The ZIMBABWE Situation
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36 000t of wheat grounded in Beira

From The Sunday Mail, 2 September

Sunday Mail reporter

More than 36 000 tonnes of wheat destined for Zimbabwe are stuck in Beira,
Mozambique, as the country is battling to raise the full amount of foreign
currency required to pay off an international grain supplier. The situation
has seriously depleted Zimbabwe's wheat stocks, resulting in the country
relying on small and intermittent grain imports. The value of the wheat
could not, however, be immediately ascertained yesterday. State Security,
Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Minister Cde Didymus Mutasa confirmed
yesterday that the consignment was grounded in Beira. Cde Mutasa, who is
chairman of the National Taskforce on Food Procurement and Distribution,
confirmed that wheat was not readily available in the country. He, however,
said Government was working on procuring the grain, albeit in small
quantities, in order to ensure bread and flour availability. "We do not have
wheat stocks at the moment," said Cde Mutasa. "We are feeding from hand to

The minister said that the Government had some time ago engaged the services
of the international grain supplier. He said the Government was unable to
make the bulk purchase owing to insufficient foreign currency. "We cannot
talk of stocks at the moment but only a week's supply. We are under
sanctions so we do not have ready cash," he said. He said efforts were being
made to ensure flour and bread were readily available on the market. "As
soon as we pay, a little amount is brought into the country. We are still
feeding from hand to mouth, as this is usually a week's supply. We are,
however, trying to ensure that that little is enough to give the market
sufficient bread for the moment."

For some time now, Zimbabwe has been facing grain shortages. This has
resulted in the country turning to imports in order to augment available
supplies. Low production has largely been cited as the reason for the
shortages. Lately, bread shortages have swept across the country as the
effects of the wheat shortages continue to be felt. The milling industry
requires an annual allocation of 450 000 metric tonnes of wheat in order to
meet demand. However, the industry has in the past failed to access adequate
stocks. Officials say the situation has worsened as they can no longer
obtain adequate supplies from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB). They say
pockets of small-scale millers were holding on to old stocks with a view to
inflating flour prices. The official price for a tonne of flour is pegged at
$6 million, but the millers triple and, in some instances, quadruple the
price. "When one purchases flour at this price, one certainly makes a loss,"
said a baker.

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In deepening economic crisis, 2 die in Zimbabwe agriculture show stampedes

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: September 2, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Two people died in stampedes at the exit gates of
Zimbabwe's annual agriculture show, which was packed with crowds lured by
scarce snack foods and soft drinks and stalls selling cheap Chinese toys and
consumer goods.

A woman and a child - one of scores of lost children separated from family
members - died in two separate surges against the gates Saturday, police
spokesman James Sabau told state radio Sunday.

Attendances at this year's show at the Harare Exhibition Park were the
highest for several years, with many people hoping to find produce which has
disappeared from normal stores in Zimababwe's acute economic crisis. It was
also the biggest in years as exhibitors said they were lured to the show in
hopes of being allowed to sell their animals.

A cattle auction was banned Thursday at the showground by price control
authorities after it became clear bidders from butcheries, hotels and groups
of private buyers were willing to pay up to 10 times the government's fixed
price for on-the-hoof beef in the meat-starved nation.

A government order to slash prices of all goods and services by about half
in a bid to tame the world's highest inflation in June has left shelves bare
of meat, corn meal, bread, milk, eggs and other staples.

Officials at the six-day event said about 100,000 people entered the gates
on Friday. No tally was immediately available for Saturday.
Crowds jostled at the exit gates at the closing Saturday, hurrying to get
into lines for public transport outside, witnesses said. Acute gasoline
shortages have crippled transportation services.

Commuters routinely wait more than three hours to board buses for a
30-minute trip to Harare's satellite townships.

Official inflation is given as 7,634 percent, though independent estimates
put real inflation closer to 25,000 percent. The International Monetary Fund
has forecast it could reach 100,000 percent by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, two people died in a stampede in a sugar line in the
second city of Bulawayo. One woman also went into labor in a food line,
assisted only by a passerby after other shoppers intent on keeping their
place in the line ignored her cries for help.

In southern Zimbabwe, another woman died of strangulation when her neck
scarf caught in a gas-fueled generator during the nation's daily power

Attorneys this week reported clients facing acute food shortages in prisons.
Relatives asked to bring food often could not find enough in the shops or
get rides to prisons.

A panel of lawmakers has reported acute shortages of basic foods in
government youth training centers favored for the training of ruling-party
militants blamed for much of country's political violence and intimidation.

The state Sunday Mail newspaper, meanwhile, reported 36,000 tons of wheat
destined for Zimbabwe was being held at the Mozambique port of Beira
awaiting payment.

With shortages of bread and bakery products worsening, Didymus Mutasa, the
powerful security and lands minister, said the nation's wheat was down to a
week's supply.

"We do not have wheat stocks at the moment. We are feeding from hand to
mouth. As soon as we pay, a little amount is brought in ... this is usually
a week's supply," he was quoted as saying by the paper.

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Attempt to end Zim meat crisis


Sep 02 2007 02:47 PM

Chris Muronzi
Harare- A state abattoir is negotiating with chiefs and traditional leaders
in Zimbabwe to encourage rural folks to sell livestock to the company in a
desperate attempt to end a worsening shortage of meat in the troubled

The state owned Sunday Mail reported that the Cold Storage Commission (CSC)
is negotiating with chiefs to encourage rural folks to sell livestock for

But analysts say rural folks, who still believe that cattle is a measure of
wealth, are unlikely going to sell for a song.

"CSC's initiative comes as Zimbabwe is facing severe beef shortages.
Although the government recently sanctioned the re-licensing of 42
abattoirs, the situation has remained critical with consumers going for
weeks without beef.

"Under the arrangement, the abattoirs would slaughter cattle and be
sub-contracted to supply beef to butcheries. This raised hopes among many
consumers that meat would become readily available.

"However, the situation has remained unchanged, and renewed hope now lies in
reaching out to communities for livestock," the paper said.

This comes after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe ordered prices of goods
and services be halved in June.

Mugabe, blamed businesses for causing a runaway inflation currently above 7
600% according to the government statistical department.

Experts say the inflation figure is higher than the official figure because
the government doctors the numbers.

Meat in short supply

After the aged leader, 83, ordered price cuts, basic goods vanished from

Meat, a critical relish for generally meat-loving Zimbabweans, has also been
in short supply ever since.

Should Mugabe continue with his price control and monitoring policy, the
supply of meat will remain elusive, analysts say and no amount of persuasion
will ease meat shortages,.

Farmers say the price the CSC and other abattoirs are offering is
ridiculously low and might need to up the price ante to entice prospective

Earlier in the week Mugabes government stopped a planned cattle auction at
Harare Agricultural Show fearing possible embarrassment of its price control
policy if the market was remotely freed.

