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Mbeki to continue mediation efforts in Zimbabwe

Originally published 01:39 p.m., October 3, 2008, updated 01:25 p.m.,
October 3, 2008

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (AP) - Former South African President Thabo Mbeki
will continue efforts to mediate an end to the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

Mbeki's spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said he had agreed to resume mediations
after being approached by the Southern African Development Community. The
bloc last year asked Mbeki to help with talks aimed at ending the crisis in
the neighboring country.

Zimbabwe's opposition leaders and its President Robert Mugabe signed a
power-sharing agreement mediated by Mbeki on Sept. 15. But implementing the
agreement has stalled over who gets key Cabinet posts.

Mbeki's party forced him to quit as his country's leader nearly two weeks
ago after a judge found he may have interfered in the prosecution of rival
Jacob Zuma.

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Mbeki cannot do more in Zimbabwe

The former South African president cannot fix Zimbabwe's thoroughly broken
political system

Blessing-Miles Tendi,
Friday October 03 2008 14:00 BST
Zimbabwe once again attracted remarkable international attention in 2008,
this time over highly controversial elections and protracted negotiations
between Zimbabwe's main political actors aimed at finding a resolution to
the country's political crisis. A Thabo Mbeki brokered power-sharing deal
between Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions, led by Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara respectively, was finally reached on
September 15 2008. Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders
celebrated. The international community's response was lukewarm. The likes
of Mbeki felt vindicated after years of bearing criticism for his "quiet
diplomacy". Others, such as hardliners in Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe's security
establishment, were disgruntled.

For many Zimbabweans inside the country, the deal was a ray of hope because
life had become a punishing drudgery. A life of enduring the merciless
African sun while queuing for food and a worthless national currency. The
wretchedness is compounded by the breakdown of service delivery,
skyrocketing inflation, the breakdown of the rule of law, the politicisation
of the police, military, civil service and judiciary, and the violence meted
out by the state on citizens it ought to protect.

In the midst of evident collapse and misery one would have thought that the
power-sharing deal will be implemented with alacrity by the three political
parties. But Zimbabwe is a difficult country politically. It has a penchant
for throwing up the unexpected and many of its current problems have robust
historical roots that will not be easily uprooted. It is little surprise
that a deadlock has developed between the political parties over the
formation of a cabinet to run the country. Zanu-PF is bent on retaining
powerful ministerial posts such as state security, defence, home affairs and
finance. In spite of the MDC's majority in parliament and Tsvangirai
amassing the most votes in the first presidential election round, Zanu-PF
still views the MDC as a subordinate party.

The Tsvangirai MDC has called on former South African President, Thabo
Mbeki, to continue with his mediation efforts in order to break the
deadlock. On the other hand Zanu-PF insists that Mbeki's mediation is not
required because there is no deadlock. The contestation over Mbeki's renewed
involvement in Zimbabwe is odd. Mbeki is still recovering from the fallout
of his humiliating resignation as South African president. Whether he still
has the verve and authority to continue as mediator is unclear. The new
South African president Kgalema Motlanthe has been quick to throw his weight
behind Mbeki's proposed continued mediation. Whether this is a reflection of
his faith in Mbeki's negotiation skills or is an attempt to duck having to
deal with a difficult situation that may haunt his presidency in the manner
it did Mbeki's is also unclear.

However, the issue is less about whether Mbeki should continue in his role
and the various motives at play. Mbeki's efforts reached their peak when the
power-sharing deal was signed. There is little he or any other mediator can
add to the actual power-sharing process. The onus is on Zimbabwean
politicians, particularly those in Zanu-PF, to show political maturity and
commitment to the deal for the sake of national interest, and to foster
trust and unity between each other and the nation. These qualities are rare
in Zimbabwean political culture because in the place of civil dialogue there
is uncivil dialogue. In the place of meritocracy there is seniority. In the
place of a culture of conflict resolution there are "degrees in violence"
guaranteeing particular political interests. In the place of issue-based
politics there is labelling based on the extent of one's liberation war
credentials. Being the dominant nationalist party for approximately 40
years, Zanu-PF is guilty of having generated this political culture.

The result is that Zimbabwean politics has been rendered exclusive and
impenetrable to those who seek to challenge the views of Zanu-PF. The party
is the be all and end all and those outside of it are illegitimate. As
former vice-president Simon Muzenda once noted, "If Zanu-PF puts up a baboon
as a candidate, you vote for the baboon." Other leading Zanu-PF politicians
such as Nathan Shamuyarira boast unselfconsciously that "the area of
violence is an area where Zanu-PF has a very strong, long and successful
history". And while individuals associated with the MDC have attempted to
develop reasoned and democratic politics, both MDCs are susceptible to a
politics akin to Zanu-PF's. Opposition politics is also a habitat for
violence and undemocratic practices. It too is characterised by personalised
and immature politics, and contemptible invective such as the Tsvangirai MDC
secretary general Tendai Biti's public branding of rival MDC member Gift
Chimanikire as a "smelly fat man who does not bath" and Chimanikire's retort
that Biti "suffered from diarrhoea".

A melancholy truth about Zimbabwean politics is its lack of gravitas. It is
rudimentary, trifling, divisive, intolerant and blind to the national
interest - this is the crux of the matter, not whether Mbeki should stay on
as mediator and be called in.

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Currency crash prompts dramatic move by Gono


     October 03 2008 at 01:35PM

Harare - Confusion struck Zimbabwe's financial system on Friday after
the central bank stopped electronic transfers, following the currency's
crash to a new record low.

State radio quoted Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono as
saying that electronic transfers had been suspended because they were "being
used for illicit foreign exchange deals," and by businesses "to overprice
their goods and services".

"We have no option but to take this drastic measure in order to
maintain sanity in the financial system," he said.

A chronic shortage of cash in Zimbabwean currency means people have
virtually abandoned changing the near worthless money for foreign currency
on the street as had been the norm. Recently, most have been getting hard
currency through electronic transfers.

Gono's announcement came as the exchange rate for electronic transfers
on Thursday plunged to one million Zimbabwe dollars for one US dollar, just
two months after the central bank slashed 10 zeros off the currency on
August 1.

Despite the drastic revaluation, the currency has continued to
haemorrhage. Its current value is one ten-thousandth of that at the
beginning of August.

Gono said people would have to use cheques and debit cards to pay for
goods, although debit cards are usable in only a few dozen supermarkets

"There's a lot of confusion," said a business executive who asked not
to be named. "The banks are now saying that you can't do internal transfers
within the same bank, and even Internet banking is banned.

"Cheques are a real hassle, it takes five days to clear, and in this
crazy economic climate you can lose a huge amount of money in that time."

Zimbabwe's economic decline has reached a break-neck pace in recent
months. Inflation is estimated at 40-million percent, among the top five
levels in history worldwide.

The printing of cash by the central bank to meet President Robert
Mugabe's regime's voracious appetite for spending and his disastrous
transfer of productive white-owned farms to inexperienced farmers are seen
as the chief reasons for the country's nosedive.

On Wednesday, a cup of coffee at the capital's Holiday Inn hotel cost
1.5 million Zimbabwe dollars. A police constable is paid 10 000 Zimbabwe
dollars a month.

On Monday, in a bid to end mammoth queues outside banks for cash, Gono
increased the maximum ATM withdrawal amount 20-fold and introduced new bank
notes. - Sapa-dpa

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Zimbabweans lament 'craziness' on the streets


     October 03 2008 at 12:01PM

Harare - Zimbabwe's financial crisis has lurched into a new phase as
efforts to put more cash into circulation appeared to have backfired into a
new round of higher prices for basic goods. Government officials have
threatened to arrest shop owners found to be gouging.

Zimbabwe's Prices and Incomes Commission said it had seen "rampant and
unjustified price increases" since the start of the week, when the
government introduced higher denomination currency and raised the daily
limit on withdrawals from bank accounts.

The measures were aimed to help ordinary Zimbabweans, who are
struggling with the world's highest inflation rate. The country's official
inflation rate is 11-million percent a year, but private financial
institutions estimate it is far higher.

Price Commission head Godwills Masimirembwa told state radio that
inspectors were out in the street on Thursday to make sure that businesses
were sticking to prices approved by the commission on or before September

"Any businessperson charging prices that have not been approved will
be arrested and prosecuted for unscrupulous business practices," he said.

"This is a serious matter."

Masimirembwa said the offence carried a penalty of up to five years in

"Everything is crazy around here," complained Joey Austin, a Harare
salesman handling wads of old and new money on Thursday.

A letter to the Herald newspaper, a state mouthpiece, pointed out on
Thursday that if a Zimbabwean put the equivalent of $10 into a bank by
electronic transfer at the official rate, it would take him at least 18
months to withdraw it at the government's daily limit of ZIM$20 000.

But if that person went to the black market with the money he withdrew
from his account, he could buy more US dollars to underwrite another
electronic transfer for a huge profit.

The letter writer said this created "madness in the financial sector"
and explained why so many people were flocking to the banks.

Indeed, huge crowds have been lining up at banks since Monday to
withdraw money, spilling off sidewalks and blocking traffic.

People are desperate to take out money to buy groceries, which can go
up in price in the time it takes to put them in a shopping basket.

Edward Mungofa, a private business consultant, said the economy was
suffering because of political uncertainty over Zimbabwe's stalled
negotiations on forming a new power sharing government.

"The financial markets are on a roller coaster," Mungofa said.

President Robert Mugabe and the opposition led by Prime
Minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing deal on
September 15, but have since been unable to agree on which party should
control key cabinet posts - among them that of finance minister.

