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Zimbabwe secret agents stoke MDC divisions

Zim Online

Fri 21 October 2005
  HARARE - Intelligence minister Didymus Mutasa has said state secret agents
are working hard to manipulate divisions rocking Zimbabwe's main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party to accelerate its collapse,
ZimOnline has learnt.

      Mutasa, a close confidante of President Robert Mugabe, made the
disclosure during a closed meeting last Saturday of senior ruling ZANU PF
party and government politicians from his Manicaland home province.

      The meeting to plot strategy for ZANU PF in Manicaland ahead of the
November 26 senate election took place at Mutare Polytechnic College in the
eastern border city of Mutare.

      In attendance, among other top ZANU PF and government leaders were
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Transport Minister Chris Mushohwe,
Energy Minister Mike Nyambuya and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made.

      Sources who attended the meeting said Mutasa described bitter
wrangling in the MDC over whether the party should contest the senate
election as a godsend that the state's spy Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) had to exploit to the full.

      "My boys (CIO spies) are on it big time. This is a God-given
opportunity and if we fail to destroy them (MDC) this time, then we might
never ever get another chance like this. My ministry will not miss this
opportunity," a source quoted Mutasa as having told his colleagues.

      According to the sources, Mutasa did not give details of what state
intelligence operatives were doing to fuel division in the MDC but said he
only indicated that huge resources including large quantities of money had
been set aside to be used to infiltrate the opposition party and buy off
some of its feuding senior leaders.

      Mutasa, who also oversees land reform and food aid distribution, would
neither confirm nor deny the matter, saying he does not discuss
security-related issues with the Press.

      He told ZimOnline: "Ask me about food or land reform and I will talk.
But I will never talk about the security ministry." The MDC is sharply
divided over the senate poll with party leader Morgan Tsvangirai vehemently
saying the party should not contest the election because it will be rigged
by ZANU PF which he accuses of stealing elections in the past.

      Tsvangirai, who has accused other senior leaders wanting the party to
run in the poll of being motivated by selfish desire to join the government's
gravy train, said the proposed new senate would be of no value in a country
that should be better directing scarce resources to fighting hunger
threatening a quarter of its 12 million people.

      The MDC leader is backed in his position by the party's key youth and
women's wings. But several other top leaders said to be led by party
secretary general Welshman Ncube say the party should not surrender
political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF by boycotting the senate poll.

      They also insist that Tsvangirai should abide by a decision of the MDC's
national council that last week narrowly voted for the party to participate
in the election.

      Political analysts say the widening divisions over the senate poll
mirror deep-seated differences in the MDC over what strategy to use to
unseat President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF.

      They say that if not managed carefully the wrangling could precipitate
a break up of the six-year old party that was launched in 1999 to become the
biggest threat yet to Mugabe's 25-year stranglehold on power.

      Tsvangirai has claimed the crisis gripping the MDC - the worst the
party has ever faced - was also being fuelled by state agents he says have
infiltrated the party. - ZimOnline

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Tsvangirai drums up grassroots support for senate boycott

Zim Online

Fri 21 October 2005

      HARARE - Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader
Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday toured eastern Zimbabwe mobilising lower wrung
party leaders to back him in a bitter wrangle with other senior party
leaders over whether to contest next month's senate election.

      Zimbabwe's biggest opposition party appears headed for a split after
its top leaders failed to agree on the senate poll with Tsvangirai insistent
the MDC should boycott the poll while the party's national council, many of
whose members hope to win seats in the new senate, seeking to contest the

      Tsvangirai's spokesman William Bango told ZimOnline that the embattled
MDC leader addressed ward, district and branch executives at Chiendambuya in
Makoni North constituency before proceeding to Rusape and Nyanga districts.
All the areas visited by Tsvangirai are in the eastern Manicaland province.

      According to Bango, the opposition leader will next visit Chimanimani
and Chipinge also before proceeding to cover Midlands, Masvingo, the
Mashonaland and Matabeleland provinces.

      "We will go to Chimanimani and Chipinge in the eastern direction, I
cannot give you the exact locations or dates when we visit these areas for
obvious security reasons," Bango said.

      The MDC is sharply divided over the senate poll with Tsvangirai
vehemently saying it should not contest the election because it will be
rigged by ZANU PF which he accuses of stealing elections in the past.

      Tsvangirai, who has accused other senior leaders wanting the party to
run in the poll of being motivated by selfish desire to join the government
gravy train through the Senate, also says the proposed new Senate would be
of no value in a country that should be better directing scarce resources to
fighting hunger threatening a quarter of its 12 million people.

