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Robert Mugabe's advisers tell him to hand control of police to opposition

Robert Mugabe has come under pressure from his own henchmen to hand partial
control of Zimbabwe's security apparatus to the opposition, to head off
growing calls for a re-run of this year's violent elections.

By Itai Mushekwe
Last Updated: 10:27PM GMT 08 Nov 2008

The president's inner circle have told him to end the deadlock in current
power-sharing talks by agreeing to the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change party's demand for control of the Home Affairs ministry, which runs
the police.

Mr Mugabe's advisers fear that if the talks continue in a logjam, support
will grow internationally for new elections, which this time they calculate
they will lose to the MDC by a landslide vote. Were that to happen, many
would lose their jobs automatically and face possible prosecution over Mr
Mugabe's campaign of post-election political violence, in which more than
100 MDC supporters died.

The advisers are also worried that US President-elect Barack Obama will
raise the pressure on Zimbabwe, given his own African ancestry and what is
expected to be a close working relationship with Gordon Brown, another of
Harare's leading critics.

"We have no choice but to offer the (MDC) reasonable ministries so we won't
have to face new election," said a memorandum provided by a senior
intelligence official, who attended a recent meeting of Mr Mugabe's security
chiefs. "Obama's win is no sweet music because Brown (Gordon) has openly
said they share many values. It's going to be easier for Britain to call for
a new government in Zimbabwe using the in-coming administration in
Washington as a front."

The power-sharing talks have been going on since September but have so far
yielded no real breakthroughs, partly because of Mr Mugabe's desire to keep
the instruments of state security in his own hands.

But some within his own camp are growing increasingly uneasy at his
intransigence, fearing that the patience of other African leaders who have
been working as talk moderators is wearing thin. Last week the president of
Botswana, Ian Seretse Khama, called for new presidential elections in
Zimbabwe that were fully sponsored and monitored by the international
community. And on Friday, South Africa's ruling party leader, Jacob Zuma,
also urged African leaders from the 15-nation Southern African Development
Community to "force" a deal between Mr Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai. The group is due to hold an emergency summit in South Africa

"SADC (the Southern African Development Community) must make Zimbabweans
reach an agreement," Mr Zuma said. "A solution must be found to enable the
people of Zimbabwe and the region, to close this sad chapter."

It remains unclear, however, whether handing over the Home Affairs ministry
to the MDC would represent a genuine ceding of power. Many observers point
out that the head of the police force, Augustine Chihuri, reports directly
to the president, while the force is also answerable to his office. The only
way the MDC could properly control the ministry would be to call for Mr
Chihuri's resignation and appoint one of their own sypathisers.

Meanwhile, a new report by the respected Human Rights Watch pressure group
accuses Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party of using Zimbabwe's police and judiciary
to harass opposition and civil society groups.

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

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SADC burns midnight oil to fix Zimbabwe


November 08, 2008, 22:30

It's crunch time for Zimbabwe and pressure is mounting for a breakthrough at
this weekend's SADC summit in Sandton, Johannesburg.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is an inter-governmental
organization headquartered in Botswana. Its goal is to further
socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security
cooperation among 15 southern African states and it complements the role of
the African Union.

More than 7 African heads of State are expected to attend the summit and
have begun arriving in the country amid signs that the impasse will finally
be broken over the distribution of key ministries. It's eight weeks since
the power sharing deal was signed, but the ZANU-PF and the MDC are still
deadlocked on the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Patience is running thin and countries like Botswana are even suggesting a
re-run of the elections but analysts believe SADC has no option but to
enforce the signed agreement.

Professor Shadrack Gutto, the Director of the Centre for Applied Legal
Studies at Wits, says you can't run elections in a country where people are
starving." You can't run an election where millions of people are outside
the country. and what abpout the logistics and the cost of an election...
where the resources can be used to help the people.? "

Millions of rand is destined for Zimbabwe - but the prerequisite is an
inclusive deal. With pressure mounting, there's a hint of determination. SA's
President, Kgalema Motlanthe says: "We are confident that we will find a
lasting solution."

Simon Moyo¸ the Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa, says: "This is our
last opportunity. We just have to find a solution." The SADC troika is
expected to burn the midnight oil to hammer out a strategy to unblock the

The SADC faces an even worse catastrophe in the DRC - it's a rush against
time as thousands -- mainly women and children are staring death in the
face. But the Congolese fear that the Zimbabwean issue will eclipse theirs
in this weekend's meeting and are calling on SADC to take urgent steps to
save them from the fierce gun battle that is wreaking havoc in the East of
their country.

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 8th November 2008

On the eve of the SADC summit in Johannesburg, people at the Vigil were encouraged by the strong line on Zimbabwe voiced by ANC President Jacob Zuma, who said regional leaders should not leave South Africa without resolving the matter.


In contrast to Mbeki’s dishonest ‘quiet diplomacy’, the new South African government has acknowledged that there is indeed a crisis in Zimbabwe and one which requires noisy strong-arm tactics to break the deadlock.


The Vigil’s view is that Mugabe’s illegitimate regime – whatever it may say – has no intention at all of sharing real power and that SADC must insist on new, internationally-monitored elections, as proposed by Botswana.


As Zimbabweans we urge SADC to:

1.   Refuse to recognise the Mugabe regime

2.   Suspend visas for the Mugabe cronies and freeze their bank accounts

3.   Support tougher action by the Mugabe regime by the UN Security Council

4.   Support Botswana in the event of a military attack by Zimbabwe

5.   Seek donor funds to set up refugee camps in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique for Zimbabwean asylum seekers


Some points:

·    Another lively turnout despite dismal weather.  We were glad to have with us well-known Zimbabwean soul singer Ivy Kombo who gave an extra dimension to our music

·    We had a wonderful view of the Lord Mayor’s procession, which included the Horse Guards and magnificent carriages (see pictures)

·    Among visitors was an adviser to President-elect Barack Obama who said he agree with our banner ‘Arrest Mugabe for Torture’. He said he had met both Mugabe and Samora Machel

·    Another message of support came from Bob Marley’s widow, Rita, who expressed her support for WOZA and the Vigil and her sadness at the situation in Zimbabwe. She talked to one of our supporters at a function in London

·    Thanks to Bazil Bhanabhai, a South African who stopped by with lots of superb cakes from his wife’s catering firm (Aishas Catering). It was more than our 115 or so supporters could handle but at the end we handed it over to the local homeless speople who were very grateful


For latest Vigil pictures check:


FOR THE RECORD: around 115 signed the register.



·    Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Monday, 10th November at 7.30 pm. Venue: Downstairs at the Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street.

·    ROHR meeting in West Yorkshire. Saturday, 15th November 2008, 13.30 – 17.00 pm. Venue: Celandine Close, Carlton Glen, Ponterfract, Wakefield WF8 2SL. For more information contact Donnah Mugoni 07748828913, E Mkwaira 07780808101, B Sikosana 07940181761 or P Mapfumo 07533831617 / 07932216070.

·    Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).


Vigil co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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Burn for burns - Mutare General Hospital

Hello to you all, a short update ~


Since I last wrote to you about the hospital and our situation, things have gone from bad to chronic! I have been going to the hospital over the last few weeks (every second day and in visiting hours so as to prevent being noticed or too many ‘questions’ being asked!!)


