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Zimbabwe opposition legislator backtracks on funding allegations

Zim Online

Thu 27 October 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
legislator Job Sikhala on Wednesday backtracked on earlier claims that the
party illegally received funding from Ghana, Nigeria and Taiwan saying this
was a mere "thick rumour."

      In yet another bizarre claim, Sikhala, described by MDC presidential
spokesman William Bango as a "candidate for psychiatric attention", said he
made the claim in a bid to jolt squabbling leaders of the opposition party
to bury their differences.

      Sikhala - whose statement elicited official denials from Abuja and
Accra - claimed yesterday that as a result of his false statement, the two
wrangling MDC factions, one led by party president Morgan Tsvangirai and the
other by secretary general Welshman Ncube, had now begun working to resolve
their differences.

     "That was a political statement to achieve an objective. That
objective has been achieved because warring factions in the MDC are working
to resolve their differences as a result of that statement," said Sikhala.

      Sikhala, a former University of Zimbabwe student leader, added: "I
just said it could be one of the things (control of donor funds) that was
making our leaders argue like this. Unfortunately, it was taken as fact."

      The MDC legislator told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that the
opposition party received a total of US$2.5 million from Taiwan, Ghana and
Nigeria. He said ongoing bickering threatening to tear apart the MDC was
triggered by a US$500 000 donation from Nigeria and Ghana which party
leaders were fighting over.

      Both Tsvangirai and Ncube strongly denied the claim that the MDC had
taken money from outside the country in violation of the Political Parties
Finance Act.

      The governments of Nigeria and Ghana also denied the allegation that
they had funded the Zimbabwe opposition party with Ghanaian President John
Kuffour's press secretary dismissing it as "purely baseless and

      But Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told state media on
Tuesday that the government had asked Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri
to open an investigation into whether the MDC illegally took money from
foreign governments.

      The MDC, the biggest opposition party in Zimbabwe, has wrangled over
the last four weeks after failing to agree whether to contest a senate
election on November 26.

      Tsvangirai, supported by the leaders of the youth and women's wings,
has said the party should boycott the poll because it will be rigged by
President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party. The opposition leader also
says the senate is a wasteful and unnecessary project in a country facing
severe food shortages.

      But Ncube and the other four most senior leaders of the MDC argue that
the party should contest because its national council voted to take part in
the poll. The Ncube faction also says it would be pointless to surrender
political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF by boycotting the senate poll.

      The divisions sharpened on Monday after 26 candidates defied
Tsvangirai and submitted their names to stand in some of the 50 senate
constituencies up for grabs. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe chief justice says nothing wrong in judges accepting land seized from whites

Zim Online

Thu 27 October 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwean Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has defended
judges and other judicial officers allocated land seized from whites by the
government saying they were also entitled to land as citizens of the

      Chidyausiku, appointed to head the bench in 2001 after President
Robert Mugabe forced out former chief justice Anthony Gubbay and other
independent judges, rejected criticism that judges who benefited from farm
seizures were compromised and could not be expected to be fair when
presiding over land seizure disputes.

      The Chief Justice, who was speaking at a passout parade for police
officers in Harare last Friday, said: "I do not accept any of the criticism
that judges and other law officers should not have received land under the
land reform programme. Judicial officers and police officers, like all other
Zimbabweans, are legitimate beneficiaries of the land reform programme."

      Chidyausiku charged that local human rights activists and lawyers at
the forefront of criticising his bench were themselves of "questionable
integrity" warning the critics that the judiciary may choose to hit back. He
did not say how.

      "Ironically, this criticism seems to emanate from those legal
practitioners whose integrity is questionable. Those who live in glasshouses
should avoid throwing stones at others who might do the same," Chidyausiku
ominously warned.

      Chidyausiku and his bench have been roundly condemned at home and
abroad for failing to defend the rights of ordinary Zimbabweans against a
government onslaught to suppress swelling public discontent in the face of
severe economic hardships.

      But Chidyausiku said he had simply thrown into "the trash bin" reports
by groups such as the International Bar Association that were highly
critical of his bench.

