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Think-tank wants SADC to squeeze Mugabe on reforms

Zim Online

Tuesday 18 September 2007

Own Correspondent

JOHANNESBURG  - The International Crisis Group (ICG) says the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) must use its leverage to ensure
credible elections next year in Zimbabwe, including the reinstatement of
voting rights to Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.

The Belgian-based think-tank said SADC should use current South
African-mediated Zimbabwe crisis talks and a possible economic rescue
package for Harare to seek concessions from President Robert Mugabe on the
constitution and "related legislative and regulatory measures that permit
free and fair elections".

Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party is locked up in talks with the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) aimed at resolving a seven-year-old
political and economic crisis.

"SADC should use its leverage and extend the desperately needed aid package
to and ask the West to lift its sanctions - such as they are - only in
exchange for full ZANU PF cooperation with the mediation process and
implementation of reforms that will allow free and fair elections as early
as possible in 2008," said ICG in a new report released on Tuesday and
titled Zimbabwe: A Regional Solution?

ICG said SADC must be prepared to isolate Mugabe in the event the Zimbabwean
leader, 83 and in power since independence from Britain 27 years ago, again
became the stumbling block to an amicable resolution of the crisis.

Mugabe has used the lifting of a Western travel ban and asset freeze against
himself and more than 100 of his lieutenants to refuse to talk to the
opposition, which he accuses of working with his enemies in a scheme meant
to effect an illegal regime change in Zimbabwe.

He is understood to be against a SADC economic rescue plan for Zimbabwe,
fearing a Western hand in the regional package desperately needed by his
country where more than 80 percent of the people are living in abject
poverty and inflation is more than 7 600 percent, the highest in the world.

One of the concessions suggested by ICG is the repeal of controversial laws
such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Voluntary Organisations Act.

Mugabe's government has since 2002 selectively used the AIPPA and POSA
legislations to stifle democratic space in the country.

Enacted in March 2002, AIPPA is among the harshest media laws in the world,
providing for the imprisonment of journalists for two years for practising
in the country without licence from the state-appointed Media and
Information Commission.

The POSA legislation has regularly been invoked to deny the opposition its
democratic right to organize political meetings.

ICG called for the introduction of a non-partisan and independent electoral
commission, which should be merged with the Election Supervisory Commission,
the Registrar General's Office and the Electoral Delimitation Commission.

The four bodies are currently separate entities, with overlapping

Mugabe must agree to the repeal of provisions of the Electoral Commission
Act, particularly those that allow the secondment of military, police and
prison service personnel for election tasks, ICG said.

Other reforms must include an audit of the voters' roll by the non-partisan
electoral commission to weed out ghost voters as well as introduction of a
new electoral law.

The report also spelt out a role for the international community, including
a public undertaking to support efforts to rebuild the comatose Zimbabwean
economy once the crisis is over as well as "refraining from statements
undermining that initiative".

The ICG report was released as it emerged that opposition MDC legislators
were today expected to support a controversial constitutional amendment
following drastic changes made to the original document by their negotiators
at the SADC-initiated talks being brokered by South African President Thabo

Authoritative sources said legislators from both the Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara formations of the MDC would today support Constitutional
Amendment Number 18 provided Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa tables the
Bill together with the agreed amendments before the lower House of

The opposition had previously objected to the amendment, which they said was
being used to strengthen Mugabe's hold on power by allowing ZANU PF to elect
his successor as state president internally without going for a popular
vote. - ZimOnline

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MDC to back heavily watered down controversial Bill

Zim Online

Tuesday 18 September 2007

By Batsirayi Murenje

HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party will back a controversial amendment Bill that will be tabled in
Parliament today following drastic changes made to the original document,
ZimOnline has learnt.

Both factions of the MDC had in the past promised to fiercely oppose
Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 18, arguing that President Robert
Mugabe wanted to use the new law to deal with his own succession issue
within the ruling ZANU PF party.

Authoritative sources within both factions of the MDC told ZimOnline last
night that the opposition would support the Bill following significant
changes that were agreed to at the ongoing President Thabo Mbeki-led talks
between the opposition and ZANU PF.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa is expected to table the amended Bill
before Parliament today.

Chinamasa and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche are representing ZANU
PF at the Pretoria talks while the MDC factions are being represented by
Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti.