Just to put you in the picture there is a case I would like to share with you ~ Precious was admitted; having been referred by a rural clinic; with a minor infection in her foot. By the time a nurse asked me to see her (at 12 years old she is in the women’s ward) the foot was badly infected. I left medicines and dressings for the nurses to treat her. Nurses went on strike and I had to resort to dressing Precious and the burn victims myself. Horrified I discovered the foot had lost a considerable amount of flesh and the infection had rapidly spread. Precious told me that nurses had been cutting away the rotting/dead flesh and washing the foot with tap water as the medicine I had left her was 'finished'!! Further more, when I visited the hospital yesterday I discovered that there had been no food in the hospital for

2 days and patients had only been given a cup of black sugarless tea. My stew was obviously in high demand. My heart broke as I watched Precious attack her portion of stew like an animal, frantically sucking on the bones – she had not eaten for over 24hrs!! Precious cannot walk, she has no money to buy food, her mother has visited her 3 times in 4 weeks so she lies quietly on the hospital bed, in pain and starving -


FACT     ~     At the time of writing this email, there has been no food in Mutare General Hospital; unless provided by friends and family; for 48 hours. 


One wonders how long this going to go on for and how much worse it can get? Victims are being 'victimized' and I personally cannot sit back and watch. . . .  






Mutare General Hospital in Zimbabwe is in a dire state. . .

There is NO liquid paracetamol, NO material for dressings, NO burn cream, NO anti septic, NO drips, NO surgical gloves, limited anti-biotics , (all these are required and need to be purchased by family members that can barely afford to survive on a daily basis) NO sterile burn environment for burn victims, ward curtains are torn, windows are broken, sheets are worn, the food (when available) is supplied but without nourishment(over the last 4 weeks patients have been fed a small portion of sadza/rice with cabbage boiled in salt water) children that are malnourished are being sent home to die as the required protein formula is unavailable. X-rays are unable as there is no film. . .  tragically the list is endless . . .

UPDATE ~ there has been no food provided to patients for the last 48 hours, those without family to provide food – go hungry!!

Our nurses threaten to strike, not for the mere $70 000.00 (less than US$1.00) that they earned this last month but for the conditions under which they work. Daily the nurses suffer heartache as they watch helplessly as patients, particularly children, die ~ unnecessarily! Constant frustration of not being able to put their knowledge into practice due to the lack of medical supplies can only be disheartening. . . . .

Recently a news headline was one that chilled many to the bone ~ “death is stalking Zimbabwe’s children” ~ apparently even children from the middle class are suffering.

More chilling quotes from the same news report ~

“Half the admissions end up in the mortuary”

“Malnutrition is a silent emergency that affects young children and they die quietly”

~ the quote I find most alarming ~

“In hospital we cannot feed them (starving children), at least at home they can scrounge for things. We only keep those that we can see won’t make it at home. We have lost the battle before we have fought it. . . “

Are we prepared to help fight the battle for our children to be able to see in another season or do we just walk away with blood on our hands??


I firmly believe that even if we make a difference to one child’s life – WE HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE!!

 If you would like to help or obtain further information please email me on or telephone (020) 67280/3 {mornings only}

With sincere appreciation


If you can help in any way please contact Jenny on the address below.  Many thanks.

Jenny Birch <>

~ “do not forget to do good and to share with others for with such sacrifices God is pleased” Hebrews 13:16 ~

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Medical Aid Schemes Scale Down Services

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:50
MANY kidney patients in need of regular dialysis treatment are in
danger after medical aid schemes reportedly stopped providing full cover to
members requiring specialist care at private health centres.

This has left desperately ill kidney patients stranded following the
closure of the renal dialysis unit at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

Health experts yesterday said kidney patients need at least two
sessions a week for dialysis and this means spending about US$400 or $80
million cash weekly for the treatment.

Among the medical aid societies that have stopped giving full cover to
their members is Cimas and members are upset that society failed to give
them adequate notice before the changes.

"This is like sentencing people to death," fumed one member. "I walked
into a hospital expecting my medical aid to cover for my husband's dialysis
as usual but l was told that this was no longer possible."

"You do not want to be told such life-changing and important
information over the counter by someone at a medical centre because I did
not enter into a contract with that person.

"Cimas can't change a contract we signed with them without due

The plight of renal patients has been further worsened by the recent
closure of the renal unit at Parirenyatwa where dialysis was affordable for
many kidney patients although by the time of its closure months back, only
two machines out of about 18 were reportedly working.

The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa said
their biggest challenge was lack of resources.

"The whole issue around equipment is that we need resources. Once we
get money, most of the challenges we are facing will be solved."

But the chairman of the Zimbabwe Doctor's for Human Rights (ZDHR),
Douglas Gwatidzo said most medical insurance schemes were failing to meet
the ever-escalating costs of specialist medical care.

"As a result of the hyper-inflationary environment most medical aid
insurance schemes have become meaningless and they have just stopped
covering any specialist care," he said.

On the closure of the renal units at Parirenyatwa, Gwatidzo said the
move was "not surprising at all".

"If we go by what the general services withdrawal in state hospitals
has been like it's not surprising at all that the units were closed,"
Gwatidzo said. "Actually it would have been a miracle if under this economic
and political crisis these units had remained functional."

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Talks In Jeopardy

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:35

ACCUSATIONS that the government is trying to sabotage today's
make-or-break Sadc summit on Zimbabwe in South Africa, cast a dark shadow
over the deadlocked power-sharing deal, The Standard can report.

The MDC yesterday said several of its activists were arrested for
allegedly "planning an insurgency", while Botswana dismissed Zimbabwe's
allegation that it had offered the insurgents bases as "false, baseless, and
completely unfounded".

Botswana requested Zimbabwe to provide documented evidence on the
allegations and invited the Sadc Organ Troika, together with Zimbabwe, to
undertake a fact-finding mission to Botswana "at the earliest opportunity".

The Troika accepted the invitation.

Botswana said it was invited to an extra-ordinary meeting of the Sadc
Inter-State Defence and Security Committee of the Organ Troika in Maputo,
Mozambique on Wednesday last week.

At the meeting, Zimbabwe alleged that Botswana was interfering in its
internal affairs and alleged that Botswana had been training MDC-Tsvangirai
(MDC-T) youths to destabilise Zimbabwe since 2002.

Botswana requested that Harare provides documented evidence on the

The Troika requested Zimbabwe to provide it with documented evidence,
which would be availed to Botswana.

At the Maputo meeting, Botswana re-affirmed its continued adherence to
principles and policies of good neighbourliness, non-interference in the
internal affairs of other states, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

But Botswana said it reminded Zimbabwe of the existence of mechanisms
for the management of bilateral relations. For example, there have been 25
annual meetings of the Botswana-Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission on
Defence and Security, during which no such allegations had ever been raised.
The current membership of the Organ Troika is made up of Swaziland
(Chair), Mozambique (Deputy Chair) and Angola (immediate past Chair) and
Botswana assured the Organ Troika and Zimbabwe that a fact-finding Mission
would receive Botswana's "fullest co-operation".

The arrests of the 11 activists from Banket and Chinhoyi, the MDC said
was allegedly a ploy by Zanu PF hardliners desperate to build a case for
Zanu PF to hold on to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is in charge of
the police.

The Sadc leaders meeting today to tackle the Zimbabwean crisis are
expected to put pressure on President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai to conclude the formation of the all-inclusive government.

Sources said Zanu PF planned to present "evidence" extracted from the
MDC activists detained at various police stations in Harare in an attempt to
buttress its claim that the MDC was training insurgents in Botswana.

