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'Dust people' starve in Zimbabwe ruins

  The Sunday Times, UK October 23, 2005

             Christina Lamb, Harare

            SOME call them the "dust people", others the "people with no
address". President Robert Mugabe's government has a more graphic term:
"Sniff out the rats who have sneaked back in" is the name of the latest
campaign by police and soldiers against the city dwellers whose homes they
demolished earlier this year but who have refused to flee.
            Thousands of Zimbabweans are now living like animals in the
midst of rubble, crawling in and out of hovels less than 3ft high, fashioned
from cardboard boxes and broken asbestos.

            With no means of earning a living - and with aid agencies banned
by the government from helping them - they are forced to forage in rubbish
for rotten vegetables or prostitute themselves for the equivalent of 10p to
feed their children. A doctor who managed to get in said tuberculosis was

            These are the victims of Operation Murambatsvina (drive out the
filth), Mugabe's so-called urban beautification campaign which, according to
a damning report by the United Nations, left more than 700,000 homeless or
without an income.

            Yet last week the United Nations flew Zimbabwe's president on an
all-expenses-paid trip to Rome to celebrate World Food Day in defiance of
European Union travel sanctions. Flanked by bodyguards, he proclaimed that
there was no hunger in his country and blamed its problems on George W Bush
and Tony Blair, branding them international terrorists and likening them to
Hitler and Mussolini.

            Such hypocrisy comes as no surprise to the people squatting amid
piles of debris in southern Harare, who feel abandoned by the outside world.

            There have been similar images of devastation from this year's
hurricanes and earthquakes. But this is man-made destruction - the revenge
of a president against the inhabitants of areas that dared to vote against
him in one election after another.

            "This is the most depressing thing I have ever seen in years of
working in trouble spots," a UN official said. "It's just all so

            The bulldozers and axes that destroyed thousands of homes and
market stalls in June and July, supposedly to clean up the cities, have left
a nation teeming with homeless people.

            The International Crisis Group estimates Zimbabwe has between 4m
and 5m internal refugees - more than a third of the population. They are the
victims of Operation Murambatsvina, and workers kicked off commercial farms
seized in five years of violent land grabs.

            Yet Mugabe refuses to allow a $30m humanitarian appeal by the UN
for blankets and food. He objects to the use of the word "humanitarian".

            A consignment of 6,000 blankets and 37 tons of food raised by
the South African Council of Churches for the new homeless was blocked at
the border by customs authorities. First they demanded duties, then they
refused entry, claiming they needed proof the food was not genetically

            Many of those who lost their homes were dumped in rural areas,
putting enormous strain on villages on the edge of starvation. But others
had nowhere to go. These are the people who ended up in the dust of places
such as Tsiga Grounds and Ground No 5 in the Mbare district of the capital.

            Among the hundreds crouching in fly-ridden makeshift shelters is
Zvikomborera, a 33-year-old woman with short cropped hair who is blind in
one eye. A single mother with two daughters aged 5 and 13, she lost
everything when armed police with dogs and bulldozers arrived at her small

            We met in secret because Tsiga Grounds is patrolled by a
vigilante gang who beat the inhabitants and try to destroy the makeshift
dwellings. Gang members appeared both times I tried to enter.

      "They tell us, 'Sons of bitches, are you moles that live on the
ground? Crawl back to the hole that you came from'," Zvikomborera said.
      While Mugabe was enjoying Rome, Zvikomborera explained how she is
forced to live. Her children scour the rubbish dump of a supermarket for
rotten potatoes and tomatoes out of which she cuts any good bits. The
previous day, the two girls had shared one cup of rice. Zvikomborera had

      Until two weeks ago they were getting food from a Buddhist
organisation. Then the Department of Social Welfare summoned aid agencies,
such as World Vision and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), and banned them
from distributing any more.

      "They told us there is no such thing as urban displaced people in
Zimbabwe and there is no hunger in Harare," said one aid worker. "They just
want these people to die."

      Like most of her fellow dust people, Zvikomborera is still astounded
by what happened to her. "Before Murambatsvina we were poor but we were
managing. My children were clean and went to school. I collected scrap wood
from carpenters and industries and sold it for firewood.

      "When the police and dogs came, we lost everything. In one hour they
had smashed my home, bed, wardrobe. We have nothing left but a few clothes
and pots and pans. I just cried and cried.

      "Now we live here on the dust. We have no water. There is a tap at the
bus station but they make us buy the water at Z$50,000 (£1.10) for 20
litres. Where can I get money now they have stopped us selling things? My
children cannot go to school as I have no address and don't know where I
will be in two weeks. Everyone is sick and starving."

      Some of her neighbours have turned to prostitution and she is
terrified she will soon have little option but to follow them.

      In most countries people would be fighting to leave such appalling
conditions. But Zvikomborera organised a petition of 200 other settlers and,
backed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, has gone to court to fight for
the right to stay in the dirt. "This may not be human but I have nowhere
else," she shrugged.

      Among those living in the filth is a tiny baby with eyes weeping
yellow pus, born right there on the ground. The infant's father, Moses,
explains that when his wife went into labour last month, he ran to try to
get an ambulance. But he was told: "We can't help people who live on the

      At another hidden location in Harare I met a group of women, all
mothers of disabled children, whose homes had been smashed in front of them.

      One, Mercy, explained: "When police came in the early morning and told
us to get out as they would destroy our houses, I thought they would leave
us as my daughter has cerebral palsy and was in a wheelchair so I did not
take our possessions outside.

      "But then they came and said, 'We don't care about disabled people,'
and destroyed everything. My husband is a carpenter and after they smashed
the house they smashed his workshop and tools so we have no means of making
a living."

      The family were forced to squat outside and one night her disabled
daughter, 14, was bitten by rats. "No one will let us rent a place even if
we had money, as my daughter's condition means she cries out all night,"
said Mercy.

      She and her family have been informed that they must clear up the
rubble of their demolished house or be fined.

People like Mercy and Zvikomborera might have had new homes. UN agencies
were enraged last month when a pilot project to resettle homeless
slum-dwellers in rural areas was destroyed by one of Mugabe's senior
"It was supposed to be a bridge-building exercise with the government," said
a UN official. "The idea was to choose a place to set up a community, then
replicate it all over the country, which we would fund."

After consultations with the government, 150 families were taken to
Headlands, 100 miles east of Harare, and given tents, blankets and basic
sanitary facilities. A ceremony was held with government ministers.

Two weeks later Unicef officials found that all the people had disappeared
and the settlement had been destroyed by police and dogs on the orders of
Didymus Mutasa, the minister for security. Local villagers say the resettled
people were not from the right tribe.

Now, with rains due this week, people all over the country are squatting on
ground that will soon turn to mud. During 10 days of travelling across the
country - working discreetly because the penalty for reporting without
permission is two years' imprisonment - I met a family in Marondera, east of
Harare, living in their neighbour's chicken coop next to the pile of rubble
where their house once stood.

In Gwanda, in the southwest, 60 families were dumped outside the mayor's
office two weeks ago. "People here are starving already," said TZ Mnkandla,
the mayor. "What kind of government dumps its people around the country
under the cover of night?" The government has announced a rebuilding
programme but critics say the numbers projected are vastly inadequate and
the new houses are going to supporters of the ruling party, Zanu-PF.

Tose Wesley Sansole, mayor of the tourist resort of Victoria Falls, said
that while 6,000 homes had been destroyed, the government has promised to
build only 300. So far, just 20 have materialised. "I just feel helpless,"
he said.

There is little doubt now that the real reason for Operation Murambatsvina
was to avert any risk of an uprising in the cities after rigged
parliamentary elections earlier this year.

This, after all, is a country that until five years ago not only fed itself
but exported food. Justice for Agriculture, a commercial farmers' lobby
group, predicts that this year Zimbabwe will produce enough food for only
one month - some 200,000 tons against a minimum requirement of 1.8m.

Only about 200 commercial farms are still operating, compared with 4,500
five years ago when "war veterans" were starting to seize white-owned land.
Once-fertile fields now lie scorched or weed-ridden.

If there was any doubt that Mugabe is willing to see his people starve, The
Sunday Times has learnt from a company hired to rid food stores of weevils
that there are WFP stocks all over the country, a year's supply of grain and
1,000 tons of corn soya blend to make fortified porridge.

Mugabe refuses to let this be distributed because he wants to retain control
of the food supply. Some has been left to rot and last month more than 300
tons of bran was destroyed in Bulawayo and Harare because Mugabe believed it
was genetically modified. Asked in an interview earlier this month about the
hunger, Mugabe replied in Marie Antoinette vein: "Let them eat potatoes. We
have plenty of potatoes."

But with the prices of basic foods spiralling out of control, it is getting
harder to feed everyone. The cheapest loaf costs 62p, a daunting sum in a
country where civil servants earn £15 a week. This is way below the £45 a
week that the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says an average family needs.
Experts are calling Zimbabwe the fastest-shrinking economy in the world. The
latest report from the UN Development Programme says it has seen the
sharpest drop in quality of life of any country not at war. The quality of
life is worse than in Mongolia and Equatorial Guinea, it says. Deepening
poverty and widespread HIV/Aids have reduced life expectancy to 36.9 years.

