The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Zimbabwe a disaster, Merkel tells South Africa's Mbeki

05/10/2007 18h34
PRETORIA (AFP) - Robert Mugabe is presiding over a disaster in Zimbabwe but
should still be entitled to attend a forthcoming Europe-Africa summit,
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday.

Summing up talks in Pretoria with President Thabo Mbeki, who is a mediator
between Zimbabwe's opposition and President Mugabe's ruling party, Merkel
said she had made clear her disquiet about the situation across South
Africa's northern border.

"The situation is a very difficult one. It's a disastrous one, which I very
clearly stated in our conversation," the German leader told a press
conference with Mbeki during her first sub-Saharan Africa tour.

She declined to back calls for Mugabe to be barred from a summit between
African Union and European Union leaders in Lisbon in December, which
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has threatened to boycott if the
Zimbabwean head of state attends.

Merkel said she had consistently argued for all African countries to be
invited to the summit and they should decide for themselves who should

"I also said (to Mbeki) that obviously we will make all our assessments
heard. We will also raise all our criticisms. We would do so in the presence
of each and everyone and obviously each and everyone has the right to

"During our presidency of the European Union (earlier this year) we worked
very much to prepare the ground for the upcoming EU-AU summit ... and we
want this summit to indeed open a new chapter in the relationship between
our continents."

The crisis in inflation-ravaged Zimbabwe dominated the talks on the first
full day of a three-day visit to South Africa by Merkel, who flew in late
Thursday from Ethiopia, where the AU is based.

For his part, Mbeki expressed confidence that elections in Zimbabwe next
year would be free and fair, saying he had detected a mood of cooperation
among all sides in talks that he has hosted in his role as a mediator.

Angela Merkel(L) and Thabo Mbeki
ŠAFP - Gianluigi Guercia
"There was a common determination to conclude them (the talks) as quickly as
possible," said Mbeki.

"We are confident they will reach an agreement on all of these matters so,
at least as far as the political challenges are concerned, there was a
united voice," Mbeki told the news briefing.

"Both the ruling party and opposition are committed to making sure the
elections are free and fair. Next year after the elections it will be very
important they take the same approach with regard to economic challenges
that they together evolve a common approach."

Mbeki was tasked earlier this year by fellow regional leaders with mediating
between Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change after some of its leaders were assaulted by the security

Merkel meanwhile also told Mbeki that Germany was ready to help South Africa
prepare for the 2010 football World Cup after staging the tournament last

Angela Merkel(L) and Thabo Mbeki
ŠAFP - Axel Schmidt
"This will open up an opportunity to project a new image for your country
and indeed for the continent as a whole," she said.

Merkel toured the site where the stadium for the 2010 final is being
constructed in Soweto, where she wished South Africa "all the success for
2010" after being welcomed by local organising committee head Danny Jordaan.

"The World Cup consolidated the Germans as a nation," said Jordaan.

"There weren't anymore East Germans and West Germans, just Germans. Here, we
have blacks and whites ... We want to be one nation after the World Cup.

Mbeki earlier praised Germany's hosting of last year's event.

"We are very fortunate to be holding the FIFA World Cup after Germany. It
enables us to draw on your success ... We will remain in close contact about
this," he said.

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Mbeki tells Merkel there is good progress on Zimbabwe

Business Day

05 October 2007


GOOD progress is being made in the talks between Zimbabwe's political
parties to find a solution to the crisis in that country, President Thabo
Mbeki told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.

Zimbabwe was one of the main agenda points in talks between the two leaders
at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

"Those negotiations are going very well and indeed there is a common
determination to conclude them as quickly as possible so as to allow enough
time to implement all of the matters that they must implement," Mbeki said
at a press conference following their meeting.

Merkel, who is on a three nation African tour, thanked Mbeki for the "very
active role" in trying to overcome "the very dissatisfactory situation as it
currently exists in Zimbabwe".

"The situation is a very difficult one, not to say a disastrous one, which I
very clearly stated in our conversation," Merkel said through a translator
at the press conference.

In their meeting Mbeki told Merkel about his facilitation between Zimbabwe's
ruling Zanu-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and the Movement for
Democratic Change.

He highlighted various issues that had to be addressed by the parties
including constitutional reform, changes in some of the country's oppressive
laws, the reconstitution of the electoral commission and the creation of
conditions that would be conducive for next year's parliamentary and
presidential elections in the country.

"The central question that they had to address in these elections is what
[it] is that should be done to create the conditions that the elections next
year are free and fair," Mbeki said.

"We are quite confident that there will be a positive outcome that will
create the political conditions to address this very serious economic crisis
in Zimbabwe," he said.

Merkel said Germany did not want the Zimbabwe issue to overshadow the
planned summit between the European Union (EU) and Africa, due to take place
in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon in December.

"For many years we did not have a EU-Africa summit meeting and I said right
from the start from our presidency that the Federal Republic of Germany
wants to invite all African countries to that summit, but it is up to the
countries themselves to decide how they going to be represented at the
table," she said.

"Obviously we will make all our assessments heard, we will also raise
criticism as the case may be, we will do so in the presence of each and
everyone, and obviously each and everyone has the right to attend," Merkel

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Zimbabwe presses ahead with seizing control of foreign mining interests

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: October 5, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: The government said it is pressing ahead with legislation
to seize a controlling share of foreign-owned mining interests in Zimbabwe,
the official media reported Friday.

Police also said Friday a total of 23,585 corporate executives, store
managers, traders, street vendors and bus drivers were arrested for
overcharging since a prize freeze was ordered on June 26, according to state

Minister of Indigenization and Empowerment Paul Mangwana said amendments to
existing mining laws giving black Zimbabweans 51 percent ownership of mines
were to be presented to the Harare parliament after it reconvenes Oct. 30,
the state Herald newspaper reported.

The ruling party controlled parliament this month passed a bill forcing
whites and foreign owned businesses outside mining to relinquish a 51
percent stake to blacks.

Those new laws were rushed through the legislature in less than a month, but
have still to be signed by President Robert Mugabe before being enacted.
Mugabe returned home Monday from a two week foreign trip to Egypt and the
United Nations.

"We want indigenous Zimbabweans to participate in every sector of the
country," Mangwana said, the Herald reported.
Mining, one of the biggest earners of scarce hard currency, has been
dominated by international conglomerates with the necessary capital and

Mining production, however, has declined because of shortages of equipment,
spare parts, gasoline and other materials.

The government's program of hasty seizures of mines and businesses was
criticized in a key policy statement Monday by state central bank governor
Gideon Gono as endangering already dwindling hopes of recovery in the worst
economic crisis since independence in 1980.

