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Deadlock as Mugabe, Tsvangirai dig in over police ministry

Posted : Fri, 17 Oct 2008 09:12:15 GMT
Author : DPA

Johannesburg/Harare - Talks between President Robert Mugabe and
pro-democracy leader Morgan Tsvangirai over the share of government
ministries between them were due to resume Friday for the fourth successive
day, with no sign the deadlock could be resolved. Even the usually
optimistic Herald, the daily propaganda newspaper of Mugabe's ZANU(PF)
party, said in a headline, "Cabinet talks hit brick wall" after Mugabe,
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a lesser faction of the MDC,
disbanded late Thursday after eight hours of fruitless debate.

"They (the MDC) maintain their position, as we do," Mugabe said
as he left the conference venue.

Since the three parties signed a power sharing agreement on
September 15, the stumbling block is the ministry of home affairs, which
includes control of the police force.

Mugabe last week unilaterally allocated all the key ministries
in the proposed "inclusive government" to his ZANU(PF) party, including the
defence ministry and home affairs, which would give him total control of the
country's security forces.

Tsvangirai insists that control of the uniformed forces has to
be balanced, and has conceded the control of the defence ministry to the
84-year-old Mugabe.

The MDC inflicted on ZANU(PF) its first electoral defeat in
parliamentary elections and the first round of the presidential ballot in

The second round presidential vote collapsed in a wave of brutal
attacks launched by Mugabe's military and police commanders on the MDC.

Sources said that Mugabe on Thursday night agreed to cede
control of the finance ministry to the MDC.

Under his control for the last 28 years since independence, the
country's economy has collapsed with inflation conservatively put at 231
million per cent, while the currency yesterday continued its headlong crash,
reaching 50 million Zimbabwe dollars to the US dollar on Thursday, from 100
Zimbabwe dollars to the US dollar in early August, when the regime
redenominated its currency by slashing off 10 zeroes.

Tsvangirai last week declared he would walk away from the
negotiations if the MDC was not allocated the home affairs ministry - one
department of which is responsible for refusing to issue him with a new

MDC sources said Friday he had been made an offer on Thursday
night of a new home affairs ministry with control revolving between the two.

"Morgan rejected it," said the source. "He is resolute, and so
is his negotiating team. It's home affairs or nothing. ZANU(PF) has nothing
new to offer. They are just trying to wear him down into accepting. Morgan
says he cannot deliver to the people without home affairs."

The source said that Tsvangirai was happy to refer the stalemate
to the Southern African Development Community, the 14-nation regional
political alliance which set the talks in motion, for mediation.

"Let them see if they think it's fair that the losing party in
the elections should appropriate almost total control of cabinet posts,"
said the source.

Observers say the impasse is dramatically aggravating a
humanitarian catastrophe, as famine begins to claim the lives of hundreds of
starving children whose parents have no food.

By January almost one in two people will be dependent on food
aid, although famine relief operations have barely resumed after a three-
month ban imposed by Mugabe.

Late Thursday, James McGee, the United States ambassador to
Zimbabwe said aid - except humanitarian - would not be resumed, nor would
targeted sanctions against members of Mugabe's power clique be lifted until
there was "evidence of long-term political and economic reform. "Until then,
it will not happen," he said.

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MDC says UN, AU mediation needed in talks


Fri 17 Oct 2008, 12:47 GMT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition MDC said on Friday the United
Nations and African Union should step in to mediate between the country's
rivals if talks aimed at rescuing a power-sharing deal remain deadlocked
over cabinet posts.

"They (the U.N. and AU) are the guarantors of the (power-sharing) agreement.
If ZANU-PF continues to be intransigent, then those institutions should step
in," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

President Robert Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara
of a splinter MDC faction have failed to agree on forming a cabinet in three
days of talks. Another round of negotiations started on Friday.

Supporters of Mugabe earlier accused the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) of "bad faith" and of stalling to try to bring about U.N. mediation,
while the MDC blamed the delay on ZANU-PF's "inflexibility".

The power-sharing deal, brokered by former South African President Thabo
Mbeki a month ago, is seen as Zimbabwe's best hope for rescuing an economy
where fuel and food are scarce, and inflation stands at 231 million percent,
the world's highest.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, seemed relaxed as
he arrived at the talks venue to negotiate.