The worsening economic situation could have dangerous ramifications. A third
of the 40,000-strong army has been sent home on hunger leave. Augustine
Chihuri, the police commissioner, told a parliamentary commission last week
that his force had 1,500 vehicles instead of the 7,000 it needs and was
getting petrol only "in drips and drops". Apart from the lack of fuel, which
is available only on the black market at £2.20 a litre, Harare is beset by
water shortages and power cuts. To the government's embarrassment, foreign
delegates attending a tourism conference last weekend went without water for
two days at the Sheraton hotel.

In the southern town of Masvingo, people said you could often smell the
hospital from miles away because so many bodies are piled up and nobody can
afford fuel to collect them from the mortuary. As if the country were going
backwards in time, the government has recommissioned its steam trains and in
some areas ambulances are being pulled by donkeys. The joke visitors hear
is: "What did Zimbabwe have before candles? Electricity." Yet while the
overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans say they have never been so poor, the
elite are enjoying undreamt of wealth.

Only minutes from Zvikomborera's hovel on Tsiga Grounds, I counted two
brand-new lime green Volkswagen Beetle cabriolets and several shiny new
Mercedes-Benzes. Many of Mugabe's cronies have launched lucrative schemes.
All Zimbabweans with vehicles have been ordered to buy new numberplates by
the end of this year, for instance. The only numberplate factory in the
country is owned by Solomon Mujuru, the former army chief and husband of
Mugabe's vice-president, Joyce Mujuru. Government officials are also reaping
dividends from access to US dollars at an official rate a quarter of the
market rate - and to fuel at a quarter of the black market price. One
official explained. "I get 100 litres of fuel at Z$23,000. I sell it on the
black market for Z$100,000 a litre.

I then use the money I made to buy US dollars at the official rate of
Z$26,000. I sell those dollars on the market for Z$105,000. What is it you
say? Quids in!" But the government is running out of friends. Even China and
South Africa are tiring of bailing Mugabe out. Traditional sources of
foreign exchange - tobacco and tourism - have been destroyed and mining
products such as gold are increasingly being smuggled out of the country,
leaving the regime to resort to theft. Seven banks have been closed and
their assets seized. Fearing expulsion from the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), the government made a surprise payment of £68m last month, allegedly
after raiding the foreign currency accounts of a number of big companies.

This left those companies unable to buy imports and some have been forced to
close. So concerned is the IMF that it is sending a mission to investigate
the source of the funds. It may all be coming to an end. A leaked internal
police report warned last week that worsening economic hardships were fast
eroding the patience of long-suffering Zimbabweans. The report revealed that
the Joint Operations Command (JOC), which comprises the police, the Central
Intelligence Organisation and the army, has drawn up a list of 55 political
and civic leaders it regards as the "most dangerous individuals", who must
be kept under surveillance to ensure they do not organise an uprising.

Edmore Veterai, the police representative on the JOC, wrote: "We must not
fool ourselves by believing that the situation is normal on the ground
because we risk being caught unawares. People have grown impatient with the
government, which they accuse of causing their problems and doing nothing to
alleviate them and they will do anything to remove it from power."

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Sucking up to Mugabe

   The Sunday Times, UK October 23, 2005

            Robert Mugabe was on typically outrageous form last week.
Invited by the United Nations on a jolly to attend the 60th anniversary of
the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome, the Zimbabwean president
laid into his old foes. George Bush and Tony Blair, he said, were "the two
unholy men of our millennium", responsible for war, pollution and, since the
event was to mark World Food Day, hunger. Quite what the UN was doing
inviting this corrupt and vile man to attend the event is beyond
comprehension. For him to use the occasion to blame others for creating
hunger is beyond parody.
            Posing as a tourist, our reporter Christina Lamb has just
visited Zimbabwe and has seen the effects of Mr Mugabe's policies on his own
people at first hand. Thousands and thousands of Zimbabweans are living like
animals in the midst of rubble in southern Harare, foraging among rubbish
for food or forced to prostitute themselves. They are the victims of their
president's urban beautification programme, which the UN itself estimates
has left 700,000 homeless or destitute. Kofi Annan himself said that
Operation Murambatsvina - "drive out the filth" - had done a "catastrophic
injustice" to many of Zimbabwe's poorest citizens "through indiscriminate
actions, carried out with disquieting indifference to human suffering". This
again begs the question of why the UN keeps sucking up to this tyrant.

            In her report today Ms Lamb describes the misery of those forced
out of their homes by his policies, doomed to existences that, to adapt
Hobbes, are "nasty, brutish and short". Aids and hunger have reduced life
expectancy to less than 40. The country's once-thriving commercial farms are
going to waste. Mr Mugabe continues to inflict man-made disasters on his
people, while refusing to accept humanitarian assistance from outside, or
allow emergency food supplies in Zimbabwe to be distributed to the hungry. A
catastrophic injustice is occurring. How long before somebody does something
about it?

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Life on a Roller Coaster

I have only been on one roller coaster in my life - I thought it was an
exhilarating experience and was not at all apprehensive when we sped through
the air - in parts upside down and over hills and valleys. But I am not sure
that I would choose to live on one, just too much of an experience and a
short term ride was enough.

Well here in Zimbabwe life is very much like a roller coaster. One minute we
are up and the next down, we are upside down and then can see the world from
the dizzy heights of a crest - only to be plunged back down again by
something that someone says or does.

Just when I thought I could not be surprised, this past week Gideon Gono
came up with a stunning "monetary policy statement" that said and does much
of what we know has to be said and done if we are to turn this ship around.
The main thrust of what he said was that he was scrapping the foreign
exchange regime that he introduced a couple of years ago and which has done
so much damage. In its place he has reintroduced a market driven system and
at the same time has allowed exporters to trade 70 per cent of their export
receipts at the new market driven rates. The balance of 30 per cent will
have to go to the Reserve Bank at a controlled exchange rate - currently 26
000 to 1 against the US dollar.

This is a big shift in policy and will have an immediate and massive impact
on the private sector. What a pity it had not been done earlier. What it
means is the average exporter, hotel operator and any one else who generates
foreign exchange in Zimbabwe will see their average local currency earnings
rise from an approximate average of 39 000 Zimbabwe dollars for each US
dollar earned to nearly 65 000 Zimbabwe dollars on Monday - a rise of 64 per
cent in domestic earnings overnight.

On exports of US$1,4 billion a year, this injects an additional 35 trillion
dollars into the trading accounts of exporters each year. With the total
value of the stock market here worth Z$114 trillion at present, this
represents a massive 64 per cent increase in their revenues while costs
remain more or less constant. The value of this injection in earnings is
equal to 30 per cent of their total capital holdings. Wow - watch this space
next week!

But the statement does not only deal with this key issue - it promises that
the official exchange rate of 26 000 to 1 will be adjusted gradually over
time until the average exchange rate of both markets is the same - the
so-called "convergence" factor. He also promised the same with interest
rates, but with less clarity. So a huge boost to earnings by exporters and
the promise of more to come as the convergence policy kicks in. At that
stage average earnings in local currency will have risen by over a 100 per
cent compared to what it was last week - and all that at the stroke of a

Then Gono turned his attention to the gold industry and he has at last
grasped the reality that you have to pay a market related price for gold -
or it goes elsewhere. So the new regulations now provide for gold producers
to receive full value for their product - this should boost total foreign
exchange earnings through official and banking circles very substantially.
The same impact will occur in the tourism sector where foreign visitors will
now be able to pay for their accommodation at much more reasonable rates
than before. Tourism operators will also enjoy much higher local revenues
than previously.

The statement takes on the other tough issues - security of assets, the full
acceptance of the rights of investors. The need to stop the farm invasions
and allow recovery in agriculture. The Reserve Bank Governor goes so far as
to say that if we want the economy to recover, we have to start playing by
the rules. He actually went so far as to say that those who continue to
disrupt commercial agriculture were in fact criminals - he said it, not a
commercial farmer!

But we know that these remarks are unlikely to resonate where it matters.
The thugs and criminals who are responsible for so much harm are in fact
politically sponsored and are immune to rational argument and prosecution.
Until that changes it will be impossible to start to turn agriculture

The statement and the data it contains reveals an honest appraisal of the
economic situation. It has many weaknesses - the estimate of inflation in
the remaining two months of the year is hopeless. We are headed for a very
tough Christmas - perhaps worse than 2003 in that respect. It is also
completely unrealistic in terms of this coming agricultural season and the
outturn of the winter crop. The Bank claims that 61 000 ha of wheat was
planted. If that was true we should be looking at 350 000 tonnes of wheat.
Instead the largest miller in the country predicts that its intake will be a
paltry 20 000 tonnes.

Gono calls on the country to ensure that we will not have to "contract out"
food production in 2006. He needs to understand it is just too late for
that - we will again import two thirds of our food needs in 2006, even if we
have a perfect season. Tobacco plantings are already down 30 per cent and
half of the new growers who came into the industry when the commercial
growers were displaced, have shut their doors. Even as he spoke, tobacco
farms were being invaded and destroyed across the country.