Zimbabwe has the world's worst official inflation, at nearly 7,000 percent.
Independent estimates put real inflation closer to 25,000 percent and the
International Monetary Fund has forecast it reaching 100,000 percent by the
end of the year. Chronic shortages have fueled a thriving black market where
basic goods cost up to 10 times the government's fixed prices.

The official media said the government on Thursday offered a 300 percent
salary increase to teachers, the biggest single group of government
employees, on strike since Monday.

The hike to about 12 million Zimbabwe dollars (US$25, ?18 at the dominant
black market exchange rate) was still below the official poverty line of 16
million Zimbabwe dollars (US$32, ?23 at the unofficial exchange rate) for an
average family of five.

It was not immediately clear whether striking teachers accepted the offer.
Some teachers in central Harare schools were not at work Friday though
several schools were not affected by the work stoppage earlier in the week.

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I should have spoken out sooner: Asmal


    October 05 2007 at 07:20AM

By Angela Quintal

Former Cabinet minister Kader Asmal on Thursday night delivered a
devastating attack on the Zimbabwe government, accusing it of conducting a
tyrannical war on its own people, and dramatically confessed that he should
have spoken out sooner.

Asmal, a human rights lawyer, MP and senior member of the ANC's
executive, acknowledged that silence had made him complicit.

He also questioned Pretoria's view that only Zimbabweans themselves
could decide on their own future.

His view is in direct contrast to among others Finance Minister Trevor
Manuel who recently told Parliament: "We must encourage Zimbabweans to solve
their own problems. That is the most we can do because the decisions have to
be carried by Zimbabweans into perpetuity".

Speaking on Thursday night at the launch of exiled Zimbabwean activist
Judith Todd's book "Through the Darkness", Asmal lamented how things had
turned to "ashes and ashes" in Zimbabwe.

Freedom in Zimbabwe in the 1980s had turned into a "nightmare" because
of "the preservation of political power in a few hands".

However, it was Asmal's mea culpa, that struck a chord with an
audience that clearly appreciated the significance of a former South African
Cabinet minister admitting in public that he had erred by remaining silent
and had joined the campaign to assist the people of Zimbabwe.

This as South Africa's quiet diplomacy towards its northern neighbour
has drawn repeated criticism both at home and abroad.

"Why did I not speak before. I should have, I should have spoken as an
internationalist who invoked international campaigning for apartheid South
Africa" and was now speaking as a "proud citizen of a free South Africa who
should have spoken out and campaigned against a regime which has brought
Zimbabwe to its knees".

The Martin Niemöller poem about the silence of German intellectuals
following the Nazi rise to power, appeared to have influenced Asmal's

"Why do I speak now? I should have done so in the 1980s, when
thousands of people were murdered by the infamous Fifth Brigade in
Matabeleland. The Catholic Church did . I did not do so.

"Neither did I do so during Operation Murambatsvina, when those who
want to retain power refer to their hapless fellow citizens as 'sh**s who
have to be removed'."

The so-called clean up campaign, which involved the Pol-potian
destruction of houses, clinics, and businesses, left hundreds of thousands
of Zimbabwean's homeless, destitute and starving, Asmal said, referring to
the murderous Cambodian regime of Pol Pot.

Asmal went on to say that "Pol Pot's main henchmen are now being tried
for crimes against humanity," a remark that was widely interpreted by
audience members as implying that President Robert Mugabe and his
lieutenants should similarly be tried.

But Asmal denied this was what he meant when asked, saying he had only
made the remark to illustrate his general point that under international law
today governments could be held accountable for what they did internally.

Asmal said he also had taken to heart former United Nations
secretary-general Kofi Annan's appeal during this year's Nelson Mandela

Asmal said he hoped that President Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts
would succeed in "ensuring that a degree of normality may return to a
country which has been blighted".

This article was originally published on page 6 of Cape Times on
October 05, 2007

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18th amendment: why it spells trouble for Mugabe

New Zimbabwe

By Professor Jonathan Moyo
Last updated: 10/05/2007 22:56:30
NOW that the dust has settled on the rather desperate propaganda by Zanu PF
and the two MDC factions that the 18th constitutional amendment is a
negotiated breakthrough within the Sadc-mandated mediation in Zimbabwe, the
one burning issue that most Zimbabweans still want clarified is whether on
its own the amendment has any national significance beyond offering
President Robert Mugabe a Machiavellian opportunity to smuggle his ambition
to rule for life.
Although this has been ignored or misunderstood, the 18th amendment contains
an important but unintended national significance along with its intended
personal purpose of seeking to bolster Mugabe's grip on power.

The unintended national importance is that, by reducing the presidential
term from six to five years to synchronise it with that of parliament and
local government councils with effect from March 2008, the amendment
effectively calls for an early and much needed general election to resolve
the Zimbabwean crisis.

In a constitutional democracy, which Zimbabwe is struggling to become, the
only way citizens can respond to a biting national crisis is through a
general election.

The fact that the 18th amendment allows for an early general election which
was otherwise due in 2010 explains why it was strategically wise for the
opposition to vote with Zanu PF in support of the amendment notwithstanding
the apparent limits of its intended objectives.

Claims by some opposition elements that the 18th amendment is a
confidence-building measure are a pipedream based on a hopeless leap in the
dark. The same goes for expectations that Zanu PF will agree to a new
constitution before the 2008 election.

Any ruling party that agrees to opposition demands for a new constitution
ahead of a general election exposes itself to assured electoral defeat. Zanu
PF learnt this after the failed referendum on the draft constitution in
2000. Therefore the best that can be achieved with the prodding of the Sadc
mediation are amendments to a range of laws that impinge on electoral

Otherwise the good news is already with us and it is that, because of the
adoption of the 18th constitutional amendment, battered Zimbabweans now have
a real opportunity through a massive early general election next March to
resolve the widening and deepening meltdown in the country by booting out
Mugabe and his henchmen who have become incurably clueless in the face of
crippling problems facing the country.

Of course Mugabe hopes to win that early election but his hope is based on
his fatal presumption that the splintered opposition, which now includes
significant elements from Zanu PF, will remain divided. Yet the writing is
now on the wall that Mugabe's electoral chances in March 2008 are between
slim and none, whatever the state of the opposition which is anyhow set for
a dramatic transformation.

The powerful message from angry masses and the dispossessed middle and upper
classes is that if the early 2008 general election should be rigged, it
would be against Mugabe whose continued stay in office has become
irretrievably catastrophic for Zimbabwe.

There is nobody, especially within Zanu PF, who genuinely and seriously
believes that Mugabe should seek reelection let alone that he should be
reelected after his 27 years of controversial rule whose final days have
turned Zimbabwe into a living hell.