When asked whether Friday would be deal day, he said: "D Day?", and then
joked in the local Shona language.

"It's not D-Day but a day for striking deals," he said, in street lingo
describing how people survive by cutting deals.

Tsvangirai threatened to pull out on Sunday after Mugabe allocated powerful
ministries such as defence, finance and home affairs -- which controls the
police -- to his ZANU-PF party.

Chamisa said by telephone that the MDC was ready to compromise, but "not to
the point of betrayal", and would not settle for being the junior partner in
a Mugabe-led government.

Asked when he arrived for talks if he was expecting a breakthrough on
Friday, Tsvangirai told reporters: "We all have to have hope, don't we?"


The trading of accusations has not relented as optimism mixes with pessimism
before and after each round of talks.

The official Herald newspaper quoted ZANU-PF sources on Friday as saying
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) -- which it calls MDC-T -- 
had a hidden agenda.

"Insiders privy to the discussions told the Herald it appeared as if the
MDC-T was negotiating in bad faith and angling for a deadlock in the hope
that the mediation would be taken out of the hands of comrade Mbeki and
assumed by the African Union and the United Nations," it said.

The paper's sources said Tsvangirai was acting under pressure from the
United States and Britain, Mugabe's favourite allegation against his
long-time foe.

The MDC has accused Mbeki in the past of favouring Mugabe. It has toned down
its criticism since Mbeki brokered the power-sharing deal. Although Mbeki's
effectiveness was thrown into doubt after South Africa's ruling party ousted

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Zimbabwe accuses West of sinister hand in cabinet deadlock

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF party on Friday
accused the West of trying to scuttle ongoing cabinet talks and elbow out
former South African president Thabo Mbeki who is mediating in the country's
political crisis.

The state-run Herald newspaper quoted sources as saying that the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai was
under pressure from Britain and the United States to "deliberately force a
deadlock" as they were keen to elbow out Mbeki and place the facilitation in
the hands of the African Union and the United Nations.

The sources claimed that the two Western countries have been lobbying
South Africa and China at the UN Security Council to allow the UN to send a
mission to Zimbabwe to assess the progress of the talks and see how the
world body could become involved.

The mission would be headed by UN assistant secretary general for
political affairs Haile Menkerios who is part of a "reference group" created
by Mbeki in August to assist in the Zimbabwe mediation process.

\"They want Mr. Mbeki to fail so that there is an excuse to involve
the UN and thereby internationalise the matter and make it easier to pursue
their own agenda in Zimbabwe," the official daily's source said.

The ZANU PF claim came as talks between Tsvangirai and President
Robert Mugabe to form a unity government stalled for the third successive
day on Thursday amid disagreements over the allocation of cabinet

The leaders could not agree on the control of key ministries of
finance and home affairs. The talks continue on Friday.


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US threatens to launch new sanctions if Zimbabwe deal fails

afrol News, 17 October - United States has today warned that it would
consider launching new sanctions against Zimbabwean government if
power-sharing deal with opposition proves futile.

Top US diplomat for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, announced during his visit to
Japan that she was not optimistic that Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe
and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai
would break a deadlock in negotiations.

"If it doesn't work, then we are going to continue pressure that we've put
on government. We will look at new sanctions against president Mugabe and
his regime," Frazer told media in Japanese capital, Tokyo.

She added that, "right now we're not so optimistic. It doesn't look very
good for power-sharing."

Ms Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, is on a visit
to Japan and China for talks on African hotspots and cooperation on aid to

European Union (EU) foreign ministers at a meeting Monday in Luxembourg also
warned of fresh sanctions unless Mr Mugabe respected power-sharing deal.

Former South African leader Thabo Mbeki was brokering talks to salvage
month-old pact, under which 84-year-old Mr Mugabe would remain president and
his archrival would take new post of prime minister.

Mr Tsvangirai has reportedly threatened to pull out of agreement after Mr
Mugabe last weekend announced that he would award key ministries to his own

"Actions of president Mugabe are not consistent with any notion of
power-sharing. We will have to see whether former president Mbeki will be
able to get president Mugabe to agree to what he had agreed to, which was to
truly share power," Ms Frazer said.

But Ms Frazer said that African leaders had biggest role to play in
persuading Mr Mugabe to share power with Mr Tsvangirai.

