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In search of a queue worth joining

Mail and Guardian


      Irin News Service

      07 October 2005 11:59

            Three hours of standing in a queue for maize meal looked like it
was about to pay off when the line suddenly disintegrated amid despairing
groans and some furious name calling. The supermarket had just run out of
Zimbabwe's staple food.

            Shoppers in Bulawayo are rationed to 10kg of maize meal per
person, but finding it -- and, indeed, most other basic essentials -- on the
shelves is no easy matter.

            To get anywhere near a bottle of cooking oil, a bag of rice, a
tube of toothpaste, a carton of milk, a packet of sugar, a box of washing
powder or even a bar of soap, you need a reliable rumour, an eye for a queue
worth joining and, above all, patience.

            An Irin reporter had heard that maize meal was on the shelves at
a local supermarket and joined the queue. Seventy people were already
waiting. Conversations inevitably revolved around the current hardships:
water rationing in the city, the lack of basic items, the exorbitant prices
when they did become available and President Robert Mugabe's recent response
to the crisis -- that people had the option of eating potatoes.

            "Nowadays, we eat just one meal a day," one elderly man informed
anybody in the queue who was willing to listen. "During the day, we have
nothing at all and I have heard my two grandchildren joke that they had air
pies for lunch. The only time we have managed at least two meals is when my
son, who is in South Africa, sends us some groceries."

            Three hours later, tantalisingly close to the tiny storeroom
from which the maize meal was being sold, supplies ran out. As incensed
shoppers accused the supermarket staff of hoarding -- "You want us to die,
what kind of people are you?" -- riot police, on the spot for just such an
eventuality, stepped in and the trouble was over.

            Plan B was a supermarket in the town centre, but this time only
30 people were waiting in line outside, suggesting that whatever was being
sold could not be that important. It turned out to be bread rather than the
maize meal, rice or macaroni Zimbabweans look to for filling their

            Not much was available but shop attendants were busy marking up
shockingly high new prices. In the past few weeks, maize meal has shot up
from US50c for 10 kg to $2,50, and rice from $3 for a 2kg bag to $7. The
current food basket for a family of five costs $230 a month, yet an average
worker takes home about $192, nowhere near enough to pay for rent, school
fees and other essentials, and buy food.

            September's 130% fuel price hike -- the second increase in three
months -- is set to further stoke inflation, as will a 17,5% value added tax
on certain goods and services, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has warned.

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Zimbabwe Embarks on New Round of Farm Seizures


By Patience Rusere
      07 October 2005

Hardliners in the Zimbabwean government appear to have won an internal
debate over the latest round of farm seizures, initiated following passage
and signature into law of a constitutional amendment nationalizing all
farmland in the country.

This new phase of Zimbabwe's land reform program has drawn open opposition
from Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, who argues that it is
counterproductive at a time when food is scarce and the country faces deep
economic problems.

Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa threw his weight behind Mr. Gono's position
late this week in remarks before a business audience in the eastern border
city of Mutare.

But their opposition has been fruitless against hardliners in the cabinet of
President Robert Mugabe who see the way clear to make a clean sweep in land

Reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Deputy
Information Minister Bright Matonga to clarify government policy in light of
the public disagreement between the country's economic managers, and State
Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who also holds the food security and land
reform portfolios.

Many observers agree with the finance minister and the central bank governor
that the new round of farm invasions will not help Zimbabwe out of its
profound economic slump or result in increased food production to relieve
widespread shortages.

But as South African-based analyst Chris Maroleng tells Studio 7 reporter
Patience Rusere, the new land offensive is not driven by economic

Among the recently dispossessed is Dr. Petra Clowes, wife of a farm operator
and the only medical doctor left in Chipinge, about 120 kilometers south of

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Dr. Clowes
about her medical practice in Chipinge and ordeal at the hands of farm

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RBZ blamed as Dunlop Tyres shuts down

New Zimbabwe

By Alison Musekwa
Last updated: 10/08/2005 10:11:12
DUNLOP Tyres (Pvt) Limited, Zimbabwe's sole tyre manufacturing firm has shut
down operations throwing 820 workers into the streets.

The closure of the Bulawayo based firm is also going to result in more that
30 000 workers employed in the downstream industries losing their jobs.

Officials at the tyres manufacturer and exporter said the firm had shut down
its plant last week due to shortages of foreign currency, which has resulted
in the company failing to procure raw materials.

Phil Whitehead, Dunlop managing director said the company has not been
receiving foreign currency allocations from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) since July 15, 2005.

The RBZ, under whose regulations all Zimbabwean exporting firms surrender 50
percent of their export proceeds, is also responsible for allocating foreign
currency to industry as well as various arms of government.

"We stopped production last week and workers are at home. This is a huge
disaster. You can not run an economy without tyres," Whitehead said.

Zimbabwe, whose gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to plummet by a
further 7 percent in 2005, is grappling with severe foreign currency
shortages as well as bitter food, fuel and electricity shortage.