Mugabe's dwindling loyalists, who are trying to turn his personality cult
into a principle and an ideology above the national interest, actually
understand that Mugabe is now a damaging liability to the nation despite
their public pretences to the contrary. That is why a major intended
objective of the 18th amendment is the dissolution of parliament in which
Zanu PF has a secure and commanding two-thirds majority along with the
dissolution of rural and urban councils, the majority of which are
controlled by the ruling party.

This astonishing dissolution will be done to ensure that every ward and
constituency in the country will have an aspiring Zanu PF councillor, a
would-be Zanu PF member of the House of Assembly and a Zanu PF Senate
hopeful who will campaign for themselves as they will for Mugabe as a
necessary matter of self-interest against the national interest.

Clearly Mugabe is desperate for support. In the past, it used to be the
aspiring Zanu PF council and parliamentary candidates who could not do
without Mugabe's support in their election campaigns. Now it's him.

There is no single case in the history of civilised nations where a ruling
party with a two-thirds majority in the legislature has dissolved that
legislature only for the purpose of ensuring that its unpopular president
does not seek reelection to face humiliation alone.

The dissolution of the Zanu PF two-thirds majority in parliament is
therefore unprecedented but telling. That is why the affected Zanu PF
parliamentarians are not amused even a bit. And that is also why there is so
much turmoil in the increasingly divided Zanu PF ranks less than six months
before the general election.

Ironically, Mugabe's securocrats and bureaucrats have not understood that
the dissolution of parliament in which the ruling party has a two-thirds
majority is certain to boomerang as it can only benefit the opposition which
now has an early opportunity to close ranks and take full advantage of the
economic hardships in the country to at least eliminate that majority and
even to win it all.

A wiser strategy for Zanu PF would have been to keep the current two-thirds
majority in parliament as political insurance in the event of a likely
defeat in the presidential election and to use that majority to impeach the
opposition winner. With the economy in the doldrums and with Mugabe and his
wayward ministers unable to do anything about that besides making idle
threats of company takeovers, Zanu PF is now inside the jaws of defeat
waiting to be crushed.

The evidence that Mugabe is nervous to the bones about this is not only
shown by the impending irrational dissolution of parliament in which Zanu PF
has a two-thirds majority but also by Mugabe's convening of a special
congress of the ruling party in December when he does not have to.

The few securocrats and bureaucrats behind Mugabe's doomed reelection
campaign are going around claiming that a Zanu PF special congress in
December can only have one agenda item which is to confirm and endorse
Mugabe as the ruling party's presidential candidate in the general election
next March. But that is mumbo jumbo.

In the first place, it is not true that in terms of the Zanu PF constitution
a special congress is called only for a single issue. The true position is
that a special Zanu PF congress is called to deal with those special issues,
whether few or many, that are unique to the circumstances necessitating it.
There is no requirement that there must be only one issue.

In the second place, in terms of the Zanu PF constitution, the confirmation
and endorsement of the party's president and first secretary as the
candidate in a presidential election does not require a special congress. In
fact, the annual people's conference of Zanu PF is required to declare,
without debate, the party's president and first secretary as its
presidential candidate. That is what happened in 2001 ahead of the 2002
presidential election.

Because it is the highest organ of the party, a congress, whether special or
ordinary, can raise from the floor any issue including who should be the
Zanu PF president and first secretary. As things stand, the securocrats and
bureaucrats who have fooled a nervous Mugabe into calling a special congress
have actually set him up for a real challenge to his failed leadership.

Unless he seizes the initiative and acts now to allow for a successor, the
possibility of a palace coup against Mugabe at the special congress in
December has become real.

This explains why Mugabe suddenly expects the Mnangagwa faction, the
so-called Tsholotsho group, to support his reelection bid against the Mujuru
faction. Yet the fact is that he is now deeply mistrusted within both
factions. In 2004 he abused the Mnangagwa faction and in 2007 he is abusing
the Mujuru faction.

Whereas it is true that in politics there are only permanent interests and
no permanent friends or permanent enemies, it is nevertheless clear that
there is no permanent interest in Mugabe's 2008 reelection bid. The only
obvious permanent interest is that the time for Mugabe to go peacefully has
come and he needs to be told this without fear or favour.

So if there is one sure thing that Zimbabwe does not need today, it is
Mugabe's presidency. Enough is enough. Thanks to the adoption of the 18th
constitutional amendment, Zimbabweans have a wonderful early opportunity to
show Mugabe the exit door at the polls through a united, patriotic people's
front of nationalist progressives from across the political divide as the
only real solution to the Zimbabwean crisis. - Zimbabwe Independent

Professor Jonathan Moyo is MP for Tsholotsho (Indep). He can be contacted on

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Constitutional amendment number 18- a residents pespective

The Zimbabwean

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) is a social movement
 with a growing membership composed of Harare residents and corporate
 The Association was established in 1999 to coordinate the initiatives of
residents in demand for effective, democratic and accountable local
governance and quality municipal service provision and effective social
service delivery in the City of Harare.

The Association is concerned with the continued piecemeal amendments of
 the constitution as opposed to holistic people driven constitution making
process. It is against self serving constitutional amendments that do
 not guarantee effective local governance and electoral democracy. The
 recently passed constitutional amendment number 18 does not address the
 governance crisis and the highly polarized political environment. It serves
outstretch the national budget at a time when the nation should be
 focusing on cost recovery policies. The recent increase in the number of
Parliamentary and Senatorial seats will further exacerbate the
 confusion in administrative boundaries and will increase government

The Association is wary of the privatization of the process to seek
 lasting solutions to the country's malaise. We demand the participation of
 civic society and the people of Zimbabwe in the making of the Constitution.
 While CHRA has been campaigning for the holding of Mayoral and Council
 elections in the City of Harare concurrently with the Parliamentary and
 Presidential elections, it maintains and still campaigns that the elections
be held
 in a manner that is free and fair. The SADC community has drafted protocols
 on the holding of democratic elections. We urge the government to hold
 these elections in a manner that is consistent with these protocols. CHRA
 stands for the principle that constitutions must be made for the people and
 the people themselves. In this regard we make the following demands:


A people driven constitution making process as opposed to piecemeal
constitutional amendments

That local governance be a key tenet in the constitution of the land as
 is the case in South Africa. This will eliminate opportunities for
 manipulation expressed at party political interest. This will also provide
 effective framework for the development of effective local governance
systems in
 the Zimbabwe.

Repeal of repressive and oppressive legislation like POSA and AIPPA
 that militate against freedoms of assembly and expression. These freedoms
 are fundamental towards the holding of free and fair elections and the
 citizen participation in matters of local governance.

