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Zimbabwe story has moved from the tragic to the sinister agenda

Zim Online

Tuesday 25 September 2007

By Chido Makunike

JOHANNNESBURG - A recent UK visitor to Zimbabwe, writing in the September 24
edition of The Herald (Scotland) had the kind of contemplative, contextual
report about the situation there I am crusading to argue has become all too
rare in coverage of Zimbabwe, especially in the UK media.

British media reports are suffused with an anti-Mugabe emotionalism whose
causes are not hard to understand, given the present state of Zimbabwe, and
Mugabe's raw, bitter denunciations of Britain.

But understandable as they may be, they distort the sad but complex reality
of the implosion taking place in Zimbabwe.

As understandable as the antipathy to Mugabe is particularly in Britain, we
are now often served propaganda as much as we are served news, especially by
large parts of the UK media.

Things are quite bad enough in Zimbabwe, without needing to embellish and
spin them to distort that reality into making it seem even worse, as a lot
of the international media frenziedly does.

Ian Whyte's letter addresses the issue of sanctions, and whether it is
correct for new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to have taken the
approach of wanting no dealings with Mugabe.

But the parts of it that relate to the often feverish, cleverly dishonest
coverage of Zimbabwe are these: The picture painted of Zimbabwe is of a
country that has already collapsed.

To go around Harare as I did is to find a city that, incredibly, is still
functioning. Yes, the economy is dependent on a black market that changes
daily and there are shortages (but not emptiness) in the shops.

But plenty of cars move around, people go about their business and a white
visitor is greeted with warmth and courtesy in a way no different from

I do not doubt the violent suppression of dissent, but I saw no evidence of
the police and army presence on the streets that I have seen in other
countries where civic society has all but broken down.

I found considerable anger from my Zimbabwean friends (every one of whom
strongly opposes the present regime) over press reports that imply that
nothing is functioning or happening, and over some scenes shot by the media
which they identify as doctored from outside.

This does a disservice to the amazing resilience that is such a
characteristic in Africa, where 90 percent of the population struggle for
food and necessities, and the allocation of farms to select "comrades" has
run down agriculture.

But when I visited Ghana in 1982 amid an economic crisis, worse shortages
and more catastrophic breakdowns had not broken the spirit, nor paralysed
activity. So it is in Zimbabwe.

This is what those of us in Zimbabwe, or outside but with umbilically close
ties to it, know: great hardship, but not the picture of 'collapse' that is
daily depicted.

And the feeling of being picked on by certain media in some particularly
ugly ways is one I hear more frequently from Zimbabweans at home and abroad.

The widely, strongly held feelings against the Mugabe regime in many
quarters should not make the trash we so regularly read about even
non-political issues acceptable.

Just one example is the recent story that people were now resorting to
eating dogs because more conventional kinds of meat are unavailable or too
expensive. This was absurd from many angles, the strong cultural taboos
against this just being one of them.

But for a correspondent determined to submit his or her daily anti-Mugabe
dig, these sorts of nuances are irrelevant.

It is quite easy to file daily anti-Mugabe stories just on the strictly
factual basis of his many failures, without needing to scrape the bottom of
the barrel in the manner so beloved of some correspondents.

The Zimbabwean media, which it would have been hoped would counter some of
the worst excesses, is vastly out-gunned.

Besides, we have become so focused on issues of politics, to almost the
total exclusion of anything else, that we don't pay much attention to how we
are allowing who we really are to be caricatured in often crude terms that
border on being racist.

In giving accounts of ways in which Zimbabweans are battling to cope with
economic hardship and political repression, the most calamitous
interpretations are used.

A report about how economic hardship has resulted in the abandonment of many
pets, a sad enough development, suddenly results in the crafty insinuation,
"everybody in Zimbabwe is now eating their cats and dogs because they can't
find or afford beef and chicken!"

The correspondents concerned get away with this trash partly because they
are mainly writing for a Western audience that does not know enough about
Zimbabwe to be able to easily distinguish straight reportage from the shrill
spin I complain about.

Sometimes the reports merely entrench racial stereotypes that are already
strongly held. The opportunity to use those reports to say "ah, you see how
tough times are forcing the natives to revert to their savage roots?"
apparently often proves irresistable!

We often do not seem to notice that those reports are sometimes not just to
illustrate how difficult life under Mugabe is, but to go beyond that to make
broader, more sinister points about us as a people.

Zimbabweans, on the other hand, obviously do have the ability to know when
what they are going through is being stretched, by either hyper-ideological
or merely mercenary correspondents.

Too often, the writing is not so much to inform, as it is to score points
against the hated Mugabe, even if it means painting the rest of us with
crude stereotypes.

It is interesting how the many Zimbabwean websites deal with some of the
most crude distortions. Why does the Zimbabwean media not more robustly
protest and counter the worst distortions?

Apart from being out-gunned and pre-occupied with political intrigue, there
is widespread fear of being accused of being a Mugabe supporter, one of the
worst insults one can hurl against a Zimbabwean in the current climate.

Then there is the naive, misplaced feeling that even the distorting, racist
sections of the media pouring out reports of complete Zimbabwean dysfunction
under Mugabe's tutelage are somehow "on our side."

Those of our news outlets dependent on donors are also not going to be
inclined to go into territory that may make their benefactors doubt the
anti-Mugabe credentials that they may have peddled to get their funding in
the first place.

So many find it safer to not express the widely felt Zimbabwean outrage at
some of the racist takes on events that we increasingly see peddled under
the guise of news.

The Zimbabwean websites will, therefore, generally simply ignore the more
lurid interpretations of events offered by some of the more shrilly
ideological correspondents for international media.

Those reports are enthusiastically featured as welcome "neutral" signs of
not just Mugabe's incompetence and repression; but also with a cleverly,
thinly veiled subtext of general African "savagery."

It is not enough for us to just ignore these frequent and damaging
distortions. We must counter them at every chance we get.

It is in our interest to make it clear to the world that we may be
politically oppressed and reduced in economic status by the mis-rule of our
country, but we remain a proud, dignified people despite the many
deprivations we endure.

The essential fact of the firmly intact Zimbabwean humanity is being
sacrificed in the shrill propaganda war in which we are considered
collateral damage.

Ian Whyte very ably captured the holistic view of Zimbabweans' unhappiness
with affairs in their country, coupled with resentment at some of the
deliberately distorted depictions that have other agendas than concern for a
bruised, oppressed people.

Many of the correspondents for foreign media very carefully pick the many
indices of hardship to write another story beneath the main story.

 They could easily feature the more nuanced reality that Whyte does, but
that is hardly likely to impress their publications, who already have a
standard "Zimbabwe story" position into which all submissions must fit if
they are to be published.

More of us Zimbabweans should be seeking to use every forum available to us
to tell our own tale as a people, both the joys and the sorrows.

We are far too dependent on our collective experience being related by
others, whether they are benign, neutral or hostile to us.

Let us relate, explain and interpret Zimbabwe's sad reality under its
present rulership without fear, favour or equivocation.

But let us not be afraid to protest when that reality is twisted to make
sinister distortions about our basic humanity.

* Chido Makunike is a Zimbabwean writer

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Confusion as Msika orders stop to farm seizures

Zim Online

Tuesday 25 September 2007

By Regerai Marwezu

MASVINGO - Zimbabwe's Vice President Joseph Msika says there will be no new
evictions of remaining white farmers, contradicting land minister Didymus
Mutasa as sharp divisions emerge in the ruling ZANU PF party over how to
finalise a chaotic seven-year-old land reform programme.

Msika announced yesterday that the Harare authorities would not chase away
remaining white farmers whom he described as a key stakeholder in the
country's development.

"We are not going to remove all the remaining white farmers, especially
those operating conservancies," said Msika during a function to raise funds
for the Chikombedzi nursing school in the south-eastern Masvingo province.

He said the government had realised that it needed the support of all its
developmental partners and would therefore not afford to alienate the

"We have discovered that government alone cannot develop the country without
the help of the corporate world and the remaining white farmers are a key
stakeholder in the development of the country," Msika said.

Msika's statement contradicted Mutasa, who yesterday maintained his position
that farmers issued with eviction orders must vacate their properties by 31
December 2007.

"I do not know in which context the vice president said these words but the
government position is that those who have already received eviction notices
should comply with the order," said Mutasa.

But Msika said the land reform programme was not just about removing white
farmers from the land.