"Ultimately Mr Mugabe rests and relies on support from his neighbours and I
think that they have to become stronger and hold him to account," she said.

She added that, "21 heads of state that witnessed" signing of power-sharing
agreement, they should be ones calling for him to honour commitments."

Ms Frazer insisted that further sanctions would not hurt people of Zimbabwe,
where inflation is running at 231 million percent and 80 percent of
population lives in poverty.

"We don't believe that our sanctions will impact on people's lives. They
will impact on stealing of the government officials," she said.

She noted that US delivers food and health assistance to Zimbabwe. Existing
US sanctions include bans on travel and trade with government leaders.

By staff writer

© afrol News

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Zanu PF Eager to Block Parliamentary Probe Into Violence

SW Radio Africa (London)

17 October 2008
Posted to the web 17 October 2008

Lance Guma

A call by the MDC for parliament to investigate this year's political
violence has touched a raw nerve in the ZANU PF system.

On Wednesday MDC Mutare Central legislator Innocent Gonese tabled a motion
for a parliamentary Select Committee to investigate the violence which
rocked the country after the March 29 elections, that were won by the MDC.
Harare East MP Tendai Biti also tabled another motion asking parliament to
investigate the 'militarization and politicization of food distribution.'
ZANU PF Chief Whip Joram Gumbo however sought to have the two motions
removed from the order paper claiming, 'they were not in the spirit of the
agreement signed by the three political parties.'

Speaking to the state owned Herald newspaper on Thursday Gumbo said he had
already spoken to MP Gonese from the MDC and advised him of their position.
'We feel that the motions do not serve to sustain the current political
dispensation of working together. It does not bring any healing which is the
essence of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the three principals
but would open old wounds, that might even create vengeance in rural areas
and those areas that experienced political violence.' Gumbo also claimed the
Business Committee of parliament 'did not sit and currently is not sitting
until a new Cabinet has been put in place.' This he argued meant proper
procedures were not followed in tabling the motions.

Newsreel spoke to MDC Chief Whip Innocent Gonese who said it was not the
business of the House Committee to decide which motions would go on the
Order Paper. The House Committee is tasked with looking at issues such as
parliament's calendar, it's sittings and other day to day affairs. He said
any MP can table a motion in parliament as long as they give the Speaker
advance notice. Asked whether they had the numbers to push the motion
through if ZANU PF resisted, Gonese said, 'we prefer not to go down that
route.' He said he hoped ZANU PF would support the investigation since they
were going to be working in the same government. He also said reconciliation
could only come if people owned up to their crimes.

At the heart of the matter is a desire by ZANU PF to keep a lid on a brutal
campaign of terror which led to the murder of over 130 MDC activists while
tens of thousands of supporters were brutalized and displaced. The notorious
Joint Operations Command deployed over 200 senior army officers countrywide
who coordinated the campaign. Lobengula MDC MP Sam Sipepa Nkomo on Tuesday
told parliament there could be no national healing, as argued by ZANU PF, if
there was no full disclosure of what happened. 'For there to be any
meaningful national healing, there is need for all the crimes of political
violence to be investigated and all the perpetrators brought to book,' he

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WOZA leaders remanded in custody

October 17, 2008

By Mxolisi Ncube

JOHANNESBURG - Two leaders of a Zimbabwean feminist organisation, who were
arrested by police in Bulawayo on Thursday, were on Friday remanded in
custody to Tuesday next week.

Magodonga Mahlangu and Jenni Williams, co-leaders of the Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA), were arrested in on Thursday, while demonstrating against the
slow implementation of a national unity government, which is being vaunted
as a solution to the country's eight year political and economic crisis.

A statement released by WOZA said the two leaders appeared at the Bulawayo
Magistrate's Court on Friday morning, being charged under Section 37 1(a) of
the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, for "disturbing the peace,
security or order of the public".

The organisation said the two were detained after the state prosecutor had
initially reached an agreement with the defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube that
the state would not oppose bail, whose amount and conditions had been
settled before their court appearance.

However, the situation changed when a new prosecutor was assigned to handle
the case.

The new prosecutor, identified only as Chifamba, argued that the two should
be denied bail because they still had an outstanding case pending, following
their arrest on May 28, again for demonstrating against the government.