      The MDC leader is backed in his position by the party's key youth and
women's wings. But several other top leaders said to be led by party
secretary general Welshman Ncube say the party should not surrender
political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF by boycotting the senate poll.

      They also insist that Tsvangirai should abide by a decision of the MDC's
national council for the party to contest the election.

      Political analysts say the widening divisions over the senate poll
mirror deep-seated differences in the MDC over what strategy to use to
unseat President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF.

      They say if not managed carefully the wrangling could precipitate a
break-up of the six-year old party that was launched in 1999 to become the
biggest threat yet to Mugabe's 25-year stranglehold on power. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe bank governor concedes virtual failure of forex auction

Zim Online

Fri 21 October 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's central bank on Friday virtually conceded the
failure of its much-vaunted foreign exchange auction system and effectively
sanctioned a pseudo-devaluation of the local dollar as part of wide-ranging
measures aimed at restoring economic stability, economic analysts said.

      In a televised review of the country's monetary policy - described by
analysts as a positive statement of intent but one that lacked clear
solutions to the country's six-year-old economic crisis - Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono introduced wide-ranging measures aimed
at attacking the inflation scourge, encouraging production and increasing
the country's capacity to generate foreign currency.

      He conceded the failure of the foreign currency auction system -
introduced in January 2004 and at the time touted as the panacea to Zimbabwe's
perennial hard cash problems - and reintroduced the inter-bank foreign
exchange market to operate side by side with the auction market.

      Gono said with immediate effect, exporters would now surrender 70
percent of their proceeds onto the interbank market, and would have up to 30
days to hold on to the foreign currency after which it would be sold on the
prevailing interbank rate.

      "Through authorised dealers, exporters can sell their foreign exchange
in FCA balances, at a market-determined rate on the interbank market," Gono

      Individual foreign currency holders, non-governmental organisations,
embassies and Zimbabweans abroad will also sell their foreign currency on
the interbank market.

      The managed auctions would, however, continue to operate, with
exporters disposing 30 percent of their earnings on that market.

      Gono predicted that the auction rate would converge with the market
determined interbank rate by December 2006.

      Foreign exchange shortages have fuelled a thriving black market where
the local currency is trading at three times the official rate. The Zimbabwe
dollar was trading at 26 004 to one greenback at the auctions on Thursday
compared to around 90 000 on the black market.

      The RBZ chief also called for resolute action by the government to
stop the invasion of commercial farmland and for the protection of private
property rights. These, he said, were important pre-requisites for the
restoration of investor confidence.

      Other measures included the introduction of the "toll manufacturing"
concept under which Zimbabwean firms currently operating below capacity
would enter into arrangements with foreign companies to utilise local
factories at a fee.

      The foreigners would bring their raw materials to Zimbabwe and pay the
local manufacturers foreign currency-denominated fees for producing their

      Gono also called for fiscal restraint in the fight against inflation,
which was pegged at 359.8 percent in September. Annualised inflation is
expected to decline to a single digit figure by March 2007.

      But analysts said most of Gono's measures would only succeed if there
was political will from the authorities.

      "He has recognised the depth of the problem but it will take more than
mere recognition of the problem to fix the crisis," noted consultant Harare
economist John Robertson.

      The analysts said, in coming up with the new measures, Gono found
himself in the unenviable position of having to maintain a balance between
the expectations of a militant political establishment keen on winning votes
in next month's elections for Senate seats and the austere conditions set by
the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

      "On the one hand, it is clear that the governor was trying to conform
to the conditions set by the IMF while, on the other, one sees some
hesitation in moving towards a free market economy because the governor
knows such a situation would not be acceptable to the powers that be," said
an economist with a Harare bank, who did not want to be named.

      The IMF told the Zimbabwe government to move towards the restoration
of economic and political stability as part of wide-ranging reforms that
would see Harare regaining full membership of the multilateral lending

      The country survived expulsion last month after the RBZ made two
surprise payments amounting to $135 million towards clearing its arrears
with the IMF.

      The analysts said new measures would not destroy the thriving foreign
currency parallel market despite the reintroduction of the inter-bank

      "The shortcoming of the latest review, as with previous ones, is that
the bank has once again failed to address the fundamental issue of a market
in the sense that the governor's statement was silent on whether people will
be allowed to go to an authorised dealer and purchase foreign currency as
and when they wish," the bank economist said.

