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UN envoy to meet Swazi king over Zimbabwe, DRC: spokesman

1 hr 36 mins ago

MBABANE (AFP) - Top UN envoy Haile Menkerios was set Thursday to discuss the
political crisis in Zimbabwe with Swaziland's king, who currently heads an
African security body, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

The talks come just three days after King Mswati III led a failed effort by
African leaders to rescue a faltering power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe.

A new summit is set for Monday in Harare, where southern African leaders
will try to break an impasse on forming a unity government in Zimbabwe, seen
as the best chance for ending the country's political turmoil and halting
its economic decline.

Menkerios also plans to discuss the conflict in the Democratic Republic of
Congo and other regional security issues, foreign ministry spokesman
Clifford Mamba said in a statement.

"He will be consulting with the king on the issues of security and
peacekeeping in (southern Africa), especially on Zimbabwe and the Democratic
Republic of Congo," Mamba said.

The king chairs the security organ of the 15-nation South African
Development Community (SADC).

King Mswati had gathered the presidents of South Africa, Mozambique and
Congo in Swaziland's capital on Monday in hopes of ending the deadlock in

President Robert Mugabe attended the meeting, but Zimbabwe opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai refused to attend.

A new summit has been set for October 27 in Harare in hopes of settling
differences between the rivals over control of powerful ministries -- 
particularly home affairs, which oversees the police force.

Menkerios on Tuesday voiced confidence that a deal would be reached in

"I am confident that a deal will be reached between the two because both
sides know by now that there is no other way but to sit down and reach an
agreement," he told AFP in Addis Ababa.

Menkerios was also expected to discuss renewed fighting in the Democratic
Republic of Congo, where the UN said Tuesday that more than 50,000 people
fled their homes following intense fighting between government and rebel
troops in the northeastern Ituri region.

Fighting in late August in nearby Nord-Kivu province has also displaced
another 100,000 people.

More than one million people have been forced to flee their homes in the
region, aid agencies say.

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Activists say MDC must not pull out

October 23, 2008

By Our Correspondent

MASVINGO - Civic organisations meeting here Thursday urged the MDC led by
Morgan Tsvangirai not to pull out of the deal signed last month between the
two MDC parties and Zanu-PF amid reports that the mainstream MDC now intends
to withdraw form the talks if Tsvangirai continues to be denied a passport.

The civic groups said the MDC should continue to negotiate with Zanu-PF as
saying pulling out of the deal at this stage would worsen the suffering of
the people of Zimbabwe.

Delegates at the meeting said although Zanu-PF was obviously negotiating in
bad faith negotiations over the allocation of cabinet posts should continue.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition advocacy officer Gladys Hlatshwayo said
although the situation on the ground indicated that Zanu-PF was negotiating
in bad faith there was need for the MDC to maintain the dialogue.

"It is my view that if the opposition pulls out of the talks the suffering
of the people will continue to worsen", said Hlatshwayo. "The best way for
us to get out of this economic and political crisis is through

While many continue to refer to the MDC as the opposition, in fact, it now
holds more seats in Parliament than Zanu-PF.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe national president Takavafira Zhou
said;" Zanu-PF is like a leopard which will not change its spots but we have
to keep on piling pressure for the people of this country to be free.

"Pulling out of the talks will not be in the best interests of the people of
this country and therefore we are urging the MDC to continue with the talks".

Turning to the issue of Tsvangirai's passport which caused him not to travel
to Swaziland on Monday for the SADC Troika meeting delegates were unanimous
that the MDC leader should unconditionally be issued with a passport.

"If any other citizen can go to the Registrar General's office and get a
passport what about the Prime Minister designate?" asked one of the
delegates who requested anonymity.

"The MDC leader should be given a passport and nothing else".

The civic organisations also took a swipe at the SADC Troika, which
postponed the  meeting to next Monday in Harare, for "dancing to Mugabe's

"We are baffled by the SADC Troika which postponed the meeting on the
grounds that the MDC leader did not have a passport," said Hlatswayo.

"Postponing the meeting to Harare means that the Troika is dancing to Mugabe's
tune. In a normal situation we would have expected the Troika to force
Mugabe to issue Tsvangirai with a passport and not to move the meeting to

Speculation is rife that the MDC leader will boycott the proposed the Harare
meeting if he is not issued with a passport.

Zimbabweans are anxiously waiting for the two main political parties to
conclude the power-sharing deal so the country can focus on political and
economic development.

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MDC has lost faith in Mbeki's mediation role

By Tichaona Sibanda
23 October 2008

The head of the MDC's women's assembly, Theresa Makone, on Thursday said her
party had lost 'total faith' in Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts to resolve
the crisis in Zimbabwe.

'Although we hold him in high esteem, we have felt as a party that he has
not treated us fairly to what he does to Robert Mugabe and his party,'
Makone said.

The women's assembly chairperson said what bothers the MDC is that when ever
they raise an issue of concern with Mbeki, he never responds.

'We have raised a lot of issues with him, including lately the alterations
to the memorandum of agreement signed by the party principals, but he has
not bothered to respond to us,' Makone added.

She wondered if Mbeki would ignore any of Mugabe's queries, adding that they
know a lot of things happen behind their back.

Meanwhile, a high level delegation of the MDC that is Kampala, Uganda for
the first tripartite summit of three eastern and southern African blocks,
has said Thabo Mbeki's usefulness in the Zimbabwe talks has come to an end.
They have asked the full grouping of SADC to step in and help, as opposed to
just the security organ of SADC that organized the recent summit.

The MDC delegation is being led by the party's vice-president Thokozani
Khupe and includes Elphas Mukonoweshuro, secretary for Foreign Affairs and
Elton Mangoma, the deputy treasurer-general.

The trio have been on a diplomatic offensive to the East African Community,
the Southern Africa Development Community and the Common Market of Eastern
and Southern Africa - asking the three regional economic blocs to trim the
powers of Robert Mugabe.

Concerned by Mbeki's endorsement of Mugabe's unilateral grab of key
ministries two weeks ago, the MDC delegation told various African leaders in
Kampala that they wanted a fair share of the ministries and governors'
posts. They also made it clear Mbeki was no longer an ideal mediator because
of his bias towards ZANU PF.