      A former civil servant, Chidyausiku is widely seen as a staunch
supporter of Mugabe and his government.

      One of the first things Chidyausiku did soon after his appointment was
to guide the Supreme Court to overturn an earlier ruling by the same court
when it was under Gubbay in which it had said that there was lawlessness on
white farms and that state law and order agencies should move in to remove
illegal invaders from various farms.

      Chidyausiku's bench has also upheld as constitutional various
repressive security and Press laws passed by the government in the last four
years. - ZimOnline

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Market sees "invisible hand" as Zimbabwe dollar claws back

Zim Online

Thu 27 October 2005

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe dollar yesterday clawed back from heavy losses
on Tuesday to trade at around $60 000 to the greenback in a move market
traders said could be a pointer to an "invisible hand" trying to influence
the direction of the battered local currency.

      The dollar had on Tuesday plummeted 193 percent from $26 000 to $76
300 to the US dollar, which was within distance of the $90 000 the local
dollar changes for against the US unit on the thriving black market, where
many Zimbabweans obtain their foreign exchange.

      However the Zimbabwe dollar had shed some of the losses yesterday,
trading in a range of between $45 000 and $63 000, giving a weighted average
of $60 200 to the greenback.

      Traders with local banks said there was general fear in the market on
whether they could set higher rates and had resorted to wait for direction
from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

      Under the new interbank system, the RBZ buys all excess hard cash
daily from banks at the weighted market average rate of $60 200 to the
American dollar, unilaterally set by the central bank and which traders say
they do not know how it is calculated.

      Holders of free funds, diplomats, individuals and Zimbabweans abroad
sell their hard cash at the market average rate.

      "It is still too early to say why the currency appreciated but it
could be that people do not want to trade at rates that might make some
people uncomfortable in the short-term," a trader with a Harare commercial
bank told ZimOnline.

      "If you look at it there is no fundamental basis for the currency to
appreciate, but then it is still too early to pass judgment on whether
someone is trying to influence the market."

      Analysts say the new interbank market can only succeed if market
forces are left to determine the rates.

      Exporters are required to sell 70 percent of their proceeds at the
interbank market and the rest at the central bank auctions where the
Zimbabwe dollar is still trading at $26 000 to the greenback.

      There are very few banks that are trading, with most opting to take a
wait and see approach but traders say the market could be much active by the
end of next week when all outstanding issues are cleared.

      Some dealers charged that large and established banks, that have the
bulk of customers were also trying to influence the market by quoting the
Zimbabwe dollar at below $50 000. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe to probe opposition on foreign funds


 Wed Oct 26, 2005 4:50 PM BST

By Stella Mapenzauswa

HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe's government on Wednesday ordered
a probe into charges that Zimbabwe's main opposition party received funds
from foreign governments illegally.

But Nigeria and Ghana denied they gave funds to the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and said their only involvement with the opposition had been in
trying to mediate in the country.

Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying he would
ask police to investigate a possible breach by the MDC of the Political
Parties Finance Act.

The act forbids foreign funding and the alleged breach followed accusations
by an MDC MP that his party had recently received money from Ghana, Nigeria
and Taiwan.

"I will draw to the attention of the Commissioner of Police ... the
revelations made by the Honourable Job Sikhala," Chinamasa said in quotes to
the state Herald newspaper on Wednesday. "They will advise us accordingly."

The penalty for breaching the act is a Zimbabwe dollar fine equivalent to
the market value of the illegal foreign donation.

Sikhala, an MDC legislator, was quoted by local media on Monday as saying
party leaders were squabbling over $2.5 million (1.4 million pounds) in
funds received from Nigeria, Ghana and Taiwan.

He later withdrew the charges and in remarks broadcast on state television
on Wednesday said he had made them in anger over the rifts bedevilling his

The MDC is split over whether to participate in November 26's election for
the new 66-seat upper house of parliament.

MDC party leader Morgan Tsvangirai has ordered supporters not to stand in
the poll, to avoid lending legitimacy to a government he says routinely rigs


Tsvangirai's position has been opposed by his five top lieutenants, who
argue the MDC has a national duty not to concede further political ground to
President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party without a fight.

