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Mugabe pulls the strings to stop plotters

      The Sunday Times, UK October 30, 2005

            Christina Lamb, Harare

            ZIMBABWE'S president, Robert Mugabe, has ordered his ministers
to disclose all their assets in a move aimed at blocking any plots against
him as the country descends into economic collapse.
            "Mugabe has files on everyone," said a source close to the
81-year-old leader. "He encourages those around him to stick their hands in
the till so the moment anyone gets cold feet about what he's [Mugabe's]
doing and wants to quit - or starts thinking he's a liability - he pulls out
their file."

            The order has left ministers scrambling to divest themselves of
assets such as apartments in Johannesburg, houses in Cape Town and diamond
holdings in Congo.

            Some properties, such as farms in Zimbabwe itself, have simply
been grabbed. Others have been acquired with the aid of a differential in
exchange rates that allows government and ruling party officials to buy US
dollars at less than a quarter of the market rate.

            However, sources of foreign exchange are drying up. The country's
main foreign exchange earners - tobacco, agriculture and tourism - have been
largely wiped out by a government land grab that began five years ago and
has left only about 200 of 4,500 commercial farmers operating.

            With few foreign heads of state willing to be linked with a
brutal dictatorship, Mugabe is rapidly running out of friends. Even his
closest allies were horrified by Operation Murambatsvina (drive out the
filth), which saw the demolition of at least 700,000 homes and livelihoods
last summer and has resulted in mothers and babies squatting in cardboard

            South Africa has refused to give a $1 billion bailout unless
conditions aimed at restoring democratic government are met. China, which
has provided buses, passenger planes and fighter jets in the past year, gave
only $30m after it received warning telephone calls from the presidents of
Nigeria and South Africa.

            Some companies have been forced to make "donations" to the
ruling Zanu-PF party to continue operating. Those which fail to do so are
well aware of their likely fate. In the past two years seven private banks
have been "specified" - closed down and their assets seized.

            Mutumwa Mawere, one of Zimbabwe's richest tycoons, had his
flagship conglomerate, Shabanie Mashaba Mines, seized by presidential decree
last year, along with finance and insurance companies and supermarkets.

            "Mugabe is willing to downsize the whole economy just to feed
the political elite, a few hundred thousand at most," said a European
diplomat. "It's a mafia state."

            During his 25 years in power Mugabe has become extremely skilled
at drawing people from all sectors into his web of patronage. Among those
handed farms that had been seized were High Court judges, police chiefs,
military officers and the Anglican bishop of Harare.

            However, Mugabe is now running out of the means to do this.
According to Zimbabwean bankers, the Central Bank has had no foreign
exchange available for weeks.

            Mugabe's lieutenants are increasingly resorting to criminality
in the scramble for the country's remaining assets. Apart from extortion,
many have launched get-rich-quick schemes. Residents of Harare were
astonished when signs suddenly appeared all over the city earlier this month
threatening fines of 1m Zimbabwe dollars for parking illegally. A government
minister had apparently acquired a tow-truck and hundreds of people have
since had their cars clamped.

            Other forms of profiteering include buying fuel or flour at the
official low price and then re-exporting it to Congo, Zambia or Mozambique,
where prices are much higher. Leo Mugabe, the president's nephew, was caught
smuggling flour into neighbouring countries earlier this month.

            Shortages of fuel are so severe that the top prize in the
national lottery is a tank of petrol while the plummeting Zimbabwe dollar -
now standing at almost 200,000 to the pound, makes spiralling school fees of
Z$17m a term almost unattainable. Teachers and civil servants earn Z$3m a

            Mugabe's recent announcement that he will not stand for
re-election when his term ends in 2008 has seen bitter jostling for position
within the ruling party, with many ministers already referring to this as a
transitional period.

            Last month Patrick Chinamasa, the minister of justice, revealed
that the government was considering changing the constitution to synchronise
presidential and parliamentary elections. This could extend Mugabe's term to
2010 or beyond.

            Even if he were to step down, that would not be the end of
Zimbabwe's problems. "This is not just about Mugabe any more," said Roy
Bennett, a former white farmer and leading member of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change.

            "There are many people with blood on their hands, including
military and intelligence officers who know that as long as Mugabe is there,
they are protected. The moment he's gone, they start being exposed and
accountable for what they have done. You are talking about an entire cabal
with an interest in this continuing."

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The Dark Ages

We tend to forget that Europe went through a long period of history, which
is now loosely described as the "dark ages". During this time the main form
of State administration was feudal in character and this resulted in
massive, absolute poverty for the great majority and enormous wealth for a
tiny elite who owned the assets of the countries affected by this episode in
European history.

The historical evidence of that era is still seen today in the massive
houses and mansions that litter the European landscape. The human suffering
of those times is well documented and remembered even today. Modern
conflicts such as the IRA insurgency in Ireland and the ideological
conflicts that caused such suffering in the 20th century are testimony to
the legacy of the "dark ages".

Could it be that Africa is going through such an era? It is of course
different in many ways - the underlying culture is different, the global
context is totally changed and there is the influence of travel,
communications and education as well as the legacies of a 100 years of
colonial occupation when for a short time the influence of local culture and
history was subdued and an imposed colonial subculture prevailed which was
more "European" than African.

With the sudden collapse and subsequent withdrawal of such imposed
influences, Africa has progressively slipped back into a form of tribal
feudalism that allows a small elite to dominate and in fact use the legacies
of colonial administration to loot national resources in the pursuit of

So Africa slides back into poverty and decay associated with some of the
greatest fortunes in terms of personal wealth, in the world. Mabutu in the
old Zaire, with a fortune estimated at the size of his countries GDP. The
Nigerian President's family taking US$1 billion a year from the exchequer
and their children arriving in European capitals with suitcases of hard
currency. The government of Angola, a "Marxist" regime, stealing a third of
total oil revenues. The list goes on and on - fortunes being accumulated
with scant regard to the welfare or interests of the countries and the
peoples being governed. The term kleptocratic state takes on new meaning in
modern Africa.