"We cannot talk of any land reform if it is just a matter of removing
whites. Let's also empower the remaining whites who are capable of producing
and if we do that we can talk about effective land redistribution," the
Zimbabwean vice president said.

Zimbabwe has over the past six years seized nearly all land previously owned
by the country's about 4 000 white farmers and gave it over to landless
blacks, an exercise blamed for derailing the mainstay farming sector and
plunging the country into severe food shortages.

Msika, who has in recent months spoken against farm seizures, is among a
group of top government and ZANU PF officials worried about the rapid
decline in agriculture and pushing to stop fresh evictions.

The government and ruling party officials believe the country could benefit
more by exploiting the vast experience of the about 600 remaining white
farmers to help prop up the key farming sector.

"We have to convince the remaining white farmers that they are Zimbabweans
who deserve equal treatment as the majority blacks," Msika said yesterday.

The Zimbabwean vice president, however, said whites operating crucial
economic sectors should incorporate blacks as a way of empowering the

"We as government would want to see whites - and even blacks - operating
crucial areas of the economy taking on board blacks so that the economy will
not remain in the hands of a few," said Msika.

Zimbabwe's agricultural industry has collapsed over the years and the blame
has been laid squarely on President Robert Mugabe's land policy that saw
thousands of white commercial farmers being forced off their land since

Zimbabwe has largely survived largely on food handouts from international
relief agencies since land reforms began seven years ago after black
villagers resettled on former white farms failed to maintain production.

Poor performance in the mainstay agriculture sector has also had far
reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands have lost jobs while the
manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the sector, is operating below
30 percent of capacity.

The government has since the beginning of the year given conflicting signals
on the fate of remaining white farmers, with some officials saying they
would be allowed to stay and others saying they would be evicted.
Nonetheless, evictions have continued sporadically.

Mutasa leads a group of hawkish ZANU PF government and military officials
who believe land reform is incomplete when there is still some land in white

Observers say President Robert Mugabe appears sympathetic to Mutasa's camp.

Another group led by Msika believes it is important not to ignore the wishes
of local communities, traditional leaders and ZANU PF grassroots leaders
benefiting from their cohabitation with white farmers - especially with key
elections next year.

Traditional leaders are said to have told Mugabe during a conference in
Harare last month that most of their subjects were grateful for the support
they were getting from white farmers and that the farmers should be viewed
as development partners. - ZimOnline

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African Commission to hear Zimbabwean lawyer's torture case

Zim Online

Tuesday 25 September 2007

By Farisai Gonye

HARARE - The African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) has
agreed to hear a case in which the Zimbabwe government is accused of
committing torture, a development that could see dozens of similar cases
brought against the Harare administration.

The ACHPR - which is the judicial organ of the African Union - in August
wrote to prominent human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba that it would hear his
case against President Robert's government in November this year.

Shumba, a Zimbabwean citizen who lives in South Africa after fleeing home
fearing his life, is claiming damages from the Harare government after he
was severely tortured by alleged state security agents in January 2003.

Secretary to the ACHPR Mary Maboreke wrote in a letter to Shumba's lawyers:
"I would like to inform you that at its just concluded 41st session in
Accra, Ghana from 16-30 May 2007, the African Commission considered the
above communication (Shumba's appeal) and declared it admissible.

"You are hereby informed that the African Commission will consider the said
communication on the merits at its 42nd session."

Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was not immediately available
for comment on the matter. Under ACHPR rules, Harare will be asked to
respond to the claims against it.

Shumba's case against the government is groundbreaking and is sure to open
the floodgates for more cases by hundreds of human rights activists and
government opponents who claim to have been tortured by state agents as
punishment for opposing Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.

Many of these victims say they cannot get recourse from Zimbabwe's courts
they say are controlled by Mugabe, a claim which by agreeing to hear Shumba's
case the ACHPR appears to have upheld.

According to ACHPR rules, victims of political torture must first exhaust
all local remedies before submitting a case to the commission.

Shumba, who was tortured, allegedly to punish him for defending opposition
activists in court, had to convince the continental human rights watchdog
that he could not get justice from Zimbabwe's courts that Mugabe has since
2000 packed with loyalist judges.

Shumba, who heads the Pretoria-based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum that fights for
the rights of millions of Zimbabwean migrants, on Monday said his
organisation will work to mobilise more victims of state torture to bring
their cases before the ACHPR.

He said: "Zimbabwean torture victims have been presented with an arena to
boldly present their torture cases, a crime perpetrated against the masses
on a daily basis by the repressive regime of Robert Mugabe."

Critics accuse Mugabe, of using repression including torture to keep
discontent in check in the face of a deepening economic crisis that has seen
inflation shooting beyond 6 000 percent, massive unemployment, rising
poverty amid shortages of food and every basic survival commodity.

In March this year, main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and several
civic society leaders and supporters were severely assaulted and tortured by
state security agents for attending a banned prayer rally.

Mugabe's government, which in recent years has increasingly relied on armed
police and soldiers to retain control as the country's economic meltdown
threatens its hold on power, rejects charges of torture and human rights
abuses as lies spread by its Western enemies to tarnish its image. -

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Harare extends voter registration

Zim Online

Tuesday 25 September 2007

By Regerai Marwezu

MASVINGO - The Zimbabwean government has extended a voter registration
exercise in response to concerns from opposition political parties and civic
groups over the manner the exercise had been carried out.

In a statement to the media yesterday, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC), that is in charge of elections, said it was extending the voter
registration exercise to ensure that all potential voters were registered.

The electoral body did not give dates when the exercise will be concluded
with ZEC's spokesperson Utoile Silaigwana saying details of the extension
would be announced in due course.

"The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission wishes to advise that after considering
reports from its teams deployed to supervise the voter registration exercise
and consulting with stake holders and political parties on the effectiveness
of the exercise, it has resolved to extend the programme," said the

The decision to extend voter registration comes after the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) voiced concern over the manner in which
ZEC conducted the initial voter registration exercise that ended last

The MDC accused President Robert Mugabe's government of manipulating the
voter registration exercise by instructing ZEC officials to turn away
thousands of opposition supporters wishing to register for the elections.

The Zimbabwean opposition party said the ZEC had also opened fewer
registration centres in urban areas where it enjoys support while increasing
centres in Mugabe's rural strongholds in what the MDC said was an attempt to
rig the elections even before a single ballot was cast.

The MDC said the use of soldiers and other uniformed officers in the voter
registration exercise would also intimidate their supporters particularly in
rural areas demanding that ZEC employ civilians in the exercise.

Silaigwana said demands by political parties to change manpower will not be

"We cannot allow people to choose officers for us," said Silaigwana. "As ZEC
we are mandated to recruit staff and as such no one will do that on our

MDC Masvingo central legislator Tongai Matutu yesterday welcomed the
extension but insisted that soldiers and police officers should be left out
of the key exercise.

"The development is welcome but we are saying ZEC should be well staffed and
not use the military to carry out such a crucial exercise," said Matutu.

ZANU PF provincial chairman for Masvingo, Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi also
welcomed the extension of the registration exercise adding that all those
who had failed to register should take advantage of the extension to

Zimbabweans go to the polls next year after the MDC and ZANU PF agreed to
constitutional changes last week that will see the presidential and
parliamentary elections being held simultaneously.

Political analysts say Mugabe, the only ruler Zimbabweans have known, could
be voted out of power in the polls because of a deepening economic crisis
that has spawned hyperinflation, massive poverty and shortages of food, fuel
and hard cash. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Will Make United Nations Appeal Against Western Sanctions


      By Carole Gombakomba
      24 September 2007

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe will make use of his opportunity to
address the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday to tell the
gathering that Western targeted sanctions on his government are illegal and
should be lifted.

Zimbabwe's U.N. ambassador, Boniface Chidyausiku, said President Mugabe will
make the case to the assembly that the U.S. Zimbabwe Democracy Act has
prevented international institutions and private investors from bringing
capital to Zimbabwe.

Chidyausiku said that if the United States, Britain and other Western
nations sincerely want to help the Zimbabwean people, they should stop
shedding "crocodile tears" and lift the sanctions, which he said are the
main cause of growing poverty.

U.S. and other Western officials have often stated that the sanctions target
President Mugabe and senior officials of his government and the ruling
ZANU-PF party, barring them from traveling in countries setting such
sanctions, and allowing assets in those countries to be frozen if
identified. The sanctions also prohibit commerce with Zimbabwean companies
controlled by individuals on the sanctions list.

