The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Zimbabwe to Throw Out Thousands of Land Seizure Challenges

18 September 2005

Robert Mugabe (file photo)
Robert Mugabe (file photo)
Zimbabwe is preparing to nullify thousands of legal challenges by white farmers who had their land seized under the country's controversial land reform program.

A report in Zimbabwe's Sunday Mail newspaper says authorities will file court papers Monday to officially end the litigation under a new constitutional amendment that nationalizes all seized farms and bans any legal challenges.

An official in the attorney general's office says 4,000 cases pending before the courts will be nullified.

President Robert Mugabe began the land seizures in 2000 and transferred ownership to landless blacks.  Mr. Mugabe says the land seizures were necessary to correct ownership imbalances created under British colonial rule.  But critics say the program has been a failure and has led to the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy.

Some information for this story provided by Reuters and AFP.

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ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe has launched a virulent attack on Britain and the United States at the UN General Assembly, accusing them of "state terrorism" over the Iraq war.

Mr Mugabe, whose relations with Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, have been frosty for years, also accused London of "abusing its privilege and acting dishonestly" for raising his government's slum demolition campaign in the UN Security Council.

"Is it not obvious that Britain, under the regime of Tony Blair, has ceased to respect the charter of the United Nations?" President Mugabe asked.

"Witness its being a principal member of the anti-Iraq illegal coalition that went on a devastating campaign of the country in complete defiance of the United Nations Charter.

"Any state or group of states that commits such an act of aggression on another, justifying it on blatant falsehoods, surely becomes guilty of state terrorism," he said.

In a dig at the United States, Mr Mugabe said "imperialist countries have remained silent about the shocking circumstances of obvious state neglect surrounding the tragic Gulf (of Mexico) coast disaster."

"A whole community of mainly non-whites was deliberately abandoned to the ravages of Hurrican Katrina as sacrificial lambs," he said.

As Mr Mugabe spoke, only junior diplomats occupied the British and US assembly seats.

The veteran African leader accused "Britain and its Anglo-Saxon allies" of embarking on a "vicious campaign of first peddling blatant lies intended to tarnish Zimbabwe and secondly appealing to Europe and America for sanctions against it."

He said that Britain's push last July for a Security Council debate on a damning UN report on Harare's slum demolition blitz was aimed at scoring "cheap political points in its bilateral dispute with us."

"We were dragged on to the Council's agenda over an issue that has no relevance to the maintenance of international peace and security," Mr Mugabe noted.

Last July, after a two-week fact-finding visit by UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, the UN released a scathing report charging that Harare's shantytown demolition drive had left 700,000 Zimbabweans homeless and destitute and affected a further 2.4 million.

Zimbabwe has defended the demolitions as a campaign to rid cities of squalor and crime and has since launched a reconstruction program to house those displaced.

"We have rejected the scandalous demands, as expressed in Tibaijuka's report, that we lower our urban housing standards to allow for mud huts, bush latrines and pit toilets as suitable for the urban people of Zimbabwe and for Africans in general," he said.

He also rejected as "unfounded alarms" reports of a "humanitarian crisis" in Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwe's President Mugabe Criticizes US, Britain in UN Speech

18 September 2005
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President Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe addresses the United Nations General Assembly
President Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe addresses the United Nations General Assembly
Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, has spoken out at the United Nations in defense of his country's urban demolition campaign.  The Zimbabwean leader lashed out at two of his strongest critics, the United States and Britain.

Mr. Mugabe Sunday rejected a U.N. report that described Zimbabwe's destruction of urban slums as a "catastrophic unjustice" against the poor. In an address to the General Assembly, the embattled Zimbabwean leader called the findings of a U.N. investigator "insulting and degrading."

"I the aftermath of our urban clean-up operation, popularly called Operation Murambastsvina, or Restore Order, the familiar noises re-echoed from the same malicious prophets of doom, claiming that there was a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe," said Mr. Mugabe.  "Those unfounded alarms are aimed at deliberately tarnishing the image of Zimbabwe, and projecting it as a failed state."

In a 100-page report issued last July, the Tanzanian director of the U.N. Habitat organization, Anna Tibaijuka, concluded that the urban demolition campaign was ill-conceived and inhumane. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the report "profoundly distressing."

But in his comments to the General Assembly, Mr. Mugabe ridiculed the Tibaijuka Report, saying it was effectively calling for "development in reverse." He accused Britain, of attempting to score cheap political points by bringing up the urban demolition campaign at the U.N. Security Council.

"It is my hope that member countries will join us in rejecting this neo-colonialist attempt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe," he added.  "But is it not obvious that Britain, under the regime of Tony Blair, has ceased to respect the charter of the United Nations."

Mr. Mugabe also lashed out at the United States for its response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. He charged that authorities had deliberately abandoned non-white Americans in what he called an example of "callous racial neglect."

"Most of the victims were blacks, and we are bound to ask what transgressions we, the blacks of this world, have committed? Was it not enough punishment and suffering in history that we were uprooted and made helpless slaves?" asked Mr. Mugabe.

President Bush has said every race was affected by the hurricane, but he acknowledged that the greatest hardship fell on the poor, and that poverty has its roots in generations of segregation and discrimination.  He appealed to Americans to "clear away the legacy of inequality."

In his U.N. speech, the 81-year-old Zimbabwean leader also criticized what he referred to as "detractors and ill-wishers" for reporting mass starvation in his country. He said "there has been none of that."

In an interview with The Associated Press during his visit to New York, Mr. Mugabe said people in his country are not hungry, they just cannot eat their favorite food.  He told The AP, Zimbabweans are "very, very happy." Aid agencies have said four million out of the country's 11.5 million people face famine.

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Mail & Guardian

Mugabe: 'Let them eat potatoes'

Michelle Faul | United Nations

18 September 2005 08:17

The African leader some call a hero and others a destructive despot suggests people in his country aren't hungry, they just can't eat their favourite food.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press on Friday that his people are "very, very happy", though aid agencies report four million of 11,6-million face famine.

"You describe it as if we have a whole cemetery," Mugabe said of a reporter's description of the Southern African nation's dire straits, blaming "continuous years of drought".

The problem is reliance on corn, he said, "but it doesn't mean we haven't other things to eat. We have heaps of potatoes but people are not potato eaters ... they have rice but they're not as attracted [to that]."

But the cost of potatoes is beyond the pocket of ordinary Zimbabweans.