Tsvangirai won the most votes in March elections but not enough to
avoid a run-off against Mugabe.

Mugabe, who has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980,
unleashed state-sponsored violence that forced Tsvangirai to withdraw from
the run-off vote, then Mugabe declared himself winner amid worldwide

A meeting on Tuesday failed to break the deadlock.

South Africa's new president, Kgalema Motlanthe, said on Thursday that
he wanted his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, to continue his efforts to mediate
the power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe.

But chief Mugabe negotiator Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying
there was no need for Mbeki to step back in.

"I don't think that the issue of allocation of ministries is a matter
that can be referred (to Mbeki)," Chinamasa was quoted as saying by The

"We cannot, at the slightest difference in opinion, call outsiders to
mediate." He said officials were confident of a breakthrough soon. - Sapa-AP

This article was originally published on page 11 of Cape Argus on
October 03, 2008

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Mugabe concedes Finance Ministry

Local News
October 3, 2008 | By Staff |
Developing story
President Robert Mugabe 's ZANU PF has finally conceded the Ministries of
Finance and Local government to the MDC according to well placed sources,a
move that could see a cabinet being announced over the weekend.

The development comes as the MDC yesterday called off a meeting of its
national executive council at Harvest House fuelling speculation that it had
been cancelled because there had been positive movement on the deadlock with
ZANU PF over sharing of Cabinet posts.

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Zim youth march in Pretoria

Article By:
Fri, 03 Oct 2008 17:12
About 100 members of the Revolutionary Youth Movement of Zimbabwe handed a
petition to the presidency at the Union Buildings on Friday in protest
against the political impasse in that country.

The movement's president Simon Mudekwa said the petition was handed over
shortly after midday.

"It was signed by various organisations even civil society over a two week
timeframe," he said.

The protesters called for, among other things, the speeding up of the
process to create a new democratic constitution and the equitable sharing of
key ministries between the parties.

Zimbabwe is yet to distribute cabinet posts following last month's historic
power-sharing deal between president Robert Mugabe and his Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) counterpart Morgan Tsvangirai.

The posts were to be distributed between Mugabe's Zanu-PF party,
Tsvangirai's MDC and an MDC faction.

"People are suffering, that is why we are requesting help from the new
president [President Kgalema Motlanthe].

"We hope he's the man we've been waiting for because we cannot solve our
problem without the help of other countries," said Mudekwa, adding that it
was a peaceful demonstration.


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Air Zimbabwe pilots go on strike

By Tichaona Sibanda
3 October 2008

Air Zimbabwe pilots on Friday went on strike in a row over pay and
conditions, marking the first walk-out by the airline's pilots in almost ten

The strike action has already disrupted travel plans of over a thousand
travellers, after the airline was forced to cancel both its short and
long-haul flights.

Authorities at the country's sole alirliner said they had suspended flights
with immediate effect because its pilots were sick. They said all Friday and
Saturday flights had been cancelled and the situation would be reviewed
later. A former pilot with the airline told Newsreel the aggrieved pilots
may have resorted to being 'sick' because the country's laws make it
difficult for airline employees to strike.

'In many countries, airline employees must participate in a lengthy
mediation process expressly designed to force a resolution before they can
strike. If mediation fails, the head of state may order a 60-day cooling-off
period, during which pilots must return to work. But to go around the
system, the pilots can phone in sick and there is nothing the airline can do
to prevent this,' said the former pilot.

Since 2003 the airline, which flies to 17 destinations using a fleet of 7
aircraft, has been struggling financially. In February 2004 it was
temporarily suspended by IATA over unpaid debts. On numerous occasions the
airline has been saved at the last minute by the Reserve Bank, which has
bailed it out with cheap loans.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Wave of strikes as economy collapses

BY chief reporter

Harare -The tide of labour unrest is rising rapidly in Zimbabwe as workers
demand hefty salary adjustments to hedge themselves against hyperinflation.

Crippling industrial action is sweeping across all sectors as workers reject
the small increments offered by government and private companies already
weighed down by a deepening economic crisis.  Workers are demanding
inflation-adjusted salary increments and Poverty Datum Line (PDL) based
wages. Others are demanding salaries in forex.

Amid a strike by doctors that entered its sixth week yesterday, farm workers
embarked on a go-slow this week, amid another strike by teachers.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary general Raymond Majongwe
said the teachers strike, begun when schools opened on September 2,
continues. Zimbabwe Teachers Union president Tendai Chikowore said the
teachers had been "economically incapacitated to perform their duties" and
would not report for work unless meaningful steps are taken to ease their

Farm workers are also on go-slow while others have already downed their
tools. At several farms across the country, farm workers were on strike this
week while union leaders were locked in bitter negotiations with farm
owners. Edward Dzeka, the organizing secretary of the General Agriculture
Plantations Workers Union (GAPWUZ) told The Zimbabwean that the 250,000 farm
workers across the country want a "living wage." "If we want to regain that
status as the breadbasket we need to pay salaries that attract workers to
the farms. Right now most of them are panning for gold instead of working
the field. The salaries are pathetic," he said.

Another massive job action is looming in industry where workers, who are
taking home as little as Z$2,000, are beginning to feel the pinch of the
deepening economic crisis in Zimbabwe. Most workers in industry had downed
or were contemplating downing their tools this week charging the minimum
wage was "crazy."

Lecturers from public universities, who were recently granted a hefty pay
hike are also demanding better salaries to match inflation. An official with
the Zimbabwe State Universities Union of Academics Association, said that if
their salaries were not increased, workers had no choice but to down their
tools indefinitely. Meanwhile, Pindai Dube reports from Bulawayo that the
country's magistrates have approached the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
seeking cars and housing allowances as the economic bite continues.

This came barely a week after the same magistrates countrywide warned the
government that they would embark on another strike if they did not receive
salary increments at the end of September. Most magistrates' salaries range
between Z$2000 (20trillion) and $4000(40trillion) which As the Zimbabwean
economy plunges into the abyss, hundreds of thousands of people are sleeping
in queues outside banks and building societies around the country, waiting
to draw enough of their own cash to buy a few basic grocery items. the rich,
mostly those aligned to Zanu (pf) who profit from its widespread patronage
system, now deal only in Us$ while the vast majority are left to fight for
worthless scraps of paper. those who need ZWd cash cannot access the little
they have, while those who have it don't need it as they transact in Us$ for
everything from coffee to satellite television. is not even enough to
sustain them for a week.

Sources in the judicial sector told The Zimbabwean this week that
magistrates sent a representative to the RBZ governor Gideon Gono asking for
cars and housing allowances like the packages he awarded  to High Court and
Supreme Court judges three months ago. "We have sent our representative with
a letter to Gono asking him to also give us the same allowances of cars and
houses which he gave to judges some months ago. I borrow money for transport
to come to work every morning while judges are getting everything from RBZ,"
said one fuming magistrate who spoke on condition of anonymity. They have
not received a response yet and no comment could be obtained from RBZ about
their request.

Meanwhile businesspeople in Bulawayo have accused Gono of giving US dollars
shop only to businesses owned by Zanu (PF) party
faithfuls. "We have discovered that only businesses owned by people with
links to Zanu (PF) are getting licences," said one prominent businessman.

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Security Analyst Warns of Rise of Organized Crime in Zimbabwe

Friday, 03 October 2008 10:50
Zimbabwe's recent power-sharing agreement identifies fighting crime as
one of the country's top priorities in the near future. President Robert
Mugabe and the leaders of two factions of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) apparently agree that Zimbabweans are in danger from
a growing criminal class. Analysts say crime has increased in the southern
African nation as economic degradation has intensified. Zimbabwe has the
highest inflation rate in the world, and millions of people are unemployed.
In the midst of this depression, a leading crime researcher is warning of
the rise of "mafia-like" syndicates in southern Africa as a result of the
economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe. "There's an increased likelihood
of criminals, be they individuals, syndicates or networks, using the country
as a safe haven, probably launching their activities into the region, using
Zimbabwe as a platform," says Jackson Madzima, organized crime researcher at
South Africa's Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

He's convinced that Zimbabwe has become "very attractive" to criminals
in southern Africa - precisely because of the social, political and economic
instability that reigns there.

"Criminals exploit chaotic situations," Madzima, who's originally from
Botswana, states. "They know that there is a lesser risk of being arrested
or being prosecuted so it becomes attractive that they base themselves in a
place like Zimbabwe."

He describes the present situation in Zimbabwe as a "cocktail of
circumstances" that's likely to fuel a "surge in organized criminal

Madzima says Zimbabwe's security forces, which should have been
safeguarding the country from crime, have in recent years been "sidetracked"
into supporting President Mugabe politically.

"Instead of fighting crime, the police especially have been used to
crush (ruling party) ZANU-PF's opponents," he says.

Ingredients for rampant criminality

The researcher says "desperation" is the fertile ground from which a
new criminal class is growing in Zimbabwe.

"A lot of people in Zimbabwe are desperate. They don't even know how
they are going to get out of that desperation, so criminal activity presents
itself as an opportunity for those who are desperate to make a living."

Madzima says the violent conflict that has been evident in Zimbabwe in
recent years has created the "impetus" for future criminal behavior in the
country and in the wider region.

"What has happened in Zimbabwe is that resources have been diverted
towards resolution of political conflict. Resources may also have been used
to sustain the conflict by those who benefit from it. But the bottom line is
that such resources have become scarce for law enforcement. This allows
criminals to thrive."

He says the "vacuum" of crime fighting resources in Zimbabwe is just
one of many factors that could allow for a massive expansion in crime.