But is this any different from the conditions that prevailed in Europe a
scant 200 to 500 years ago? We may be late in coming to the party but it is
that same play - different actors, different stage. It also will not last
hundreds of years. Our dark age will be decades, rather than centuries -
appropriate in a world that measures progress by the speed of change.

But that does not make any excuses for people like Robert Mugabe - because
they really have had all that it takes to enable them to avoid the pitfalls
that have created these nightmarish conditions in many African countries. He
is well educated - a classical Catholic education in the hands of the
dreaded Clergy, well traveled, he gets his suits from Saville Row, he is
above all an Anglophile and has several University degrees.

Do not for one-minute think he does not understand what he is doing - he is
highly intelligent and astute. He is also totally ruthless - but then so are
the Mafia in modern Europe. The great difference is that he claims to be a
Marxist, a modern socialist and a Pan African humanist. He is actually none
of those things in reality and his behavior of late has simply branded him
as a tsarist thug who has looted his countries wealth in pursuit of personal
gain and power. His actions under the guise of the Murambatsvina programme
are in line with Stalin's genocide against the Kulaks. He cares little for
the suffering of the majority - only for the welfare of those who can ensure
he remains where he is and has the continued capacity to rape and pillage.

But in any "Dark Age" you have your islands of enlightenment and hope. And
so it is in Africa and in places like Zimbabwe. You can find such places by
visiting our private schools where dedicated teachers and administrators are
maintaining a small but effective system of education that continues to
produce outstanding athletes, sportsmen and women and fine academics. Above
all they produce achievers - men and women who go out into the world and
succeed wherever they go. You can find them by visiting certain business
organisations - I have a friend here who runs a globally competitive
clothing factory - he exports the great majority of his output to the most
sophisticated markets in the world. Another friend manufacturers fruit
drinks and chemicals - walk through the doors of his business and you are in
a clean, modern environment, which is comparable to any in the world. Staff
are motivated and work hard and their product is expensive, but always good

Another person I know has all 32 members of his family here - they meet
weekly to discuss problems and opportunities and to agree on any thing that
needs action. They support each other, help with school fees and medical
costs and they ensure that the family has what it needs to prosper and enjoy
a life style that is second to none. Walk through the doors of one of our
modern private clinics or hospitals and you are in a first world
environment - you do not have to wait a year for a procedure as in the UK,
you pay and it gets done. And remember I am talking about life in Zimbabwe -
that collapsed State created by bad government.

Recently our local Catholic Hospital suffered a serious fire that destroyed
the top floor and the roof and damaged some of the rest of the building.
Volunteers rescued the patients, the local fire department was there in a
few minutes and now - just six weeks later, the roof is back on and the
tiles are being laid - much of the work, design and construction done by
volunteers. Islands of hope and enlightenment in a sea of despair and human

To be frank, we are yet to see similar islands of enlightenment in the
political realm in southern Africa. The Congo is a mess, Zambia and Malawi
are struggling with internal problems, South Africa has its problems with
Jacob Zuma and corruption in high places, even little Botswana now shows
signs of political intolerance and studied neutrality when it comes to the
problems of its neighbor - Zimbabwe.

Unless the MDC gets its act together, and soon, it too might lose its image
as a beacon of hope in an otherwise dismal morass. While I accept that much
of the MDC problems can be sourced in the Zanu PF Secret Police who are the
African equivalent of the East German Stasi, we are guilty of shooting
ourselves in the foot over the Senate issue and are not exhibiting a great
deal of maturity right now.

As for the consequences of Gono's revelations last week - this week the gold
price quadrupled, the stock market nearly doubled in value and the improved
flow of resources into many of those small centers of excellence and hope
began to improve. This will, if they stick to their guns, bring new life
back into the private sector across the country and help us to keep things
going while we sort out our political leadership.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, October 29 2005.

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Harare fails to pay US$30 million to unlock power project

Zim Online

Mon 31 October 2005
  HARARE - A US$200 million dollar project to increase generation capacity
at Zimbabwe's Kariba South hydro power station has failed to take off
because Harare could not raise a US$30 million down payment required to
unlock a financing package for the deal.

      According to confidential documents from the government's power
utility, ZESA Holdings (Private) Limited that were shown to ZimOnline, the
cash-strapped government has also failed to provide a guarantee for a loan
for the generation project that was agreed between ZESA Holdings and Export
Development Bank of Iran (EDBI).

      The agreement, signed in Harare on July 19 2005, would have seen the
Iranian institution providing hard cash required to add two more power
generation units at Kariba each with capacity to provide an additional 150MW
of electricity.

      ZESA chairman Sydney Gata confirmed that the Kariba expansion project
had not yet taken off but would not divulge further details only saying:
"The matter is between ZESA and two other parties and I cannot comment."

      President Robert Mugabe's government is grappling its worst ever hard
cash crisis that has also seen crippling shortages of fuel, electricity,
food, essential medical drugs and almost every other basic survival
commodity because there is no cash to pay foreign suppliers.

      The Kariba power generation project is one on a long list of national
projects that have flopped because the government is unable to raise hard
cash to finance the projects or cannot meet strict conditions set by foreign
financiers such as guaranteeing repayment of loans in hard cash.

      ZimOnline reported four weeks ago that another project to expand the
country's biggest Hwange thermal power station had stalled after Harare
failed to guarantee a Chinese financing firm that it would be repaid in hard
cash if it provided a loan for the project.

      Zimbabwe faces an unprecedented energy disaster by 2007 if it does not
urgently expand its electricity generation capacity by about 630MW.

      Presently the crisis-hit country consumes 2 100MW about 30 percent of
which is imported from the Southern African Power Pool comprising
neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia.

      Due to rising domestic demand, these countries will in two years time
be unable to export power to Zimbabwe. - ZimOnline

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Mugabe bars 150 000 voters from senate poll

Zim Online

Mon 31 October 2005

      HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's government has barred more than 150
000 registered voters from participating in a senate election next month
under a new constitutional amendment prohibiting permanent residents and
non-citizens from voting.

