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Zimbabwe parties meet to try to end stalemate


Tue 14 Oct 2008, 14:42 GMT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Former South African President Thabo Mbeki began
mediation between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday to try to rescue a power-sharing pact.

The deal, brokered by Mbeki last month, is in danger of collapse over
disagreements about cabinet posts and Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC,
threatened to pull out of it at the weekend after Mugabe allocated key
ministries to his ZANU-PF party.

Negotiators for ZANU-PF and the MDC met briefly at a Harare hotel before the
leaders arrived to meet Mbeki. Arthur Mutambara, who heads a splinter MDC
faction, is also taking part in the talks.

Mutambara expressed frustration over the stalled deal.

"The fact that we are here, bickering over cabinet posts is a travesty of
justice. Mutambara, Mugabe and Tsvangirai should shape up or ship out," he
told reporters as he arrived.

Justice minister and ZANU-PF's chief negotiator in the power-sharing talks,
Patrick Chinamasa, told the state-run Herald that he hoped Mbeki could offer
new ideas.

"As far as we are concerned, the only contention is the Ministry of
Finance," he said. Mugabe this weekend angered the MDC by allocating the
ministries for defence, home affairs -- which oversees the police -- and
finance to his ZANU-PF party.

On Tuesday, Zimbabwe's parliament began sitting for the first time since it
was officially opened by Mugabe in August amid jeers and boos from MDC

Mugabe's party was stripped of a majority for the first time since
independence from Britain in 1980 after a March 29 election which the
opposition says he rigged to retain power.

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a March presidential poll held concurrently.
But he did not have enough ballots to avoid a June run-off poll, which was
won by Mugabe and condemned around the world after it was boycotted by


Sharp differences were evident in parliament, with ZANU-PF lawmakers
praising Mugabe for agreeing to share power, while their MDC counterparts
said they could walk away from the deal.

"If we are genuine ... we should share power equitably. It cannot be an
inclusive government at any cost," said MDC lawmaker Sam Sipepa Nkomo. "We
can't be swallowed and we should not allow ourselves to be lipstick on
ZANU-PF, a decoration."

Lawmakers are expected to prioritise a constitutional amendment allowing the
creation of the prime minister's post, which the power-sharing deal agreed
would be filled by Tsvangirai.

Nelson Chamisa, an MDC spokesman, said he hoped Mbeki would break the
cabinet impasse.

"We are still placing our faith in the efforts of the mediator, and that
ZANU-PF has to be persuaded that it has to share and not grab power," he

Analysts say that although the talks look doomed, the rivals are under
pressure to reach a settlement, although some say Mbeki will have less
leverage in Zimbabwe after being ousted as South African president by his
own party last month.

A new government will have to tackle the world's highest inflation rate of
231 million percent and severe food, fuel and foreign currency shortages.

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Mbeki Mediates New Zimbabwe Talks


By Peta Thornycroft
14 October 2008

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki has held long, one-on-one talks
with Zimbabwe's main political players, in Harare. Peta Thornycroft reports
for VOA from Zimbabwe's capital, the negotiations are an attempt to break a
deadlock over the distribution of Cabinet positions under a power-sharing

The talks are taking place at a city hotel, the venue for much of the
negotiations in August and September, which saw some sessions going through
the night before the power-sharing agreement was signed.

Since then there has been little progress in establishing a government of
national unity, and the deal is on the point of collapse.

Mr. Mbeki met with President Robert Mugabe, prime minister designate Morgan
Tsvangirai, and the leader of the minority faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change Arthur Mutambara.

On the opposite side of town, parliament reconvened and it was packed with
legislators from all political parties. Legislators in Mr. Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change have a slim majority in parliament and loudly
condemned Mr. Mugabe's parliamentary opening address last month.

For the first time in Zimbabwe's history, Zanu PF does not control
parliament and the first MDC speaker of parliament is in control and allowed
heavy and loud criticism of Mr. Mugabe to fill the chamber.

Earlier, the six power-sharing negotiators, two each from ZANU-PF and the
two MDC factions held discussions among themselves before Mr. Mbeki called
in the principals.

During the weekend, President Mugabe issued a list of Cabinet positions he
said had been negotiated. But Mr. Tsvangirai reacted by threatening to quit
negotiations, pushing the agreement to the point of collapse.

Mr. Mugabe had given all the security ministries to his ZANU-PF party, but
Mr. Tsvangirai had a majority of the social ministries, such as Health ad

The Cabinet talks are stalled mainly over the Home Affairs Ministry, which
controls the police, and Local Government, Foreign Affairs and Finance

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe dollar has again plummeted in value and queues of
people trying to get their money out of the banks continue. Most of the
population is only eating one meal a day, and hundreds of thousands of
children under five are dangerously malnourished according to
non-governmental organizations.

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Thabo Mbeki Remains Confident Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Deal will Work

Atlanta, Ga. 10/14/2008 02:15 PM GMT (TransWorldNews - Top Story)

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki has said he remains optimistic
that the power-sharing deal forged between Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe
and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai could be salvaged.

Mbeki is now in Harare following threats from Tsvangirai to abandon the deal
after Mugabe members of his ZANU-PF party to several key cabinet positions.
According to the power-sharing deal mediated by Mbeki the ZANU-PF was to
have 14 cabinet posts while 13 were to go to Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change party and another 3 to an MDC faction led by Arthur

Over the weekend Mugabe filled positions that included Defense, Finance,
Foreign Affairs and Justice, a move that Tsvangirai expressed outrage over.

Mbeki arrived on Monday in an attempt to bring the sides together but Mugabe
has said the only cabinet position that would be up for discussion would be

Tsvangirai won the presidential election in March but officials declared he
had not secured a large enough majority to avoid a run-off. With less than a
week before that run-off vote Tsvangirai dropped out of the race after
declaring Mugabe had used violence and intimidation to keep MDC supporters
from the polls.

Mugabe has held the presidential office since 1980, the year Zimbabwe gained

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Zimbabwe riot police use violence to quell fresh protests

October 14, 2008
Riot police patrol Harare's streets


Riot police patrol Harare's streets after using force to put down a student protest

Robert Mugabe’s riot police returned to its violent ways today, assaulting a group of demonstrators as the South African mediator, Thabo Mbeki, sought to break Zimbabwe’s political deadlock.

Four students were injured, one nursing a fractured skull, when their group tried to deliver a petition to parliament in Harare protesting over the failure of most of the country’s universities to open at the start of the new academic year. Three students, including Clever Bere, the president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, were arrested.

It was the first such heavy-handed action by police since President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, signed a power-sharing agreement on September 15.

The two leaders were locked in discussions over the distribution of Cabinet posts at a Harare hotel today with Mr Mbeki. At the weekend, Mr Mugabe handed all but one ministry to his own Zanu (PF) party, effectively reneging on the deal.

The students picked this auspicious moment to air their grievance, assuming that they would receive a favourable hearing from the country’s first opposition-controlled parliament since independence.

The initial signs were encouraging. Privilege Mutanga, a member of the ZINASU national executive, said police told the 200 peaceful demonstrators to send two representatives to present the petition.