Some members have already registered to contest the polls.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi denied on Wednesday that the party had
received money from the countries named.

"The claim is a complete fabrication, devoid of all truth. The MDC has never
received any donation of whatever kind from Ghana and Nigeria,"
Themba-Nyathi told Reuters.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Oluyemi Adeniji said Abuja had never provided any
funds and that President Olusegun Obasanjo's only involvement was in trying
to mediate in Zimbabwe's crisis.

"The outburst that Nigeria is financially supporting the opposition is
totally false. Nigeria can never do that. We seek peace, not confusion,"
Adeniji added.

Ghanaian President John Kufuor's spokesman Kwabena Agyepong also denied the
West African state had funded the MDC.

"It is true that the president received Morgan Tsvangirai to discuss the
situation in Zimbabwe but this was more than a year ago ... The president
did not give Mr Tsvangirai a dime," he told Reuters from Washington where
Kufuor is on a visit.

There was no immediate comment from Taiwan.

(Additional reporting by Kwaku Sakyi-Addo in Accra and Tume Ahemba in Lagos)

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South Africa: Mbeki's big mistake

International Herald Tribune

      Jeffrey Herbst Foreign Affairs/IHT

      WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2005

      OXFORD, Ohio In the 11 years since it abandoned white minority rule,
South Africa has made enormous progress in many areas. But as the dominant
African National Congress under President Thabo Mbeki undergoes its
evolution from an armed resistance group to the governing party at the head
of a proud, business-friendly democracy, it too often continues to view all
politics through the lens of the national liberation struggle, identifying
racism as the basic problem and solidarity as the only answer.

      Among the tragic consequences of this fixation have been Mbeki's
almost bizarre response to the AIDS epidemic and his failure to publicly
criticize the regime of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. A less well publicized
but also problematic stance is the ANC's policy of Black Economic
Empowerment, known as BEE, which involves the attempt to shift the equity
ownership of South African companies from the current (white) hands to black
ones. To this end, the government has established industry-specific charters
that generally mandate that 25 percent black ownership be achieved within
the next decade. The shares are supposed to be sold to their new black
owners at market value, but because of the government-imposed time limits,
businesses have not had much leverage in negotiations.

      As a result of the policy, a small number of politically connected
black South Africans have made a tremendous amount of money. For instance,
60 percent of the empowerment deals struck in 2003, valued at 25.3 billion
rand (about $4 billion at current exchange rates), went to just two

      The dramatic enrichment of these "BEE-llionaires" has generated
increasing criticism, even from within the ANC. Kgalema Motlanthe, its
secretary general, complained that in addition to the same names appearing
on deal after deal, many transactions have resulted in wealth "transfer"
rather than "transformation," because they have done nothing to alter the
economic structure of South Africa.

      Accurate as such criticisms are, they misunderstand Mbeki's strategy
for transforming the economy. He is deliberately working to create an iconic
black business elite in the hope that this will improve the relationship
between his government and the corporate world, extend the ANC's influence
outside politics and help win more investment in South Africa.

      Creating a high-profile group of ultra-rich blacks is, in Mbeki's
logic, the best way to end the "investment strike" that South Africa is said
to be suffering from; the white business class, it is supposed, will never
be friendly to the new South Africa.

      Such a top-down redistribution strategy may seem surprising given the
ANC's former socialism and the extraordinary destitution of a large
percentage of black South Africans, the party's core constituency.

      The president's thinking seems to have been influenced by the
successful Afrikaner effort to build up an Afrikaner business elite in the
1920s as part of a comprehensive strategy to end the "poor white problem"
and seize control of the state from the British.