Reports said while MDC officials were not allowed inside the summit hall,
they met different groups, including individual presidents, to put their
grievances across to the leaders attending the tripartite meeting.

The group has also extensively used talk show radio interviews to lobby
African leaders. Speaking on Vision Voice FM, part of the state-owned New
Vision media group on Wednesday, Khupe said they wanted the African
countries, especially SADC members, to increase pressure on Mugabe to save
the power-sharing agreement.

Khupe explained that the power-sharing talks had reached a deadlock over two
fundamental issues: the equitable distribution of ministerial posts and of
governors' posts.

The MDC are demanding that five governors' posts be given to them, five to
Mugabe's ZANU PF and one to the MDC splinter party. Mangoma added that they
wanted four of the 10 most influential ministries. He added; 'This is where
African leaders are gathering for the COMESA, SADC and EAC summit and we
know that Mugabe will be here. We don't want only his side of the story to
be heard.'

The three regional economic communities in eastern and southern Africa
comprise 26 countries with a combined population of 527 million people.

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Corruption fears as UN funds to be channeled through the RBZ

By Alex Bell
23 October 2008

There are understandable concerns that internal corruption at the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will see desperately needed foreign monetary aid
being diverted into different channels - this as a cash boost of millions of
US dollars by the United Nations could soon be filtered through the central

The Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, administered by the
UN and funded by Britain, America and other influential world powers has
agreed in principle to Zimbabwe's request for help. It's understood the
government had applied for almost $300 million to fight Aids, $58 million to
combat tuberculosis, almost $60 million for malaria and $83 million for its
health service in general.

The money, if it reached its intended sources, would help Zimbabwe's
deteriorating health and medical services recover from their shocking
decline. The combined economic and political crises in the country have had
a dire effect on the health system, and an entire nation is now battling
hunger, cholera and Aids with no proper treatment.

But Zimbabwean law states that all foreign exchange must be deposited with
the Reserve Bank, and herein is where the concern lies. RBZ Governor and
close ally of Robert Mugabe, Gideon Gono, routinely delays releasing any
funds and funds have often mysteriously gone missing after being filtered
through the Bank. For example an estimated US$600,000 for one aid programme
was for several months kept in the grip of the Bank and a senior official
with one donor organisation in Harare reported that some funds had actually
gone missing after arriving at the RBZ. Large sums of donor money, in
foreign currency, had also reportedly been taken from the accounts of local
aid agencies during the presidential elections.

The UN's Global Fund has insisted that strict safeguards are in place to
prevent such known corruption within the RBZ. According to Global Fund's
communication director, Jon Liden, there is no reason for concern. "The
money is highly controlled in an extremely tight and cautious way," he said
in a recent interview. "We have not seen any signs of money being lost to
corruption in Zimbabwe, despite operating in Zimbabwe for five years."

But despite the UN's insistence that the critically needed cash injection
will not line the pockets of Robert Mugabe's political elite, there is
little confidence that the norm will not play out as usual. The Mugabe
government has made a concerted effort to hamper any critical aid to repair
the country, by blocking aid as well as stealing money and food. The fact
that funds have in the past disappeared leaves little hope that the UN's
assistance will be properly distributed.

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Negotiations now a mere tussle for power

October 23, 2008
Jupiter Punungwe

MORE than four months ago, Zimbabwean politicians began what at the time was
billed to be a two week exercise to mend bridges and form a government of
national unity. As an ominous sign of flippancy on their part, the
negotiators started by disagreeing over the unequal access to free beer,
that the hosts had granted them.

Now four months latter, the two sides clearly have more stomach for
insulting and humiliating each other than they have for agreeing on anything
of benefit to the nation. It is my sincere belief that structural defects in
the framework of the negotiations, which some of us warned about, are
responsible for the current stalemate.

First and foremost was the lack a clear vision and framework of what the
negotiators wanted to achieve in terms of transforming life in Zimbabwe. In
previous writings I have contrasted the current talks with the Lancaster
House talks. At the end of Lancaster House talks everybody knew how life was
going to change after the agreement was implemented. No mention at all was
made of the number of cabinet posts and who was going to occupy them.

In the current talks everything was about individuals who were supposed to
occupy posts and have certain powers given to them. Little, if any, mention
of how life should be transformed by the negotiations was made. The
expectation that life would be transformed for the better after certain
individuals were given powers was by presumption rather than by design. Up
to now nobody really knows what policies are going to be implemented by the
so called government of national unity.

To me it is clear that the country is going to, by and large, follow
existing Zanu-PF policies. They have sufficient numbers in cabinet and
control of the presidency to prevent any changes they don't like. If the
other side digs in and there is a stalemate, things continue being done
largely the way they have been done before. We are already seeing that now.
Crippling economic policies, including cronyism, are continuing while there
is a stalemate over the mere sharing of cabinet posts.

The second big flaw was a lack of a clear transitional framework. A
situation was allowed to prevail whereby those supposed to relinquish power
felt threatened by the transition. If I am holding a big stick, why should I
give you the stick when you keep promising to hit me with it? Especially, if
there is no mechanism for ensuring fairness on your part.  Forget that I
have been unfair myself but I still want my rights guaranteed. I must have
used megabytes of bandwidth writing postings reminding people of the
transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa and the transition
from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe.

The outgoing oppressors were allowed to retire in peace not just for their
sake, but also to give their supporters confidence in the new process and
make sure they did not feel threatened. In Zimbabwe's present case the MDC
were ambivalent about Mugabe's fate and clearly offered no guarantees to his
supporters. As it turns out the latter group are proving a major stumbling

The third flaw was the closeting of the negotiations within a small group of
overly ambitious politicians to the exclusion of broader society. So far
only a meager nine individuals have been left to determine the fate of the
country, two negotiators from each party and the respective leaders. The
individuals involved were far from being paragons of principle, and
inevitably the negotiations ended up focusing on what they as individuals
were supposed to reap from the process.

The closeting of negotiations even goes against the traditional democratic
practice of open courts (matare) which allowed all members of the community
to participate in decision making processes. At the end of the day the fate
of Zimbabweans was left to be determined largely by outsiders like the South
African mediators and of course Western ambassadors, especially the American
one, who clearly had an undue and damaging influence on the talks.