The closure is also going to hit hard various arms of government such as the
Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) as well as the
Central Mechanical and Equipment Department (CMED), which had placed huge
orders of tyres to Dunlop.

Whitehead said his firm's plight has been worsened by an exclusive
arrangement entered between Dunlop and RBZ where the tyre manufacturer
undertook to surrender 100 percent of its export proceeds.

Whitehead said Dunlop last month surrendered US$687 000, its average monthly
export earnings, to the central bank.

"We honoured our part of the agreement with the RBZ but they are reneging.
They are using the money for food and fuel imports at our expense,"
Whitehead fumed.

Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy has been in free fall since the
government embarked on a controversial programme to seize white owned
commercial farms in 2000.

Dunlop requires US$50 000 to manufacture tyres on a daily basis but
Whitehead said it would cost US$100 000 to import the same tyres.
Whitehead the effects of Dunlop closing down are even worse off on the
downstream industry and their customers.

"The army, police, CMED and Willowvale motor industry are some of our
biggest customers and imagine the army and police operating with no tyres,"
Whitehead said.

He added that the RBZ and government have virtually turned a deaf ear to
their pleas for help.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Luxon Zembe said the
RBZ was affording industry only 6 percent of their foreign currency

This has resulted in companies sourcing foreign currency on the thriving
black market, where rates are high, Zembe said.

"There is no sense of urgency in our politicians. The political will is not
there. Industry is not getting the commitment it needs from government,"
Zembe lamented.

In its latest report on the Zimbabwe economy the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) projected a 7 percent decline in GDP in 2005.

The Fund said the pace of the country's economic deterioration slowed last
year but had resumed again in early 2005 due to rising inflation, foreign
currency shortages and low agricultural output because of drought and a
botched land reform programme.

The Zimbabwe economy has crushed by 30 percent between 19978 ad 2003.

"Without a bold change in policy direction, the economic outlook will remain
bleak, with particularly detrimental effects on the poorest segments of the
population," the IMF said.

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Garbage Piles Up in Sanitary Lanes

The Herald (Harare)

October 7, 2005
Posted to the web October 7, 2005


A HEALTH hazard is looming in Harare city centre as well as suburbs such as
Avondale where mounds of garbage have formed in sanitary lanes and along
streets as the municipality has failed to collect refuse for the fourth
consecutive month citing fuel shortages.

Shop owners in central Harare are bitter about the municipality's failure to
collect the garbage saying this is exposing shoppers to a health hazard.

"The city council has not been collecting rubbish here for the last four
months and this morning I have phoned them six times but they are responding
by putting me through to various departments which provide no answer to my
query," lamented a businesswoman along Robson Manyika Avenue.

She said other shop owners were now disposing rubbish in her backyard
because the city council had failed to provide them with waste bins.

Another shop owner said: "The scenario is a health hazard. The city council
should wake up. We are paying rates for nothing; I wonder where the money is
going," he said.

Harare City Council spokesman Mr Leslie Gwindi said the council was working
hard to collect all garbage and refuse accumulating in the city but this was
being affected by erratic fuel supplies.

"It is only that we are not coping with the demand for rubbish collection
all round the city as we are not getting enough of the council's diesel
requirements to allow all waste trucks to provide the service," said Mr

A survey by The Herald revealed that mounds of rubbish were not being
collected in many sanitary lanes around town.

Some heaps of rubbish had also been lit up, churning out smoke into the air.

"It is illegal to put up fires anywhere around the city centre," said Mr

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Zimbabwe's state-run hospitals can't afford medicines, equipment

Dallas Examiner

By MICHAEL HARTNACK, Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's state-run hospitals can't afford medicines and
equipment because of foreign currency shortages and were turning away
patients, a government newspaper reported last week.

The Herald quoted Tendai Nyakuedzwa, a laboratory scientist at Chitungwiza
General Hospital, as saying the foreign currency shortage had left the
hospital unable to import materials to test for HIV, the virus that causes
AIDS. He also said equipment to test patients' responses to medication had
been out of order for over a year.

The Herald said Chitungwiza, on the southern outskirts of the capital, and
Harare Central Hospital had been having problems for the past two years,
turning away several HIV/AIDS patients or referring them to Harare's
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, a teaching facility that also is state-run
but has international funding.

Health Minister David Parirenyatwa also blamed foreign currency shortages
for the lack of testing material and spare parts, the Herald reported. The
teaching hospitals were named for the minister's father, Samuel, Zimbabwe's
first Black doctor.

More than 23 percent of Zimbabweans are believed to carry HIV, with at least
3,000 AIDS-related deaths a week.

The Herald also reported that the Justice Ministry lacked money to feed
witnesses brought from remote rural areas to testify, affecting court

An 11-year-old murder trial witness, who under Zimbabwean law cannot be
named, complained of hunger while testifying Monday and Judge Paddington
Garwe postponed proceedings, the newspaper said.