But analysts fear that traditional chiefs, who have jumped in bed with
Mugabe's Zanu pf party and hold seats in parliament, might feel compelled to
exert pressure on their subjects to part with their cattle.

This is because rural folks still have respect and in some cases actually
fear their respective rulers.

Mugabe has over the years pampered chiefs with lavish SUVs and financial
perks to win support of chiefs and scrounge for votes from unwilling
subjects to prop up the dictatorial leader's party.

The CSC is paying farmers an average of Z$42m for a super grade beast, Z$38m
for a choice, Z$22m for a commercial grade beast and ZW$16m for the economy

Zimbabwe is in its seventh year of economic crisis, which is largely
charecterised by high inflation.

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Zimbabwe Police Arrested For Taking Bribes From Illegal Diamond Miners

 By Avi Krawitz
Posted: 09/02/07 07:08

 RAPAPORT... An undisclosed number of police officers have been arrested in
Zimbabwe for taking bribes from illegal miners seeking to pan for diamonds
in the eastern part of the country, the local press reported.

Quoting the state-controlled Manica Post, South Africa's Independent Online
said the officers were arrested in the Chiadzwa diamond fields and were
being held at Harare's top security Chikurubi prison.

According to the report, police had been ordered to seal off the Chiadzwa
diamond fields, which has been the scene of a diamond rush that began last
year. The officers are suspected of collecting between ZWD 1 million and ZWD
2 million (around $4,000 to $8,000) from illegal panners, to allow miners a
half hour in the fields.

Assistant Police Commissioner Obert Benge, confirmed the arrests with the
Independent Online saying that the culprits would be dealt with

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 1st September 2007

Two London Vigils today.  A detachment led by Luka Phiri and Chipo Chaya was
sent down to Zimfest on the southern outskirts of London to try to galvanise
people attending this annual day out for Zimbabweans. They took with them
some of our banners "End Murder, Rape and Torture in Zimbabwe", "No to
Mugabe, no to Starvation" and also "Mbeki, Zimbabwe's blood on your hands",
along with one of our drums, and set up a stall.  We at the Embassy Vigil
got an urgent message early: "Please send more 'Make Mugabe History'
wristbands, we have sold out". Thanks to Soneni Baleni, Grace Mazura and
Sisa Sibanda for selling them.  Up to 50 Vigil supporters attended Zimfest.
They reported some difficulty in getting the hundreds of people there to
think about the situation in Zimbabwe rather than beers and braais, sadza
and games.  Unfortunately our supporters at Zimfest were not able to
properly duplicate the Embassy Vigil as they were given no space /
opportunity for the usual rousing singing and dancing. But supporters were
glad to meet Jenni Williams of WOZA.

Back at the Embassy we were happy to keep the flag flying. A lady came by
with two packets of biscuits.  She said she lived nearby and passed us
regularly on her way to work and thought she would give us something to
encourage us.  It might not have been sadza or boerewors but we were pleased
at the gesture.  Being outside the Embassy on a Saturday is always an
interesting experience.  Today we had Darth Vadar dropping by in his
wonderful get-up. We witness a kaleidoscope of weird people. Among those who
stopped for a chat was a Zimbabawean whose cell phone ringtone was a
recording of Mugabe's speech to the Johannesburg Earth Summit in 2002 at
which he said: "So Blair, keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe".
What has he done with it?  Well, according to Equatorial Guinea President
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo on a visit to Harare his fellow dictator
Mugabe has produced "an agriculture sector which is one of Africa's most
developed . . ."

We were pleased to welcome Jenny Lee of Jericho Films which is running a
film festival in London from a Christian perspective.  She wants supporters
to come and speak at the event which continues till Saturday, 8th September.
Check: for details.

We had sad news from Cinderella Themangombe who was on her way to the Vigil
when she received a message that her ex-husband had died in Zimbabwe after a
two-day illness.  Yet another failure of the Zimbabwean health service.

A message from our friends in Belfast about their Vigil on 17th August.
what they say: "The vigil went well - Kate Hoey and Sammy Wilson attended.
We had good press coverage including the BBC and the Belfast Newsletter.
The following day the Newsletter did a full page on the event/Zim situation
including some good photos - they even had a picture of Kate Hoey on the
front cover with a 'Mugabe must Go' placard.  We are going to present our
petition to the Northern Ireland parliament on 10th Sept and are hoping
Gabriel Shumba will take part in the session we are holding with the

For this week's Vigil pictures:

FOR THE RECORD:  89 signed the register outside the Zimbabwe Embassy.
Supporters from Bedford, Birmingham, Bolton, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester,
Liverpool, Manchester, Northampton, Orpington, Sheffield, Southampton,
Stoke-on-Trent, Twickenham, Wigan, Wolverhampton and many from London and
South East England.  Those at Zimfest report that around 50 people attended
their Vigil.

-         Monday, 3rd September 2007 -Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Mike
Auret, former Director, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and former
MDC MP, will speak on the democratic rights of Zimbabweans. Upstairs at the
Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street, London WC2 (cross the Strand
from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street, turn
right and you will see the pub).
-         Tuesday, 4th September, 12 - 1.30 pm. The International Liaison
Office of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum will be hosting 'Zimbabwe's
Gukurahundi: Lessons from the 1980-1988 disturbances in Matabeleland and The
Midlands' at Chatham House in London.  Further information on the Chatham
House website at:
-         Friday, 7th September 2007, 6.30 pm. Debate on human rights opened
by barrister James Keeley. Discussion on Zimbabwe led by Albert Weidemann.
Venue: Ripon, North Yorkshire, Address: YMCA, Water Skellgate, HG4 1BQ. For
more information, contact: Albert Weidemann on 01765-607900 or mobile 0779
340 1407
-         Saturday, 8th September, 2-6 pm.  Special literature event at the
Vigil as part of a worldwide reading for Zimbabwe.  Readings have been
chosen by the International Literature Festival of Berlin to be read and
broadcast around the world on 9th September.  We have chosen the nearest
Vigil to do this. For details, check
-         Monday, 10th September 2007 -Central London Zimbabwe Forum. A
special planning meeting for the Fifth Anniversary of the Zimbabwe Vigil.
Please attend - we need all the help we can get with what promises to be a
very busy Vigil and the social event afterwards.  Upstairs at the Theodore
Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street, London WC2 (cross the Strand from the
Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street, turn right and
you will see the pub).
-         Saturday, 13th October, 2 - 6 pm. Zimbabwe Vigil's 5th Anniversary
followed by a social event.

Vigil co-ordinator

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

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25 000 cases of rights violations recorded in six years

Zim Online

Monday 03 September 2007

By Thabani Mlilo

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum says it has recorded over 25
000 cases of rights violations over the past six years with state security
agents being directly involved in some of the worst rights violations
against government critics.