The apparent close consultations between the American ambassador, who some
claim was receiving hourly briefings during the talks, and the MDC, only
served to heighten the mistrust of the latter that Zanu-PF clearly have.
That in itself obviously diminishes the chances of Zanu-PF relinquishing
which, it should be clear to everyone, is still firmly in their hands.

From the above considerations it should be crystal clear that the talks had
no well defined objective in terms of transforming life in Zimbabwe. The
talks were thus reduced to a mere tussle for power between the MDC and
Zanu-PF. In this tussle for power each side is focusing on getting
possession of the stick of power and, of course, the side already holding
the stick is refusing to give it up.

At this point in time I am sure even the bedbugs in a Chikurubi mattress are
aware that no meaningful transfer of real power from Zanu-PF is going to
take place.

Apparently some people still have faith in a SADC facilitated process. Just
a cursory look at the participants of the process is enough to give clear
clues that the SADC process is unlikely to yield a democratic result. One
should, interestingly, note that an absolute monarch, dictator and serial
polygamist, was supposed to be the host of talks to try and advance
democracy in Zimbabwe. I wonder what exactly he was going to say in the
interests of democracy in Zimbabwe, given the situation in his own country.

It is also clear that Tsvangirai is virtually a prisoner. Zanu-PF is keeping
him where they can nab him at a moment's notice. My six-year old son got a
passport within a week of applying just a few weeks back. It should
therefore be exposed like the buttocks of a baboon, that the government,
place my six year old son several rungs higher than the MDC leader on the
ladder of importance. Does anybody seriously think such people are going to
allow him to exercise meaningful power? If people who think that way exist,
they are exercising a phenomenon called 'dreaming with the eyes open'.

At this point it is getting too late to expect a meaningful government of
national unity to ever emerge. However it is not too late to start talking
about how we want Zimbabwe to be run, irrespective of who is running the
country. As I have always advocated matters of principle should always be
openly discussed and advocated.

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Zimbabwe talks impasse 'threat to recovery bid'

23 October 2008

Hopewell Radebe

Agreement would open way for SA aid

Diplomatic Editor

THE ongoing political impasse in Zimbabwe posed a threat to regional plans
for the country's economic recovery, especially in the fragile agriculture
sector, foreign affairs director-general Ayanda Ntsaluba said yesterday.

He expressed concern at the lack of progress in talks aimed at negotiating a
power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe.

Ntsaluba said an agreement on the allocation of cabinet posts would open the
way for SA to help Zimbabwe to address its bigger challenges of "bringing
stability to food security". SA's treasury has set aside R300m to aid

"Unfortunately, there is no plan B for Zimbabwe, and we are hoping that the
leadership there would take the opportunity and rise to the challenge,"
Ntsaluba said.

The Zimbabwean talks are blocked over the allocation of cabinet posts, most
recently the finance and home affairs ministries, which President Robert
Mugabe claimed for his Zanu (PF) party over the strong objections of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The MDC said yesterday it looked increasingly possible it would abandon
talks with Mugabe and seek new elections.

Ntsaluba praised Finance Minister Trevor Manuel for pledging R300m which
will be channelled towards Zimbabwe's economic recovery with an emphasis on
agriculture projects.

Manuel says the R300m is "subject to acceptance of an appropriate role for
international food relief agencies by a recognised multiparty government".

Ntsaluba said he hoped for a breakthrough at the next Southern African
Development Community (SADC) mediation effort in Harare next week.

"SA's intentions are very good but time is not on our side. We are already
looking at another disastrous agriculture season," said John Makumbe, a
University of Zimbabwe lecturer.

"What would make sense is to use the money to purchase food for millions of
people who are starving or buy farming inputs for next year (the 2009-10
season) because the agriculture season is already on us and we have been
caught wanting again," he said.

Even if SA was immediately to release the funds, buy inputs, transport them
to Zimbabwe and distribute them among farmers it could take more than three
months, which would be too late in the season, Makumbe said.

The United Nations (UN) World Food Programme has warned that the number of
Zimbabweans needing food aid is expected to double by early next year, to
more than 5- million.

The UN has appealed for an extra $140m to deal with the crisis.

The organisation is already giving emergency food aid to about 2,5-million
people in Zimbabwe after the failure of this year's maize harvest.

Official Zimbabwean figures show that the country has less than 30% of its
national seed requirements.

Farmers have been forced to halve their maize hectarage to 500000 from a
targeted 1-million hectares. With ZimOnline

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Bad faith

23 October 2008

IT IS now clear that Zanu (PF) never had any real intention of negotiating
in good faith to resolve Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis. The
so-called power-sharing agreement with the opposition Movement For
Democratic Change (MDC), signed well over a month ago, was little more than
a bid to buy time and relieve the domestic and international pressure that
was ratcheting up against the regime.

In that it has been partially successful, with the global financial crisis
and threatened split in SA's ruling party serving to distract attention from
Zimbabwe. With hindsight, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was naive to believe
essential details such as the allocation of key ministries could be sorted
out after the agreement was signed - Robert Mugabe has a long history of
breaking his word and should never again be trusted.

But while Zanu (PF) may have wriggled out of the tight spot they were in,
the relief is bound to be temporary. As difficult as it is to imagine, the
misery suffered by ordinary Zimbabweans in recent years continues to worsen.
The economy is gutted; soon there will be little left of the country that is
worth fighting for.

Under these circumstances Tsvangirai cannot be blamed for being less than
enthusiastic over the new talks planned for next week in Harare. The
Southern African Development Community (SADC) has let him down repeatedly in
the past; why should this time be any different?

If SADC-appointed mediator Thabo Mbeki ever had any influence over Mugabe,
that has disappeared along with his status as president of the regional
powerhouse. Sadly, neither his replacement, Kgalema Motlanthe, nor African
National Congress president Jacob Zuma, seems poised for decisive

The only ray of hope is Botswana President Ian Khama, who appears to be
taking over where the late Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia left off as the only
significant thorn in Mugabe's side. His call for greater involvement by the
United Nations is the best suggestion on the table .