"We will support the Bill today in the spirit of what we agreed at the
talks," said a senior official of the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC who is
familiar with the developments.

"As long as the agreed amendments are tabled, we will support the Bill in
line with the negotiations that are currently taking place," said the
official who requested to remain anonymous.

ZimOnline understands that the Bill will be heavily watered down following
presentations made by the MDC at the Pretoria talks.

The MDC negotiators are said to have agreed to constitutional amendments
after it emerged that a new, democratic people-driven constitution could not
be put in place before the next elections that are tentatively set for

The Bill that will be tabled today will include the complete synchronisation
of all elections including local government and mayoral elections that ZANU
PF wanted to be held separately in January 2008.

The MDC negotiators insisted on a synchronization arguing that ZANU PF
wanted to use the polls as a barometer of the national mood before critical
parliamentary and presidential polls two months later.

The new Bill will also see the complete removal of the President's right to
nominate non-constituent Members of Parliament (MPs), with all MPs being
directly elected by the people.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which will deal with delimitation
of constituencies, will be the sole body responsible for the voters' roll
and voter registration. The ZEC will also have powers to produce ward-based
voters' rolls.

Both Nelson Chamisa and Gabriel Chaibva, the spokespersons of the two MDC
factions could not be reached for comment on the matter.

But ZimOnline reliably understands that Mbeki impressed upon Tsvangirai and
Mutambara, who were in South Africa over the weekend, to support the amended
Bill and the far-reaching electoral reforms to be announced soon while a
parallel process for a new, democratic constitution is being mooted for
future elections. - ZimOnline

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Mugabe's spokesman orders partial media blackout on Mujuru

Zim Online

Tuesday 18 September 2007

By Farisai Gonye

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's spokesman has ordered state media editors
to impose a partial blackout on Vice President Joice Mujuru, whose camp
within the ruling ZANU-PF party has been actively seeking the veteran
leader's ouster, ZimOnline established yesterday.

Authoritative sources told ZimOnline that George Charamba summoned top
editors from Harare-based state media last Thursday and ordered a blackout
on Mujuru and her known allies.

Editors of the state media's print flagship The Herald, its sister The
Sunday Mail as well as the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation attended the
meeting held at Charamba's Munhumutapa offices.

The presidential spokesman tightly controls state media entities because of
his position and closeness to Mugabe.

The sources said Charamba, who is also permanent secretary in the Ministry
of Information and Publicity, told the editors that they should amplify
support for Mugabe's candidature in next year's watershed presidential

"We were told to bring to the limelight the fact that most party organs
support Mugabe's candidature," said an editor who attended the meeting but
spoke on condition he was not named.

The editor said Charamba was emphatic that the Mujuru faction should be
blocked out from news coverage.

"Mujuru herself would have her coverage reduced to a bare minimum. We can't
completely ignore her because she is the vice-president," the editor said.

Charamba was not available for comment. His boss, Information Minister
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu refused to comment on the matter yesterday, insisting that
he did not attend the meeting.

"I don't even know that my secretary had a meeting with editors recently,"
said Ndlovu, a Mugabe loyalist.

The partial blackout is seen as part of the bitter internal infighting in
ZANU PF over who will succeed Mugabe.

Mujuru and her husband, retired army general Solomon Mujuru, lead a ZANU PF
faction that is vigorously pushing for Mugabe's retirement.

The faction has on two occasions since last year successfully blocked
Mugabe's efforts to win endorsement as the ZANU-PF candidate for next year's
presidential election, forcing the necessity of a special ZANU PF congress
in December to settle the matter.

Another faction led by Rural Housing and Social Amenities Minister Emmerson
Mnangagwa and supported by war veterans, has thrown its hat in with Mugabe,
hoping for a swap deal.

The state media has of late given acres of space to war veterans and other
pro-Mugabe party organs such as the ZANU PF Youth League and Women's League.

"Charamba also ordered that we should slow down on our criticism of
under-performing parastatals. He mentioned that we should give more positive
coverage to ZINWA (Zimbabwe National Water Authority) and ZESA (Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority) to protect the government's image," the source

ZINWA has come under fire recently for water shortages being experienced
across the country following its take-over of water and sewerage operations
of city councils.