Justice Ministry officials last week told a parliamentary committee they
needed 28 trillion Zimbabwe dollars (US $1.1 billion) to improve conditions
for 27,000 prisoners in jails built for 16,000, to run courts efficiently,
and pay off 40 billion Zimbabwe dollars (US $1.5 million) in debts.
"Deplorable" prisons lacked basic running water and washing facilities,
leading to outbreaks of tuberculosis and measles, legislators heard.

A sometimes violent campaign begun in 2000 to seize farms from whites and
hand them over to Blacks has been blamed for accelerating economic collapse
in Zimbabwe. Agriculture had been the country's major foreign currency

Zimbabwe faces 80 percent unemployment, 265 percent inflation, and severe
shortages of staples.

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Lawyers fight new blitz

From News24 (SA), 6 October

Harare - Human rights lawyers on Thursday went to court to try to block the
eviction of 400 victims of Zimbabwe's demolitions blitz from their new
makeshift homes in one of the country's poorest townships. The targets of
Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive out Filth, were told by police at the
weekend to leave their new shelters in Harare's Mbare Township. Zvikomborero
Chadambuka of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said: "These are people who
have nowhere to go and the police have not told them where to go. We have
filed this morning for an interdict from the High Court to stop these
evictions." On May 18, Zimbabwe launched the two-pronged Operation Restore
Order and Operation Murambatsvina, razing shacks, homes, small businesses
and market stalls in shantytowns and other poor urban areas. The government
had portrayed the blitz that took place, amid severe food and fuel
shortages, as an urban renewal campaign and said it was building new housing
for those displaced in the operations that ended in late July. A UN report
released in the aftermath of the blitz said the demolitions had left 700 000
people homeless or without sources of income, or both, in cities and towns
across the country, while a further 2.4 million were affected in varying
degrees. But, Zimbabwean authorities blasted the UN report, saying it was
biased against the government and exaggerated the number of people affected.
Chadambuka said at least 400 people who lost their homes in the blitz were
living in plastic and cardboard shacks in the heart of the poor suburb of
Mbare. The police eviction order came at the back of the arrest of more than
14 000 illegal vendors and dealers in foreign currency and fuel during
follow-up operations to the demolitions blitz. Inspector Loveless Rupere of
police said the latest crackdown codenamed Siyapambili, Hatidzokereshure
(Moving Ahead/No Turning Back) was "to monitor the city so that we deal with
any of those who are returning to the city and conduct shady dealings".

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Marching On Its Stomach

Business Day (Johannesburg)

October 7, 2005
Posted to the web October 7, 2005


IF EVER there were early warning signs that events in Zimbabwe could take a
disastrous turn, take note of reports earlier this week of protests by
soldiers in Zimbabwe.

Many have been sent on forced leave because the army cannot feed them. This
is hardly surprising, given the information contained in a report on the
Zimbabwean economy released this week by the International Monetary Fund. It
points out that the economy has contracted by almost a third in the past
eight years and that there has been a high human cost to President Robert
Mugabe's economic policies.

Economic decline and dissatisfaction in the Zimbabwean army could prove to
be a dangerous brew for the region. Several recent reports have cited
military sources as saying soldiers are increasingly dissatisfied by the
government's refusal to raise salaries, a particularly harsh decision in an
environment of hyperinflation. Instead of layoffs to cut costs, the
Zimbabwean army is making troops go on forced leave so it does not have to
feed them.

The Zimbabwean defence force has been trying to calm the waters by saying
there will be a pay rise in January and that people are taking leave due to
a use-it-or-lose-it policy. But this public relations ploy may well be too
little, too late. While the top echelons of the Zimbabwean military have
been heavily rewarded by Mugabe, who relies on their support to stay in
power, the families of more junior ranks are suffering heavily from
shortages and unemployment.

A mass crackdown on ill-discipline and the resort to forced leave are
unlikely to solve the problem. Zimbabwe's economic problems mean Mugabe can
no longer distribute patronage on the same scale to those he needs to
support. A failure to maintain army salaries in real terms in Zimbabwe is a
recipe for instability -- several state leaders on the continent have fallen
victim to coups due to such a scenario. Dissatisfaction in the military, as
well as the ongoing decline of the economy, have significant consequences
for Zimbabwe's neighbouring states, not least of which is a rising number of
refugees flooding across their borders.

The African Union and the Southern African Development Community are setting
up formal early-warning systems as part of their new architecture for peace
and security. The question is, what happens once these early warning systems
are set up and the red lights begin to flash? It's an important one, because
red lights have begun to flash in the case of Zimbabwe.

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Mugabe announces Zim senate election date


          October 07 2005 at 12:49PM

      Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has declared November 26 as
the date for elections for a new senate, state radio announced late Friday.