Internationally, Mugabe has become a pariah and looked set for further isolation at the weekend, when the United States government said it was preparing travel sanctions against him, his government and family members, prohibiting them from travelling to the US.

That would be punishment for alleged gross human rights abuses, including torture of opponents and theft of elections, most recently in March.

Zimbabwe became one of Africa's most vibrant economies under Mugabe, who was elected in landslide 1979 elections after a seven-year guerrilla war forced an end to white minority rule in Rhodesia, once a British colony.

He assured nervous white farmers, then fleeing the country, that "there is a place for you in the sun".

Zimbabwe became the regional bread basket, with about 5 000 white commercial farmers growing enough to feed the nation and export.

Buyers from all over the world came to Zimbabwe's annual tobacco auction and tourists flocked to the Victoria Falls and wildlife reserves, while its Sandawana emeralds and renowned Shona stone sculpture were widely popular.

That changed in the 1990s. Mugabe's rule became increasingly repressive against a growingly vociferous opposition and corruption grew rampant. Mugabe then seized on an issue that long has preoccupied Africans -- land ownership.

Pointing to a distribution that had a few thousand whites owning tens of thousands of hectares of rich lands, the government began appropriating white farms in a violent campaign in which some white farmers were killed.

Tens of thousands of farmworkers lost their jobs and most land was distributed to the family and friends of politically connected Zimbabweans, though some ordinary people got small plots.

Last week, the Commercial Farmers' Union said fewer than 1 000 white commercial farmers remain, working a fraction of land they once sowed. A parliamentary committee said there would be no farming season this year, even if the drought breaks, because there are no seeds, no agricultural chemicals because there is no foreign currency, and no fuel to transport products or work tractors.

Every day in Zimbabwe, queues more than a kilometre long form for basics such as bread and gasoline.

Zimbabweans also are reeling from what Mugabe calls a "clean-up" campaign, in which hundreds of thousands of poor and working-class urban people lost their homes to bulldozers.

Mugabe insisted, though: "We pride ourselves as being top, really, on the African ladder ... We feel that we have actually been advancing rather than going backwards."

Yet on September 8, setting out Zimbabwe's aims for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals before heading to the World Summit, he said the number of Zimbabweans who cannot afford one daily balanced meal has risen from 20% in 1995 to 48% in 2003, and that 63% now cannot afford more comprehensive basic needs, including things like school fees.

In Africa, his seizure of lands that whites took from natives when they colonised in the 1800s is applauded, and he is seen as a towering hero.

Now, he said, his government will take a stake in private mining enterprises to ensure Zimbabweans benefit from their natural resources. He said he expects companies mining there, including the multinational Anglo American, to understand that desire.

"What we intend to do is for the state to have a stake in the production of some of our minerals -- gold, platinum, diamonds," he said. "We just want to be partners. We are not doing anything unusual, and this is the practice in many countries."

Zimbabwe also mines coal, chromium ore, asbestos, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium and tin.

Mugabe (81) said he has fulfilled all his ambitions except retirement. He plans to stop being president in 2008, and write and farm, but said he'll remain in politics until he dies.

"I can't retire from that unless the Almighty says, 'Enough is enough.'" -- Sapa-AP
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The Herald

Annan visit still on

From Itai Musengeyi in NEW YORK
PRESIDENT Mugabe and United Nations Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan met here on Saturday and discussed the impending visit by the world body’s chief to Zimbabwe and the UN’s willingness to assist Harare with food aid.

Officials who attended the meeting held at Mr Annan’s offices at the UN headquarters said the Minister of Foreign Affairs Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and a senior official in the UN Secretary-General’s Office were tasked to work out a programme of the expected visit.

The officials said the two would take into consideration the fact that Zimbabwe will soon be holding elections to choose a Senate while the ruling Zanu-PF would hold its National People’s Conference in December.

President Mugabe, the officials added, however, voiced concern over intrusion and the politicisation of Mr Annan’s expected visit to Zimbabwe, especially by Britain and the United States, who have staked a high political outcome ignoring that the visit was initiated by Harare.

The President invited Mr Annan to Zimbabwe to see for himself the situation on the ground following the conclusion of Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order and the launch of Operation Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle.

In their meeting, President Mugabe briefed the UN chief on the housing delivery programme the Government has come up with and was implementing under Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle.

Mr Annan told Cde Mugabe of the UN’s wish to assist with food relief, but the President objected to the use of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to distribute the food because these tended to politicise humanitarian assistance.

"What we do not want is for the UN to give a role to non-governmental-organisations so these NGOs make politics out of it," the officials quoted President Mugabe as having told Mr Annan.

Mr Annan said he would dispatch the UN co-ordinator of humanitarian operations in November to assess the situation in Zimbabwe and study the best mechanisms to distribute the aid.

The officials said President Mugabe suggested that the UN could make use of the traditional structures the Government of Zimbabwe has used over the years whenever the country experienced drought.

They said Zimbabwe had not asked for food assistance from the UN because it was importing grain on its own and had the capacity to manage the situation.

But if the UN was willing to help, it was welcome to complement the Government’s efforts.

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The Guardian
Minister vows to rid Zimbabwe of 'filth'

Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria
Monday September 19, 2005
The Guardian

A leading Zimbabwean cabinet minister vowed at the weekend to rid the country of the "filth" of white farmers. Didymus Mutasa, the minister for state security and land reform, said all remaining white farmers must be "cleared out".
About 400 white families are still farming in Zimbabwe, following the seizure by President Robert Mugabe's government of more than 4,000 farms.
Mr Mutasa, one of Mr Mugabe's closest advisers, referred to Operation Murambatsvina ("Clean out the trash" in the Shona language) - the campaign in which the government destroyed the homes of hundreds of thousands of urban poor.