ZESA has failed to maintain a constant supply of power to keep industries
going, citing shortages of foreign currency to buy spares and import

Charamba is also understood to have asked the state editors to do damage
control on current shortages of basic commodities.

Zimbabwe is facing acute shortages of most commodities following an
ill-conceived decision by the government to impose a freeze on price
increases last June. - ZimOnline

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Troubled Zimbabwe bank fails to reimburse depositors

Zim Online

Tuesday 18 September 2007

By Justin Mutasa

HARARE - Zimbabwe's NMB Bank Limited has failed to reimburse
depositors their funds four months after the central bank revoked the bank's
foreign currency trading licence, raising fears the bank had hit a cash

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) on May 15 cancelled NMB's foreign
currency dealership licence after discovering that US$4.79 million in
depositors' funds had been siphoned out of the country by a senior treasury

NMB is one of the banks that were hit by a liquidity crunch that saw
the closing of indigenous banks in 2004 after RBZ chief Gideon Gono cracked
the whip on errant financial institutions, most of which were trading
foreign currency on the black market.

Forensic auditors have since discovered NMB lost more than US$6.3

"We are working flat out to give clients their money," a senior NMB
manager told ZimOnline.

"The money should already have been reimbursed but after discovering
the magnitude of the fraud was bigger than initially thought, it will now
take more time to settle depositors' funds," the official said.

In July, NMB wrote to its clients that it would inform them by August
15 on when it would settle the arrears.

But until last Friday, the bank had yet to communicate to depositors.

Bank officials say despite the cash crunch, the bank had also fallen
victim to bureaucracy between the central bank and the Finance Ministry.

But depositors are angry and fear they could lose their money, in a
move reminiscent of the collapse of Trust Bank Limited, which saw foreign
currency account holders given the equivalent of their money in shares
calculated using the official exchange rate.

"I am disappointed because I had a bit of savings in the bank and now
I am beginning to doubt I will get my money," said one depositor, who
refused to be identified but said he had US$3,600 stuck in the bank.

NMB chief executive David Hatendi was unavailable for comment while
officials at the bank referred all questions to the RBZ and police fraud

The bank management however hopes that negotiations with an unnamed
suitor to pump in about US$7 million would enable NMB to settle with

Reports suggest financial group ABC Holdings is the suitor seeking a
stake in NMB.

Questions have been asked on how the bank could have been defrauded
without raising suspicion even from top management.

The alleged fraudster Shane Mandara, who skipped the country earlier
this year, is said to have made several transfers from NMB from abroad
without being caught.

Internal and external auditors also failed to detect the scam at the
time, raising the possibility that the fraud was a well-orchestrated inside

Eyebrows have also been raised as no official at the bank has been

In 2002, the RBZ withdrew NMB's foreign currency licence but later
restored it after the bank paid a penalty.

NMB directors then argued they were not the only ones flogging foreign
currency on the thriving parallel market as this was an industry-wide trend
and that the RBZ was actually buying hard cash on the outlawed market.

Zimbabwe is battling a crunch shortage of foreign currency, which has
paralysed industry and government operations.

The Zimbabwe dollar, which officially trades at $30 000 to the US
dollar, now fetches ten times the amount on the illegal parallel market. -

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Labour officials beaten, abducted ahead of strike

Zim Online

Tuesday 18 September 2007

By Patricia Mpofu

HARARE - Three members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) were
on Monday severely assaulted and later abducted by suspected state security
agents for distributing fliers urging workers to join a labour organised
two-day protest that begins tomorrow.

ZCTU spokesperson Khumbulani Ndlovu said the three union officials were
severely beaten and later taken to an unknown destination by people
suspected to be Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives.

"Three officials from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions have been
abducted after being heavily beaten up by suspected CIO operatives in
Harare's Workington industrial areas," said Ndlovu.

The ZCTU spokesperson identified the three as Michael Kandukutu, the labour
federation's national organiser, Tennyson Muchepfa, from the National
Engineering Workers Union, and another member only identified as Mucheni,
from the Food Federation, both affiliates of the ZCTU.

"The ZCTU is working flat out to locate where they have been taken and ZCTU
lawyers have been informed (about this development,)" Ndlovu said.

The assault and abduction came just two days before the labour federation
embarked on a two-day mass protest to force President Robert Mugabe's
government to address an eight-year economic crisis that has seen most
workers struggle to put food on the table.