But what the report does show is that this is a resilient country. Despite
all that we have been through, we are still functioning. Give us a market
driven environment and security over our person and assets and this economy
could fly. What Gono did this week was to lift the curtain on what that
might just mean if we had the right leadership. And while this was all going
on, the MDC continued to tear itself apart, Zanu PF continued its willful
destruction of what is left of the economy and our social infrastructure and
the economy continued to shrink. No one, it would seem wants to take the
time to consider just what would happen if we all said, enough is enough. We
need new, democratic institutions and new leadership.

Gono's statement was silent on the issue of the continued collapse of the
country - but his figures showed the stark reality compared to the other
countries in the region that are all doing well. But as one businessman said
to me - it is a start.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 22 October 2005

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A Trip To Bulawayo

October 2005.
Judith Todd.     (no copy right)
 To renew the visa required to stay in South Africa I first had to return to
my place of origin for a minimum of ten days by Friday October 7 which I
did, returning safely to Cape Town on Thursday, October 20, 2005.

Our South African Air Link flight from Johannesburg landed near Bulawayo's
flight control tower now being enfolded into the vast new Joshua Mqabuko
Nkomo International Airport and we were bussed to "temporary" transit
facilities in a hot, airless hangar.   Fortunately work hasn't started on
the proposed five star adjacent hotel as there is no sign that the new
terminal itself will ever be completed.

An article in The Standard of 16 October under the heading Government
strangles Bulawayo council well summed up what I found.

             Essential city council services in Bulawayo are collapsing
because the local authorities' hands are tied and nothing can be done to
address the deteriorating situation, says the Bulawayo executive mayor
Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube. The local authority "is under the grip of the
government and cannot do anything to try and provide solutions to the city's
           The ruling Zanu-PF government has always been against opposition
Movement for Democratic Change - led councils, accusing them of failing to
provide essential services.  The accusations led to the former MDC Harare
mayor Elias Mudzuri and his Mutare counterpart, Misheck Kagurabdza, being
ejected from office.
          Bulawayo City Council is facing a host of problems - a crippling
water crisis, lack of vehicles for refuse removal and serious shortages of
fuel which  has forced the council to suspend refuse removal services and
the distribution of water bowsers to clinics, schools and suburbs worst
affected by the water crisis.
        At the onset of the water crisis in August, the local authority
requested the government to declare it a water shortage area . but
government has been dragging its feet.   Declaring the city a water shortage
area would enable the council to suspend or amend any water permits, and
make orders in relation to the abstraction, appropriation, control and
diversion or the use of water.
        "To be honest, we are facing a crisis and we don't know what to do"
Ndabeni-Ncube said.
         Bulawayo Agenda executive director Gordon Moyo said the government
was watching with keen interest the collapse of the city for political
expediency.. "They are looking at the crisis with a political eye and not a
humanitarian one."
        Ndabeni-Ncube, like any other mayor in Zimbabwe, has been stripped
of the powers to make decisions that relate to the running of the city.
Almost all services, which need local authority approval, have to pass
through an interministerial committee.

      I called on Ndabeni-Ncube.  He, the MDC Member of Parliament David
Coltart and the lawyer Washington Sansole were amongst the few people I met
who didn't appear traumatised by the present regime.  I learned that after
Government had objected to statistics from the city revealing the mounting
scale of deaths from "malnutrition" a delegation from Police and
Intelligence had called to find out where the statistics originated and were
astonished to learn they were government statistics routinely collected by
council each month over many decades.  Since that day the council has been
deprived of access to these statistics.

     I walked through the city and found some vending has restarted after
Government's destruction of the informal business sector. Flower sellers
shelter inside the railings surrounding the city hall.  People carry
vegetables in bags or on "scanias", pushcarts, so they can run if "police",
often Zanu (PF) youth militia in police uniforms, descend.  Some old women
sit where former stalls used to be with little piles of tomatoes, or a
solitary cabbage.  Verging on the residential areas there are people next to
trees or bushes with small stacks of goods to sell.  You would have to sell
fifteen oranges at $5000 each to be able to make the $30000 profit necessary
to buy one loaf of bread, if it is available.

     People in general seem clueless about the fate of their fellow citizens
who were abducted at night from church shelters, loaded on to lorries and
dumped in rural areas.  Some talk vaguely of people from formerly smart
houses under tile destroyed by the State in suburbs like Bulawayo's Cowdray
Park finding life fading in their "rural homes" like Tsholotsho where they
were abandoned by the authorities with no food or water.  No one wanted to
talk about this although someone did say that UN agencies are willing to
help with shelter, food and water but apparently are being obstructed at
every turn by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

   The churches bravely do what they can. One pastor told me that although
an unknown number of the dispossessed had been "lost" there are records of
about 1500 others still subsisting in Bulawayo and 4000 at Victoria Falls.
The churches helped about 2000 from the Falls to go to villages despite a
dire situation there regarding food and water.  Two children at the Falls
were savagely wounded by police dogs.  One known human has been eaten by
lion and all those not yet resettled exist in the bush with wild animals.
These displaced Zimbabweans are in hiding and only emerge, apparently from
thin air and desperate for help, if they are sure that those approaching are
friends.  I met two such people.  One, a toothless man so old that the
irises of his eyes were white, was no longer able to fend for himself.  The
other, also old, had been granted a patch of land by a fellow-human and now
needed material to build a hut.  The churches are trying to provide such
internal refugees with food for a further three months but what then?  As
the Financial Gazette, reputedly now an organ of the Central Intelligence
Organisation, reported on October 19 even the government is becoming alarmed
that "the majority of the country's population of about 12.5 million would
not be able to feed itself  ... until the next harvest" - whenever another
harvest will be. It is said that today US$1 = Z$100,000.00.  This means
nothing to most people but during the 13 days I was in Bulawayo the price of
mealie-meal soared from $75,000 for 10 kg to $99,000.00.

I have three memories I cannot dislodge from my mind.  One is of an old
white woman leaning, arms folded, on her shopping trolley like a
self-propelling crutch and reaching the till with only one item, a packet of
pronutro serial.  Another is of a thin young couple, a baby strapped to its
mother's back, standing wide-eyed, silent and apparently transfixed by the
realization that there was absolutely nothing in the entire supermarket
which could be purchased with the little sheaf of useless notes the man was
holding.  Finally, going to the airport last Thursday we passed through the
dusty suburb of Paddonhurst.   Something carrying maize must have passed
earlier and there were a few kernels scattered on the tarmac.  A black
skeleton in rags was swaying here and there, collecting them.  The kind of
rags indicated that this once may have been a woman.

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Top MDC man slams Tsvangirai


23/10/2005 10:05  - (SA)

Harare - A senior official in Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) says the party will participate in next month's
controversial senate elections and anyone who thinks otherwise should "just
shut up", the state-controlled Sunday Mail reported.

In what appeared to be a clear attack on party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who
Saturday claimed the MDC would boycott the November 26 poll, deputy
secretary general Gift Chimanikire said lists of party candidates for the
senate were being compiled.

"We are going ahead with the national executive council's resolution (to
participate in the polls) and those who don't want to participate should
stay out of it and just shut up," Chimanikire told the paper.

"Why do they have to campaign for non-participation? Is it that they are
looking defeat in the face?" he asked.

Wrangling within the six-year old MDC over participation in the elections is
turning increasingly ugly.

Tsvangirai is adamant the party should stay out of the polls because
Zimbabwe's current electoral system "breeds illegitimate outcomes".

But senior MDC officials back participation because they do not want to cede
President Robert Mugabe's ruling party too much ground.

State-run newspapers have been following with keen interest the recent
infighting within the MDC. Many analysts predict the party will tear itself
apart. Mugabe has said the chaos proves it is an "irrelevant" party.

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South African farmers see barren future with evictions on horizon

The Telegraph

By Stephen Bevan in Ventersdorp, North West Province
(Filed: 23/10/2005)

He does not look like the leader of a resistance movement. Yet, as one of
the first half-dozen white farmers in South Africa to be forced to sell up
under its land reform programme, Pieter Jacobs is at the forefront of a
battle likely to be as bitterly fought as that in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

For eight years Mr Jacobs, 53, and six neighbouring landowners in the
Ventersdorp district of North West Province, have been disputing the claims
on their farms by the Bakwena tribe, who say that the land was taken from
them under apartheid laws. Now Mr Jacobs has been told that the farm where
he has lived for 30 years must be returned to the Bakwena, a ruling that has
profound implications for other white farmers.

He will be paid £940,000 for the 5,700-acre farm, but claims that it is
worth three times that. His 32 workers and their families will lose their
homes and their livelihoods but receive nothing.

"I'm not against land reform but it must be done in a proper way," Mr Jacobs
said. "Why force a productive farmer off his land?

"We are being seen as the bad people in South Africa, but if I leave this
farm, where are my workers going to live and work? The new owners will have
nothing. The government gives them no assistance.

"It's the same as Zimbabwe, only less brutal. At the end of the day the
result is the same. They are taking taxpayers' money and buying productive
farms to give to people who won't be able to produce on them because they
have no training or equipment."

The sudden haste on the part of South Africa's Commission on Restitution of
Land Rights is because, more than a decade after the end of the country's
apartheid regime, whites still own more than 80 per cent of commercial
agricultural land. As part of their attempt to tackle the legacy of
apartheid, black South Africans were encouraged to lodge claims for land
that they were forced to sell or that was designated as whites-only under
the old racial zoning laws.