In a 29-page report released last week, the Forum, which is a coalition of
17 rights groups operating in Zimbabwe, said the violations were recorded
between July 2001 and February this year.

The Forum blamed most of the violations on the police and agents of the
dreaded spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agency, as well as
militant supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party.

"The protection of the law has in many cases been denied to those considered
hostile to ZANU PF.

"For these persons, the law enforcement agencies have become an instrument
of violence against them rather than an institution that offers them
protection. They live in fear of the very agencies that are supposed to
protect them," said the report.

The report said state agents were implicated in cases involving, murder and
attempted murder, rape, political discrimination and torture of government
opponents in an effort to crush rising dissension against Mugabe's

The rights group said 2006 was the worst year as it saw a total of 5 752
cases of rights violations being recorded, a significant increase from the
previous year's total of 4 170 cases.

Cases involving murder were highest between 2001 and 2003 when Mugabe
sanctioned the violent seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to
landless blacks, with at least 105 killings being recorded during the
period, according to the Forum.

The rights group warned that cases of political violence and rights abuses
were likely to increase as Zimbabwe prepared for next key year's
presidential and parliamentary elections.

"The general trend shows increasing violations since 2005, and, if the
current trend for 2007 continues, 2007 will be the worst year yet by a
considerable margin," says the Forum.

Political violence has been a major facet of every key election since the
emergence of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
in 1999.

Mugabe, who is blamed by critics for plunging Zimbabwe into its worst
economic crisis since independence 27 years ago, faces his biggest electoral
test next year when he takes on the MDC in an election critics say he could
lose because of rising anger over the state of the economy.

Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, who is in charge of the police,
yesterday denied that the police were violating the rights of government
critics accusing journalists of spearheading a smear campaign against the

"There is nothing like that (rights violations)," Mohadi said. "These are
lies being peddled by the likes of Amnesty International to advance a
negative agenda against Zimbabwe. I hate responding to lies.

"Even you journalists are part of that agenda. Otherwise why do you want to
be used to convey these lies? Are you genuine Zimbabweans?"

The Zimbabwean government has in the past vociferously denied that its
violates human rights blaming the charges on human groups that it says are
bent on tarnishing its image.- ZimOnline

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Mugabe's fresh price blitz takes Zim back to 'ground zero'

Zim Online

Monday 03 September 2007

By Edith Kaseke

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's sweeping law banning wage and price hikes
without government approval has sent fresh jitters in an economy battered by
a June price freeze and analysts said the Zimbabwean leader's latest bid to
tame inflation will further ruin a country scarred by eight years of

An executive with a leading Zimbabwean supermarket chain aptly summed up the
mood in the business sector saying: "It's back to ground zero, this is a
political game where the government wants to win at any cost."

Mugabe last week invoked the Presidential Powers Act, a law empowering the
83-year old President to set legislation without going to parliament. By the
stroke of a pen, he outlawed the little pretence to a free market economy,
announcing he would handpick a commission to rule on salary and price

The commission is only answerable to Mugabe, a former Marxist leader who is
also pushing for the nationalisation of state-owned companies, and analysts
said this confirmed Zimbabwe was now officially a command economy, run along
the lines of military and communist-style dictatorships.

Mugabe's latest move seemed to spite a report presented at the just ended
Southern African Development Community summit, which recommended that
Zimbabwe, among other things, should liberalise the economy and remove price
controls to end the deep recession.

"What we are seeing is a government that has reached its wits end and is
resorting to command tactics to put a measure of control on the economy,"
Harare-based economic consultant John Robertson said.

"But we very well know the fundamental issues that need to be addressed,
such as the sanctity of property rights, increased agriculture production
and improved relations with multilateral financial institutions," Robertson
told ZimOnline.

Zimbabwe home to the world's highest inflation rate - officially above 7 600
percent but thought to be double the figure by independent economists - has
an unemployment rate of more than 80 percent and is experiencing crunch
shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel.

The economic crisis has increased hardships in the former breadbasket of
southern Africa and raised political tensions.

Only a daily basis Zimbabweans grapple with electricity and water cuts,
burst sewers as infrastructure collapses due to lack of repairs, long queues
for transport and have to contend with empty shelves after a buying spree
that wiped out basic commodities following the June price freeze.

Businesses were still counting the cost of the price edict and the new
prices and wage increase law - peppered with the threat of a jail term for
defiant businesses, local authorities and even the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe - could see more companies just going under.

More than 1 000 companies have closed shop in Zimbabwe since 2000 when
agriculture production fell sharply after war veterans and ruling ZANU-PF
supporters invaded and displaced white commercial farmers, preceding the
government's land reform programme.

Zimbabweans are despondent, the opposition is weak and divided as Mugabe
continues to tighten his hold on power, leaving observers wondering whether
Zimbabweans are too afraid to square up to a government they accuse of
presiding over the economic crisis.

"I think it's good to control prices but not salaries," James Rukuni, a
security guard at a Harare bank said on Sunday. "But what is the use of
controlling prices of something that is not there? Things will only get
worse I think," he added, capturing well the attitude of many Zimbabweans
that their fate can only get worse.

Analysts predicted that the commission would not allow businesses to
increase prices to viable levels, a big challenge for companies that have
also been hit by a huge brain drain as Zimbabweans seek better paying jobs

Some private schools, which have given Mugabe's government a headache by
increasing fees in line with inflation and are some of those mostly targeted
by the new law, have wound down boarding facilities, only offering day

"It would seem the government's thinking is that direct intervention is the
only way it can influence the economy but that is only a short term solution
with long term consequences," Eldred Masunungure, a leading political
commentator said.

With key presidential and parliamentary elections looming in 2008, the
government appeared motivated more by a desire to be seen to be doing
something to fix the economic crisis even if its actions could lead to more
suffering, said the respected Masunungure.

"The government cannot just sit and say we have run out of ideas, they have
to be seen to be doing something especially with a critical election looming
in 2008," he said.

Mugabe denies that he is responsible for the economic meltdown and accuses
Western countries, especially former coloniser Britain of punishing him for
seizing farms from whites in a move he says was necessary to address
imbalances brought about by colonialism. - ZimOnline

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ZANU PF Women's League boss wants Mujuru out

Zim Online

Monday 03 September 2007

By Lizwe Sebatha

BULAWAYO - ZANU PF women's league head Oppah Muchinguri at the weekend
threatened to push for the ouster of Vice-President Joice Mujuru in a fresh
twist in the vicious power struggle in Zimbabwe's ruling party over the
succession of President Robert Mugabe.

