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Police exam tests officers' loyalty to Mugabe

Zim Online

Tuesday 23 October 2007

By Farisai Gonye

HARARE - Zimbabwe police officers were two weeks ago asked to prove they
were able to defend President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms
with "passion and conviction" as part of a test to determine eligibility for
promotion, sources told ZimOnline.

According to sources, 40 senior officers sitting for a promotional
examination at Morris depot in Harare on October 10 were each asked to give
a 10-minute address to an imaginary group of foreign journalists defending
the chaotic and often violent land reforms as top commanders watched and
recorded the mock speeches on videotape.

Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka refused to take questions on the matter
saying it was an internal police issue and confidential. "Contents of
internal police examinations are confidential," he said.

The sources said the police officers, all chief superintendents and seeking
promotion to the rank of assistant commissioner, were required to show that
land reforms blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into severe food shortages were a
model agrarian reform programme carried out in an "exemplary manner."

"You are the Officer Commanding (Crime) and you have been asked to address a
group of visiting international journalists. You know fully well that the
outside world has a wrong and negative view of the land reform programme,"
read the police question paper shown to ZimOnline on Monday.

"You are supposed to correct this view, clearly illustrating to them that
the land reform is a model and that the government was justified in
embarking on this exercise and that it was done in an exemplary manner. You
have 10 minutes to prove that you can defend and promote the land reform
programme with passion and conviction."

Such examinations for senior officers aspiring for higher rank normally
focus on managerial issues in addition to the usual questions to do with law
enforcement operations.

"We were caught off guard, but I did my best to praise-sing President Mugabe
during the mock address to foreign reporters," said a police officer, who
refused to be named as this would jeopardise his chances of promotion.

The opposition and human rights groups often accuse the police of
selectively applying the law, targeting government opponents for arrest.

Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, a self-confessed supporter of Mugabe
and his ruling ZANU PF party, denies charges of being partisan and says his
officers will arrest all suspects regardless of their political affiliation.

Zimbabwe, also grappling with its worst ever economic crisis, has since 2000
when land reforms began, relied on food imports and handouts from
international food agencies mainly due to failure by resettled black
peasants to maintain production on former white farms.

Poor performance in the mainstay agricultural sector has also had far
reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands of people have lost jobs
while the manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the sector, is
operating below 30 percent of capacity. - ZimOnline

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ZANU PF supporters block eviction of white farmer

Zim Online

Tuesday 23 October 2007

      By Farisai Gonye

      HARARE - More than 20 people sustained serious injuries following
violent clashes as war veterans, villagers, and ZANU-PF supporters ganged up
to block the eviction of a white farmer by militias aligned to a top ruling
party official in Zimbabwe's rich eastern farming district of Burma Valley.

      The clashes, which have been going on for the past week, only stopped
after Manicaland provincial governor Tinaye Chigudu promised the villagers
that he would personally take up the issue with President Robert Mugabe and
have the white farmer's eviction reversed.

      The local traditional chief, Eddie Musabayana, war veterans from the
area, villagers, and ZANU-PF supporters told Chigudu during a meeting to
calm tempers at Mapetu Farm last Monday that they would "continue laying
their lives on the line" to protect white farmer Heather Guild.

      Chigudu's delegation included Manicaland provincial police commander
Obert Benge and senior government officials.

      Guild is facing eviction from Fungai Chaeruka, a ZANU-PF official
appointed to head Mutare City Council following the dismissal of an
opposition-led council in 2005.

      According to eye-witnesses who attended the meeting, the villagers
told Chigudu that ZANU-PF risked losing their support in elections planned
for next year if Guild was removed from the farm.

      When ZimOnline visited the area at the weekend, the atmosphere in the
surrounding villages was tense, with some villagers claiming that militias
aligned to Chaeruka had destroyed an onion crop worth over $1 billion after
destroying irrigation equipment to force Guild off the farm.

      Among those injured was a prominent elderly ZANU-PF activist
identifying herself as Eunah Matimba.

      "We have been fighting Chaeruka's militias since last week. We cannot
allow Guild to be removed because she has immensely assisted the community
here," 62-year-old Matimba told ZimOnline.