      Registrar general Tobaiwa Mudede told state media at the weekend that
150 269 mostly descendents of former migrant workers from neighbouring
countries had been disqualified from the voters' roll in terms of the
controversial new law.

      Most of those disqualified are from rural districts next to former
white-owned commercial farms or in low-income suburbs in towns which were
labour reservoirs for the white ruling class of the British colony of
Rhodesia before it became independent black-ruled Zimbabwe.

      Many of the migrant workers came from neighbouring countries such as
Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia and many of them are believed to be
sympathetic to the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)

      The MDC, which failed to block the constitutional amendments because
it has fewer seats in Parliament than Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party, is
contesting in only 26 out of the 50 senate seats following sharp differences
among the party's leaders over whether to participate in the poll.

      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has opposed contesting the poll saying it
is pointless to take part in a poll that will be rigged by Mugabe and his

      The MDC accuses Mugabe and his government of stealing three national
elections in the last five years, a charge the veteran President and his
government deny.

      Tsvangirai also says the proposed new Senate is of no value to a
country that should be diverting all its energies to fighting hunger
threatening a third of the 12 million Zimbabweans.

      But other senior leaders led by party secretary general Welshman Ncube
say the MDC should contest after its national council narrowly voted for it
to take part in the November 26 poll. Ncube and the other leaders also say
the MDC cannot surrender political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF by boycotting
the poll. - ZimOnline

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FEATURE: Life in Jo'burg no bed of roses for Zimbabwean refugees

Zim Online

Mon 31 October 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - Thirty-four year old Charles Magura walks slowly into
the vast churchyard in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa.

      Clutched in his hand, is a small bulging plastic bag with left-overs
scrounged from "kitchen soups" in the city.

      As soon as he settles down "home", his eight friends suddenly swoop on
the meal. You need no invitation here to join in but in the spirit of
camaraderie, it is an unwritten rule that food is communally shared.

      For Magura, life in Johannesburg has never been kind to him ever since
he skipped the border, fleeing political persecution from President Robert
Mugabe's ZANU PF supporters in Makoni district in eastern Zimbabwe.

      While he expected a swift change of fortune in Egoli, "the city of
gold" as Johannesburg is affectionately known, his experiences in the
sprawling city, like those of thousands of fellow refugees in South Africa,
reads like a scary script from the deeper dungeons of hell.

      Magura is part of about 150 people, the majority of them men, who are
staying at the Methodist Church in downtown Johannesburg after the church
opened up its halls to accommodate the growing numbers of refugees fleeing
hunger and political persecution in Zimbabwe.

      "I have tried to look for a job without success. Most of the people
who are staying at the church are finding it hard to fend for themselves. As
a result they end up getting involved in criminal activities," said Magura.

      At least four million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the country's
population of 12 million, are living outside the country, the majority of
them in South Africa, after fleeing home because of economic hardship and
political persecution.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party accuses
Mugabe of ruining Zimbabwe's economy and of unleashing violence on
opposition supporters in a bid to hold on to power. Mugabe denies the

      Zimbabwe is going through a severe economic crisis which has seen
millions crossing over to South Africa in search of a better life.

      Inflation stands at 359.8 percent, one of the highest such rates in
the world. Food, medicines and fuel are all in critical short supply because
there is no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers.

      But after fleeing terror in Zimbabwe, the refugees say their life in
South Africa has been a nightmare.

      "Most of the refugees in this church are sick. This is worsened by
stress and depression given the troubles they have to face every day. The
place is just dirty and over-crowded as if we are in a prison.

      "Some can't access medical services because they don't have valid
documents as refugees. If they get sick, they are turned away at the clinics
and hospitals," said 29-year old Eddie Matawu, another refugee at the

      But Methodist Bishop Paul Verryn said although the place was far from
being a "tourist paradise," it was better than sleeping on the streets.

      "Though the place is far from ideal, it is a roof off the street", he

      "There is only one bathroom being shared by more than 70 residents.
Though the situation is pathetic, this is the best that we can offer," the
Bishop said.

      Besides churches, there are several non-governmental groups that have
mushroomed in Johannesburg in the last three years, all purporting to
represent the interests of Zimbabwean refugees.

      But for Taurai Mashiti, another Zimbabwean exiled here in
Johannesburg, many of such groups are mere parasites feeding off their

      "They are only there to enrich themselves. We have never received
anything tangible from them. We only hear about them when they are calling
for anti-Mugabe demonstrations in Pretoria. They are only interested in
using us to boost numbers during such demos," charged Mashiti.

      But Oliver Kubika, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Political
Victims Association (ZIPOVA), an organisation that helps Zimbabwean victims
of political violence who fled to South Africa, rejected claims ZIPOVA and
other similar groups are out to feather their nests on the misery of

      Kubika said the civic groups were doing the best they could but were
limited by a lack of adequate financial resources.

      He said: "We are only able to give out what we have been offered (by
the donors). However we try by all means to assist whenever it is possible.
We have even opened our offices to these refugees to use during the night as
it is not safe to sleep on the streets." - ZimOnline

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Bickering MDC leaders meet again to iron out differences

Zim Online

Mon 31 October 2005

      HARARE - Leaders of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party are set to meet again today to iron out sharp differences
threatening to tear apart the six-year old party.

      The MDC was last Monday left on the verge of breaking up after 26
members submitted their names to stand in next month's senate election in
open defiance of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai's call to boycott the poll.

      But last Thursday, the bickering MDC leaders met for the first time
after weeks of trading damaging accusations in the press. Tsvangirai and his
deputy Gibson Sibanda, issued a terse statement at the end of their meeting
last week recommitting themselves to dialogue and to focus pressure on
President Robert Mugabe and his government.

      Today's meeting which is expected to be chaired by respected
University of Zimbabwe academic Brian Raftopolous, is set to chart the way
forward for the embattled opposition party.

      Tsvangirai, earlier this month differed with five other senior leaders
of the party led by secretary general Welshman Ncube, over whether the MDC
should contest next month's senate election.