U.S., British, Australian and other officials are also at pains to note that
their countries provide millions in food assistance and help in fighting the
HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Mugabe's critics say misgovernance and corruption led to economic collapse,
more specifically chaotic land redistribution that destabilized the key
farming sector.

Chidyausiku told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that his country will present its case against the sanctions alongside Cuba
when Havana addresses the impact of the U.S. embargo on commerce with the
island nation.

Zimbabwean analyst Chido Makunike said Mr. Mugabe and his government need to
move beyond blaming the problems in the country on the Western sanctions and
focus on the reasons for the sanctions and ways in which they can work
around them.

Makunike said that urging the U.N. to lift the sanctions "is a waste of
time"  as it is not in a position to so so, thus the appeal is a mere
"emotional sounding board."

U.N. sources said President Mugabe arrived in New York on Sunday. He left
Harare late Friday and had been scheduled to make a stopover in Cairo.

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Shopping Sprees Increase Tension With the Country's Neighbours

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

24 September 2007
Posted to the web 24 September 2007


It is early morning and groups of Zimbabwean women and men wrapped in
blankets to ward off the chill are slowly waking from a night spent sleeping
on the tarmac at a bus depot in Johannesburg, South Africa, waiting for the
city's shops to open.

They arrived in two buses carrying long-distance shoppers from Zimbabwe,
brought south by the empty shelves in their country to stock up on sugar,
cooking oil, laundry soap and other basic commodities in South Africa's
economic heartland.

The shopping veterans in the group exchange tips with the first-time
shoppers on where to get the best prices for the commodities they have
travelled hundreds of kilometres to buy.

"There is nothing to buy at home, even when you have money, these days,"
Cecilia Chipundo, 38, from Gweru, in Midlands Province, Zimbabwe's third
largest city, told IRIN.

"You either have to queue for most of the day for nearly everything - milk,
bread, sugar, cooking oil and other basics - without a guarantee of getting
any unless you are well-connected [politically]," said Nophilo Sibanda, 26,
personal assistant to the managing director of a steel manufacturer in the
Midlands town of Kwe Kwe.

Some of South Africa's working class are blaming the increasing prices of
basic commodities on shopping sprees by Zimbabweans, rather than the local
single-digit but rising inflation rate, an accusation that Chipundo
dismisses: "If it were not for our misfortune which compels us to come here,
some of them would become jobless when the shops we buy from close."

There is little doubt that Zimbabwe's misfortunes - where inflation is above
6,000 percent and there are shortages of almost everything, including fuel,
electricity, potable water, medicines and basic commodities - are a boon for
South African shop owners.

"It is not of our own making that Zimbabwe has become a large supermarket
for South African goods," Chipundo told IRIN. The introduction of price
controls by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government has exacerbated the
dire situation in her home country by fuelling the parallel market, where
goods are available at much higher prices but the shelves of formal shops
have been left bare.

The bulging bag is a Zimbabwean label

Zimbabwean shoppers are easily recognised on Johannesburg's streets: their
bulging hold-alls packed with items not only for consumption but also for
resale at home, have become an unwelcome identity tag.

South Africans are perplexed that people from a country said to be on the
verge of economic collapse can afford to buy such large quantities of items
that are beyond the reach of many local consumers. "They push prices up
unnecessarily," Marvis Kgokgo, a shop assistant at an Asian-owned shop in
the inner city, told IRIN.

In a recent research paper, Norman Reynolds, a South African-based
independent development economist, claimed Zimbabwean shoppers were pumping
billions into the South African economy in these shopping jaunts, financed
by an estimated R30 billion (US$4.2 billion) remitted annually by
Zimbabweans living outside of the country.

"Zimbabweans in exile worldwide earn R10 billion (US$1.4 billion) a month,
and seek to send home R3 billion (US$428 million) a month. If there were
suitable banking regulations to keep the hard currency [in Zimbabwe] this
money would do the major part of humanitarian and reconstruction work
urgently needed," said Reynolds, who used to live in Zimbabwe.

Sibanda, from Kwe Kwe, whose sister works in England and remits hard
currency to her, said the equation was simple: "As long as there is nothing
to buy [in Zimbabwe], we will continue to come here in order to provide for
our families."

As long as there is nothing to buy [in Zimbabwe] we will continue to come
here in order to provide for our families

Shopping sprees by Zimbabweans are not limited to basic goods, but also
durable items such as televisions, household furniture and beds, which can
take working-class South Africans months to pay for.

To stem the flight of hard currency, Zimbabwe's finance minister, Samuel
Mumbengegwi, earlier this month imposed excise duty on a range of items
deemed luxury goods.

The government's amended Customs and Excise (Designation of Luxury) lists
footwear, undergarments for both men and women, hosiery, veils, gloves and
ties, which attract duty of 60 percent, with an additional US$10 per
kilogram charge to be paid in foreign currency. Carpeting, "refrigerators of
a household type", cookers, bed linen, blankets (but not electric blankets),
carry 50 percent duty, plus the US$10 per kilogram charge.

The new tariffs have done little to deter Zimbabweans from flocking to South
Africa. The busloads of shoppers "contribute" R10 (US$1.43) each to custom
officials, who perform a "perfunctory inspection" of their goods at the
Zimbabwe-South African border post at Beitbridge, and so avoid paying duty.

From wealth to beggary

At independence from Britain in 1980 the Zimbabwe dollar was worth US$2; the
rate today is about Z$300,000 to US$1, and foreign currency is only
available on the thriving parallel currency market. The Zimbabwe dollar was
worth 45 South African cents, but now trades at Z$40,000 to R1.

Eddie Cross, an economic advisor to the opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), and former CEO of Zimbabwe's sole beef exporter,
told IRIN that in 1980 Zimbabwe was the world's largest exporter of tobacco,
after the United States.

It had the second largest economy in southern Africa, with the third highest
GDP per capita, and was the world's sixth largest gold producer. Gold has
risen to its highest level in three decades and is expected to breach the
US$800 level by the end of the 2007.

In the first two years of independence the economy grew 24 percent, followed
by 15 years of annual growth of about 5 percent, while inflation ranged from
around 9 percent to 12 percent, although the budget deficit, at 8 percent to
9 percent of GDP, was large. By 1995 the national debt had reached US$5
billion, or 60 percent of GDP.

The economic meltdown is blamed on the government's pursuit of populist
policies, the introduction of a raft of price controls and a rigid foreign
currency exchange regime.

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

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SADC nations want Mugabe at EU summit

Mail and Guardian

Charles Mangwiro | Maputo, Mozambique

24 September 2007 04:02

      Southern African nations on Monday lined up behind Robert Mugabe
in a row over whether the Zimbabwean President would be invited to a
European Union-Africa summit in December, saying they would boycott the
event if he was banned.

      The meeting in Lisbon would be the first in seven years. Plans
for an EU-Africa summit in 2003 were put on hold after Britain and other EU
states refused to attend if Mugabe did. They accuse him of rights abuses and
rigging elections.

      British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said last week it would be
inappropriate for him to attend if Mugabe was present because the Zimbabwean
leader would divert attention from important aspects of the agenda.

      But leaders of the African Union and the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) have warned the summit could be scuttled if the
Zimbabwean leader, who is barred from travelling to parts of Western Europe
as a result of targeted sanctions, was not invited.

      In an interview, Mozambican Foreign Affairs Minister Alcide
Abreu said her government agreed with the SADC position that Mugabe must be
invited to take part.

      "We support African strategies," Abreu said in a telephone
interview in the Mozambican capital, Maputo. "We support the position taken
by the leadership of these bodies [SADC and AU]."

      The 14-nation SADC grouping is trying to end a political and
economic crisis that has prompted millions of Zimbabweans to flee the
once-prosperous former British colony. It has asked South African President
Thabo Mbeki to mediate between Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party and the

      "Attempting to isolate His Excellency President Robert Mugabe
would be contrary to the letter and spirit of that initiative and, thus, the
SADC position is that of non-participation if one of the region's leaders,
namely President Robert Mugabe, is not invited," SADC spokesperson Leefa
Martin said on Monday in a statement emailed to Reuters.

      Zimbabwe is struggling with inflation of 6 600% -- the world's
highest -- unemployment of 80% and chronic food shortages. There are growing
fears of a famine later this year.