      Chigudu confirmed the clashes but claimed he "was now on top of the

      "There was a bad situation in Burma Valley. The locals want the farmer
to stay and I am taking it up to avoid a situation that might end up turning
fatal. The locals are united that Comrade Chaeruka could have sabotaged the
country by destroying the crops," Chigudu said.

      Musabayana also confirmed the clashes and warned that the villagers
would "fight" Chaeruka to the end.

      "We are united, the war veterans, our people and the party (ZANU-PF)
here that the land reform is no longer about removing white farmers. We want
her to stay and work with her," said Musabayana.

      "As for Chaeruka, wherever he derives his power, we will resist him
and he will find no peace here. His militias will be driven out no doubt,"
the chief warned.

      The government has since the beginning of the year given conflicting
signals on the fate of remaining white farmers, with some officials saying
they would be allowed to stay while others are saying they would be evicted.

      The evictions have continued sporadically.

      Zimbabwe, in the grip of its worst ever economic crisis, has since
2000 relied on food imports and handouts from international humanitarian
groups due to failure by new black farmers to maintain production on farms
taken from the whites. - ZimOnline

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Ousted MDC women's leader takes case to High Court

Zim Online

Tuesday 23 October 2007

By Thando Ncube

HARARE - A senior official of the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party, Lucia Matibenga, has filed papers at the High Court
challenging her ouster as the chairperson of the party's Women's Assembly.

Matibenga, who is also the first vice-president of the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU), filed the urgent interdict seeking to bar the MDC from
going ahead with elections to elect new leadership in the women's wing.

The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC two weeks ago dissolved the Women's executive
led by Matibenga in a move that has plunged the opposition party, into
serious chaos ahead of next year's presidential and parliamentary polls.

In a statement released yesterday, Matibenga lashed out at the MDC
leadership accusing it of violating the party's constitution.

"The MDC leadership is breaking the constitution left, right and centre. I
have applied for an interdict to stop them holding an extraordinary
conference on 28 October (to elect new leaders).

"My application is an attempt to force the MDC to follow its constitution,"
said Matibenga.

The former women's leader said the MDC's standing committee had no powers to
dissolve the Women's Assembly as it had no decision-making powers with such
powers only vested in the party's National Council.

Matibenga also said the party's constitution was clear that changes in the
make-up of the Women's Assembly could only be effected after an
extra-ordinary party congress.

"The MDC leadership is showing it is allergic to strong women, they want
women they can manipulate," said Matibenga in the statement.

MDC deputy secretary for international relations, Grace Kwinje, said
Matibenga's case was a cause for concern adding that Zimbabweans were tired
with autocratic management.

"This is no longer just about women, but about how men and women in the MDC
leadership uphold the laws that they have put in place.

"They adopted both the Women's Assembly and National Party Constitutions and
it is absurd that they are violating them," said Kwinje.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa could not be reached for comment on the
matter last night.

The MDC is a shadow of its former self after it split two years ago after
Tsvangirai overturned a National Council decision to participate in
senatorial elections.

Respected academic, Arthur Mutambara, now leads a rival faction of the MDC.

Political analysts could Mugabe could still win next year's presidential
election ahead of the two MDC factions despite a worsening economic crisis
that has been described by the World Bank as unprecedented for a country not
at war. - ZimOnline

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Troubled Zim airline seeks approval to charge in foreign currency

Zim Online

Tuesday 23 October 2007

By Thulani Munda

HARARE - Troubled Air Zimbabwe is mulling plans to charge passengers in
foreign currency for specific routes in a bid to correct the mismatch
between its revenue and cost streams, a parliamentary portfolio committee
heard yesterday.

Air Zimbabwe board chairman Mike Bimha told the parliamentary portfolio
committee on transport that this was one of the avenues the embattled
airline could take to remain afloat.

"Passengers that go on board British Airways and South African Airways pay
in forex. Why can't they give that forex to Air Zimbabwe," Bimha said.