      There is also the Malaysian example. Malaysia is an attractive
precedent because it too had an economy dominated by a small, racially
defined elite (Chinese) and yet has managed, despite some significant
stumbles, to grow at an extraordinary rate since the early 1960s. It did
this in part by enacting laws that, through affirmative action and the
targeted use of government assets, encouraged the emergence of an ethnic
Malaysian business class. These laws were the brainchild of Mahathir bin
Mohamad, prime minister from 1981 to 2003, who argued that the best way to
keep the shares of privatized state assets in indigenous hands was to hand
them over to those Malays "most capable of retaining them, which means the

      Unlike Mahathir, however, Mbeki has not taken the other steps to
change the attitudes of blacks toward business. Having spent much of his
adult life in exile, Mbeki seems to have neither the skills necessary to
create mass mobilization nor the desire to lead such a drive. He has not,
for instance, tried to develop a culture of stock ownership among ordinary
blacks or to encourage them to invest their savings in the formal economy.
He has also done little to create a truly indigenous vision of capitalism.

      Unfortunately, Mbeki's top-down approach is unlikely to succeed;
simply creating a number of black capitalists will not, by itself, improve
economic growth in South Africa. There is no reason to believe that black
business people will do anything but seek out the best business
opportunities for themselves and their companies. And if Mbeki keeps forcing
companies to diversify their ownership, this could discourage outside
investors, who will worry that their equity could be lost in the near future
as the result of government-mandated sales or transfers.

      South Africa needs to accelerate its economic growth by increasing the
incentives for investment and savings. Mbeki seems very unlikely to change
his ways before he leaves power in 2009. It will be up to his successor to
build on the many positive developments that have occurred since 1994.

      (Jeffrey Herbst is provost at Miami University in Ohio and a co-author
of ''The Future of Africa: A New Order in Sight?'' This article is based on
an essay that will appear in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs

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MDC head disowns rebel candidates


      Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has distanced himself
from Movement for Democratic Change members who registered as election
      This week 26 MDC members registered to stand in Senate elections next

      Mr Tsvangirai had earlier announced the MDC would not field
candidates. The dispute over the Senate election has left the MDC in its
worst-ever crisis.

      Mr Tsvangirai's spokesman, William Bango, said state security services
were sowing divisions in the MDC.

      "Mr Tsvangirai maintains the party is not contesting the elections,
and any [MDC] person who found their way into the nomination court was
committing fraud," Mr Tsvangirai's spokesman, William Bango, told the BBC
News website. "The party directed the nomination court not to accept MDC
names," he added.

      "We are waiting for an answer on why the nomination court accepted
them. We suspect the nomination court was pressured by the security services
to ignore our instructions."

      'Political problem'

      Asked whether the 26 candidates would be subject to disciplinary
action by the party, Mr Bango said Mr Tsvangirai's intention "was not to
seek blood at the earliest opportunity".

      "Mr Tsvangirai believes this is a political problem and he is seeking
a political solution - he does not want to embark on retribution over a
difference of opinion."

      The MDC believes violence and fraud have made previous poll results

      Zimbabwe has had a single-chamber parliament since 1987, when Mr
Mugabe abolished the Senate.

      But the government now says the reintroduction of the Senate will
boost the authority of parliament.

      The Senate will comprise 10 traditional chiefs, 50 senators elected on
a constituency system and six appointed by the president.


      Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean government says it will investigate
allegations that the MDC received illegal funding from three other

      MDC member Job Sikhala said his party received $2.5m from Nigeria,
Ghana and Taiwan but he later withdrew the allegation which has also been
denied by others in the party.

      Zimbabwean legislation prohibits external funding of political

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Zimbabwe sacks 24 policemen

Sunday Times, SA

Wednesday October 26, 2005 14:48 - (SA)

HARARE - Zimbabwean authorities have sacked 24 police officers for various
offences ranging from corruption to ill-treatment of suspects, a spokesman

"The 24 committed various crimes over a period of time and were discharged,"
spokesman assistant commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said.

The fired policemen, including two senior officials holding the rank of
assistant inspector, appealed their dismissals but were unsuccessful.

The most common crime was corruption and included receiving bribes or taking
foreign currency, sugar and petrol for their personal use.

An assistant inspector along with two of his subordinates were dismissed for
using unnecessary violence and ill-treatment of a suspected cattle rustler.


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Zimbabweans lashed and deported as border jumping intensifies

      By Tererai Karimakwenda and Warren Moroka
      26 October 2005

      Twenty-two Zimbabweans were lashed and deported from Botswana last
Thursday as police intensified efforts to contain the ever-growing number of
illegal Zimbabwean immigrants. According to the police, the accused persons
ranged from 16 to 34 years of age.