Of the 9,000 land claims lodged by blacks in rural areas, fewer than 500
have been resolved, prompting the Government to extend the deadline for
settling all claims by a further two years to 2007 - to the embarrassment of
President Thabo Mbeki, who wants more rapid results.

The slow pace of land reform arouses strong passions among the black
majority and has come to symbolise the government's failure to deliver in
other areas, such as housing and basic services.

At first it proceeded only where landowners were willing to sell for an
agreed price, and expropriation was seen as a last resort - if nothing else,
for fear of scaring off foreign investors.

Now, however, the gloves are off. Blessing Mphela, the regional land
commissioner for Gauteng and North West Province, announced the country's
first expropriation in Lichtenburg three weeks ago, and said that he was
preparing to serve notices on another five farms - Mr Jacobs's among them.

Part of Mr Jacobs's opposition no doubt stems from his desire to get the
best possible price. He claims that the commission will not pay a fair price
for the "improvements" he has made to the land, including two farmhouses and
an abattoir that he said would cost £2.2 million to replace. Mr Jacobs lives
on the farm with his wife, Mariette, and 27-year-old son, also called
Pieter, who would one day have taken over the business.

"Please be fair to me," Mr Jacobs said. "It took me 20 years to build this
business, but for the last 10 I've been able to do nothing with it because
of the land claim. Now I must start all over again."

There is no disguising the sense of bitterness among these farmers about
what they regard as a politically motivated attack upon them. Mr Jacobs and
his neighbours say that they have never had a chance to contest the Bakwena
claim - and now they never will, because the government has changed the law
to enable it to expropriate land without first going to the land claims

Like many such claims, the roots of the dispute are murky. According to
official records, the land was bought from an Afrikaner farmer in 1880 by
the Wesleyan Missionary Society, which leased the land to the Bakwena. When
the Church later sold up, it paid the Bakwena compensation for terminating
their leases and helped them to buy another farm.

The Bakwena say that they gave money to the Church to buy the land for them
and it had to be registered in the Church's name because black people were
not allowed to own property in that area.

There are no records of this, they say, precisely because it was designed to
circumvent the law.

Mr Mphela says that the farmers had not previously challenged the validity
of the Bakwena claim, and accuses them of trying to drag out the
negotiations even more.

"They want to refer it to a court because they know that court processes are
intractable," he said. "This is an attempt to buy time. But it won't help
any of us because the dispossessed communities then think the only option is
land invasions."

Hendrik Viviers and his son, Sarel, who farm about 1,400 acres and are also
facing expropriation, believe that they know why the commission won't go to

"They knew their case wouldn't stand up so they waited until they changed
the law," Sarel said. "Now all we can do is go to court to challenge the

Hendrik said: "This was one of the first land claims in South Africa and
they want to make an example of us. It's a political issue. Mugabe chased
the farmers in Zimbabwe off their land and now Mbeki is doing it too."

Mr Jacobs said that there are other farmers who would be happy to sell. With
the price of maize half what it was two years ago, farming is a tough

He said that he will not stay in South Africa. "If they take my farm from me
I won't buy another here," he said. "What is to say that in another five
years they won't take that away from me as well?"

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Cracks widen in MDC

Zim Standard

By our staff

THE Movement for Democratic Change is at the crossroads. Tomorrow it will
know how many of its members have rebelled against its President Morgan
Tsvangirai and will be participating in Senate elections, set for 26

A meeting called for yesterday failed to produce an anticipated united
front, and going into nominations tomorrow, three provinces in the western
region remained defiant yesterday, confirming their participation - itself a
slap in the face for MDC the leader.
The widening cracks in the opposition come as a new party calling itself the
Zimbabwe Democratic Party was launched last week. It claims that it will act
as catalyst for real change.

The ghost of the early '60s which led to the split of Zapu, resulting in the
formation of Zanu could also visit the MDC if it fails to come up with a
last minute truce.

Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC spokesman on Thursday night told The Standard
that there was no point in participating in the elections.

"In view of the damage and public fall out that has taken place because of
the split, it is my personal feeling that there is no point in going into
the Senate elections. However, this should not be misconstrued as handing
victory to those who break the constitution and resort to violence."

But David Coltart, the MDC legal secretary and MP for Bulawayo South said
the resolution of the national council was binding until and unless it was
reversed. "The council voted for participation and it is binding until it is
reversed by the same council," Coltart said.

It emerged yesterday that Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South provinces
have decided to field candidates in all constituencies.

By yesterday afternoon, the Bulawayo province was still hunting for
candidates while Matabeleland North and South had completed the exercise
with all 10 seats having candidates for the poll.

The Standard has it on good authority that Matabeleland South has also come
up with the list of candidates which will be submitted to the Nomination
Court that will sit on Monday.

However, sources revealed that one of the candidates was former MDC Member
of Parliament for Pelandaba Jefret Khumalo. Some of the candidates in
Matabeleland South have been identified as Siyabonga Ncube of Insiza and
Readers Tlou, an MDC provincial council member from Gwanda. Andrew Tapela is
expected to represent the MDC in Bulilima constituency.

Nkayi MP, Abednico Bhebhe, confirmed that he had the final list of

On the other hand, provinces such as the Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland
are no longer going to field candidates.

Tsvangirai appeared to have prevailed over the problems yesterday when he
held a national executive meeting at Harvest House.

MDC national chairman, Isaac Matongo, one of the group dubbed "Senate
brigade" attended the meeting.

However, the others in the group Gift Chimanikire, Welshman Ncube, Fletcher
Dulini-Ncube and Gibson Sibanda did not attend yesterday's meeting
indicating that the divisions are far from over.

Asked why he did not attend the meeting, Welshman Ncube said: "The last time
I checked, a meeting of the national executive was supposed to be called by
the secretary-general or the deputy secretary-general and we have not called
for such a meeting."

Ncube would also not discuss what transpired in South Africa where he met
South African President, Thabo Mbeki on Friday, saying: "I am not
authorised, by the party, to comment on that."

Sources close to the MDC President said Mbeki telephoned him last week about
the delegation of MDC officials in the country. Tsvangirai reportedly told
Mbeki that the crisis in MDC was an internal matter which could only be
solved through dialogue by colleagues in the party.

In an apparent admission that the opposition had failed to whip its members
into line, Tsvangirai's spokesperson, William Bango, said yesterday all MDC
members who would take part in the elections would be doing so as

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Gono, Mugabe head for clash

Zim Standard

By Kumbirai Mafunda

RESERVE bank Governor Gideon Gono on Thursday appeared to be turning on the
heat on the government, imploring it to desist from farm invasions and make
significant reforms if the war against inflation is to be won.

Gono rounded on land invaders labellng them "criminals, economic saboteurs"
and "unruly agents keen on reaping where they did not sow". He was
presenting his Monetary Policy statement for the Third Quarter.

His irritation appears to have been brought about by the fresh wave of
invasions initiated by people loyal to the governing Zanu PF party.

Commercial farmers in Nyazura and Chipinge are fighting off a wave of
invaders after their properties.

Farming sources told The Standard, Gerald Balance, a commercial farmer was
last month removed from his Ripplemid Farm and has since left Nyazura.

Other remaining commercial farmers are facing similar disruptions to their

Commercial Farmers' Union vice president, Trevor Gifford, said reports of
farmers being evicted were coming from all corners of the country almost on
a daily basis.

"It seems like they just want to get rid of all white farmers and they are
not even worried about production," Gifford said.

A clearly irritated Gono said the disruptions will rob the country of the
much-needed foreign currency and will scare investors from committing their
resources in the country.

He said some farmers had invested in irrigation schemes using foreign
exchange to import infrastructure, among many other improvements using
Reserve Bank money, which must be repaid.

Gono added: "Our hearts at the Central Bank bleed with each story of such
levels of economic disregard, such irrationality and such economic sabotage.
What we require at the present moment is a moratorium of such invasions or
distances. We need to concentrate, face down, on ploughing and planting."

He vowed that Zimbabwe should never import grain next year, as doing so
would gobble the resources needed to import fuel and medical drugs.

".from where we stand, anyone invading farms now is not working for the
interest of this country; is a criminal and ought to be locked away until
after the harvest," Gono said.

Gono's comments come a few weeks after the 17th Amendment to the
constitution, which nationalized all agricultural land, thereby rendered
courts powerless in matters regarding land disputes.

"Where no respect is given for the sanctity of private property, investors
become apprehensive and instead plough their resources in other more secure
destinations. It is for this reason that we implore the relevant authorities
to institute stringent laws that protect private property." He also called
on State Security, Lands, land Reform and Resettlement minister Didymus
Mutasa to finalise the land audit exercise.

Yesterday Mutasa, who announced what he termed Faster Track, a programme
meant to get land from the remaining commercial farmers two months ago,
refused to comment.

"I can't talk about land matters with you. Munonyanya kutituka (Your paper
always insults us)," Mutasa said.

John Nkomo, Zanu PF national chairman yesterday said:

"That is up to government to deal with those issues. But obviously there is
need for orderliness in farms to enhance productivity. I don't know the
context in which the statements were made."

Farming sources told The Standard Gerald Balance, a commercial farmer, was
last month removed from his Ripplemid Farm and has since left Nyazura.