Bimha told the committee that if approved, the proposal would give Air
Zimbabwe wings to survive "some of the challenges" the airline was facing.

"We can't ask the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to give us forex when we
can generate our own," he said.

More than 70 percent of the airline's costs are in hard currency while only
10 percent of its revenue is in foreign currency.

The board chairman, however, said the proposal to charge airfares in hard
currency would exclude vulnerable groups such as students or those going out
of the country for medical attention.

Air Zimbabwe chief executive Peter Chikumba told the same committee that the
airline's management and board have had several meetings with RBZ governor
Gideon Gono, adding that the airline had "support from that front".

Air Zimbabwe fares are the lowest in the region. It charges $87 650 000 for
a return ticket to Johannesburg. South African Airways charges R2 120
inclusive of airport taxes.

Zimbabwe's national carrier has since the country's economic crisis started
in 2000 lost its position as one of the best airlines in Africa to one of
the worst due to mismanagement and interference from the parent Ministry of
Transport and Communications. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe Power Outages Said To Cause Five Deaths At Hospital In Harare


      By Carole Gombakomba
      22 October 2007

Persistent electric power outages across Zimbabwe are having deadly
consequences: in Harare at least five patients have died at Parirenyatwa
Hospital due to a lack of electricity to run essential medical equipment,
hospital sources say.

Medical sources at the hospital said five patients requiring emergency
surgery died when the hospital was without power Tuesday for 12 hours - one
a pregnant woman.

Hospital doctors speaking on condition they not be named said the hospital
generator did not provide enough power for surgeons to operate on all
patients needing care.

The hospital sources said that although power has been restored,
Parirenyatwa, one of the capital's main public hospitals, faces power cuts
of two to three hours daily.

Staff at the private Avenues and West End clinics said those institutions
have been deprived of electricity for more than a week. Generators have
provided some power, but the staff said some medical procedures have had to
be suspended.

Meanwhile, residents of Avondale, the Avenues area and Cranborne Park in
Harare said they have been without electricity for nearly 10 days. Some said
they have been forced to move out of their homes or to empty their

In Mutare, Bulawayo and other cities, residents report that they are have
electricity for only two hours a day - usually in the middle of the night.
In some areas, residents are only getting power two to three days a week.

Senior officials of the Zimbabwe Electric Supply Authority could not be
reached for comment - employees of the utility said they were locked up in

Opposition lawmaker Priscilla Misiharambwi Mushonga, a member of the house
committee on public accounts, which has been looking into operations at the
deeply troubled power utility, told reporter Carole Gombakomba that the
worsening power cuts indicate that ZESA has moved beyond mere load shedding.

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Zimbabwe Opposition Urges Minister To Issue Non-Violence Orders


      By Patience Rusere & Blessing Zulu
      22 October 2007

The faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change led
Morgan Tsvangirai, summoned by Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi over
allegations that its members have been the victims of police violence, says
that before the meeting Mohadi should order provincial police to stop
harassing opposition members.

Faction spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the MDC was not setting a condition
for the meeting, which has been set for Wednesday, but requesting that the
minister show that the government is serious about stopping political

VOA  could not reach Mohadi, who summoned Tsvangirai and other officials
saying he wanted them to substantiate their charges, issued in a news
conference last week, that members have been killed or injured by
state-sponsored political violence.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena, an assistant commissioner of the Zimbabwe
Republic Police, said the opposition had cooked up the figures for political

Chamisa, confirming that a delegation of the MDC faction will meet with
Mohadi, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
the government's intentions are not clear but that the party will give
authorities a chance.

Though Southern African leaders headed by South African President Thabo
Mbeki have urged the Harare government to investigate and halt alleged
official violence, unlawful arrests and intimidation of opposition and human
rights activists appeared to continue this week. In the Mashonaland Central
town of Bindura, authorities arrested 15 MDC members on Sunday for attending
a party youth forum, sources said.