      Britain and other Western nations accuse Mugabe, in power since
independence in 1980, of wrecking the economy through mismanagement.

      Mugabe blames the problems on sabotage by Britain and others
upset over his seizure of thousands of white-commercial farms for
redistribution to landless blacks. The policy has coincided with a sharp
drop in Zimbabwe's agricultural output. -- Reuters

      Additional reporting by Moabi Phia in Gaborone

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Zanu PF Plans to Send Green Bombers Into People's Homes

SW Radio Africa (London)

24 September 2007
Posted to the web 24 September 2007

Henry Makiwa

There are fears that Zanu PF could soon be using the Green Bombers to seize
basic commodities from ordinary people's homes, as part of the government's
discredited price control policy.

The notorious youths are known for employing violence in their execution of
Zanu PF directives. Last week Zanu PF secretary for youth, Absolom Sikhosana
is, reportedly urged the green bombers to sniff out people "hoarding basic
commodities" at their homes and "bring the goods to the formal market".

"It is your duty to make right what is wrong," Sikhosana was quoted in the
independent weekly Standard, talking to the youths at Davies Hall, the party
headquarters in the city of Bulawayo last week.

"We have houses that have become shops; you have a duty to identify those
and confiscate all the goods and bring them to the formal market. We have
factories that are no longer producing. You have got a duty to identify
these and bring them to book," the paper quoted him.

The new development is likely to strike fear into the already concerned
urban populace, as government continues with its price control blitz and
elections approach.

The green bombers reportedly went on a violent spree in the impoverished
slum settlement of Epworth at the weekend, where the ruling party was holing
a rally. According to Zimonline, an independent news agency, the militias
went on a door-to-door campaign, marshalling civilians to a meeting of ZANU
PF taking place in the area. The youths beat up those who refused to attend
the meeting.

The Zimbabwe Youth Movement (ZYM) has condemned the ruling party for
"bestowing unmerited power" into the hands of its militia.

ZYM president Colin Chibango, said: "The whole green bombers business is
rather unfortunate. I think Sikhosana's pronouncements are especially sad
for someone who claims to be a leader.

"We don't see the government sustaining this new policy if they think they
can control prices and inflation physically by the muscle of green bombers.
This is actually a good reminder to the politicians holding negations in
South Africa to table such matters for discussion if they hope to rebuild
this country," Chibango said.

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MDC Youth Leader Arrested for Calling Mugabe 'Senile'

SW Radio Africa (London)

24 September 2007
Posted to the web 24 September 2007

Tichaona Sibanda

An MDC youth leader was on Monday arrested by the police in Mutare following
reports that he used derogatory remarks against Robert Mugabe, when he
described him as 'senile'.

Lloyd Mahute, the MDC youth secretary for Manicaland, is alleged to have
told a party rally in Gaza, Chipinge north two weeks ago, that Mugabe should
be relieved of his duties because he was also 'insane and mad'.

Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC spokesman for Manicaland, told Newsreel Mahute is
being held at Mutare central police station after he was picked up by
officers from the Law and Order section Monday morning.

'What we have been told is that Mahute told a youth rally that the law in
Zimbabwe should prevent people like Mugabe from holding office because of
their old age and mental state. Police have also told us that during the
same rally Mahute described Mugabe as a sick man who needed psychiatric
help,' Muchauraya said.

The Manicaland spokesman added: 'I don't know if Mahute said those words,
but if he did he was 100 percent correct because who else on this earth can
destroy a country like what Mugabe is doing. Only sick and mentally unstable
people can do that.'

According to Muchauraya, police in Mutare said they will transfer Mahute to
Chipinge where they expect to charge him under the Law and Order Act for
using abusive language against a Head of State.

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Zimbabwe diaspora 'may get vote'


Monday, 24 September 2007

Zimbabwe's government and opposition have reportedly agreed ground-breaking
changes for next year's elections.
Sources at the talks mediated by South Africa say that everyone born in the
country may be allowed to vote.

If confirmed, this would grant suffrage to the huge Zimbabwean diaspora -
believed to be as many as four million.

The talks are also said to have agreed that the Electoral Commission (ZEC)
in charge of next year's planned elections should be truly independent.

Sources within the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have also told the
BBC that the notorious public order act - which has been used by President
Mugabe's government to suppress the opposition - will be abolished.

But the BBC's Southern Africa correspondent Peter Biles says reports of a
vote for the diaspora and an independent ZEC should be treated with caution
given the news blackout applied by the South Africans to the entire process.

There has also been no public comment on the reported deal from the
Zimbabwean government.

Last week, the MDC voted with the ruling Zanu-PF to pass an amendment to the
constitution, because of the progress it said had been made at the talks.

Zimbabwe is in economic crisis, with unemployment estimated at 80% and
shortages of many basic commodities.

End of hated act?

Details of the agreement reached last week at the Pretoria talks have been
largely confirmed by the London based newsletter, Africa Confidential.

The newsletter says that South African President Thabo Mbeki himself told
MDC faction leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara that Zanu-PF was
prepared to amend radically the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

The POSA amendment would permit all parties to hold public rallies without
prior notification to the police and to canvass support without obstruction
from the security forces.

However a senior MDC official has told BBC News that the public order act
had not yet been discussed, and no agreement had been reached on letting the
diaspora vote.

However, South Africa's Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad could not, or
would not, confirm to journalists that President Mbeki had such a meeting
with the MDC leaders.

The governing party is also said to be willing to work with the MDC to draw
up a new electoral law, which would allow parliament instead of the
president to nominate members to the Electoral Commission.

The constitutional amendment which was passed last week by MPs, the 18th
Amendment, is said to increase the number of MPs in the Assembly from 150 to
210 seats, and in the Senate from 60 to 93 seats.

Additionally, it abolishes the president's power to appoint MPs who will all
be elected under the new rules.

The president will retain the power to appoint provincial governors and
influence over the appointment of chiefs to the Senate, but the Assembly
will have the power to overrule the Senate.

According to Africa Confidential, under the 18th Amendment, the Delimitation
Commission, which has redrawn constituency boundaries to the advantage of
Zanu-PF, will be abolished and its work taken over by the independent
electoral commission.

The changes will also allow parliament to choose the next president, should
the incumbent die or be incapacitated.

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Zimbabwe: Take a Picture, Go to Jail

By Amy Jeffries

I snapped a single frame of an empty butchery in Harare. For that I spent two and a half days in the company of the Zimbabwean police.

I'd gone to the capital, Harare, to visit friends I had made seven years ago, while studying there as an undergraduate.

My former host mother, Amai,* and I were on our way from Queensdale, a sleepy suburb, to a tea party honoring a young woman about to be married. We'd stopped at the shopping center near Amai's house so that she could get her hair done for the occasion.

While Amai was stuck under the dryer with her hair wrapped in bright plastic curlers, I ducked out of the salon to buy a pack of gum. Saturday shoppers were buzzing in and out of the supermarkets with their one-loaf rations of bread or single package of milk. Those who could afford to supplement those hard-to-come-by staples also carried purchases of spaghetti or canned beans.

But the two butcheries were completely idle. One was shuttered, while the door to the other was open, though nobody appeared to be inside. Its shelves had been wiped clean.

I stepped inside and pressed down the shutter of my camera. Someone must have heard it click.

"What are you doing?" said a young man in a black football jersey, who appeared from the back.

I started fumbling for excuses.

"Taking a picture, just taking a picture."

"Of an empty butchery? You can be arrested for that here. This is Zimbabwe."

This was not the Zimbabwe I remembered. Seven years ago, my camera provoked curiosity and conversation, not threats.

This was not the Zimbabwe I remembered. Seven years ago, my camera provoked curiosity and conversation, not threats. But President Robert Mugabe's regime has persistently blamed the West for the ongoing economic crisis in the country. As a white American, I was now an object of suspicion everywhere I went.

Since 2002 new laws have been used to suppress newspapers and journalists critical of the Mugabe regime and even to detain some tourists for photographing seemingly innocuous subjects like fruit carts and churches.

Up to that point I had played it safe, mostly taking pictures within the 10-foot walls around Amai's house. I'd taken a few shots of the dry stalks of maize that the neighbors had planted along sidewalks and in previously grassy medians as insurance against food shortages. For that, I had gotten some funny looks, but that was all.

My heart was already in my throat when the guy in the black jersey told me he was going to turn me in.