Other remaining commercial farmers are facing similar disruptions to their

Commercial Farmers' Union vice president, Trevor Gifford, said reports of
farmers being evicted were coming from all corners of the country almost on
a daily basis.

"It seems like they just want to get rid of all white farmers and they are
not even worried about production," Gifford said.

A clearly irritated Gono said the disruptions will rob the country of the
much-needed foreign currency and will scare investors from committing their
resources in the country.

He said some farmers had invested in irrigation schemes using foreign
exchange to import infrastructure, among many other improvements using
Reserve Bank money, which must be repaid.

Gono added: "Our hearts at the Central Bank bleed with each story of such
levels of economic disregard, such irrationality and such economic sabotage.
What we require at the present moment is a moratorium of such invasions or
disturbances. We need to concentrate, face down, on ploughing and planting."

He said that Zimbabwe should never import grain next year, as doing so would
gobble the resources needed to import fuel and medical drugs.

".from where we stand, anyone invading farms now is not working for the
interest of this country; is a criminal and ought to be locked away until
after the harvest," Gono said.

Gono's comments come a few weeks after the 17th Amendment to the
constitution, which nationalised all agricultural land, thereby rendered
courts powerless in matters regarding land disputes.

"Where no respect is given for the sanctity of private property, investors
become apprehensive and instead plough their resources in other more secure
destinations. It is for this reason that we implore the relevant authorities
to institute stringent laws that protect private property." He also called
on State Security, Lands, land Reform and Resettlement Minister Didymus
Mutasa to finalise the land audit exercise.

Yesterday Mutasa, who announced what he termed Faster Track, a programme
meant to get land from the remaining commercial farmers two months ago,
refused to comment.

"I can't talk about land matters with you. Munonyanya kutituka (Your paper
always insults us)," Mutasa said.

John Nkomo, Zanu PF national chairman, yesterday said:

"That is up to government to deal with those issues. But obviously there is
need for orderliness in farms to enhance productivity. I don't know the
context in which the statements were made."

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Hungry residents consume 'contaminated' beans

Zim Standard

By our staff

AS food shortages continue to haunt urban dwellers, hundreds of Chitungwiza
residents consumed beans suspected to be contaminated that were dumped on
the outskirts of the town last week, The Standard has established.

Scores of residents - mainly women and children - trooped to a dumpsite near
Unit L graveyard on Sunday last week to collect tonnes of beans that had
been dumped there and either ate or sold them to unsuspecting customers.
When The Standard visited the dumpsite, the poverty-stricken urban dwellers
had already taken home all the beans, with some reselling them at different
locations in the town.

"We have consumed some of them and nothing has happened to us. We are
selling some because we managed to fill two big bags," said a woman who
identified herself as Mai Murehwa of Unit L.

She did not know who dumped the beans or why they had been thrown away,
especially at a time when Zimbabwe is experiencing a severe food crisis.
More than one million people are in need of food aid in the country and the
number is expected to increase.

Some residents said although people who consumed the beans might not show
any signs of illness now, the effects might be felt in future.

"Why would one dump food if it is not contaminated? People might feel safe
now, but they will suffer from the effects in a few months or years to
come," said Douglas Gwenya of Chitungwiza.

The Standard had not established the source of the beans by the time of
going to print yesterday. However, some residents claimed that a lorry
marked National Foods had dumped the beans, while others said it was the
Catholic Development Commission.

However, officials from both organisations denied any knowledge of the
dumped beans.

Father Makusha of St Theresa's Church in Chitungwiza, which at times
distributes relief food, said he was not aware of any dumped food in the

National Foods chief executive officer, Mike Manga could not be reached for
comment but an official at the company's depot in Chitungwiza professed
ignorance about the dumped consignment.

A police officer, at Makoni Police Station, confirmed that several tonnes of
beans had been dumped in Chitungwiza but could not say whether they were
contaminated or not.

Chitungwiza mayor Misheck Shoko also confirmed that tonnes of beans were
dumped in the town but was also in the dark as to who or why they were

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Govt shuts down minister's mine

Zim Standard

By Nqobani Ndlovu

BULAWAYO - The government has shut down a Gwanda gold claim belonging to the
Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Abedinigo
Ncube after mining inspectors discovered its operations did not meet basic
safety requirements.

Ncube acquired the gold claim, Caesar East Two, on 30 September after he
allegedly evicted gold panners with the assistance of the police following
reports that they had struck a rich vein of gold.
The minister is alleged to have applied and acquired a mining licence in
Harare on the day in question and used it to claim ownership of the gold

However, the mine was shut down following a visit on 11 October by
inspectors from the Ministry of Mines and Engineering Department who found
that its operations did not comply with safety requirements.

The regional mining engineer, Julius Moyo, confirmed that the gold claim had
been shut down.

A report compiled by two inspectors of the Mines and Explosives Department
Tobias Nyoni and Lawrence Rwodzi outlining the reasons for its closure noted
various irregularities taking place at Caesar East Two, which contravened
Zimbabwe's mining rules and regulations.

It reads in part: "Following the inspection by inspectors of mines and
explosives, our observations are that the mining method is unsafe and very
dangerous to the people, (and there is) an illegal use of explosives in
breach of the Explosives Regulations of 1989.

"There is an uncontrollable number of people at the mine including some who
don't appear in the workers register as required in terms of Section 296 of
the Mining (Management and Safety) Regulations 1990.

"There are also several unprotected shafts no sanitary facilities as
stipulated in Section 9 of the Mining (Health and Sanitation) Regulations of

Parts of the recommendations in the report were to employ appropriate mining
methods, the use of explosives in accordance with the Explosives Regulations
Section 172 of 1989, and above all to correct most of the anomalies for the
safety of the general public.

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FAO anniversary, a missed opportunity

Zim Standard

LAST week's 60th anniversary celebrations of the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organisation, was a God-sent opportunity for resource-strapped
Zimbabwe to appeal to the world community for assistance with food aid
needed for an estimated 4 million Zimbabweans during the next six months.

Zimbabwe sidestepped appealing for food aid, preferring to unleash a
blistering attack on British Premier Tony Blair and US President George W
Bush by laying the blame for world hunger on their doorsteps.
President Hugo Chavez of oil-rich Venezuela applauded, congratulated and
embraced President Robert Mugabe for his courage and revolutionary spirit in
standing up to the big "bullies". Chavez was careful not to berate the
"bullies" himself.

Last year during one of the troughs in the worsening fuel crisis, President
Mugabe visited Venezuela, ostensibly to negotiate for fuel. No oil was
forthcoming. In its place Chavez offers embraces and exhortations for
theatrics that do not improve Zimbabwe's worsening condition.

President Mugabe's regional counterpart, Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi did
not travel to Rome for the anniversary celebrations, choosing to be with 5
million of his countrymen smarting from a food crisis similar to Zimbabwe's.
Wa Mutharika used the occasion of the FAO anniversary to declare a national
disaster in a bid to get more international donor assistance, and appeal for
food aid. Such appeals help to strengthen mobilisation of international aid
efforts. Zimbabwe should have launched such an appeal. It has, however, been
coy, hamstringing UN efforts to activate an international appeal on behalf
of Zimbabweans.

President Mugabe has consistently denied that the country faces food
shortages and consequently has refused to appeal formally, to the
international community for help. Yet Zimbabwe is using scarce resources it
can not afford to import insignificant quantities of grain - five days to
two weeks' consumption - merely maintaining a semblance of a response to the
internal food crisis. But it has neither resources nor capacity to deal
effectively with its man-made humanitarian crisis. There is little doubt the
country is witnessing a tragedy of unprecedented proportions. One has to be
a blind or be so far removed from reality not to see the suffering around

But even at this hour of this largely man-made crisis, Zimbabwe's
pre-occupation is not with addressing the multitude of internal problems or
failure to provide and maintain basic services. It is with committing an
estimated $60 billion to the creation of an upper house - the Senate - for
which nominations take place tomorrow. The question demanding a response is:
What will it achieve, for Zimbabweans who have been subjected to such mass
impoverishment and deprivation?

Understanding the rationale and impetus behind this move, merits a study of
the ruling party's 2005 Parliamentary elections manifesto, which proclaimed
that, "Zanu PF government, always with the people of Zimbabwe at heart".
Among many other pledges, Zanu PF promised an end to sanctions; an end to
factory closures; no disruption to fuel supplies; faster economic turnaround
and more foreign currency inflows. The results are self-evident. Seven
months after those promises, Zimbabwe is worse off than it was in March
2005. But apparently to the Zanu PF leadership, there is no crisis and
Zimbabweans are among the most contented on the continent!

In the area of health, it proclaimed "health for all", but it is common
cause that Zimbabwe lacks the resources to staff health institutions, it is
unable to retain its health professionals and has to rely on expatriate
staff, while hospitals have inadequate or no drugs to treat patients. The
recently rolled out Anti-Retroviral Treatment programme is hopelessly
under-funded while domestic production of ARV drugs is threatened so soon
after the roll out programme's introductory phase.