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Parirenyatwa Hospital Suspends Admissions

      HARARE - Parirenyatwa Hospital, one of the largest referral hospitals
in Harare has stopped hospital admissions with immediate effect due to a
chronic shortage of staff, drugs and food.

      "As much as we would love to admit patients we do not have the drugs
and food to give these patients and so we are turning them away,' a nurse
told Radio VOP.

      As the economic situation continue to deteriorate, qualified doctors,
nurses and other support staff continue to desert the health sector in
droves for the United Kingdom, South Africa and Botswana.
      In a sad turn of events this week the hospital was turning away
seriously ill patients as there was nobody to attend them and neither were
the drugs and food to give them available.
      Some dejected people ferrying ailing relatives could be seen leaving
the hospital after being told that the medical institution had stopped
      The western entrance to the hospital, called the Casualty Department,
is symbolic of the collapse of this once proud institution, formerly named
Andrew Fleming Hospital when it was built to serve the white Rhodesian
community under Ian Smith's regime. (In 1965 Smith, the white minority
leader of then Rhodesia, declared unilateral independence from Britain).
      The hospital reception is a theatre of agony: adults weep, the injured
groan and women who have just lost loved ones wail as new arrivals line up
only to be told that they hospital have stopped admissions.

      The economic meltdown has seriously affected the operations of the
hospital. In February the medical institutition stopped all surgical
operations after it ran out of theatre supplies.
      The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZAHDR) expressed
outrage at the worsening situation in government hospitals. Douglas
Gwatidzo, ZAHDR chairman, said he feared many lives would be lost if
government did not intervene urgently.

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Zimbabwe Health Care Deteriorates With Human Rights

By Dr. César Chelala Oct 22, 2008

Zimbabwe is-and is in-a problematic state. Once the breadbasket of Africa,
the country's population is suffering the consequences of government
policies that have seriously affected its people's health and quality of

With inflation rates soaring at an unprecedented 231 million percent, the
country is trapped in a political impasse that seriously affects the
humanitarian situation and demands urgent measures to avoid a catastrophe.

Hopes for a political settlement following the power-sharing agreement
between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai are
quickly being dashed following these adversaries' incapacity to agree over
control of the most important ministries, such as defense, home affairs, and

In the meantime, the health situation in the country continues to
deteriorate, affecting mainly children and those most vulnerable. The United
Nations estimates that more than 5 million people-almost half of the country's
population-is in need of food aid. Eighty-three percent of Zimbabweans are
living on less than two U.S. dollars a day, and 45 percent of the population
is malnourished, according to the U.N. World Food Program.

Rachel Pounds, Save the Children's Zimbabwe country director, has called
attention to the increasing malnutrition level among children and to the
need for increased food aid. Many children are eating rats or some inedible
roots such as makuri-which is riddled with toxic parasites-to control
hunger, according to that agency. That root has no nutritional value and
provokes terrible stomach pains.

Lack of proper nutrition seriously affects people's immune systems and makes
them more vulnerable to illnesses. This is particularly important for those
with HIV/AIDS, which affects one in five adults in Zimbabwe-the country with
the fourth-largest rate of HIV infection in the world.

Only a third of the 300 000 Zimbabweans who need antiretroviral drugs are
now receiving them. Lack of adequate statistics makes it difficult to follow
the course of the epidemic.

Critical as is the situation in Zimbabwe's main cities, it is even more
critical in rural areas. There is a tremendous lack of basic materials,
refrigerators, medicines, and medical personnel. Ambulances are grounded for
lack of fuel and spare parts. Many of the rural clinics have been left under
the supervision of nurses' aides, who lack the knowledge and means to treat
most patients.

Significant gains in child health in the 1980s are being eroded, according
to the World Health Organization (WHO). Under-5 mortality rose from 80 per
1,000 live births in 1990 to 123 per 1,000 in 2005.  Immunization programs
now cover less than 70 percent of children for some major childhood diseases
such as polio, diphtheria, and measles. Approximately 115 000 children under
14 years of age are infected with HIV, according to UNICEF.

Doctors have been leaving the country in droves because of low salaries and
bad working conditions. The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
(ZADHR) declared on June of 2007, "It can no longer be said the health
service is near collapse. The emptying of central and other hospitals of
staff, and therefore patients, means the health service has collapsed."

The food crisis has had a significant impact on children's education. Many
children drop out of school because they cannot afford to go, because they
need to work for food, or because their teachers cannot afford the journey
to the schools. In addition, many teachers have become HIV-infected.

This is a sad state of affairs for a country whose public health system was,
together with South Africa's system, among the most developed of most of the
40-odd other nations of sub-Saharan Africa, as I was able to see during a
visit to the country in the mid 1980s.

While people's rights in their widest sense have been systematically abused,
President Mugabe has strongly denied any criticism of his policies. He has
repeatedly declared, "Let me say once again that the West should spare us
their lessons on human rights. They don't have the moral authority to parade
themselves as torchbearers of human rights."

Zimbabwe needs massive foreign assistance to overcome this crisis. But the
government has placed serious restrictions on the work of aid agencies.
Although foreign aid is critical, it is up to Zimbabwe's new unity
government to lead the country out of this juncture, and restore what was
once a model public health system.

Dr. César Chelala is an international public health consultant.

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Mugabe will cling to power in carcass of Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe may be able to hold power in Zimbabwe for "a very long time"
unless his neighbours intervene, according to a senior Western diplomat.

By Sebastien Berger, Southern Africa Correspondent
Last Updated: 6:36PM BST 23 Oct 2008

The deadlocked power-sharing agreement with the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change has failed to produce a new government. Meanwhile, the
economy is spiralling into hyperinflation and collapse, forcing the regime
to print money in order to pay its bills.

But the diplomat judged that Mr Mugabe had enough resources to keep his
regime afloat. "There's still enough in the country in terms of minerals,
remittances and printing money to keep this regime in office, in power, for
the foreseeable future," he said.

"There's still enough meat on the carcass of Zimbabwe for this regime to
survive and not to be threatened. He doesn't need as many people as you

In order to stay in power, Mr Mugabe must maintain the levers of repression,
notably the army. On paper, Zimbabwe has 40,000 troops, but some 25,000 are
engaged in nothing more than growing food for themselves.