However, “as soon as they reached the doors of parliament, they were arrested,” Ms Mutanga said.

“Then the riot police charged us. They were about 30, and they had baton sticks, guns and dogs, so we scattered.” She tried to hide in a shop doorway, but was dragged out and beaten and kicked. She was treated for bruising and contusions about her body and face.

The incident is seen as a disturbing indication that Mr Mugabe has already ordered the resumption of his policies of violent suppression since his U-turn on the power-sharing deal, which allocated 16 Cabinet posts to the MDC, and 16 to Zanu (PF).

As negotiations over the details resumed, Mr Mugabe’s aides insisted that the MDC could now reckon with just one seat at the Cabinet table. “As far as we are concerned, the only contention is the Ministry of Finance,” said Patrick Chinamasa, Justice Minister and Zanu (PF)’s chief negotiator.

“We hope the facilitator will come up with fresh ideas,” Mr Chinamasa added. “The country has been drifting for the past six months. We cannot continue drifting.”

It was not clear how Mr Mbeki, who has been criticised by leaders of his own party in South Africa for siding with Mr Mugabe, would react. Observers believe the former South African President, recently ousted from power, now has even less leverage with Zimbabwe's leaders.

Mr Tsvangirai has threatened to walk away from the power-sharing deal unless his party is granted some powerful ministries. His aides were putting a brave face on the mediation efforts, vainly expressing hope that Mr Mugabe might yet be forced to change course.

“We are still placing our faith in the efforts of the mediator, and that Zanu (PF) can be persuaded that it has to share and not grab power,” said Nelson Chamisa, an MDC spokesman. In the streets, though, there was little evidence of that happening.

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'Mugabe could use militia to remain in power'

October 14, 2008, 19:00

Panelists at the Africa Dialogue Lecture Series, hosted by the University of
Pretoria, believe that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will use militia
to remain in power. They say only free and fair elections will deliver
Zimbabwe from the current economic crisis.

Looking at the political situation in Zimbabwe, the Deputy Chairperson of
the South African Institute of International Affairs, Moeletsi Mbeki, asked
what would be the role of politics if there is no economy. Mbeki says as
long as Mugabe controls State resources like the army, there is no way the
opposition MDC would have an impact on the direction the country would take.

"You have a state in Zimbabwe that has become totally unaccountable to
anybody. You have an inner clique around Mugabe, which is what is running
the country. But this inner clique cannot produce the food for the people of
Zimbabwe. So, ultimately to solve Zimbabwe's problems, you need free and
fair elections," says Mbeki.

Speakers say in Zimbabwe, the constitution gets changed from time to time to
undermine the rule of law. They say no one will invest in an unsafe country.

Mugabe's attitude gives no hope for economic revival in that country.

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Now Mugabe wants Finance

And you won't believe why he wants it

When, as I exclusively predicted last week, Mugabe rang down the curtain on
the inter-party power-sharing talks, and grabbed key ministries for his own,
the issue of which party would control the finance ministry remained in
doubt. But not any more.

Zanu-PF has told talks mediator Thabo Mbeki that it will continue to manage
the country's economy - for the following incredible reason. It says that
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is "too inexperienced", and
therefore would not be up to the job. Whereas Zanu-PF is.

This, I would remind you, is the opinion of the government of a country
where inflation is currently running at an unimaginable 231 million per

Zanu-PF's chief parliamentary whip Joram Gumbo did me the honour of
explaining the party's reasoning, and in my turn I will do you the honour of
repeating his words as accurately as I can. Do try to stick with it.

Gumbo said:  "Mugabe thinks he should retain the porfolio of ministry of
finance because he thinks that over the past few years we have survived
under sanctions...We have had some means for surviving under those difficult
times, so he believes that if the implementation of this agreement does not
mean that by the following day there will be an end or lifting of
sanctions - we should then continue with the present administration."

Or, to put it simply - We wrecked the country once, we can wreck it twice.

In August, as an example of Zanu-PD's fiscal talents, the Reserve Bank
knocked ten zeros off the face value of the Zimbabwe dollar. But it
continues to print money by the bale, and today one US dollar already
fetches Z$180. That's the official figure. On the street it's more like

And, as Mugabe guides us all closer to the brink of total breakdown, 80 per
cent of our population survives on less than two and a half American dollars
a day, and the World Food Programme has launched an appeal to feed five
million of us who will otherwise starve.

Thabo Mbeki is back in town. Does he believe that Zanu-PF are competent to
handle what's left of our economy?

Posted on Tuesday, 14 October 2008 at 18:40 |

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MDC inexperienced for Finance-ZANU PF

Local News
October 14, 2008 | By Staff
ZANU-PF has told former South African President Thabo Mbeki that the MDC is
too inexperienced to handle the ministry of finance, the party's chief
parliamentary whip, Joram Gumbo told VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe.

"Comrade Mugabe thinks he should retain the portfolio of ministry of finance
because he thinks that over the past few years we have survived under
sanctions.. we have had some means for surviving under those difficult
times,so he believes that if the implementation of this agreement does not
mean that by the following day there will be an end or lifting of
sanctions . we should then continue with the present administration.thats
the basic argument.",said Gumbo

Gumbo went on to deny that ZANU PF is responsible for the economic meltdown
and instead accused the MDC of siding with the international community.

The official inflation rate surged last week to 231 million per cent and the
World Food Programme this week launched an appeal to feed 5 million
Zimbabweans. It said more than 80 per cent of the population was surviving
on less than $2.50 a day.

Independent economists say that inflation this month will run into the
trillions. That has forced the Government to allow shops to accept US
dollars and the South African rand, because Zimbabwe's dollar is all but

A loaf of bread, which cost Z$500 at the beginning of August, now costs
between Z$7,000 and Z$10,000, even when it can be found.

Economists say the root cause of the country's hyperinflation is the
government's policy of printing ever more money to meet its own needs, which
has the effect of destroying the Zimbabwe dollar's value in terms of hard
currency, sending the cost of anything imported soaring.

And with the economy in a downward spiral Officially, one US dollar is worth
Z$180. But on the black market, it fetches Z$8,000 - and that is for cash,
which is in desperately short supply. For bank transfers, the rate is
Z$1.5million to one.

These figures are even after the currency was revalued in August, when 10
zeros were knocked off.

"The consequences of such a rate of inflation is absolute desperation,
despair and poverty," said Eldred Masunungure, professor of political
science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

Simba Makoni, former Finance Minister, blasted ZANU PF for its inflexibility
and said demands made by by ZANU PF are both illogical and unjustifiable.

"We all know why we are in this mess and who brought us here," he said. "It
would be illogical and unjustifiable for people to demand posts they know
pretty well they failed to deliver in the last 28 years.

"Without saying it, it is pretty clear that there are some ministries that
cannot go to one party because of its failure to deliver the goods over the
last 28 years.", he said.

Meanwhile reporters monitoring talks at Harare's Rainbow Towers hotel say
all the principals, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara have arrived at the
hotel and could soon begin meetings with Mbeki.