When he disappeared into the back, saying he was going to call the authorities, I snuck away to the salon.

Amai was waiting for me, her hair all curled and fluffed.

"Let me just go to the loo," she said.

When she stepped out of the bathroom, the guy from the butchery was waiting with an entourage. An angry woman with drawn-on eyebrows stopped us as we headed for the door. Next thing, we were in the back of a car bound for the nearest police station.

The woman flashed her ID at us from the front seat: She was Captain Mary Muriza, a member of Zimbabwe's national army.

As we drove, Muriza continued her tirade. She accused me of trying to tarnish Zimbabwe's image abroad by photographing empty butcheries. She accused Amai of accepting bribes from me in exchange for allowing me to take pictures.

While we waited inside the Braeside police station, I watched Amai's hands tremble, as she quietly punched out a message on her cell phone to her friend. We would be late for tea, but no worries, she wrote. Nearly an hour passed before Chief Inspector Mthoko called us into his office. He looked over the report gathered from Muriza's statement.

"Did you have permission to take the photo?"

"No. There was no one in the butchery," I said. "There was no one to ask."

"I can charge you under the Information and Privacy Act," he said, referring to one of the laws passed in 2002 that has largely been used to suppress reporting critical of President Mugabe. I was sure at that moment we'd be escorted immediately to jail.

Instead, Mthoko sent us back out into the charge office, where we took a place on the bench in front of the counter and waited.

"I can charge you under the Information and Privacy Act," he said, referring to one of the laws passed in 2002 that has largely been used to suppress reporting critical of President Mugabe.

Amai sent another text message to her friend. This time, she wrote that we would not make it to the party.

I asked if I should call someone for help.

"It's not a very big problem," she said, trying to reassure me, though her tone suggested otherwise.

Hours passed. From our seats on the charge office bench, we watched the sun set.

"They can't decide what to do with us," Amai told me, translating the banter between the officers.

As night fell, the officers ducked in and out, apparently coming and going from raids in which they enforced the price reductions set by Mugabe's regime in July. Many business owners were still refusing to slash prices or restock empty shelves, contributing to widespread shortages. As the officers started drinking the looted beer, they became increasingly confrontational.

"Do you want to be locked up, or do you want to go home?" asked one constable.

Of course I wanted to go home. But he wasn't really offering me a choice; he was attempting to solicit a bribe.

"Come here, so I can hear you better," he said. I did as I was told.

"What are you prepared to do for Africa?" he asked. "You see my wife has a problem. There's no mealie meal. There's no meat...."

We'd been in the police station for more than six hours without being charged. It's now common in Zimbabwe for the police to detain people like this in order to harvest a payday. But when it became clear we were not about to pay a bribe, the cops at Braeside handed back my camera without the roll of film and let us go with a promise to return on Monday, when the Central Investigation Department, or CID, would review our case.

Later, when we arrived at the CID, we were promptly turned away and sent back to Braeside for more paperwork.

The next day, we returned and were handed over to Detective Inspector Rangwani in CID. An automatic handgun hung on the wall next to Rangwani's desk. The windowsill behind him was decorated with a collection of grenades and rockets. Without saying a word, the inspector examined the case report, then flipped through the pages of a book of penal code.

"Taking a picture of a butchery, it's not a serious offense," he said finally. "I'll charge you under miscellaneous offenses. Are you prepared to pay the fine, or do you want to go to court?"

I told him I'd pay the fine. He decided not to charge Amai.

Rangwani sent me down to a junior sergeant, who after an attempt to extract money from me, read me my rights, took my guilty plea and fingerprinted me in quadruplicate.

In the end, I paid Z$40,000, about 20 cents at black market exchange rates, to settle the charge of "disorderly conduct in a public place." I left Zimbabwe on a Greyhound bus the next day, leaving a country where it's forbidden to photograph an empty store shelf.

"Amai" means "mother" in the Shona language. To protect her identity, I have used this instead of her real name.

Amy Jeffries has reported from South Africa and Zimbabwe and has written about Nigerian and Ethiopian immigrants in California. She is currently pursuing concurrent master's degrees in journalism and African studies at the University of California, Berkeley.


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Government Threatens Edgars And BP With Takeover

SW Radio Africa (London)

24 September 2007
Posted to the web 24 September 2007

Lance Guma

Retail giant Edgars joined the list of companies being targeted for takeover
by Mugabe's increasingly embattled government.

Reports indicate the company wants to close down 19 of its 55 stores owing
to the effects of the controversial price-cut policy imposed by government
in June. More than 200 workers risk losing their jobs. Instead of
acknowledging that the economic environment created by the price cuts is not
sustainable for businesses, government has simply threatened to take over
the companies that are struggling and is accusing them of pursuing a regime
change agenda.

Industry and Trade Minister Obert Mpofu made the threats at a Zanu PF
meeting and was quoted by the state media saying, 'It is unfortunate that
when we say these things, people brush them off and say it is only a joke.
We are now going to take over the companies (and) buy them out. If they
think we are not serious, let them wait until we knock at their doorsteps.'
He said they had already started identifying companies they want to take
over. The state run Chronicle reported that Mpofu was expected to meet
leading companies on Monday and that Edgars was one of them.

The UK Sunday Telegraph reports that Mugabe told a politburo meeting that BP
Zimbabwe, which runs over 37 service stations countrywide, would be seized
without notice. According to the paper the seizure would be retaliation for
British pressure over human rights abuses in the country. Also lined up for
takeover are Australian owned companies, mainly because party officials are
baying for blood over the deportation of several of their children from that

South African based businessman Mutumwa Mawere says Mugabe's regime views
producers in the country as operating at the mercy of the state. He says the
logic that drives government is that any assets in the country belong to the
state and can be appropriated at will. He dismissed talk of takeovers
benefiting an empowerment drive, arguing there was no benefit in taking over
empty shelves and lack of stocks. Many businesses are now struggling,
cutting down production or closing shop.

The regime claimed they were trying to arrest inflation but a view is
emerging that the move was aimed at crippling companies that would then be
targeted for takeover. Even Mpofu himself indirectly said as much when he
said it was difficult to enforce the price controls if they did not control
the companies. Independent analysts calculate inflation to be hovering above
25 000 percent and say the country faces problems which require political
solutions. Bad policies have driven the country into the ground and Mugabe's
government is accused of doing nothing more than prioritizing its control
over everything.

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New political party formed, blamed the passing of new bill

The Zimbabwean


ZIMBABWE'S newly formed political party; Multi-People's Democratic Party
(MPDP) says it is contesting in all the 210 seats of the House of Assembly
amid calls for arch-rivals Movement for Democratic Change to quit politics
citing the recent position by the country's main opposition to back Mugabe's
controversial 18th Amendment Bill in parliament.

 In an exclusive interview with CAJ News in Johannesburg on Sunday, MPDP
President, Emmanuel Moyana Muzondi, said his party would work closely with
focused and committed civil societies such as the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA), whose interests are for the people of Zimbabwe.

 "At this point in time, Zimbabweans are not concerned about constitutional
amendment, but they want a complete overhaul of the constitution if we are
to enjoy the true fruits of democracy, political and socio-economic
dispensation. Amending parts and pieces of the constitution will not stop
corruption, or, election rigging. This is an insult.

 "As MPDP we have been seriously disturbed with the news that the two
warring MDC factions have only united in this shameless move to aid Mugabe's
cause. MDC will go down memory books of history for betraying the nation at
the last hour," said Muzondi.

 He appealed to the people of Zimbabwe back home and those in the Diaspora
to fully rally behind the MPDP so that a long lasting solution to the
Zimbabwe crisis would be solved once and for all.

 Formed on May 20, 2007 in South Africa, the MPDP has already received some
threats from the government's intelligence operatives, who visited the
Methodist House to intimidate majority refugees who are in support of the

 Muzondi said his party would soon launch its 2008 presidential and the
general election campaigns at the Zimbabwe Grounds in High field, Harare on
14th October 2007.

 "We are taking no chances. Our message to the electorate is very simply and
straight forward, we would Zimbabwe quickly return to the rule of law,
implement proper land reform programmes, formulate new people driven
constitution as well as removing of all the retrogressive laws.

 "On the land issue, we are not against the Mugabe government, but we are
against the Zanu PF government policies that have brought hunger, economic
chaos and intolerant to different political views," said the much confident

 When asked about how he rated his chances of unseating Mugabe, Muzondi said
politics is not about big names, arguing that politics was about addressing
socio-economic and political challenges the country is experiencing at the

 He said MDC had its share from 2000, 2002 and 2005 but dismally failed to
unseat Mugabe due to its complacency yet victory smelled on their nose.