The diplomat, speaking anonymously, assessed that two brigades deployed in
urban areas, supported by a few other military units and some sections of
the police, would be enough to deal with any unrest and keep Mr Mugabe in

"Most of the police already don't get paid. He needs 15,000 to 20,0000 to
keep him in power and there's enough meat on the carcass to do that."

The only prospects for change were "either some kind of internal event,
either military or political" - neither of which appeared likely - or
"effective external intervention", said the diplomat.

"Mugabe wants what he regards as his prerogatives. He sees this place as a
wholly owned subsidiary of Mugabe Inc. He wants to continue controlling this
place. The thing is he can."

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Evicted 73 year old white farmer reduced to destitution

By Lance Guma
23 October 2008

A 73 year old white farmer evicted from his North Shangani farm in Chief
Sogwala's area of the Midlands, has been reduced to destitution and is now
begging for handouts. Our correspondent Lionel Saungweme reports that Collen
Dye, affectionately known as 'Ndex', was brutally assaulted by war veterans
and ZANU PF youths around the 21st July this year and evicted from his farm.
The eviction took place the same day as his birthday and he was forced to
walk 45 km to the main road where he was able to catch a lift to Bulawayo.

The farm invaders cut the phone lines, removed the poles and put them in a
scotch cart before taking them away. They also filled up the borehole on the
farm with stones and now members of the community who relied on it have to
walk over 10km to get alternative water supplies. The invaders eventually
sub-divided the farm into plots. They later set up snares to catch animals
on the farm and Saungweme reports that, 'there is now not a single animal on
the farm.'

Meanwhile Dye's health is failing because of the assaults and this is not
helped by his destitution. He is complaining of a painful chest, coughs a
lot and he's on the edge of starvation. Efforts at seeking assistance from
groups that help farmers have only resulted in him, 'being sent from pillar
to post.'

Dye was seen at the local MDC office in Bulawayo seeking help with things
like food and transport money. 'I saw him at the MDC office and he looked a
pale shadow of his former self. His whole body is scarred with injuries, he
looks hungry and has no money for anything,' Saungweme said.

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Zimbabwe starves as despair grows

Thursday, 23 October 2008 12:50 UK

A Zimbabwe boy in a parched maize field (Archive picture)
Many Zimbabweans face worsening food shortages

By Peter Biles
BBC News, Zimbabwe

This year's harvest in Zimbabwe has been the worst in the country's modern history.

In Mashonaland West province, some people are trying to survive by eating wild fruit and digging for roots

If we don't get help now, most of us are going to die. Nearly everyone here is starving
Mashonaland West villager

"It's very very bad. I've got 12 children and it's hard to find anything to give them," says a local village chief. "The whole of my village is struggling. No-one has food.

"There's nothing left here. So there's nothing I can do."

Driving deep into Mashonaland West is a reminder that most Zimbabweans live in rural areas.

The area around Karoi - 200km (124 miles) north of the capital, Harare - provides an illustration of the suffering currently being experienced in the countryside.

Farmers are without seeds, fertiliser and fuel. Next year's harvest is already being written off as a disaster as well.

As the political paralysis over the formation of the new power-sharing government continues, people are experiencing severe food shortages brought on by the catastrophic mismanagement of the economy and the virtual destruction of the country's commercial agricultural sector.

School dropouts

Some Zimbabweans get by on one meal a day if they are lucky, but there is a growing sense of desperation.

A person hold the amount of money needed to buy a loaf of bread in Harare in September 2008
Wads of cash are needed to buy what food is available in towns

One consequence is that thousands of children are said to be dropping out of school to look for food.

"In one district, 10,000 children of a population of 120,000 left school in a period of six months," says Rachel Pounds, country director of UK charity Save the Children.

"There's a lot of lost hope. Zimbabweans put up with things that get worse and worse, but you can see the despair in some of the poorer families in the villages.

"It's causing a breakdown of the community when people have to leave in order to find food," she added.

One villager in Mashonaland West pleaded for help before it was "too late".

"If we don't get help now, most of us are going to die. Nearly everyone here is starving."


He showed me three tins of stored maize, but said that with seven children to feed, the supply would only last for a week.

Earlier this month, the UN World Food Programme appealed for $140m (£86m) to provide vital relief rations over the next six months.

The UN warned that more than five million people (45% of the population) could need assistance by early 2009.

In the meantime however, non-governmental organisations working in Zimbabwe have been hit hard by the economic collapse of this once prosperous country, and the resulting cash crisis stemming from levels of inflation that are now completely out of control.

But it is not just the rural population which is suffering.

Bizarre and depressing

In the towns and cities, food is also in increasingly short supply.

A walk around a suburban supermarket in Harare is a bizarre and depressing experience.

We are distinctly aware that this is a food crisis that is growing
USAid's Karen Freeman

One store I visited looked as though it was in the final stages of a clearance sale.

Only two of the 19 check-out tills were operating, and most shelves were entirely empty.

There was no milk, cheese, margarine or yoghurt.

Some cabbages, onions and limp bunches of spinach were available, along with a few odd packs of frozen meat.

The aisles intended for household goods such as soap and toilet paper were empty and closed off.

The only fresh-looking food items in the shop were a few loaves of bread, priced this week at Z$30,000 a loaf (about $1).

However, Zimbabweans are only permitted to withdraw Z$ 50,000 a day from the banks.

A boy lifts a tin of water from a hole in Harare in September 2008
Residents of Harare are digging holes to find water

Most people often cannot afford what little food is available.

Only those fortunate enough to have access to foreign currency can circumnavigate the shortages.

"We are distinctly aware that this is a food crisis that is growing," says Karen Freeman, the director of USAid in Zimbabwe.

"The issue of urban vulnerability has never really been felt here before.

"You could go to the store and buy food in the past, but now you have no option.

"There's no food in the store and there's no food on the ground. The crisis now is one where you can neither buy food nor grow food."

This is almost entirely a man-made crisis, created by President Robert Mugabe's government, and his administration stands accused of having done nothing to help.