The "high circulation" of illegal firearms in Zimbabwe, according to
Madzima, is also a source of great concern, as is the fact that many young
men and women have been trained by government forces to use such weapons for
political reasons and have been "ordered to kill their opponents."

In recent years, says Madzima, these young people were "repeatedly
instructed" that they were "entitled to exterminate those who hold different
views as enemies. They have been trained to expect in a way to reap where
they did not sow."

In this regard, Madzima warns of rising discontent and disaffection
among various pro-Mugabe groups, such as youth militia and war veterans.

He draws parallels with the situation in post-apartheid South Africa,
where many people who'd previously been part of various violent
anti-government resistance groups suddenly found themselves "purposeless" in
a rapidly transforming society and were thus encouraged to join criminal

"Over a period of time, those people who participate in violent
activities, whether they are political or otherwise, will in future be
inclined to use such skills in criminal activities," Madzima explains.

In a recent report for the ISS, the researcher writes: "South Africa's
violent past set the tone for current criminal behavioral patterns. The
blurring of political and criminal behavior during apartheid entrenched a
culture of invincibility on the one hand and impunity on the other. It is
clear that the disruption of family units through forced removals and
political violence during South Africa's past provides one explanation for
the high incidence of violent crime. It is argued that the distrust for
authority and a lack of respect for the rule of law during apartheid fed
into the culture of violence."

Madzima says a "similar scenario" is emerging in Zimbabwe, where the
rule of law is being ignored because people essentially don't respect the

"The political meltdown has resulted in state resources being diverted
to ensuring the survival of the incumbent government. The widespread
conditions of poverty and unemployment characterizing Zimbabwe now create a
breeding ground for criminal behavior."

He says "probably the most daunting challenge" facing the country at
the moment is the "rehabilitation of an entire generation that has suffered
the impact of economic implosion and political violence (and brutalization)
by security forces."

From a criminological perspective, adds Madzima, "the challenge will
involve a concerted effort to change the mindsets of a people who have lost
all hope and trust in government and in its law enforcement and security

Black market

These days in Zimbabwe, Madzima argues, almost everyone's a criminal
"by necessity."

"It is becoming increasingly impossible for people to make a living on
their salaries. To that extent, almost everybody is participating in dealing
in the black market to make a living. People begin to trade more (in)
illegal activities, or illegitimate trade."

Madzima says even if there's sweeping reform in Zimbabwe in the near
future, it's going to be "very difficult" to wean people off the "habit of
criminality" and to persuade them to conduct their day-to-day dealings

"Quite a number of Zimbabweans have learned to hustle over the years
and such hustling is either criminal or borders on criminality," Madzima
comments. "A large number of civil servants and ordinary citizens have had
to learn to survive on resources that are beyond their meager salaries, by
demanding bribes and being active in the cut-throat parallel market. This
situation inevitably sets the stage for future criminal behavior."

Madzima's research in Zimbabwe has revealed that big business there
has developed strategies that are "blatantly criminal" in order to survive
the country's economic crisis.

"I refer to the manufacturing industry, for example, businesses that
supply goods in Zimbabwe that are consumed by ordinary people. The economic
situation, with the very high inflation rate, does not permit businesses to
profit by trading legitimately. So they supply a black market."

Many goods in Zimbabwe, says Madzima, are available "underground."

"Such goods are not being channeled to the formal market, because it's
unprofitable. So to that extent, business is participating in or at least
sustaining the black market."

He says smuggling goods in and out of Zimbabwe has become an "accepted
way of life."

"There is little business sense in trading ethically and exclusively
in theformal market because as it stands, profit is only possible when
dealing with contraband. Once the situation reverts to normal, it is
unlikely that individuals and businesses that have been hustling for a
decade will suddenly begin to do things properly. It is conceivable that the
smuggling networks that are growing now will evolve with the advent of a new
dispensation," Madzima says.

'Mafia' threat

He says the security of the entire southern African region could be
threatened by the emergence of "mafia-like figures" as a direct result of
the instability in Zimbabwe.

"These sorts of figures like chaotic situations, or conflict, because
they are assured that law enforcement is not as vigilant as in other more
stable societies. They use corruption to infiltrate markets," Madzima
explains. "Mafia guys, or at least big criminals, will find friendship with
people who are highly placed within government so that their activities are
not targeted, or if they are, then they have a reasonable way out. The
authorities turn a blind eye to their activities, in return for bribes."

He points out that there are precedents of this throughout history,
including in the United States, where the mafia rose to notoriety in the
wake of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

"With the international isolation of Zimbabwe, the government has had
no option but to look at alternative sources of funds in order to ensure its
survival. Association with shadowy figures and other rogue governments
become the only viable option. Mafia figures thrive in these conditions
where they can sponsor a government so that its eyes are turned away from
their activities. The notorious Chinese and Russian mafia are known to like
using this strategy to establish new markets or consolidate existing ones.
Therefore, it is hardly alarmist to suggest that the region should expect to
contend with a surge in organized crime centered on Zimbabwe."

Madzima insists though that authorities in southern Africa can take
action to ensure that the situation isn't as dire as he's forecasting.

"Regional organizations and civic organizations should collaborate to
design solutions. What is fundamental is that the quick economic recovery of
Zimbabwe would be a good base for any other interventions. In terms of law
enforcement, resources must be pumped into law enforcement infrastructure so
that rule of law is emphasized."

He says it's "absolutely essential" that the Zimbabwean government
halts "as soon as possible" its use of the police as a "political tool.. The
police must be used primarily as an instrument to fight crime. That's the
only way to fight organized crime networks."

Madzima advises southern African police chiefs to meet as a matter of
urgency to recognize the threat the region's facing as a result of the chaos
in Zimbabwe and to come up with strategies to prevent the rise of a
Zimbabwe-based mafia. Otherwise, he warns, it'll be too late, and organized
crime will have established a grip in Zimbabwe that will be difficult to pry
loose, with harmful consequences for the whole region.

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A short ride from joy to cynicism

Jaded by politics
HARARE, 3 October 2008 (IRIN) - The joy Zimbabweans felt after the power-sharing deal was signed on 15 September is fast dissipating, and the deadlock between the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is becoming part of a familiar political landscape, while the humanitarian situation worsens.

Citizens trying to navigate the country's economic meltdown view the apparent lack of urgency by politicians in resolving the impasse as self-serving at the expense of the country.

"What I find sickening about this whole circus is that the politicians are more worried about sharing power, instead of being concerned about the welfare of the people," Jason Timba, 50, an employed man in the capital, Harare, told IRIN.

"If the politicians genuinely had the interests of the people at heart, then this issue would have been solved a long time ago. At least [the MDC's Morgan] Tsvangirai has shown that he is concerned about the people because he has toured banking halls to assess the money crisis, while the government is pretending that there is no crisis."

Inflation is officially estimated at 11.2 million percent, but according to research by US economist and monetary policy specialist Steve Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, hyperinflation has reached an annual rate of 531 billion percent.

Hanke told the Voice of America radio station that monthly inflation was 14,000 percent, although this was still lower than the rate in Germany's Weimar Republic in the 1920s, which at its height recorded inflation of 30,000 percent a month.

Shortages of everything have become commonplace, the UN estimates that by the first quarter of 2009 more than 5 million people will require food aid, and without a political solution the prognosis for Zimbabwe's future is dire.

The power-sharing deal, brokered by Thabo Mbeki a few days before his own party forced him to resign as President of South Africa, hit obstacles soon after it was signed, when President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the MDC failed to reach agreement on the composition of a new cabinet.

Mbeki mediation undermined

Mbeki was appointed as mediator by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2007; according to South Africa's Business Day newspaper, the SADC has asked Mbeki's presidential successor, Kaglema Motlanthe, "to inform him [Mbeki] that regional leaders wanted him to continue [mediation]".

Cheryl Hendricks, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Security Studies, a political think-tank based in Pretoria, South Africa, told IRIN that Mbeki's "credibility will be severely undermined by what happened to him: being chucked out [of office] so unceremoniously."

''Mugabe is now clamouring to retain most of the key ministries, such as finance, home affairs, information and foreign affairs, in a bid to grab all the power and not share responsibilities''
She said the confluence of events, in which Mbeki brokered a deal and then lost his presidency within a few days, saw Mugabe "take the gap" and grab what he could get, and that it was mistake not to include the composition of the cabinet as part of the mediation process.

Luke Tamborinyoka, the MDC's director of information, told IRIN Mugabe was now pursuing a "smash and grab all" tactic. "Mugabe is now clamouring to retain most of the key ministries, such as finance, home affairs, information and foreign affairs, in a bid to grab all the power and not share responsibilities," he said.

"Suspicions are that the hawks in ZANU-PF, who are opposed to the power-sharing deal for fear of losing their jobs, have prevailed on Mugabe to pull out of the deal. The fact that he is making all sorts of unpalatable demands may mean that he wants to create a situation where the talks collapse," Tamborinyoka commented.

"What is obvious is that Mugabe is negotiating in bad faith. He should put the interests of Zimbabweans first, ahead of pursuits of concentrating power on himself."

Mugabe attended the UN annual General Assembly meeting soon after the deal was signed, amid indications that the deal was already floundering.

A senior member of ZANU-PF's politburo, the party's highest decision-making body, told IRIN: "Mugabe was told at our last stormy meeting, before he left for New York, that he had 'sold out' by agreeing to share power with the MDC, which we all agree represents the interests of imperialists [Britain and the US]."

The great relief with which Zimbabweans - enduring their eighth year of recession - greeted the power-sharing deal a couple of weeks ago has turned to cynicism.