Thamsanqa Mahlangu, an MDC provincial youth chairman, told reporter Blessing
Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe  that the youths arrested in Bindura
were beaten by liberation war veterans before being handed over to the

Also in Mashonaland Central, ruling party militants evicted five opposition
members from Ruwanga Farm, citing their political affiliation, MDC sources

The Tsvangirai faction wrote to Southern African Development Community
leaders last week threatening to quit the talks Mr. Mbeki is mediating if
the violence in Zimbabwe did not stop. SADC leaders urged Harare to take
action to save the talks.

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Zimbabwe Elections Group Endorses New Voter Registration Drive


      By Jonga Kandemiiri
      22 October 2007

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network expressed satisfaction Monday that the
government will be launching a second mobile voter registration exercise
beginning on Friday, October 26, and running until November 15.

A spokesman for the organization, which fielded thousands of election
monitors in the 2005 general election, said the previous mobile registration
campaign failed to reach many Zimbabweans who wanted to register to vote,
and said it hopes those who did not succeed last time will have better luck
getting their names on voter lists.

The government said it was launching the follow-up registration drive due to
the many complaints registered about the earlier operation, which ended in

But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction of party founder
Morgan Tsvangirai said it does not expect this new round of mobile
registration to cover all the areas of the country that were under-served by
the previous campaign.

MDC Bulawayo District spokesman Felix Mafa said two teams per district is
not enough as the extended mobile registration will last only three weeks.

ZESN Chairman Noel Kututwa told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe that little information has emerged about the new registration
round so the government has a lot to do to launch the program Friday as

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Record-Breaking UNICEF-Norway Fundraiser Helps Zimbabwe Fight AIDS


      By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
      22 October 2007

Zimbabwe and eight other nations stand to gain from a fundraising drive in
Norway Sunday, that raised nearly US$40 million for HIV/AIDS prevention
programs targeting youth.

The US$1.9 million earmarked for Zimbabwe will be split between the United
Nations Children Fund, to receive US$1 million, and the national Sports and
Recreation Commission, which will receive US$900,000.

The money will be disbursed over a three year period, based on performance,
with the first allocation expected to be disbursed in January 2008.

The funds will be channeled into programs linked to sporting events and
other venues where youth commonly gather. Peer leaders and counselors
disseminate AIDS prevention messages and advise.

Other countries earmarked for the money from the fundraising drive are
Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Ukraine, Vietnam and Jamaica.

Funds to fight HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe have dwindled, over the years, for which
some have blamed the political crisis. But significant funding has come from
the United States, Britain, Sweden and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS,
Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has disbursed close to US$9 million from
Round Five approved in 2005.

UNICEF-Norway Executive Director Kjersti Flogstad said Sunday's televised
fundraiser drive, held annually since 1974, was the most successful to date,
bringing in 212 million kroner, or some US$39.6.

She attributed the large response to UNICEF's credibility as an
organization, but also to participation by celebrities like former
Manchester United Player Ole Gunnar Solskjater, a UNICEF goodwill

Flogstad told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that the organizers chose Zimbabwe because it has a high HIV prevalence
rate, but at the same time has shown commitment to reducing the spread of
the pandemic.

UNICEF-Zimbabwe communications chief James Elder said that while more money
is needed, the donation will go a long way to help prevent the spread of
HIV/AIDS among the young, adding that sports is an effective channel for
anti-AIDS messages.

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Consumer Basket Surges to $21,7m

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

23 October 2007
Posted to the web 23 October 2007

Perry Kaande

The  cost of living for an urban family of six has climbed 30 percent to
$21,7 million in September from $16,7 million previously, statistics availed
by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe reveal.

Roller meal incurred the highest price increase of 222 percent followed by
cooking oil and meat, which rose 104 percent and 172 percent respectively.
Rentals surged by 34 percent while transport costs, white sugar and
detergents remained stagnant. Surveys conducted by the consumer watchdog
reveal that flour, maize meal and rice are still in short supply. However,
there was a slight improvement in the supply of commodities, although
production levels are still too low in comparison to the needs of consumers.
CCZ said support given to agriculture and manufacturing by the central bank
would go a long way in addressing product availability and price stability
in the short term.