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Zimbabwe liberalises imports of farm inputs

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) The Zimbabwe government has liberalised the
procurement of agricultural inputs in a move that will see farmers being
allowed to import maize seed and fertilizer on their own as individuals, a
state-run newspaper said here on Thursday.

A critical shortage of maize seed and fertiliser was hampering efforts to
increase food production in the southern African country where nearly four
million people are facing starvation after a succession of poor harvests
since 2000.

Preparations for the 2008/09 season had stalled due to the absence of inputs
on the open market, with the limited supplies of maize seed, pesticides and
fertiliser only available to a few well-connected individuals.

The Herald daily said the Ministry of Agriculture had with immediate effect
removed restrictions on imports of agricultural inputs.

"Anyone who wants to import inputs like fertiliser and maize seed can come
to the ministry and we can discuss the modalities," the Minister of
Agriculture, Rugare Gumbo, told the newspaper.

Until the latest waiver, only registered seed companies and government
departments were allowed to import inputs into Zimbabwe.

Under the new arrangement, those wishing to import agricultural inputs would
have to obtain temporary licences from the Ministry of Agriculture.

  JN/nm/APA 2008-10-23

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Military seed merchants

Photo: IRIN
The new seed merchants

HARARE, 23 October 2008 (IRIN) - The distribution of agricultural inputs such as maize seed and fertiliser for the 2008/09 season has become the domain of Zimbabwe's military and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

As the first rains fell in October, farmers flocked to traditional input retailers, only to be told that the government, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, had bought all the seed from producers and had centralised the distribution of agricultural inputs.

"We received an instruction that the government had purchased all the seed and would be responsible for distribution to the farmers," an official who declined to be identified told IRIN.

"I have been in this business for more than 20 years and I know the government does not have the capacity to distribute seed. The best method is the traditional way of allowing retailers to sell to farmers."

The absence of maize seed came as the Southern Africa Region Climate Outlook Forum, based in neighbouring South Africa, predicted that Zimbabwe would record normal rainfall between October and December, a crucial stage in the growth of the country's staple food.

The commander of Zimbabwe's defence forces, General Constantine Chiwenga, assisted by senior military officials, has been given the responsibility of identifying the beneficiaries of agricultural inputs, and maize seed and fertiliser have been handed out at ZANU-PF rallies to party members and senior government officials.

Chiwenga, speaking at the launch of the initiative this week, said: "The distribution of inputs will kick off soon at a lightning speed, and our plan is to make sure that by November 14 this year, seeds should be underground waiting for the rains. This year we must all work together so that we eradicate hunger from our country."

State radio reported that distribution of the maize seed had started in some parts of the country, especially in the provinces of Mashonaland West, Central and East, the traditional support bases of ZANU-PF.

Seed only for senior officials

A ZANU-PF member in Marondera, a large town in Mashonaland East Province, told IRIN that senior army officers responsible for seed distribution were diverting it to the parallel market.

Only a few ZANU-PF provincial leaders were allocated seed and fertiliser, including the "A1" small-scale and communal farmers and the "A2" new black commercial farmers. "Ordinary party members, such as myself and other villagers, [were told] that the inputs had run out," the ZANU-PF member, who declined to be identified, told IRIN.

''Known or suspected Movement for Democratic Change supporters did not receive any maize seed or fertiliser from the soldiers, who are responsible for distribution''

"Known or suspected Movement for Democratic Change [MDC] supporters did not receive any maize seed or fertiliser from the soldiers, who are responsible for distribution," he said.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa told IRIN the military should not be involved in the distribution of agricultural inputs, as they did not have the capacity, and there was a possibility that they would be biased in favour of ZANU-PF supporters.

"There is a lot of disharmony, disunity and acrimony, especially in rural communities, which is being encouraged by ZANU-PF," Chamisa said. "We have received reports of the isolation of MDC members, and this points at ZANU-PF's insincerity about the whole process of dialogue and a new beginning."

A power-sharing deal signed on 15 September between the MDC and ZANU-PF has stalled, and the two parties are using increasingly acrimonious language against each other.

Renson Gasela, the MDC agricultural secretary and a former chief executive officer of the Grain Marketing Board, a parastatal grain monopoly, told IRIN that "we are heading for another disaster because the seed and fertiliser, which should be with the farmers, cannot be found."

The UN estimates that more than five million Zimbabweans - or nearly half the population - will require emergency food assistance in the first quarter of 2009.

National emergency

On 23 October Parliament introduced a motion that the food shortages constituted a national disaster; a full vote is to be conducted when the house reconvenes on 11 November.

ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980 in the general elections earlier this year. Gasela said its strategy now was to distribute seed to small-scale rural farmers in a bid to buy their loyalty.

Agricultural inputs are being sold in foreign currency on the parallel market; a 10kg bag of maize seed is priced at US$40, while a 50kg bag of fertiliser retails at US$60.

Agriculture minister Rugare Gumbo told the state-owned The Herald newspaper in an interview on 23 October that "Anyone who wants to import inputs like fertiliser and maize seed can come to the ministry and we can discuss the modalities, as whatever is done has to be authorised by us."

Zimbabwe is suffering an official annual inflation rate of 231 million percent and foreign currency has become a very scarce commodity.

''Seeds are usually preserved with a green chemical, but I was told that members of the community had soaked the maize seeds in water to remove the chemical and consumed them to avoid starving to death''

Gasela said licensing the import of agricultural inputs would not alleviate the seed and fertiliser shortage, because "The planting season is upon us already."

Anyhow, he added, it was very unlikely that a farmer would travel to the ministry in the capital, Harare, pick up a licence, apply for a visa to travel to South Africa, and then return in time to plant.

A journalist who declined to be named told IRIN after visiting his home in rural Masvingo Province that hunger was forcing farmers to eat what maize seed they had, instead of planting it.

"Seeds are usually preserved with a green chemical, but I was told that members of the community had soaked the maize seeds in water to remove the chemical and consumed them to avoid starving to death," he said. "Now they are living on wild fruit, which has caused the deaths of many villagers."