      An official document announcing the poll also set October 24 as the
date on which nomination courts will sit in all of the country's 10
provinces to select candidates.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has still not
decided whether to contest the elections. The MDC was opposed to
constitutional changes pushed through parliament by Mugabe's ruling party in
August that allowed for the setting up of a second upper chamber in

      The polls for 50 senators will be the second major poll this year,
following disputed parliamentary elections in March won by Mugabe's Zimbabwe
African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).

      Ten other senators will be drawn from traditional chiefs, generally
loyal to Mugabe, while the veteran Zimbabwean leader gets to appoint an
additional six senators. - Sapa-dpa

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Matakana: Fresh start

New Zealand Herald


Two Zimbabwean families are selling the market garden business they took on
when they fled to New Zealand, writes Estelle Sarney.

Home Fresh, Cnr Matakana Rd and Sharps Rd, Matakana.

The concept of receiving money in return for the sale of their property has
become a novelty for the two couples selling the Home Fresh farm near

Peter and Carolyn Beamish were moved off three farms for no return in their
native Zimbabwe, before deciding to give up their homeland to Robert
Mugabe's dictatorial government and start anew in New Zealand three years
ago. Carolyn's sister, Anne Tremlett-Johnstone and her husband Charlie, who
had also been moved off their property for no return, came with them.

"There was no hope in Zimbabwe of tertiary education for our children," says
Carolyn, "and then a friend of ours was killed. We decided that for our
children's education and our security we had to leave. It was a big upheaval
because we'd all grown up in the area in which we farmed, and had to come
out into the big world. It was a bit of shock."

This was partly why they were attracted to New Zealand, which was smaller
than Australia, and then to the small town area of Matakana and Warkworth.

"The children have settled in really well," says Carolyn, who has two at
Matakana School and one at Mahurangi College. "We've all made friends around
here. We want to stay in this area."

She and Peter farmed cattle in Africa, while Anne and Charlie grew tobacco,
maize and paprika. They put their agricultural knowledge to use by pouring
what money they had into the Home Fresh business, which produces about
63,000 lettuces a year, plus mesclun, basil, rocket and tomatoes. Carolyn
and Peter live in the comfortable weatherboard house on the property, while
Anne and Charlie have a house in Warkworth.

"We'd never grown lettuce before," says Peter, "but we got advisers in to
teach us the ropes. We're still learning things, but the basics are easy.
Hydroponics is one of the easiest ways of growing things, and it's very

A dam and a bore on the property mean there is never a problem with water
supply for a business that relies on keeping its plants' feet wet.

About a third of the families' income is made through the shop at the front
of the property, although this fluctuates throughout the year. They also
supply the Progressive supermarkets and other vegetable shops in Auckland,
and cafes and restaurants in their area.

The business is well set up to hand over - there's a seedling house, a
hothouse for the tomatoes, basil and rocket, a packhouse, several chillers
to keep different vegetables at their required temperatures, and a seeding
machine that does the week's planting in two hours.

The lettuce farm has allowed the families to find their feet in New Zealand,
but they now want to move on to other things. Anne and Charlie would like to
get into renovating houses. Carolyn and Peter aren't sure where the wind
will blow them, but it will be somewhere around their newfound home in

"We've just got our New Zealand residency," says Carolyn. "So we feel like
we belong here now."

Vital Statistics

SIZE: Land 4.7 ha, house 185sq m.

PRICE INDICATION: Interest expected above $1 million. Tender closes November

INSPECT: Sunday noon-1pm.

CONTACT: Ben and Nola Kloppers, Harveys, ph 021 425 599 or 021 425 597.

FEATURES: Hydroponic farm growing lettuce, basil, rocket, mesclun and
tomatoes for local and Auckland market. Several outbuildings including 912sq
m seedling polyhouse, 2600sq m tomato polyhouse, and packing shed. Seeding
machine. 232sq m shop on the corner of two busy roads. Comfortable
weatherboard house.

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Decision on UK deportations due next Friday

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      07 October 2005

      Judges hearing the Zimbabwe immigration case in the UK listened to
final submissions from lawyers representing the Home office and those for
the Legal Refugee Centre on Friday. They will take evidence presented by
both sides and determine whether it is safe to return failed asylum cases to

      There was a lack of medical reports and sworn statements from
Zimbabweans who were tortured upon return home because many are too afraid
to document their stories. On the other hand, the home office team that
visited Zimbabwe to investigate did not speak to many of the appropriate
organisations that have evidence of torture and harassment. A decision will
be announced next Friday that will affect all Zimbabweans applying for
asylum in the U.K.

   SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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As Economy Plummets, Zimbabwe Arrests Street Vendors

New York Times

Published: October 8, 2005
JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 7 - Against a backdrop of mounting economic collapse, the
police in Zimbabwe say they have arrested nearly 15,000 street merchants
since late September in a reprise of a campaign in May that cleared
destitute squatters and vendors from urban areas.

A tomato vendor in Harare in September had to look out for the police. A
crackdown is criminalizing one of the economy's few parts still working.