Jaded citizens

Theresa Simango, a fruit and vegetable vendor, told IRIN: "Maybe Mugabe does not know that the rest of the population is suffering and, if he does, he probably does not care, because I understand he was recently in the USA, where his wife [Grace] probably did some shopping for basic commodities, which are either in short supply or too expensive for most Zimbabweans. Not all of us can go to New York and do some shopping."

A rural school teacher from Murehwa, 60km east of Harare, who declined to be identified, said she had spent the last three days in a queue hoping to withdraw part of her salary, Z$10,000 (US$0.01 at the parallel market exchange rate on 3 October of Z$1 million to US$1).

"Is Mugabe really Zimbabwean? Because if he was, he would have sympathised with his fellow countrymen and -women. How can he deliberately frustrate talks which are likely to bring prosperity to Zimbabwe if he is genuinely one of us? He probably regards Zimbabwe as his little property, which he can treat anyhow," she said.

''The truth of the matter is that the three people responsible for our suffering are not experiencing the kinds of hardships that ordinary Zimbabweans are going through, and that is why they can afford to go on holidays and extend our suffering''
Zimbabwe's central bank has imposed a maximum daily withdrawal limit of Z$20,000 (US$0.02). Severe shortages of cash have increasingly forced people to use foreign currency, with many relying on the remittances of friends and family members to survive. More than three million Zimbabweans are thought to have left the country in search of work, mostly in neighbouring countries, but also in Europe and the US.

Nigel Makanza, a middle-tier bank manager, blamed the leaders for the country's despair. "While it is clear that Mugabe is the one holding the nation to ransom, the other politicians cannot escape without getting some of the blame. Mugabe had the audacity to go on a holiday junket in New York - disguised as official business - while [leader of the MDC breakaway faction, Arthur] Mutambara is in China attending some leadership forum," he said.

"The truth of the matter is that the three people responsible for our suffering are not experiencing the kind of hardships that ordinary Zimbabweans are going through, and that is why they can afford to go on holidays and extend our suffering."

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

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Conflict looms over new governors

October 2, 2008

By Raymond Maingire

Harare - Zimbabwe's fragile power-sharing deal could be headed for new
conflict following the decision by Zanu-PF not to reverse the controversial
appointment by President Robert Mugabe last month of all10 provincial
governors from the party.

Sources close to the developments have revealed that a Zanu-PF central
committee meeting held on September 16 resolved to oppose any attempts by
the Movement for Democratic Change to push for the reversal of the

The power sharing agreement reached between Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC
parties on September 15 is silent on the appointment of governors.

Meanwhile, it has emerged Zanu-PF is quietly plotting to challenge any
constitutional provision that would allows the suspension of by-elections.
Zanu-PF and the MDC agreed to a suspension of any by-elections in a bid to
strengthen their agreement.

But some rebels within Zanu-PF, who oppose the power-sharing agreement, have
resolved to exploit every loophole in the deal in order to curtail the MDC's
influence under the auspices of the agreement.

"The Zanu-PF central committee met on the 16th of September to review the
power-sharing deal," a source told The Zimbabwe Times Thursday. "It was
agreed the issue of the appointed governors was now a done deal."

All the 10 appointed governors are from Mugabe's party.

The MDC feels this violates the spirit of a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU),
which was then the supreme document regulating the conduct of the parties
ahead of and during the negotiations.

The MoU barred unilateral decisions by either party which had far reaching

Mugabe apparently appointed the governors in a bid to spite his bitter rival
Morgan Tsvangirai who was at the time refusing to sign the agreement.

The matter was re-tabled after the then South African President and SADC
appointed mediator Thabo Mbeki salvaged the faltering  talks by bringing in
new proposals designed to break what had become a deadlock.

"The deal is silent on the issue of governors and Zanu-PF wants to take
advantage of that omission to keep its governors," the source said.

"The agreement dwells on the cabinet. Provincial governors were deliberately
left out because they do not enter cabinet. It is those areas that Zanu-PF
would use to bar any attempt by the MDC to push for its own officials to
take up governorships in some provinces."

Zanu-PF maintains it is not its fault that Tsvangirai baulked in signing the
initial copy of the deal and as such, it would not humiliate its members by
appointing them one morning only to fire them the next day.

Mugabe, 84, was criticized for appointing governors even in some areas in
which the MDC registered overwhelming support in the March 29 elections.

The MDC also successfully pushed for the suspension of by-elections.
Agreement was reached that wherever a vacancy occurred, whether in
Parliament or at local government level, the party which held that position
prior to the vacancy would be allowed to fill it uncontested.

The MDC fears Zanu-PF will deploy state resources and use open intimidation
to win by- elections even in the so-called MDC strongholds in the urban
areas. But Zanu-PF, eager to wrestle control of some seats it lost to the
MDC, decided to have the matter revisited.

"The Zanu-PF argument is premised on the fact that the matter is vulnerable
to a constitutional challenge by other political parties demanding their
rights to have their representatives participate in a by election," the
source said.

According to the March 29 election results, Zanu-PF won 99 seats while the
MDC won 100 seats. Ten seats went to the breakaway faction of the MDC led by
Professor Arthur Mutambara while the remaining one seat went to independent
candidate, Jonathan Moyo, Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho North.

The Zanu-PF secretary for information and publicity Nathan Shamuyarira did
not comment on the matter. He said his lack of participation in the talks
disqualified him from commenting knowledgeably on the matter.

"I have not been involved in the negotiations. Why don't you call either
(Patrick) Chinamasa or (Nicholas) Goche?" he asked.

Repeated efforts to reach the two Zanu-PF chief negotiators were fruitless.
Their mobile phones were repeatedly unanswered.

But Professor Welshman Ncube, secretary general in the Mutambara led group
told The Zimbabwe Times two weeks ago that the power-sharing deal would not
be complete if Mugabe's appointment of governors was not revisited.

"The governors' issue obviously has to be reopened for the simple reason
that you cannot have 10 governors all from Zanu-PF," he said.

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RBZ to splash on Chiefs

MASVINGO, October 3 2008 - The Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono,
last Friday promised to provide generators, tractors, combine harvesters and
cars to chiefs who have not yet benefited from the Central Bank.

Addressing a field day at Chief Fortune Charumbira's Acton Farm last
Friday, Gono said he was surprised that  some traditional leaders in the
province had not benefited from the chiefs' facility.

"Chiefs should have cars, a tractor, generator and a combine
harvester. I am surprised there are chiefs in the province who are yet to
benefit," Gono said.

He instructed Fortune Charumbira, who is the president of the Zimbabwe
Chiefs Council, to immediately draft a list of traditional leaders who have
not benefited.

"I give you a deadline of two weeks to draft a list of all the chiefs
who have not benefited. We might be under sanctions, but we will get the
money. I will not hesitate to print money till kingdom come," said Gono.

But observers believe Gono, who implicitly revealed he is a ZANU PF
supporter, is acting on instructions from President Robert Mugabe, to buy
the chiefs' loyalty.

"Zanu PF is not different from the Ian Smith regime - which awarded
hefty salaries and incentives to chiefs in a bid to manipulate them. Like
Smith, Mugabe is buying traditional leaders' loyalty," said a political
observer who preferred anonymity.

The observer said the RBZ move could be payback to pro-ZANU PF chiefs
for their role in violently mobilising support for Mugabe in the sham one
man runoff poll which saw the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) pulling
out, alleging that 120 of its activists had been slain by state security

"ZANU PF is rewarding the chiefs for threatening people with death and
expulsion from their areas in the run up to the June 27 elections," said the

Apart from the promised cars, tractors and combine harvesters, chiefs
are on the ZANU PF payroll. Only pro-Mugabe chiefs are, however, benefiting.

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Harare Poly Students Riot

HARARE, October 03 2008 - Scores of resident Harare Polytechnic
students on Wednesday night rioted after being served plain Sadza.

Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) president, Clever Bere, told
RadioVOP that he would be addressing the Harare Polytechnic students about
their precarious situation at the once prosperous college, which is home to
one of the country's distinguished journalism schools, the Department of
Mass Communication.

According to ZINASU officials, the students were on Wednesday night
served plain sadza when they went for dinner at the college's canteen, after
going for weeks on boiled cabbage and sadza diet.

"Tired of the abuse, the students rioted against their
administration," said ZINASU in a statement to RadioVOP.

The ZINASU statement claimed that other issues raised during the riot
were the fact that ablution facilities at the college were no longer fit for

"184 students who inhabit the institution's six hostels are being
forced to use only one toilet as all the others are not functioning.

Last term, students were forced to pay Zd17 billion, an equivalent of
R2 000 for meals - but after government intervention, the money was reduced
to $1,6 billion. None of the students who had paid the full amount have been
reimbursed," read part of the ZINASU statement.

RadioVOP has it on good authority that before the riot, students also
complained of being charged caution fees every term, which are paid once off
in other institutions.

College authorities, among them the principal, allegedly addressed the
students and allowed them to set up a food committee and ad hoc Student
Representative Council, which has since engaged the ZINASU National
Executive Council.

"I intend  to address the students to understand their grievances,"
said Bere, the ZINASU president.

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A war on two fronts

JASON MOYO - Oct 03 2008 06:00

Zanu-PF's Robert Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai have little in common. But both are now fighting hard-line
rebels opposed to Zimbabwe's power-sharing agreement.

Mugabe signed the deal as temperatures in Zanu-PF were beginning to rise,
with the party facing a crucial conference in December.