Ndlovu said the abduction would not dissuade the union from forging ahead
with the planned job protest.

"The strike is still going ahead on Wednesday and Thursday," she said.

Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka said he was not aware of the matter
when contacted for comment last night.

"I will look into the issue and then get back to you," said Mandipaka.

Human rights groups and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
party have in the past accused CIO agents of beating up and abducting Mugabe's
political opponents.

Several ZCTU leaders including the union's secretary general Wellington
Chibebe were last September severely assaulted after they attempted to lead
street protests in Harare over the worsening economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean government defended the crackdown, accusing the ZCTU
officials of working with Western powers to effect illegal regime change in
the troubled southern African country. - ZimOnline

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State agents sniff out trouble-makers at ZIMRA

Zim Online

Tuesday 18 September 2007

By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri

HARARE - The Zimbabwean government has deployed state secret agents at the
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) following last week's strike by workers
demanding a 500 percent salary increment, ZimOnline has learnt.

The industrial action that paralysed operations at the country's borders,
ended last Friday after management promised to honour workers' demands for a
salary hike.

Workers who spoke to ZimOnline on Monday said there was now a climate of
fear among employees after the deployment of Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) operatives to sniff out "trouble makers."

"We knew all along that there would be a secret agent among us but since
last week's strike, one new person was recruited in almost all departments.

"We are not happy with this new arrangement as there is now a lot of
mistrust among the workers," said a worker who refused to be named for fear
of victimisation.

ZIMRA boss Gershem Pasi yesterday denied that the parastatal had recruited
CIO agents to monitor and intimidate workers.

"ZIMRA is not a small organisation and people are changed from one post to
another and you cannot tell me that every person would know the new people
at every point," said Pasi.

"We know the people spreading such rumours. The people peddling these lies
are the very people who led last week's strike," he said.

Pasi said the parastatal had "amicably resolved last week's
 misunderstanding" after the workers were promised a "reasonable" salary
hike following their demands.

ZimOnline could not immediately verify yesterday how much ZIMRA had promised
to pay the striking workers.

Sources that attended the meeting that broke the impasse told ZimOnline that
the parastatal had indicated that it was not in a position to accede to
workers' demands for a 500 percent salary.

ZIMRA argued that a controversial government price blitz that began last
June had seriously affected revenue collection at the country's borders,
leaving the parastatal in a weak position to offer meaningful salary

Last week's strike plunged operations at the country's border posts into
chaos and crippled revenue collection for the cash-starved Harare

Analysts say Zimbabwe could be headed for stormy times as workers in the
private and public sectors pressure employers to pay more money to cushion
them from a severe economic crisis that has seen inflation zoom beyond 7 600
percent, the highest in the world. - ZimOnline

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Leading article: The Archbishop is on the right track

Independent, UK

Published: 18 September 2007

Does the Archbishop of York know something we don't? How else to explain his
apparent confidence that the Prime Minister is preparing to make "some kind
of response" to the fast deteriorating situation in that country. An
announcement could be made as early as this week.

The tentative way in which the news came out suggests ground being carefully
prepared. The Archbishop, John Sentamu, disclosed that he had had a
conversation with the Prime Minister about Zimbabwe and urged him to lead an
international campaign against President Mugabe's regime. All the signs are
that, far from exerting unwelcome pressure, Dr Sentamu was knocking at an
open door.

We hope that he was, and we hope that his tentative prediction about a
toughening of British policy turns out to be true. As Southern Rhodesia,
Zimbabwe was, after all, a British colony. We oversaw the - delayed -
transition to majority rule, and we helped establish the institutions that
Robert Mugabe has so successfully subverted.

There was a time, before Zimbabwe was expelled from the Commonwealth in
2002, when British ministers and diplomats deliberately held back from
criticising Mr Mugabe and the increasingly autocratic way he ran Zimbabwe.
They feared, not unreasonably, that their condemnation would be held up as
an example of "imperialist" interference and perversely help to keep Mr
Mugabe in office.

In those days the preference was for a Commonwealth solution - in which
Britain would be just one member of an international collective urging
change. This policy foundered, however, when Mr Mugabe failed to change his
ways. And the downside of Zimbabwe's expulsion was that the Commonwealth
lost any leverage it had previously had.