"Operation Murambatsvina should also be applied to the land reform programme to clean the commercial farms that are still in the hands of white farmers. White farmers are dirty and should be cleared out. They are similar to the filth that was in the streets before Murambatsvina," said Mr Mutasa, according to the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper.
The government also announced it had annulled more than 4,000 court challenges by farmers to the expropriation of their farms. Last week Mr Mugabe signed a constitutional amendment taking away the farmers' rights to legally challenge land seizures. "All the challenges are now useless - they are all being nullified," said the chief law officer in the attorney general's office, Nelson Mutsonziwa.
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Mail & Guardian (SA), 18 September
Zim needs new land policy to save economy
Abhik Kumar Chanda
Harare - Zimbabwe must radically overhaul its land-reform policy to revive the economy and retain membership in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has given it six months grace from threatened expulsion, analysts say. The Southern African nation, in the throes of economic turmoil, faces a bleak future with inflation hovering at more than 250%, real unemployment pegged at 90% and an acute fuel and food crisis. To add to its woes, the current agricultural season has got off to a sluggish start with prices of seed and fertiliser increasing significantly over those of last year amid poor distribution. "Over the next three months, we have to put the crops into the ground in the face of every disincentive and problem," economist John Robertson said. "There is no fuel to transport the seeds to the farms, there is no fuel to run the tractors and seed and fertiliser stocks are scarce," he said. "Next year's crops will be a massive disappointment." Zimbabwe got a reprieve on September 9 when the IMF put off a decision to expel Harare for debt arrears by six months. This was after Harare - in arrears since 2001 - paid back $120-million of its debt. The remaining debt to the IMF now stands at about $175-million. Minister of Finance Herbert Murerwa has announced that in line with IMF demands to cut public spending, he will aim at confining the budget deficit to within 8,6% of gross domestic product (GDP). Economists say the budget deficit currently stands at between 12% and 14% of GDP. The finance minister has spoken of "restructuring" the civil service to reduce the wage bill, currently 20% of GDP. Murerwa also hinted at lifting price controls - which have led to scarcity and a flourishing black market - and implementing policies to stimulate investment levels from 4% of GDP to 25%.
Eric Bloch, an independent economist who advises the government, said the key lies in reversing Zimbabwe's land reforms under which white-owned farms were seized and redistributed to blacks with no farming expertise. Bloch said the government should return land to farmers to come in line with earlier agreements entered into in Paris and Abuja, stating that white farmers would be allowed to retain one farm each and not in excess of a stipulated size, while the reminder would be sold under a willing-buyer, willing-seller principle. Zimbabwe launched land seizures in 2000 in which 4 500 farmers lost their property, with fewer than 500 remaining. Bloch said "corruption is a major cause of inflation", but stressed that if correctives are put in place, Harare could pay back another $50-million to the IMF in six months. Robertson echoed Bloch in saying that the key to economic revival lies in putting "the land back in the marketplace". He said the new beneficiaries often stripped the farms of equipment and irrigation facilities to make a quick buck and then reverted to subsistence agriculture. Tapiwa Mashakada, shadow finance minister of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, called for a "total paradigm shift". "It's high time that the government restore economic cooperation with multilateral lending institutions and pursue rational policies so that investment comes in," he said. But President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 25 years, shows no signs of relenting even after the IMF move to postpone the decision on expulsion. "The IMF has never been of real assistance to developing countries," he said. "It is wielded by big powers. We have never been friends with the IMF and therefore in future we shall never be friends with the IMF."
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SAAF air show 'flies in the face of poverty'
    September 18 2005 at 08:44AM

By Mike Cadman

The South African Air Force last week played a leading role in celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the Zimbabwean Air Force, sending no fewer than 14 sophisticated aircraft to an air show held in Harare.

The display of South African air power has been criticised by opposition politicians in both countries as being financially extravagant and a direct signal of support for President Robert Mugabe's government.

The aircraft included four Cheetah fighter jets, a Boeing 707 used for air-to-air refuelling, a Rooivalk combat helicopter, one Oryx helicopter, a Hercules C-130 heavy transport aircraft, a Casa C212 light transport aircraft, a Cessna Caravan and four Pilatus PC7s used by the Silver Falcons aerobatics team.

The air show, described by the state-controlled Herald newspaper in Harare as being "part of national celebrations to mark a Silver Jubilee of excellence by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces" was attended by the chief of the SAAF, Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano, as well as dignitaries from other Southern African Development Co-operation countries. Botswana and Zambia contributed one aircraft each.

South Africa paid for the fuel to and from Harare but Zimbabwe supplied the fuel used during the show held at the Charles Prince Airport last Saturday (September 10).

"It is highly objectionable that South Africa should help legitimise the Zimbabwean government in this way," Rafeek Shah, the Democratic Alliance spokesperson on defence, said this week.

"Why should we give legitimacy to a country like Zimbabwe that has no money to pay back International Monetary Fund loans, provide adequate food for its own people or upgrade basic infrastructure?"

Zimbabwe is currently experiencing the worst fuel shortages in its history and last week the Harare city council admitted that it had bought fuel on the black market in an attempt to keep emergency vehicles running.

Paul Themba Nyathi, a spokesperson for the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said the air show - and South Africa's participation - was "yet again a reflection of misplaced priorities in a country where people are facing severe food shortages and social deprivation".

Responding to a question from Shah in parliament this week, Mosiuoa Lekota, the minister of defence, said the SAAF's participation in the show was an important way of maintaining good relations in the region and to showcase South African equipment to potential buyers.

"It is an established practice that in peacetime, defence forces periodically create shows to give their trainees an opportunity to test their skills against other defence forces," the minister said.

"The participation of the air force in the air show in Zimbabwe is critical for this purpose."

He added that South African military industries were attracting growing interest from African states and said it was the government's task to "take advantage of every opportunity so that this emerging African market is increasingly attracted to come down south, and spend their rands here".

However, of the aircraft sent to Zimbabwe only the Rooivalk helicopter and the Oryx are actively marketed for sale by arms manufacturer Denel.

Earlier this year South African military equipment supplier Armscor sold Alouette helicopter spare parts to Zimbabwe. These helicopters, some of which had been grounded due to a lack of spares, were widely used during the destruction of tens of thousands of homes by Zimbabwean police and soldiers in Operation Murambatsvina, which the Zimbabwean government said was aimed at slum clearance.

The Democratic Alliance also said the SAAF's participation was a waste of money. "It is reported that it cost the SAAF R616 000 per flying hour, which is an unaffordable extravagance given the minister's recent admission that the SANDF was struggling to maintain even its core capability," Shah said earlier this week.

"The money should rather have been spent on fuel for much needed flying hours for training flights here in South Africa, and on filling the hundreds of vacancies that exist in critical positions within the SAAF."

A spokesperson for the SAAF, Lieutenant-Colonel Frans Schoombee, said that the fuel costs and other expenses had already been allocated within the SAAF's budget as part of the standard procedure of "force preparation".

"It is vital that our pilots are kept current [in the use of their equipment] and maintain their expertise to ensure that when they are called on they know exactly how to operate," Schoombee said, adding that the trip created the opportunity for pilots and ground crews to gain experience of operating conditions in other parts of the SADC region.

