbabwe.

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Fisticuffs halt Zambia vote verification

Friday, 07 November 2008 06:36
Lusaka - The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) on Thursday
suspended the verification of votes cast in last week's disputed
presidential election after supporters of new President Rupiah Banda and
opposition leader Michael Sata traded punches.

State radio reported that a number of election workers got caught in
the middle when fists started to fly at the hall where the verification was
taking place.

Tensions are running high in Zambia, where the opposition Patriotic
Front of Sata is refusing to recognize the outcome of last Thursday's
election. Banda won the vote narrowly, with Sata coming a close second.

The PF has accused the ECZ of rigging the election in Banda's favour
and begun court action to obtain a recount.

Thursday's verification was a routine post-election exercise and not
part of that request, ECZ spokesperson Chris Akufuna said. The process was
suspended indefinitely.

Zambia was required to elect a new president after ex-leader Levy
Mwanawasa died of a stroke in August. Banda was hastily sworn in after the
election to serve out the remaining three terms in Mwanawasa's second term.

He got 40,09 percent of the vote, against 38,13 percent for Sata. -

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