Thereafter, an African solution was preferred. The particular hope was that
the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, would be persuaded to constrict
Zimbabwe's economic lifeline. Regrettably, his sense of African and
anti-colonial solidarity trumped his sense of justice. While South Africa
now shoulders much of the refugee burden from Zimbabwe, Mr Mbeki must also
share blame for the dire straits in which the country finds itself today.

The argument against tougher action, including stricter sanctions, was
always that it would be Zimbabwe's poorest who would suffer most. Now, as
the Archbishop of York argues, it is hard to see that sanctions could make
daily life any worse for ordinary Zimbabweans. Sanctions targeted against
the elite - including, for instance, restrictions on the number of diplomats
in Western capitals, as Dr Sentamu suggests - would be a start. It is high
time that Britain took a stand.

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'Stop this nonsense'

Mail and Guardian

Mail & Guardian reporter

17 September 2007 11:59

      Stiff challenges to President Robert Mugabe's controversial
economic policies are now coming from within his own party. In a move that
is likely to rankle Mugabe, his own legislators on Wednesday summoned the
Deputy Minister for Industry and International Trade, Phenias Chihota, to a
ruling Zanu-PF party caucus meeting where he was told to "revise his price
controls'' and stop "disruption [to] business".

      "Next we want to meet not just the minister, but also the
Cabinet task force of price controls and monitoring," said a Zanu-PF
legislator from Manicaland province, who declined to be named.

      "We are likely to lose next year's elections if they don't
revise their policies. There is nothing on the shelves; people are going for
days without bread, cooking oil, even sugar and soft drinks," he fumed.

      The heated meeting, which lasted four hours, saw at least 10
legislators severely criticising the deputy minister.

      Among the most outspoken legislators were Masvingo Province
Senator Dzikamai Mavhaire, the Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Walter
Mzembi, Zanu-PF chief whip Joram Gumbo and Deputy Minister for Local
Government Morris Sakabuya.

      "We told him they should go back to the drawing board; companies
are closing down and people are losing jobs. This nonsense should stop and
we are listening to what the people are saying," an anonymous MP said.

      Mugabe has told Parliament in the past that multinationals were
trying to effect a regime change by increasing prices of basic food
commodities to foment civil unrest.

      More than a thousand business people and company executives have
been arrested and sentenced to community service for defying price controls.

      Zanu-PF parliamentarians fear that current shortages will make
their lives difficult in the forthcoming presidential, parliamentary and
municipal elections campaign.

      Already, the party is battling to raise close to US$700 000 to
oil its campaign machinery, which requires more than 100 vehicles, over 500
000 shirts, computers, and food and fuel.

      "We can't take the risk of losing elections by keeping quiet,"
the parliamentary source said.

      "The risks are high. Many feel they may be voted out in the
elections because [of] the shortages and the looming food crisis," he added.

      While Mugabe maintains his government is a victim of
international sanctions, economists in Zimbabwe say the crisis is man-made.

      Presenting his US$142-million supplementary budget last week,
Finance Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the "withdrawal of
international lines of credit, absence of balance of payments support,
disinvestment by foreign firms, [lack of] foreign currency for the
importation of raw materials, equipment, fuel and electricity continue to
affect the operations of key sectors of the economy".

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Zimbabwe Ruling Party, Opposition To Brief Parliament On Pretoria-Brokered Talks


By Blessing Zulu
17 September 2007

After nearly six months of halting discussions, Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF
party and both factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
will brief lawmakers on Tuesday on the progress of the South
African-mediated negotiations.

ZANU-PF sources said Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, representing the
ruling party, will open the briefing, followed by Thokozane Khupe, vice
president of the MDC faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai, and finally
Welshman Ncube, secretary general of the MDC faction led by Arthur

Chinamasa is also expected to unveil changes to the constitutional amendment
which the ruling party tabled in parliament last week, and which has moved
to center stage in the discussions given that it could significantly affect
the electoral dispensation.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, named by the Southern African
Development Community in March to mediate the Zimbabwe crisis, reportedly
met with Tsvangirai and Mutambara on the weekend to brief them about the

Ncube confirmed that the meeting took place but declined to provide further
details, saying the discussions were confidential. But sources in Pretoria
told VOA that the two opposition leaders voiced concern about the timing of
the proposed changes to the constitution, given the proximity of March 2008
presidential and general elections.