Reform of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15). The current form of
 the act gives too much power to the Minister of Local Government, Public
 Works and Urban Development to interfere into the affairs of local
This has a negative impact on decision making and subsequently the
 quality of services provided by local authorities.

Civic society be effectively consulted on all matters of national
 importance as they are the watchdogs of the people.

Thus the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) advocates for
 people driven constitution making processes as opposed to piecemeal
amendments. It rejects Constitutional amendment number 18 as it does
 not address the institutional defects to guarantee democratic elections.
Holistic people driven constitution making will allow residents to
 demand  the constitutionalisation of local governance and the repeal of the
 Urban Councils Act (29:15). CHRA considers this as the initial process
 towards the reform and development of effective, transparent and
accountable local
governance. This will also improve the quality of municipal and other
services provided by local authorities. Lastly, it is the institution's
conviction that the resolution of the national crisis is the panacea to
genuine local government reform. - Combined Harare Residents

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South Africa's Mbeki Seeks NGO Buy-In On Zimbabwe Crisis Compromise

The Zimbabwean

By Blessing Zulu
 Under mounting pressure to produce tangible results in his mediation of the
festering Zimbabwe political and economic crisis, South African President
Thabo Mbeki has again reached out to civil society leaders, who were to meet
with him Sunday.

The Southern African Development Community appointed Mr. Mbeki mediator in
the crisis at an extraordinary summit in late March following an upsurge of
political violence in Zimbabwe in which an opposition activist was shot to

Sources in Pretoria said that Mr. Mbeki is anxious to secure an endorsement
from the civic leaders of his efforts to date. He was to brief them on
progress, in particular on a reported compromise on the constitutional
amendment the government has tabled in parliament that would make major
changes in the electoral dispensation.

Other prominent items on the crisis resolution agenda include conditions for
elections set for March 2008 and revocation or amendment of repressive laws
like the Public Order and Security Act, often wielded against political
dissenters, and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
used to silence independent media.

Some non-governmental organizations have expressed the concern that the
talks are too secretive, and for that reason are reluctant to give them a
stamp of approval.

Some ZANU-PF and opposition insiders say the talks are progressing smoothly
and note in evidence that negotiators are now meeting in Harare instead of

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Coordinator Jacob Mafume told reporter Blessing
Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that although there has been some
consultation with Pretoria, the NGO's are likely to stay on the sidelines
for the time being.

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Beer prices in Zimbabwe skyrocket


Oct. 5 -- Harare, October 05, ZANIS - The price of beer today went up by
over 100 percent, in Zimbabwe, State News Agency, New Ziana has established.
In a snap survey conducted in Harare, a pint of beer had increased from
about $70 000 to around $280 000 while a quart had gone up to $550 000 from
about $250 000. Delta Corporation could not be reached for an official
comment on the retail price for the beer. But most city bottle stores have
already increased their charges with most patrons saying the prices are too
high. The increase comes barely a week after Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank
Governor Gideon Gono called for a review of beer prices. In his mid-year
momentary policy the central bank Chief said beer was under priced and
unviable for beverage companies. ZANIS/New Ziana/ENDS

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Police Backtrack On Decision to Bar PTUZ Celebrations

SW Radio Africa (London)

5 October 2007
Posted to the web 5 October 2007

Henry Makiwa

Police in Bulawayo yesterday made a climb-down from their position to bar
the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) from holding the annual
World Teachers Day celebrations in the country's second largest city.

On Thursday, Bulawayo police refused to clear a PTUZ meeting citing the
union's record of battles over teachers' salaries with government, and
constant pronouncements by its leader Raymond Majongwe against bad

According to a police statement to the PTUZ, the union was accused of being
"bent on tarnishing the country's image" hence the position to forbid its
meeting. The police, however made a change to its decision on Friday after
the PTUZ filed an urgent court application with the High Court arguing that
the police have no jurisdiction to block their meeting.

A PTUZ official yesterday said the police had sent a statement allowing the
union to go ahead with its celebrations.

He said: "Our matter was about to be heard in the High Court at noon but the
police sent someone to say the celebrations have been cleared as long as we
don't talk politics or carry banners with political messages."

He added: "They also said that they will keep an eye on us and reserve the
right to end it if need be. But we will go ahead and discuss all the matters
affecting teachers without fear. Most of our members are not happy with the
recent salary hike as businesses rushed to increase the costs of basic
commodities upon learning we have been given higher pay."

The state media on Friday reported that the government has awarded civil
servants a 422 percent salary increment.

Depicting the direct effects of the civil servants pay increase, the
Chronicle newspaper reported that: "basic commodities are shooting up again,
with a loaf of bread now going for $200 000 -- that is if you can find it in
the first place."

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Zimbabwe may yet avoid meltdown, analysts say

05 Oct 2007 09:17:00 GMT

Blogged by: Megan Rowling

 As Zimbabwe's inflation continues on its stratospheric path and this year's
poor harvest exacerbates grain shortages, even bread is disappearing from
shop shelves. In late September, the country's biggest baker, Lobels Bread,
had to slash operations by four fifths because it was running out of flour,
the BBC reported.

Dwindling supplies of affordable food have given rise to a new profession -
the "queuer". According to U.N. news agency IRIN, these entrepreneurs of
desperation wait in line to buy goods whose official prices have been cut by
the government, and then sell them on at a premium. The key is to know
what'll be available, when and where.

The Famine Early Warning System predicts that food security in Zimbabwe is
likely to decline until at least February next year, when the early harvest
starts. It says 4.1 million people in both rural and urban areas are
expected to need emergency aid over the next six months.

More optimistically, it adds that as long as government plans to import
cereals and food aid programmes are implemented, the risk of mass starvation
and famine will be mitigated.

This suggests that while Zimbabwe's crisis is escalating, there's still a
chance it may not reach a scale that would cause the country to collapse.
It's a view some policy experts concur with.

Michelle Gavin, an international affairs fellow at the U.S.-based Council on
Foreign Relations, told AlertNet that Zimbabwe's neighbours are committed to
averting the "nightmare possibility" of economic and political meltdown:
"South Africa has real leverage, and is not interested in a completed
collapse in Ziimbabwe. No one wants to see a failed state."

Speaking at London's Chatham House think tank, she said that while the
current situation was unsustainable, she didn't forsee a popular uprising.
"When it comes, change is likely to be less about people power. It's
probably not going to be dramatic but incremental change within the ruling
party. The question is how profound will it be?"

Gavin - who's written a soon-to-be-published special report on Zimbabwe for
the CFR - argued that the international community should continue to provide
humanitarian aid, while preparing to re-engage fully and help Zimbabwe
recover after political change. She proposed the establishment of a trust
fund, along with planning by donors to coordinate future aid.