Mugabe's position as party leader will not be up for grabs, but old
divisions always open up ahead of party conferences. Tensions will be higher
this year as he is forced to cast aside allies to keep the power-sharing
deal alive.

He has publicly pleaded with his central committee to support the deal,
saying it became inevitable once "our divisions" cost the party the March
general election.

Tsvangirai also had to face dissenters at a meeting of his top executive
last Friday. He also fielded tough questions from foreign diplomats wanting
to know how he thought the deal would work, given Mugabe's record. Western
governments have refused to give immediate aid to Zimbabwe.

As the two leaders fought internal battles Zimbabweans received mixed
messages about whether a new government is still a possibility.

First came Mugabe's announcement that a new government would be in place by
the end of the week. Tsvangirai's top mediator, Tendai Biti, denied this,
saying that perhaps Mugabe "knew something" he didn't.

After an hour-long meeting between Mugabe and Tsvangirai it was reported
that the two sides remained "poles apart".

A key hawk, police commissioner Augustine Chihuri, added to the confusion by
backing the deal. "We need to work together and forego our minor
differences, as Zimbabwe has now moved on with its politics," he said.

While Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson, said his party was "not
desperate to be in the government", Tsvangirai himself was rolling up his
sleeves and getting down to "work".

With Mugabe away at the United Nations, Tsvangirai launched a campaign to
raise his own profile, casting himself as the more committed to solving the
crisis but laying bare the enormity of the task he faces.

He met business leaders, frustrated supporters waiting in swelling bank
queues, farmers who told him they fear Zimbabwe's worst harvest and aid
groups, which said up to five million people might need aid by next month.

At one meeting with mine executives Tsvangirai heard that three-quarters of
Zimbabwe's mines have shut down. The remaining operations are running at
below 20% of capacity and are not being paid for gold delivered to the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the sole legal purchaser.

Tsvangirai also met bank managers who fear for their staff as mobs of
desperate customers swamp the tills. He heard from councils about the
increased risk to public health in urban centres as water treatment
chemicals run out.

The Zimbabwe Teachers' Association told him the country could fail to run
national examinations this month because teachers can no longer afford to
commute to schools.

At the same time opposition is growing among Tsvangirai's allies. This week
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, from which the MDC draws much of its
support, said it would not support the deal. The arrangement was
"unacceptable" as it meant Zimbabwe would be led by an unelected government
for five years, the unions said.

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MDC must stand up or pull out

October 2, 2008
Tanonoka Whande

CONSIDERING the flak I have received over my published opposition to the
so-called agreement, the best news that I have read of late concerns the MDC
mulling the possibility of pulling out of the Mbeki-sponsored agreement
signed between the MDC and Mugabe's Zanu-PF a couple of weeks ago.

Although it is a sad development, it is vindication and a small reminder to
the MDC to always remember that they are servants to the people and civil

The MDC has done relatively well since its formation and the reason it did
so is because it played the role of the people's messenger. The party has
come this far because it espoused and pushed for those stands, demands and
positions that the people mandated it to.

Because of that, shameless turncoats, like Jonathan Moyo, and parrots, like
Bright Matonga, failed to shake it. The MDC has more impact because, unlike
Zanu-PF, it was, to use Zanu-PF's term, people-driven.

Looking back, we can see that whenever the MDC's top hierarchy made
unilateral decisions, it suffered setbacks. Although the worm was already
safely lodged inside the apple, sell-outs like Welshman Ncube pounced on
Tsvangirai and accused him of unilaterally imposing himself above the MDC
constitution and Ncube used that to lead his sightless followers away from
the mainstream MDC.

But the most recent example is the agreement that the MDC negotiated and
signed on its own behalf and, at the instigation of Zanu-PF, after
deliberately shutting out the people and marginalizing civil society.

The manner in which the MDC handled the negotiations and the agreement is
typical Zanu-PF.

Zanu-PF does not suffer any fall-out from such undemocratic practices
because this is what Zanu-PF has been since its formation. But the MDC does
suffer and it is inflicting wounds on itself. It was a bad move for a party
that flaunts democracy as its guiding principle.

Now the MDC is marooned because they veered off course after being warned
and refusing to listen. Now they are in no better position than they were
before they signed the agreement. They actually came out worse off. They
remain beggars before a man and a party that should be pleading for
acceptance and consideration by them.

Some readers chastised me and advised me that this is not the time to blame
each other or point fingers but to stand together and make this arrangement
work "for the sake of the people and our country".

Of course, that is utter rubbish. To stand together for what?

Why should a couple set out to give birth to a child or children with known
birth defects? If my orange tree is producing lemons, I will not just make
lemonade, thank you. I will cut down the useless tree and graft it with
orange tree branches. I know where to get lemons, if I need any. And if that
lemon tree is producing oranges when I want lemons for my tea, beware the

Some readers said that I was demonizing Tsvangirai. (We can't run away from
Zanu-PF terminologies, can we?). They said at least the MDC tried to do
something about the situation by signing that notorious agreement.

Signing an agreement with Mugabe?

What is happening now is exactly why I refused to accept the meaningless
agreement even before it was made public. Looking at it now, what did the
MDC and the people of Zimbabwe get out of it? The 'prime minister designate'
still cannot be granted a passport by people Tsvangirai should be issuing
passports to. The MDC is becoming more and more vocal as if they were the
opposition party again.

Thanks to this agreement, the MDC, instead of setting policy and agenda, has
been reduced to reacting to what Zanu-PF does and says. The MDC is begging
Mugabe for a little power, any amount of power, even though the people took
power from Mugabe and gave it to Tsvangirai.

Why did the MDC and Tsvangirai capitulate to the point of sneering at the
votes that the people gave the MDC only for Tsvangirai to sign an agreement
that demoted him to number two when the people had voted him number one?

The MDC must pull out of this agreement to save Zimbabwe and the people.
Mugabe and Zanu-PF have already given both Tsvangirai and the MDC enough
reason to abandon the faulty agreement as it clearly benefits no one except
Mugabe and his underlings.

This agreement is like taking a shower in the rain; or, if you will, it is
like watering your garden during a torrential downpour. Yes, there is water
but it has to be properly directed. Trees, wild flowers and the grass will
easily benefit from the wild rains but the same rains can destroy a garden.

Agreement for agreement's sake is not beneficial to Zimbabwe.

Only a few weeks after signing the so-called agreement, the MDC concedes
that they are "still worlds apart" on major issues.

The MDC was sucked into talking about the "desirability of a national
training programme which inculcates the values of patriotism, discipline,
tolerance, non-violence, openness, democracy, equality, justice and respect"
but forgot to ask about what power or ministries they would hold so as to,
as the winning party, stamp their authority and redirect the nation towards

Only last week I urged the MDC to agitate for a new dialogue. They made a
big mistake and they now see it.

Was this really the correct time for the MDC to express its wish to recruit,
promote and keep Border Gezi graduates?

I call it misplaced priorities but Nelson Chamisa describes it better.

"They want us to be lipstick to a body that is Zanu-PF," Chamisa said.

I wonder when they recognized that.

I repeat my statement that the MDC hierarchy was blinded by the desire to
hold power and to rule and rushed into an unworkable arrangement.  They were
impatient for themselves. Even now, amid all these claims and counter
claims, the constitution does not currently provide for the office of the
Prime Minister nor does it recognize or provide for a unity government. But
the haggling over cabinet posts continues.

Having been misled by Zanu-PF into shutting the people out, the MDC is now
unable to make too much noise regarding what they and Zanu-PF tried to do to
the people.

They can't even refer to the agreement because there is nothing in that
document to protect, bind or guide the signatories. It is a document that
should never have been born.

One would have thought that with people like Tendai Biti, a much more
accomplished lawyer than Welshman Ncube, in attendance, the MDC would be
able to avoid pitfalls such as they fell into.

Tsvangirai's advisors and the MDC's decision making body have to be
revamped. This agreement, to which they appended their signatures, shows us
a serious deficiency in decision making and if this is the kind of cavalier,
laissez faire attitude they employ when mapping the course of serious issues
of national concern, then we are in trouble.

My worst fear is that this agreement could create polarization within the
MDC and the nation cannot afford that.

There are people within the MDC who did not want and still do not want this
agreement and it is my hope that they will handle disagreements better than
Welshman Ncube did.

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Humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe expected to worsen

United Nations Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General (OSSG)

Date: 02 Oct 2008

Highlights of the
Noon Briefing by Secretary-General Spokesperson 02 Oct 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008


According to the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, the
humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating and will continue to
worsen through 2008 and into 2009.

It is estimated that up to 3.8 million people would be food insecure between
now and the end of the year. During the peak of the hunger season in
January-March 2009, nearly half of the population of 12 million would
require food assistance, meaning over five million people. People affected
by the fast-track land reform programmes, eviction campaigns and violence
are among the most vulnerable population.

John Holmes says there is a very large resource gap and aid is needed now,
and that although almost half of a year of humanitarian service delivery was
lost, there is still time to avert increased human suffering.

Challenges include critical shortages of food , clean water, health services
, education, and trained professionals. The crisis affects both rural and
urban areas.

Critical needs exist for aid to emergency agriculture and emergency
education. The window of opportunity for the first planting season is very
narrow - an estimated five to six weeks. All pledges must urgently be turned
into actual contributions.

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'I don't blame Zim'

03/10/2008 14:17  - (SA)  

Courtney Sparrow recovering after her first operation. (Beeld)

Verashni Pillay

Johannesburg - The father of a girl mauled by lions guarding her family's property in Zimbabwe has come under fire from the government for allegedly blaming Zanu-PF for the attack.