"Facilities accorded to the agriculture sector through the Agriculture
Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility will witness improved agriculture
production where local goods will feed into the system, cutting down on
imports, stabilising the inflation figure and ultimately maintaining the
rate at which prices increase," the council stated. The consumer body also
pointed out that the Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention (Baccosi)
facility would boost production through targeted financial support from the
RBZ. "If companies source foreign currency from the formal market, prices of
goods and services will be deflated rather than if they had sourced it from
the informal market." Further, the National Incomes and Pricing Commission
is being urged to ensure products are available at affordable cost.

"With the National Incomes and Pricing Commission now firmly on the ground
the CCZ hopes there will be improvements to accord the consumer a fair deal
on the market place." The Consumer Council acknowledged that the support
would translate into more affordable pricing in line with product
availability. The consumer watchdog lambasted exorbitant parallel market
prices saying the NIPC remains critical to addressing the woes of consumers
so that it not only focuses on prices but incomes as well to ensure a
balance is maintained. Products such as roller meal, washing bars and
cooking oil are being sold at 211 percent, 167,6 percent and 102 percent
more than the gazetted prices of $290 000, $94 000 and $246 000
respectively. The survey is conducted twice during the first and last weeks
of the month.

The total cost of the food basket and the price of each commodity are
arrived at by averaging prices obtained from retail outlets throughout the

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Goods Availability Improves

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

23 October 2007
Posted to the web 23 October 2007

Martin Kadzere

There is a slight improvement in the availability of goods in some
supermarkets in Harare but prices have drastically shot up, putting them
beyond the reach of the average shopper.

A survey by Herald Business this week reveals that goods such as laundry and
bathing soaps, washing powder, meat, salt, margarine and soft drinks, among
others, were now available. However, it seems consumers will have to pay
through the nose for the products.

A bar of laundry soap is selling at an average $1 million, a Geisha bathing
tablet is priced at $700 000 while a kilogramme of beef has shot up to $1,5
million. A kilogramme of washing powder is going for between $1,7 million
and $2,3 million. In the past two weeks, a kilogramme of beef was selling at
an average price of $700 000, meaning it has shot up by 100 percent in the
past week or so.

Products such as cooking oil, sugar, flour and milk, rice, maize meal are
still unavailable on the official market. However, some small retail
supermarkets chains have been re-stocking, shelves for big retail shops like
OK and TM have remained empty. Some branches have actually been closed down.
For example, several branches of OK supermarkets in Harare have been closed
for several days now while TM supermarkets had very little stocks on their
shelves. Although no comment could be immediately obtained from OK Zimbabwe,
the company said the closure of some of its branches was not linked to
unavailability of goods but was precipitated by power cuts.

The company was responding to media reports that the country's largest
retailer was scaling down its operations in protest at the Government's
price blitz. Giant furniture and clothing outlets such as Pelhams, Edgars,
Truworths and Topics are also still empty. Edgars has so far closed at least
five shops across the country, and has threatened to close more unless the
supply situation improves.

An official with TV Sales & Hire said it was going to be difficult for the
firm to adequately restock since it did not have enough foreign currency to
import electrical appliances, which were its lifeline.

"We are not sure whether we will be able to restock to the levels prior to
June 18 when the Government launched the price controls. "We need foreign
currency to import some of the products like radios, TV sets, fridge and
various electrical gadgets so it is going to be a very difficult task," said
the official. Fashion retail shops have also remained virtually empty. Big
names like Topics and Truworths had very limited stocks with the exception
of Edgars and Bata that have started restocking.

Meikles Africa subsidiaries Barbours, Greatermans and Meikles stores, which
suspended consumer credit facilities, have a slight edge than their
competitors in terms of stocks, as their prices have remained relatively
higher. Small fashion shops are the only ones that have enough stocks mainly
imported from Dubai, China and Tanzania. Last week, the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe through its subsidiary, Fiscorp gave the green light to commercial
banks to start considering applications by manufacturers intending to
benefit from the Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention Facility

Producers intending to benefit from the facility will access the funds at a
concessional interest rate of 20 percent per annum. The central bank said
the facility seeks to stimulate productivity to levels prior to the June 18
price cuts.

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