But ZANU-PF and MDC representatives have reportedly been meeting daily in
Harare, briefing briefing Pretoria every three weeks. Mr. Mbeki was said to
be scheduled to meet with non-governmental organizations for their further
input in the talks.

Some civic groups remain skeptical about the usefulness of the talks.

Executive Director Arnold Tsunga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
among the NGO leaders consulted by Mr. Mbeki, said he is worried that the
views of ordinary Zimbabweans and human rights won't weigh enough in an
eventual deal.

Cape Town-based political analyst Glen Mpani told reporter Blessing Zulu
that it is significant Mr. Mbeki met with the principal players in the

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Zimbabwe police held for dealing in diamonds


     September 18 2007 at 01:01AM

Harare - Seventeen police officers have been arrested in eastern
Zimbabwe for dealing in diamonds at a site they were supposed to have
protected, state television reported on Monday.

Ten of the arrested officers, who were apprehended while guarding the
diamond field, have already been convicted under the Police Act, said the

The arrests took place September 15 at the Chiadzwa diamond field in
the eastern Marange district, said the report.

Three of the officers were found in possession of 30 pieces of
diamonds on arrest, said the report quoting police spokesperson Oliver

The others were found in possession of money believed to have been
received as bribes from illegal diamond miners.

Chiadzwa has been the site of a diamond rush since late last year when
President Robert Mugabes government revoked a claim to the area by an
international mining firm.

Thousands of Zimbabweans, including impoverished peasant farmers
joined the frenzied search for the gems causing massive environmental damage
and fuelling rampant smuggling and dealing in diamonds with buyers from as
far away as Asia.

The government then stepped in, fencing off a large area of the
diamond field that was put under police protection. But locals complained
police were involved in illegal deals.

The officers have not yet been sentenced.

Earlier this year the government tightened regulations that place a
mandatory five-year jail term on anyone found dealing in diamonds.

This month Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi revealed that Zimbabwe,
which is strapped for hard currency was losing up to $50-million worth of
precious minerals like diamonds every month to rampant smuggling.

Reports this weekend said the state-run Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation (ZMDC) had finally begun full-scale commercial mining in
Marange's diamond fields. - Sapa-dpa

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Demonstration in solidarity with ZCTU


Demonstration in solidarity with ZCTU - Thursday 20th Sept 12-2 pm outside
the Zimbabwe Embassy, London
We have had a special request from ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa) for
Vigil support for this demonstration so please join them outside the
Zimbabwe Embassy, London on Thursday between 12 and 2 pm. More information
about the demo below.

Vigil co-ordinators
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.

Dear all,

The ZCTU has announced National Actions on the 19th and 20th of September in
response to a Presidential decree that has frozen all wages for six months
despite having signed the Prices and Incomes Stabilization Protocol on 1st
June 2007. ZCTU members will hold 2 nationwide stayaways on these days and
have withdrawn from the Tripartite Negotiation Forum until the Presidential
powers used to issue the order have been clarified.

ACTSA and the TUC are urging supporters to stand in solidarity with ZCTU by
taking to the streets in support of their struggle. There will be a
demonstration outside the Zimbabwean Embassy, The Strand at 12-2pm on
Thursday 20th September to mirror the stayaway taking place in Zimbabwe and
in protest of the deepening crisis for Zimbabwean workers. Please let us
know if you can make it by sending a quick email to We
really hope that you can make it!

In solidarity,


Simon Chase
Campaigns Officer

Action for Southern Africa
231 Vauxhall Bridge Road

T: 020 3263 2001
F: 020 7931 9398

 £10 can provide Zimbabwean women with essential sanitary protection for a
year. Visit

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Detained Zimbabwe Human Rights Activists Fined For Disorderly Conduct


      By Jonga Kandemiiri
      17 September 2007

Eleven members of the newly formed Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe were
released Monday, after spending three nights in police cells for
demonstrating against the economic hardships and police brutality.

The members were expected to appear in court Monday, but police instead
released them after making each of them pay a Z$40,000 fine for disorderly

Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe was formed three months ago to champion
human rights issues and claims to have a following of more than 1,000
members across the country

The group's Vice President Stan Zvorwadza told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that their members were severely beaten up by
police, and that they intend to sue.