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Zim deal faces parliament test

    October 14 2008 at 11:06AM

By Cris Chinaka

Harare - Zimbabwe's parliament resumes work on Tuesday for a session
that could test a power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mugabe's Zanu-PF party goes into the new parliament stripped of a
majority for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980, and
needing to work with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to
run an effective government.

MDC parliamentarians jeered and booed Mugabe when he officially opened
parliament on August 26 after an election in March which the opposition says
he rigged to retain power.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki is in Harare to hold talks
to try to rescue the power-sharing deal he brokered, which analysts say is
Zimbabwe's best hope for ending an economic crisis.

The pact, which Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed in September, is in
danger of collapse because of disagreements about the cabinet. Analysts say
the convening of parliament may open a public quarrel on the issue.

"It's going to be interesting to see whether the two parties are able
to engage in a constructive way or whether there are some who want to slug
it out," said Lovemore Madhuku, chairperson of political pressure group
National Constitutional Assembly.

"But I think both parties are under pressure to demonstrate some
maturity, to show that they are fit for office because any kind of
delinquency will be politically costly," he said.

Lawmakers are due to prioritise a constitutional amendment allowing
the creation of the prime minister's post, which the power-sharing deal
agreed would be filled by Tsvangirai.

Mugabe's party lost control of parliament in the March election,
winning 99 seats, but the 100 seats Tsvangirai's party won do not give it an
absolute majority.

That leaves the balance of power with Arthur Mutambara's breakaway MDC
wing, which has 10 seats.

Mugabe was re-elected unopposed in a June vote condemned around the
world after it was boycotted by Tsvangirai.

Nelson Chamisa, an MDC spokesperson, said he hoped Mbeki, who arrived
in Harare late on Monday, would break the cabinet impasse after Mugabe
handed key ministries to his Zanu-PF party.

"We are still placing our faith in the efforts of the mediator, and
that Zanu-PF has to be persuaded that it has to share and not grab power,"
he said.

Analysts say that although the political talks look doomed, the rivals
are under intense pressure to reach a settlement.

Spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga said Mbeki would start talks on Monday
evening and meet all sides.

Analysts say parliament is expected to meet briefly and may adjourn
until an agreement on cabinet posts is reached.

A new government will have to tackle the world's highest inflation
rate of 231-million percent and severe food, fuel and foreign currency

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Karoi under seige by ZANu-PF functionaries

Monday, 13 October 2008 13:35 HT Staff Land & Agric - News

Victimization of perceived supporters of the MDC still continues in Karoi, 7
months after the disputed March 29 elections.

It is reported that the notorious Zanu PF member of parliament for Magunje,
Frank Ndambakuwa allegedly dismissed 25 of his farm laborers  from his Ian
Crocker Farm, accusing them of voting for the MDC during the March 29

Ndambakuwa is responsible for spearheading the violent crackdown against MDC
supporters in Magunje and Hurungwe East post March 29 and is personally
responsible for the April shooting of Peterson Kwenda that resulted in him
losing his left leg.

Victimisation is set to continue since the government, responsible for
organizing and funding the brutual post March 29 onslaught did not give the
order for the violence and victimization to be stopped. As a result
animosity will continue between supporters from Zanu PF and MDC, leaving the
possibility of reconciliation a faraway dream.

The province of Mashonaland West, where Karoi falls in recorded a
significantly high number of incidents of political violence and is where
the first murder case of an MDC supporter was recorded.

Hunger and suffering has taken its toll on some residents in Karoi who in
desperation have resorted to visiting nearby farms where they pick left over
maize grain and soya beans from last season's harvest from the fields to
supplement on food. The town of Karoi grew and prospered hinging on
commercial agriculture as the main economic activity, and the collapse of
agriculture after the farm invasions resulted in a large influx of
unemployed ex farm laborers moving into the town.

The town has gone for more than a month without clean running water and
residents are getting untreated water from a nearby dam. This has
consequently resulted in an increase of diarrhea cases at the local district
hospital, and if the current situation remains unaddressed an outbreak of
the deadly cholera is foreseen in the near future.

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Zanu-PF lacks will to make the deal work

October 14, 2008

By Tendai Dumbutshena

A READER of this column complained last week that the power-sharing
agreement between Zanu-PF and the two factions of the MDC is repeatedly
attacked with no other options offered.

This writer believes the agreement will not work. Besides being highly
defective there is no will on the part of Zanu-PF to make it work. Events of
the past few days confirmed that Robert Mugabe and his party lack the good
faith to make the agreement work. It is therefore wishful thinking for
people to place their trust in an agreement that Mugabe sees as primarily
designed to keep him in power for the next five years.

What is the alternative? A transitional government to create conditions for
free and fair elections after a period of not longer than 18 months.

This will not be granted by Zanu-PF but all opposition forces should fight
for it instead of meekly succumbing to what is clearly a sinister agenda.

To get Zimbabwe out of this crisis two things must be done. The first is to
institute political reforms that guarantee the civil liberties of
Zimbabweans. This will entail, inter alia, the repeal of repressive laws
such as AIPPA and POSA.

Crucially it will also necessitate the depoliticisation of state
institutions such as the defence forces and police. The democratization of
the political system has to culminate in the adoption of a constitution on
the basis of which elections are held. Encouraged by such positive
developments the international community will assist Zimbabwe to achieve the
second objective during this transitional period - the stabilization of the
economy. A government of unquestionable legitimacy yielded by free and fair
elections will continue with the mammoth task of reviving the economy. A new
dispensation will be built on solid political and economic foundations.

Last week, by unilaterally allocating cabinet portfolios, Mugabe amply
demonstrated his unwillingness to forge a genuine partnership with the MDC
to move the country forward. More is to follow. With the presidency secured
things will be done his way. The two parties do not share a vision of where
the country should go. The MDC wants political and constitutional reform
while Zanu-PF sees the agreement as a lifeline to extend its rule to 2013.
There is no shared vision or programme of action. The power-sharing
government will be a theatre of conflict in which Mugabe clearly has the
upper hand.

This is a recipe for failure.

It is instructive to note that Mugabe and his cronies bitterly complain
about sanctions and externally - based news organizations. The MDC is urged
to put an end to both to demonstrate its good faith. Mugabe chooses to
ignore the fact that both sanctions and the foreign-based media were created
by his oppressive policies.

Zimbabwe is still the only country in the region with a state monopoly of
the broadcasting media. Many journalists were rendered jobless by AIPPA
under the stewardship of Jonathan Moyo. Many others now work for radio
stations and websites which cannot operate in Zimbabwe. Many who still work
inside the country are forced to use pseudonyms. Does Mugabe seriously think
the MDC has the power to shut these organizations down? Sanctions were
imposed by countries Zimbabwe has full diplomatic relations with.

He should take up the issue with them. It is ridiculous to pretend that the
MDC can flick its fingers and have sanctions removed. The governments
concerned have repeatedly told Mugabe what must be done to get sanctions
lifted. He is not prepared to travel the path of democratic change.