Two hostile camps, one backing Mujuru and another supporting former
parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa have battled to control ZANU PF and
position their preferred candidate to succeed the 83-year old Mugabe when
and if he retires.

Without mentioning Mujuru by name, Muchinguri told a women's meeting at
Plumtree, about 132 kilometres south-west of Bulawayo, that some top women
leaders were preoccupied with struggle to succeed Mugabe and no longer
representing women's issues, adding that the league would push for their

She said: "There are some women that we put on top to represent the women's
interests and needs but they have failed and continue to be linked to coup
plots and the succession issue every day. We will ask them to step down at
the coming party congress in December."

Both Muchinguri and Mugabe have in the past publicly endorsed Mujuru for the
top job but appear to have ditched her, with Mugabe making disparaging
remarks about Zimbabwe's first female vice-president in a television
interview last February.

Mugabe, in power since 1980, will next year stand for re-election for
another five-year term and has not said when or whether he will leave

But ZANU PF insiders say constitutional changes proposed by the government
to empower Parliament to elect a new president if the incumbent leaves
office before his/her term expires are a part of an exit strategy to allow
Mugabe to handpick his successor and quit in or before 2010.

An internal report by ZANU PF's security department leaked to the media two
months ago says jockeying for Mugabe's position had paralysed party
operations with senior leaders devoting most of their time and energies to
furthering the interests of their chosen candidates or factions at the
expense of party work.

Mugabe, who has in the past accused some of his top lieutenants of seeking
the help of magicians to enhance their chances to succeed him, last week
admonished senior ZANU PF leaders for stampeding for his job, saying they
should wait to be chosen by the people and should not impose themselves as
leader of the party.

Analysts say whoever wins the battle to succeed Mugabe as leader of ZANU PF
is most likely to become president of Zimbabwe, citing a divided and
weakened opposition they say is presently not well positioned to oust the
ruling party.

Under Mugabe's charge, Zimbabwe has declined from being one of Africa's most
vibrant economies to being a classical African basket case, characterised by
the world's highest inflation of more than 7 000 percent, deepening poverty
and shortages of every basic survival commodity. - ZimOnline

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Lessons of Mugabe's country

hfxnews, Canada

A pleasant visit transformed by the kindness of hosts contrasts sharply with
backdrop of chaos


There is a joke I heard while in Zimbabwe. "If you see a queue, you join it.
Once you are in it, you ask what you are queuing for. If you need it, you
stay. If you don't, you leave."

This is a country that has learned how to line up and wait. While in Harare,
I saw lines over 200 metres long where people stood for hours so they could
buy their allotted two loaves of bread. Many petrol stations simply locked
their doors and closed up. The few stations with gas faced lineups where
cars waited for hours to purchase fuel using a voucher system. Beef, once a
famed Zimbabwean export, was simply not available. Entire sections of
supermarket shelves stood empty, the manufacturers no longer willing or able
to produce the goods. The Zimbabwe of today is a much different one than
yesterday, but while most commodities are becoming scarce, one that is not
is hope.

I approached the immigration office on the Zimbabwean side of the border
with a certain amount of trepidation. A delayed departure from Malawi had
meant missing the border opening hours, and a restless night of sleep on the
bus left me disheveled and a bit discombobulated. I had been told by many
travelers that potential nightmares awaited me at the border. One source, a
Zimbabwean, said I might be arrested for suspicion of being a spy. For whom,
I'm not sure. Robert Mugabe, the President for Life, had been fanning the
flames of xenophobia by laying the problems of Zimbabwe on the doorstep of
colonial and imperialistic powers. While Danayi, my travelling companion,
was part Zimbabwean, spoke Shona, and was visiting family in Harare, I was
just a nervous white guy with a backpack.

Ironically, it was possibly the smoothest, most pleasant border crossing I
experienced in Africa. No hassle, no trouble; just an expensive visa, and a
perfunctory bag search and that was it. And just like that, we were in what
many consider to be one of the worst, most desperate countries in the world.

We approached Harare by driving by some of the most elaborate houses I had
ever seen. The roads were immaculate compared to nearly anywhere else in
Africa I had seen. We were dropped off at the Holiday Inn, where the doorman
quickly put our bags on a trolley and wheeled them inside. Another
approached us offering us a complimentary newspaper. Clearly the newspapers
had left out a few things.

One thing was immediately clear; the Zimbabwean economy was out of control.
Inflation was astronomical. It was officially pegged at around 4,500 per
cent, but estimated much higher by some sources.

While I was there, the IMF produced a report stating that the rate continued
unabated, it could reach 100,000 per cent by the new year. This has lead to
the printing of bills of huge denominations, and unbelievably, expiration
dates. Just before I arrived, the government announced a new bill, the
$200,000 bill.

To make the situation even more bizarre, the government had decreed that any
bank or foreign exchange could only exchange foreign currency at the rates
they decreed. For example, USD $1 bought you $250 Zimbabwean dollars. On the
black market, however, USD $1 bought you $200,000 Zimbabwean dollars. It was
illegal to change money on the black market, but only a fool would do
anything else. So desperate for foreign currency that the government had
made it a law that stated foreigners had to pay for any accommodations in
American dollars. You could not even use the country's own currency.

To give some perspective, let me give some examples. When Danayi and I
arrived at the Holiday Inn, we asked to use the house phone to call her
family to pick us up. The front desk agreed but told us it would be $50,000
for a one minute call. At the black market rates, the call cost us about USD
$0.25 cents. At the official rates, the phone call cost us USD $200. One day
at a supermarket I bought a big bar of chocolate for $356,000. At black
market rates, my treat was a reasonable USD $1.78. At official rates, my
little bit of sugary goodness set me back USD $1424. While in Zimbabwe, I
wanted to buy a new tent to replace the one that had self destructed in
Malawi. I paid $8,330,000. At black market prices the tent was a deal at USD
$41.65. At the official rates, my little nylon shelter would have cost me
USD $33,320, or more than half of my annual salary when I used to teach in

My time in Harare was wonderful, mostly due to the hospitality and
friendship given to me by Danayi's family. They are upper-middle class, and
well connected, and seemed a little less affected by the current situation.
Danayi's father owns a business with his office headquarters in South
Africa, giving him a steady supply of foreign exchange, essential in the
volatile Zimbawean economy. In fact, compared to the style and quality of
living I have grown used to on this trip, my time in Harare felt like I was
living in the lap of luxury.