He said that important training procedures had been carried out during the mission and noted that the four Cheetahs had not touched down in Harare, having refuelled from the air force's Boeing B707 tanker aircraft in mid-air over Zimbabwe.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Sunday Independent on September 18, 2005
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Metals Place
Zimbabwe nickel production down 10%
Source: Angop
Zimbabwe's sole nickel producer, Bindura Nickel Corporation Thursday reported a 10-percent drop in output in the first half of this year at 3,070 tons, which it blamed on various factors, including equipment breakdowns and lack of spare parts.
In the same period last year, the company produced 3,415 tons, and 10,585 tons for the whole year.
"Equipment breakdowns and spares procurement problems impacted adversely on production. Consequently, the group's nickel production for the first half of the year of 3,070 tons was 10 percent down on the 3,415 tons achieved during the comparative period last year," it said in a statement.
BNC also reported a drop in both turnover and profit for the period, in spite of high prices for nickel on the international markets.
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Business Report
Zimbabwe faces worst ever tobacco season
September 19, 2005

Harare - Zimbabwe is facing its worst ever tobacco growing season due to a shortage of seedlings, fuel and fertiliser, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Monday.

A top tobacco industry official told government last week the upcoming season would be "the worst in the history of growers", The Herald said.

The chairman of the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB), Njodzi Machirori, said the country had only 600 tonnes of fertiliser in stock, compared with a demand of 20 000 tonnes.

Unless the situation improved swiftly, "only 857 hectares would be put under tobacco instead of 150 000", he said.

Zimbabwe was once one of the world's largest tobacco producers and the crop has traditionally been a key foreign currency earner.

But since the launch of a controversial land reform programme five years ago, annual production of tobacco has plummeted from more than 200 million kilograms to less than 70 million kilograms last year.

Farming experts are predicting a disastrous growing season generally, because of a lack of foreign currency needed to import seeds, fertiliser and crop chemicals. - Sapa-dpa
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Zimbabwe's small minded rulers

Mugabe cornered by events out of his control

Last updated: 09/19/2005 19:31:28
SO ROBERT Mugabe’s minister of justice Patrick Chinamasa presumes to define “patriotism” for the rest of us, does he now? He has been triumphantly crowing at the recent enactment of a law to withdraw travel “privileges” from Zimbabweans the Mugabe regime feels threatened by.

The general reaction to this new law has been outrage and shock. Why there is shock is a mystery to me. By the standard of repressive measures that have been taken by the regime of Mugabe against the people of Zimbabwe, this one is minor and mild. Withdrawing the passports of critics may be backward, but it should hardly shock us and is nothing compared to the hunger, discouragement, economic collapse and political oppression that Mugabe’s regime has visited on Zimbabwe.

One good thing this new law has done is disabuse Zimbabweans abroad of the idea that they are safe and removed from the events in their tortured country. Some Zimbabweans in the Diaspora look down at us and sniff, “why don’t those of you suffering at home do this or that?” Some feel safe and superior from their hiding places in Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. Even those who now only have a Zimbabwean passport to link them to their homeland have been woken out of their complacency by the risk of those passports being withdrawn if they don’t toe the line as defined by the likes of Chinamasa.

"This latest trick so savoured by Chinamasa will not make an ugly regime look any prettier. This is just one more of many depredations we must endure on the road to a new Zimbabwe"

These are the actions of a government that no longer has confidence in itself. They kicked out foreign correspondents unceremoniously, flagrantly flouting their own laws in their panicked rush to do so. The regime’s reputation did not get any better. Mugabe’s regime rented the wicked Jonathan Moyo for five years to destroy the state media and much of the private media and try to recreate both in its image. During Moyo’s evil tenure as chief Mugabe propagandist any hint of professionalism, balance or criticism of the regime was equated with treason. The media and intellectual space definitely shrunk but the regime’s reputation did not improve, in fact it sank further. Chief Constable Tafataona Mahoso of the Media & Thought Police has valiantly played his part along with Moyo of trying to intimidate and silence opponents with pan-Africanist mumbo-jumbo and “you are controlled by the whites” to any who see through his and the regime’s nation-destroying claptrap. That has neither helped the country’s image nor that of the regime that continues to destroy it. Ditto for the efforts to jam radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe or otherwise contain the avalanche of deserved bad press the regime gets from all over the world 24/7.

This latest trick so savoured by Chinamasa will not make an ugly regime look any prettier. Chinamasa has reveled in the panicked reaction of many in the media and opposition circles. This is just one more of many depredations we must endure on the road to a new Zimbabwe. Let us not whine about it.
Actually it provides new opportunities to lay bare the bankruptcy of the regime that is destroying Zimbabwe. The pretext of this latest effort to rein in increasing dissent and rebellion against the Mugabe regime is that critics are “tarnishing the image of the revolutionary government abroad,” mainly in Western capitals. Minister, we could ask, what are your son/daughter/wife and many other relatives doing in these capitals if these countries are bent on doing Zimbabwe harm as you claim? Smoking out the many close family members of regime officials who benefit from nation-destroying patronage at home while also enjoying the benefits of life in countries they claim are at war with us would be one small part of showing the utter cynicism of the small-minded officials we are dealing with. “Revolutionary patriotism” my bloody ass! From the mouth of Chinamasa of all people? Purrleeze!

The most “patriotic” contribution that any Zimbabwean can be engaged in at this sad, critical time in our nation’s short, painful history is to fight the oppression and decline it is experiencing under the ruinous, bloody regime of Mugabe. We should be outraged by silly efforts to prescribe patriotism for us by brutal, unpatriotic failures whose only concern is to pick off the few remaining pieces of flesh from the carcass of our beloved, formerly great Zimbabwe that they have murdered.

Chinamasa identified Zimbabweans abroad as a group disproportionately responsible for the Mugabe government’s awful reputation, hence the passing of the new law. But true to his reputation as one of the shallowest and most intellectually challenged people to occupy a lofty position in the Mugabe regime, Chinamasa failed to go where his premise would logically lead.

Is the alienation from the Mugabe government of so many Zimbabweans at home and in the Diaspora a cause of the government’s present image woes, or an effect of them? Why has the Mugabe government failed to harness the millions of Zimbabweans abroad into a national asset in terms of hard currency remittance, skills transfer and international goodwill for the country? If Zimbabweans abroad suddenly lose their sense of judgment and easily fall prey to claimed efforts by Western countries to turn them against their government, why are so many members of the regime from the “presidium” to its lowest echelons so eager to retain their many ties to the West? And why has the “revolutionary people’s government” failed so dismally to make disaffected Zimbabweans believe the regime’s propaganda over that of those the regime claims are enemies of the country?