"As the group of 14 had been removed off remand in Harare Magistrate's Court
on Wednesday 15th, this matter is no longer pending. The Magistrate,
Maphosa, allowed the state time to verify this fact however, remanding the
two in custody until Tuesday 21st October. It is clear from these actions
that the state is determined to deny the two bail, a clear violation of the
spirit of the power-sharing agreement signed by the political parties on
15th September," read the WOZA statement.

Williams and Mahlangu, who were detained at Bulawayo Central overnight on
Thursday, pending their court appearance, were expected to be moved to
Bulawayo Remand Prison later Friday afternoon.

The WOZA members took to the streets of Bulawayo, marching to Mhlahlandlela
Government Complex, where they intended to "declare a national disaster and
demand immediate food aid for all Zimbabweans".

Baton-wielding police broke up the demonstration, beating the women and
arresting their co-leaders.

"WOZA continues to demand immediate action regarding the formation of a new
government that will begin to work on solving urgent social issues, like
food, electricity and water. Recognising that the situation in the country
is now a national disaster we also demand that all Zimbabweans receive
access to food aid and also seed and agricultural inputs," read the

WOZA members have had several running battles with the police in the past,
and some of them have been brutalised before for demonstrating against the
government of President Robert Mugabe.

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Zim Soldiers on High Alert

HARARE, October 17 2008 - The army was on Friday put on high alert
following continued disagreements over the sharing of cabinet posts between
Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Sources told RadioVOP that the Director of Military Intelligence
instructed military police in Harare to round up soldiers in the city centre
and order them into their respective camps.

"The Director of Military Intelligence ordered the military police to
go into the city centre and call up all the soldiers roaming in the city
centre so that they can be on standby in their respective camps around

"But there are rumours that some soldiers aligned to the Morgan
Tsvangirai led MDC might get excited given the ongoing cabinet sharing
talks," said the source.

The source added that soldiers were disgruntled with the Zd100 000
salaries awarded to them last month and were looking to Tsvangirai for
improved working conditions and better salaries.

"Soldiers were given a Zd100 000 for the whole month at a time a 10kg
of roller meal is going for Zd150 000. So how does the government expect
soldiers to survive. Soldiers are just roaming in the city centre, with some
of them selling recharge cards to augment their salaries," said the source.

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Mugabe supporters accuse Tsvangirai of bad faith


Fri 17 Oct 2008, 8:42 GMT

HARARE, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Members of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF
party accused the opposition MDC on Friday of "bad faith" in talks over a
power-sharing government for Zimbabwe, and secretly aiming to bring about
U.N. mediation.

Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara of a splinter MDC
faction have failed to reach agreement on allocating cabinet posts in three
days of talks, and are due to resume negotiations on Friday.

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who brokered a broad
power-sharing agreement last month, is mediating again.

The official Herald newspaper quoted ZANU-PF sources on Friday as saying the
talks were dragging because Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) -- which it calls MDC-T -- had a hidden agenda.

"Insiders privy to the discussions told the Herald it appeared as if the
MDC-T was negotiating in bad faith and angling for a deadlock in the hope
that the mediation would be taken out of the hands of comrade Mbeki and
assumed by the African Union and the United Nations," it said.

The paper's sources said Tsvangirai was acting under pressure from the
United States and Britain.

They accused Tsvangirai of seeking to renegotiate the allocation of
ministries that had already been agreed, dragging out a session that was
only meant to focus on the finance and home affairs portfolios, the Herald

There was no immediate comment from the MDC, which said on Thursday that the
talks were deadlocked with about 10 ministries still in dispute.

In the past, the MDC has accused Mbeki of favouring Mugabe. But it has toned
down its criticism since Mbeki brokered the power-sharing deal.

ZANU-PF has also protested against the introduction in parliament of two
motions to debate the political violence that MDC supporters complained of
during this year's election campaign, and the "militarisation and
politicisation" of food aid.

Mugabe's chief whip in parliament, where ZANU-PF is now in a minority, told
the Herald the motions had been introduced improperly, and should be
withdrawn because they undermined the spirit of the power-sharing agreement.

There was no immediate comment from the MDC's parliamentary chief whip.
(Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Only change for MDC will be the stench of pit latrine

17 October 2008
Bill Saidi

Richard Hall, a great editor I had the privilege of working under in the
1960s, once described a proposed constitution for what would be Zambia,
thus: A pit latrine - the more you dig it, the more it stinks.