This is not to say Danayi's family was living like the French aristocracy
just before the French Revolution. These are the kind of people that
Zimbabwe needs to keep it afloat, and put it back on track after the dust

Daniyi's father and a business associate started an organization that helps
out disadvantaged youth in Harare. It is a football (soccer) academy that
has produced both male and female players on the Zimbabwean national teams.
Danayi's father and stepmother are people who have a deep love for their
country, and are determined to see that country return to greatness.
Danayi's family is one of some influence and respect, and I had the
opportunity to meet and have conversations with some very interesting and
intelligent people while I was there. One thing that seemed to be agreed
upon was that Robert Mugabe, or Uncle Bob, would not leave until he deemed
it the right time. Mugabe is an incredible politician, a revolutionary hero,
and a wily, incredibly stubborn, and healthy old man. While his party mans
the helm of an economic sinking ship, the opposition in Zimbabwe has fallen
into two opposing, squabbling camps. They are too busy fighting each other
to mount any type of viable opposition to Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

While the intelligentsia flees abroad to seek their fortunes elsewhere,
Mugabe plays to his traditional base of support, the poor and veterans of
Zimbabwe's war of independence.

Mugabe is from another era of politics and another era of cultural
prominence for both men and age. He represents Zimbabwe's throwing off of
white rule, and while his actions have been suspect or misguided in the last
10 years or so, that fact and the sentiment attached to it, still carries a
lot of weight.

One man I spoke to told me that Mugabe represents a stubbornness and demand
for respect that is very Southern African in nature: no amount of finger
pointing, talking down to or about, or outside criticism, especially by
younger, non-African leaders is going to convince Mugabe to do anything
Mugabe doesn't want. And if the western powers don't understand this
important cultural, African bit of fact, they will never be effective in
bringing about any change in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is a country of remarkable mineral wealth, and vast agricultural
potential. That is part of the sadness about the current troubles.

It has an infrastructure that is better than any I have seen in Africa to
this point. While it is beginning to deteriorate, one feels it could bounce
back quickly given the right leadership and investment. Zimbabwe used to be
an exporter of food, but since Mugabe's farm reclamation project,
agricultural output has fallen to the point where they must import food to
sell. When Mugabe seized farms from white farmers, most of whom were
professional farmers and educated in the field, it was often given to
veterans of the army or cronies of Mugabe's government.

Most of these have either let the fields lie fallow, or lack the experience
and expertise to reap from the land the potential it has. Many people are
depending on backyard gardens to supplement their food supplies.

While there can be debates for ages over Mugabe's decision to take back land
held by whites that many claimed were gained under a racist regime, it is
more the manner it which it was done, and the use of that land since that
had been one of the major causes of the current food crisis.

Another has been the disastrous economic policies of the current government.
In the middle of this past July, Mugabe declared that all businesses must
cut their prices back to the prices of mid-June. With the obscene inflation
rate, this meant that for a few short days (while there was still stock),
Zimbabwe was one of the best deals on earth. People rushed out to buy
anything and everything they could. Stores sold out stock in days. Since
then, Mugabe has maintained these price freezes must stay. This flies in the
face of the economic realities that hyper-inflation brings. Literally,
within days, companies, stores, and buses were taking a loss with every item
sold or ticket sold. Many began to simply close shop, to go out of business
until the storm abates. Others began to charge prices that were more in line
with the inflation trends in order to survive. Mugabe's reaction? He had
store owners, bus drivers, and shop managers arrested and charged with
treasonous activity. He set up hotlines for people to call to report stores
who were selling at above the accepted price limits. Farmers refuse to sell
cattle at a price that looses them money. As a result, beef has become an
incredibly rare and highly sought after luxury item.

Despite this, people still walk the streets of Harare. It is a remarkably
friendly country, where hospitality is still shown to strangers, even a
white stranger in a country where black-white relations have been strained
significantly at times. Families still gather when they can, and people take
solace in the company of loved ones, making jokes about the situation even
while they secretly wonder just how bad things can get.

The truth about the Zimbabwe of today is, like most things, somewhere in
between the alarmist claims of western media and the false assurances and
accusations of the Zimbabwean government. In demonizing Mugabe, there has
been an unfortunate tendency by the western press to publish any story about
Zimbabwe so long as it shows people suffering and Mugabe as the cause. In
the same vein, nearly any public statement made by Mugabe's government seems
entirely bent on playing down the monumental problems facing the country and
laying all of it's woes on the doorstep of western, imperialistic powers.
Freedom of press in the country seems to be fighting for its life. It is a
government that seems determined to avoid responsibility for a sinking ship
they are captaining.

Zimbabwe is a country filled with rich and poor, educated and uneducated,
vast potential and wasted talent, and hope and despair. It deserves to have
its story heard and a world audience who is media literate and willing to
sort through the conflicting stories from all sides to try and get a real
understanding of what is happening. Quite simply it, and its people, deserve

Nova Scotian DJ Church is in the second year of a three-year trip around the
world. The Daily News has been checking in with him regularly on his
travels. To follow along with him more frequently, visit his blog at

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Zimbabwe: Changing The Mindset of A Nation

African Path

Izzy Mutanhaurwa

September 02, 2007 05:10 AM

1994 a few months before the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as the
first democratically elected President of South Africa, the South African
Broadcasting corporation ran some educational programmes about democracy,
independence what it meant being free. I remember a an advert fronted by
S'dumo a popular South African comedian that was teaching South Africans
that although the government has changed little has changed in their day to
day lives. Like for instance after Mandela's inauguration they would still
wake up in their homes, continue to do what they were doing, going to work,
kids going to school. It is on the same premise that MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai said that removing Mugabe would not necessarily mean that
democracy would prevail in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe will go but it will take decades for the Zimbabwean society to
rid themselves of Mugabe fostered environment of corruption, greed and
selfishness. Its common knowledge that the delivery of basic services in
Zimbabwe is dependent on your political allegiance and who you know. Even if
Mugabe has gone the corruption culture is deeply interred in the edifices of
the structures that MDC will inherit when they get to power. A mechanic at
CMD (Government controlled motor vehicle repair service) drains petrol from
a government vehicle and sells it on the black market leaving the tax payer
to pick up the bill. A state security agent stationed at Harare Airport
waves in goods imported by his friends without paying import duty preventing
the government to earn money to use to improve people's lives. A policeman
stops a driver on suspicion of drink-driving which is an offence in
Zimbabwe, his suspicions are correct the guy is over the legal limit to
drive instead of arresting him, he accepts a bribe to turn a blind eye again
denying the government a chance to earn money through fines that in turn
could be used to improve the police deliver better service for its citizens.
A utility company ignores the official waiting list for anyone with a better
colour of money, so a provision of land-line telephone depends if you are
prepared to bribe. For many Zimbabweans stealing from the government is ok
they view it a victim-less crime not knowing that delivery of service
depends on it and that they the tax-payers are stealing from themselves.