      The opposition leader insisted that the party should not contest an
election that was certain to be rigged by Mugabe. He also argued that the
new senate was a waste of resources for a country that should be putting its
energies into fighting hunger threatening a third of its 12 million people.

      But Ncube and his group insisted the MDC should contest the November
26 election after its national council narrowly voted for the party to
participate in the poll. The group also argued that it would not be wise for
the MDC to surrender political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF by boycotting the

      The dispute between the two factions of the MDC has also assumed an
ethnic dimension with support for Tsvangirai's position strong among regions
dominated by the Shona ethnic group to which he belongs while Ncube, a
Ndebele, is solidly backed in south-western regions populated by his Ndebele
tribe. - ZimOnline

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African Union to Hold Extraordinary Summit on UN Reform

     2005-10-31 2:59:35

     African Leaders arrived in Addis Ababa Sunday to take part in the fifth
extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU), in a bid to break a
stalemate over the bloc's stance on stalled UN reform.

      AU officials said presidents of Namibia, Sierra Leone, Zambia and
Zimbabwe were among the leaders who arrived in Addis Ababa.

      Prime minister of Algeria, Djibouti, Lesotho and Tanzania as well as
South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma also arrived, they

      They added Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, also AU's current
chairman, is expected to arrive on Monday morning.

      In August, after heated debate, the pan-African body rejected calls to
change its demand for a 26-member UN Security Council with six new
permanent, veto-wielding seats, of which Africa will have two, and five
non-permanent seats of which Africa would have two.

      At the time, AU leaders rebuffed an appeal to join the G4 grouping of
Brazil, India, Japan and Germany that has proposed expanding the council to
25 members, with six new permanent seats without veto power and four
non-permanent seats.

      (Source: Xinhua)

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How to solve Murungaru's saga

Sunday Nation, Kenya

      Story by MUTUMA MATHIU
      Publication Date: 10/30/2005
            Among the warrior (samurai) class of feudal Japan, ritual
suicide was an accepted part of the code. If you were sent out by the boss
to get this or that and came without it, you didn't come to waffle excuses
about "factors beyond our control." Your hand crept towards your own

            The most brutal and painful of all forms of ritual suicide was,
of course, hara kiri, which involved disembowelling oneself and suffering a
most painful and bloody death. Usually, the suicide would have on hand an
assistant to lop off the head and put a stop to the whole gory ordeal. The
repulsive practice ended hundreds of years ago, with feudal lords whose
followers practised it being severely punished.

            Whereas the suicide bit is way over the top, the honour code of
the samurai is, of course, eminently admirable. To them honour was more
important than life and they placed loyalty and service well above their own
interests and even lives. Or so I learnt from Mr Google. Mr Google also
informs me that well-bred ninjas ventilated their stomachs for the following

            -To atone for disgrace and defeat. If you are sent to disrupt a
Maembe rally and fail to do so, you don't come to tell the chieftain that
the police unexpectedly showed up.

            - As the supreme demonstration of grief at the death of the said
lord and master. That is to say, if the liege and lord drunk himself to the
ground on busaa, you don't summon the professional mourners to come, wail
and disembowel the cattle. That's right, you reach for the scabbard.

            - To show contempt for the enemy. Since the entire purpose of
the enemy is to disembowel you, you do it yourself and save them the
trouble. (I haven't quite figured out how that connects.)

            - As a bloody and painful way of protesting injustice. If a
Maembe person has his rally disrupted by some other fruit, then the
expectation, were he a samurai, was that he would take matters in his own
hands as a form of protest.

            - As a way of getting the liege and lord to reconsider an
unwise, unworthy - in a word, foolish - decision. Thank God we don't live in
some shogunate in the middle of the last century. All the dissenters of Narc
would quite probably have to irrigate the flowerbeds of State House with
their life essence, what with the objections they raise over almost every
decision their liege and lord makes.

            Last, a good samurai would take his own life to save others. I
think Jesus did something similar, but then that was a thousand and more
years before the samurai.

            Spies are routinely required, in the novels, to bite a little
pill rather than fall into enemy hands and have information tortured out of
them. Which is why our politicians would not make very successful spies. Any
time they come across a secret, official or otherwise, they get an
overwhelming urge to SMS.

            On March 18, 2002, I was at the Moi International Sports Centre,
Kasarani. Prof George Saitoti, then a very ill-used Vice-President, towered
over us. "There come a time," he thundered, "when the nation is more
important than an individual."

            Prof Saitoti was articulating the same seppuku philosophy, only
his version involved bowing to the inevitable nomination of Mr Uhuru

            But the point was, and is, well made. There are times when the
interests of one person, however much justice is stacked in his corner, are
less important than the interests of a whole nation.

            President Robert Mugabe is a man of strong convictions. Now, a
few mzungus own all the land in Zimbabwe so Mr Mugabe has been reclaiming
some of it for the blacks. This has meant taking on Britain, the US and the
whole Anglo Saxon conspiracy that rules the world. Plucky but dumb. Zimbabwe
is today completely destroyed. One US dollar will buy you 90,000 Zimbabwean
dollars. It is all very well to fight for justice, but what is the point of
fighting a war that you are certain to lose and destroy yourself fighting?

            Transport minister Chris Murungaru is not a particularly nice
guy. He has made no known sacrifices for the nation. He was just inflicted
on us by the voters of Kieni and President Kibaki. Now Dr Murungaru has had
himself banned, barred and otherwise excluded from the land of our former
colonial master and their American allies.

            As a strategy of fighting back, he is suggesting that the
British who support the Liberal Democratic Party are fighting a proxy war
for LDP. He has also accused the British wanting to protect contracts and
dictating who should sit in the Cabinet.

            It would be inadvisable to form government policy depending on
the visa requirements of Dr Murungaru. Put another way, this country cannot
afford a war against the British and the Americans for the sake of getting a
visa for a minister. To save his boss embarrassment and get the government
out of a tight corner, Dr Murungaru should review the option of career
seppuku. He should leave the Cabinet and pursue legal redress as a private
citizen. If he is cleared and determined to be innocent, he will not have
been the first law-abiding and deserving Kenyan to be denied a British visa.
They do it every day. In any case, we don't know what the Brits have on him.