At the height of the unravelling of British imperialism, critics of the
snail's pace bestowal of independence to the former colonies used brutal
language to scold Whitehall.

A Zambian, Ali Simbule, was furious with the kith-and-kin procrastination
over ending Ian Smith's 1965 UDI. He called Harold Wilson's government "a
toothless bulldog".

I have recently enjoyed this description of Margaret Thatcher's 1991
proposed poll tax:

"fat-headed, bone-headed, dunder-headed, blunder-headed, mutton-headed".

It translates into "unworkable".

I find it an appropriate description of the power-sharing mish-mash signed
by the two MDC formations and Zanu-PF to end the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Thabo Mbeki flew back to the country this week, lugging a large band-aid to
cover the gaping wound now crippling the process. Many are inclined to burn
Mbeki at the stake as the witch who strung along the MDC leaders, while
knowing Zanu-PF was brewing its old tamba wakachenjera subterfuge.

Most people who voted against Mugabe and Zanu-PF on March 29 would have come
out into the streets to protest at the delay in setting up a government that
would end nearly 30 years of Zanu-PF misery and death.

It has been noted that Zanu-PF's policy seems to entail starving the people
into such weaklings, the very thought of demonstrations might give them
collective cardiac arrest.

It might shock some to know this, but there are citizens who would not put
it past Zanu-PF to starve the people into giving up all protest by denying
them the strength to stand up. Always to be remembered is the impunity with
which Zanu PF unleashed its retribution campaign. There was, in essence, a
campaign of political cleansing in the high-density suburbs, the opposition

Once the party apparatchiks recognised how weak physically most people had
become as a result of the food and money shortages and the never-ending
queues at the banks, they realised how effective it would be in emasculating
the opposition.

Since the March elections, there have hardly been any massive demonstrations
against Zanu-PF. The trade unions have not mounted any protest marches

The government media has routinely reported a rift between the MDC and the
unions over the power-sharing deal.

There may be a grain of truth in some of the reports, but most people treat
them with a large dose of scepticism.

There have been numerous attempts to sow the seeds of hatred between the
unions, which helped father the MDC and the party. There have been reports
of a Zanu-PF slush fund to "buy" the loyalty of the unions. In these days,
when those without access to billions of dollars available to Zanu-PF are
scrounging to make a living, few would laugh such gift cockerels (Zanu PF
symbol) in the beak.

The MDC leaders, knowing the capacity for mayhem and murder of the people
with whom they have been negotiating a "fat-headed, bone-headed,
dunder-headed" power-sharing deal, must know what the real score is.

Zanu-PF will run rings around them until the only change they can confirm
will be the stench of a pit latrine. They won't need to dig it to confirm
how much crap they have been sold.

l Bill Saidi is deputy editor of The Standard in Zimbabwe.

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Deadlock in Zimbabwe

As talks between Zanu-PF and the MDC near collapse, protesters outside the
country stake their hopes on change

Jeremy Kuper,
Friday October 17 2008 09.00 BST

The power-sharing deal signed last month between President Robert Mugabe's
ruling Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC is on the verge of collapse. The
former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, who brokered the agreement,
returned as mediator on Tuesday to try to resurrect the talks which
according to Tsvangirai are deadlocked.

Inflation in Zimbabwe is running at 231m% and nearly half of the population
will need food aid by early 2009 according to the UN, which is predicting a
"famine emergency".

The west is sitting on a £1bn aid package for Zimbabwe which it will only
release when it receives evidence that Mugabe is no longer in power. But
there is little sign of that, and reports emerging from the country last
weekend indicated that several key ministerial jobs have been allocated
unilaterally to members of his Zanu-PF party.

If Mugabe does go back on his word, it will not be the first time. He did so
most notably in his 1987 deal with Joshua Nkomo. So was Tsvangirai naive to
sign up to this settlement, or just desperate for peace? To many, this whole
process appears to be at best fundamentally flawed, and at worst a complete
sham. Meanwhile, last Saturday the Zimbabwe Vigil Coalition celebrated its
sixth anniversary outside the Zimbabwean embassy in London. It has been
meeting there every week to protest against human rights abuses and to call
for free and fair internationally monitored elections in the country. They
are also asking for the aid package to be withheld until Mugabe is out of
office, fearing that otherwise it will all go to his supporters.