Government officials read reports in the South African media and phoned Ron Sparrow, whose daughter Courtney underwent extensive surgery in Johannesburg after the attack.

But Sparrow, who breeds lions and game on his farm in Masvingo, said his views had been misrepresented.

"I don't hold Zanu-PF or the land reform programme responsible for the current situation that my daughter is in," he told News24. "in fact it's quite the reverse."

The misunderstanding has since been cleared.

Sparrow said he has a good relationship with the government. He decided to co-operate when the land reform programme began and has earned the local community's trust by creating jobs and helping those affected by HIV/Aids.

One man one policy

When his land was taken away, he was allocated another one in accordance with the "one man one farm" policy.

"It would appear that it's only certain individuals who already have land who are trying to claim my land because I have developed the property allocated to me that now has a good infrastructure and game on it and I have homes on it," he said.

He was reluctant to name or identify the group involved in trying to take his land, though they are thought to be war veterans.

Court battles and physical intimidation by these individuals lead Sparrow to keep two lions in the enclosure of a second house on his property, which was being targeted.

On September 16, his daughter Courtney, 8, followed workers into the house. A lioness then broke through a closed window and dragged her outside.

The gardener, Benji Tewe, saved her life by first scaring off the lioness and then a second lion that had gripped her by the head, tearing through her skull.

"If it hadn't been for him, she might not be alive today," said Sparrow.

Courtney was airlifted to Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, and underwent a marathon operation. She came out of ICU on Sunday.

Bone ripped out

She was back in theatre on Friday for an operation to replace a bone that was ripped out of her forehead. It was found after the attack and preserved.

Another bone from around her eye is missing and will have to be reconstructed. She is scheduled for more operations later this year.

Meanwhile, her medical expenses have been mounting.

"The medical air rescue flights were US$26 000," said Ron of the air ambulance from Zimbabwe. He said the hospital costs would be in the region of about R1m.

To help cover the costs the Netcare Milpark hospital is co-ordinating a fund. Anyone who would like to contribute can contact Amelda Swartz on 011  480 5686 or on 082 7838492.

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Tomorrow, I’ll just do me some talkin’ to the sun…

A few years ago I stumbled across a news article online written by a British journalist who was commenting on Zimbabwean women. (This was around the time Prince Harry in the UK started dating Chelsy Davis, who is Zimbabwean, and views on what a Zimbabwean woman was like suddenly became terribly relevant to the UK media).

As I recall it, the item declared that a Zimbabwean woman jokes on a par with the blokes (whom she’ll call ‘okes’), and she can apparently crack open a bottle of Castle Lager with her teeth while changing a car’s flat-tyre with one hand. There was more in the same sort of tone. I remember feeling outrage at the piece, mostly because it was a glaring example of empty-headed stupid class snobbery. But I have to admit that there was also something about it that I liked.

This woman he portrayed was a woman who knew how to ‘make a plan‘. Zimbabweans - of all sexes and races - are known the world-over for their ability to find humour in the most terrible situations, but also for their ability to construct a solution out of chaos. We ‘make’ plans: we build them out of nothing. I am hugely proud of both these characteristics in Zimbabwean people.

‘You’ve got to be joking’, I hear you cry, ‘Your country is a mess and falling apart!’.

This is true. But let me tell you that if it was anyone else’s country it would have fallen apart about seven years ago. Mugabe and Gideon Gono and the rest of the junta are doing their very best to bludgeon the country to tiny shards of its former glory, but as fast as they do so Zimbabweans everywhere ‘make a plan’.

With spit, a bit of wire and some borrowed string we hold the fragments together. Businesses that should have died many years ago are still painfully struggling along: a bit of forex bought here, sold there, traded with a runner on his way to SA; resources swapped and bartered when there is no money and so on. It’s getting harder and harder to do but the fact we have lasted as long as we have is a credit to the tenacity and spirit of Zimbabweans - their ability to ‘make a plan’ - and has absolutely nothing to do with the Zanu PF ruling junta so hell-bent on destroying everything we have.

The Zimbabwean woman who can open a bottle of Castle Lager with her teeth would only do so because she didn’t have a bottle-opener handy, and aren’t you glad she has that ability to ‘make a plan’? Because now you can drink the beer. Sure, some Zimbabwean women joke with the ‘okes’ as rowdily as the best of them, but there was a song written about that sort of woman, and the title was “The Lady is a Champ”. We can do lots more than that: turn tights into emergency fan-belts, magic a meal out of almost nothing, hold spirits together when the ‘okes’ in our families slump into despair under the strain of trying to keep providing as they had been able to do in the past.

I know how to use a bar of soap in an emergency when there is a hole in the car radiator on a long distance journey, but this paltry skill fades in comparison to Zimbabwean women who live in the rural areas. No transport to carry a load of firewood? No problem! Chop up those two trees over there, tie them in a bundle and she’ll carry them on her head for several kilometers. Fill the drum - drum! - with water and they can manage that too. I am awe-struck with the survival abilities of women who live in the rural areas, by their stoic strength.

I’ve been on holiday for a little while and have just got back to the task of being a Sokwanele activist again.

Before I left I made sure I’d be able to receive and upload the posts for this blog emailed to me by colleagues and the links articles pulled together by three very generous volunteers. Except it didn’t work out the way I had expected it to, and there was no Internet connection at my destination! It’s not a broken fan-belt or a hole in the radiator, and thankfully I didn’t need to use my teeth as a bottle-opener, but I did need to make a plan.

I cracked my mental-knuckles and hunkered down to the task. Off we went to a nearby larger town to see if there was an Internet Cafe. I found one, but it was closed most of the time. I later discovered the owner was a surfer-dude who spent 65% of his time on the waves, 5% of his time opening up his Cafe and the rest of the time sleeping off (I imagine) the effects of too much a booze and the mbanje I absolutely smelled on the air when I was in there on the couple of occasions it was open!

The plan I made, which worked, was to drive by the Cafe every day, park outside it and hijack the wifi connection he left on even when the Cafe was closed. The mbanje I think, induced forgetfulness and a certain tardiness on his part, because he didn’t once change the password needed to access the connection. My partner was posted as century, and whenever someone walked past I’d hide the laptop, and rummage for mysterious lost stuff around my feet as if there was a very good reason for us to park the car there every day but never get out.

The initial eureka moment of being able to successfully ‘make a plan’ soon wore off and was replaced by jumpiness and nerves brought on by hefty guilt. All this amplified by the immense heat of sitting in a closed-up car while the sun beat relentlessly down on the tarmac outside. “This is not right!” I wailed, in between demanding “Is anyone coming? Are you watching!?! You’d better be paying attention!!”

“If he wanted to earn money”, my unflappable partner repeated every day, “Then he’d get his butt out the waves and into his Cafe, and he’d open it so normal people can use it”.

This is true, but its also not entirely fair. So, in an effort to be a lady who was also a champ, on the few occasions the Cafe was open we went in and I checked my email properly and felt blissfully calm because there was no guilt and a paid-for beer in my hand. (I suspect the calmness was also aided by the distinct whiff of mbanje emanating from a room somewhere near the bar.) I did the updates, but beyond reassuring myself there hadn’t been a full-on military coup at home I avoided reading the news in depth because I was, after all, meant to be taking a break.

On our last proper visit to the Cafe, I had the distinct feeling that the surfer-dude had a ‘made a plan’ of his own to ensure he fully recouped any lost income resulting from his hijacked wifi connection. By now I was sure we’d been discovered.

“Aaa-haaaaaa”, he cheerfully yelled, recognising us as we walked in (I hoped from previous proper visits and not because he’d spotted us in the car outside his Cafe one afternoon). Two beers arrived before we’d ordered them; two more replaced them before we’d completely finished them; another two materialised when we were half-way through our second drinks.

“Oh my word”, my partner groaned.

“You will drink every single beer that appears,” I hissed at him. “It’s only right”. He reflected for a moment, and then happily said OK, as the realisation dawned that he had been presented with a rare opportunity to get blind-drunk without reproach or dirty looks from me.

That’s how it was that our return journey began first thing the next morning with a very very strong coffee, two paracetamol and something to settle my wobbly stomach.

Half-way back I allowed myself to browse the news properly again while more strong coffee was bought from a garage that had newspapers stacked up near the door. I realised that while I was in my holiday hiatus, the world, it seemed, had fallen on its ear in a crisis over credit; I learned South Africa’s new leader was Kgalema Motlanthe, that Zimbabwe still did not have a cabinet, and that Mugabe was still being incalcitrant (thank God I missed him talking at the UN). I also learned that Paul Newman had died.

“Paul Newman died”, I numbly told my grey-around-the-gills partner, when he returned clad in his very darkest sunglasses with coffee in hand.

“He must have been very old”, he replied.

“He was Butch Cassidy!” I said distressed, as if that said everything it needed to, but my partner obviously still felt too grey from all those beers to try follow the remark through to its incomprehensible conclusion.

So the second part of the journey continued with me stewing to myself over why the death of an elderly American actor would leave me feeling as if the world had altered a bit while I slept, when the fact that Zimbabwe still didn’t have a cabinet had left me unsurprised and bizarrely unmoved.

I touched base again with colleagues yesterday. “So, what’s news?” I was asked in my first phone call. “Well, things seem fairly bad in the world with this whole credit crunch thing going on”, I relayed some non-Zimbabwean news helpfully, figuring I should stick with credit crunch information since comment about Paul Newman’s death might be met with total bemusement.