      Several groups of Zimbabweans have been arrested by the Botswana
Police Services in the last two weeks as part of a widening campaign aimed
at increasing security in the easily accessible border areas. All of them
appeared before a customary court near Ramogkwebana, the border post village
in which they were arrested.

      A customary judge sentenced each of the 22 to a lashing before the
state courts ruled to deport them back to Zimbabwe. According to police in
Botswana, officers have been deployed to rural villages in the general
border area in anticipation of an increase in border jumping by Zimbabweans
seeking menial jobs that come with the farming season.

      Many Zimbabweans tend to take advantage of the generally poor police
visibility in the Botswana countryside and find odd jobs while living
illegally in outlying villages. They have complained that Botswana citizens
take advantage of the cheap labour offered by foreigners and are notorious
for refusing to pay even the smallest amount once the job is done knowing
they have no recourse. In some cases, they even call the police to report
the presence of an illegal immigrant just to avoid paying.

      It is much more difficult for Zimbabweans to get legal status in
Botswana than it is in South Africa, which processes no more than a dozen a
week while hundreds of thousands remain illegal. But the plight of
Zimbabweans in Botswana has received much less publicity compared to those
below the Limpopo.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Urban Sprawl Threatens Vic Falls

The Herald (Harare)

October 26, 2005
Posted to the web October 26, 2005

Wisdom Mdzungairi

TOURISTS with binoculars scan the thickly-wooded banks of the mighty Zambezi
River for crocodiles, hippos and elephants.

Giraffes munch lazily at an acacia tree. Buffaloes graze on an open plain
that breaks the woods.

Other game frolic, rumble, snort, rock and roll.

Mighty animals with celebrity status - Lion the King - trek the landscape,
offering one a ringside seat at nature's game show.

It may look like a typical view of an idyllic African safari, but Victoria
Falls, the country's premier tourism resort, in particular the Rainforest in
the Victoria Falls National Park, is rather different.

Just yards behind the safari park outside the country's premier tourism
centre, a factory belches grey smoke into the sky while in the overcrowded
Chinotimba high-density suburb, lodges and hotels push ever closer to the
park's fence.

An unprotected dumpsite in the middle of the wildlife territory perpetually
burns while baboons and other scavenging animals forage for scraps in the

Aircraft roar over the park from an airport and at a heliport close to the
Elephant Hills Hotel, though there is barely a rustle from the animals
below, so used are they to noise pollution.

The helicopter companies offer a panoramic view of the Victoria Falls during
the 12 to 13 minute flights and a close up view of the mighty falls or
combines it with a 30-minute game flight into the Zambezi National Park.

Flying at an altitude of 1 000 feet, a mandatory regulation by the aviation
authorities, the helicopter is slow enough to present an eagle's eye view of
the whole length of the falls and its elegant bridge, built as part of the
Cape to Cairo route. This, though at the expense of the environment.

"There's a lot of history down there," declared one excited German tourist.

On the other side, where the park melds into the plains of the Zambezi
Valley, hundreds of homesteads, lodges and hotels dot the landscape,
blocking the migration in and out for thousands of game from any side.

The town council grappling with a shortage of residential properties last
year imposed stiff penalties to deter the construction of shacks in the
resort town.

However, at the time the executive mayor, Mr Wesley Sansole, said the local
authority would only allow each household to have a maximum of two shacks.
He said the move was meant to deter the proliferation of shanty houses that
could develop into squatter camps.

"While the local authority is trying by all means to address the shortage of
accommodation . . . there is also need to look at the consequences that may
be brought through random construction of shacks," said Mr Sansole.

"There has been an influx of various people from different parts of the
country in search of employment in the tourism related industries and this
has indirectly resulted in the need for accommodation."

Over 10 000 people were on the council's housing waiting list whose
population is estimated to be more than 85 000 people.