 Muzondi, a holder of a degree in B.Com Marketing as well as a Diploma in
Theology, says when his party wins the 2008 general election, the MPDP would
create the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in order to heal the
bleeding wounds that have been inflicted among the people of Zimbabwe by
Mugabe and his Zanu PF cronies.

 "Well, this does not necessarily mean that we would call for the execution
of Mugabe, but we would want the truth to come to the open. As a Christian,
I can always forgive, but the truth has to be known on who did what and
killed who?

 "We have no grudges whatsoever, but our manifesto speaks for itself," said

He said Zimbabwe needed fresh ideas that would shape the country's destiny
with people being consulted in the constitutional reforms.

"Greedy people have paralyzed the Zimbabwean economy, precipitating turmoil
and virtual economic archly, the main symptom of which is the fact that the
country today has the world's highest inflation rate.

"The MPDP comes onto the scene to offer a real solution to the dilemma. Its
leadership comprises persons untainted by all squabbles, mudslinging and
chicanery that have rendered the country's opposition impotent and the
ruling party brutal to a point of being virtually cannibalistic," said
Masonic- CAJ News.

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Tsvangirai Briefs Civil Society On Constitutional Amendment Deal

SW Radio Africa (London)

24 September 2007
Posted to the web 24 September 2007

Tichaona Sibanda

On Monday afternoon MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai met with the leaders of
civil society in Harare, and briefed them on his party's decision to go
along with the constitutional amendment number 18.

Party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said he believed it was evident from the
meeting that relations between the MDC and civil society were still intact,
despite reports of a major fallout between the political allies over recent
events in Parliament. But the meeting was boycotted by the National
Constitutional Assembley, led by Lovemore Madhuku.

Both factions of the MDC were accused of going to bed with Zanu (PF) after
its legislators said they would not oppose the amended Bill which eventually
sailed through Parliament without any opposition.

Chamisa said the angry reaction from its allies and activists understandably
arose out of the people's mistrust of the Zanu-PF dictatorship. The MDC
spokesman agreed that part of the problem was caused by the lack of progress
reports from the South African mediation talks.

'The President (Tsvangirai) was able to allay their fears about any deal or
coalition with Zanu-PF, and from the briefing civil society fully understood
our position and strategy. It's unfortunate that we cannot at this point
openly talk about our election strategies and the way we will approach
them,' Chamisa said.

Chamisa added that Tsvangirai told the meeting that the MDC was still
committed to a people-driven constitution which will allow for a free and
fair election. The MDC was also committed to a legitimate, and not a
pre-determined electoral outcome, according to Chamisa.

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Civil Society to Discuss Contentious Amendment 18

SW Radio Africa (London)

24 September 2007
Posted to the web 24 September 2007

Henry Makiwa

The civil society coalition decided to hold an all stakeholders meeting on
the contentious constitutional amendment 18 in Bulawayo at the weekend.

Representatives of civil groups met in Harare Monday morning to map out the
next course of action following the agreement between their ally, the MDC
and the ruling Zanu PF to amend a section of the constitution.

Many have criticised the MDC decision, with the National Constitution
Assembly officially cutting ties with the opposition party, accusing it of
"selling out" and " abandoning the principle of a people-driven
constitution" .

The amendment, once turned into law by Robert Mugabe's signature, will give
Mugabe powers to appoint a successor and boost parliamentary seats.

According to the NCA's advocacy officer Ernest Mudzengi, discussions on
Saturday will shape out the next course of the civil society grouping in
their quest for a new constitution.

Mudzengi said: "From our consultations so far, most within the civil society
are convinced the MDC discarded the principle and spirit of 17 September
2005 when we all agreed that no longer shall we accept piecemeal amendments
short of a new, people-driven constitution.

"We believe that the MDC 's endorsement of the 18th Amendment to the
Constitution of Zimbabwe was an act of treachery and an unfortunate one,"
Mudzengi said.

He added that the "apparent seams" within the MDC would give the civil
society some "room to function without the opposition party's continued

The NCA, which is led by Lovemore Madhuku, played a pivotal role in the
formation of the MDC in 1999. It also partnered the MDC is mobilising
Zimbabweans to vote against a government draft constitution in a referendum
in February 2000. The MDC is also a member of the NCA.

Some of the organizations expected to attend the weekend meeting include the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition, Zimbabwe Law society and the Zimbabwe National
Students Union.

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Student leaders arrested again in Masvingo

24th Sep 2007 15:08 GMT

By a Correspondent

BARELY two weeks after student leaders in Masvingo were arrested, police
again pounced and arrested two student leaders. The two, Whitlow Mugwiji,
President of Great Zimbabwe University, who spent three nights in police
cells last week, and Courage Ngwarai, a Student Representive Council (SRC)
member, were arrested after skirmishes with the campus security.

Mugwiji, who is currently on suspension, is being charged with trespassing
while Ngwarai is being charged with causing malicious injury to property.
They are being detained at Masvingo Central Police Station.

The skirmishes started when security guards threatened the student leaders
with violence, apparently because they were coming from a ZINASU meeting,
which was discussing their cadetship program.

The two leaders were in the company of other general council members from
the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) when the chaos ensued.

The other student leaders, who include, Mehluli Dube and Zwelithini Viki
escaped, but were briefly detained on Sunday after they had taken food for
the incarcerated colleagues.  They were later released.

Other student leaders from GZU are on the run, and these include George
Makamure and Mukudzei Shoko

Meanwhile,  the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, Levy Nyagura,
has suspended UZ Students Executive (SEC) President, Lovemore Chinoputsa and
Secretary for Legal Affairs, Fortune Chamba over the peaceful demonstration
the two led last week at the campus.

They were subsequently arrested and beaten by campus security and sustained
injuries in the process.  The two have been suspended for unbecoming
behavior and damage to property, and in terms of Section 23 of the
University Act, Chapter 25:16, pending a disciplinary committee hearing, on
a date to be advised.