      He said the reason why the parallel market was thriving was because
companies and individuals could not easily get hard cash to transact their

      "In other words, there is no market because people are only required
to sell and not buy when the need arises." - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe public school exams plunged into crisis after question papers leak

Zim Online

Fri 21 October 2005

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe national school examinations scheduled for next
month have been plunged into crisis after examination papers were leaked to
the public.

      The Ordinary and Advanced Level examination papers were said to have
leaked to the public when a truck which was transporting them from Harare to
the southern Masvingo city dropped some of the papers along the highway.

      The question papers are said to be already in wide circulation in
Harare's western suburbs of Glen Norah, Highfield and Glen View.

      But the Zimbabwe School Examination Council (Zimsec), charged with the
running of national examinations in the country, says it will not alter
dates for this year's exams despite the leakage in Harare.

      Zimsec director Happy Ndanga, told ZimOnline on Thursday: "The
situation is under control and we are dealing with examination centres, but
we are not going to change the examination dates."

      The local examinations body has however been under fire for failing to
properly run examinations or ensure papers are not leaked to the public.
Zimbabwe localised examinations in 1995. Before then Zimbabwe's public
examinations were largely run by Britain's University of Cambridge.

      Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere could not be reached for comment
on this latest incident of leakage of examination papers.

      A cabinet minister was forced to resign nine years ago after his
daughter was caught in possession of leaked examination papers.

      Zimbabwe's education system, once revered as the best on the African
continent, has collapsed just like everything else in the country reeling
under a severe political and economic crisis.

      School infrastructure is run down because there is no money for
maintenance while thousands of teachers have fled to seek better
opportunities in neighbouring countries and beyond. - ZimOnline

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Police turn down Z$1 billion donation from "suspected MDC sympathiser"

Zim Online

Fri 21 October 2005

      BULAWAYO - The police on Tuesday turned down a Z$1 billion donation by
a Bulawayo-based businessman to buy an electricity transformer for a police
camp alleging the businessman was linked to the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party.

      A baffled Peter Richardson told ZimOnline on Thursday that the police
had turned down his donation alleging he was strongly linked to the MDC, an
allegation he denies.

      Zimbabwe, which is going through a severe five year economic recession
blamed on President Robert Mugabe's policies, is heavily polarised along
political lines. The 81-year old Zimbabwean leader has fought a bruising
five-year battle against the MDC and its backers.

      The businessman had offered to buy an electricity transformer for
police officers at Ross Camp, the biggest camp for police officers in
Bulawayo, who have been without electricity for the last six months after
their transformer blew up.

      Richardson said the Officer Commanding Bulawayo province Senior
Assistant Commissioner Lee Muchemwa phoned him on Tuesday telling him that
his donation was no longer welcome as the police had already bought the
transformer through their Harare office.

      Muchemwa could not be reached for comment on the issue.

      "I was doing this on humanitarian grounds after seeing the whole camp
in a complete blackout. The families there are also using firewood to
prepare their meals.

      "In early August, I approached the Officer Commanding the province
with an offer to donate funds to buy the transformer, after I had been told
that the problem was caused by a faulty transformer, which burst in July,"
said Richardson.

      Richardson said the police initially agreed to accept the offer only
for them to turn around on Wednesday when they snubbed the offer.

      "A friend in the police told me that the Police Internal Security
Intelligence which had been tasked to carry out some vetting exercise on me
had declared that I am linked to the MDC and cannot be allowed to donate to
the police.

      "I don't even know where they got that from because I have got nothing
to do with politics  . . . the donation had nothing to do with politics," he

      The decision to reject the money to buy the transformer has however
not gone down well with junior officers at the camp who accuse senior
officers of pursuing selfish agendas.

      "They (senior police officers) initially wanted us to contribute $5
million each towards the purchase of the transformer but we failed because
most of us earn a paltry $3 million a month.

      "The authorities are just worried about their own welfare since their
section of the camp was not affected by the blackout," said a junior officer
who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.

      Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena refused to
comment on the issue.

      The Zimbabwe government has in the last five years purged police
officers it suspected of supporting the opposition, replacing them with
loyalists from the ruling ZANU PF party and national youth service
institutions. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe in Crisis


20 October 2005

The International Monetary Fund warns that Zimbabwe's troubled economy is near collapse with rampant inflation and soaring poverty. The IMF details the economic crisis gripping the country once known as a breadbasket of southern Africa. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's opposition leaders are considering a boycott of next month's elections for a newly created upper house of parliament.

Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis, with unemployment and interest rates at a record 70%, and inflation running at more than 350%. The International Monetary Fund warns that Zimbabwe's gross domestic product will likely shrink another seven percent this year. And some economists predict that by year's end inflation could reach 1,000%.

Hundreds of businesses have closed, foreign investment has dried up, Western governments have frozen aid and millions of people are in danger of starvation.

Zimbabwe's Social and Economic Meltdown

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe
Domestic and overseas critics blame Zimbabwe's economic crisis primarily on President Robert Mugabe's strongman rule and quasi-Marxist economics. Among the problems most often cited are Mr. Mugabe's land re-distribution policies, endemic corruption, the absence of the rule of law and Zimbabwe's involvement in Congo's civil war.

Chester Crocker, Professor of Strategic Studies at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the Reagan Administration. He says the social and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe includes political intolerance, electoral fraud and gross human rights violations.

According to Professor Crocker, "The country is being trashed. The economy is being
Millions of zimbabweans need food aid
Millions of Zimbabweans need food aid
trashed. The human rights abuses are horrendous, the politicization of food distribution, a number of things of that kind. They don't paint a pretty picture of the country. I think we are going to see more and more reports of how bad it really is."

Economic sanctions against the country were triggered by Mr. Mugabe's policy of forcibly seizing land owned by the country's white farmers, and the implications of his policies for private property rights and foreign investments in the country. Started five years ago, Mr. Mugabe's land re-distribution has crippled agricultural production, lead to widespread shortages of food and robbed Zimbabwe of its major exports and income producers, corn and tobacco.

Homeless children in Zimbabwe drinking water from a broken water main
Homeless children in Zimbabwe drinking water from a broken water main
According to the World Food Program, about four million people in Zimbabwe are now in need of food aid. A recent operation to "clean up" cities by bulldozing alleged illegal dwellings has left another 700-thousand people homeless, adding to the ranks of the hungry. Even the Zimbabwean military has been hit by chronic food shortages.

Peter Kagwanja of the International Crisis Group in Pretoria, South Africa says many members of Robert Mugabe's 40-thousand strong army are angered by the government's refusal to increase their salaries and provide adequate food. Mr. Kagwanja says disgruntled soldiers could pose a threat to President Mugabe's regime, which depends on the state security apparatus for its survival. He says, "One of the most recent indicators that things are bad are reports that more than 2,000 members of the military have been sent on forced leave because the Army can't feed them. That came as a shock because the military is really 'the goose that lays the golden egg' in Zimbabwe. In the past, the leadership has been able to convince the population that their problems are directly linked to the impact of sanctions imposed on the country by 'imperialistic powers.' But this is beginning to lose hold."

Zimbabwe's Few Supporters

Peter Kagwanja says Zimababwe, shunned by the West, now relies heavily on one of its few remaining supporters, South Africa.

Mr. Kagwanja says, "One of the reasons many people feel strongly that Zimbabwe can't collapse or disintegrate is simply because South Africa would do everything in its power to ensure that it has no failed state at its doorstep. Also South African companies have invested in Zimbabwe and are owed by Zimbabwe. If South Africa shut down its main companies today, Zimbabwe would go dark in a minute. Electricity is supplied from South Africa, telecommunications, as well as investments in towns and other areas."

But many observers doubt whether South Africa has sufficient resources to keep Zimbabwe afloat indefinitely.

Earlier this year, Mr. Mugabe launched a policy called "Look East," which seeks trade and political agreements with Asian countries friendly to Zimbabwe, primarily China.

Robert Lloyd is Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center of International Studies and Languages at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, California. He says the "Look East" policy is chiefly intended to ensure Mr. Mugabe's political survival.

"Because resources have been shrinking, Mugabe has been forced to find new patrons," says Professor Lloyd. "His traditional relationship with Britain has been strained to say the least. The United States has been busy trying to isolate the government. South Africa deals with Zimbabwe, but it is sort of cordial and correct, not necessarily warm and embracing with lots of money being given. The European Union has been trying to isolate Zimbabwe. This leaves China as a source of resources and patronage."

And like most analysts, Professor Lloyd contends Mr. Mugabe uses the country's resources for personal gain and to consolidate his authoritarian rule.