This means that the expansion of Zimbabwe's premier resort town has been
hampered by the shortage of land, as it is surrounded by Zambezi, Victoria
Falls National Park and Matetsi Safari area, which stretches from the
country's major animal sanctuary - Hwange National Park.

Because there is no land for expansion, shacks, which sprung in the early
1990s despite strong resistance in the tourism sector and environmentalists,
now seem to be acceptable in the town.

Environmentalists warn that Zambezi and Victoria Falls national parks - one
of the Seven Wonders of the World and most unique - may soon go out of
existence if the urban sprawl continues and tourists are put off by falling
animal numbers.

In a recent interview, Environment and Tourism Minister Cde Francis Nhema
said having accepted that the march to progress was inevitable, Zimbabwe
should face up to the fact that manmade hazards, such as population
encroachment and pollution, would continue.

Cde Nhema, however, said there was need to educate newly-resettled farmers
near Victoria Falls and Hwange on the value of wildlife and the need for
tourism industry to safeguard the environment to derive more benefits from

In a recent interview, Secretary for Environment and Tourism Ms Margaret
Sangarwe said there should be annual environmental audits to reduce
pollution in the Victoria Falls.

"There was that concern (environmental damage). So we feel there should be a
Master Plan for the whole area. The one that was funded by the Canadians
died a natural death. But certainly there is need for stakeholders to come
together and see how best to fund the implementation of the Master Plan.

"The Victoria Falls could be one of the few natural parks, and World
Heritage Sites right next to a town on earth. But the problems it faces are
immense. The future of the park is under threat if we do not take serious
measures now," Ms Sangarwe added.

"So we are working out a counter-strategy to sustain the wildlife habitat .
. . If no action is taken now, this wonderful heritage could be lost for

Any developments within the Victoria Falls should be guided by the Tourism
Master Plan, she added.

After donors pulled out of the project to come up with a Master Plan for the
area, there was another initiative between Parks and Wildlife Management
Authority and Zambia Wildlife Authority to protect the environment and
wildlife heritage from collapse. Ms Sangarwe said nothing much has been done
due to under-funding.

She said although the tourism receipts have declined, there was potential
for a major spring for the tourism sector in future.

A combination of diverse factors including pollution, population growth,
lack of political will by the local town authorities and poaching, have left
the park in a precarious situation with animal numbers dwindling

Once teeming with animals, and famous for its unique gnu population,
buffaloes and elephants, the park is already becoming a shadow of its former
self as a major tourist attraction and animal sanctuary. Gnu numbers have
dropped, so have buffalo, zebra, elephant and impala populations.

Parks and Wildlife Management Authority operations director Mr Tapera
Chimuti added that his organisation has begun aggressive measures to save
the sanctuary and ensure all game corridors are not settled either by
tourism businesses or human settlements.

Mr Chimuti said they have avoided putting fences - where animals used to
migrate in huge numbers and were also negotiating with tourism
stakeholders - to at least avoid fence structures on their land.

There is also the perennial problem of poaching for lucrative game meat and
wood especially in Zambezi National Park.

Poachers fortify the park with snares towards Kazungula/Matetsi and also use
torches at night to daze animals.

The park faces a vicious circle in the name of tourism expansion - to boost
foreign currency inflows - if matters do not improve.

Although there has been an increase in the number of visitors from all parts
of the world - with their all-important revenues to finance improvements -
these are unlikely to grow if the park's wildlife stock becomes more
depleted and the rainforest loses its splendour due to overcrowding.

There is no doubt that the world-famous Victoria Falls has been Zimbabwe's
contribution to the world's great attractions, and miles and miles of film
and videotape are gobbled through cameras every year here.

Victoria Falls was built on tourism and has now developed into an archetypal
tourist trap. Fortunately for now, the star attraction is safely
cordoned-off by a real jungle of its own creation.

To walk along the paths through the spray-generated rainforests that flank
the gorge, one would never suspect the existence of anything other than the
monumental waterfall that gives one such a good soaking.

Heart-stoppers include scenic flights, whitewater rafting, one of Africa's
highest bungee jumps and parachuting. If one is feeling low, a walk along
the Zambezi River above the Falls - with its wide array of wildlife - is an
excellent elixir.