The United Nations estimates that at least 700,000 Zimbabweans were routed
from their homes and driven into rural areas during the last campaign,
dubbed "Operation Drive Out Trash." The new campaign, "Operation No Sneak
Return," is aimed at vendors who, stripped of any way to earn a living, have
tried to return to the cities to resume business.

Because the government effectively bars foreign journalists from working in
Zimbabwe, it is difficult to ascertain details of what is occurring. But
telephone interviews and reports in the nation's press indicate that this
week, riot-equipped police officers swept through some of the poorest areas,
mostly informal settlements outside major cities, and seized goods being
sold by vendors.

In a number of cases the vendors chose to fight the police - a measure, some
experts say, of the rising desperation among ordinary Zimbabweans who are
increasingly unable to buy essentials for their families.

Basic foods have been in short supply for years, and gasoline has been all
but unavailable for months. Newspapers this week reported that there was a
mosquito infestation in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city, because
the city government had no gasoline to dispatch trucks to spray breeding

The International Monetary Fund forecast this week that Zimbabwe's economy
would shrink by 7 percent this year and that inflation, now officially
pegged at 265 percent a year, would exceed 400 percent by December. Some
experts consider those figures conservative.

Perhaps most ominously, shortages of seed and fertilizer are threatening to
devastate next year's harvest.

Officials told the pro-government newspaper The Daily Mirror that the sweep
of vendors, which has resulted in 14,706 arrests, was a routine operation
that had met no more than ordinary resistance.

But telephone interviews with some Zimbabweans suggest that resistance was
more widespread. Joseph Rose, 40, lives in Tafara, an impoverished
settlement of about 100,000 on the eastern outskirts of the capital, Harare.
Paramilitary forces demolished countless homes there in May and June, and
Mr. Rose said the police were now rousting people from shopping centers and
even from homes where they had been quietly selling goods to passers-by.

"On Tuesday there came some police constabularies," he said. "They came to
arrest people, and I understand they were beaten up by the vendors at the
Kamunhu shopping center. There were three police beaten up, three of them."

The police later returned in force and arrested three men suspected of
having taken part in the beatings, he said. His report could not be
independently verified.

But The Daily Mirror and other news sources in Zimbabwe have reported that
there have been running battles between the police and some vendors in
Harare's destitute suburbs and that crowds of people have besieged some
markets where scarce commodities like sugar were rumored to be available.

Those accounts tend to bolster the suspicions of some analysts that
Zimbabweans may be running short of patience - and their government cracking
down on dissent - after years of privation and growing shortages. The Daily
Herald, considered the government's most reliable media ally, reported this
week that the campaign in May to send the urban poor into rural areas had
been ordered by President Robert G. Mugabe to head off any peasant-led
revolt like those that toppled governments in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan earlier
this year.

Mr. Mugabe's government has steadfastly argued that its campaign was a civic
beautification drive, intended to eliminate unsightly shacks and stalls from
the landscape.

But critics say the crackdown on vendors is a measure of economic
desperation, an attempt to assert state control over the underground
economy, which operates free of taxes and free of currency exchange rates,
set by the government, which have little grounding in reality.

And by any measure, it is apparent that the country's already parlous
economic situation has turned for the worse in recent months.

Recent news reports have indicated that the government is paring down the
40,000-soldier army because it is no longer able to feed the troops, and
that some soldiers have protested the absence of any raise in salary since
January despite a steep decline in the value of the Zimbabwean dollar. The
South African newspaper Business Day quoted anonymous Zimbabwean officials
as saying that some soldiers could be court-martialed for their role in the

John Robertson, an economist and onetime official of Zimbabwe's reserve bank
who is harshly critical of the government's economic policies, said in a
telephone interview on Friday that a shortage of foreign currency had all
but dried up the supply of seed, fertilizer and other basic commodities
needed to begin planting for the crops that are supposed to be harvested
next May and June.

"Even before the rains have come, we have a crop failure," he said. "It's
done a great deal to demoralize people, and made them realize that the next
year's foreign currency earnings are going to be used to buy foreign maize."

The government says the latest roundup of street vendors is aimed at
alleviating the economic crisis. It accuses the street merchants of
encouraging runaway inflation by selling goods at black-market rates.

Many of the goods that were confiscated - particularly staples like corn
meal, cooking oil, sugar, rice and soap - are all but unavailable in
Zimbabwe's stores, in part because merchants cannot obtain the foreign
currency needed to buy the products from foreign-based wholesalers. Zimbabwe
suffers a dearth of foreign currency because its shrunken economy produces
little that can be sold profitably abroad.

Mr. Robertson said a headlong decline in the Zimbabwean currency's value was
driven in part by the government, which soaked up most of the nation's
foreign exchange last month to make a payment to the International Monetary
Fund on a long overdue billion-dollar debt.

Manufacturers and merchants who needed foreign currency to buy ingredients
and other supplies outside the country were forced into a bidding war for
the few American dollars that the government had not seized, he said.

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UK Tribunal told: Zimbabwe returnees regarded spies!