            Be careful what you put in the law. The Tanzanians wrote a law
that said if a presidential candidate or a running mate dies after
nominations but before polling, the election is to be put off for not less
than 21 days to allow the mourning party time to put its house in order.

            So what does the ailing fringe running mate of a fringe
presidential candidate of a fringe two-bit party do? Kicks the bucket two
days to a much looked-forward-to election. And the whole thing is postponed,
parades are rained on.

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Corruption threatens Malawi's future

Sunday Herald, UK

From Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg

MALAWI is one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in Africa. The
country's most celebrated preacher, the Roman Catholic Father Edward
Masauko, laments that when Malawians go to the polls their only choice is
between "murderers" and "thieves".
Corruption at the top - rife since the time of the first president of
independent Malawi, the Church of Scotland elder Hastings "Conqueror, the
Saviour" Banda, who built a personal fortune of £200 million - has filtered
down through every level of business and government to school teachers who
pocket students' fees and medical orderlies who run black market operations
with public medicines.

The country's corruption issue shot to the fore again last week, as Britain
and other key donors to Malawi said they would not support a new government
if the current president, Bingu wa Mutharika, a campaigner against graft in
the southern African country, was impeached.

The donors' statements came as Malawi's opposition- dominated parliament
started a debate on whether to go ahead with impeaching wa Mutharika on
charges that he abused his office and violated the constitution - and as the
president prepared to visit Edinburgh this week to sign an international
co-operation agreement aimed at strengthening links between Scotland and the
African state.

Malawi is dependent upon foreign aid for at least half of its budget, but
the aid is dispensed so corruptly that some donors have completely severed
or curtailed their funds, notably Denmark and the United States. The former
cut off all forms of aid and the latter blocked funds to fight Aids, which
is rampant in Malawi, because, according to the US ambassador Steven
Browning, "greed and graft are so widespread".

"Putting money where corruption is not controlled is a waste. Malawi's
efforts to combat corruption are not good enough," he said.

In 2001, in one particularly spectacular Malawian scam, finance minister
Friday Jumbe sold most of the country's 160,000-tonne grain reserve in a
private transaction. At the time, Jumbe was director of the state's
agricultural marketing board. The depletion of the reserves meant millions
of Malawians starved during the drought of 2002 while Jumbe bought the
Superior Hotel and a nightclub in Blantyre, the commercial capital, with
some of his proceeds.

Jumbe said the grain had been sold on the advice of the International
Monetary Fund, an assertion the IMF denied.

This month Malawi's new anti-corruption bureau launched an investigation
into how between £7m and £53m in international donor cash landed in the
private bank accounts of Bakili Muluzi, the country's president from 1994
until he stepped down last year.

In office Muluzi generously handed out the state's money through his
extensive patronage network. While ostensibly governing the country, he
acquired a vast fortune built on a business empire of petrol stations, TV
and radio stations, banks, office complexes, shopping malls and the country's
top football team.

In December 2003, Kalonga Stambuli, a former business associate and
government adviser to Muluzi, researched and circulated a dossier of Muluzi's
extensive holdings. Shortly afterwards, Stambuli was found dead. He had been
poisoned and strangled.

Under Muluzi, it is alleged that British and other aid funds were skimmed to
buy 39 Mercedes-Benz limousines for his ministers. But when questions were
asked in the House of Commons and the then British high commissioner, George
Finlayson suggested that the implicated ministers step down, one simply
replied: "We don't resign in Malawi."

Even wa Mutharika, whose anti-corruption drive is being backed by Britain
and other Western countries, has made some questionable moves. His first act
on achieving power was to throw MPs out of parliament in Lilongwe and make
the building, with 300 air-conditioned rooms set in 555 hectares of gardens,
his personal palace. The MPs had to conduct state business in hotel
conference rooms.

Admittedly, wa Mutharika did move out again, but only after he said the
palace was haunted and that he was being overrun at night by rats.

Wa Mutharika, who also owns a farm in Zimbabwe - protected from land
invasion by President Robert Mugabe's regime - has also just awarded himself
a 353% pay rise, scarcely a year after coming into office, and his education
minister, Yusuf Mwawa, has been arrested on charges of using public funds
for his lavish wedding ceremony.

For many Malawians, wa Mutharika's anti-corruption drive came as a surprise,
not least because he was seen as a stooge of Muluzi, who was prevented by
the constitution from running again for another presidential term.

Some senior civil servants have gone as far as to advise caution to wa
Mutharika, not least because some of the missing government millions that
landed in Muluzi's accounts were almost certainly spent on wa Mutharika's
election campaign.

But as the anti-corruption tussle continues between Muluzi and his
hand-picked protege, Malawi Law Society president Alick Msowoya said Muluzi
was not legally obliged to explain how he got his wealth. "Constitutionally,
Muluzi has the right to remain silent," he said. "If anything, Muluzi can
defend himself in court and that is the time for him to explain his side.
Muluzi is not guilty of any offence. He is just a mere suspect."

As Muluzi and wa Mutharika wrestle over the allegations of corruption,
Britain's high commissioner to Malawi, David Pearey, warned this month that
the prolonged political crisis is distracting Malawi's government and has
caused its parliament to lose focus amid a worsening food crisis. Pearey
said politicians are placing personal ambition above the concerns of
ordinary Malawians.

The UN estimates that five million of Malawi's 13 million people will need
emergency food aid until March next year as a result of four years of
drought and the non-delivery of subsidised seed and fertiliser. Britain has
so far donated £16m to buy emergency food, mainly maize.

An indicator of Malawi's deep poverty is the number of deaths of mothers in
childbirth - the second worst rate in the world, according to the UN .