In no time, however, the park could vanish hence the need to save it from
becoming just a sick and mismanaged relic.

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The MDC in Crisis

Business Day (Johannesburg)

October 26, 2005
Posted to the web October 26, 2005


THE importance of having a strong opposition, particularly in countries
dominated by a single party, is well documented around the globe.

It is particularly relevant in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe's
rule is becoming increasingly destructive. But the main opposition party,
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is in a state of paralysis and may
be on the verge of splitting. This after its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, went
against a vote in the party to participate in forthcoming senate elections.
President Thabo Mbeki reportedly told MDC leaders last week that a split or
collapse of the party would take Zimbabwe years back to a de facto one-party
state. He is correct.

But the biggest challenge facing the MDC is not whether to participate in
elections. It centres on a more fundamental malaise within the opposition
party -- the lack of decisive, credible leadership.

Since the parliamentary elections in March and the launch by the government
of its mass urban eviction campaign, Operation Murambatsvina, questions
about Tsvangirai's leadership have multiplied. The MDC did not mobilise
against the flawed result of the election and, for weeks, did not respond to
the mass evictions. The Zimbabwean government's repressive tactics towards
the MDC are part of the reason, but the absence of charismatic leadership
has been at the core of its repeated failure to build opposition to Mugabe.

What is needed now is a united party rallying behind a strong leader fully
committed to the principles of democracy and peaceful struggle. But that can
happen only with much difficulty as ethnic factors are of importance and the
egos of some of the party's leaders are big.

Some argue that the MDC should be allowed to split. This would make way for
"a third force" made up of former Zanu (PF) members, including Mugabe's
former propaganda chief Jonathan Moyo, and members of the opposition.

But there are dangers here, too. A third force may well be stillborn -- 
there are big rewards for staying in Zanu (PF) and possible threats of
violence against those who leave.

The MDC is pivotal to the struggle against the dictatorship of Mugabe and
his party, but it needs new leadership. A party split or a merger between an
MDC faction and one from Zanu (PF) would not guarantee an effective

Staying together with fresh leadership that must be allowed to emerge
rapidly is the best course -- for now.

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Tsvangirai Admits MDC Faces a Crisis

Business Day (Johannesburg)

October 26, 2005
Posted to the web October 26, 2005

Dumisani Muleya

AFTER snubbing President Thabo Mbeki's efforts to mediate in the crisis
rocking his party, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has admitted his party is facing a
political crisis.

Tsvangirai last week refused to attend a meeting of six MDC leaders arranged
by Mbeki, saying reports of problems in his party were a "storm in a tea

However, Tsvangirai's spokesman, William Bango, said yesterday that his boss
was now frantically trying to organise meetings with members of a rival MDC
faction, led by party secretary-general Welshman Ncube.

"Tsvangirai (now) realises there is a political crisis in the party which
needs a political solution," Bango said.

This comes after seven MDC provinces out of 12 defied Tsvangirai on Monday
and filed nomination papers to contest next month's senate election, a move
that triggered the infighting.

Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland South, Midlands and
Harare provinces supported Ncube's faction, while Mashonaland Central,
Mashonaland East and Manicaland backed Tsvangirai's camp.

Three weeks Tsvangirai ago overruled a resolution by the MDC's national
executive council to participate in the poll. The council voted 33 to 31 for
participation. Tsvangirai's decision spawned the current internal strife,
which has brought into focus his leadership qualities and the MDC's
potential to form a future government.

Until yesterday, Tsvangirai had pursued a hardline stance, refusing to meet
Mbeki and senior leaders of the MDC. His dramatic U-turn points to a
realisation that the MDC is on the brink of a definitive split, which could
derail the already frail opposition movement in Zimbabwe.

Bango said Tsvangirai did not recognise as legitimate the 27 MDC candidates
who entered the senate election.

MDC Bulawayo chairman Victor Moyo blamed Tsvangirai for his party's ongoing

"I don't know what's happening to the man. A democratic leader should abide
by the majority decision. It is so sad that we are dragging each other
through the mud instead of fighting our real opponents -- Zanu (PF)."

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