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Both are not sell outs

The Zimbabwean


A fair and balanced analysis of the serious clash between civic groups and
the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) compels one to
understand and appreciate their positions.
Acrimony in the circles of pro-democracy forces has been sparked by the
recent developments on the front of negotiations for a political settlement
involving the two MDC sides and Zanu (PF). The outcry has been loud and
clear from the civic groups, and it is that the MDC has sold out! It is so
serious that the two sides might be heading for a divorce.
Civic groups are crying out loud and blasting the MDCs for settling for a
very small piece of cake by accepting the 18th amendment, viewed by some
critics as a Zanu (PF) project. "Here we have a regime that is sinking and
close to collapse and then you have the MDCs rescuing it and giving it
another lifeline," a civic leader said. The MDCs has gone into a unity
accord with Zanu (PF) similar to the swallowisation of Joshua Nkomo's Zapu
in 1987, they say.
In countering, MDC officials among other things allege that the major cause
for all this panic within civic groups is the prospect of losing out
massively on donor funds. "They are benefiting from this crisis and they put
their selfish interests ahead of anything else hence their anger over any
progress towards solving it. They would have wanted to be included in the
thick of things in order to cash in," an MDC official believes. In other
words, basing on this allegation, it is civic groups which are selling out
big time?
But that might be a bit over the top. I seriously doubt if those in civic
groups would be immoral to the extent of wanting 14 million Zimbabweans to
continue dying whilst they enjoy the Greenbacks, Sterling Pounds and other
major currencies from donors.  Surely, it must be understandable how the
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) feels aggrieved by what could be a
very simple compromise by the opposition leaders regarding the issue of
constitutional reforms when they settle for a very small crumb that the 18th
amendment is.
Lovemore Madhuku and his colleagues at NCA have endured repeated battering
and torture for several years and kept fighting for the constitutional
matter to be included high on the agenda until today.  In that case one
understands where they are coming from, and why they believe someone has 30
pieces of silver in their pocket, or almost finishing selling them on the
black market!
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Media Institute of Southern
Africa have also treaded on dangerous waters and faced the Zanu (PF) regime's
wrath whilst fighting for a more democratic electoral framework and media
freedom respectively. Again, one understands why they would not settle for
30 pieces of silver, as it were. The same applies to many other members of
the civil society such as WOZA, ZimRights, MMPZ, and ZCTU. For that reason,
they have genuine concerns and misgivings about recent developments.
However, in acknowledging that but before reaching a conclusion, it is
important to seriously analyse and consider the circumstances that have led
to the current scenario, as well as empathise (yes I mean that word) with
the opposition. I have always been on the side of those critics believing
the opposition is not doing enough to confront the regime and push for
change, but lets face it, forcing Zanu (PF) onto the negotiating table, and
have it accede to some demands by the opposition is a major goal. Not that I
am saying the MDC or the democratic forces should not aim higher, but I am
coming from the position of being fully aware of the ruthlessness, arrogance
and contemptous nature of Zanu (PF) and Mugabe. The nature of negotiations
at this level must be emphasised. It is a give and take game, and if you go
there insisting on taking only you risk coming back empty handed and in more
trouble. The regime was certainly hoping for the slightest of opportunities
to chicken out of the negotiations and blame it on the MDC, and it would be
game on-more inflation, hunger, violence, subversion of rule of law and
rigging. People are suffering, people are dying and the regime has
demonstrated its thirst for blood, as well as how it awaits provocation. We
all know how Mugabe has been, showing SADC and other international bodies
ultra-stubborness merely for staying in power. It has happened before, and
it is a major trait of Zanu (PF), that of contemptously pulling out of
processes aimed at solving this country's problems. The nation has been the
biggest victim.
Madhuku and others will obviously say we will then continue with the
struggle, but it is pertinent to admit the lack of capacity and sufficient
commitment by the democratic forces to mount protests or confrontation
capable of dislodging the regime or causing change.
For the opposition it became a symbol of its own power that the regime
accepts to talk and what more, give in to demands for significant changes to
the electoral system, amending of security and media laws as well as having
to do away with Mugabe's appointed bootlickers in the House of Assembly.
In all fairness, it is major-and quite far reaching-to do away with a
bootlicker called Tobaiwa Mudede who has rigged elections all along and have
a Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) with representation from Zanu (PF) and
MDC. The same applies to abolishing Mugabe's Delimitation Commission and
have ZEC do constituency boundaries. It is also an achievement to have all
the 210 members of the House of Assembly directly elected, and not a single
one appointed!  Those crying out loud for having been sold out ask whether
these will guarantee the coming of change, and the answer is no, as is also
the case with whatever else we can embark on including a new constitution.
But these breakthroughs are steps towards levelling the playing field and
that is what all genuine Zimbabweans have been crying for.
Quite a good number of us have been very dismissive about the whole talks
thing even doubting if there would be agreement on the agenda because of
what we know the Mugabe system to be. But for a couple of reasons, including
that the dictator is drowning in the morass of his economic madness and
there is sustained international pressure, he has to give in.  That is a
window of opportunity for all Zimbabweans.  I am convinced that it is
retrogressive to outrightly allege that the MDCs have sold out, and mobilise
for their condemnation.
Admittedly, the MDCs could forever regret this commitment especially if the
widely feared possibility occurs, that of Zanu (PF) continuing to indicate
right but turning left, by in essence accepting these things only on paper
but go on to unleash its evil machinery of militia, use violence and subvert
the rule of law to steal another election victory. If the MDC cries out,
Zanu will easily tell them off and say but they agreed to these reforms and
were satisfied. Thabo Mbeki has made himself the guarantuor on this deal,
and despite his own questionable intentions and desires, he cannot afford to
be messed up by Mugabe again given what South Africa and SADC stand to
continue losing merely for harbouring an old dictator in Harare.
In the same manner, chances are realistic that whatever Zanu (PF) has at the
back of its mind as the way out or the plan B might flop thereby forcing it
to face reality in an election with some acceptable conditions for being
free and fair. Then, indeed the reality will strike!
In conclusion, civic groups must be urged to accept that this is a done
deal, and despite their genuine fears that someone got drugged to
compromise, put the interests of the nation ahead and hope for the best out
of this process. Lets have them continue shouting vociferously parallel to
the dealing between Zanu (PF) and MDC about a new constitution, media
freedom, respect for human rights etc. That way they keep the momentum and
continue piling pressure on what others have already dismissed as a
government of national unity involving Zanu (PF) and MDC.
On the other hand the MDC must remain awake to the real dangers of dealing
with a character like Zanu (PF) in such processes to avoid really selling
out eventually. The opposition must make it a point to always count its
fingers every time it shakes its partner in this deal, or its teeth if the
rapport gets to levels of kissing. Because we all know Zanu (PF) is a big
Above all, Zimbabwe invariably needs at this point in its history a positive
approach and optimism, which are the strengths of the majority yearning for
emancipation from the bondage of the Mugabe dictatorship and have helped
them endure this abuse for so long without presenting Mugabe an excuse to
slaughter them.

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What on Earth is going on?

The Zimbabwean


Few decisions by the MDC have caused such an outcry - we are betrayed,
 one group said, others said that the opposition has been dealt a fatal
 blow, still others said that it is now clear that Zanu PF will win the next
election and receive a clean bill of health from regional leaders.

The reality could not be further from the truth. Firstly, in making the
decision to co-operate with the SADC initiative, the MDC very clearly
understood the risks it was and is taking. Secondly, we know the nature
 of the beast better than anyone. Thirdly, we are now satisfied that the
 SADC States have changed their views on both the MDC and its potential role
 in any future government and also the nature and true intentions of Zanu
 PF and its beleaguered President.

Lets start with the last point, the changes in the SADC region since
2005/06. Up to now the SADC States have argued in private that an MDC
victory in an election in Zimbabwe would not be in the wider interests
 of the region or their individual countries. They have used their
 diplomatic capacity to lobby this point of view in Africa and beyond and
have even
supported actions to reinforce Zanu PF's position inside Zimbabwe and
 its hold on power. The reasons are many and I will not bother you with them
 at this juncture, but this perspective and assumption has exerted
 considerable influence on the ability of the MDC both to press its point of
 home and to make itself heard.

Inside Zimbabwe, observers now know that the SADC States and South
 Africa in particular, have been pursuing, not a regime change agenda in
 but a reform agenda with the present regime remaining substantively in

The truth of the matter, is that had Mr. Mugabe cooperated with his
colleagues as they sought change, Zanu PF might have actually survived
 this storm and been able to maintain its grip and ride into the sunrise
 at least some dignity.

But he has not done so and stubbornly hangs on to power at any cost.
 Jesus said once "He that will lose his life for my sake, shall find it!"
Mugabe is about to discover that "he who hangs onto power too long will
 lose it." For many reasons - again too many to be described here, the SADC
 has now decided that regime change through democratic means might be the
 only way to restore some sort of dignity to Zimbabwe and to stop the
 hemorrhaging that the entire region is experiencing. In doing so they have
 patience with Mr. Mugabe and are demanding fundamental changes to the way
 which elections are managed and relations with the opposition structured.

Those who have been engaged in this process from the beginning have
 observed this first hand and have no criticism of how South Africa has
 its role as the facilitator in this process. Even a superficial
 understanding of the process shows that the region is bringing major
pressure to bear on
 the Zimbabwe regime to change its ways or else!

When I explain to people the process that is underway in South Africa,
 they look at me in disbelief and astonishment. They simply cannot believe
 that Zanu PF is engaged in serious dialogue with the MDC and is granting
concessions - major concessions in the process. I agree, it is
 astonishing, but it is happening and the reason is that at last, regional
 not least of all, Mr. Mbeki, have been using their leverage and power to
 secure new conditions for the next elections.