Is it realistic to hope that the fear of losing passports is going to be significant enough to silence critics against the regime’s destruction of their country? Does the regime-stinging fire of Pius Ncube, Morgan Tsvangirai or many others depend on whether it is delivered in Bulawayo, Harare or London? The truth of their lament of Zimbabwe’s destruction by the demolition derby of Mugabe, Chinamasa & Co will resonate with most Zimbabweans and much of the world regardless of where it is delivered. Previous cheap efforts to insinuate treason against these and many other critics have backfired spectacularly on the Mugabe regime and the threat of passport withdrawal has even more potential to do so. In any case, the ways in which Zimbabwe under Mugabe is one big disaster area are now so obvious that they do not even require Zimbabweans going out of their country for the whole world to see!

Many have probably rightly said this measure is a tit for tat against senior regime members and sympathizers being banned from many Western capitals. But isn’t it interesting that the “tat” by the regime is not against those Western nations or their citizens wishing to visit Zimbabwe, but against its own citizens wishing to leave Zimbabwe?! Is this desperate, small minded and crazy or what?! Which is the regime’s worst enemy, its critics or itself?!

The regime is fighting on levels that it simply cannot win. It is one thing to beat up, intimidate, imprison and murder your critics and opponents. This is not difficult to do-any old bully with a military machine and enough ruthlessness can do this. But on an economic, image and many other levels you must have the support of a majority of your people to fight off threats to your ruler ship. The Mugabe government no longer enjoys such support. Many of its increasingly shrill and desperate measures to forestall the whirlwind of opposition that it continues to cultivate and reap will only make it sink deeper in the mire of international opprobrium and isolation.

An individual in Harare who does not even possess a passport can just as effectively tell the world about the Mugabe regime’s war against the people as a Zimbabwean in Sydney, Johannesburg or New York. Actually in the modern age the person in Harare without a passport may be even more equipped to do so than the Zimbabwean in a foreign capital! I am shocked that the Mugabe regime’s lawmakers do not seem to realize this. They are trying to lock the stable door after the horse has already bolted out of their control.

Zimbabweans, let us not be chickenly. The battle to save our country from those who would destroy it will inevitably become more vicious, requiring us to be ever more innovative to resist the increasingly desperate flailing of a regime that has failed on all counts. Zimbabweans are dying of hunger and lack of hope and confidence in their country’s prospects and yet a few of us get uptight and intimidated, whining about the fear of having our passports withdrawn!

Let us get real about the task at hand. Are we in a struggle for the very soul of our country against a brutal, vicious regime or are we on a Sunday picnic? I have said before and I repeat: the new struggle for Zimbabwe is being fought on a much more sophisticated level than the brutal, simplistic, physical ways the Mugabe regime is accustomed to and so good at. Mugabe, Chinamasa, Moyo and their laws have done and will continue to do incalculable harm to Zimbabwe but they are a passing phase. As has been proven by how virtually all of the regime’s efforts to fight off opposition that it has earned for itself have sunk it deeper into the mire, it is a regime that is embattled on so many fronts, with so few options to get out that it lashes out without thinking.

Chinamasa is right to say that the regime of which he is a member is besieged but as usual fatally wrong about the reasons why. It is therefore not surprising that in that latest panicked reaction to the growing opposition towards it at home and abroad, it shows the growing gap between it and those it oppresses.
As used to be said by those fighting for a better dispensation for their country during the second chimurenga before it was eventually usurped by gangsters, aluta continua!
Chido Makunike is a social commentator and a New columnist based in Harare. He also has a weekly column in the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper

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Zim Standard
Zimbabwe faces another crippling drought - experts
By Walter Marwizi

ZIMBABWE faces a crippling drought in the 2005/2006 agricultural season, dampening hopes of an end to critical food shortages that have haunted the country over the past few years.

Weather experts say the country, which has experienced poor agricultural seasons consecutively over the past five years, is likely to receive less rainfall than predicted during early and late summer.

"Extreme events (droughts and floods) are becoming more extreme and frequent. Climatic research in Zimbabwe has also revealed changes in month-on-month rainfall amounts with October and January showing an increasing trend while November and February rainfall is decreasing.

"The duration of intervening dry spells during the rainfall season is increasing (extended dry spells), while wet spells are becoming shorter and sometimes with intense storms and heavy downpours," said a Harare-based expert on Friday.

A 2005/2006 forecast produced by the Meteorological Services Department last week shows that only areas under region 1 (Mashonaland West, Central and East, Manicaland and Northeast Midlands) had higher chances of a normal to above normal rainfall during the month of January, February and March.

The rest of the areas in region 2 and 3 (Matabeleland North and South, Masvingo and Midlands Central, South and Northwest) had higher chances of normal to below normal rainfall during the same period.

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Sunday Times
Court delays scrapping land cases

Monday September 19, 2005 13:46 - (SA) 
HARARE - A court in Zimbabwe today held off a decision on a government request to scrap legal challenges by white farmers whose properties have been seized, a lawyer said.

The administrative court put off the ruling on some 4,000 cases involving government seizures of farms pending further information from the attorney general, said Richard Wood, a lawyer representing some 250 commercial farmers.

The government was to ask the court to scrap the challenges after a constitutional amendment on state ownership of land was approved, effectively preventing farmers from taking legal recourse.

"The state lawyer told the judge he was still waiting instructions from the attorney general's office," said Wood.

"Until then, the case cannot proceed and was for now struck off the roll," he told AFP.

Wood said he believed the attorney general's office would consolidate the cases before returning to court to have them scrapped.

"The constitutional amendment in any way rendered these cases totally irrelevant unless somebody can actually go to court and challenge the constitutional amendment itself," he said.

The constitutional changes approved by President Robert Mugabe earlier this month would allow the state to assume ownership of farms immediately after a property has been listed for expropriation, making it impossible for white farmers to seek legal redress.

Nelson Mutsonziwa, chief law officer in the attorney general's office, was quoted Sunday in a newspaper as saying "the passing of the constitutional bill means that they (the challenges) are all being nullified. All the challenges are now useless and there is only need to formally withdraw the issues before the courts."

Zimbabwe has since 2000 seized some 4,000 farms and redistributed them to landless blacks under its land reform programme.

Fewer than 500 white commercial farms remain.