In contrast there is silence on issues the Mugabe regime is responsible for
and within its powers to change. The regime could have demonstrated its good
faith even before the signing of the agreement on September 15. All violence
could have been stopped with torture camps dismantled and militia disbanded.
All false charges against MDC officials and other opposition figures could
have been dropped with those in prison released. Notice could have been
served for the repeal of all repressive legislation.

Political interference in the work of aid agencies could have been halted
and declared unacceptable. Such confidence-building measures would have gone
a long way to convince skeptics that despite its deficiencies this agreement
could work. Instead, Mugabe did everything to show that his heart was not in
this agreement.

An agreement that is good on paper still needs the sincerity of all parties
for it to work. This is a deeply flawed deal which one party to it, Zanu-PF,
is cynically using to protect and prolong its hegemony. Mugabe is not
genuine about getting Zimbabwe out of a big hole dug by his foolish and
self-serving policies. At every turn he will seek to undermine and
ultimately discredit the MDC. That part of the international community able
and willing to assist Zimbabwe has made it clear it will not support a
charade. This agreement will simply not work.

There are two choices facing the MDC. The first is to pretend that real
progress can be made on the basis of this agreement. That will require
eternal optimism or extreme naiveté. The second is to admit that a
monumental blunder was made to sign the agreement and walk away from it.
Regrettably it looks like the MDC will make the first choice. Mugabe
believes the MDC is so desperate to be in government it will swallow
anything he throws at it.

As his spokesman George Charamba wrote last week: "Those trained to read
things at face value may miss the huge desire within the MDC to join
government at any cost."

The most depressing thought is that Charamba and his master may well be
right. There is a real danger that in its eagerness to join the Mugabe gravy
train the MDC refuses to see that the agreement is a sham and doomed
enterprise. All it will achieve is to buy more time for Mugabe in power. If
it runs its full five-year term its biggest casualties will be the country
and MDC itself. Under this Mugabe-dominated agreement there will be no
genuine political reform. The country will not get the constitution it
deserves. Prospects for economic recovery will be nil. Those who can will
leave the country. The future will indeed be bleak.

Mugabe's move to give his party the important ministries without consulting
his partners proves the point. There are ministries he will not cede to the
MDC because they are central to the success of his autocratic rule. He left
the ministry of finance as an outstanding issue to use as a bargaining chip
in mediation efforts now underway. He is likely to give the ministry to the
MDC to give them a sense of victory. On that basis the MDC will accept a
distribution of portfolios unilaterally determined by Mugabe.

This will be the pattern of the relationship - an endless saga of MDC
capitulation. All instruments of coercion will remain in Mugabe's hands. The
proposed new constitution will not contain any proviso that ties his hands.
As Charamba has repeatedly said Morgan Tsvangirai and his ministers will be
on the margins of power watching helplessly as Mugabe does his thing. Once
the MDC leadership is fully sucked into the structures of comfort and
privilege it will cease to be an opposition force and become complicit in
the oppression of Zimbabweans.

The way Mugabe handled the issue of the sharing of portfolios is a taste of
things to come. The MDC should pull out if this matter is not fairly
resolved. They should not evoke the national interest to justify yet another
abject surrender. This will only invite more humiliation and prolong the
suffering of people they claim to represent. The party as the name suggests
was formed to fight for democratic change. It should pull out of this farce
and carry out its mandate.

That is the alternative to colluding with forces that are bent on destroying
the country and the future and hopes of its people.

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Zimbabwe education system in a state of emergency
HARARE, 9 October 2008 – Following disturbing results from routine monitoring visits on the situation in Zimbabwe’s schools in the last two weeks, UNICEF today, said it was seriously concerned by the deterioration of the education system, adding that all stakeholders needed to urgently address the current crisis to save the once vibrant sector from collapse.
Barely a week to national examinations for primary, ordinary and advanced level, the visits, revealed that an estimated 40% of the country’s teachers were attending lessons, a third of pupils were reporting for classes and district education officers were ill equipped to run national exams.

Confirmed by a recent report from the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA), the current education crisis has crippled schools across the country leaving most school operating way below capacity and the sector in an apparent state of emergency.

“Between a two-month teachers strike, limited learning materials, political violence and displacements, Zimbabwe’s children have lost a whole year of schooling,” said UNICEF Representative, Mr Roeland Monasch. “The depletion of teachers in schools, transport and food problems faced by the remaining teachers and lack of resources have left the sector tottering on the brink of collapse.”

Zimbabwe's education system, once the best in Africa, now faces immense challenges. Public financing of the sector continues to dwindle in real terms, school fees is soaring beyond the reach of many, depletion of educators and low morale owing to salaries for the remaining teachers, have unraveled past successes in the sector.

The crisis has not spared tertiary education sector, which saw all major State Universities failing to open for the first semester of 2008/20009   academic year which was supposed to resume in August.

“Education remains the engine to drive Zimbabwe’s long-term prospects. It is critical that the sector is not left to collapse, enduring solutions on salaries, food and working conditions should be reached soon,  the monitoring visits should be beefed up, the situation in schools require urgent action,” said Mr Monasch. “Zimbabwe’s children are already suffering on multiple fronts, denying them an education to better their prospects is unacceptable.”

According to UNICEF schools should offer children not only an education, but a safe haven from home pressures, amid Zimbabwe’s current challenges. Currently the children are not receiving such support.

However, UNICEF welcomed salary top-ups for teachers and exam time tables announced yesterday, adding that they were prepared to assist and provide support the government to improve the current situation.

UNICEF already provides support to the Ministry of Education Sport and Culture. In the last two years UNICEF has invested an estimated US$12 million in the Education sector. Through the following activities:

• The construction and furnishing of classrooms in schools across the country
• Provision of text books to  primary schools to meet 1:1 ratio
• Teacher training in Early Childhood Development and Life skills
• Provision of boreholes, toilets and hand washing facilities in rural schools

UNICEF also pays school fees for 150 000 orphaned and vulnerable children.

For further information, please contact:

UNICEF , Tsitsi Singizi , UNICEF Zimbabwe Communication Officer , Tel: +263-91 2 943 915

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Due to lack of funding, economic crisis, higher education imploding from within

Tuesday, 14 October 2008 13:52 CHE

Zimbabwe's higher-education system has shut down completely, and
universities are likely to remain closed until next year, as a deal struck
last month to end the country's political crisis is in danger of unraveling,
according to students, faculty members, and news reports. The University of
Zimbabwe, the country's top university, has been closed since the end of the
2007-8 academic year, in July.

Several institutions opened their doors for the start of a new academic year
in mid-August. But now, after months of worsening inflation and deep
political uncertainty, none of the country's 11 publicly financed
universities is operating, says Lovemore Chinoputsa, secretary-general of
the Zimbabwe National Students Union.

"When you get to these universities, you will see fliers posted saying that
the universities are not open," says Mr. Chinoputsa. Some poor students had
traveled from the countryside to attend classes, not realizing the
university was shut. With no classes to attend, many students and faculty
members are making ends meet by trading on the black market.

Administrators are not in their offices, lecturers have disappeared from the
classrooms, and student residences are locked, he says.