For these exiled opponents in London, the struggle continues, and they
clearly think that the old leopard has not changed his spots. I asked them
whether they believed that this negotiated settlement with Mugabe could ever
bring peace and democracy in their country.

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CHRA in solidarity with students.


October 16 2008


The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) would like to express solidarity with the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) on the demonstration held on the 14th of October at parliament building during the First session of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe. State Tertiary institutions have not opened around the country because of myriad of problems affecting the country. These problems include the shortages of water and other basic services compounded by absence of a government. The institutions are a miniature of the city and country as a whole suffice to say that if Zimbabwe were not a country but an institution, it would also be closed by now.


The association stands in solidarity with ZINASU and other stakeholders who support mass action as a way of expression, we would like to condemn the harassment of those students by the police. All this harassment took place before the august house of Zimbabwe. The harassment also took place as the country’s major political protagonists are on a conciliatory path, seeking to find a solution to the country’s political and socio-economic crises. The harassment also took place in front of the whole world as the former South African president, Thabo Mbeki; the mediator in the Zimbabwean political party dialogue was, and is still is in the country. The harassment further buttresses the past and present, so evident bad faith and intransigence shown by President Mugabe and ZANU PF.


Meanwhile, service delivery in Zimbabwe has deteriorated to untold levels in Zimbabwe amid political, socio-economic collapse orchestrated by ZANU PF and government chronic policy failure. Most residents still live in abject poverty while ZANU PF stalwarts and their protégés leave in plenty. Most of these stalwarts` children are out of the country, learning there, they have benefited in the past 28 years of economic plunder. The ZANU PF principals have denied the poor child in Budiriro, a decent and basic education, a resident in Mabvuku, clean accessible water for more than a year now, a resident in Chitungwiza, access to basic medication amid cholera havoc, a resident in Hopley squatter camp, decent shelter and the rest of Zimbabweans, their rights, freedoms and a stake in how they want to be governed.


We would like to reiterate our commitment to defending our rights, including the right to express ourselves undeterred by unprofessional state agents. We also would like to remind the ZANU PF principals of our sacrifice and compromise to let the political party deal through; they should not by any chance think that the deal is meant to accommodate the MDC formations, neither does it seek  to upstage the people’s verdict on the 29th of March 2008. We also urge Mr Mbeki, the mediator to uphold the urgency, fairness, the spirit with which it was found and other principles contained in the deal, and, in discharging his moral, brotherly and official duty.


CHRA remains committed to demanding quality and accessible service delivery, good governance and social justice. The Association will continue to mobilize residents to express themselves around these and other issues.  

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)

145 Robert Mugabe Way

Exploration House, Third Floor


 Landline: 00263- 4- 705114

Contacts: Mobile: 0912 653 074, 0913 042 981, 011862012 or email, and


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William Martin '10: Bribe the devil

Issue date: 10/17/08

While we're studying for midterms, Zimbabweans are starving and bleeding.
The anti-colonialist turned dictator Robert Mugabe has ruled their country
for decades, and the first serious chance for a transfer of power since his
takeover has coincided with the worst humanitarian crisis in the country's
recent history.

Zimbabwe, once one of Africa's foremost food exporters, has been
economically desolate since Mugabe expropriated the land holdings of white
farmers, beginning in 2000. Output has plummeted under erratic management by
members of the ruling Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front

To make matters worse, the government has been wildly over-printing new
Zimbabwean dollars and exchanging them by the crate for more stable foreign

The result has been a cruel paradox: mind-boggling hyperinflation (the
government's estimate for the past year alone is 231 million percent, and
the real figure is probably much higher) along with a shortage of hard
currency. Banks have imposed strict limits on daily withdrawals, and many
Zimbabweans have to wait in line for hours just to get out enough cash for
daily bus fare.

A humanitarian catastrophe is looming. Half the country's population is near
starvation, and the aid agency principally responsible for Zimbabwe is
facing a $140 million shortfall for next year.

This may not sound like much to the citizens of a country that just
committed to buying up $350 billion in bad stocks and loans, but compared
with Zimbabwe's surfeit just a few years ago it adds up to a staggering

This spring, there was a brief glimmer of hope for responsible governance in
Zimbabwe from the presidential campaign of opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai. Though handicapped by a widespread ZANU-PF fraud operation, he
won a clear plurality over Mugabe in presidential elections last March.