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Zim Standard
Doctors quit
By Caiphas Chimhete

AT least 20 junior and middle doctors have left the public service in less than two months because the government failed to increase their salaries, The Standard has established.

The doctors are part of a group that staged a crippling strike last month demanding a salary increment of 800% and better working conditions.

Sources in the medical profession last week said more doctors could leave the country due to frustration if the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare fails to address their grievances urgently.

"Their position is worse off now because the economic environment is deteriorating fast. But very soon we will feel the void they have left in the health sector," said the source.

The junior doctors, who earn a basic salary of $5.7 million a month, went on strike in August demanding that their salaries be increased to $47 million. They also receive $440 000 monthly housing allowance and are offered a $50 million car loan and $10 million housing loan.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says a family of six now requires about $6.7 million a month.

Zimbabwe Medical Doctors Association (ZMDA) president, Takarunda Chinyoka, confirmed the departure of mainly junior and middle ranking doctors. "Our list indicates that 21 doctors have left since the strike. The majority are junior doctors and those who had just finished their housemanship and were about to be deployed to provincial hospitals," Chinyoka said.

He said the doctors left for the UK, America, Australia and the region in countries such as Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, where their services are much sought after.

Some of the doctors have moved into the private sector in the country because "it is no longer sustainable to work in government".

The ZMDA president said the resignation of the doctors had worsened the crisis in the health sector, which is characterised by shortage of drugs and equipment. The crisis was most pronounced in government hospitals where, he said, less than 100 specialist doctors were serving the whole country.

Chinyoka said basic drugs such as MMT, used to treat internal bleeding and antibiotics, were in short supply. The doctors also lack protective clothing and theatres at major hospitals had very poor lighting, exposing them to HIV and Aids since they used sharp instruments, he said.

"At the moment, plastic surgery at Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospitals has been discontinued because there is nobody to run that area of speciality," Chinyoka said.

There are 300 junior doctors, 150 middle ranking and well below 100 specialist doctors in the country. But the country needs at least 2 000 general medical practitioners and 500 specialist doctors for government central hospitals, Chinyoka estimated.

The deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Edwin Muguti, said he was not aware that such a huge number of doctors had left.

"I need time to check on that. But the issue of salaries is being addressed by the Health Services Board," Muguti said.

The chairman of the board, Lovemore Mbengeranwa, said he was not in a position to comment.

During the August strike, the government promised to regularise salaries for health workers including doctors, nurses, radiographers and pharmacists.

The junior doctors resumed work following threats of arrest from Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa and his deputy Muguti for breaching the Essential Services Act.

In January last year, the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Constantine Chiwenga gave striking doctors 24 hours to return to work or face detention.

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Zim Standard
The struggle continues
By Kumbirai Mafunda

ZIMBABWE has not paid the remaining US$50 million in arrears to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), contrary to reports in Harare that the central bank had raided all private and commercial foreign currency accounts to pay off the Bretton Woods institution last week.

RBZ Governor Gideon Gono on Friday told Standardbusiness that Zimbabwe was still in arrears to the IMF and struggling to raise the remaining US$50 million, which has to be paid in six months.

For the third time in 18 months, the IMF's Executive Board a fortnight ago voted to postpone the expulsion of Zimbabwe for non-payment of overdue loans but gave the southern African country six months to pay the remainder. The IMF board said the six-month period would also give Zimbabwe a chance to implement sound economic policies and cut down on its other arrears.

Government sources had suggested that Harare had paid an additional payment of US$50 million two or three days before Gono left for Washington to plead at the Executive Board meeting. The sources had indicated that it was the extra payment that worked in Harare's way to escape expulsion.

The central bank, the sources hinted, had liquidated all corporates' FCAs as well as those of individuals at local banks that had not been utilised after the expiry of 30 days. But Gono, who arrived in the country Thursday from Washington said nothing like that had happened.

"It's not true … That is the usual Harare rumour mongering," said the RBZ Governor.

Gono, in his second year as the Governor of the central bank, vowed that Zimbabwe would pay off its staggering arrears by the end of 2006.

"We will deal with our arrears and we hope to eliminate our arrears by November 2006," he said. Meanwhile, Thomas Dawson, the IMF's External Relations Director has indicated that notwithstanding increased payments, Harare needs to reform on a wider scale if it is to irrevocably survive the chop.

"It is a wide range of policy measures that need to be addressed in the fiscal monetary, exchange rate, structural, social safety net areas particularly for the most vulnerable groups in the society. So it is a wide range of actions that need to be taken," Dawson said last week.

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Zim Std
Bargain hunters cheer as market rebounds

BARGAIN hunters took charge of the ZSE, giving stocks their first respectable advance in nearly two months as memories of the month-long apathy faded.

The renewed buying, nudged stocks higher to an unprecedented rally of 4 744 675.15 points. Around 29.8 million shares valued at $60 billion exchanged hands on the bourse Monday. Owing to enthused investors, the bullish trend immediately prompted dealers to predict that the trend will continue until the 1st of October when the 5% withholding tax comes into effect.

Old Mutual, which is bidding for Swedish insurer Skandia raced $8 000 to an all time high of $78 000, followed by pork and beef processor Colcom which firmed $1 000 to $6 000. Not to be left out were DZL $600 firmer at $3 600 and Innscor $150 at $8 200. On the losers side, seed producer Seedco, which is failing to meet the country's seed demand this season lost $500 to $2 500, alongside TA Holdings which is crying out urgent attention over its fertilizer manufacturing plant in Kwekwe, Sables.But Monday's buying was less resolute as the market came off tumbling Wednesday. As anxiety over the implementation of the 5% capital gains tax filtered through the index slid 2,27% to 4 637 165.86 points Wednesday before slipping again to 4 533 247 Thursday while in correspondence minings shed 2.85% to 722 997.59 Wednesday.

"Individuals are selling to try and avoid the new tax," sounded one market strategist. However, other market veterans interpreted Wednesday and Thursday's losses as just a pause predicting that the market will regain momentum once again.

Dealers were poring over a feast of profit reports from a host of corporate heavyweights among them Innscor, FML, Colcom and BNC. Of the four BNC wailed over a combined 15% and 56%% decline in sales tonnage of nickel and toll refining revenue. BNC says equipment breakdowns and spares procurement problems adversely impacted on production. Consequently, BNC mined 3 070 tonnes - 10% down on the 3 415 tonnes achieved in June 2004.