According to Zimbabwe Today, the blog of a journalist in Harare writing
under an alias, the policy-making council of the University of Zimbabwe
decided recently to keep the university closed until further notice.

While no official public explanation has been offered for the university
closures, educators say that their failure to reopen is a symptom of the
country's collapse.

"There is no money to run the institutions, and there is no money to pay the
staff," says John Makumbe, a political-science lecturer at the University of
Zimbabwe. "Institutions have no water. Some have no electricity. The
residences have become uninhabitable. ... Lecturers and nonacademic staff
have no money to get on buses or trains and come to work."

Zimbabwean universities have been in sharp decline since political turmoil
erupted in 2000. But in the aftermath of elections held in March, which
briefly threatened to end the 28-year rule of President Robert Mugabe, the
political violence and economic turmoil have escalated sharply, leaving
universities already running on empty unsure about if and when they will
receive any money, educators say.

Inflation has surpassed 231 million percent, for example.

A month ago, many had hoped that a power-sharing deal struck between rival
political parties would return some stability to the country.

"If the current negotiations succeed, we could see the situation for
higher-education institutions return to normal within one or two months,"
says Mr. Makumbe.

But he concedes that that is not likely. While Zimbabwe's political
opponents remain bitterly divided, educators, including Levi Nyagura,
vice-rector of the University of Zimbabwe, have indicated that the
universities may not open their doors again before Christmas, according to
Mr. Chinoputsa.

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Zimbabwe lawyers peg fees in US dollars

By Lindie Whiz
Posted to the web: 14/10/2008 20:12:13
THE Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), the representative body for lawyers, has
announced its members are to charge for their services in foreign currency.

According to a revised general tariff of fees for legal practitioners with
effect from September this year, the rates are fixed in US$ "but each legal
practitioner shall be entitled to create a table or formula reflecting the
applicable lawful equivalent of these rates in Zimbabwe dollars".

This is to be done for ease of reference for clients and for use from time
to time as the rates may change.

The notice states that the rates for standard fees for basic work will
increase every month with effect from the 1st day of each and every
succeeding month.

Property owners of residential stands or farms who approach lawyers for a
sale agreement are expected to pay between US$720 and 1000 or two percent of
the selling price whichever is greater.

For an uncontested divorce with or without a consent paper, with minimum
negotiations including appearance in court, where necessary, the plaintiff
will fork out between US$2 417 and US$3 625 while the defendant will pay
between US$1 333 and US$2 000.

Having a simple will drafted attracts a fee of between US$750 and US$1 125
while a general Power of Attorney costs between US$180 and US$270.

Lawyers who have been in practice for 20 years and above are allowed to
charge between US$354 and US$531 per hour while those who have been in
practice for less than a year charge between US$130 and US$195.

The dollarization move by the LSZ has raised concern among some litigants
and lawyers who fear they might find themselves without any clients.

Most lawyers interviewed said that from past experiences, the tariffs agreed
and published by the LSZ have never been followed as legal practitioners
work out feasible fees with clients that approach them.

The Zimbabwe government has allowed the use of foreign currency to pay for
services provided in the country but most people cannot afford this, as they
have no source of foreign currency.

Most litigants cannot afford legal fees -- a situation which has seen
lawyers forming legal aid groups whose main object is to provide legal
services to deserving cases of people who do not have the means to hire a

Sikhumbuzo Nyathi, a Bulawayo provincial magistrate, recently handed down a
judgement in a civil case directing that the respondents pay 205,060 South
African rands together with interest at the prevailing bank lending rate
calculated from June 30, 2008.

"In the event of failure by the judgement debtors to discharge the
securities all parties are to agree on a registered valuator to valuate the
properties, at the debtor's costs, and convert the value to South African
Rand at the prevailing parallel market rate," ruled Nyathi.

The rapidly weakening Zimbabwe dollar, which has been battered by
skyrocketing hyperinflation estimated at 231 million per cent - the highest
in the world has become a less attractive currency for businesses in the

A directive by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, issued on September 9, has
authorised some 1,200 retail and wholesale businesses to charge for their
goods in US dollars, South African rands, and other hard currencies.

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono - who is known for dramatic policy
innovations - has provoked controversy with the introduction of these
so-called Foreign Exchange Licensed Warehouses and Shops.

Gono said the initiative - which is being introduced for an initial period
of 18 months - was a response to a request from the country's hard-pressed
business community. He emphasised that the Zimbabwe dollar was still the
official currency, and that this did not mean the economy had been
officially dollarised.

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Zimbabwe lawmakers say unity government must work


HARARE, Oct 14 (AFP)

Zimbabwean lawmakers Tuesday urged the country's political leaders to
resolve a deadlock over cabinet posts in a unity government, in a raucous
session that laid bare their deep political divisions.

For the first time, lawmakers from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF are in
the minority in a parliament now dominated by the rival Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), which won elections in March.

The parliament held a formal opening in August but began its first working
session Tuesday, as Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai held talks with
former South African president Thabo Mbeki aimed at saving a faltering
power-sharing deal.

"The agreement was signed on September 15 and up to now people are still
fighting for ministries," MDC lawmaker Tongai Mathuthu said during debate in

"We have constituencies and a nation that is bleeding. We must all remember,
Zimbabwe belongs to everyone, those in ZANU-PF and those in the MDC."

While both parties urged their leaders to reach a deal, the lawmakers did
not debate the specifics of the power-sharing accord, even though they will
be asked to approve a constitutional amendment to bring it into force.

Tensions between the parties remained on sharp display, as ZANU-PF
parliamentarians called for the lifting of sanctions on Mugabe's regime,
drawing loud boos and jeers from the MDC.

"We have to unite and in turn unite the people," ZANU-PF lawmaker Saviour
Kasukuwere said.

But there appeared to be little agreement on how to do that. Tsvangirai has
threatened to pull out of the power-sharing deal after Mugabe announced last
weekend that he would give his own party the most important cabinet posts.

Tsvangirai wants the parties to divide control of the military and police,
but Mugabe has moved to keep a tight grip on all security agencies.

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Zimbabwe Central Bank Unveils $50,000 Bill as Inflation Surges


14 October 2008

The Zimbabwe central bank has released a $50,000 Zimbabwe bill and raised the daily withdrawal limit to that figure. But as Tendai Maphosa reports from Harare, this is far from enough for Zimbabweans to meet their daily needs.

A newly released 50,000 Zimbabwean dollar note is shown in Harare, 13 Oct 2008
A newly released 50,000 Zimbabwean dollar note is shown in Harare, 13 Oct 2008
A few weeks ago Zimbabwe's central bank lopped 10 zeros off the currency so shoppers would not have to carry large sums of money to make simple purchases. But only two weeks after the introduction of a Z$20,000 bill, inflation has again forced the central bank to increase the daily withdrawal limit.

The introduction of the new bill on Monday coincided with the raising of the daily withdrawal limit for individuals from Z$20,000 to Z$50,000. But the lines of people wanting to withdraw their money are as long as ever outside Zimbabwe's banks. Also, some banks had not received the new bills by close of business Monday.