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Reach out to Zimbabwe's generals

The military's fear of retribution threatens a fragile power-sharing deal.
By The Monitor's Editorial Board
from the October 24, 2008 edition

Zimbabwe's political power-sharing deal - the hope of that tattered
country - is on the verge of collapse. Big-man leader Robert Mugabe has
grabbed the mightiest ministries for himself, handing paltry leftovers to
the opposition. But the problem is not that Mr. Mugabe won't share. It's
that his top generals fear what will happen to them if he does.

The fear is typical of perpetrators of violence and suppression whose
influence is coming to an end. In Africa, it gripped military and political
leaders in Rwanda, Burundi, and Liberia, to name a few countries once
cleaved by civil war and atrocities.

It didn't come to civil war in Zimbabwe, which not long ago was a prosperous
nation, and now suffers searing inflation, joblessness, and hunger. But its
citizens well remember the burned homes, beatings, rapes, and killings by
President Mugabe's security forces in the run-up to last June's presidential

Had the campaign been fair and safe, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the
opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), would have likely
ousted Mugabe, who has ruled for 28 years. Instead, Mr. Tsvangirai signed a
deal last month that allows his nemesis to stay on as president, while he
takes the post of prime minister. Cabinet ministries are to be almost evenly
divided between Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and his rivals.

At the signing, though, it wasn't decided who would get which ministries,
and negotiations have broken down. Tsvangirai indicated he could live with
the Army in Mugabe's portfolio, if he could have the police (which
brutalized him and many MDC faithful) and also the finance ministry, which
must change hands if the West is to gain confidence in a new unity
government and lift sanctions.

But this sensible allotment has met stiff resistance in Mugabe's camp. Part
of the concern is loss of patronage. The far more serious obstacle is the
worry by the military brass that they will be investigated by police who
come under Tsvangirai's control - and then prosecuted.

Tsvangirai has publicly said he has no interest in retribution, but the
power-sharing deal does not guarantee immunity, and the generals remain
suspicious. They sought protection in Mugabe, who owes them his job, and he
obliged last week by unilaterally claiming the police and key ministries.

When African leaders meet in Zimbabwe Oct. 27 to try to end this impasse,
Tsvangirai wants them to pressure Mugabe. But the pressure seems misplaced.
It is the generals who need persuading.

In the near term, Tsvangirai should build bridges to the military leaders
and try to establish some level of trust. This is how, for instance, Burundi
has been able to move forward since signing a peace accord in 2000 (an
accord that also did not guarantee immunity).

In the longer term, Zimbabwe needs to find a balance between justice and
mercy. It has a model in South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission,
which investigated apartheid's human rights violations, sought reparation
for victims, and weighed amnesty.

If Zimbabwe is to unify and heal, it must move from big-man to big-heart
politics. That's a long journey, but if Tsvangirai begins by taking the
first step, he makes it easier for Mugabe & Co. to follow.

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Child mauled by lions released from hospital with mounting medical expenses




Thursday, 23 October 2008: Courtney Sparrow, the eight year old Zimbabwean who was attacked by two lions on her parent’s Masvingo property in Zimbabwe, has been released from Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg.


On the day of the incident, 16 September 2008, due to life threatening injuries Courtney was airlifted by Medical Air Rescue Services from Masvingo to Harare. The hospital in Harare could not adequately deal with her injuries so she had to be airlifted from Harare to South Africa the next day. Courtney’s life threatening injuries were to her oesophagus, the dura surrounding her brain, a large portion of the scull which was bitten off, the orbit of the eye which was crushed, facial bites and bites to her arm, back and abdomen.


The injuries were to multiple parts of her body and therefore it was necessary for a team of doctors to care for her including pediatric, neuro, plastic and ophthalmic surgeons.  


Under the care of these doctors she has undergone 16 hours of surgery, the most recent operation re-implanted the bone into her scull. Courtney is being watched in Johannesburg for any signs of infection, but according to her mother, Margaret, “fortunately all has gone very well and there appears to be no complications although Courtney is very thin and run down but building up her strength.”


The issue the family now faces is how to pay for expenses, owing to Netcare, the Milpark Hospital, Medical Air Rescue Services and the various doctors. Courtney needs to undergo further surgery to rebuild a portion of her face as this bone was crushed, eye surgery and as well as cosmetic surgery. “We did not have medical insurance,” says father Ron, “because our Zimbabwean medical aid has gone into liquidation and we didn’t have international cover.”


“People who have heard about the story through the media and even Facebook have been helping, even children have been donating small amounts and BSi Steel, a JSE-listed steel company, based in Pietermaritzburg has come to our aid with an incredible R100 000 donation. They have also assisted us to set up an audited Section 18A Trust Fund to accept and manage donations on behalf of Courtney via Neil’s Comfort Fund, which will be our relief fund for Courtney’s ongoing medical expenses.”


William Battershill, the chairman and Group CEO of BSi Steel explains his motivation and involvement, “As an ex-Zimbabwean myself, I was horrified by the story of a little girl who was mauled by lions intended to protect the family’s property from a war veteran invasion. We really wanted to help support her family. I encourage businesses in particular to get involved and support Courtney via Neil’s Comfort Fund as donations are now tax deductible.”


Courtney’s medical expenses are expected to be between R1 million and R1.5 million and currently stand at R700 000. Money raised so far is R450 000.


Businesses and members of the public are asked to help the Sparrow family with contributions so that this will aid Courtney to put her life back together.


Neil’s Comfort Fund

NPO 56 /200

Standard Bank

Account # 252 682 580

Branch # 057525

Swift Code: SBZAZAJJ


Please use BSI as the reference 


PHOTO CAPTION – these photos are available at hi-res on request:
Courtney Sparrow who was mauled by two lions is on the mend. At an outing to the Lippizaner horses this past Sunday.  


For further information or hi res photos, please contact Michelle K Blumenau, Turquoise PR & Marketing Communications +27 83 273 9891 / +27 11 728 5004



Meg McCleary +27 33 8462227 (BSi Steel)

Syd Kelly +27 33 3946001 (Neil’s Comfort Fund)

Ron & Margaret Sparrow + 27 83 633 7017 (Courtney’s parents)


Neil’s Comfort Fund

Syd Kelly started Neil’s Comfort Fund after the death of his son Neil. The fund assists ordinary members of the community who are in need on a daily basis.