But Tsvangirai pulled out of the runoff after dozens of his supporters were
killed in clashes with Mugabe's partisans. Thabo Mbeki, then president of
South Africa, intervened to secure a power-sharing arrangement, but this
past weekend Mugabe put it in jeopardy by handing the three most crucial
ministries - defense, finance and home affairs (which includes the police) -
to his own loyalists.

Mbeki has headed back to Zimbabwe to try to salvage the deal. But without an
official government post, he can bring little pressure to bear on Mugabe -
certainly not enough to satisfy Tsvangirai, who wants to put his own allies
in charge of both the finance and home affairs ministries.

As with Mugabe's past misdeeds, the West's reaction to the latest setback
has been principally punitive. But there isn't much left to threaten with.

The European Union has vowed to apply fresh sanctions if Mugabe doesn't
allow the opposition a significant role in the government, but the
foreign-held assets of the regime's key players have already been frozen,
and further sanctions are likely to be felt most acutely by common
Zimbabweans, not their rulers. The regime cannot be delegitimized to death.

On the bright side, Mugabe and his cronies are unabashedly venal, and they
haven't been coy about holding Zimbabwe for ransom. Lift previously imposed
financial penalties, the government has said, and it may listen to reason.

This highlights an attractive alternative to ramping up sanctions: Bribe the
jerks with their own money. The U.S. and the EU can agree to release assets
stashed within their jurisdictions once the regime and the opposition hammer
out a mutually acceptable deal. (Promises to lift economic sanctions and
resume aid are already on the table.)

Direct material incentives, and the chance for a symbolic triumph over the
West, may help to convince Mugabe and his fellow anti-colonial veterans to
loosen their hold.

Even with their palms greased, they will be reluctant, and Tsvangirai may
have to accept heavy compromises-legal immunity for high-ranking thugs and
kleptocrats if he gets the home affairs ministry, or a massive slowdown of
dollar production instead of control of the finance ministry. But even these
modest gains may be out of reach without an added bonus for Mugabe and his
closest minions.

Ideally, it won't be necessary. Perhaps Mbeki's latest expedition will be
miraculously successful, or the new round of sanctions will unexpectedly
break the regime's resolve; perhaps the better angels of Mugabe's nature
will be roused as the people he once claimed to fight for slide deeper and
deeper into poverty and misery.

Regardless, the West should be considering its options carefully. Paying off
Mugabe and approving a deal that might shield thieves and murderers from
prosecution could leave a bad taste in our mouths. But moral punctiliousness
and thirst for vicarious revenge are no excuse for allowing continued

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Fighting for nation he left behind

Bret Harris | October 18, 2008

DAVID Pocock is about to make his Wallabies debut, but his heart still beats
to the rhythms of Africa and bleeds for his native Zimbabwe.

At the end of the tour of Hong Kong and Europe, the Wallabies will take
European vacations or return to the surf and sand of an Australian summer
before pre-season training.

But Pocock will travel to his homeland in southern Africa to give succour to
members of a village in the politically and economically bankrupt country,
which he affectionately calls "Zim".

"You can't forget where you come from," said Pocock, who is only 20 but
carries himself with the maturity of a 30-year-old.

"That shaped who I am. All my childhood memories and stuff. I'm very fond of
the place and the people.

"It's tough to see what's happening. People have no options. They can't move
to Australia for a better life. They are stuck there.

"People have been saying since 2000 it is going to get better, but almost
nine years later it is getting worse. We are looking at helping out a
community over there. It's overwhelming because there are five million
people starving. Who do you help? You think if I help 100, what difference
does that make? You can't think like that. You've just got to do what you

Pocock has the same moral strength as Springboks flanker Luke Watson, a
champion of black South African players, so it is not surprising they have
formed a friendship through rugby.

"We meet every time we are in the same city," Pocock said. "He's a great

Pocock's humanitarian endeavour is an expression of his faith. Along with
Western Force team-mate Luke Holmes, he established a charitable
organisation called "Why Generation", which has distributed soccer balls to
an orphanage in Durban and provided sleeping bags for the homeless in Perth.