“Credit crunch!” came the reply, “CREDIT CRUNCH! Let me tell YOU about a &%$”* Credit Crunch!…”

There was a moment of silence, then, “Actually, I can’t talk to you now, I have a very big headache”.

Then another pause followed by a very grumpy, irritated disbelieving, “Credit crunch… my God….”.

“OK” I said meekly, already mentally backing out the coversation with my hands in the air in the surrender position. But I dared a last mild question, asked in my sweetest voice: “Bring me back up to speed, will you? Write a blog post on it…?” I survived the verbal onslaught that that question brought on, and Chipo did write a post, and it is here, published yesterday. If you haven’t already you should read it: it’s a bizarre freakish through-the-looking-glass weird view of life in Zimbabwe’s economy today. Gono has a lot to answer for.

The next conversation with another colleague was harder, but by now my post-holiday glow of well-being had sufficiently dimmed to realise that neither credit crunch nor the death of Paul Newman would be suitable topics of conversation. So I skirted both, cheerfully answering that my break had been good, and asking her how she was.

“I’m struggling”, she said. “I’m feeling miserable and I can’t seem to stop crying. Things are so bad. People are suffering. It’s getting worse by the minute. I don’t know what to do anymore to help. I feel bad that I feel this miserable because I am so lucky and others are far worse off”.

There was nothing I could say at all beyond a very unhelpful “I’m sorry”, and “You need to take some time for yourself”. There is a not a word she uttered that is untrue; nothing I can haul up before her to say, “Look at this. It’s not that bad, it’ll be OK”. I was left at the end feeling very uncomfortable about the fact that  her despair was met with virtual silence: nothing to say, no foothold to point to anywhere to show  her she can use that as a foundation to ‘make a plan’ to get her through.

The day limped on after those conversations: I learned more about changes in my short absence from all things Zimbabwean. Someone I regarded as a friend had done a midnight flit to South Africa, too overwhelmed by the enormity of her decision to say goodbye to her friends and family. At least, that’s what I choose to think of her decision to not say goodbye, because the alternative, that her actions were callous and unkind, sits heavily with me.

I learned that a couple more people I know have decided in the time I was away to leave Zimbabwe. One in particular leaves with huge wads of heavy lead in his boots, and his heart chained with the strongest chains to this dreadful but beautiful country we call home, and I know he will carry a weight of sadness at the loss of this land with him wherever he goes. He has to go because he can’t feed or educate his children anymore. And there it is: the reason is that baldly simple and that acutely painful and that unavoidable and irrefutable.

I spent yesterday sometimes blindly staring out the window, the whacky-backy-smoking surfer-dude from a normally closed cyber-cafe feeling like something that happened ten years ago instead of a couple of days ago.

At other moments yesterday, I adjusted to the shock of being plunged back into the icy unforgiving waters that are slowly drowning my much-loved country, while everyone around her swims desperately trying to stay afloat, getting tireder and tireder all the time. I struggled in the face of the magnitude of it all to ‘make a plan’, think of practical things that we can all work towards with the aim of making some kind of difference. It was impossible.

This morning I woke up with Paul Newman on my mind again. I had figured out on the journey back what it was about his death that had shifted my world a little bit. Two reasons: the first reason is that, as a child, I was Butch Cassidy. I was a girl, yes, but we’ve already established that Zimbabwean girls grow into women who can open bottles of lager with their teeth while changing a spare type with one hand: I was a Butch Cassidy kind of girl.

My first bike was second-hand and was given to me on my birthday. There was a civil war on, and sanctions, and the bike, to kids in other parts of the world, would look like a really ugly black adult messenger bike, but to me it was the best thing in the world.

I lived in a ’sort-of’ town that had one tar-road down the middle. So I careened downhill on dirt-roads with my legs stuck out in front of me, daring the loose stones and road corrugations with no brakes and zero shock-absorbers. I fell off on many occasions. I was as battered and scraped as the bull-terrier who kept me company, but I was fearless. So was the bull-terrier fearless - blind in one eye from one too many encounters with a spitting cobra.

When I wasn’t on my bike I was making paths through the bush, parting grass taller than my head, exploring and playing in the sun, the dry fragrant scent of the Zimbabwean bush brushing off on my shorts and t-shirts, the only type of clothes I ever wore.

My parents let me get on with it. I suspect this was partly in recognition of the fact that I was a Butch Cassidy type of girl and I probably couldn’t be stopped, but perhaps it was also because the times were tough and I needed to shape up to them. I think they knew the bull terrier would flush the snakes before I did, and they knew I needed to learn to face challenges and figure out how to ‘make a plan’ because that was the life ahead of me in the country we were living in. I needed to grow up and learn that tights weren’t just tights, they were also really useful substitute fan-belts. We didn’t know what the future was then, but I’ll bet no one then ever believed it could be as bad as it is today.

The second reason Newman’s death woke something me is the song, that special song. I had a relative who whistled all the time. In the way all parrots kept in cages seem to only know how to wolf-whistle, the only tune he ever seemed to learn was ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’ - the theme tune from Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. It must have been a song that seeped into our family lexicon because another relative had discovered an infuriating way to succinctly tell me to figure out how to get myself out of my overwhelmingly important childhood problems.

“Well”, he would say, after I finished reeling off all the things that were going to stop the earth rotating on its axis, “You’d better do yourself some talking to the sun” (paraphrasing lyrics from the song). In other words, ‘life’s tough; figure it out’ - or - ‘make a plan’.

I can recall more than one occasion where my father comforted me by singing from the song while I cried:

But there’s one thing I know
The blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me
It won’t be long till happiness steps up to greet me

Those are the bits of the song I can remember from my childhood.

This morning I struggled through my music collection to find the song again and I listened to it all the way through, and I found there was something in it for the Butch Cassidy in the Zimbabwean woman too:

But there’s one thing I know
The blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me
It won’t be long till happiness steps up to greet me

Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turnin’ red
Cryin’s not for me
‘Cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complainin’
Because I’m free
Nothin’s worryin’ me

I know this truth. I am free. I need to remember this. I learned this from Victor Frankl who wrote:

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Today I choose to dwell on the past, my childhood, to immerse myself in the fact that Zimbabwean children today do not have what I had then. They can’t be Butch Cassidy, recklessly running free, living without fear, crazy with the joy of life. Terror has been brought to their homes, and so has hunger and hardship. They forage for food, for berries, rather than part the long grass to make paths that go nowhere. They survive; they don’t play. They are burdened by their parents worries, by the struggle all around them, by friends coming and going as their families move and move to survive. It’s not right.

The attitude I choose? Today I have wept for the man who used to whistle to me cheerfully when I was a child, now penniless in his old age. His pension a nonsense. I cried when listening to the song  because it brought all the people from my past flooding back. As tough as it was and as poor as we were, their happiness has been stifled by the oppressive cruelty and stupidty of a band of thugs and morons determined to take a whole nation down with them. Today I am angry, really angry by how much we have all lost. For the tiredness my friends and colleagues and I am experiencing, for the fact we are all carrying multiple burdens - the ones we all endure to survive - but especially angry for the heaviest burden of them all: despair.

Tomorrow will be different. I will be back again properly. Tomorrow I will start ‘talking to the sun’, try to remember that the ‘rain can’t be stopped by complaining’, that ‘cryin’s not for me’. Tomorrow I will remind myself I am free again, and choose my own attitude and my own way.

Tomorrow we’ll make a plan, and then another one, and another one, and another one. Until its over.

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Does any of this make sense to you?

It’s hard to describe the grind of daily life in Zimbabwe without baffling people with numbers, percentages and statistics that are so unreal they are uncomprehendible. The cash crises that has crippled us for years has been one of those undescribable things.

The last few months have been horrific.

This morning I once again saw red when I opened my month-end bank statement.

Yesterday I had a balance in my account of $2,000 (at old value that is 20 trillion dollars / $20,000,000,000,000.00). This account is dormant, untouched for months.

This morning I find I owe the bank $500,000 in service fees for one month’s bank charges to hold my $2,000. This is no joke.

The joke may be the $4 interest I received or the $0.80 cents withholding tax that I am paying, but my sense of humor is weak today and I cannot even laugh at that!

As I write this the parallel / black market rates are as follows USD1 = ZWD2500 and ZAR1 = ZWD360.

These rates will change within an hour.

The daily cash limit, per person per day is now a whopping (ha, ha) $20,000 (USD8, ZAR55.56).

The cost of a personal cheque book at today’s price (it will change by tomorrow) is $2,000,000 or $33,333 per page.

You pay $33,333 (USD13.33, ZAR92.59) to receive $20,000 (USD8, ZAR55.56).

Does this make sense to you?

And to get that $20,000?

A friend of mine got to the bank at 3am this morning and was handed a number – number 94 in line. At 5pm he finally got to the front of the queue. There is only one withdrawal allowed per customer so you cannot even take a friend’s card and work a tandem operation. Nope: it’s to the back of the line please for the second card transaction!

A company cheque book at today’s price is $11,000,000 (USD4.400, ZAR 30.550) or $110,000 per page. A company is restricted to a cash allowance of $10,000 per day (USD4, ZAR27.78), half that of an individual. A company pays $110,000 to receive $10,000

Does this make sense to you?

The other method of withdrawal is via ATM. Someone calculated that a minimum wage earner pays approx. 20% of his monthly wages in bank charges to withdraw cash.

Does this make sense to you?

To avoid lengthy delays in the banking systems and to ensure that a payment made via cheque is honored, the few companies that still take cheques request that payment be made using a bank issued / bank certified cheque. The cost of ONE CHEQUE has just risen from $52,000 to $700,000 (USD280, ZAR1944.44) overnight. This is just the fee that the bank charges to hand you ONE cheque.