A lot of people are concerned how MDC will turn out as a ruling party.
History has shown us that a change of government in Africa does not
necessarily usher democracy. Take Malawi after Banda, look at Zambia after
Kaunda how MMD of Zambia succumbed to corruption and greed that they had
fought to eliminate are things better under Mwanasa. Even the change of
government has not improved the lives of people in Uganda ask Kizza Besigye
like Morgan Tsvangirai had elections stolen from him by Museveni who has
ruled Uganda for 22 years. Its been the same for Kenyans whose life has not
improved by change of government. MDC is in a unique position, they can only
learn from the mistakes in the region. As a party we should be able to take
criticism without feeling threatened by the critics. MDC should also foster
an environment that fosters democracy, freeing airwaves repealing repressive
laws that endangers human rights and personal freedoms.

A massive re-education of people will be needed, it will need to
imprinted on the minds of the police, army and civil servants that MDC led
government will inherit that corruption and greed have no place in a new
Zimbabwe and that anyone caught will feel the full wrath of law. As
individuals Zimbabweans will need to rise above tribalism and chauvinistic
attitudes to realise a first for Africa a truly democratic government.

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A collective memory of solidarity with Zimbabwe - until now

Comment from The Sunday Times (SA), 2 September

Mondli Makhanya

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel highlighted an important concept recently:
the concept of collective memory. Talking about the need for Zimbabweans to
seek their own solutions to their problems, Manuel wrote in our twin paper,
The Times, that Zimbabweans needed to craft their own future and not rely on
outsiders to help them out of their mess. It was only in this way, Manuel
said, that they would get an enduring solution which they would own and
protect. "The principle of collective memory has been tested in a number of
situations - Germany's experience with inflation between the two world wars,
India's experience with successive generations of Gandhis, the experiences
of developing countries with reforms directed by the International Monetary
Fund presented as conditions of structural adjustment, or even Zimbabwe's
experience with the role of the UK in the Lancaster House agreement. "In
each instance, the collective memory of the event or circumstance tended to
shape the national response." He said it was "when nations own the analysis
and the solution [that] a durable commitment is possible, but where
'solutions' are driven from outside, nations remain lukewarm and blame
remains with the interveners".

Fair point. But disappointing, because Manuel failed to acknowledge that our
collective memory records that international solidarity with oppressed South
Africans played a key part in the removal of the apartheid government. If we
let our collective memory take us back to August 1983, we would find so many
parallels with the collective memory of Zimbabweans. On a wintry August day,
thousands of activists from all corners of South Africa gathered at the
Mitchells Plain Community Centre for the launch of the United Democratic
Front. Present in that hall were trade unionists, civic activists, church
leaders and youth activists. They were united by one objective: to rid the
country of apartheid and bring about democracy in South Africa. A potent
force was born that day, a force that would ultimately bring the apartheid
government to its knees. Manuel was in that hall and would emerge as one of
the main drivers of the UDF.

In Zimbabweans' collective memory is the month of September 1999, when
thousands of activists gathered in Harare to talk about a new future.
Present were trade unionists, civic activists, church leaders and youth
activists. They were united by one objective: to halt Zimbabwe's slide into
an oppressive dictatorship and to restore democracy to their country. The
gathering resulted in the birth of the Movement for Democratic Change, a
force that would rattle the government of Robert Mugabe. Drawing on their
collective memory, South Africans will remember that the UDF mobilised a
mass campaign to wreck the 1984 tricameral parliamentary elections. Those
elections - to set up puppet parliaments and administrations to run Indian
and coloured affairs - were boycotted by communities. The UDF also mobilised
against puppet local councils in African townships. It was the start of the
1980s mass uprisings and the final push against racist rule.

Back across the Limpopo River, the Zimbabweans will remember that in their
February 2000 referendum, the newly formed MDC spearheaded a campaign for
the rejection of a new, Mugabe-designed constitution. The country's
electorate delivered an emphatic NO to Mugabe's constitutional proposals,
jolting the Zanu PF elite. This victory for the opposition was to be the
birth of mass mobilisation in Zimbabwe. If we proceed along the path of our
collective memory, we will discover that the National Party's response to
the UDF's mass mobilisation campaign was brutal. A state of emergency was
declared, tens of thousands of activists were detained without trial and
thousands were killed. Brave media voices were silenced and the judiciary
was subjected to severe pressure. The state was militarised and
extra-judicial killings became the order of the day.

So what happened in Zimbabwe after Mugabe lost the referendum and felt the
wave of militancy sweeping across his country? He launched a vicious
campaign against the MDC. War veterans were unleashed on MDC strongholds,
newspapers were harassed and shut down and the judiciary was strong-armed.
Leaders were beaten and tortured. The state was further militarised and
murders of anti-Mugabe activists became a fact of life. Collective memory
will show us that the world was appalled by the actions of the National
Party - and acted. Newspaper reports and television footage of the crackdown
invigorated the international anti-apartheid movement. Neighbouring states
took great risks to support the South African struggle. The National Party
was isolated by the human family and told in no uncertain terms that it
stank. Fast forward to the 2000s, and collective memory will show that we
South Africans stood aside and kept silent as horrors were visited on the
ordinary people of Zimbabwe. If, as Manuel correctly points out, collective
memory guides nations' responses to situations, we should let our collective
memory guide us on Zimbabwe.

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Gratitude: Musings after my Incarceration in Zimbabwe

Huffington Post
Michealene Cristini Risley

Posted September 1, 2007 | 08:35 PM (EST)

We have a rat in our wall this morning. A rat in our wall is very rare, and I wake up from the sound of his gnawing at something religiously. I wonder if he will ever get to the bottom of whatever he is chewing - and find nothing left to gnaw! My brain has been in a perpetual state of gnawing since my arrest and deportation from Zimbabwe during the filming of my feature-length documentary Tapestries of Hope.

This is the first time that I have used my pen to write an original thought since my arrest. I will never take for granted the power of free-thinking or the ability to speak of my experience without fear of repercussions, torture or death. I type these words with a great deal of reverence, responsibility and respect. I borrow from Edward Bulwer-Lytton:

Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! -- itself a nothing!
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cęsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! -- Take away the sword
States can be saved without it!

After arrest by about 15 secret service agents, three days of interrogation and incarceration interspersed with a night in a windowless 5x5 prison cell, and being escorted to a plane for deportation - I am grateful to be walking again on United States soil. In fact, I kissed the carpet at San Francisco airport when we landed (It needs to be cleaned, guys!)

I recently traveled to Africa to tell the story of the rape and abuse of young girls in Zimbabwe. I had planned to explore the myths behind the cultural belief that when a man rapes a virgin (the younger the better), he will cure his AIDS. Not only is this absurd notion false, but it has spread the deadly virus to younger children rapidly. Betty Makoni, a child rights activist and my friend had formed the GIRL CHILD NETWORK several years back. The focus of GCN is to create awareness, assist these girls and create and empower change. She is a beacon of hope amongst the continued ravaging of young girls and infants in that country.