With little to animate the market, investors say they will keep their focus on corporate earnings after the release of unpleasant inflation data of 265,1 that didn't capture a wide range of push factors among them the recent hike in fuel prices and the adjustment of the VAT to 17,5%. Analysts project that September figures will come in searing and feel that the central bank's year-end target of double digit inflation figures is a fallacy.

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Zim Standard
Power shortages loom
By Ndamu Sandu

A HIGH-LEVEL regional electricity investment conference (REIC) opens in Windhoek, Namibia, tomorrow as Southern African nations battle to build capacity ahead of electricity shortages in 2007.

Tomorrow's meeting is a culmination of SADC energy ministers' indaba held in South Africa last year, which proposed to hold an investment conference. The three-day conference runs until Wednesday and is aimed at raising funds for the short and long term generation transmission projects.

Stakeholders for the conference are drawn from SADC governments, private sector, local and international investors and financiers and cooperating partners, among others.

Southern African nations housed under the African Power Pool (SAPP) face power shortages in 2007 if nothing is done to augment electricity generation capacity. Net capacity is expected to reach 45 000MW while peak demand is expected to be over 45 000MW.

Power demand in the SAPP region has been increasing at a rate of 3% in the last six years while there has not been any significant investment in generation in the last 10 years despite the rising demand. SAPP was formed in 1995 after energy ministers in SADC signed an inter government Memorandum of Understanding.

SAPP members have each identified short- term priority generation projects envisaged to output 8 764MW by 2009.

Long term projects which run from 2010 to 2020 will generate 31 743MW, SAPP says.

The prool is a 12 member country organisation with a power installed capacity of 52 743MW but having a net capacity of 45 044MW meaning that it is not exploiting its capacity to potential. Figures from SAPP show that in 2004 its peak demand was 41 036MW.

Members under SAPP include Botswana Power Corporation (Botswana), Electricidade de Mocambique (Mozambique), Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Malawi), Empresa Nacional de Electricidade (Angola), South Africa's ESKOM), Lesotho Electricity Corporation and NAMPOWER of Namibia. Other members are Societe Nationale d'Electricite (DRC), Swaziland Electricity Board, Tanzania Electricity Supply Company Ltd, Zambia's ZESCO Limited and ZESA Holdings.

Officials from SAPP offices in Harare told Standardbusiness that Alison Chikova and Lawrence Musaba, systems studies supervisor and centre manager, respectively were already in Namibia by Thursday in preparation for the historic conference.

It was not immediately clear who would represent Zimbabwe at the conference though there were indications that officials from ZESA and the ministry of Energy and Power Development were billed to attend.

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Zim Std
When the cat is away

WHEN the cat is away, the mice play - and that includes even the usually reticent ones.

So it was with Zimbabwe's industrialists and businesspersons at last week's annual gathering of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI).

Business executives greeted with glee the absenteeism of Reserve Bank authorities as they tirelessly rounded off the absent officials leaving amazed financial journalists bowled over.

Most amazing was the acidic tone emanating from the delegates since most of them are known for overtly lauding central bank Governor Gideon Gono and his lieutenants whenever they around "for their attempts at turning around" the battered the economy.

Upon assuming office in 2003, Gono has been viewed by industry as "the saviour" of the bleeding economy and business leader after another has sprinted to shower him with tributes throughout his tenure.

Gono's major feat has been culling inflation from an unprecedented level of 622,8% in January 2004 to 123,7% by March this year. Some critical observers have however expressed concern at the amount of eulogy that Gono has been receiving from industry executives.

At one time, business people fell over themselves trying to get coveted seats at the endless breakfast meetings broadcast on State-run national television presided over by the central bank boss.

But the gloves came off last week as some of "Gono's guys" voted to sing a different tune altogether choosing the mountain resort town of Nyanga to question the RBZ policies.

Other critics however pointed at the timing of the tirade against the "Monetary Authorities" - as Gono and his lieutenants have come to be known. First, they said critics of the Governor took advantage of the venue - Nyanga - that is more than 200 kms away from Harare, and the non-appearance of the central bank authorities.

Former CZI President and DZL CEO, Anthony Mandiwanza set the ball rolling soon after organisers of the conference observed and announced that the "Monetary Authorities" could not make it to the conference.

"The absence of the RBZ officials is a mockery to the economy," remarked Mandiwanza, a close colleague of Gono.

Then Harambe Holdings CEO and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce vice-president David Govere joined into the fray. The bulky Govere described as "crazy" the central bank's decision to pay most of Harare's overdue arrears to the IMF.

"How do we ask a country to pay the IMF when we could import grain and fuel and celebrate that we paid US$120 million to the IMF," said Govere. "Are we crazy?"

The payment of the debt drew widespread criticism as critics pointed at the opportunity cost of paying the IMF. They said Harare could have sourced considerable stocks of fuel and several tonnes of maize enough to feed its starving citizens and avert a hunger crisis.

But Govere would not end his diatribe at the central bank only. Journalists working for the independent media were roped in as co-conspirators in the mutual destruction of Zimbabwe. He ranted about "negative" stories being churned out by independent journalists and said he might seek an audience with the publishers of The Standard and The Zimbabwe Independent.

But are these the same people who have been praising Gono as the country's number one turnaround strategist?

"When big groups meet they degenerate into a university fiasco where kids compete as to who is more competitive than others," observed Jonathan Kadzura, an economic commentator sympathetic to the governing Zanu PF party.

Added Kadzura: "Those meetings sometimes degenerate into tea parties."

But CZI president Pattison Sithole shot back.

"We wouldn't bring ministers and fly people as far as South Africa for a tea party. I can have that tea party at Meikles Hotel," said Sithole.

Nevertheless, did the congress achieve any of its objectives?

"We can't talk of paradigm shift when we are laying blame on others," says Kadzura.

And the criticism on Gono?

Kadzura said: "The RBZ finds itself in an added responsibility. This is one Governor who has exposed himself to all sectors and has been to all provinces meeting the same people who are criticising him."

Other observers however said industrialists could be feeling the heat and getting frustrated with the economic dislocation just like any other ordinary Zimbabwean.

PG CEO Nyasha Zhou, whose company is being forced to start and halt operations abruptly due to the myriad economic troubles, is worried at the odious interrogation exporters are subjected to when they apply for foreign currency from the RBZ.

"I am a creator of foreign currency. I work 24 hours a day to create it," says Zhou, "So when I walk into the Reserve Bank I do not expect to be treated like a slave boy. I deserve respect."

Art Corporation could also not hide its disappointment with the government's inconsistent economic policies.