This kind of approach may sound reasonable. But it still begs the thorny
question of under what conditions Western donors like Britain - which has
taken a tough stand against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe - and the
United States would be prepared to start giving longer-term support to the
former British colony.


Gavin said it was necessary to avoid the trap of embracing "an
anyone-but-Mugabe approach while the system stays the same". She recommended
an emphasis on better governance - adherence to the rule of law, an end to
political violence, and free and fair elections.

But once Zimbabwe was back on the good governance track, it would need more
than macro-economic stability and the return of political exiles from
abroad, she argued. International donors should plan to help revive
agriculture, including technical assistance for a land audit. Other key
areas would be reform of the security sector and job creation on a mass
scale for Zimbabwean youths.

Knox Chitiyo, Africa director at the Royal United Services Institute, agreed
that Western donors should continue to engage with Zimbabwe and be ready to
ramp up development aid. But he warned against trying to hurry things along
outside an initiative launched by the regional intergovernmental
organisation, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to
facilitate a negotiated political solution. Much is riding on elections due
in or after March 2008, when Mugabe's current term ends.

"The United States needs to recognise the regional role being played by the
SADC," said Chitiyo. "People claim it isn't moving fast enough, but it's the
only major game in town. By supporting it, the United States could repair
its less-than-brilliant image in southern Africa."

International Crisis Group has also said that the SADC mediation, led by
South African President Thabo Mbeki, offers the only realistic chance to
escape what it describes as "a crisis that increasingly threatens to
destabilise the region". To succeed, however, SADC needs full support from
the international community, and must resolve its internal differences about
how hard to press Mugabe into retirement, the Brussels-based think tank
argued in a September report.

Yet amid all the high-level political manouevring and planning for
longer-term recovery, what of the prospects for ordinary Zimbabweans? Gavin,
along with many other observers, believes civil society must get a seat at
the political table - but how to achieve that is less clear.

Chitiyo cautioned against overlooking key issues that went unaddressed in
the excitement following Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, such as land

"What is the price people are willing to pay for a managed political
transition?" he asked. "The main focus is on trying to negotiate a way out
of the current crisis without bloodshed, but there's a chance civil rights
will get lost again."

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Diplomacy 'can unseat Mugabe'


05/10/2007 07:25  - (SA)

London - Condemning Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is counterproductive
and international powers should instead put their weight behind regional
diplomatic efforts to unseat him, says a Tanzanian president.

Speaking to the Financial Times in Paris, Jakaya Kikwete insisted the
diplomatic approach favoured by African leaders "will pay dividends" and
said it should be given more time.

Kikwete said: "Tanzania is standing by the people of Zimbabwe, including
President Mugabe.

"We subscribe to the idea of working with them to get a solution, because if
you end up condemning and insulting Mugabe, he will not listen to you.

"Mugabe is there. He is president; he has been elected. If Tanzania said,
'You are hopeless! A murderer! A violator of basic human rights!' does that
remove Mugabe from office? It doesn't."

'We want to see free, fair polls'

Kikwete added that bringing an end to Mugabe's reign in Zimbabwe would
provide a solution in itself only "if you think the problems in Zimbabwe are
solely related to President Mugabe".

According to him: "Our approach has been, 'let's make these people talk',"
referring to discussions hosted by South Africa between Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party and opposition groups.

"We want to see the next elections conducted on a level playing field: free,
fair and peaceful ... That will give the people of Zimbabwe an opportunity
to choose a leader of their choice," added Kikwete.

Kikwete's comments came ahead of a December summit of European Union and
African leaders in Lisbon. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had already
said that he would not attend the summit if Mugabe is present.

Zimbabwe was in the throes of an economic crisis with the world's highest
rate of inflation and four out of five people jobless. Some 80% of the
population lived below the poverty threshold.

Separately, Kikwete added that if investigations into the 2002 sale of a
radar system by BAE Systems to Tanzania for $57.1bn was corruptly inflated,
Tanzania would seek compensation.

He added: "I don't know how to get the money but if the radar is overpriced,
definitely we deserve to be paid ... They cannot take money from a poor

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'Back to Rhodesian days and food rations'

Business Day

05 October 2007

Wilson Johwa

Political Correspondent

EMPTY supermarket shelves and near-worthless salaries have prompted many
Zimbabwean companies and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) to provide
staff with groceries imported mainly from SA and Botswana.

Since the government enforced a halving of prices in June, food items have
all but vanished from shops, persuading bigger companies and NGOs to rescue
desperate workers.

"It's not a case of helping the poor," Callisto Jokonya, president of the
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries. "I think it is good business practice.
It's a cost."

What companies and NGOs have also kept under wraps is the extent to which
they were paying some workers - albeit the senior managers - in hard
currency to keep up with inflation, which the government has put at about

Other organisations have resorted to paying workers twice a month, but
without necessarily doubling the wages. Some go as far as assisting workers
with school fees.

Godfrey Kanyenze an economist affiliated with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU), says: "There is nothing orthodox anymore. Companies are
trying everything and anything to assist. It's back to Rhodesian days when
salaries were also low and workers were compensated with rations."

To match the June price cuts, the government also decreed a freeze on wages,
school fees and service charges. But faced with a ZCTU strike recently, it
backtracked. Yet "they haven't actually amended the statutory instrument to
unfreeze the wages", Kanyenze said.

This week teachers resorted to strike action to press for pay of at least
Z$16,7m (R1600 on the official market and about R233 on the black market).
Teachers take home about Z$3m (R751 on the official market and R40 on the
black market), which they say is not even enough to cover transport for the

Jokonya said most companies helping employees with groceries saw it as a
private matter and were loath to speak openly about it. "People are doing
it," he said.

One multinational group has just made its first shipment of basic groceries
for its 150 employees. The food basket consists of sugar , flour , cooking
oil (5l ), rice and salt . Also on the list was a packet of beans, together
with bath and washing soap.

Another such company is mining company Bindura Nickel Corporation which,
since June last year, has been providing its staff of more than 1000 people
with a monthly basket composed of cooking oil, rice, maize meal and soap.

However, just like doing business in an environment dominated by price
controls and fuel shortages, bringing in supplies is a logistical challenge.
Getting an import permit is often the much bigger task, however.

Since August the government has enforced a ban on the importation of
groceries for resale. The ban affects companies as they also have to apply
for a permit to bring in large quantities of groceries. It is not uncommon
for shipments to lie at the Beitbridge border post while import formalities
are worked out.

For sugar and oil, an application has to be made to the agriculture ministry
while a different application has to be directed at the trade ministry for a
permit to bring in flour, maize meal and rice.