Announcing the higher limit, central bank governor Gideon Gono said he wanted to make life easier for Zimbabweans before the holiday season. But people VOA spoke to all said this early Christmas gift is far from enough to cover their daily needs, let alone their holiday spending.

1st MAN: "If you look at the transport costs, they are actually close to the 50,000, and to us parents with kids who go to school, it is not enough."

WOMAN: "You can only buy two loaves of bread and we do not have the Z$50,000 in the banks. In this hyper-inflationary environment today you can buy something for Z$50,000, that same thing is like Z$300,000 the next day."

2nd MAN: "Daily limit I think [it should be] 200 and above with the rate we are going considering he raised it from 500 to a 1,000 to 20,000, but it was blown within two weeks, so this 50,000 is already blown up. So he will continue on printing and printing, but the amounts that he is printing are too small than the inflation jump."

Last week, Zimbabwe, which has the world's highest inflation rate, announced that inflation now officially stands at 231 million percent. The Zimbabweans VOA spoke to agreed that unless there is a political solution to the country's problems, they will all be the world's poorest billionaires by Christmas.   

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Why Bob wants the whole enchilada

14th Oct 2008 20:10 GMT

By Chenjerai Chitsaru

SOME would argue vigorously that Robert Mugabe has always run his government
by consensus. Others might argue just as staunchly that this would be out of
character: The man is the original control freak, they will insist.

Mugabe has always had a reputation of dominating his cabinet, the Zanu PF
politburo and central committee. He has even controlled the proceedings of
the so-called people's conference of his party.

In particular, observers point to the skewered proceedings of the party
conference in Harare which apparently endorsed his candidature for the 2008
presidential election.

The live coverage of this conference showed graphically the tight spot
Mugabe was in. His angry intervention, when things seemed not to be going
according to his own script, was evident even to those who have always seen
him as the paragon of political fair play.

He virtually commandeered the proceedings from the conference chairman, John
Nkomo. After that, those with any political savvy of the so-called "Zanu PF
way", concluded that Mugabe had once more railroaded his party into doing
his bidding.

Most moaned again about the way their party had been turned into a one-man

Simba Makoni said he decided to challenge Mugabe after he and other party
heavyweights, including Dumiso Dabengwa, had failed to have him removed as
the party's sole presidential candidate.

Privately, the sacked former finance minister, complained that some of the
heavyweights who had pledged to support his challenge to Mugabe had
chickened out at the crucial moment, leaving him virtually high and dry.

He came last in the presidential stakes - after Morgan Tsvangirai, the
winner, and Mugabe, who turned out to be one of the most ungracious losers
in any election, even in Africa.

At the time, it was reported Mugabe had personally "dealt" with the would-be
mutineers. Not one of them was ever heard from again, unless it was to vow
continued allegiance to Mugabe.

To say Mugabe has always played hard ball in his political career is not an
exaggeration. Although he has repeatedly denied he was a Johnny-Come-Lately
to the struggle, his eventual rise to the top has not been universally
credited to qualities people usually associate with a man who prefers
persuasion to persecution.

Joshua Nkomo, at the height of their quarrel over the "dissident menace",
described Mugabe as being "very sly". Others, among them Ndabaningi Sithole,
James Chikerema, George Nyandoro, the trade unionist Reuben Jamela  and
Michael Mawema,  expressed misgivings about Mugabe's commitment to "clean

Even as the former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, returned to Harare
this week for what might turn out to be a "mission impossible", there are
those who still believe Govani Mbeki's son was never an honest broker from
the beginning.

Their constant gripe is that, not only did Mugabe use the age and experience
card against Mbeki, but also what he, as president of Zimbabwe, had done for
the African National Congress during the struggle.

Zanu PF had always backed their ideological soul mates, the Pan Africanist
Congress (PAC), while Joshua Nkomo's PF-Zapu, like the ANC, backed by the
Soviet Union, supported  Mbeki's party.

Yet after 1980, Mugabe's party and government threw all its weight behind
the ANC in the anti-apartheid struggle. There were a few hitches but
Zimbabwe's commitment to that struggle was unstinting.

There can be no doubt that this is a point Mugabe constantly brought up with
Mbeki, easing the way for the SA leader to see things more or less through
the Zanu PF leader's eyes.

What that entailed might have included the contempt with which Mugabe has
always regarded Tsvangirai in the political future of Zimbabwe.

Mbeki will put on the act of his life when he meets the three political
leaders engaged in implementing the agreement he cobbled together.

Even he will be aware that his stature is now so diminished, at least two of
them may struggle to keep straight faces when they meet him. Mbeki is no
longer president of South Africa, the basis on which the Southern Africa
Development Community (Sadc) appointed him to mediate.

There may be logic in keeping him as the mediator because he started it all
and must, logically, end it.  But he has now attached to his name the
reputation of a politician in disgrace in his own country.
He may yet bounce back, as the leader of a new opposition party, but for the
purpose of maintaining the respect of the three men the future of whose
country he has such a vital role, Sadc ought to review his position.

So far, both Sadc and the African Union seem satisfied he should  continue,
but they must reckon with the likelihood that a new mediator just might
infuse the kind of fresh impetus the negotiations need to lead to a
conclusion fair and acceptable to all.

That Mugabe has so far performed little that could be described as sticking
to the letter and spirit of the agreement must surely persuade them a fresh
face may be necessary to jolt the process in another direction.

That direction must be one in which Mugabe is not granted his wish on a
platter - the whole enchilada, as it were - or to have his cake and eat it.

There may be a way of still viewing this as a distinct change in the
political complexion of Zimbabwe, but it won't be the kind most people voted

Neither Zanu PF nor Mugabe would ever view the prospects of change as
encompassing an eclipse of everything they have stood for for the past 28
years, years in which there has been corruption on a grand sc ale, political
killings on an equally large scale and enormous political chicanery.

There are very few Zimbabweans who can see Zanu PF and Mugabe playing a role
in a development which could culminate in this country receiving the aid it
so urgently needs for millions of people to avoid death by starvation or for
its future to be assured.

There must be a chance for the country to eliminate for the foreseeable
future any likelihood of it falling into the same cesspool of stagnation as
Somalia, the DRC or some other Godforsaken Third World excuse of a country
where life is a mirage for most inhabitants.

People are dying of starvation in Zimbabwe today. There are a number of
countries waiting for rush in food assistance, as soon as political
stability is assured.

That stability will remain an unattainable objective as long as Mugabe and
Zanu PF are allowed to play a pivotal role in its realisation.
It may be too late now, but someone more assertive, someone without any
tear-filled, romantic notions of what role Mugabe and Zanu PF played in the
struggle for independence, needs to take centre stage as a mediator.

Men like Benjamin Kappa and Joachim Chissano have been mentioned in the past
as alternatives so Mbeki. Even Kofi Anna, the former secretary-general of
the United Nations, has been named. Mugabe is known to have expressed

He seems to favour someone like Mbeki, who holds him in such awe it is
almost unthinkable that he would actually say NO to him. Yet the time has
come for someone to say NO to Mugabe.