October 06, 17.30 HRS BST

Zimbabweans deported home are regarded as traitors or spies by Robert Mugabe's government, a tribunal has been told.

Authorities believe returning asylum seekers are being deliberately sent back as "agents of regime change," the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal heard.

The warning came from Lawyers who are challenging the deportation of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers by the UK Government in the test case in London.

Deportations prompted hunger strikes and public protests earlier this year.

During the summer, Zimbabwean asylum seekers held in immigration removal centres launched a national hunger strike to protest against returns.

At least 50 people took part in the protest, supported by members of the Zimbabwean community and asylum campaigners.

The Home Office has rejected claims that returnees were subjected to abuse - but it suspended removals in July after Mr Justice Collins in the High Court said there was an "arguable" case that asylum seekers were at risk of ill treatment.

He ordered a stay of all cases until the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal heard a test case on the current situation in Zimbabwe.

Interrogation claims

Launching the test case, Mark Henderson of the Refugee Legal Centre told the tribunal that Home Secretary Charles Clarke had conceded that the deportees were being handed over to Zimbabwean authorities on arrival in Harare.

He said investigations had shown that returning asylum seekers were being subjected to "in-depth questioning" by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Zimbabwe's secret police.

"That is in any ordinary words interrogation," Mr Henderson told the hearing.

"It appears to be accepted in the light of the Secretary of State's evidence that there is a unique hostility towards the British State on the part of the Zimbabwe regime.

"Indeed, the evidence not only as presented by ourselves but also presented by the Secretary of State, refers to Zimbabwean authorities viewing such people as traitors, guilty of treachery and betrayal.

"Anyone who sought asylum in Britain will, at least, be at real risk of ill treatment. Mugabe believes they [the British Government] are leading an international campaign to effect regime change."

Mr Henderson said that the CIO had taken "particular interest" in flights from the UK - and a "malevolent interest" in returning asylum seekers. Some of these were regarded as "Blair's spies" or "agents of regime change", he told the tribunal.

For the Home Office, Steven Kovats said an official delegation visited Zimbabwe in September to investigate the claims of abuse.

"The Secretary of State concludes that on the totality of evidence of the field reports that failed asylum seekers as a class are not at real risk of treatment contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, nor are they at real risk of persecution," said Mr Kovats.

Some 12,000 people from Zimbabwe claimed asylum in the UK between 2002 and 2004.

The British government has described the regime there as one suffering political and social unrest that has led to death and serious injury.

According to the more recent figures, almost a fifth of Zimbabweans who appeal against a rejected asylum decision win their case.

The hearing continues.

- Reuters.

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Zimnam paper faces bleak times


      The future of Namibia's joint-venture State newspaper project with
Zimbabwe, The Southern Times, is hanging in the balance because of the
reluctance of the two countries to finance the project, writes Christof
Maletsky in The Namibian.

      Most of the close to 20 correspondents based in different countries of
the region have not been paid for the last six months, and it is not clear
how long the three permanent staff members in Windhoek will still have jobs.
      The newspaper, set up in September last year, is in the red as it
struggles to remain afloat.

      It has failed to make inroads into the regional advertising market.

      When it was set up, Namibia contributed N$1 million as a 50 per cent
shareholder, while Zimpapers pumped in N$1,4 million.

      Sources said that was the last money Zimbabwe contributed to the
project and that Namibia continued to pay the salaries of the permanent
staff for months.

      The Chairperson of the Board of The Southern Times, Vilbard Usiku,
reportedly made several trips to Zimbabwe for talks to have that country's
government pump in more funds, but it has yet to pay off.

      Usiku denied knowledge of any financial problems at The Southern

      He said whoever informed The Namibian was probably one of those who
had received the paper with scepticism and "was spreading alarm".

      "It's all a misrepresentation of facts. There are serious commitments
from both governments. If there is a change, I still have to know," he said.

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Zimbabwe admits will miss inflation target

Angola Press

Harare, Zimbabwe, 10/06 - Zimbabwe admitted Thursday it will miss a year-end
inflation target of 80 per cent, blaming it on a range of problems,
including drought and high oil prices on the international market.

Economic Development Minister Rugare Gumbo said inflation, currently
standing at 265.1 per cent, would close the year at around 260 per cent,
more than three times the projected figure.

The southern African country has been ravaged by drought, forcing it to
import huge amounts of food which, coupled with the prevailing high oil
prices, have had a heavy knock-on effect on the economy.

Originally, the government had projected a year-end inflation target of
between 50 and 80 per cent but now says it would be way off the mark.

"The annual rate of inflation, which had been targeted to come down to
between 50 and 80 per cent by year end is now projected to end the year at
around 260 per cent," Gumbo said.

He said the government would continue maintaining fiscal restraint, and use
financial support to industry in a targeted and much more discretionary way
to help fight inflation.