Professor Lloyd says, "He has been able to control those resources and then pay
Soldiers in Robert Mugabe's army
Soldiers in Robert Mugabe's army
individuals who participate in supporting his rule. As time has gone by, he has run out of sources to keep the patronage. If you play out the trend into the future, you could see a point when he simply would not have resources to do that. And at that point, you could see a very quick regime change in the country."

Robert Mugabe, says Professor Lloyd, already has challengers within his own party who are willing to strike a power sharing arrangement with the opposition in the event of Mr. Mugabe's political downfall. There is still hope, note many observers, for a peaceful democratic transition in Zimbabwe. Although some opposition leaders oppose next month's parliamentary elections, they say they remain committed to assuming power through the ballot box.

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Chombo orders youth militia to evict MDC supporters from Hopley Farm

From SW Radio Africa, 19 October

By Violet Gonda and Tererai Karimakwenda

The minister for Local Government Ignatius Chombo visited Hopley Farm
outside Harare on Tuesday and allegedly instructed the youth militia to get
rid of anyone there who sympathises with the opposition party. Hopley is one
of the camps where the government has dumped families that lost their homes
during the demolitions of Operation Murambatsvina. Now many families fear
that they will be further victimised by the militia. A resident at Hopley
told us that the militia had already started identifying suspected MDC
supporters and intimidating them. They arrived Wednesday morning and are
going around arousing fear in these already vulnerable people. The resident
we spoke to pleaded for help from the police, fearing that the situation
might turn violent. Chombo told the Hopley residents that some houses had
been completed under Operation Garikai, and that 150 families would benefit.
But there are at least 1000 people at Hopley in need of housing. Residents
interpret Chombo's statements to mean that the few ZANU-PF supporters would
be receive houses under Garikai. Residents at this desolate camp said the
food they get is far from enough. They accuse the government of blocking
churches that want to feed them from gaining access.

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Pro-democracy activists urge Zim poll strike


          October 20 2005 at 10:02AM

      Harare - A Zimbabwean civic body which is advocating a new democratic
constitution in the southern African country, Thursday called for a national
boycott of upcoming elections to a newly created Senate.

      The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), a loose alliance of
political, church, women's and student groups, called the elections to
create an upper house of parliament "meaningless" and a "waste of time and

      "The NCA urges ordinary Zimbabweans to refuse to be complicit in
Zanu-PF's exploitative grand scheme for diverting national and international
attention from the root cause of suffering in Zimbabwe, that is a failed
government," NCA spokesperson Jessie Majome told a news conference.

      The Senate will comprise 10 traditional chiefs, 50 elected senators
and six appointed by President Robert Mugabe.

      Critics say the move will strengthen the parliamentary stranglehold of
the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF).

      "The NCA urges all Zimbabweans to refuse to be abused for personal
political gain and therefore refuse to vote in the meaningless senate
elections," Majome said.

      Mugabe last month approved a controversial amendment to the country's
constitution, the 17th since independence from white rule in 1980, which
provides for the formation of the 66-member upper house of parliament.

      Senate elections have exposed divisions rocking the main opposition
movement, which risks a split over whether to contest the polls.

      Planned talks between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's
(MDC) top six officials did not materialised Wednesday, with party officials
saying that some members of the group were not available.

      Hours after the meeting was due to have taken place, MDC vice
president Gibson Sibanda issued a statement accusing Tsvangirai of
"willfully violating the constitution of the MDC" by disregarding results
from a vote to decide whether the opposition party should contest the senate

      The NCA said it watched with "disgust the feuding and bickering" in
the MDC "a party that espouses democratic ideals".

      "Every Zimbabwean must refuse to be used and abused by aspiring
politicians who wish to climb over them to reach the dictated senate... for
personal wealth creation and self aggrandisement," the NCA said. - Sapa-AFP

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Zimbabwe power firm gets $10m Chinese credit line

Angola Press

Harare, Zimbabwe, 10/20 - Zimbabwe`s state-owned power company said Tuesday
it had secured a US$10 million line of credit from China to import equipment
to extend its national grid.

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) chairman Sydney Gata said the
utility planned to electrify several new areas in the capital, Harare, and
other urban centres using the Chinese financing.

He said the equipment for the project was expected in the country by
December, and work would begin immediately.

Vast new residential areas have sprouted in most urban areas in Zimbabwe in
recent years, but many remain without electricity due to lack of foreign
currency to import key equipment.

This has also been compounded by power shortages in Zimbabwe, which only
generates 65 percent of its electricity requirements, leaving the country to
import the balance that it has been unable to do owing to the lack of
foreign exchange.

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