So whose interests does Zanu PF have at heart when it pushes ahead with a
programme, which it abolished in 1987 and at a time when the country is
faced with challenges that are more pressing than re-introduction of the
Senate? Right from the beginning Zanu PF was set up to serve the political
interests and agenda of its leadership. It employs pyrotechnics in order to
hoodwink or beat up Zimbabweans into believing that its agendas are for the
good of the majority.

No government worth its salt would fast-track the re-establishment of a
Senate, which requires enormous resources, at a time when the country is
overwhelmed by so many challenges. The Senate is a Zanu PF project for
exclusive benefit of Zanu PF. This is what the nomination process tomorrow
is all about and this is what the 26 November Senate elections will be all

If the ruling party wanted to extend its patronage and largesse to the
political deadwood among its ranks, it should have encouraged both external
and internal investment and then introduced an empowerment clause, which
would be used to warehouse those of its members and supporters it now wishes
to reward with Senate seats.

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Firms shut as Beitbridge runs dry in water crisis

Zim Standard

By our staff

BULAWAYO - Several businesses have been forced to shut in the Beitbridge
border town due to serious water shortages caused by a burst water pipe and
low water levels in the town's reservoirs.

According to chairman of the Beitbridge Business Association (BBA), Salatiel
Roy Muleya, other firms scaled down operations and were likely to shut soon
if the situation was not brought under control.
Thousands of workers, including civil servants, may also be affected if the
water crisis persists. "The situation is really bad as we are facing serious
water shortages in Beitbridge. Several businesses have stopped operating and
others are likely to follow suit within the next few days if it is not
rectified," said Muleya, also secretary of Beitbridge Residents' Association

"Businesses and residents that are not seriously affected have water
reservoirs or boreholes. These are very few compared to the large number of
those affected. As I speak, patients are being screened at the local
hospital which is now admitting only critically ill people. The rest are
told to go home," he said.

He said ZINWA was told about the burst water pipe under the town's main
bridge linking Zimbabwe with South Africa but nothing was done.

"The burst pipe is not the only reason why we do not have water as
Beitbridge's Upper and Lower dams are dry. We have over the years tried to
influence ZINWA to build several water reservoirs here, but nothing has been
done."The current water crisis is the worst ever in the history of
Beitbridge. Some people have gone five days without bathing or having water
for domestic use. Building work at the "Operation Hlalani Kuhle" site has
stopped. Life is now unbearable here," he said.

One of the border hotels has stopped taking bookings while three others with
boreholes and water reservoirs are operating without adequate water
supplies. Beitbridge Rural District Council Chief Executive Officer, Alfred
Mbedzi, said the dams were dry and the purification plant was operating
below capacity.

However, he would not comment on the extent to which businesses and
residents were affected by the crisis.

He said ZINWA was aware of the burst water pipe and perennial water woes
faced by the town but had not repaired the pipe and upgraded the water
purification plant.

"To make matters worse, the Limpopo River, our primary source of water is
dry, and it is difficult to pump water from the river bed. It will be
disastrous if we don't receive early rains," he said noting that Zhove Dam
could be harnessed to bring the situation under control.

Matabeleland South Provincial Water Engineer, Tommy Rosen, was not available
for comment.

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Death knell for Zimbabwe economy

Zim Standard

By Kumbirai Mafunda

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's administration continues to create classic pieces
of tragic business theatre. And the preferred rostrum appears to be
parliament building.

Using its superior numbers in parliament, the governing Zanu PF party
recently rail- roaded the passage of the Constitutional Amendment Bill No
17, which bestowed President Mugabe's administration with sweeping powers to
grab land and bar owners from contesting in court the seizure of their land
by the state.
Now properties and estates in which foreigners have interests are up for
grabs in a new wave of invasions. According to Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Patrick Chinamasa all land which appeared in
section 5 Notices gazetted from June 2000 to September 2005 is now State
property and available for distribution to landless Zimbabweans.

The amendment, which opposition groups disparage as piecemeal, saw around 4
000 farms converting overnight to State property. Not content with the
amassed land, a mop up exercise is underway with those properties, which
escaped the net being accounted for, and gazetted for acquisition.

Among the casualties are two listed companies South African-owned Hippo
Valley Estates and German-controlled Border Timbers whose properties are
protected under Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements (BIPA) signed
between their respective governments and Harare.

Despite contesting the forced acquisition two of Hippo's estates in the
Lowveld are up for grabs. Hippo is listed under a Section 5 Notice while
Mkwasine is listed under Schedule 7 of the constitution of Zimbabwe
Amendment Bill No 17, which vests land in the State without compensation
other than for improvements. Border has its timber plantations in the
Eastern highlands listed and scores of landless peasants are moving onto its

However, Chinamasa vows that properties listed under BIPA won't be spared,
in brazen disregard of bilateral agreements with other governments
protecting their nationals' investments in Zimbabwe.

"What we are now doing is targeted nationalization," said Chinamasa. BIPA
will not prevent acquisition. Properties that enjoy BIPA status will be
acquired but full compensation will be provided."

Though the move is upsetting international investors it is most likely to
anger regional powerhouse South Africa, which repeatedly assured its
nationals owning land in Zimbabwe that their property was protected under
BIPA with Harare.

Through its subsidiary Anglo American Corporation Zimbabwe (Amzim), Anglo
American Corporation of South Africa is one of the largest private investors
in Zimbabwe. Its investments include mining, agriculture and properties
among others. Many of these activities were pioneering developments in
Zimbabwe, which now provides a strong economic foundation for the country's
industrial base.

But Chinamasa appears to have crossed swords with Zimbabwe's economic
supremo and RBZ Governor Gideon Gono over seizures of properties protected
under BIPA. In July, Gono implored the government to remedy BIPAs, which
were inadvertently infringed upon during the emotive years of the land grab

"It is deeply pleasing that our Leadership share this progressive vision, as
reflected by the commitment by the President during his address to the
Nation on the occasion of the opening of the Sixth Parliament of Zimbabwe,
towards rectification of all residual BIPA infringements," Gono said. "As
Monetary Authorities, we call upon and urge all arms of government to ensure
that the leadership's vision for mutual cohesion with our investor community
is nurtured and turned into reality."

However, it is these incongruous statements that are alienating would be
investors as the government is turning its back on judicious economic

"That undermines the rule of law which is a principal ingredient to
investment protection," says Tapiwa Mashakada, the MDC spokesperson on
economic affairs.

And now after "successfully" convincing the IMF to defer Zimbabwe's
expulsion Gono has to fight another war, a more onerous one this time as
international investors whom he has repeatedly tried assuage are knocking at
the central bank's doors questioning the security of their investments. And
in their hands they are clutching page 23 of Gono's July monetary policy
statement in which he guarantees protection of investments.

Apart from battling the property seizures Hippo is also grieving over its
US$2.68 million seized by the central bank. The RBZ, which is desperate to
raise hard currency for critical imports, alleges the sugar growing company
violated the Exchange Control Act by failing to declare the foreign earnings
within the prescribed period. Under Zimbabwe's archaic foreign currency
regulations, exporters should liquidate their hard currency earnings within
30 days of receipt. Hippo says the seizure of the much-needed funds would
adversely impact the company's ability to import critical inputs and thus
seriously undermine production.

Both Anglo and Border say they are not in possession of the facts of

"All we know is the constitutional amendment and I haven't been informed
about compensation," Godfrey Gomwe, Anglo's chief operating officer and
Amzim's chairman told Standardbusiness from South Africa. And Border
insists: "As far as we are concerned they have no intention to acquire
Border Timbers. We enjoy BIPA status."

Hippo, the Lowveld based sugarcane grower warns of disastrous consequences
because Mkwasine Estate accounts for 13% of the company's cane requirements.
Already the country is crippled by a critical shortage of sugar on the
domestic market which when it is available on the vibrant black market the
selling price is prohibitive. In spite of the entire hubbub, Border
considers the issuing of new listings on its estates flawed.

"The company has assumed that this is an error on the part of the
authorities," Border says. Because of the increasing number of illegal
occupants on its properties the timber producer reports that incidents of
arson fires are on the increase.

Critics caution that the blatant contempt of property rights will accelerate
the wreckage of Zimbabwe's economy owing to the dearth of foreign direct
investment. They warn that the flagrant seizures are damaging international
investor perceptions of Zimbabwe as foreigners interrogate the wisdom of
committing their capital in Harare which would be tantamount to throwing
their money down the drain

But whether the government is justified in appropriating the vast tracts of
land for redistributing to landless citizens or not, it is ago

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Divisions in MDC could be a blessing in disguise

Zim Standard

THE leadership crisis within the MDC that has been precipitated by the
divide over participation in the coming Senatorial elections was long

The party leadership has been in the doldrums for the last three years,
during which time the "doves" (those that work through the Zanu PF
parliament and its partisan judicial system) have held sway over the "hawks"
(those who mobilize the people and international support to force President
Robert Mugabe out of power).
The next logical step from boycotting the Senatorial elections should be
calls for MDC parliamentarians to withdraw from the Parliament of 2005, and
for the party to try to regain the initiative lost after 2002 (with the
attendant risks of facing the wrath of the regime) - and therein appears to
be the crux of the matter for those in opposition to the Morgan Tsvangirai

After the "trenches" of 2000, Parliament has for some become a comfortable
and much valued perch from which to react to local developments and driven
(US/Thabo Mbeki/AU...) initiatives.