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Zimbabwe negotiates preferential trade accords with Angola, Iran


    2005-10-07 22:46:46

        HARARE, Oct. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwe is negotiating preferential
trade agreements with Angola, Iran and Zambia as the government seeks to
increase trade volumes and boost foreign currency inflows, a top official
said on Friday.

          "Once the rules of origin are met, our goods receive preferential
treatment such as duty free, in the territories with whom we signed trade
agreements," Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu said.

          He said the disclosure at the second annual conference of the
Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association of Zimbabwe (SFAAZ), whose theme
was "Growing Zimbabwe's Economy Through International Trade."

          The minister called on the business community to take advantage of
existing bilateral trade agreements with other countries in the region to
increase trade levels.

          Zimbabwe has already signed agreements with various countries
including Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi,
Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.

          Zimbabwe is a member of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) and Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), among

          Analysts have, however, noted that the business community is
failing to fully utilize these agreements for the economic benefit of the
southern African country.

          The minister noted that a vibrant freight-forwarding sector was
critical to complement the government efforts in the enhancement of regional
and international trade.

          "If the shipping and forwarding industry ails, the whole economy
ails, because there is lack of trust between the supplier of products and
the consumer of the product far away," he said.

          SFAAZ was a strategic partner in the country's economic turnaround
program and played an important intermediary role in the collection of
revenue by the government through payment of import duties and taxes, he

          He called for the highest degree of efficiency and honesty on the
part of freight forwarders, as unprofessionalism would be costly to the
trader and the country.

          SFAAZ is a representative body of shipping companies, freight
forwarders, customs clearing agents and transporters. Enditem

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Zimbabwe: New Global Fund Grant Approval Long Overdue - NGOs

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

October 7, 2005
Posted to the web October 7, 2005


The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has approved around
US $105 million to help boost Zimbabwe's ailing health sector.

Lynde Francis of The Centre, an AIDS NGO based in the capital, Harare,
described the move as "long overdue", and told PlusNews she welcomed the
Fund's decision.

"The approval has come at a time when the nation needs it most, especially
in light of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the population. The country has one of
the highest prevalence rates in the world," Francis said.

At least one in every four adults is estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS,
but only 20,000 HIV-positive people are reportedly receiving antiretrovirals
from public healthcare facilities.

Francis, who is also a board member of the Country Coordinating Mechanism
(CCM), the body responsible for coordinating the submission of a national
proposal for funding, said although the grant application had been approved
there were still a few outstanding issues.

"The Global Fund requirements are quite convoluted [and] great care has to
be taken in deciding how the funds would be spent. We [the CCM] have the
added task of electing the appropriate organisations to work with," she

Aid to Zimbabwe had previously been frozen by Western donors in response to
the government's controversial land reform programme, leading government
officials to believe that delays by the Global Fund were also politically

However, Jon Liden, a spokesman for the Fund, told PlusNews that a country's
internal politics had never influenced previous Fund decisions.

"Last year the Fund rejected Zimbabwe's request for US $218 million over
five years for technical reasons but, with the assistance of UNAIDS, the UN
Development Programme and some private sector concerns such as
Anglo-American, Zimbabwe was able to submit a truly high- quality proposal.
It focused on community participation and expanded access to treatment,"
Liden explained.

NGOs have also been actively calling on the global community to
differentiate between the politics and the people of Zimbabwe, especially
children affected by HIV/AIDS. The UN Children's Fund estimates that a
Zimbabwean child dies of an AIDS-related illness every 15 minutes.

The grant will be disbursed in as little as six months from now, with
anti-AIDS initiatives set to receive more than $62 million, malaria
programmes around $30 million, and more than $13 million going to tackling

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

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Zimbabwe Carries Out New Evictions in Harare Township


By Carole Gombakomba
      07 October 2005

A group of Zimbabwean human rights lawyers have asked the country's high
court to take urgent action to halt a renewed campaign by police and local
authorities to evict residents of a Harare township from shelters they
rebuilt following the government's May-July slum-clearance drive which left
hundreds of thousands homeless.

Some observers say the latest action is a resumption of Operation
Murambatsvina, or "Drive Out Trash," which was later documented in a damning
United Nations report.

Parallel to this, the country's embattled informal sector has also felt
renewed pressure with some 15,000 street vendors arrested in the past two

Witnesses said police with rifles, shields and dogs went to Tsiga Ground
Number Five, an open space originally intended for recreational activities,
and ordered families that had rebuilt shanties there to leave or see their
dwellings bulldozed.

Sources said the country's home affairs minister, the national commission of
police, and the commission governing the city of Harare were notified of the

Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with
executive director Arnold Tsunga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
who said that the appeal was lodged with the high court after a magistrate
refused to hear it.

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China demands protection for citizens in Zimbabwe

Mail and Guardian

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      07 October 2005 10:37

            China's embassy in Harare has appealed to the Zimbabwean
government to protect its nationals following the murder of a Chinese man in
the capital, a newspaper reported on Friday.