"Getting a permit is not a walk in the park, it's a bureaucratic nightmare,"
said a senior company executive whose company's shipment was stuck in Musina
for two weeks before an import permit was finally issued.

While a few companies are known to fly in supplies, many get direct
deliveries from local producers still operating, or from agencies and
informal traders. Others cart in commodities from Musina in SA or
Francistown in Botswana, a time-consuming and sometimes costly process.

"It is cumbersome but worth the effort," said a company executive who did
not wish to be identified.

"Those with small families are able to have their Zim dollar salaries take
them further."

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U.N. should keep tyrants off the stage

Philadelphia Enquirer

Fri, Oct. 5, 2007

Letting dictators, oppressors and
sponsors of terror address the General Assembly is not the democratic way.

Claudia Rosett
is a journalist-in-residence

at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

In Burma, an ominous silence has fallen. The ruling military junta has been
answering the peaceful protests of dissident monks with beatings, arrests
and untold killings. Even United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Louise
Arbour, too often reticent about criticizing tyrannies, issued a statement
Monday deploring the repression and asserting that in the current crackdown,
Burma's protesters "have become invisible."

But not all Burmese have been stifled. At the United Nations' headquarters
in New York, all 192 members have just enjoyed their allotted 15 minutes of
fame on the General Assembly stage. So it was that on Monday, while troops
in Burma were reportedly hunting down dissidents, Burma's minister for
foreign affairs, U Nyan Win, a mouthpiece for the junta, mounted the steps
to the main stage. There, before the great golden backdrop, facing the grand
annual meeting of the world's sovereign states, he delivered a speech in
which the core message was that normalcy had now returned in Myanmar.

There is plenty to question in that perverse sentiment. But one question to
which the free nations of the world - including our own - seem to devote far
too little thought is: Why did the U.N. allow Nyan Win that world platform
in the first place?

The answer that it is the democratic way to let every sovereign state have
its say is just not good enough. There is nothing democratic about this U.N.
queue for the spotlight. Some spokespeople who ascend that stage do, indeed,
speak as envoys or heads of legitimately elected governments. They fulfill
the membership qualifications set out in the U.N. charter, which stresses
freedom and the dignity of the individual, and begins "We the peoples of the
United Nations . . ."

But others do not remotely speak for the people of their own nations. They
represent the machinery of dictatorship, with its secret police, press
censorship and Orwellian fictions so amply demonstrated by Iran's President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These included not only his evasions about his regime's
nuclear bomb program, but his bizarre statement that there are no
homosexuals in Iran.

Though Ahmadinejad has lately grabbed the headlines, and the locutions of
Burma's foreign minister stand out as prime hypocrisies of the season, these
regimes are far from alone in enlisting the U.N. spotlight to further the
highly undemocratic policy of abusing their own people.

Thus have the speakers at this 62d Annual Assembly of the United Nations
included North Korea's vice minister of foreign affairs, Choe Su Hon,
lauding the "lifetime teachings of our fatherly leader President Kim Il
Sung" - Kim being a nuclear-bomb-building tyrant under whose rule an
estimated one million North Koreans have starved to death, and millions more
endure lives of deprivation.

Zimbabwe's longtime despot, President Robert Mugabe, flew in to opine about
"dynamism in confronting the global challenges of the 21st century," while
back home his policies have beggared millions. Syria's foreign minister,
Walid Al-Moualem, detailed his government's interest in bringing "consensus"
to "fraternal Lebanon," where Syria has been abetting the drive by the
Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah to take full control of the
Lebanese state.

What may appear to an American audience as irrelevant and even tedious
theater is anything but harmless. The speeches on that U.N. stage are not,
as a rule, meant for Americans, nor even for the multilateral audience in
the chamber. Especially among repressive regimes, they are beamed to home
countries and regional neighbors as evidence of the dignity and respect
enjoyed by these governments at the world's leading conclave of nations.
They feature as one more blow to the courageous Burmese monks, the hungry
North Koreans, the desperate opposition in Zimbabwe, and the democrats who
risk prison when they raise their voices in places such as Syria and Iran.

Surely it is not too much to ask that the United Nations, which runs chiefly
on the tax money and credibility of the free world, find a way to deprive
the worst regimes of those annual 15 minutes of glory on its lofty stage.

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Zanu PF wants farmers to grow jatropha for fuel

The Zimbabwean

THE Mugabe government says farmers should grow jatropha seed in the coming
2007/2008 farming season in a bid to end the fuel shortages that have
haunted the nation since 1999.

The government through the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) says
the jatropha seed will be planted on about 5000 hectares in each province to
ease fuel shortages next year.

In a notice, the struggling state parastatal says it will assist new farmers
with ready to plant seedlings once their land is prepared for the 2007/2008
agricultural season.

"The ultimate aim is to produce bio-diesel to substitute ten percent of our
national diesel requirements. To this end 40 000 hectares of jatropha has to
be established this year.," read in part the NOCZIM notice on Friday.

This is yet another clear admission that the government has failed to solve
the fuel crisis which has haunted the country since 1999 due to foreign
currency shortages and the severing of lines of credit by foreign banks and

An ambitious programme pursued since 2005 by the government to produce
bio-diesel from the oil rich jatropha curcas seed where communal farmers
have been contracted to grow the jatropha tree has failed to yield any

Experts have warned that massive investment in expensive refineries and
conversion plants would be needed before the dream of producing bio-diesel
could be realized.

Zimbabwe has faced crippling fuel shortages since the end of 1999 when the
country's Western backers pulled out in protest at the government's economic

Cash-strapped NOCZIM has struggled to meet demand, forcing the government to
scrap the parastatal's monopoly around 2002.

However, fuel shortages resurfaced in June following the reinstatement of
NOCZIM'S monopoly after the imposition of a freeze on prices by the
President Robert Mugabe led government

Zimbabwe consumes 3, 5 million litres of diesel, three million litres of
petrol and five million litres of Jet A1 daily. It needs about US$130
million a month to import fuel- CAJ News.

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Banned Zim play back with vengeance in SA

The Zimbabwean

Bob, a satirical play that the Zimbabwe government banned for hitting too
closer to the truth has resurfaced with a vengeance in South Africa under a
different title and now delivering more severe blows to where it hurts most
on President Mugabe.

Now titled The Devilish: Robert Mugabe, the play will be staged from
November 9-25 at the Hillbrow Theatre in Johannesburg.

Protest playwright, Tinashe Jonas, who penned the play said about 50 percent
of the script had been changed since the play's ban in Zimbabwe in line with
the worsening of the country's socio-economic crisis.