Malawi's ailing health services have been hard hit by drug shortages as a
result of budget cuts, while an exodus of medical personnel to richer
Western nations is threatening to cripple the already struggling sector.
There are, for example, more Malawian doctors working in Birmingham than in
the whole of Malawi itself.

30 October 2005

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Remarks from a reader

Sent: Sunday, October 30, 2005 8:50 AM
Subject: Remarks on one of your stories

I would like to make some remarks on the article by Ivor Waldeck on Mugabe
and Mbeki:

1. When the Matabele arrived in what is now Zimbabwe there did not exist an
entity called Shona, for any reason. The reference to people of this region
as Shona emerged with the arrival of both Matabele and Whites.
2. The people of Zimbabwe would better be organised according to their
totems and the alliances built by marrying women from other totem groups.
What are often called Shona tribes are really dialect clusters. So you have
today people of one totem, speaking differnt dialects. If you organised them
according to their dialects you fragment their family. Yet if you
acknowledged their totem you realise they are one family speaking
Chikaranga, Chimanyika, Chizezuru, Chitoko etc. According to totemic
relationships the Shona-Ndebele dualism is difficult to maintain.
3. The British used the tribal card to divide and rule the people of
Zimbabwe. The present regime, instead of correcting this British hatchling,
assumed it and have propagated it, obviously for political expediency.
4. Ndebele raids into the lands of the scattered "shona" kingdoms were not
universal to all of what is now Mashonaland and Manicaland, Masvingo. A lot
of Shona groups never experienced Ndebele raids and got to know about them
from the experience of those that had been affected.
5. The Ndebele raids were not as extensive and as devastating on the whole
of non-Ndebele territory - the numbers just do not tally - instead they were
blown out of proportion by the British who had an agenda. The Brits used
their bloated version of Shona-Ndebele rivalry to a) effectiviely neutralise
the Ndbele threat to their occupation and rule and b) to annex Mashonaland,
in the name of protecting them. If you like the Ndebele had no weapons of
Mass Destruction!!, but the trick was effective.
6. One reason why the Ndebele, now consituting roughly 20% of the
population, could effectively raid the Shona is that there was no cohesion
among the many Shona groups.
7. The Brits went on to create the "Shona," most of whom had nothing to do
with each other up to this time. Even the Ndebele threat had not been
effective enough on its own to make the so called Shona come together. The
British threat, at least and for the first time, rallied the people into a
Shona Union. Nehanda was a mere family spirit, not the proto-ancestral
spirit of the Shona whom he has been made to be. His female medium, who has
come to be known as the ancestor Zimbabwe, was indeed a charismatic person,
who managed to sway her infleuence beyond that of her own family. I still am
doubtful if Nehanda had a grand vision of defending "Zimbabwe", or if she
thought she was simply doing the best she could for her own family.  A lot
of retrojection has happened in the creation of the Nehanda myth, much of
which was effective propaganda for the nationalist movement. The same could
be said of Mkwati, Dzivaguru, Mwari and Chaminuka. During serious drought or
other pestilence it was not uncommon for a Shona tribe to seek the
assistance of the spiritual mediums of another tribe. This was purely
functional, not so much the result of an ancestral allegiance as the
desperation of trying anything that will work in the crisis. Mwari of
Matonjeni was no universal deity, but one family's ancestor to whom many
tribes turned during crisis, again and again. Note that Mwari entered the
Christian Bible to translate Yahweh, by mistake. One of the serious falacies
of Zimbabwean Religious history today is the notion that the Shona
worshipped a Supreme Being called Mwari at Matonjeni. This notion is
8. Mugabe's ancestors may not even have been in Zimbabwe during the time of
the Ndebele raids. Where did they come from? Remember Kutama Mission was one
of the failed experimental christian villages where the saved/redeemed were
brought in to live a life uncontaminated by contact with so called primitive
heathen tribal life. This programme had most success with people who had the
least of tribal /family ties, your migrant worker from Nyasaland, Zululand
etc who married a local girl and became a Christian. It was very hard for
locals to enter into the Christian village scheme because they could not
sever their family ties. It was much easier for mabvakure (those who came
from far afield) to be assimilated into mission life. What we are absolutely
certain about Mugabe's family and their origins is Kutama Mission. Maybe
they were pioneer Christian Villagers? Maybe they retained their link with
the mission so long after the failure of the Christian Village model because
they were mabvakure in Zvimba?   I don't know enough about the Mugabe
family's roots, but chances are there were far away from kwaZvimba or
Chishawasha when Lobengula impis were visiting these areas. So we want to be
very careful with statements like Mugabe's grand parents had suffered the
wrath of Lobengula.
9. At the beginning of the nationalist movement in Rhodesia Joshua Nkomo
rose as a leader of all the people. Remember Nkomo was a labour activist,
and labour issues affect all people working regardless of their origins .
Little mileage was made out of Shona-Ndebele rivaly in the ealry days of
nationalism. Look at how names like Musikavanhu, Nkomo, Chinamano, Sithole
et al. share the same platform in these days. Patrick Kombayi will argue
that Mugabe introduced the tribalist card as he entered the play ground and
coverted the cherished position of Father Zimbabwen held by Nkomo. Kombayi
will tell you that how Mugabe pushed the argument that in order for Nkomo to
be acceptable as a National Leader, he had to appease the angered Shona
spirits, agrieved by Nkomo's ancestors. To this effect n' ángas were sought
out and Bulls were offered. By the time Nkomo finished the ritual cleansing
of Shona blood from his hands, his grip on the nationalist movement had
slackened. Mugabe capitalised on this and started his long journey to
dislodge Nkomo.
10. If you know the Ndebele's very well you will realise that someone with a
name like Nkomo is not a "true"  ezansi Ndebele in the sense that he does
not belong to the group, that arrived from Zululand. Nkomo's ancestors were
obviously Karangas who were coopted into the Ndebele system. It is as
fallacial as it is anachronistic to blame Nkomo, on behalf of his ancestors,
for Ndebele raids on the Shona. Nkomo is infact a victim, whose family was
raided, deported and stripped of their identity, and forced to assume a
second class status in the Ndebele Kingdom. Nkomo's people lost much more to
Lobengula, than the few bags millet that is the minimum of what was ever
plundered from most families, the farther from Gubulawayo they were.
11. Now if Lobengula raided Shona girls, brought them to KwaBulawayo, these
are the matriarchs of the majority of present day Ndebeles. It is more
logical to claim that Lobengula's raids made the Shona and Ndebele more of
blood relatives of each other. The argument that alienates the Shona and the
Ndebele ignore this crucial fact that most of you Ndebeles are the spawn of
good shona matriachal stock. The Shona have been wrongly taught by the
British and by Mugabe to despise their own blood, just because the Ndebele
speak a different language from theirs. This fact should be taken seriously
as a point for forging stonger Shona - Ndebele unity today.
12. About the Zanla and Zipra conflict, often the issue of professional
military standards is overlooked. What sparked conflict in the new ZNA is
partly due to the fact that Zipra cadres, who had recieved more conventional
military training, resented being under the comand of Zanla cadres whom had
little more that guerilla tactics. The tribal factor has often been given
more emphasis than is actually factual. Mugabe's  instigation of that
conflict must not be overlooked. Remember it was after the visit to
Matebeleland of Mnangagwa and Nkala that things went bad at Entumbane. Check
the the tribal credential of these two men. Mnangagwa hails from the
Midlands. Is he really a Mukaranga or he is of Zambian extraction, raised up
in the Midlands, a melting pot of the subregion? Nkala, like Nkomo is
Ndebele as far as mother tongue is concerned, period.
13. I am not sure if there were any or a significant enough number of, ZIPRA
cadres who went back to the bush to stage a dissident war. If you read
Nkomo's 1983 letter to Mugabe, on SWRadio, you will agree with me that
Mugabe created the dissident skirmish, and acheived his ends in the name of
fighting the dissidents.
14. If I am not mistaken, Mugabe would be more alligned to PAC than ANC in
South Africa up to the time ANC becomes teh ruling party. Did we have the
ANC operating in Zimbabwe after independence. i dont think so. I think
Mugabe did not want them there because he wanted PAC. I am not very sure
about this, but I have heard something like that. However I would like us to
be certain before we can make generalizations and connections between ZANU
PF and ANC on one side and the Ndebele with the Zulus on the other. These
are dangerous generalities and quite wrong too.