Power-sharing must be exactly what it means, literally, of people sharing
power - in equal measure. Where some are more equal than others conjures up
the almost dangerous spectacle of George Orwell's Animal Farm. a sure recipe
for revolution or  rebellion.

It's not something that Zanu PF would be entirely unhappy to deal with.  It
would provide them with the perfect excuse to do what they have always
wanted to do all along - destroy all opposition and even part of the
country, to leave only the most powerful elements in charge, the armed

In truth, neither Mugabe nor anyone  else in Zanu PF could be trusted to
take charge of the portfolios of Defence and Home Affairs in a power-sharing
arrangement. They have been in charge of them since independence.

The death and destruction we have witnessed in that time brought us to the
crisis we are facing now.

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Delta Demands Cash

HARARE, October 14 2008 - Delta Beverages Limited is now accepting
cash only even from its traditional customers for the purchase of soft

This has resulted in virtually all the hotels in Harare running out of
soft drinks and beer.

Delta has since returned all cheques to its customers, including bank
cheques this week. As a result top hotels such as Jameson Hotel, Rainbow
Tourism Group Ambassador Hotel and Oasis are also demanding cash from

Drinks are pegged at Zd 40 000, a figure which is way beyond the reach
of many in Zimbabwe. The Ambassador Hotel is charging Zd 100 000 for beer
even in the quill Club, the drinking hole for journalists in Harare.

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Zimbabwe's political crisis; reflections of a journalist on the ground

14th Oct 2008 19:42 GMT

By Gift Phiri

THIS, to all intents and purposes, is a defining moment for Zimbabwe, a last
vestige of hope for our imploding economy.

We have seen concerted efforts by the three main political protagonists to
aggressively push for negotiations to find a solution to the country's
widening political cleavages and economic crisis despite sharp differences
over the implementation of the power-sharing deal signed at the Rainbow
Towers on September 15 amid excessive pomp and fanfare.

The previously sceptical and cynical international community has also swung
its support behind these rapprochement efforts, although with cautious

In fact, the next couple of days - during which deal-making dexterity by
mediator Thabo Mbeki will be required - will be crucial for the troubled
country which has been looking for a solution to steer clear of this rough

Mbeki flew into Zimbabwe Monday night.

Although there are sharp differences on the sharing of Cabinet posts between
Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), it is encouraging that
the key players are now looking beyond rhetoric and contemplating action if
statements from both sides are anything to go by.

It would seem there is general agreement that Mugabe's "wish list" Cabinet
has been roundly rejected by Zimbabweans from all walks of life.

Both sides, which had initially adopted an icy tone resulting in the sterile
power-sharing deal being put on hold, now eschew negotiations as a quick
route to solving the country's

Admittedly, there is need for caution in welcoming the intervention of Mbeki
following the declaration by Prime Minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai of a
deadlock. But both Zanu PF and the MDC seem to have now mustered the
political will and maturity to break the deadlock unconditionally.

They should, in order to break the logjam holding up the most significant
step to a negotiated settlement to Zimbabwe's crisis, both make concessions
than remain rigid on their previous demands which scuttled the first
post-September 15 round of talks.

Lack of trust, respect and ill-feeling over both parties' sincerity, where
Zanu PF - long accused of exploiting the power of incumbency - was said to
be refusing to make meaningful concessions, with the MDC digging in its
heels over fair sharing of powerful ministries.

The two parties are both threatening to abandon the negotiating table. We
cant accept this. They should engage in open, sincere, well-meaning
negotiations in an atmosphere which encourages a robust exchange of views to
come up with solutions that meet broad-based population needs.

Mbeki should remain impartial in all this. His powers have been severly
whittled down following his ouster as South Africa President and there is a
danger that he could be undermined by Mugabe. After all he is now an
ordinary citizen who wields no power except his legacy.

As they negotiate, the politicians should remember that national interest
should take precedence above everything else. And as they set the stage for
what could probably be Zimbabwe's most significant negotiations expected to
result in a sea change, the two political parties should know that there
would be no losers or winners if the country reaches a negotiated
settlement, although it is obvious that leading hawks on both sides might
feel otherwise.

Prophets of doom such as the shadowy Nathaniel Manheru who pray the deal
would not work should be put to shame once and for all.
This is why it is imperative for these parties to put national interest
first, make painful concessions and equally share the powerful ministries
and assign to those portfolios only those men and women who see beyond
individual political interests.

Those whose horizons are limited by narrow, partisan political passions
cannot possibly solve Zimbabwe's complex problems and have no place in our

This is a task that demands people with greater vision, insight and courage.
Like former American President John F Kennedy once said: "We need men and
women who can dream of things that never were."

A successful conclusion of the power-sharing talks will be a resounding
victory not only for national interests but for common sense as well.

Zimbabweans have for too long endured disillusionment and social deprivation
due to the economic melt-down as well as anger and hatred over the
increasingly violent political divide that has claimed innocent lives.

We need to put a stop to this now. We have to heal the wounds and focus on
nation-building. We all need to pray for our country, for the negotiators,
for the principals, for the mediator.

We still hold to that hope that things will change and get better, that our
families will be reunited with our brothers and sisters in the diaspora,
that we can start having three meals a day again, that our kids can go back
to school, that we can start to live wholesome lives again with
medically-manageable diseases such as AIDS, that we can all begin to pick up
the pieces and rebuild our shattered lives.

It's a dream I have. Deep down in my heart I strongly feel that freedom is
coming tomorrow. I pray that I see the day when we will put behind our past
of despair and embrace a future of hope. We are entrusting our future in the
hands of these politicians.

I sincerely hope they understand the herculean task of carrying the hopes of
a broken, hungry and weary nation.

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Zimbabweans suffer while leaders play politics, say church officials


By Bronwen Dachs
Catholic News Service

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- With Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal in
jeopardy, the country's leaders are playing politics at the expense of the
suffering majority, a church official said.

"Life here is extremely difficult," especially in rural areas where some
people are said to be surviving on wild fruit, said Alouis Chaumba, who
heads the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe.

Ordinary Zimbabweans' hope that the power-sharing deal would improve their
lives "has been dashed," he told Catholic News Service in an Oct. 13
telephone interview from the capital, Harare.

The "greatest blunder" in the power-sharing deal, which aimed to give
President Robert Mugabe and the opposition equal power in a unity
government, was that "Cabinet posts were not sorted out as part of the
agreement," Chaumba said.

The deal, signed in September by Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, said the opposition would hold 16 Cabinet seats and the ruling
party 15. The rivals have yet to work out details of the new government,
including which side would control which ministries.

Mugabe has allocated all the security ministries to his ZANU-PF party. The
opposition warned that the move could derail negotiations.

The ruling party "wants all the key ministries and it seems that they could
be hoping that the opposition will pull out of the deal so they can go it
alone," Chaumba said.

Jesuit Father Oscar Wermter said that the 84-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled
Zimbabwe for 28 years, "is still very much in charge" of the country.