            In a statement, the embassy noted with concern that several
Chinese nationals and companies had been "plundered by armed robbers", the
state-controlled Herald reported.

            "We hope the Zimbabwean authorities [will] make thorough
investigations of these cases," said the statement following the murder of
an unnamed Chinese national outside the home of a colleague last week in the
upmarket Harare suburb of Avondale.

            "We also hope the Zimbabwean side would do something to
strengthen the security [and] protection of foreign citizens, including
Chinese nationals," said the statement.

            The embassy also urged the police to create a safe environment
that was necessary "for foreign investment and trade in Zimbabwe".

            The same report cited police sources as saying that the Chinese
man could have been killed by his own collegues due to a disagreement over
foreign currency.

            There have been several reports of Chinese nationals being held
up at gunpoint in their houses in Zimbabwe while large amounts of money and
electronic goods were stolen.

            Chinese visitors to the African country are increasing following
the government's push for more investment from the Asian economic giant.

            Flea markets and shops are awash with cheap Asian imports, many
of them from China. The Financial Gazette reported on Thursday that at least
35 local textile companies had been forced to close in the past three years
because of the competition. - Sapa-DPA

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Zimbabwe clears SA, Mozambique power debt

Business Day

Posted to the web on: 07 October 2005

HARARE - Zimbabwe's state power utility has cleared its outstanding debt
with its counterparts in South Africa and Mozambique and is now able to pay
in advance for its imports, a senior official said.

Zimbabwe imports 35% of its electricity from SA, Mozambique, Zambia and the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but has battled to pay for imports as a
result of biting foreign currency shortages.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has struggled to repair
power generation equipment over the foreign currency crunch, leading to
frequent power cuts that have disrupted industrial production as the
southern African country battles its worst economic crisis in decades.

But on Friday the official Herald newspaper quoted ZESA spokesman Obert
Nyatanga as saying the utility had cleared outstanding debts of $25m to
Eskom and $30m to Hydroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) of Mozambique after
receiving funding from the central bank.

Nyatanga said Zimbabwe was importing 650 megawatts of electricity each week
from Eskom, HCB and the Democratic Republic of Congo's Snel at between R22m
and R25m.

"The money is enough to cater for electricity importation and we actually
pay it in advance and at the moment we do not have any debts arising from
power importation," Nyatanga said.

Nyatanga and other ZESA officials were not immediately available for comment
on Friday.

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Drought tightens grip on already parched Matabeleland

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

BULAWAYO, 7 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - Persistent water shortages in Zimbabwe's
second city, Bulawayo, have forced local authorities to deploy bowsers in
several high-density townships to ease the situation.

Water rationing has also intensified, with each household being allowed only
60 litres a day. An average bath takes 50 to 150 litres.

Parts of Bulawayo have been without water for the past two months, mainly
because two of its major dams have dried up, leaving the city with the
option of two other sources that authorities fear are also fast running low.

While the municipality blames poor rainfall for the shortages, it has also
chided the central government for failing to take decisive action to solve
the city's recurrent water woes.

Matabeleland, a vast region in southern Zimbabwe where Bulawayo is located,
has been dogged by chronic drought that has affected both water supplies and
food security. The city's executive mayor, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, described
the situation as "dire and most unfortunate".

"The problem is far beyond our control, and what we are waiting for is the
rains. The real issue is that our major sources, Upper Ncema and Umzingwane
dams, have gone dry because of the ongoing drought," Ndabeni-Ncube told

"We have, however, done all we can as a municipality to alleviate the
situation, but still the water is not adequate," he said.

Last week the situation deteriorated further as bowsers failed to provide
water because the municipal fleet had no fuel, forcing many township
dwellers to negotiate with borehole owners, who hiked prices by charging Zim
$20,000 (around US 10 cents) for a bucket of water.

Residents complained because they were forced to use the nearby bushes as

"Our toilet is stinking and we are also dirty because there is no water. We
can no longer afford to bath; it's very unhygienic. What makes the situation
more unbearable is that it is summer time and the sun is very hot. We just
pray that there is no outbreak of diseases," said resident Anastasia Dube.

Last week the local authorities finished drilling 22 boreholes in the city's
outlying areas, which provide an additional 300 cubic metres a day.
Bulawayo's population of slightly over a million people usually consumes
140,000 cubic metres a day but at the moment the city is only getting 90,000
cubic metres.

An engineer with the Ministry of Water Resources, who wished not to be
named, said Matabeleland's water problems could only be addressed by
implementing the Matabeleland-Zambezi Water Project, an ambitious pipeline
scheme for obtaining water from the Zambezi River to supply towns in the
perennially dry region.

The project was first mooted by the former colonial government over a
century ago but was quickly shelved due to high costs. President Robert
Mugabe's government also had a go at implementing the scheme but has been
hamstrung by lack of funds.

It would take a whopping Zim $500 billion - way beyond the coffers of the
government, which is battling high inflation and a critical shortage of
foreign exchange.

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