"We are flip flopping in policy," said a representative of Art. "We open markets and the next time we lose them."

Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa, who has rattled the government after disclosing that millions of people could be facing starvation, was even more direct.

"I want someone to carry the message to the central bank. I don't think it is right for a bank to run agriculture. Agriculture must be run by us who went to the school of farming," said Pazvakavambwa.

But whether the delegates were playing to the gallery or were espousing a paradigm shift remains to be seen. The whole exercise, could, after all just have been a jamboree of mice since the cat - RBZ Governor - was thousands of kms away.

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Zim Std
Gono turns right … Mugabe turns left
By Ndamu Sandu

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe last week turned back the hands of time by rubbishing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as inconsequential to the needs of developing countries some few hours after the global lender had spared the axe on Zimbabwe.

IMF gave Harare a six months stay of execution by postponing recommendations to the board of governors with respect to the country's withdrawal from the fund.

Arriving in Cuba last week on a four-day State visit en-route to the United Nations summit that began on Wednesday, the embattled Mugabe was quoted in a local weekly saying that the IMF had never been a friend to developing countries.

"Well, the IMF has always never been of real assistance to developing countries.

"It is wielded by big powers; we have never been friends of the IMF and therefore in the future we shall never be friends of the IMF," said Mugabe.

Economic commentators say Mugabe's statements contradict efforts by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the Ministry of Finance to settle Zimbabwe's arrears with the global lender. Zimbabwe owes IMF US$175 million and has pledged to settle the debt by November next year.

In his mid-term monetary policy review, RBZ chief Gideon Gono reiterated Zimbabwe's commitment to settle its arrears with the multilateral financial institutions. Also presenting his mid-term fiscal policy review, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa said Harare had intensified dialogue and cooperation with the country's development partners.

Mugabe's statements, analysts say, were a mockery of efforts made early this month to pay IMF. Harare made a surprise US$120 million payment thereby reducing its debt to US$175 million.

Experts were unanimous last week that Mugabe's statements were unfortunate and a reflection of the inconsistencies in government.

"Its dangerous to accuse Mugabe of talking rubbish however this shows that Mugabe is out of touch with reality," said a Harare-based economist who requested anonymity.

"These are ideological contradictions of Zanu PF. On one hand they preach the anti-Blair and anti-Bush mantra and on the other hand they make people suffer because we want to pay IMF," said Tendai Biti, opposition MDC's secretary for economic affairs.

Biti was referring to a Standardbusiness story last week that Harare had foregone maize, fuel and electricity imports in order to settle its debts with the global lenders.

As Harare races against time to settle its debt to Washington by November 2006, the question that remains unanswered is: Will Harare cut ties with the international world the same way Ian Douglas Smith did in 1965 when he declared Unilateral Declaration of Independence?

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Zim Std
2008: a bridge too far
Shavings from the Woodpecker

OUCH! Why didn't he just say he is leaving end of the month … or end of the year? He could even have said he would call it quits on his next birthday and many Zimbabweans would have applauded.

The news this past week was that Uncle Bob (why does he always give these important interviews when he is out of the country?) told a British newspaper that he was ready to quit the presidency in … 2008.

While confirming the obvious (that he is now tired), the great one told the British Sunday Times that he needed a rest (also another obvious fact) and would not extend his tenure for another day in office when it runs out in 2008.

Granted President Mugabe was elected into office 2002 and his term runs out in 2008. By right and if all things were equal, he should see through his term of office. If everything was fine in Zimbabwe and our economy was as sound as it was when he took over in 1980, then every Zimbabwean would wish him to serve his last term to the last day.

But everything is not equal. The economy is stuttering like a ramshackle kombi about to run out of fuel. More Zimbabweans are sleeping on empty stomachs than when he took over on April 18, 1980. Commercial farming is long dead. It was buried in 2000. The picture is even gloomier if one looks at the hospitals, the schools, commerce and industry, the state of our roads, our water, electricity supplies, medicines … just to name a few.

Zimbabwe has been without enough fuel supplies now for more than a year and even the extremely well educated great leader cannot find any answers from his many degrees. He has run out of ideas, and of friends to help him.

Such is the state of panic in his ship that a senior government official is now in hot soup just for saying the obvious: that we have enough maize stocks to last less than a month.

Industry - the life blood of any modern nation - is almost dead; HIV and Aids are decimating the nation because ARVs are too expensive, food and all other essentials are now beyond the reach of many and ninety percent of school leavers will surely join the millions of jobless every year … hopefully until 2008.

President Mugabe is right in telling the whole world that he deserves a rest. His term in office was never easy. At independence, his was the difficult task of trying to reconcile warring factions. He must have spent sleepless nights trying to deal with the needs of former adversaries forced to sit and work together.

Then there were the "dissidents" and the hard task of trying to find peace in the Matabeleland provinces and the Midlands, which culminated with the peace accord that he signed with the late Father of the Nation in 1987.

Over the years there have been challenges and catastrophes aplenty. The expensive wars in Mozambique and the DRC, persistent droughts, and the wars of attrition with successive British administrations. It has not been an easy 25 years for the head that has worn the crown since 1980.

When he took over in 1980, Uncle Bob was a sprightly youngish leader. Now he is - in his own words - a young, old man.

The challenges facing Zimbabwe need the full time attention of a young leader and the next 30 months would be the most challenging. It is therefore imperative for Uncle Bob to reconsider his position.

The simple truth is that Uncle Bob; great leader though he might have been to his admirers, is now too old and tired. He must go and rest now … 2008 is too far.


TO the winner, the spoils. It is indeed true that everyone loves a winner. Take the case of Zimbabwean cricketer Duncan Fletcher.

Fletcher, the coach of the all-conquering British national cricket team that finally brought those coveted Ashes (ashes of the British empire, if you ask Uncle Bob) home to London, was last week awarded British citizenship after 15 years of trying.

Fletcher - whom Zimbabwean cricket authorities must surely wish was deported immediately and sent home to Harare to save local cricket - had twice been turned down and his application would surely have been unsuccessful again for the third time if England had been beaten by Australia.

But when his team humiliated the Aussies, even the British Home Secretary was impressed and before you could say "leg before wicket", his application had been approved because British authorities suddenly realized that Fletcher's long dead relatives had been British citizens after all!

By getting British citizenship Fletcher automatically denounces his Zimbabwean papers, much to the chagrin of local cricket authorities who surely would have wished he spent more time at home teaching Taibu and company to stay on the field, at least until lunch.

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