Zvorwadza vowed to press on with protests despite the arrests and police
brutality on their members.

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VIEW: Retiring Mugabe -Aryeh Neier

Daily Times, Pakistan

 The obvious way for Mugabe to leave at age 83 would be to announce that he
has changed his mind about running again in the presidential election now
scheduled for March 2008

At least for purposes of public consumption, southern Africa's political
leaders continue to stand by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, despite his
country's ever-deepening economic crisis, which is directly attributable to
his tyrannical rule. Indeed, years of economic mismanagement have produced
an unemployment rate of 80%, with annual inflation nearing 5,000%.

Though Zimbabwe was once known as "the breadbasket of Africa," many of its
citizens now go hungry and depend on international food donations for
survival. About 3,000 people flee the country every day, often risking their
lives when crossing the crocodile-infested Limpopo River - celebrated in
Kipling's tale of "How the Elephant Got Its Trunk" - and scaling a border
fence to enter South Africa.

By now, emigration is more than three million, about a quarter of the
population. Yet when Mugabe was introduced at the most recent meeting of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Zambia's capital, Lusaka,
his fellow heads of state heartily applauded him.

There are reports that, behind the scenes, things are different. South
African President Thabo Mbeki is said to be trying to negotiate a way for
Mugabe to leave the scene. Yet there have been similar rumours before, and
it is difficult to know whether Mbeki and the other southern African leaders
are finally willing to tell Mugabe that he must go. Up to now, paying their
respects to him as a revolutionary leader, and catering to his megalomania,
has been more important to them than alleviating the suffering of Zimbabwe's

The obvious way for Mugabe to leave at age 83 would be to announce that he
has changed his mind about running again in the presidential election now
scheduled for March 2008. Of course, should Mugabe stand down, a fair
election next March probably would not be possible. The political opposition
would have little capacity to organise an effective campaign in an
environment in which Mugabe has shut down independent media, rewritten
electoral rules, and used the police to pummel - literally - his

So a period of transition would be required for a proper election to be
organised under the auspices of the SADC, with support from the African
Union, Europe, and the United States, in order to get a fair result and
launch a recovery process. Yet, given the brief period that remains until
the scheduled election, an announcement is required soon if a fair result is
to be achieved and a recovery process launched to halt the country's slide
into chaos.

A big factor in any timetable for Zimbabwe's rescue is Thabo Mbeki's tenure.
He has just over a year-and-a-half to go to complete his second and final
five-year term as South Africa's president. In certain respects, he has been
a success. Under his leadership, South African's multiracial democracy has
been consolidated, and, in dramatic contrast to neighbouring Zimbabwe, its
economy is flourishing.

Yet Mbeki's achievement is severely marred by two failures. Domestically,
his poor performance in addressing South Africa's HIV/AIDS epidemic will
ensure that he is judged harshly. Internationally, his record is stained by
his lack of leadership up to now in dealing with Zimbabwe.

Nevertheless, even at this late date, Mbeki has a chance to salvage a good
part of his reputation by taking the lead in organising a transition in
Zimbabwe. But, given the amount of time a transition will take, he must act

Even when a transition does take place in Zimbabwe, the crisis will not be
over. The country has been so devastated by the Mugabe regime that
substantial international engagement will be required to put it back on its
feet. For now, however, the SADC should, at long last, tell Mugabe that he
must step aside, and it should take responsibility for managing an electoral
process whose result Zimbabweans will recognise as fair, thereby providing
the legitimacy needed for recovery to begin. -DT-PS

Aryeh Neier, the president of the Open Society Institute and a founder of
Human Rights Watch, is the author most recently of Taking Liberties: Four
Decades in the Struggle for Rights

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Mhlanga plots fresh confrontation with Mugabe

New Zimbabwe

By Torby Chimhashu
Last updated: 09/18/2007 09:24:39
ZIMBABWE's leading playwright Cont Mdladla Mhlanga has launched a new
movement, which he says is aimed at promoting protest arts.

The movement - Voices For Change - will be officially opened at Amakhosi
Cultural Centre in Bulawayo on October 12.

In an interview, Mhlanga said Voices For Change is the final artistic
assault on the government, which he accused of shutting out all dissenting

Said Mhlanga: "Voices For Change is not just a forum but a movement that
aims at promoting protest art in all art forms and creative disciplines from
the 12th of October 2007 when it is officially launched at Amakhosi Cultural
Centre until our concerns are addressed by government.