I agree with the rest of the article, but really felt I must speak about the
above points. There has been a lot of historical dostortion in Zimbabwe and
much suffering as a result of this. Another serious distortion perpetrated
by the Mugabe regime is that Zanu PF won Zimbabwes independence, single
handedly, by military victory. Actually the indipendence of Zimbabwe was a
settlement agreed upon by the Rhodesians, the Patriotic Front (which
inclusdes PF Zapu and not Zanu PF alone) under the auspices of Great
Britain. Zanu PF did not fight a war against Britain, as Mugabe and his
regime tell us. Instead the Patriotic front fought a war against the
intransigent Rhodesian regime. Britain actually came in to try to mediate
between these two warring parties. Britain had wanted to give majority rule
to Rhodesia in the 60's. That is why Ian Smith had to take the drastic
measure of UDI. Smith's regime were desperate to avert the posibility of
Britain giving the country to the Black Majority as had happened in Zambia,
Malawi and other African countries. Britain responded to Smith's UDI by
imposing sanctions on Rhodesia and lobbying the rest of the world to do so.
Britain was desperate to give us our country! They were tired of colonies!
They regretted that enthusiasts like Rhodes has run Union Jack planting
marathons! Did not Prince Charles come to Zimbabwe at Independence to
recieve the UNION JACK which was respectfull and neatly hoisted down and
poignantly handed to him? If Zanu PF had truimphantly beaten the British at
war, as Mugabe still thinks, how could this hand over-takeover ceremony been

So we will need to tell our children the truth about Chimurenga II, namely
that we fought against the Rhodesians and not against the British. We shall
have to tell our children too, that there was no loser and nor victor to
Chimurenga II. There was instead a Cease Fire, brockered by the Bristish,
and many talks afterwards, all which culminated in the settlement of our
indipendence. We shall need too, after some exhumations in the Warren Pak
area, to tell our children that the true heroes of our country are all the
people at home and abroad, in the town, farms, mines and rural areas, those
who crossed over into Mozambique to run away from the hardships, those who
got trained militarily, those who engaded the enemy in military combat and
many more categories of resistence. I read Joshua Nkomo's 1983 letter to
Mugabe and my heart bleeds at how much he has been wronged. We shall need to
tell his story to our children and to cleanse his name in the minds of many
Shona people. In the New Zimbabwe, that I hope to live to see, there is
going to be more that just repairing the extensive economic damage tthat the
Mugabe regime has visited on us. There shall be a great need for the healing
and rewiring of our memories, our collective national memory, that have been
so  much distorted.

Thank you.

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Mediators strain to heal MDC leaders' rift

From The Sunday Argus (SA), 30 October

Reconciliation between 'insecure' Morgan Tsvangirai and Gibson Sibanda may
have averted a split in the Zimbabwean opposition

Getting Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his estranged
vice-president Gibson Sibanda together at a media conference last week took
extraordinary effort by various people of good heart, including churchmen,
and one political analyst respected by both sides. The meeting has possibly
averted a massive split in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which
would have destroyed the chances of any real opposition to President Robert
Mugabe. The last time the two saw each other a week earlier, Tsvangirai
accused his old friend and trade union struggle colleague of treachery. Days
later Sibanda allowed a retaliatory media statement to go out under his name
attacking Tsvangirai, a step he must now regret. So when they appeared
together - both looking tense, and refusing to answer questions after
issuing a terse statement of intent to find a solution through "dialogue" -
it was a breakthrough. There has been a year of simmering problems in a
party paralysed in the extra-parliamentary terrain which finally coalesced
over whether the party should participate in senate elections. Tsvangirai
was passionately and publicly against participation. Secretary general
Welshman Ncube expressed no opinion but was outraged when Tsvangirai angrily
assumed powers he doesn't have and overrode the party's constitution and
refused to accept the narrow majority vote for participation by the National