"He is using Tsvangirai as window dressing so as to attract foreign
funding," said Father Wermter, who runs the order's communications office in
Harare, in a telephone interview Oct. 10.

Noting that "there is no real hope of change as long as Mugabe is still
there," he said that for substantial change there has to be "constitutional
reform to restore a balance of powers."

Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate of more than 231 million
percent. It faces another poor farming season due to a lack of agricultural
inputs, especially seeds and fertilizer.

Meanwhile, aid agencies say that more than 5 million Zimbabweans face
starvation, two-thirds of the country's children are out of school and water
shortages have led to deadly cholera outbreaks in parts of the country.

The church in Zimbabwe has had to extend its food programs that were set up
to help widows and orphans, Father Wermter said.

The local church relies on international Catholic aid agencies "to bring
food into the country, because it just isn't here," he said, noting that
particularly in rural areas "without intervention there will be mass

At one point the government banned nongovernmental organizations'
distribution of food. That ban was lifted, but the government "still views
NGOs with great suspicion and tries to control the distribution of food for
political purposes," Father Wermter said.

"The ruling party is determined to stay in power and will not let go of any
instrument of real power," he said, noting that the party "has shown it will
put ordinary people's lives at risk to stay in power."

Many Zimbabweans "use cross-border trading to survive," Father Wermter said,
calling that a "precarious existence."

"Others have relatives working outside the country who send money home," he

"The minority of people who work are not much better off, with low salaries
and a cash crisis in the country," he said.

"Cash is enormously restricted and people wait for hours in banks to get
their own money," Father Wermter said, noting that "everyone wants cash, and
if you pay by check you are charged 10 times the price."

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Diary of an HIV/AIDS positive man in Zimbabwe

Monday, 13 October 2008 14:38 Administrator Health & Science - News

He has been living with HIV for the past five years. He took the test after
his wife of 20 years had tested positive.

Tamuka (not real name) says that day will forever be imprinted on his mind
because it was the last time he was to ever have a conversation that lasted
more than an hour with the woman he is married to. "She has hated me since
then. She lives in the same house with me only because there is nowhere else
she can go to. We don't laugh together, and we rarely talk to each other. We
talk "AT" each other only when it is absolutely necessary - mostly about
money or the children," he said.

The reason Tamuka (42) is convinced that his wife hates him is because, when
she tested positive, she accused him of having brought the virus into her
home and her body. She told all her friends and relatives that she was
dying, because her husband had been sleeping around with the "whole
country." "Yes, I may have cheated a few times in this marriage but nothing
out of the ordinary. I am definitely not the "Mr Harare" that my wife, her
friends, and family are now portraying me to be. I am just a regular,
ordinary man who, strayed from the marital bed a few times. I am very
remorseful that what I did in the past has destroyed my wife and our family
life, but I don't think that the fact that we have both tested HIV positive
should mean the end of our relationship and our lives," he said.

What is making the couple's plight even more difficult for the wife to
handle is that Tamuka cannot cope with the medical bills. As an
administrative clerk with a Harare based company, Tamuka says he is finding
it difficult to make ends meet. While in the past few years, he drove a
decent car, rented a house in a medium-density suburb, and managed to
contribute to a good medical aid scheme, today all that is history. Many
Zimbabweans who, enjoyed a good standard of living a few years ago, today
are barely making ends meet. Just eating three meals a day has become a
luxury, while a visit to the doctor is something that only a few still
manage without stressing for days on end. Most medical aid schemes are now
virtually useless with members having to pay ridiculous amounts, mostly
foreign currency as top ups or co-payments.

With food also now selling in foreign currency, you wonder whether everyone
is now going to get their salary in foreign currency. If not, then one
cannot help but wonder where our policy leaders expect everyone to suddenly
get hard currency from, so that they can survive. Surveys that I conducted
this week showed me that many doctors are now charging consultation fees
ranging between USD20 and USD50. Going to a laboratory for a test or scan
can cost as much as 75USD. A CD4 count is even going for as much as USD130.
How is a person who is earning between Z$50 000 and $120 000 expected to
raise USD130 to get the all essential CD4 count done?

Tamuka says he has been lucky for he has never spent a day in bed since he
tested positive. "It seems God knows the problems I am facing. I have been
sick yes, but have never failed to wake up and go to work as a result. This
has made it possible for me to work as hard (I do deals on the side) as I
can so that I can afford to pay for my wife's regular visits to the doctor.
"We were both advised to take Cotrimoxazole but so far only she is taking
the drug while I go without because I cannot afford to buy supplies for two
people," he said.

Asked whether it is love for his wife, which makes him put her first before
himself, Tamuka smiles and says: "Yes, I love her. She is the mother of my
children. I may have cheated on her, but this never meant I wanted to get
rid of her. Today I know better, but it is too late. I know now, that, if
you love someone, you don't hurt them; but its unfortunate that my wife
doesn't believe it." Asked whether he does not realize that by not taking
the Cotrimoxazole doctors advised him to take and not going for regular
medical check-ups, he is putting his own health at risk, Tamuka says he also
has no option but to make sure that each time he has money, it goes towards
his wife's upkeep because he feels responsible for her. "If I had not
cheated on her, then we would not be in this predicament," he says.

I asked him why he was so sure that he is the one who infected his wife and
he said: "That's the proper thing to say. Even if she had known men before I
married her, I don't have to say this to anyone. "Even if I suspect that she
could have cheated on me at some point in our marriage, society never blames
a married woman. I must be the one who brought this into the home.

Gone now is the rented house in the medium-density suburb. Tamuka, his wife
and their three children now stay in two rooms behind his parents' home in
Kambuzuma where they pay a small amount as rent. They don't even remember
the last time they ate "meat" as the price has just soared beyond Tamuka's
reach. His wife used to go to Botswana to buy goods for re-sale but ever
since she tested positive, she stopped. "She says it is my responsibility to
take care of her and the children. If I didn't have enough money, she says I
would not have been able to sleep around and get HIV," Tamuka told me.

He shares harrowing tales of walking all the way into town at times after
failing to raise money for busfare. His oldest child finished Form Four last
year but failed to get the required five passes to proceed. The father says
while he would want his son to go back to school, the funds are just not
available. "Imagine, if they are suffering so much while I am living, what
will happen when I am gone. Obviously this illness is just eating me up, and
it is a matter of time until my systems just give in. "Right now my wife
needs to have a CD4 count done, but I cannot afford it and am at a loss as
to what I should do. I can only shudder to think what will happen when we
both need to take ARVs," he says.

Doctors I spoke to said it is important for Tamuka to seek medical attention
too for his own well-being. A couple that is living with HIV, who spoke on
condition of anonymity said it was important for Tamuka and his wife to
forgive each other for past hurts and forge along as husband and wife. The
couple said both Tamuka and wife were holding onto baggage, and they needed
to let go to enjoy longer and healthier lives. "Real treatment begins
inside, in one's soul and being. The two should heal the wounds they are
nursing inside and then they can begin to look at what medicines can do for
them," the two advised.

*Beatrice Tonhodzayi is a Programme Officer-Media for Southern Africa HIV
and  AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS).

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