This is to justify its demands to retain control of the police.

In High Court papers, lawyers said the arrests of the MDC supporters,
Terry Musona, Fanny Tembo, Fidelis Chiramba, Pieta Kaseke, Mr Manyemwe, one
Agrippa, Ernest Mudimu, Larry Gaka, Collen Mutemagau, Emmanuel and Concillia
Chinanzwavana was politically-motivated.

"The applicants were rounded up in Banket and Chinhoyi by unknown
people who claimed to be officers from Law and Order, who were moving in a
convoy of six vehicles," reads an urgent chamber application by lawyer
Andrew Makoni, seeking the release of the activists, whose whereabouts are

The victims were taken to Harare, where they were reportedly detained
at Braeside, Rhodesville, Highlands, Avondale, Mabelreign and Borrowdale
police stations. But lawyers who visited the police stations were told the
activists were not being held at the stations. Makoni said they were able to
get the detention book numbers for Tembo, Chiramba and Kaseke.

The application will be heard in Chambers on Tuesday before Justice
Charles Hungwe.

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HIV/Aids Activists Blast Gono

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:35

HIV/AIDS activists last week attacked the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for
diverting US$7,29 million meant for disease interventions.

The outraged activists said the central bank's conduct was
"unforgivable" and "criminal" and could put the lives of many HIV-positive
Zimbabweans in danger.

The concerns were echoed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who
urged the Anti-Corruption Commission to institute an urgent public inquiry
into the matter, as well as a transparent audit of the activities of the
RBZ, "particularly the use of donor funds on a wide scale for unknown

The RBZ was forced to repay the money last week after the Global Fund
to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria threatened to withhold funding for
life-saving treatment over the missing money.

Bernard Nyathi, president of the Zimbabwe HIV/Aids Activists Union,
said the Global Fund should never allow the government to handle aid money

Nyathi said the fund should not deny suffering Zimbabweans funding in
Round 8 because of the "corrupt tendencies" of government.

The final decision on Zimbabwe's application will be made today at a
board meeting in New Delhi, India, that began on Friday where the fund is
set to grant up to US$3 billion in new funding to help fight the diseases,
according to a statement released by the fund's executive director Michel
Kazatchkine on Thursday.

Kazatchkine warned that Global Fund would be "extremely firm" after
the allegations of misuse of funds by the RBZ.

"At this time our problem is to recover those dollars," Kazatchkine
was quoted by agencies as having said. "We will not sign any new grants
unless that money is fully recovered."

"We are not happy about the RBZ's conduct at all," Nyathi fumed. "It
is unforgivable because as a result of this damaged reputation with one of
the country's few remaining donors, the welfare of many HIV-positive
Zimbabweans is seriously threatened because the large chunk of this money
was meant for us."

"We have many of our members who are failing to access life-saving
treatment, people being turned away from hospitals and people dying of
hunger and taking ARVs on empty stomachs and you have got to ask: So where
was this money diverted to?"

HIV/Aids activist Sebastian Chinhaire, who is also a member of the
Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV/Aids, said the
government and RBZ had sentenced many people to an "early death" by
tampering with the money.

"Our reputation with the donor community has been ruined and I believe
diverting aid money the way government did is criminal," he said. "They have
closed one of the few doors that people living with HIV/Aids were left with
and we are as good as dead now."

"We urge the Global Fund and many other donors to continue assisting
Zimbabwe and not punish us because of a few heartless individuals.

"We are counting heavily on the Global Fund money and it would be a
huge injustice to the people of Zimbabwe if we are denied these funds."

At least 321 000 out of the 1,8 million people living with HIV/Aids
are in urgent need of Antiretroviral drugs but as long as donors shun
Zimbabwe, accessing this life-prolonging medication will remain a pipe dream
for many.

The RBZ's spending, especially in the run up to the June 27
presidential election run-off raised a lot of eyebrows as the central bank
expanded its involvement in quasi-fiscal activities.

Ignoring the country's huge needs in the health sector and the welfare
of people living with HIV/Aids, the Reserve Bank bought judges new cars,
plasma-screen televisions sets, satellite dishes and many other luxuries.

In a letter Kazatchkine wrote to the donor community recently, the
organisation said it will not approve any of Zimbabwe's future grants until
it is assured its funds are "safe".

Kazatchkine said last year the RBZ gave a directive to all commercial
banks to "lodge" their foreign currency with it.

After this directive about US$12,3 million from the Global Fund grants
in principal recipients' commercial accounts was transferred from the
commercial banks to the RBZ.

In the early stages of this development, Kazatchkine says, the
principal recipients were able to access their money but he says the slow
disbursements of this money by the RBZ were affecting grant performances.

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Alarm As Cholera Spreads

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:28
BEATRICE Road Infectious Diseases Hospital was last week swamped with
cholera patients as the disease outbreak spread to other areas of Harare.

There was gloom at the hospital as ambulances and pushcarts brought in
patients from Mbare, Kuwadzana and Waterfalls - areas that were previously
untouched by the pandemic.

Relatives of quarantined patients waited patiently for hours to learn
the fate of their loved ones as nurses, who have been joined by volunteer
doctors and staff from organisations such as the Red Cross and Unicef worked
over-time to bring the situation under control.

There were unconfirmed reports that more than 30 people had died in
Budiriro alone by last week. The Standard could not independently verify the

When The Standard visited Beatrice hospital more than 100 people had
been admitted and ambulances were bringing in more patients.

An official at the hospital said although the situation had improved
slightly, people were still dying.

"What's worse is that the disease has now spread to other areas," said
the official. "People from all over Harare are being admitted here

He said the government had done nothing to help cholera victims at the

"Everything here was donated by Unicef and the Red Cross Society. They
are the ones who have bought medication and food for the patients," he said.
"The government has done nothing."

A distraught Taurai Mupedza from Mbare said he brought his wife to the
clinic after she started vomiting.

He said it was disheartening that he had not been allowed to see his
wife since she was detained at the hospital last week.

"I do not know if she is still alive," Mupedza said. "I have been told
I cannot be near the ward because all cholera patients are quarantined. It
would help if they tell us the condition. I guess they are overwhelmed."

Last week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said it was giving the
Zimbabwe National Water Authority R8,7 million, Z$374,2 quadrillion,
vehicles and fuel to help normalise water supplies and bring the cholera
outbreak under control.

But there are still doubts that the government has adequate resources
to bring the outbreak under control.

The Harare City Council said 267 people had been admitted at Beatrice
hospital and Budiriro Polyclinic since the outbreak began.

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Fugitive Journalist: Rights Lawyer Faces Arrest

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:25
POLICE intend to arrest human rights lawyer Harrison Nkomo after a
British journalist he represented over a week ago skipped bail.

The Standard was informed yesterday officers from the Law and Order
section visited Nkomo's offices in Harare looking for the lawyer. They could
not locate Nkomo, who was reported to be out of town.

His phone remained unreachable yesterday.

Police sources say they want to charge Nkomo with defeating the course
of justice under Section 184 Subsection I paragraph A under the Criminal Law
(Reform and Codification) Act.

Nkomo represented Phillip Warington Taylor (36), who was picked up by
the Central Intelligence Organisation in Harare two weeks ago.

Taylor, who denied practising journalism while in the country for 30
days, was granted bail by a Harare magistrate.