"People no longer have a voice in Zimbabwe. Media is tightly controlled by
the government. The only independent radios operate over short-wave
frequency, only for a few hours and it is expensive to find a receiver.

"The weekly independent papers are prohibitively expensive, while the
national television station is controlled by the government. Silence and
fear have replaced dialogue and discussion in Zimbabwe and a new movement is
needed to restore a voice to the people of Zimbabwe."

The pencil slim Amakhosi director says as artistes in Zimbabwe, they have a
duty to restore the voice of the people through song, dance, plays,
storytelling and other art forms.

Voices For Change, said Mhlanga, will give artistes the platform to
empathise with people's daily struggles, and inspire them to find their
voices as well as speak out against their oppressors.

Mhlanga said the movement is aimed at breaking fear and fight for access to
the media.

He added: "Fear in Zimbabwe has risen to alarming proportions to the benefit
of the government. It is a way of suppressing the majority to organise
themselves to change the difficult conditions that the government has
created for them.

"The voices or shall I say the whispers of those that have a different
thought or a different opinion to that of government are not allowed to
access daily newspapers or 24/7 radio and television channels.

"No-one in Zimbabwe is allowed by the state to access mass media to talk
about and express the conditions in which they live in, let alone discuss
the causes of the conditions.

"You are allowed to discuss only two issues: those that have nothing to do
with the difficult conditions the majority of Zimbabweans find themselves
in; or those that support the view of the government."

Fresh from a successful tour of the United States where he penned a deal
that saw his play Members being accepted on US television channels, Mhlanga
promised more fireworks.

He said his banned play - The Good President - would make a welcome return
to Bulawayo as he is prepared to fight for the right to be heard.

The Good President was banned when armed police stormed the Bulawayo
Amphitheatre where Mhlanga and his crew had planned to premiere the play
said to be critical of President Robert Mugabe and his government.

The play re-visited the assaults of MDC faction leaders Morgan Tsvangirai
and Arthur Mutambara who were among a group of civic leaders bludgeoned by
the riot police in the poor township of Highfield in March.

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Zimbabweans Turn to Cheaper Herbal Remedies As AIDS Drug Costs Soar


      By Carole Gombakomba
      17 September 2007

Like every other necessity of life in Zimbabwe, life-saving antiretroviral
drugs have soared in price, leading many who cannot afford them to turn to
herbal treatments.

HIV/AIDS activists say the rising cost of ARVs despite government-ordered
price freezes has put the lives of many HIV-positive individuals on the
line. They estimate that staying on triple-combination ARV therapy for one
month now costs up as much as Z$25 million (US$75) compared with about Z$12
million two months ago.

Thus some people living with HIV/AIDS say they have stopped taking ARVs in
favor of the cheaper traditional Gundamiti herb, which costs under Z$2
million a month.

Though some medical doctors express skepticism as to the effectiveness of
the herbal concoction, some people living with HIV who are taking the herbal
treatment say their CD4 count - reflecting immune system strength - has gone
up markedly.

Program Officer Martha Tholanah of the Zimbabwe AIDS Network reporter Carole
Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the rising cost of ARVs
stands to have a serious negative impact on the lives of those living with

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JAG - Free help seminar for farming community



“Living with Hope”

Farmers and their families are invited to a one day seminar entitled “Living
with Hope”.

This will take place on Wednesday 19th September rom 9am to 4pm at the
Dominican Convent Harare.  Entry via Selous gate.

Father Robert Igo who is a trained psychologist and therapist as well as
being a Benedictine Monk and Prior at Christ the Word Monastery at Monte
Casino Mission will facilitate this.

This is the second seminar along this line, those who attended the first day
found it helpful and empowering. The morning session will concentrate on
understanding how we react to situations and the afternoon session will help
teach coping strategies.

This day is aimed at assisting us in dealing with trauma, stress and also
looking positively forward.

There is no charge for the day but teas and biscuits will be offered at
reasonable cost.  Please arrange to bring your own packed lunch.

I can strongly recommend this day.

Ben Gilpin

Please register with JAG via email or phone.

Telephone numbers: 799410 or 730507
Email: or

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