The damage to the MDC has been deep, intense, and appeared early last week
to be irreparable, especially to Ncube who took the brunt of anger from
Tsvangirai's supporters. Compromises by both sides are under discussion. One
is that Tsvangirai will dispense with his widely mistrusted "kitchen
cabinet" of paid and volunteer advisors who have become more important to
him than elected officials. In return, those who believed and still do, that
adherence to the MDC's constitution is a bottom line may quietly try and
persuade candidates now registered for next month's senate elections to
withdraw. If some refuse then they would be disowned by all leaders. Some
analysts say an exception might be made for the Matabeleland provinces in
recognition that thousands were killed by Mugabe's North Korean trained
Fifth Brigade in the 1980s and memories run too deep to surrender to Zanu PF
without a fight. Tsvangirai will be required to commit himself to the
party's constitution and accept that he has no powers to override the
National Council. A key point of consensus is already achieved -
Tsvangirai's first public statement since the senate drama began by
committing the party on a public platform to the ending of sporadic violence
in the MDC by frustrated, unemployed youths, close to some in the "kitchen

So where did it go wrong? What happened to Tsvangirai, the street fighter
who effortlessly speaks the language of the grassroots better than any
other? One of Tsvangirai's closest friends believes he lost his engaging
working- class confidence when he was accused of treason weeks before the
presidential election of 2002. Tsvangirai made a fateful decision in
December 2001 when he travelled alone to Montreal to meet a "crook", as
advocate George Bizos described Canadian businessman Ari Ben Menashe, and
fell into a trap set up by the Central Intelligence Organisation to lure
Tsvangirai into making a single statement about violence and Mugabe.
Tsvangirai never told Ncube, who had signed a normal lobbying agreement with
Ben Menashe, he was going to Canada. Ben Menashe, a highly-paid agent of
state security minister Nicholas Goche, promised naive Tsvangirai a meeting
with then US secretary of state Colin Powell, and US$2 million for the cash
strapped MDC weeks ahead of the presidential campaign. Had Ncube or perhaps
any other more worldly wise member of the MDC travelled with Tsvangirai they
would have abandoned the meeting immediately it degenerated into talks
outside lobbying.

Zimbabwe's partisan justice system allowed Tsvangirai, Ncube and a senior
colleague, Renson Gasela who had met Ben Menashe once in London, to be
prosecuted on the flimsiest of evidence from the secretly recorded video
tape of the meeting. Even after he was acquitted, Tsvangirai, who had been
on bail for nearly half the life of the MDC by then, struggled to regain
composure and confidence. So much so that six months later he missed the
opportunity to galvanise resistance in May and June when 700 000 of his
closest supporters' homes were demolished under Mugabe's pretext of "slum
clearance". His "kitchen cabinet" kept him fearful so much so he didn't even
get out of his armour-plated vehicle during a rare camera opportunity among
the dispossessed in the post bulldozer rubble. "They fed his insecurities,
undermined his confidence, and diverted his concentration," said one of his
loyal friends this week. His uneasy relationship with officials in President
Thabo Mbeki's office also fed into Tsvangirai's crumbling confidence as
several made it clear they preferred cerebral Welshman Ncube even after he
explained he had no ambitions, nor the necessary grass roots charisma, for
the top post, and that it was still too soon for an Ndebele to be a national

Wilfred Mhanda, second in command in Mugabe's army during the liberation
war, said this week: "The MDC leadership totally underestimated Mugabe. They
believed the struggle for democracy would be hard, but they never understood
he was prepared to destroy everything - them, the economy, institutions,
infrastructure, the whole country and everything in it to survive. The MDC
thought they could win by being right, by appealing to the majority, and
they got that support, but that was never enough." Mugabe controls the
security forces, the courts, the media, the intelligence services, the
assets and he has perfected the system of patronage manipulating each and
every person in positions of power. "Mugabe was impossible to defeat in
elections because he controls every aspect of them too. The task was too big
for the decent MDC and the party neglected making inroads in the lower ranks
of the army who are just as poor as everyone else." Veteran political
analyst and reconciler Brian Raftopoulos who kept his powder dry during the
fracas, spent most of Thursday with Tsvangirai and carefully brought about
the ceasefire in the most serious rift in this extraordinary political party
in one of the most uneven political playing fields in contemporary history.

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Air Force may hire outsiders to train its pilots

From The Sunday Times (SA), 30 October

The South African Air Force may outsource its basic pilot training to
eliminate unsuitable candidates and save on the costs. The move follows a
drop in the quality of pupil pilots selected for training that has resulted
in a higher failure rate in exams and flight tests, crashes and even deaths
in recent years. Underfunding has seen the SAAF lose key personnel -
especially technicians and pilots - to the civilian sector. This week the
SAAF would only say that the "outsourcing of certain training needs is an
option being investigated. It is, however, early days to even speculate
whether outsourcing will be viable". But experts say the move is not only
necessary but should also be welcomed. Defence analyst Helmoed Römer Heitman
said this week that the SAAF would almost certainly introduce some measure
of screening for trainee pilots. "They need to find the people who will be
committed to flying and not leave just because things are getting tough." He
said black air force pilots were being poached by civilian airlines that
could offer higher salaries and were keen to nail their affirmative-action
colours to the mast. "With the screening, and the fact that the SAAF is
planning to do its own recruiting nationwide, rather than have it done by
the Department of Defence, mainly in Gauteng, many of the SAAF's problems
can be solved," said Heitman. An SAAF instructor said this week that the
plan was necessary to weed out candidates who considered military flying as
just another job. "Often, when they get to the SAAF they find they cannot
live with the discipline and the high workload, but by this time expensive
training on hi-tech aircraft has already begun."

(This week The Zimbabwean reported that 14 instructors and 30 technicians
from the Air Force of Zimbabwe were to be hired out to the SAAF to undertake
this training.)

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