One would predict that MDC participation in the Senatorial elections would
find re-enforcement of the MDC split by way of the final results published
by the government. One possible scenario thereafter would see Zanu PF
manoeuvres to draw some of the resulting group of opposition
parliamentarians/senators into a Zanu PF unity "solution", be it directly,
in conjugation with Jonathan Moyo/ UMP/Third Way or as independents.

Tsvangirai has been wise and shown characteristic courage by finally causing
this crisis before his party disappears altogether. The next logical step
for the MDC would appear to be a convention to resolve the whole of issue of
leadership, guiding principles and strategies.

After all, the "split" of 1963 rejuvenated opposition to Ian Smith's regime
and gave us a new political movement and party.

That the threat of dividing Zimbabweans is rearing its ugly head yet again
is unfortunate, given the potential that the MDC initially took good
advantage of for bridging the racial and regional divides of yesteryear.

B Mhlanga



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Govt grossly unfair to suffering teachers

Zim Standard

MONTHLY contributions by teachers towards the HIV and AIDS fund have been
imposed on every teacher in the country without consultation. Teachers
meekly accepted the arrangement when neither they nor their relatives
actually benefit from their contributions.

It is on record that teachers more than personnel from any other professions
are suffering from HIV and AIDS. Many more of their relatives have been
victims of this dreadful disease.
Many teachers and their relatives are dying every day because they cannot
afford the life-prolonging drugs. The burning questions right now are: Where
are their monthly contributions going? Why are teachers not given control of
and access to their contributions?

The government is being grossly unfair to civil servants and teachers in
particular by not caring for them when they fall sick. The government
concerns itself with trivial matters such as their self-imposed tsunami,
Chimurenga this and Chimurenga that. With all these useless activities by
the government, our education system is collapsing. Rome is really burning
while the emperor fiddles.

It is a great shame for government ministers to waste their time issuing
threatening letters to teachers who are contemplating strike action. Instead
of issuing these letters to the threatened profession, the government
ministers should be busy finding out ways of solving the crisis facing
Zimbabwe. By the way, what percentage are government ministers, including
the President himself, contributing towards the AIDS levy?

As a parting shot, I implore the MDC to stay away from the useless Senate
elections. The time is also now for the MDC to abandon the Parliament and
plan other strategies. Zimbabwe is ruining itself without any effort from
MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai. Just remember that the MDC is the biggest mass
organisation which is dreaded by President Robert Mugabe. We should not
allow the MDC to end up like the many other bogus parties we had before its

Retired Teacher


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MDC: looking beyond leadership crisis

Zim Standard

sundayopinion by Takura Zhangazha

SYMPTOMS are rather easy to see, whether they are in an illness, or in the
prediction of whether or not there is going to be a bumper harvest in a
forthcoming rainy season.

The only problem that arises from a symptom of anything is that it can have
varied sources, and can mean a whole host of things or issues. The same can
be said of the current impasse within the MDC over and about participating
in the Senate elections or alternatively the somewhat technical discourse
around whether the democratic movement can be assumed to be democratic after
the president ignores the majority will of what is called its National
Council. Critically spoken, for, anyone with a serious disposition towards
Zimbabwean politics would therefore ask themselves whether or not the
divisions within the leadership over what should be a cut and dry case are
symptoms of other issues within the party or else are exactly what they are,
divisions over whether or not they should participate.
When the 2005 parliamentary elections came around, even prior to the new
monster being created by Zanu PF called Senate , there were perhaps sound
arguments for not participating in order to prove the illegitimacy of Zanu
PF to the international community, as well as to bring it to the negotiating
table were very public knowledge. Eventually the idea of participating in
the parliamentary plebiscite took credence, against the wishes of civil
society organizations and the scepticism of some of its members. The reasons
for participating were given as wide consultation with the public in the
form of rallies and the decision of the National Council.

With the senate elections, the debate on participation, like that of the
2005 parliamentary elections was, presumably arrived at through rallies and
finally the National Council which went against the position of the party
president in deciding to participate. This situation is now commonly
adjudged by the media and those that consider themselves politically savvy,
to be seriously threatening to split the party.

And in order for an explanation on the senate election decision of the MDC,
I hazard to go back to the issue of symptoms. Does the indecision of the MDC
over the last two elections show a coherently indecisive party or is it
indicative of deeper problems about leadership, let alone ideological focus
of the movement? Or is it supposedly healthy for there to be the occasional
serious disagreement at leadership level within a political party that is
large and dynamic? These questions, and indicative of their importance,
point to a two critical issues; first that there is need to re-visit the
reasons why the MDC was formed, second that there is need to explain the
symptoms within the context of elitist opposition politics and decision

To address the first; that of the reason why the MDC was formed, one needs
to take into account the fact that the party was premised largely on the
back of the labour movement and therefore its essence was unionist in
outlook. In other words, it was premised on the concept of a fluid movement
of workers that, either in socialist or other closely related terms felt
that the time was now ripe to form a labour based party to acquire and
entrench a social welfare State.

In the same vein, the party was to be predicated upon the building of a less
bureaucratic system of politics; one that is not commandist in its structure
and its policy outlook. This approach was garnered from the experience of
the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) where major decisions were not
meant to be undertaken without wider consultation with members or the
general public and also in the ambit of the slogan, "A people driven
constitution, Now!"

Having said that; the party in its formation had no singular intention to
become just another ordinary opposition political party, comfortable with
pursuing power within the political set up as defined by Zanu PF. It sought
to revolutionarize Zimbabwean politics, both within the confines of a
democratic electoral system as well as where the situation became untenable,
with non-violent mass action.

But equally and related to the first issue outlined above, the second factor
around he senate elections that this article seeks to address is the issue
of elitist opposition politics. For example, when the MDC leadership claimed
to be consulting the 'people' through rallies, it is a wonder that the
results of such consultations are never made public. Instead what are
accorded prominence are the decisions of the clique called the National
Council, an organ which has not really been tried and tested in terms of its
legitimacy with the ordinary membership for over five years. And I do not
consider the conducting of primary elections as legitimizing the party's
internal leadership, because the latter are fraught with patron client
relations that are temporary and at best have been divisive at grassroots
levels of the party. In short, whether the president of the MDC lost a
national council election or not, the issue is that the elitist
decision-making within the party is clearly undemocratic and does not
adequately take into consideration the political fallout that may result
from such "un-consulted" decisions.

Elitism has the tendency to emerge in a period where a party or an
organization becomes too comfortable with itsself, and negates the
principles upon which it was founded. Tsvangirai gravely erred in allowing
this sort of elitism to creep in, where a system of patronage about who
participates in parliament or not becomes the order of the day. Or
alternatively, where the "top six" begin to behave as though they were a
Zanu PF presidium and in the process battle for control of as elite an organ
such as the National Council as if that is what the party was formed for.

What is to be done, one might ask. Is the MDC misplaced in participating in
the Senate elections or in not participating? The answer to the matter lies
in revisiting the party revolutionary potential and calling a spade a spade
when it comes to elections as a means of effecting democratic change in the
country. It is no longer a feasible route and Morgan Tsvangirai, for all his
previous mistakes, is right on this one. The party must begin to think
around elections and seek other means of effecting democratic change.

This also means that the party must re-link itself with the masses it claims
to represent, re-organize its structures and outline an organic
understanding of its role in the future of Zimbabwe. There is no room for
central committee members in the MDC, of for people that falsely claim to be
coming form the grassroots when in fact their mandates are clearly in need
of refurbishment

The president of the MDC must now begin to think and act like the
revolutionary the history of Zimbabwean asks him to be. That is a person who
has the people's ear, the people's support and their interests at heart. And
in making the bold decision to fight those that want to reduce the MDC into
a typical opposition political party run on elitist lines, then he is
finally on the right path to bringing freedom to the doorstep of every

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Poll advocates the sell-outs in MDC

Zim Standard

sundayfocus by Ralph S Paratema

THE past week has been dominated by headlines of bickering within the
opposition MDC which now seems to be split into two distinct camps.

One camp led by the party's leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been advocating for
a boycott of the election while the other allegedly led by its Secretary
General Professor Welshman Ncube is insisting that the party will contest
the election.
While Tsvangirai has been arguing that the result of the election has been
pre-determined by President Robert Mugabe the other camp has argued that
failure to participate in the elections will be equivalent to donating its
urban dominance to the ruling Zanu PF.

The two major elections that have been held in the country since the
formation of the MDC have clearly shown that the election management bodies
responsible for the organising and running the elections are so blatantly
partisan that they can not be relied upon to run elections that have a
semblance freeness and fairness.

Presently the elections are supposed to be run by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission which was recently constituted as a constitutional body. Needless
to say its reputation is in tatters following the amateurish manner in which
it handled the 31 March parliamentary elections. The chairperson Justice
George Chiweshe is himself an appointee of Mugabe who himself is an
interested party in the outcome of the electoral process. It is clear that
for any reasonably free and fair elections to take place in Zimbabwe it is
imperative that a truly independent electoral commission be set up. Such a
commission should not have its chairperson appointed by Mugabe but should be
answerable to Parliament.