He was expected back in court on November 5, but instead sent a text
message to Nkomo advising him that he had left Zimbabwe and was in South

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College Fair Attracts Record Attendance

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:23
TO anyone who still doubts what most children think about Zimbabwe's
education system, hundreds of students aspiring to university education, at
last week's US/Canada College Fair, provided the answer.

It was an answer vividly illustrated by the lines of students and
their accompanying parents that stretched from outside Meikles Hotel, into
the lobby, up the stairs, snaking their way into the Stewart Rooms - numbers
that far exceeded last year's college fair held in Bulawayo, which attracted
about 400 Zimbabwean students.

It was an answer and a message to the country's political leadership
that while it is agitating for a "Look East" policy, the students, desirous
of a better education, were looking West.

With the continued deterioration of the education system, Zimbabwe's
top high school students are turning to the West for further education. On
Wednesday, a record number of more than 700 high school students from Harare
and Chitungwiza and some from as far as Mutare and Gweru attended the
Council of International Schools College and Universities Fair hosted
jointly by the US and Canadian Embassies.

The attendance exceeded last year's fair by more than 250 students.

US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee speaking after touring the
fair, said the event "is a wonderful opportunity for young Zimbabweans to
continue to get a higher education. Given the state of the education system
in Zimbabwe, that is extremely important."

McGee, who was accompanied by his Canadian counterpart, Ambassador
Barbara Richardson, said during the last 10 years, the US had witnessed an
impressive increase in the number of international students from Zimbabwe.

"Over the last 10 years there has been a 300% increase in the number
of students coming from Zimbabwe and attending universities in the United
States," McGee said. "Ten years ago there were only 500 students. Right now,
there are over 1 500 students from Zimbabwe attending university in the
United States."

McGee said the US is committed to continue receiving Zimbabwean
students, and the US Embassy in Harare had worked to secure millions of
scholarships to benefit deserving and talented students.

"This past year alone we gave out over US$11 million in scholarships
to undergraduate students and about US$3 million to graduate students,"
McGee said. "So the commitment is there."

Canadian Ambassador Richardson said Zimbabwean students were highly
regarded at Canadian universities and the institutions had asked for more
students from the country.

"We have received feedback from universities in Canada that they
welcome particularly students from Zimbabwe because they find the students
from Zimbabwe always hard-working, diligent and some of the best students
they receive on their campuses."

The United States and Canada boast some of the best and most
comprehensive systems of higher education in the world with over 4 200
accredited and internationally recognised institutions of higher education,
all of whom welcome the diversity brought by international students to their

With news of African-American Barack Obama's victory in the US
Presidential election still fresh in their minds, the increasing interest in
American colleges highlights the confidence Zimbabweans have in an American
education, despite the economic challenges that have affected all social

Thirteen colleges and universities from the United States and four
from Canada participated at the fair which is jointly organised by the
Council for International Schools and United States Educational Advising
Centre based at the US Embassy in Harare.

The institutions represented included some of America's top colleges
such as Brown, Columbia, Princeton, Stanford and Yale Universities.

The four Canadian universities represented at the fair are Carleton
University, Thompson Rivers University, University of Saskatchewan and York

Admissions officers from the US/Canadian universities flew out of
Harare to South Africa on Wednesday evening.

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Row Looms As Governor Eyes Mayor's Mansion

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:20
GWERU - A conflict is looming between Gweru City Council and the
recently appointed Midlands governor, Jason Machaya, over the governor's
insistence on moving into the mayoral mansion.

Sources who spoke to this reporter alleged that Machaya, through the
local government ministry, recently wrote a letter to council insisting that
he wanted to lease the mayoral mansion from the council.

The sources said soon after his appointment as governor in September
Machaya started taking steps to move into the mansion, adding that the
governor was frequently phoning Gweru mayor, Desmond Mupfunde, and Town
Clerk Daniel Matawu asking them when council would let him move in.

Repeated calls to Machaya on his mobile telephone on Friday and
yesterday proved fruitless as he was unreachable.

Two weeks ago Council held a special meeting to discuss the issue.
When contacted for comment on the issue Mupfunde refused to comment saying
that the issue had different stages that it had to pass through and did not
want to discuss it at the moment.

However, some councillors who spoke on condition of anonymity said the
council was opposed to leasing the house to Machaya as already there were
plans in place to let it to a leading mining company that operates in the
neighbouring town of Shurugwi.

The mansion has been vacant since late last year following the
departure of former mayor Sesil Zvidzayi, who used to occupy it.

The councillors said they felt council stood to benefit more from
letting the house to the mining company than to Machaya, as besides paying
rent, the company had agreed it would also assist the council in purchasing
consumables for use by council.

The councillors said they did not see why Machaya should want to move
into the council house when government has its own accommodation.

Machaya's insistence on renting the mansion comes amid revelations
that government sold to former governor Cephas Msipa the house that he used
to live in, although it has not been possible to establish the price he
bought it for. President Robert Mugabe dropped Msipa from the governorship
of the Midlands province when he announced new governors in September.

Mugabe unilaterally appointed governors but in the wake of the
power-sharing agreement, the MDC formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai is
demanding its share of governorships as part of the power-sharing deal.

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Farmers Accuse Govt Of Violating SadcTribunal Ruling

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:17
COMMERCIAL farmers say the government is violating an interim ruling
by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Tribunal calling for an
end to farm invasions.

The Sadc Tribunal order granted in Windhoek forbids further invasions
of farms owned by more than 70 white commercial farmers, who took their case
to the regional body for arbitration after they had exhausted all legal
channels available locally.

The farmers last week said for the past two months there had been an
increase in cases of disruptions on the properties covered by the interim
relief order.

The farmers also allege that they are being denied access to certain
parts of their farms and homesteads, rendering meaningful agricultural
activity impossible.

"Over the last two months there has been an increase in the numbers of
beneficiaries appearing on the properties, many of whom have been allocated
the remaining portions of the productive properties including the main
infrastructure, which includes the homesteads," reads a document compiled by
the farmers and obtained by The Standard.

Over 70 farms are supposed to be protected by the interim order from
the regional court.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Sadc treaty which established the
tribunal for citizens of member states who had exhausted all domestic

The Sadc Tribunal order reads in part: "Accordingly, we order that the
Republic of Zimbabwe shall take no steps, or permit to be taken, directly or
indirectly, whether by its agents or by orders, to evict from, or interfere
with, the peaceful residence on, and the beneficial use of, their properties
in respect of the applicants/interveners referred to in the previous
paragraph, their employees and the families of such employees."

The document said at least four of the farmers are presently on trial
for alleged contravention of Section 3 of the Gazetted Land (Consequential
Provisions) Act while five are on remand for allegedly breaching the same

"Furthermore, there are a number of cases where interveners have
sought the protection of the courts and have been granted further
Provisional Orders but which are allegedly being totally ignored by the
respondents," said the farmers.

Digby Nesbitt, who owns Farm 30 in Hippo Valley in Chiredzi, has been
unable to farm his sugar cane section.

Disruption of farming operations at Romsey Farm in Chinhoyi owned by
Douglas Taylor-Freeme continues despite that it is also covered by the Sadc
interim order.

But the Minister of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Didymus Mutasa
dismissed the claims by the farmers saying the Sadc order was set aside
after government appealed to a summit of the regional body.

Mutasa said that a committee of justice ministers from the region was
appointed to review the interim relief because it was unconstitutional and
interfered with Zimbabwe's internal affairs.

"We could not accept the order because it was totally
unconstitutional," he said.