Pocock would be entitled to feel bitter towards Zimbabwe after his family
was forced off its farm, an 8000-acre spread in the midlands of the country,
during a land redistribution program.

"In theory it was very good," Pocock said of the land grab that ended his
idyllic childhood. "Give land to people who used to own it so they could
farm it.

"Our farm, some police officer lives on it now. It's not being farmed. It's
such a waste. People are on the brink of starvation and there's millions of
acres not being farmed. It's such a shame."

The Pocock family moved to Brisbane in 2002 and young David brought his
passion for rugby with him to Church of England Grammar School.

Pocock had always played in the backs in Zimbabwe, but "Churchie" first XV
coach, former Wallabies number eight Tom Barker, switched him to openside
flanker and he represented Queensland and Australian Schoolboys in the No 7

On leaving school, Pocock made another big move to join the Super rugby
expansion franchise, the Force, in Perth, declining an approach from
Queensland Reds.

"In Year 12, I was talking to both of them," Pocock said.

"With the Reds I would have been in the academy, but with the Force I would
have been training with the top squad.

"It was a massive opportunity to learn in the top squad and Mitch (Force
coach John Mitchell) made it clear I would be playing in the trials and
getting that sort of exposure.

"John Mitchell was a massive drawcard and the players they signed, Brendan
Cannon and Nathan Sharpe, and just being part of something new. It's the
best decision I've ever made."

Pocock, who was 17 at the time, played for the Force in a trial match
against the Cheetahs in Perth, but the ARU stopped him playing any further
games because of a rule which stated Super rugby players had to be at least

As a result of the fuss over Pocock not being allowed to play, the rule was
subsequently changed so that players under 18 are judged on a case-by-case

But Pocock had to wait until the second last round of the 2006 Super 14
series to make his official debut for the Force, against the Sharks in

"It was weird. I was run on. I wasn't even on the bench," he said. "There
you go. Do what you can do.

"I remember being so nervous. We lost, but it was a massive high."

Pocock has been the regular starter at openside flanker for the Force for
the last two seasons, competing against George Smith, Phil Waugh, and New
Zealand captain Richie McCaw.

While he is as physically talented as McCaw, Smith and Waugh, Pocock
probably lacks their craftiness, which will come with experience.

"You are always up for those games, playing against guys you have been
watching since I don't know how old," Pocock said.

"You are always trying to test yourself and see how far you can push it.
Every time I play McCaw or George Smith, I always pick up one or two little
things that they do and you think, 'yeah, maybe I can do that'."

Pocock was physically and mentally ready to play Test rugby at the start of
this year's international season in June, but coach Robbie Deans thought he
would benefit from playing in the under-20 world championship in Wales.

In what was undoubtedly a pointer to the future, Pocock was named captain of
the team.

He later led the Force on a five-game tour of the UK. It is not unreasonable
to speculate that Pocock may not only start for the Wallabies at the 2011
World Cup in New Zealand, but also be captain.

"It's not something I actively seek out, but I'm pretty comfortable with
it," Pocock said of captaincy. "If the coach thinks I can lead the team
well, I'm happy to do it."

Pocock is one of five rookies in the 34-man squad for the tour to the
northern hemisphere.

As the third openside flanker behind Smith and Waugh, Pocock will be
fighting hard for game time.

"I don't really have any expectations because I know how many blokes go on
the spring tour and never get on the field," Pocock said.

"My goal is to make the most of any opportunity I get, try and improve my
game -- and, away from rugby, see the sights and experience the culture.

"They (Smith and Waugh) have 150 Tests between them and I've got zero. They
have been by far the best two opensides in Australia for however long. I'll
grab any opportunity I get and at training I'll be going my hardest."

Smith, 28, and Waugh, 29, are both veterans and Pocock is sure to be
snapping at their heels.

Pocock is as skilful as Smith and as hard on the ball as Waugh, combining
the best features of the two senior flankers.

Once Pocock makes his Test debut, which will probably be against Italy in
the second game of the tour, he is likely to wear the gold jersey for a long

While his rugby career comes first at the moment, Pocock is considering
studying medicine, which will enable him to help people in his homeland even
more in the future.

"I'm passionate about helping people and I'm against injustice," Pocock
said. "I've always wanted to do medicine so I can go over there and help.
It's all very well going over there, but if you've got no skill, you aren't
much help."

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