The Senate elections have not been preceded by a reasonable constituency
demarcation exercise. Instead the delimitation exercise was conducted by
whoever drafted the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 17). Harare, a
traditional MDC stronghold, for instance, was allocated the same number of
Senatorial seats as Mashonaland Central in spite of the fact that the number
of registered voters in the former are almost twice as those in the latter.
Urban constituencies have been merged with rural ones in order to dilute the
opposition's influence thereby reducing its already remote chances of
winning the election. In view of the foregoing, a completely new
delimitation exercise should have been conducted in order to draw up
constituencies with the same number of registered voters.

It is shocking how those who are saying that the MDC should take part in
these elections seem to suffer from selective amnesia. Both the MDC and
several other civic organisations have been calling for the scrapping of
Mugabe's powers to appoint non-constituency Members of Parliament yet these
same people seem interested in perpetuating this fraud by agreeing to
participate in an election in which Mugabe will appoint six senators. The
other eight seats will be reserved for chiefs in line with Mugabe's policy
of politics of patronage. These traditional leaders view themselves as an
appendage of Zanu PF and have traditionally voted with the party even when
making decisions that are detrimental to the welfare of their subjects.

There are still other impediments to a free and fair election in the form of
a hopelessly partisan media which seems uninterested in covering MDC
activities unless it is doing so to show that the party is on the verge of
disintegration. A case in point is the ZTV's coverage of the ongoing crisis
in the MDC on last Tuesday.

The political analysts who were invited to comment were the shameless
Tafataona Mahoso and the former Geography teacher Caesar Zvayi. Both men are
well known Zanu PF apologists. The sole national broadcaster also sought to
give the impression that only white people are opposed to the MDC's
participation in the elections. It is my view that to call for participation
in the Senate elections is in itself a betrayal of those who have been
fighting for a free Press.

There is still a plethora of repressive legislation that obtains in
Zimbabwe. The Public Order and Security Act immediately comes to mind. It
was used by the police on Sunday when trying to break up a meeting that the
opposition leader tried to address in Chitungwiza. The lack of voter
education has been glaring with most people interviewed on ZTV openly saying
they do not understand what the duties of the Senate are.

There was also a massive displacement of urban voters during the diabolic
"Operation Murambatsvina" and a majority are still unregistered. It is
obvious that it is not possible to hold reasonably free and fair elections
unless a completely new voters' roll has been compiled.

My questions to those who want to participate are: What lessons have you
learnt from the March election? Why do you want to pursue selfish personal
interests at the expense of the national interests? Have you ever wondered
why Mugabe gleefully welcomed the participation of the MDC in this election?
Do you think that Morgan Tsvangirai's proposal that the money Mugabe wants
to waste on the elections should be given to suffering civil servants does
not make sense? What difference will your presence in the Senate bring to us
considering that you are already outnumbered in Parliament where the Bills
emanate from in the first place? If you opposed the Bill in Parliament why
should you welcome it now?

In my view the Senate is Mugabe's last supper whereby he has decided to
resurrect his politically deceased cronies. This is Mugabe's way of thanking
these people for keeping quiet while he reduced this country to the basket
case that it has become. Those who intend to participate in the elections
must remember that they will be remembered in history as sell outs who
betrayed all Zimbabweans, dead and living, who have fought for the holding
of free and fair elections, removal of repressive legislation, a new people
driven constitution and a democratic and legitimate government chosen by the
people through a transparent process.

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These men are sheep in wolves' clothes

Zim Standard

sundayopinion by Tamuka C Chirimambowa

THE Senate soap operas in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the
first one starring Welshman Ncube, co-starring Paul Themba Nyathi, and Gift
Chimanikire, and directed by Robert Mugabe has been an exciting and at the
same time a sad fiasco.

The second one starring Morgan Tsvangirai, co-starring Nelson Chamisa, Lucia
Matibenga with guest actor Grace Kwinjeh, and directed by the oppressed
people of Zimbabwe. My interest is embedded in the first soap, although at
certain times I would make references to the second one.
Foremost, it should be understood that the Senate is a baby of the bogus cut
and paste child of Zanu PF's incest with the constitution of Zimbabwe.
Secondly, it should be noted that the MDC from, the onset, never supported
Constitutional Amendment No.17 that has brought the Senate. Third, it should
also be observed that even the pro-senate star actor Welshman Ncube never
voted for that amendment. Fourth and last is who is fooling who?

Before Enactment of Constitutional Amendment No.17, here is what they said:

Paul Themba Nyathi ( "A dark day for Zimbabwe Democracy" 31
August 2005)

"The passing of the Constitutional Amendment Bill (NO.17) by the Zanu PF
majority in parliament represents a flagrant disregard for democratic
rights, standards and processes. A constitution should be a symbol of
national consensus. This consensus can only be established if a constitution
is formulated in full consultation with the people. Zanu PF was presented
with an opportunity to work with the people and formulating such a
constitution. It rejected this opportunity and instead doggedly pursued a
piecemeal approach to constitutional reform; an approach which essentially
aimed to ensure that the constitution is shamelessly corrupted to support
the political objectives of the ruling elite at the expense of the interests
of the people.

"The creation of a Senate is in no way a move to improve legislative
oversight. It has simply been created as an extension of presidential
patronage, aimed at soothing bruised egos within the ruling party. The new
constitutional provisions represent a serious assault on citizens' basic
rights and freedoms. The government will now be able to seize the passports
of its critics. It will also have the power to acquire, without
compensation, any land which it defines as 'agricultural land'. These
arbitrary powers are an assault on property rights. Land in peri-urban and
urban areas could now be subject to compulsory purchase. Under the
amendment, victims will have no right of appeal."

Welshman Ncube ( "Zimbabwe's Constitutional Reforms: A Missed
Opportunity and a Recipe for Disaster" 11 September 2005)

"The adoption of the Constitution Amendment Bill (No 17) by the Zimbabwe
Parliament on Wednesday 2 September was a systematic retrogressive move for
the country. It will exacerbate the crisis of governance which has, within
five years, driven Zimbabwe to the precipice of being a failed state. By
amending the constitution for the seventeenth time since independence twenty
five years ago the Zanu PF government has sent out an unequivocal message to
the people that it has no respect for the constitution. Conversely, it
cannot expect the people to take the constitution seriously; a factor that
will serve to intensify the perceived lack of legitimacy within Zimbabwe's
body politic in the eyes of the people. This dichotomy goes to the very
heart of Zimbabwe's ills as it symbolises the absence of national consensus
on core governance issues and the total lack of public trust in the current

"A constitution should be a symbol of national unity. It should represent a
contract between those in power and those who are subjected to this power.
It should define the rights and duties of citizens and the institutional
arrangements that keep those in power in check. To ensure its legitimacy, a
constitution must be formulated in strict accordance with the principle of
inclusiveness. There must be broad public participation and ownership of the
final product. The passing of the Constitution Amendment Bill (No 17) is a
recipe for disaster. Neither the ruling party nor Parliament had the
constitutional mandate to introduce such a Bill. Attempts to engage the
public, and canvass their views on the proposed amendments, were
perfunctory. The whole process was totally lacking in legitimacy. The net
result is that the Government has made the crisis worse. To help tackle the
crisis we need to come together as Zimbabweans and formulate a constitution
in a transparent and all-inclusive manner.

"We all need to have ownership of the constitution and use this document as
the basis for healing the divisions bedevilling our society and retarding
our development as a nation.

Welshman Ncube (, 29 September 2005)

"There are fundamental differences between the March Parliamentary elections
and the position we are in right now. It is very clear that the national
council lifted the suspension on election participation and that position
has not changed. The operative resolution of the council is that we are in
the elections."

This is what they said and wrote verbatim. So exciting, fascinating,
depressing and full of hypocrisy is the soap opera. What chameleonic antics
by the staring and co-starring actors? That is food for thought. So clearly
these men articulate that the whole Senate issue and the constitutional
amendment that ushers it is a political fiasco and mafia on the electorate
and the question that makes one wonder is what has Saul met on the way to
Damascus? Co-actor Nyathi sums it vividly up,

".an approach which essentially aimed to ensure that the constitution is
shamelessly corrupted to support the political objectives of the ruling
elite at the expense of the interests of the people."

Who would blame the people if they also conclude: "The quest to act in the
Senate by the MDC council, who from the onset vehemently opposed the script
as anti -people and egocentric drama is driven non-other than the desire to
seek a second bite of the cherry for those who missed in the March
elections." Imagine being a Senator driving a 4x4, going around sourcing
Money in the name of the people, getting hefty allowances from government,
access to resources due to political office and all the goody-goodies
associated with political elitism.

Gibson Sibanda-MDC vice president. Interview on 18 October

"The MDC was founded on principles which include democracy, freedom,
transparency and justice and that the party is determined to uphold these
principles and values. And will not allow one person or a group of persons
to destroy them."

Does this man ever know what a principle is? What principle is it Sibanda to
go about saying Mugabe is a dictator and at the same time legitimising his
actions? Look at Prof. Welshman Ncube's comments that neither Zanu PF nor
Parliament had the legitimacy to amend the constitution, then what boggles
the mind is where did then the legitimacy come from? This is the sad end to
the first episode of the Senate soap opera. But do soaps end? No, definitely
in my next piece I will deal with the second part; the one starring Morgan

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