"And we cannot stop our land reform programme because of a bogus
judgment issued by people bought to portray Zimbabwe as a lawless country."

CFU vice-president Gideon Theron could not be reached for comment this

The union now represents about 280 of the commercial farmers still in
the country, down from 4 500 before the land invasions began in 2000.

Since the farm invasions, spearheaded by war veterans and Zanu PF
militia, Zimbabwe has been experiencing serious food shortages.

As a result, the gross national product has plummeted 40% and the
country has been forced to import tens of thousands of tonnes of maize to
stave off famine.

It is estimated that more than five million people would need food aid
in by the beginning of next year.

By Caiphas Chimhete

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ZIMSEC Strike Exposes Education Shambles

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:17
THE government's decision to go ahead with public examinations for
Grade VlI, Ordinary and Advanced Levels despite problems facing the
education sector could backfire as the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council
only has "skeletal staff" to compile answer sheets from examination centres.

It has also emerged that workers who are supposed to compile a
database for the examinations have been on strike for months, protesting
against poor salaries. As a result, the database, which is usually compiled
months before the examinations, has not been completed.

The database is used to allocate candidate numbers to students from
various centres, and to develop statements of entry for all students. It is
not clear how students managed to write the examinations without going
through the vital process and educators warned that there could be a massive
mix-up of examination results.

Zimsec employees now report for duty once or twice a week. This has
thrown into disarray the compilation of the examination database, a key part
of the examination process.

The development could compound the confusion in the administration of
the examinations, which have already seen some papers being invigilated
reportedly by headmen, youth militia and police officers.

Two weeks before the government defied calls by teachers' unions not
to hold examinations, Zimsec employees petitioned the acting Minister of
Education, Flora Bhuka to urgently address the "unsustainable remuneration
at Zimsec".

"For a long time, Zimsec staff have been subjected to deplorable
conditions of service. The salaries given to Zimsec workers are so extremely
low that it is a wonder that we have managed to report for duty," reads the
letter, dated October 13.

Bhuka was not available for comment. But workers' representatives said
she had promised to "look into the issue".

The letter indicates that the salaries workers received for October
were not enough for one trip to work on public transport. The workers
accused their superiors of "general insensitivity", which they said "makes
it impossible" for them to continue performing their normal duties.

On Friday, Zimsec spokesperson Ezekiel Pasipamire was said to be out
of office. It could not be immediately established whether his absence was
part of the protest. An official who answered the phone said he "just didn't
come to work".

Dr Stephen Mahere, the Secretary for Education, said: "We cannot be
talking of a database when examinations have already been written", and then
requested to have questions faxed to him. However, Mahere had not responded
by Friday close of business.

Mathias Guchutu, the spokesperson for the National Education Union of
Zimbabwe, which covers Zimsec workers, said they were not happy that the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s decided to award cash benefits to
invigilators only.

"The union is happy that the RBZ intervened in the education sector by
providing money for the invigilators, but why not extend that to the Zimsec
employees who are on a minimum of $7 000 (revalued) a month," he said. "The
Zimsec employee is critical to the quality and professional administration
of examinations."

Guchutu said the current examination process would not "produce any
quality thing".

"The employees can hardly afford to go to work. There is currently
skeleton staff, and the administration of the examinations from what we have
seen so far has also been skeletal.

"If the government is serious about the examinations, something must
be done quickly."

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Infected Animals For RBZ Cattle Scheme

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:14
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe bought 200 cattle infected with
Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) for its restocking programme in Matabeleland
North province as questions mount over its continued participation in
quasi-fiscal activities.

The cattle, meant for distribution to farmers in the province, were
quarantined at Winter Block Ranch, a few kilometers from Bulawayo after they
were found to be infected with the highly contagious disease.

Winter Block Ranch is owned by the troubled Cold Storage Company but
in the past has been leased to Zanu PF politicians.

The cattle were reportedly bought from commercial farmers whose
properties were invaded by Zanu PF militias who destroyed fences meant for
disease control.

Matabeleland North is a designated red zone because of the frequent
FMD outbreaks. Movements of animals such as cattle, pigs and buffaloes are
strictly monitored.

The matter was raised at a provincial development committee meeting
held in Lupane last month.

"The veterinary officers told the meeting that the cattle were found
to be infected with FMD and as such they would not be distributed to
beneficiaries," a senior Zanu PF official who attended the meeting said. The
meeting was closed even to the public media, which is usually invited to
participate along with other government departments.

"The report was a big source of embarrassment for the provincial
leadership, which was not consulted by the RBZ when the cattle were bought.

"But what surprised people the most is that an institution like the
RBZ could buy cattle without a thorough evaluation of where they came from
or that they were really worth the price."

RBZ governor, Dr Gideon Gono unveiled the cattle scheme more than a
month ago at a function attended by Vice-President Joseph Msika. He pledged
to give each of the two Matabeleland provinces 1 000 cattle each.

The central bank's spokesman, Kumbirai Nhongo demanded questions in
writing but had not responded by Friday close of business.

Stuart Hargreaves, the principal director of the Department of
Veterinary Services said he was not aware of the case and referred questions
to a Mr Nengomasha of AREX whom he said was in charge of the RBZ project.

Nengomasha was said to be out of the office on Friday.

By Kholwani Nyathi

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Zanu PF Plot Against

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:14
MASVINGO - A plot by Zanu PF officials to have former MDC mayor jailed
for alleged fraud hit a brick wall last week after a provincial magistrate
acquitted Alois Chaimiti of the charges.

Chaimiti, who became the first MDC mayor in the history of Masvingo in
2001, was charged after former Zanu PF councillors complained that he had
forged minutes of a full council meeting that was never held.

Masvingo provincial magistrate Timeon Makunde discharged Chaimiti, who
was accused of fraud as defined in Section 136 of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9.23.

He said the state had failed to produce sufficient evidence to support
the allegations.

The former Zanu PF councillors, Alderman Naison Tsere and Yeukai
Mabasa, alleged that on February 27 last year Chaimiti unlawfully instructed
the compilation of minutes of a purported executive committee meeting.

The state further alleged that Chaimiti intended to cause another
person to act upon the misrepresentation.

Rodney Saratoga Makause, who represented Chaimiti, argued that the
case was political and the witnesses, who are the former mayor's rivals,
were trying to ruin his client's political career.

The court agreed that a prima-facie case had not been established and
also that the evidence led "was manifestly unreliable to warrant any
reasonable court to convict him".

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Zim Inflation At Shocking Levels

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:01
ZIMBABWE'S inflation last month hit the quintillion percent mark, an
indication that the country's economic woes are far from over, a report by
an internationally renowned economist has revealed.

Professor Steve Hanke, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in the
United States, said Zimbabwe's annual inflation had soared to 2.79
quintillion percent, a world record in many respects. A quintillion is a
figure with 18 zeroes and is a rung above a quadrillion.

Hanke developed the Hanke hyperinflationary index, a metric derived
from market price data, which can be used to calculate inflation in the
absence of information from the government's statistical bodies, as in the
case of Zimbabwe.

"Zimbabwe is the first country in the 21st century to hyper inflate,"
said Prof Hanke, who has played a prominent role in designing and
implementing monetary reforms that have reduced high attitude inflation in
eight countries.

"In February 2007, Zimbabwe's inflation rate topped 50% per month, the
minimum rate required to qualify as hyperinflation (50% per month is equal
to a 12 875% per year)."