He said the play will go ahead despite possible intimidation by Zimbabwean
security agents, as was the case in December last year when the show had to
be postponed taking place at the Wits Amphitheatre.

"Artists such as myself have a key role to play in highlighting the problems
that Zimbabwe faces as a result of misrule by the Mugabe regime despite
widespread threats. I have a philosophy that inspires me to die for a reason
that will live than live for a reason that will die," said Jonas.

The University of Namibia trained dramatist said of the hard-hitting play's
synopsis, "The play highlights the social, economic and political meltdown
that has besieged Zimbabwe. It also reveals how Mugabe is Adolf Hitler
tenfold because of gross human rights abuses. The Devilish: Robert Mugabe
highlights how single-handedly a dictator can ruin a once-prosperous
economy," he slammed.

The play boasts an all-South African cast of ten.

The move flies in the face of denials by South Africa that there was a
crisis at its northern neighbour, Jonas said.

Looking forward to the play, stage actress Evril Mmakola said from his
interaction with Zimbabweans, she had established that there was indeed a
crisis in Zimbabwe and that it was not only an exaggeration by the media.

She said the solution lied in the resignation of the current Zimbabwean

"From what I hear, things are bad there. If you were to ask me the solution,
I would tell you it lies in the resignation of the country's leader. Anyway,
I am not into politics. As an actress I go out there and follow the script,"
she said.

The play is among several that the paranoid Zimbabwean government has banned
in the country under the pretext that they were likely to raise alarm and
despondency among members of the public.

Jonas fled to South Africa after the outlawed play put his life in danger.
Meanwhile, tickets for the play are going for R30 at the door and R38 at
Computicket-CAJ News

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Hungry Mutare Poly students embarass war veterans/Principal

The Zimbabwean

MUTARE - STUDENTS at Mutare Polytechnic in the city dressed down Senator
Mandi Chimene  when she attempted in vain to coerce the students to join the
solidarity march in support of President Mugabe's candidature in next year's
Following the embarrassing incident from the students, who told her they
were hungry to be part of the demonstration Chimene this week donated a
beast to the college.

The 'hostile' students told Chimene in no uncertain terms that they would
not join her in the solidarity march in the city.

Chimene who was in the company of war veterans leaders Jabulani Sibanda,
Joseph Chinotimba, Manicaland Governor Tineyi Chigudu and Webster Shamu were
booed away from the college as the students said they were "too hungry to go
on the march".

"We told her that we could not be part of the demonstration as we are
hungry. You cannot go on a march when you are hungry," said Henry Taendeswa,
a student at the college.

He said the students stood their ground despite spirited efforts from the
senator and war veterans' leaders including Chigudu.

Chimene was unavailable for a comment today as she was said to be out of the
Her daughter Patience confirmed her mother had raised money to buy a beast
for the college when CAJ News called. She would also not say how much her
mother had paid for the beast.

"My mother is out of the country but she has handed over the money to the PA
(Provincial Administrator - Fungai Mbetsa). She will only be back after the
th of October," said Patience.
She said while she was not sure of the motive behind the donation she was
sure it had to do with the hunger at the institution.

Neither Mbetsa nor Chigudu were available on Thursday for a comment when CAJ
News phoned at their respective offices.

Students in colleges are enduring hard times of going for days with descent
meals owing to financial constraints-
CAJ News.

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Zanu PF Refuses to Change Voters' Roll

SW Radio Africa (London)

5 October 2007
Posted to the web 5 October 2007

Henry Makiwa

The ruling Zanu PF party on Thursday dampened growing hopes of free and fair
polls when Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told parliament that there
would be no new voters roll for next year's harmonised elections.

The move discourages expectations by the opposition that voters would be
re-registered to create a new and transparent voters roll

before the election in March next year. The Movement for Democratic Change
swiftly opposed the ruling party's position, accusing Robert Mugabe of
plotting to use "a corrupted voters' roll full of ghost voters" to win

The MDC wants the voters roll re-examined and updated to flush out "ghost
voters" - deceased people who are yet to be struck of the voters' list. The
opposition party claims Mugabe has used the dead for electoral rigging

Responding to questions by MDC legislator Nelson Chamisa in parliament,
Chinamasa said: "There will be no re-registration of voters to create voters
rolls. When you are registered you are registered to a particular group
which is the physical unit area and when they do the delimitation, whether
of wards or constituencies, it is a mere exercise of moving a whole block or
part of the block in order to create a constituency."

Chamisa yesterday said the proposed system would prejudice many voters and
scupper hopes of a free and fair election.

Chamisa said: "Chinamasa chooses to exhibit unmitigated madness and
recklessness at a time when all Zimbabweans are looking for
confidence-building measures. We are having mediation talks at the moment
and we want to have legitimate free and fair elections under a transparent
voters roll."

He added: "The electoral roll is like what a syllabus is to a student. Zanu
PF has kept this as a preserve of its own in secrecy leading to the use of
dead people or ghost voters who are only resurrected at election time to
deliver victory to Zanu PF."

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British Catholics Seek Emergency Funds to Fight Starvation

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)

5 October 2007
Posted to the web 5 October 2007


A British Catholic charity today launched an 8 million dollar appeal to save
lives in Zimbabwe, as the Archbishop of Harare said the country is on the
edge of collapse.

The emergency programme by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development
(CAFOD) will provide over 120,000 people in some of the worst affected areas
with food supplies and seeds and tools.

CAFOD said all money raised from its annual Harvest Fast Day, marked Friday,
would go to helping the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe.

"With food supplies already running short and a poor harvest forecasted,
usual coping strategies are simply not enough this year. One in three people
are expected to be without food by March and many will run out very soon,"
the charity said.

Archbishop Robert Ndlovu of Harare said Zimbabwe was unable to feed its
people and the coming months would bring deeper hunger and desperation for

"We have already lost too many of our children, friends, brothers and
sisters to hunger and disease. Many more have fled the country, fleeing from
lives that have become unbearable through poverty and hunger.

"Now the Zimbabwean people stand at the edge of a precipice. Our country is
in deep crisis. Our harvest has failed, through a combination of severe
drought, HIV and AIDS and the consequences of economic decline."

Archbishop Ndlovu appealed for urgent help. "On behalf of my Zimbabwean
brothers and sisters living in hunger, I appeal to their fellow Christian
brothers and sisters to walk alongside them during this difficult time in
faith and Christian charity."

In London, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal
Cormac Murphy O'Connor, backed the CAFOD appeal, saying, "Many of us have
held the people of Zimbabwe close in prayer over the last few years and
watched with sadness as it continues to decline into poverty and conflict. I
urge the Catholic community to support CAFOD's appeal for Zimbabwe and to
remember the people of Zimbabwe in their prayers."