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Twiza the Lowveld giraffe

A giraffe called Twiza (Shona word for Giraffe) was adopted by Theresa and Gary Warth when, some years ago, farm staff found Twiza's mother dead and brought the baby calf to Theresa to care for. Theresa's love of wild animals is legend in the Chiredzi Lowveld in Zimbabwe.

The Warth's have lost most of their 2,000ha Wasara (Stay a While) ranch except for the 250ha game fence and 10ha on which they do commercial vegetables with water from a small weir. During the last full moon, poaching went mad. This weekend both Twiza and her son George were found dead. Death by hanging from snares laid in the top of the thorny acacia trees where they get their food.

The animals were left to rot without taking a single slice of meat - and that in a desperately hungry country.

Theresa Warth

I have had Twiza from when she was a few days old, New Year 95/96. We brought her up on milk. Because she was quite tall already at birth, we taught her how to drink out of a jug instead of a bottle. Which worked very well.
After weaning her off the milk, she joined my other giraffe in a game paddock, near my house. We still fed her everyday with game cubes. When we moved to the ranch we are on now, we captured all our giraffe, our eland herd, and warthogs, also hand reared in the 1992 drought, and moved them to our own new ranch. Bought in 1998, part of the Chiredzi River Conservancy. A collection of ranches set aside for the preservation of wildlife and Africa's precious flora.

Twiza walked up the ramp behind me into the big truck to join the other giraffe, that is how tame she still was.
On our new ranch, Wasara, we had put up a game fence on a small section of the ranch. Here all my animals were let go. Whenever we drove into the game fence, Twiza would come running up to the vehicle, to see us and in the winter months to get some extra game cubes, which she loved. She always was a favorite with visitors.
Over the years she has had numerous calves, sadly with the situation in the last 8 years, she has lost them to poachers, mostly at a very early age.

Over the election period this year, 5 of my 10 giraffe were killed by known poachers. One of the ones killed was Twiza's new calf, barely 6 months old.

Twiza luckily survived the election period, although she did get snared, managed to pull the snare free off the tree. She still had the snare noose around her neck, and the 3 strand wire hanging down between her legs, every time she walked past trees, the wire would get caught and the noose would tighten again. Luckily we found her, with a lot of patience, and trust from her, I eventually managed to remove the noose around her neck.

The worst poaching takes place over the full moon nights and days, the moon is so bright, the poachers can hunt and set their snares 24 hours a day. This last full moon period the poaching was very bad. They were in my game fence day and night. Either cutting and stealing the fence or hunting. The area was too large to keep control.

The lovely new green leaves have started coming out on the trees, the poachers set snares up in amongst the leaves of the trees the giraffe browse from. On night of the 16th October they snared and killed Twiza's 2 and a half year old son. We found him dead, no attempt had been made to salvage the meat, they were just going to let it rot. On Sunday morning, 19th October, we found Twiza, also dead, sadly we did not find her in time, she had died on the Saturday. Again the meat was left to rot.

Death by hanging, the poor animal struggles for quite a long period, trying to free itself from the pain. Eventually it dies, or gets hacked to death by the poachers, if they find it still alive. Many animals die a very slow death, the snare catches them around a leg or the waist, the animal dies of thirst and starvation. Luckily Twiza's death was faster. The snare can also break off near the noose, then the animal has the wire still attached to its limb, very tight, there is no blood circulation anymore, eventually after weeks or months of pain the animal dies. Three quarters of the wildlife killed and snared in the last 8 years of destruction, has rotted at its place of death, no one has bothered to check if the snares, laid, have caught anything. The wildlife in Zimbabwe is a silent, innocent victim. It has no voice to cry out for help. Please help it, before it is too late, and there is nothing left for the generations to come. FOR TWIZA AND THOUSANDS OF OTHERS IT IS TOO LATE.

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South Africa - no longer the Promised Land

Why there is no welcome for Zimbabwe's refugees south of the border

Anyone who thinks that escaping to the apparent sanctuary of South Africa
could be an answer to the suffering we face in Zimbabwe is mistaken. I have
just spent a couple of days in the Republic, and I have to warn anyone
contemplating such a step. Life for us in South Africa can be hard, cruel
and devoid of hope.

Just getting there is fraught with difficulty. As any Zimbabwean will tell
you, anyone wishing to cross the Limpopo must have a visa, and to get that
visa you must demonstrate you are worth at least R2,000 - something out of
reach to most of us, even the professionals.

Even to apply for a visa you must have a passport - something with which our
top politicians seem to have problems. You can of course apply for an
Emergency Travel Document, a piece of paper valid for six months. To get
that you must convince the Registrar-General's office that your need to
leave Zimbabwe is vital.

Perhaps it is. But you try explaining to the Zanu-PF members who staff the
Registrar-General's office that you need to escape torture and death at the
hands of Zanu-PF terror squads, and see how far you get.

Of course, you can bribe them. Average cost of an Emergency Travel Document
tends to be R500 - again, not the sort of loose change that the average
Zimbabwean has in his or her pocket.

So let us assume you do it the hard way. You escape through the wire at the
border, and find yourself in South Africa. What awaits you there?

Your first task is to apply for an asylum permit at the South African
Department of Home Affairs. These permits, amazingly, are free. I visited
Crown Mines, a refugee reception centre in Johannesburg, and saw 3,000
Zimbabweans waiting, desperately hoping to apply for one. But the officials
serve only 100 applicants each week - that's 50 each on Thursday and Friday.
Some Zimbabweans have been waiting for five months, sleeping in the open.

You can of course bribe your way to the front of the queue, if you have the
necessary cash. But even then most applications are rejected, and the people
are given either 14 or 30 days to leave the country.

"They told me that since the power-sharing agreement had been signed in
Zimbabwe, there was no reason for me to be here," said Trust Mathe, who's
application had just been rejected. "They said I should go home to re-build
Zimbabwe, where the violence has ended and everyone is living in peace and

Peace? Harmony? It would be interesting to hear from anyone who is enjoying
this new "peace and harmony" in Zimbabwe. Write and tell us all about it.

Posted on Thursday, 23 October 2008 at 06:38

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