Moffat Nyoni, acting director of the Central Statistical Office (CSO),
refused to comment on Prof Hanke's projections saying the government body
charged with collecting official statistics was still in the process of
compiling data used to calculate inflation.

The last figures released by the CSO were for July, which showed that
annual inflation peaked at 231 million percent, a figure widely disputed by
independent economists.

Official figures for September, October and November have not been

Nyoni said his staff had resorted to calculating inflation manually
because computers could not cope with the accumulating zeroes in the local

Independent economist, John Robertson said the Cato Institute
projections made a lot of sense considering the rate of price increases.

He said for example between October 2007 and last month, the exchange
rate had moved up by 185 quadrillion percent.

Knocking off zeros from the dollar has not helped addressing the
causes of inflation, Robertson said. In 2006, the central bank loped off
three zeros from the currency and in August this year removed another 10.

"All the 10 zeros are back with us and the other five will be with us
by the end of the month," Robertson said, cautioning that the CSO might come
up with unreliable figures because of the manual calculations.

The main cause of hyperinflation is a rapid increase in the amount of
money in circulation, which is not supported by growth in the output of
goods and services.

The central bank has been accused of printing money to fund operations
that should be accommodated in the national budget. But Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe governor, Dr Gideon Gono says he will not stop printing money until
sanctions on Zimbabwe are removed.

Under hyperinflation conditions, governments introduce higher
denominations to ease the burden on consumers carrying wads of cash.

Last week, the RBZ introduced $100 000, $500 000 and $1 million notes
to deal with the widespread cash shortages.

The Zimbabwean dollar has been the biggest casualty of hyperinflation,
which has seen it weakening at a rapid rate against major currencies.

From $140 to one US dollar in the week ending September 27, the
battered Zimbabwe dollar had depreciated to $140 000 to one US dollar as of
Thursday. This means that the Zimbabwean dollar had depreciated by nearly
100 000 percent in over a month.

By Ndamu Sandu

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Fuel Coupons For Chequebook Deals

Saturday, 08 November 2008 19:01
CUSTOMERS at one of the country's leading commercial banks now have to
pay for their cheque books in fuel coupons directly to the printers.

Investigations by Standardbusiness show that the bank is referring
account holders' to cheque book suppliers, Paragon Business Form in Masasa,
which demands payment in fuel coupons.

The printers demand US$20 or a 20-litre coupon of fuel. For personal
accounts, one gets four 50-page books. After paying the supplier, a company
will get three 100-page books.

Account holders who spoke to Standardbusiness said the system had
destroyed the relationship between the account holder and the bank
established when the account was opened.

Inquiries at other banks have revealed that the institutions were
debiting account holders who request new cheque books.

But executives in the banking industry last week said the settlement
system was in disarray as most suppliers were now demanding payment in
foreign currency, notwithstanding that some had not been licenced to deal in
foreign currency by the central bank.

They cautioned that the charges levied by banks were too little to
sustain the issuance of cheque books.

Last month, the central bank ordered banks to reverse the charges they
were levying on account holders but industry players feel the $1 000 fee is

Cheques have become the mode of payment due to unsustainable cash
withdrawal limits that hardly meet the demands of citizens.

The banks said they were referring clients on the understanding that
they were providing an alternative for clients to get cheque books.

The banks said they were not aware that account holders were being
asked to pay US$20 or a 20-litre fuel coupon.

The revelation that some banks were requiring account holders to pay
in foreign currency or coupons comes against the backdrop of concerns by
monetary authorities that financial institutions were ripping off clients.

Last month the Reserve Bank Governor, Dr Gideon Gono cracked the whip
on the financial sector saying their unjustified bank charges "are way above
salaries earned by majority of banking institutions' customers, a phenomenon
which is detrimental to banks' mandate of financial intermediation".

Gono said while banks needed to cover operational costs some of their
charges were unjustified.

"The charges levied by some banking institutions on their various
products and services, however, demonstrate unacceptable predatory
practices," Gono said.

By Ndamu Sandu

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Mawere Assets Case: UK Court Reserves Ruling

Saturday, 08 November 2008 18:58
THE United Kingdom Supreme Court last week reserved judgment in an
appeal by AMG Global Nominees (AMG) seeking a ratification order of the
shareholder register of Shabani Mashaba Mine Holdings (SMMH).

The appeal by AMG, a company incorporated in Zimbabwe, was heard by a
panel of three judges, Lord Justice Chancellor Morrit, Lord Hooper and Lord
Wilson on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Both Mutumwa Mawere on behalf of the defendant, Africa Resources
Limited (ARL) and Afaras Mtausi Gwaradzimba on behalf of AMG were in

Mawere who bought SMM from its former owners Turner and Newell Ltd
(T&N) in 1996 lost his prized possession in 2004 when the Zimbabwe
government took over his assets.

The government accused the businessman of externalising foreign
currency. His assets then valued at US$400 million were expropriated by a
presidential decree.

In October 2004, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, paid US$2 million on
behalf of AMG to buy the share warrants to SMM Holdings, a subsidiary of ARL
from its former owners, T&N.

The share warrants were bought from Kroll who had been appointed
administrators of T&N.

The appeal lodged by AMG is against an order made on April 7 by
Justice Evans-Lombe which threw out AMG bid to buy SMM.

One of the principal grounds of appeal related to allegations that
Mawere used SMM to pay for the shares at SMMH.

AMG argued that acquisition of SMM in 1996 by ARL from T&N Plc was
unlawful in that it was intended that SMM's sole beneficial shareholder,
SMMH, a company incorporated in England, would give financial assistance for
the purpose of ARL's purchase of the SMMH bearer share warrants held by T&N
by way of security.

The revelation by AMG effectively means that Mawere had not received a
government guarantee when he acquired SMM in 1996.

AMG argues that ARL caused SMMH's directors to direct SMM to pay
export proceeds to T&N, through the linked directorships of Mawere in
respect of ARL and SMMH.

AMG said that SMMH in allowing its subsidiary, SMM, to pay export
proceeds gave financial assistance to Mawere's ARL in that ARL incurred a
liability under the agreement of sale to procure the payment of export
proceeds to reduce or discharge its liability in respect of the acquisition.

This will open an avenue for AMG to argue that T&N was entitled to
deal in the shares of SMMH as it wished.

Mawere said the point raised by AMG exposes the hypocrisy of the
government that so far sought to argue that the acquisition by Mawere's ARL
of SMM was government backed and a guarantee was used for the purpose.

"From the facts of the matter it is clear that the acquisition of SMM
was done on commercial basis and the assistance came from a British source
rather than a government source," Mawere said.

"It is the GOZ (government of Zimbabwe) through AMG that now wants the
English Court to determine the legality of a deal that resulted in a British
company's interests being transferred to a black African."

Mawere questioned AMG's source of funds to litigate after it had paid
£115 000 into its attorney's account as security for ARL's costs of the

"AMG is a creature of statute and one has to ask where the funds to
litigate are coming from," Mawere said.

Gwaradzimba was unreachable both on his mobile and office numbers.

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Obama's Big Challenge: Managing Africa's Hopes

Saturday, 08 November 2008 18:56
KOGELO, Kenya - Within hours of Barack Obama's election victory, Kenya
sent workers to bring electricity for the first time to his late father's
rural village.

Obama may find it hard to bring such fast, tangible benefits to a
whole continent that greeted his White House triumph with euphoria and vast

"Africans must not ask extraordinary things from him, must not expect.
. .that through the miracle of his election America will drain money on
Africa to change our continent," cautioned Senegalese President Abdoulaye
Wade. "I don't think that's going to happen, and it wouldn't be a good

The appointment of a "son of Africa" to the most powerful position in
the world has sent hopes for change soaring.