The second major point I think needs to be made is that this process is
 the only game in town. There is simply no other way we can solve the crisis
 in Zimbabwe except by this route. The recent ZCTU stay away just
 illustrates that point, it was a near total failure. Despite all the recent
 publicity about the situation in Zimbabwe and the pressure being brought to
 on the UK government by the clerics - Mr. Brown simply has no solution
 that he can offer. All he can do is what he has already done, say that the
 situation here is intolerable and that the friends of Zimbabwe must keep
 candle burning in the window and be prepared to help us out of the hole we
 in once we have made the required changes to the way our country is

Mr. Brown's decision not to attend the EU/ACP summit is not very
 helpful. In my own personal view, he should go to the summit and allow Mr.
 to attend, but only on one condition - that the Zimbabwe crisis and its
 urgent resolution be placed on the agenda and debated in open forum by the
 leaders present. As it is, all that will happen is that Mr. Mugabe will
 and strut onto the world stage - completely undermining the main reasons
 for the summit itself and further eroding the credibility of African
 leadership. Mr. Brown's empty chair will simply say to the less informed in
Africa and
perhaps elsewhere that Mugabe continues to be a slayer of colonial

But back to the present situation; against the backdrop of the changes
 that have taken place in the region, the MDC has been negotiating since mid
 June, a detailed and comprehensive review of the conditions under which
 elections are managed and held in Zimbabwe. These negotiations still have
 way to go and have not been easy or without pain - on both sides. We are
getting all we wanted but in our view (and I hope of all those who are
 being briefed into the process) we are on the right side of change and what
 is being forged on this anvil, is a workable solution to the crisis in

On Tuesday we permitted an interim piece of legislation to go through
Parliament unopposed because it contained the required clauses that
 will allow the new Independent Electoral Commission to start work on voter
registration, the voters roll and the subsequent delimitation of
 electoral districts. This will take time and we felt that by allowing these
 elements of the agreements being thrashed out in the talks to go through
 required Parliamentary steps, we might save time - after all if we stick to
 March 2008, we only have 6 months to go - not a lot of time to get everyone
 on the voters roll, including all those who are at present,

When the talks are finally concluded - perhaps in 6 to 8 weeks time, a
comprehensive agreement will emerge that will deal with all aspects of
 the electoral process and will bring Zimbabwe into line with the SADC
 principles for democratic activity. Our main concern at present is that
Zanu PF is
behaving as if it is business as usual. The onslaught on the MDC and
 its structures continue unabated. A simple application to hold our 8th
anniversary celebrations in Masvingo have been denied by the Police and
 the mass exodus of MDC supporters and activists continues driven by fear,
 the siege of the urban areas where there is now little work, food and water
 and every day is a struggle to survive.

These were the strategies evolved by the Zanu PF regime after March
 2007 when they were forced by regional pressure to bring the election back
 to March 2008 and to accept electoral reforms. Clearly if we are to have
 free and fair elections and slow down the exodus of people to neighboring
countries, this has to stop. At our Friday Executive meeting we
 resolved to request that the regional leadership take this matter up with
 regime here and demand that they start behaving as if they were real
 democrats, as they have claimed all this time.

Eddie Cross

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Zinwa Pledges Fair Distribution of Water

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

24 September 2007
Posted to the web 24 September 2007


ZINWA will start channelling available treated water for Harare more fairly
to ease the serious shortages in the north-east and northern suburbs, the
areas at the end of its pumping chain.

"Under the programme, the authority commits itself to ensure that residents
in the north and north-eastern suburbs will not go for a period exceeding
seven continuous days without water supply while those in the high-density
suburbs will not exceed a period of 48 hours without water.

"Water to the industrial and commercial areas will be available at all
times," said Zinwa in its update statement.

"Drastic measures are being undertaken to improve production and
distribution and there will be gradual improvement to water supplies.

"Zinwa appeals to residents to use the available water sparingly not in
Harare alone, but nationwide."

The eastern and north-eastern suburbs have been always hardest hit when
there is a shortage of treated water.

Supplies for these areas have to be pumped from Morton Jaffray Water
Treatment Plant to Warren Control, then from Warren to the giant Letombo
Reservoir and then pumped again to the local reservoirs.

For the northern suburbs, the route is Morton Jaffray to Warren, Warren to
Alexandra Park, the reservoir complex on top of Hartman Hill in the Botanic
Gardens, and then to the local reservoir.

The suburbs in the west, south-west, centre and south of the city draw
supplies first from Warren Control and when the demand for treated water
exceeds supply there is nothing left to pump to Letombo and Alexandra Park.

Management requires cuts to those suburbs fed directly from Warren Control
so there is adequate water to pump east and north.

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Zimbabwe Opposition Tries To Mollify NGO Critics On Constitution Vote


      By Blessing Zulu
      24 September 2007

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change remained at odds Monday
with many of its traditional civil society allies over its controversial
deal with the ruling ZANU-PF party to amend the constitution, but was moving
to patch up the rift.

MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai met on Monday with leaders of
groups including the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition and the Zimbabwe National Students Union in an effort to
defuse the crisis.

But key allies including the National Constitutional Assembly, the National
Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, the Progressive Teachers
Union of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights refused his
conciliatory invitation.

Some civic leaders have taken to calling the MDC's endorsement of the
constitutional amendment "the great betrayal." Ironically, Tsvangirai's MDC
faction and its rival led by Arthur Mutambara find themselves united under
attack by civic activists.

The activists complain that the MDC agreed to sweeping changes to the
constitution as to the composition of both houses of parliament and
presidential succession with minimal consultation, adding that the MDC
should have insisted on a full rewrite.

Acting Executive Director Irene Petras of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights said giving parliament the power to elect a president when an
incumbent dies, is incapacitated or resigns runs against accepted
international norms.

However, she said most of the constitutional changes are cosmetic.

Meanwhile, the London-based Africa Confidential newsletter said MDC leaders
were assured by South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating crisis
talks with a mandate from the Southern African Development Community, that
ZANU-PF would agree to repeal the Public Order and Security Act and write
new election laws.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of Tsvangirai's faction declined to comment on that
report, but said opposition leaders believe history will vindicate their

NCA National Director Ernest Mudzengi said the dissenting civic groups want
to meet as "stakeholders" to clarify their position and relationship with
the opposition.

Elsewhere, sources said negotiators for the MDC and ZANU-PF met Monday in
Harare to discuss outstanding issues including the Public Order and Security
Act - which the opposition wants to see repealed - and existing electoral

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Striking Zimbabwe Teachers Shift From Sitdown Tactic To Stayaway


      By Jonga Kandemiiri
      24 September 2007

Striking members of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe will no
longer show up at schools for a sitdown but will stay home, the union
announced on Monday.

The statement issued by the union also said it was "urging all teachers to
unite in the strike," indicating that it is calling upon members of the
rival Zimbabwe Teachers Association to get on board the strike over wages.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association president Tendai Chikowore said her members
are getting impatient but that the association's officers are asking them to
stay on the job until Thursday as representatives are still in discussions
with the government.

Teachers have rejected the government's latest offer of a 100% basic salary
increase plus significantly increased housing and transportation allowances.

The Progressive Teachers Union says it will settle for no less than a basic
salary of Z$18 million (US$ 50) plus another Z$14 million in housing and
transport costs.

In a related development, Progressive Teachers Union officials said their
headquarters office in Milton Park, Harare, was ransacked over the weekend.

PTUZ General Secretary Raymond Majongwe told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the break-in will not change the union's
course or intimidate its members.

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Air Zimbabwe fires top pilot

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 09/25/2007 07:51:18
ZIMBABWE'S national airline has fired its top pilot and one time acting
chief executive Oscar Madombe after 18 years of loyal service amid
revelations of wide-scale worker discontent, Transport and Communications
Parliamentary Committee chairperson Leo Mugabe revealed Monday.

The MP suggested that an outside hand was responsible for the pilot's axing
saying the Air Zimbabwe board was not responsible.

Mugabe, who is the MP for Makonde (Zanu PF) made the revelation during a
committee hearing with officials from the Ministry of Transport that was led
by the permanent secretary in the transport minbistry, George Mlilo.

Mlilo expressed surprise on the development saying he had not been briefed.

However, Mugabe said Madombwe approached the committee, which tasked two
members to enquire into the matter.

Mugabe said the two members had stumbled on sensitive information that may
result in "so many people being fired" at Air Zimbabwe.

He did not give reasons for the Madombwe's sacking.

He added that the committee wanted Mlilo to resolve the issue, and if he
fails, the committee would take the unprecedented decision to table a report
in Parliament on Madombwe's treatment.

Mugabe said Madombwe had been loyal to Air Zimbabwe when many other pilots
were leaving it for greener pastures.

Mugabe said, the top pilot who was made acting CEO following the sacking of
Tendai Mahachi, had been promised a post as the airline's managing director
in charge of one of its subsidiaries, National Handling Services.

"He was not given the job and even now they have said they don't want him as
a pilot. He is at home," said Mugabe.

"I am pleading with you to resolve the matter. You cannot abuse people like

He added that Air Zimbabwe had foreign pilots who could abandon it anytime
whereas Madombwe had "proved to be patriotic" by sticking with the airline.

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