Even after our incarceration and interrogation, we have managed to bring back enough videotape footage to tell the story. That is another reason that I am grateful. We managed to capture footage of a Zimbabwe doctor who volunteers with the GCN and tells us about the rape of a one-day old. It goes beyond comprehension to know that this is going on in Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa. This infants' case is certainly not isolated. I can't bear to think about how much pain and carnage her body went through from this horrendous act. She died from the trauma.

Since our departure Betty has been interrogated, jailed and forced to report every day to the Harare Police Headquarters to answer repetitive and ignorant questions from an office army of drones.

The questions have been going like this:

"Why are you doing this?

"Why do you only work with girls?" (the rape and abuse of boys in Zimbabwe is much less of a problem than girls - much less so than the US problem with the rape and abuse of young boys)

"You are using the girls as a cover to form a political party"

"Your friends from America are Central Intelligence Agency Officers!"

"You have caused a lot of trouble it is time for you to be behind bars!"

True, it is time for someone to be behind bars - but that is not Betty Makoni. She is a gutsy, inspirational leader who fights for change every second of her life. I am humbled by her tenacity and courage in the face of insurmountable odds. In her focus to increase awareness and help victims, she is bombarded by requests for assistance 24 hours a day. As we traveled in rural areas, I saw the text messages come to her cell phone. I witnessed the people coming to her in a fuel-less gas station desperate for help. A sea of faces crying out: "My daughter... a young neighbor... I am... being raped... sexually molested... I need help." She does not say no. Indeed, she is their only hope.

When I spoke with Betty yesterday, she had just come from being incarcerated. This time they arrested her with well known Zimbabwe talk show host Mai Chisamba, for allegedly contravening the Child Protection and Adoption act. Although they released Mai Chisamba, Betty remained in custody yesterday. The allegations were about the talk show hosts broadcasts a few months back that included rape victims telling their stories. The girl's faces were blurred but the argument was that some could be identified by their voices.

I was supposed to meet Mai Chisamba when I was in Zimbabwe. Betty and Mai have been good friends for some time. Our dinner was to take place on Tuesday the 21st of August. It was the first day of our interrogation however. By the time we were released, we ended up going to the wrong meeting place and missed Mai. When we tracked her down she was already going to bed. I was disappointed but knew that we would make time later in the week to meet with her. Of course that never happened.

Now Mai Chisamba will be used to testify as a state witness against Betty. Apparently, Betty needs to be silenced. Betty was resigned to her friend's predicament and had no negative words for Mai Chisamba. "She is my friend, an old lady and she is scared. They have her on a tight rope." It is Betty's empathy for people and her own survival story that make her so effective and loved by the Zimbabwe people. Why so much recent grief for all her good work? Look to the papers to see who is doing the raping and you will have a better understanding of the insurmountable odds she must face.

On the phone she was exhausted and disheartened. Her voice cracking as she said, "Women and girls should be let to do their work and not to be victimized again. There is nothing, absolutely nothing political in what we do, and yet we are forced to stop because of false allegations."

Betty must report every morning at 8am to the downtown police station. She was planning on traveling to the United States on Monday, September 3rd, but for now the trip is canceled. She had planned the trip for the Global Fund for Women and to meet up with photojournalist Paola Guinturco for the tour of her book, Women Who Light the Dark.

It is an incredible book about women all over the globe who use their imagination and passion to create change. The first chapter in the book is Betty Makoni's story. It is through Paola that I became aware of Betty's work and eventually met her in San Francisco. Paola herself is a dedicated force for women's issues and a talented photojournalist.

Now forced to stay in Zimbabwe and miss the launch of the book, Betty is frustrated. Before we hang up Betty says to me: "We need the whole of Africa to know that this should not be allowed. Politics should not stand in the way of helping children." I agree. I think the whole world should know that children are not to be used as pawns for regimes and governments' control. The physical and mental health and welfare of children is everyone's concern.

I am about to retire the keyboard for morning. I can hear my kids yelling. The house is a disaster. It seems so trivial compared to what is going on in Zimbabwe. The rat has moved in the wall, closer to where I sit. I kick the wall to get him to stop making noise.

The gnawing stops for a moment, and then continues...

For more information on what we are doing in Africa, please visit the project's blog or the popular Facebook group.

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Chronic Fuel Shortages In Zimbabwe Raises Travel Woes And Deforestation


By Fazila Mohamed and Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
02 September 2007

Amid ongoing fuel shortages and fare hikes in Zimbabwe, some commuters
complain train travel has become an increasingly trying and unpleasant

Several say the experience is characterized by exceptionally lengthy queues
and overcrowded, dirty platforms.

But, as correspondent Fazila Mohamed of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
reported, many say this is unavoidable as travel by train is one of the only
affordable means of transport to many destinations.

Meanwhile, the increased power cuts and fuel shortages have disrupted the
functions of many Zimbabwean households.

As a result, many have resorted to finding other sources of energy to cook,
and in cold weather, to heat up homes.

One practice of particular concern to conservationists is the cutting of
trees for firewood, which conservationist say has reached alarming levels.

As a result, Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper reported recently that
the Forestry Commission has made plans to meet with stakeholders, to find a
way around the power cuts, while saving the trees.

Regional Director James Murombedzi of the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources - the world conservation union,
said deforestion has negative consequences that will impact not only
Zimbabwe, but the region and the global community, as a whole.

Murombedzi told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye that based on a recent report
by the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe, an immediate solution is needed to
stop deforestation.

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Public Hearings for the Constitutional Amendment No 18 Bill

[31st August 2007]

Public Hearings for the Constitutional Amendment No 18 Bill
[If you would like an electronic version of the Bill - please request it.
Also available on request: full text of Constitution including the proposed

The Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs will
conduct Public Hearings next week in Harare, Bulawayo and Gweru on the
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 18 Bill:-

          Date:                    Thursday 6th September
          Time:                   0900 hours
          Venue                  Zambezi Room - Jameson Hotel

          Date:                    Friday  7th September
          Time:                   1400 hours
          Venue                  Top of the Rainbow Room - Rainbow Hotel

          Date:                    Saturday 8th September
          Time:                   1100 hours
          Venue                  Courtney A Room - Fairmile Hotel

The hearings are open to all members of the public and interested
organisations to attend and/or to present written or oral submissions.
If you have queries please telephone the Clerk of the Portfolio Committee,
Ms Macheza, telephone (04) 700181, 252936-50, extension 2253.
Those wanting to make written submissions should deliver them to Parliament
as soon as possible and before 4 pm Wednesday afternoon.  Written
submissions and correspondence should delivered via the Kwame Nkrumah Ave
entrance and be addressed to:-
The Clerk of Parliament
Attention: Portfolio Committee on Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
Alternatively, written submissions can be handed in to the Committee Clerk
after you have made your presentation at the hearing.