But given the global economic meltdown, and myriad other foreign
policy priorities - not least Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia and Iran - the Obama
administration's first policy challenge in Africa may just be managing

When he does turn his attention to its needs, there will be no easy
answers. From fresh fighting in eastern Congo to the crisis in Darfur and
intractable conflict in Somalia, many of Obama's intelligence briefings on
Africa will be grim.

Priorities include accelerating the continent's integration into the
global economy, securing American access to oil and other natural resources
in the face of fierce Chinese and Indian competition, and contending with a
host of humanitarian crises.

Analyst J. Peter Pham, Africa advisor to Republican candidate John
McCain, said Obama's Kenyan ancestry would help drive policy there -
alongside strategic and political concerns.

"The excitement sweeping across Africa now presents (him) with a rare
opportunity to translate effusive sentiments of good will into a windfall of
diplomatic capital which, if he husbands it prudently, can significantly
advance America's values and interests on the continent while helping to
achieve Africans' aspirations for peace, stability, and development," he

Obama's personal story has inspired millions across Africa, reducing
many to tears of joy and pride when he won.

Some African leaders, however, might privately be feeling a bit
nervous. Obama's campaign vowed to strengthen ties with governments and
groups committed to democracy and accountability.

Kenyan human rights activist Maina Kiai said Obama had showed his
stomach for a fight when he visited South Africa in 2006 as the only black
US senator - criticising President Thabo Mbeki for his slow response to AIDS
and urging him to take a tougher stand against Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

He then flew to Kenya, met pro-democracy groups and gave a powerful
speech at Nairobi University on human rights.

"The next thing you heard was government officials attacking Obama and
saying he doesn't understand Kenya," Kiai said.

"On Darfur, he has been very strong on it. On Zimbabwe, he has been
very clear about the need for change and the need for Mugabe to stop killing
and hurting his people . . . he has consistently been on the side of the
underdog, on the side of the people, the side of right, so hopefully that
will continue."

The Nairobi Star agreed, saying Africa should not expect a soft ride
from Obama: "In fact he will probably be tougher than Bush or Clinton, if we
are to judge by his speech on corruption in Nairobi in 2006."

Obama is clearly interested in Africa - the question is whether he
will have the money to do anything here.

The issues certainly look likely to get more of a hearing at high
levels with Susan Rice, former President Bill Clinton's top Africa aide,
tipped as a possible national security advisor.

Another legacy of history's most closely watched ballot might just be
the dignity shown by McCain in defeat.

The elation at Obama's win was felt most strongly by Kenyans, who saw
their nation torn apart by post-election tribal violence at the start of
this year. Many other African polls have also been marred by bloodshed. -

"It is particularly instructive to us in this country ... that John
McCain gracefully conceded defeat but remained ever the steadfast statesman,
as any leader anywhere worth his name should," said Kenya's Party of
National Unity, which formed a unity government with the opposition to end
the turmoil.

Kenya's Daily Nation asked why, if the bloodshed seen in Kenya was
unthinkable in the United States despite such a hard-fought, heated and
lengthy election campaign, was it so common on the world's poorest

"The answer could simply be that we are incapable of harbouring any
tolerance for each other's points of view," it said. "True democracy
requires tolerance and the ability to give in with grace when we lose a
political contest." - For factbox on Obama's Africa challenges, click
[L6022839] (Additional reporting by Dakar and Johannesburg staff; Writing by
Daniel Wallis; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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The Beautiful Stones Of Marange In Manicaland

Saturday, 08 November 2008 18:38
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

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. 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

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 implosion.

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 authorities. They say 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 selling.

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 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 Leone, 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.

Alex Magaisa is based at, Kent Law School, the University of Kent and
can be contacted at or

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Poisoning The Talks To Scuttle Deal

Saturday, 08 November 2008 18:34
THE parties searching for a solution to disagreements on Zimbabwe's
power-sharing agreement will be meeting in South Africa today, but all the
signs point to another deadlock.

Zanu PF has over the past week made sure it poisons the atmosphere in
the hope of scuttling the talks, never mind the ghastly consequences.

The government made outrageous accusations about the Morgan
Tsvangirai-led MDC formation training youths in Botswana, presumably in the
hope of launching a guerrilla-type campaign against President Robert Mugabe's

The government also branded suggestions by Botswana's President Ian
Khama that the only way out of the current deadlock was internationally
supervised elections as "extreme provocation" and said Khama had "no right
under international law as an individual or country to interfere in our
domestic affairs".

So a mere proposal for free and fair elections attracts such a shrill
response! Why is Zanu PF wasting time going to Sadc for mediation if it is
not prepared to tolerate proposals from the region?

It is not surprising that this time it is on Botswana's soil that the
MDC is purportedly training its fighters. This is a grave accusation to
make, especially against one in whom Zanu PF is engaged in a quest for a
solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe. It is a charge calculated to cause
outrage in the MDC so that Tsvangirai and his delegation storm out of the
talks today in South Africa.

If it were true and there was evidence of the MDC training people this
should have been brought to the attention of the MDC negotiators, but more
importantly, the evidence should have been produced. Botswana has offered a
full investigation which, needless to say, Harare has not taken up.

Readers will recall the same charge being made before with South
Africa supposedly allowing the training of insurgents on its soil. Again,
there was no evidence to support the charge.

Before that the late nationalist Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole was
accused by this same government of sponsoring "Chimwenje" - an armed group
the government claimed was operating along the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border
and intent on overthrowing the administration in Harare.

Readers will also recall that a High Court Judge recently described a
document the government produced in order to nail a key MDC leader, as good
for bedtime reading - in other words a fairy tale! And before that there was
the Ari Ben-Menashe fiction against Tsvangirai.

This government has a well-documented history of being devious. It has
no intention of setting up an all-inclusive government and its conduct so
far suggests it would rather set up a Zanu PF government, totally
disregarding the wishes of the people as expressed in the March 29
parliamentary and presidential elections.

In suggesting an "unholy alliance exists between President Khama on
one hand and Tsvangirai on the other hand", Zimbabwe is demonstrating that
it too can produce its own equivalent to Iraq's "Comical Ali".

Setting up an all-inclusive government is key to reversing an economic
meltdown in Zimbabwe. But Zanu PF would seem to prefer the status quo.

Elsewhere in this issue, the MDC reports a wave of arrests and attacks
against its members. This time Zanu PF has really decided to provoke
Tsvangirai's party into declaring further talks with Zanu PF futile.

Today's Sadc summit should take a leaf from the book of former
Frontline States' leaders - Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere and Samora
Machel - when the Lancaster House talks seemed deadlocked. Otherwise the
initiative for the region to solve Zimbabwe's crisis will elude them. And
history will damn them.

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Zim Standard Letters

Soldiers Deny Villagers Food
Saturday, 08 November 2008 18:53
SOLDIERS in Buhera West constituency are interfering with the
distribution of food resulting in thousands of villagers going hungry.

The soldiers are being led by a major and a colonel, who are denying
villagers suspected to be MDC supporters access food aid. The area is an MDC
and has an MDC MP Advocate Eric Matinenga and MDC councillors. The
soldiers are endangering the lives of innocent Zimbabweans who have just
come out of brutal violence at the
hands of Zanu PF militia.