You then pay for your purchase at cost price plus a premium on that cost anywhere in the region of 100% upwards. The maximum I have personally been quoted is 25,000% on the value of the purchase. Now add $700,000 to that in bank charges.

Does this make sense to you?

It was also calculated that a gold mine has to sell 2.5kg of gold (at the government price of course) to pay for one acetylene tank used for welding repairs in a workshop.

Does this make sense to you?

It makes me sick to witness perishable items in our stores rotting on the shelves as customers have no cash to buy it.

Shops are a cruel scene of food items (albeit scant) and starving people staring at them and unable to buy them. Yes, we are facing one of the worst famines in our country’s history. And yes, there is still food available in the towns, just no cash to buy it.

Does this make sense to you?

And the old boys think that they can continue to handle the ministry of finance.

Does this make sense to you?

I applaud the four individuals and their legal representatives who are standing up to this madness. The nation stands behind you and the world is watching!

Finally, something that makes sense!

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The farm chickens come home to roost

A surprising development in the continuing land-grab

Following my exclusive on the renewed invasion and take-over of white-owned
farms, I hear news of an ironic twist in this torturous tale - one which,
for anyone who knows the truth behind Zimbabwe's so-called land reform, will
bring a rueful smile to the lips. To put it succinctly, here is a case of
the invader...invaded!

Back in the time when white farms were falling to Zanu-PF's so-called War
Veterans at a regular rate, a female war veteran named Rejoice Sibanda-Ncube
was not backward in coming forward. She targeted - and obtained - Redwood
Farm in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North.

The farm was originally owned and run by white farmer Alex Goosen. He had to
go, driven out by machete-waving Zanu-PF militia men, and Rejoice took over.
No doubt rejoicing. But not any more. This week she was forced to flee, in
the face of machetes wielded by...guess who? Yes, more Zanu-PF militia men.

More than 30 youths descended on Redwood Farm. They were led, I'm told, by a
noted torturer, Ngwiza Ncube, leader of the war veterans in Nyamandlovu, and
by Ngwenya, the Zanu-PF chairman for the area. Their main complaint against
Rejoice appears to be that she refused to provide them with free food.

Rejoice told me by phone: "They arrived wielding machetes and sticks, as if
they were going to attack ten people. But there was just me and my three
children, who were wailing with fright. The men told me I was a sell-out,
and I deserved to die. I had to run for my life."

When the militia left, she returned to the farm, to discover that the
property had been looted, with machinery and bags of maize taken.

For  a final ironic twist to the story, try this. Having won her farm with
violence, and now having lost it with violence, Rejoice is trying to get it
back, by claiming it on legal grounds.

Some might say that, in seeking justice through the courts, Rejoice is just
a little late.

Posted on Friday, 03 October 2008 at 09:32

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Campaign for democracy in Zimbabwe and Swaziland

COSATU, with unions and progressive organisations of civil society from
South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland, have met to review the on-going
solidarity campaign with the people of Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

They agreed to build on the momentum generated by the recent COSATU
Conference and the march to the SACD Summit meeting in Sandton on 16 August
2008 and develop a new strategy to take forward the campaign for democracy
in these two countries, with the ultimate of building a Southern African
people's movement for justice and democracy

The meeting agreed to:

Convene a Civil Society Conference on 'Zimbabwe-post-the-deal and Where to
from here?' This should be held inside Zimbabwe and involve the whole SADC
region to assess the situation and develop a common response on
strengthening of democracy and the on-going transformation based on the
fundamental interests of the people

Intensify the campaign for a 'Week of global action on Swaziland', including
the non-handling of goods to Swaziland, to be held on 27 October to 1
November, 2008, in which trade unions should play a leading role.

Establish a joint task team from the Swazi and SA unions who will be at the
centre of the boycott, owing to their strategic location in the economy. It
will hold its first meeting in Johannesburg on 14 October, 2008 to
concretise a clear programme for the week of action.

Actively participate in the Southern African Social Forum in Swaziland on
16-18 October 2008, to strengthen regional people's initiatives and in
solidarity with the struggling people of Swaziland, using the forum as a
space for raising the international profile of the Swazi struggle and as an
opportunity to build and strengthen their capacity to wage a sustainable
struggle for democracy and economic justice

Develop a Code of Leadership by civil society as a model for exemplary,
ethical and democratic leadership in the region, particularly at state
level, to ensure credibility in the political and institutional processes of
the region, so the can enjoy the confidence of the people.

Initiate a SADC transformation project to help civil society to participate
in the formulation of new-look, vibrant, dynamic and inclusive SADC
structures. This should allow the citizens of the region full participation,
satisfactory representation and regular and meaningful influence in the
affairs of this important regional body. It will also be a way to challenge
the appointment of undemocratic leaders at the helm of strategic
institutions such as the SADC Organ Troika, the failure of SADC to enforce
compliance amongst member states on existing agreements and protocols, and
double standards, such as seen in the monitoring of the elections in
Swaziland recently, where the SADC observer mission accepted an electoral
outcome conducted in an environment of banned political parties and arrests
of political activists. This goes together with the indecisiveness around
Zimbabwe and Swaziland for such a long time. In summary, this project is
about the renewal of SADC to reflect the new challenges of regional social,
political and economic configuration.

Initiate a loose network of regional activists to build a regional movement
for mass mobilisation, in the form of a 'SADC People's Justice Campaign', to
develop structured and sustained solidarity focus and support for democracy,
workers' struggles, landless people's struggles, economic justice and human
rights throughout the region. This movement should be properly discussed at
the coming Southern African Social Forum in Swaziland, so as to give it
meaning and clarify its purpose in more concrete terms.

The coming Congress of the Southern African Trade Union Co-ordination
Council in Botswana next week should be able to strengthen these
initiatives, given the centrality of the trade union movement in the success
of this very determined regional civil society programme.

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)

Congress of South African Trade Unions

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How the fight for a free press in Zimbabwe is being led from Southampton

Press Releases
Inside Out South:

Category: South TV
Date: 03.10.2008

This week's BBC South's Inside Out follows the extraordinary story of a
Zimbabwean journalist leading the fight for a free press while in hiding in

Wilf Mbanga and his wife Trish are producing Zimbabwe's main independent
weekly newspaper - The Zimbabwean - five thousand miles from the streets of
Harare in a small, two-bedroom house in Southampton.

A journalist for 40 years, he claims he's on a death list in his own country
but he's determined to produce his paper in exile because it is the only
mass-circulation alternative to Zimbabwe's state-controlled press.

Wilf says: "The people of Zimbabwe are being abused, they've been killed and
traumatised by their own government and it's time for someone to stand up to
a bully and so far I have done it quite effectively."

Trish adds: "We feel with both of us being journalists we feel it is the
only thing we know how to do but we also feel it is the most important thing
to do because people desperately need accurate information."

Supporters of the paper, which is read by as many as a million people in
Zimbabwe, believe it has been influential throughout this election year and
claim it has been so effective that Robert Mugabe's government openly
denounced it as one of the reasons the President failed to win in the
February poll.

Insight Out's Joe Crowley follows Wilf from his office in Southampton to a
secret location in South Africa to visit the paper's printing press where he
and his team struggle against the Zimbabwean government's efforts to
restrict the paper.

The team meet Wilf's brother Claude and his wife Rose who run the plant. The
couple have the utmost admiration for Wilf's efforts to get an opposition
voice heard.

Rose says: "We just feel he has chosen to stand up and be heard and he
speaks with the courage of conviction, which is what we would all like to
do, but we are too afraid to speak out and be heard by the world and say
'this is wrong'."

After fleeing Zimbabwe in 2004 in fear of his life, Wilf and Trish now live
in Southampton but his staff on the ground in Africa still live in fear of
violence and intimidation.

Wilf's chief reporter in Harare was hospitalised after being arrested and
beaten by security forces while earlier this summer his truck load of papers
was hijacked by armed men and destroyed after it crossed the border into

As Wilf points out: "Some of our reporters don't even know each other in
case they are arrested and tortured. Last year our chief reporter was
arrested and beaten to a pulp but he still wants to work with us. He is

Joe also accompanies Wilf as he seeks out the stories of Zimbabweans
arriving in South Africa.

They visit the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, the first port of
call for many arriving from across the border. This refuge is often home to
up to 2000 people, many telling tales of lack of food and persecution.

"It is important to get a feel for what is going on, why these people are
leaving Zimbabwe," Wilf explains.

But Wilf's voice has not always been one of opposition to Mugabe: "When I
first met him in 1974 I was very impressed. He'd visit me and I'd go down to
his house, we'd listen to music together, and found out we both liked Elvis,
Pat Boone, Jim Reeves and it was good fun; which is strange when you think
about Mugabe today."

Despite the recent power-sharing agreement between Zanu-PF and the MDC,
little has changed for The Zimbabwean.

Free information and independent media still face restrictions and the high
import duties on Wilf's donor funded publication means that his paper faces
an uncertain future.

But as Trish comments: "I just believe the printed word is so powerful
because it is information. And if that's what my whole life is dedicated to,
those copies in ink, in print in the archives somewhere will be a record of
what really happened."

And as he watches the lorry carrying The Zimbabwean over the border and into
his home country, Wilf sets their efforts in context: "This is part of a
much bigger fight for democracy, there are other people doing other things
and this is our contribution to democracy in Zimbabwe."

You can see the full story of The Zimbabwean on Wednesday 8 October on BBC
One at 7.30pm or on BBC iPlayer.

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