According to the United Nations, Zimbabwe's total harvest this year dropped
by 40 percent. And many areas harvested less than half their usual crop.

Inflation at 7,000 percent has wiped out people's savings and there is very
little casual work available. Across Zimbabwe bad harvests, high
unemployment, high levels of HIV and AIDS and continued instability have
combined to make daily life a painful struggle.

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Bill giving potential suitors for Zim steel mill cold feet

Engineering News

By: Oscar Nkala
Published: 5 Oct 07 - 11:40

The effects of Zimbabwe's drive to economically empower the black majority
through the recently enacted Indigenisation Bill has left its traditional
Chinese friends doubting the security of their investments in the country.

Five Chinese steel and metallurgical companies have reportedly expressed an
interest in acquiring significant stakes in the ailing Zimbabwe Iron & Steel
Company (Zisco), but are now said to be holding back until President Robert
Mugabe's government becomes clear on how it wants to implement the
indigenisation programme.

A source who attended this year's China International Trade Fair, last
month, said representatives of Chinese companies in the iron and steel
business met Obert Mpofu, Zimbabwe's Minister of Industry and International
Trade, to express their willingness to invest and their concerns over the
security of their investments.

"The Chinese are more than willing to invest in almost all sectors, but the
minister's drive to woo them into Zimbabwe has been cast in a very bad light
by the new Indigenisation Bill. "Despite government assurances, they still
do not trust the Zimbabwe government and fear it may change policy and
nationalise their investments overnight," said the source, who was part of
the Zimtrade business delegation that accompanied Mpofu to China.

Contacted for comment, Mpofu confirmed meeting representatives of China
Shougang International Trading & Engineering Corpora-tion, Wuhang Iron &
Steel Corporation, Baoshan Iron & Steel, Shanghai Steel Corporation & Rock
Neck Steel Group. He said all of them expressed serious interest in
investing in Zisco but feared the legislative environment would not offer
investment security.

"They are all interested in doing business with us through deals with Zisco,
but they have a lot of questions regarding the Indigenisation Bill. "They
fear we may nationalise their invest-ments or [that they may incur] other
such losses. But I told them that the country has deliberately adopted a
'look East' policy, through which we can guarantee the security of their
investment. "We went out of our way to woo them, so we cannot take anything
away from them," Mpofu told Engineering News.

He added that the government was serious about giving 51% of any mining
stake to locals. He also refused to explain if the government would ignore
the indigenisation law and give the same investment security guarantees to
other investors coming from countries outside the confines of its 'look East'

Many mining international mining and engineering firms had until the
promulgation of the Indigenisation Bill shown interest in investing in
Zimbabwe's ailing economy. However, the passing of the Bill has forced many
companies to have a rethink about investing in Zimbabwe.

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A Hospital Clinic in Zimbabwe

Daily Camera blogs

By Kesse Buchanan

Posted October 5, 2007

I walked to breakfast today with the presence of death on my shoulders. The
son of our driver had died. It was not so much the sadness of what happened
that haunted me as deeply as the lack of reaction from anyone who heard the
news, including the reaction of our driver himself. It told me that in this
rural area of Mhondoro, really in Zimbabwe itself, death is never far.
An hour later I found myself in the medical clinic in Mhondoro. When we
walked up to the building to start our day we were greeted by cries of the
sick holding their thin, haggard arms in a universal plea for help. They had
formed a line all the way around the medical hut and out into the yard.
Wooden carts pulled by oxen continued to bring in more and even more who
couldn't find the strength to walk.
I followed the doctor into the bare room with the stained walls and a
mud-packed floor. The patient was a woman who had been there, laying on the
single cot for 4 hours now. She had been here last week too. Like many
others, they had walked into the night to get here. The lack of medical
clinics in the area forces most to travel miles to get to any sort of
primitive medical care.
As the woman was being treated I heard the mooing of cows and scuttle of
chickens, only separated from us by a thin wall. The room was empty except
for the cot, a wooden bench, a stethoscope and a thermometer, the only
medical tools available.
Preschoolers sang next door in their rhythm of hope, but the closeness of
the preschool to the clinic with just the mud separating us reminded me how
imminent any sort of illness is in such a rural area. The preschool children
are all as thin as old women. They often don't have food all day because
there isn't any. Their clothes hang in tatters, but ironed tatters
nevertheless. I wonder how long the skin will cling to their bones and they
will be able to play instead of sit outside the clinic like so many children
already are.
The woman on the cot had been brought in by her husband who sat nearby.
Behind the mask of masculinity the culture puts on their men, I saw a
glimpse of sorrow crack through the edges that any human would recognize,
regardless of where they grew up. He moved to shift the position of his wife's
leg that she was too weak to move by herself.
I never saw the woman's face and wondered if that is symbolic to me of the
pain of so many in this rural area in Zimbabwe who all have death on their
shoulders, binding them together, but who still have enough hope to iron the
dirty clothes on their children.

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Archbishop Ncube Assigned New Job

SW Radio Africa (London)

5 October 2007
Posted to the web 5 October 2007

Lance Guma

The Catholic Church has assigned the former Archbishop of Bulawayo Pius
Ncube a new job, nearly a month after he resigned over an alleged adulterous

Father Martin Schupp, the Apostolic Administrator of the vacant Archdiocese
appointed Ncube to be in charge of pastoral programmes in Bulawayo.
Archbishop Ncube who retains his title, will be coordinating pastoral work,
structures and training courses. He told the Catholic Information Service
for Africa, 'In this work I shall assist people in coming closer to God, and
this includes promoting human rights and defending the disadvantaged.'

An aide to Archbishop Ncube told us he is now a Pastoral Vicar and remains
well placed to speak out for the poor in society. He told us the solidarity
Ncube has received has been amazing and even the service held in the
cathedral to put Father Schupp in temporary charge witnessed a packed
church. Responding to allegations that Mugabe's government is planning a new
smear campaign, the aide said there is nothing worse the regime can throw at
him that can surpass what they have already done. Ncube has avoided
interviews with journalists since the case exploded into the spotlight and
his aide said this is because the case remains in court and any interviews
might prejudice proceedings.

Despite heated speculation that Ncube would enter politics, the fearless
cleric maintains he has a passion for 'evangelisation' and is not interested
in politics. Last month he released a statement pouring cold water on
speculation he will contest the 2008 presidential election saying, 'I would
like to make it clear that in the Catholic Church we have a rule against the
clergy getting into party politics or taking on civil duties.' He argued
clergy could not become politicians because this compromised their Christian
values. He accused politicians of being mainly concerned with accumulation
of power and wealth rather than alleviating the suffering of people.

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