Heads Should Roll At Zinwa
Saturday, 08 November 2008 18:52
HEADS should roll at the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) for
causing the deaths of innocent people as a result of the cholera outbreak.

It is a shame that a government parastatal that has the responsibility
of providing people with clean water is failing to fulfil this function yet
senior officials at the organisation still cling to their positions. I
shudder to think these senior officials have any soul at all and whether
they have peaceful nights at their homes.

It's high time the entire senior Zinwa management resigned in shame
for causing the deaths of innocent people.

T G Mazhambe


Important Lessons For Zim From US Polls
Saturday, 08 November 2008 18:51
THERE is no doubt to most people in Africa, the election of Barack
Obama as the next President of the United States of America has caused
tremendous excitement and reignited people's belief in a world where men are
judged on the basis of their character and not on the colour of their skin.

The manner of his victory was very convincing; he was announced winner
within three hours of the polls closing. Obama made his winning appear so
easy that one was almost tempted to question what that noise about Senator
John McCain staging a comeback was all about.

However, for me as a Zimbabwean, I feel that there is a danger of
being carried away by the euphoria of Obama's victory and forgetting the
other important lessons that come from the 2008 American election. The way
Senator McCain, the Republican candidate, conceded defeat and pledged to
work with Obama was more touching than Obama's eloquently delivered victory
speech in front of thousands of people in Grant Park, Chicago.

Granted John McCain's performance during the run-up to the election
was mediocre and was tainted by some dubious campaign tactics which, to some
people, bordered on bigotry and had racial undertones. His choice of running
mate in Alaska Governor Sarah Palin didn't help McCain's cause either. But
when it became obvious that he had lost the election, McCain showed his best
side when he urged his supporters to forget the disappointment of electoral
defeat and congratulate Obama, and also work together with him for a better

McCain even silenced some of his supporters who were booing every time
Obama's name was mentioned and said that while he understood their
disappointment and would have preferred to have won the election, Obama had
run a more successful campaign and deserved to win. He even mentioned the
fact that Obama was an African-American and this made his victory even more
special. Here was a 71-year-old white man who had served his country with
great distinction for over 50 years, getting injured in war and being
tortured as a Prisoner of War in the process, who had the heart to
graciously accept defeat to a young, less experienced man whose father was
born in Africa and only came to America to pursue further education.

It is important to mention here too that this was McCain's second
attempt at the top job, the first attempt having been scuppered when George
W Bush won the Republican Party nomination for the 2000 election. Having
been written off in the earlier rounds of the nominations for this year's
election, McCain must have been justified in believing that he deserved the
job this time round. His loss to Obama must then have been very painful
indeed, but the fact that he took it on the chin and accepted it gracefully
makes him wholly admirable and a genius in every sense of the word.

Some will argue that McCain had no choice but to concede defeat
according to American tradition. But his body language did not look like
that of a man who was just doing it as a formality. The tenderness of his
words as he made that speech showed me that he was really speaking from the

He even said all the blame for the defeat was entirely his, and that
he accepted it without equivocation. Without in any way belittling Obama's
great victory, the truth is that the unpopularity of current President and
fellow Republican George W Bush and the recession in the American economy
played a big part in influencing the result of the election. But McCain is
never one to seek scapegoats, and we love him all the more for that. Some
political analysts actually observed that if McCain's speeches before the
election had been as good as the one he made while conceding defeat, perhaps
the race to the White House could have been tighter than it eventually was.

Contrast this behaviour with what our leaders in Zanu PF have done
over the years. They will never concede defeat, and they will never accept
their responsibilities in the current malaise that has afflicted our once
prosperous country. For them, it is the West and "illegal" sanctions and the
opposition that are always to blame. When forced to share power with the
opposition, they accept it grudgingly and half-heartedly, making it appear
as if they are being charitable to the opposition. They fought for this
country, and they believe it is their God-given right to rule the country
even though they have no clue on how to solve our country's current

Indeed Africa is happy to have Obama as the next US President, and we
are grateful to the American people for choosing him. We may not always like
it when they say it, but truly America is the greatest nation on Earth. But,
in our excitement, let us also not forget that there are gracious people
like McCain who truly put their country ahead of pursuit for power just for
the sake of power. I wish Africans would learn from McCain as well.

Hudson Yemen Taivo


Better No Deal Than A Lousy Deal
Saturday, 08 November 2008 18:50
PEOPLE never cease to amaze me. How can they expect too much from the
stalled talks?

There's a certain group which is favouring the continuation of our
suffering. A week ago, late night news gave us hope that there was the
possibility of a deal being struck between the political parties.

We don't want a deal now. It was supposed to be sealed on September
15. Right now it is some misguided political parties which have been holding
us to ransom who want to make it appear as if they have our interests at
heart when in fact they are the one's who caused us untold suffering .

What do we gain from entertaining a losing candidate? Where's the
International Criminal Court? The case is just open and evidence abounds.

The other thing I don't get clearly, concerns the Sadc mediator, Thabo
Mbeki. When he was told by ANC that his stay as president was no longer
welcome he did not refuse. Instead he left with dignity. Now why he can't
tell that to Mugabe, the mind boggles. What is this guy trying to achieve?

I know that it is proper to advise others not to steal when you are a
thief but advising them to steal when you are a saint, I have never heard of

It is better to have no deal at all as we have been in this mess for a
long time now than to have a deal crafted to accommodate losers with the
silly excuse that it's an all-inclusive government.

Why does it only have to be in Kenya and Zimbabwe? Why then did we go
into costly elections if the idea was for some parties not to leave after

I welcome Mbeki's ouster from power as he had become part of the
problem. But this time I think he'll be serious as the MDC is now in a
position to tell him to get lost if he tries to come to Zanu PF's rescue.

Let him understand that contrary to the assurances being given that
there's no going back on land reform that is just politicking. We are going
to lobby for an investigation into his rumoured involvement in the mining
industry in this country.

Let the economy sink while we get justice. After the rule of law is
installed there's no way the economy will continue in the downward spin.


Glen View


How Does Masimirembwa Know About Bank Balances?
Saturday, 08 November 2008 18:48
I was intrigued by the call by National Incomes and Pricing Commission
chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa,

who is obviously struggling to remain relevant in a situation where
his office has always been just another of Zanu PF's costly indulgences, for
a probe of what he called "monstrous bank balances".

Firstly, unless he himself has such a bank balance, how did
Masimirembwas come by this information? I believe information about one's
bank balance is confidential and banks cannot divulge such details without
the express approval of the account holder. My own bank, which I shall not
name, has recently been circulating an indemnity formseeking permission from
account holders for them to divulge information on bank accounts but only to
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Certainly, I do not believe NIPC is entitled
to this information so one is left wondering how Masimirembwa knows about
the monstrous bank accounts he wants probed.

While I do not agree with RBZ Governor, Gideon Gono's

disastrous policies, I was at least pleased that he put Masimirembwa
in his place by pointing out that the NIPC boss should preoccupy himself
with addressing the pricing chaos prevailing in the country.

To be fair, both Gono and Masimirembwa are two sides of the same coin.
Both justify their existence by indulging in futile interventions which
everyone knows cannot succeed in the absence of a political solution to the
national crisis.

Gono continues to stoke inflation through printing of money that has
no link to tangible national assets or productivity, while Masimirembwa
continues to hoodwink his principals at Munhumatapa Building that prices can
be controlled in an hyper-inflationary environment.



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