Procedure at public hearings:
·   Introduction by the Chairperson of the Committee who will announce the
procedure he would like followed, but normally the procedure is:-
·   Submissions from the floor - if you have notified the clerk you have a
submission you will be called on to speak. Alternatively you can raise your
hand until the Chairperson acknowledges you.
·   Time for members of the committee and participants to ask questions and
make comments
·   Closing comments by the Chairperson.
Note:  At these hearings all submissions and discussion are protected by
Parliamentary privilege.

Members of the Portfolio Committee
Hon T. S. Chipanga (Chairperson), Hon Sen. F. Bayayi, Hon Chief J. Bidi, Hon
F. E. Chidarikire, Hon I. T. Gonese, Hon J. M. Gumbo, Hon W. Madzimure, Hon
Sen. S. Mahere, Hon A. Malinga, Hon Chief C. Malisa, Hon Sen. T. J. Mapfumo,
Hon Sen. Chief C. H. H. Marange, Hon T. Matutu, Hon M. Mawere, Hon P.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Hon Sen. Chief L. K. Mtshane, Hon Chief P. M.
Mudzimurema, .Hon Sen Chief C. E. Negomo
Other individual MPs and Senators can be approached and lobbied at any time.
Members of the Portfolio Committee, MPs and Senators can be contacted
through Parliament [Tel. No. and address as above.]

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SADC applauds Mugabe for destroying a nation

Mmegi, Botswana
 Friday, 31 August 2007


Robert 'Pol Pot' Mugabe got another standing ovation for capably pulling in
the opposite direction of where the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) is trying to go. The ovation came, not from those rent-a-crowd mobs
we see at airports whenever an African president leaves or arrives home, but
from the African Heads of State themselves.

In the last 15 years and more, Mugabe has done nothing but ruin a country,
murdering a nation and its economy. It's sad that we are losing count of
those citizens whose deaths he is responsible for.

Mugabe has literally chased judges and magistrates out of the country, with
most of them now in Britain, Botswana, South Africa and surrounding
countries. So are Zimbabwean engineers, doctors and other professionals.
Many Zimbabwean journalists, in and outside the country, have been attacked;
many have gone missing, with others turning up dead.

Mugabe withholds food from the hungry citizens because he suspects them of
being loyal to opposition political parties. The economies of South Africa
and Botswana, countries both whose presidents were in the crowd applauding
Mugabe, are the saddest victims of Mugabe's behaviour.

Mugabe has even had the temerity to refuse food help for the starving people
and, for years now, has even been denying women access to donated sanitary
pads, which are no longer available in the country. As they gathered in
Lusaka, Mugabe achieved an inflation rate of 7634.8%.
And for that, he got a standing ovation! SADC leaders applauded Mugabe for
killing a nation.

So it came to pass that I was betrayed in a little town called Lusaka in
Zambia. The whole nation of Zimbabwe was betrayed by these leaders.
Villagers in Angola, Lesotho, the DR Congo, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana,
and women and tribesmen in the whole of southern Africa were betrayed as
well. And they are the ones who are paying for the now conspicuous and
indefensible buffoonery of regional leaders.

How many of its men, women and children does Africa bury everyday? Dead at
the short-sightedness of Africa's leaders.
We are at war with ourselves. And we kill while our presidents applaud.
As per their annual custom, our leaders congregated to deliberate on our
difficulties. Africans, always full of faith, bred in compassion and
optimistic, waited expectantly. The wart on Africa's face remains.

Our leaders came back home to be met, at the airports, by cabinet ministers
and cheering members of society congratulating them for having put, like
Pink Floyd said, another brick in the wall, closing out any possibility for
change in Zimbabwe. Like numerous times before, all SADC leaders applauded a
murderer in their midst.
It was betrayal and treachery of continental proportions.

Thabo Mbeki, who miraculously succeeded to get all SADC leaders into a full
nelson, poisoned the gathered leaders and shielded Mugabe. And none of the
SADC leaders dissented or yelled for help.

Instead, they applauded the murderer among them, calling him a liberator to
whom, apparently, they gave the assignment to kill his own citizens and top
it all with destroying not only their countries but the progress of the
African continent.
Treachery is ugly and that is what we all got from our leaders.
Who is Mugabe fighting in Zimbabwe?

Mugabe is fighting his own defenceless citizens. Zimbabwe is not at war but
lives worse than one at war. Zimbabwe is not under sanctions but,
rightfully, Mugabe and his cohorts are. SADC leaders lackadaisically ignore
that. For years now, SADC leaders have been betraying the African people.

SADC leaders must be charged with negligence, sedition and treason. They
always claim collective responsibility, don't they?
Oh, George Bizos, where are you?

The shameful betrayal in Lusaka sent totally wrong messages beyond our
region. SADC continues to betray Africa. And someone must pay.
I am more pained because we were betrayed by presidents from our own region
who had gathered to debate the problems in our own region and yet decided to
ignore the source of our region's regression.

The fiend, Mugabe, himself, calls African leaders 'cowards' and SADC leaders
congregated in Zambia to prove Mugabe right. Instead of censuring Mugabe,
they promised him money which, of course, they don't have.

A collection of what I would like to believe was 'a bevy of popularly
elected southern African leaders' gathered in Zambia and decided that what
is happening in Zimbabwe is inconsequential; they decided that it did not
warrant urgent action or intervention. Mwanawasa made a u-turn and declared
that the problems in Zimbabwe are exaggerated, really? African leaders said
they would rather give Zimbabwe money than stop Mugabe from killing his
citizens and messing up the region.

And we heard the regular nonsensical 'tough talk.' This time it was from
SADC executive secretary, Tomaz Augusto Salomao.
In a report, Salomao repeated the International Monetary Fund's war cry,
saying Zimbabwe must undertake "comprehensive economic reforms that should
include currency reforms, expenditure cuts and a stable policy environment."
Utter rubbish!

Why skate the issue?
No amount of money will make a difference in Zimbabwe unless there is
political, not economic, reform. The prevailing political atmosphere in
Zimbabwe can neither support nor accommodate an economic renewal. Who would
invest in Zimbabwe today when property ownership depends on pillow talk
between the president and his spouse? Where there are no property rights,
there are no human rights.
Zimbabwe needs political reform first before an economic renaissance.
And no meaningful political reforms will ever materialise as long as Mugabe
is around or in power.

The IMF is interested in money matters, which is why they have always
bankrolled dictators around the world.
Why, I wonder, do Africans so easily forget the rancid experience of
oppression? Unless Salomao is only there to mime his masters' voices, he
should just quietly enjoy his perks.
SADC leaders left for Zambia knowing fully well how Mugabe, the individual,
not Zimbabwe the nation, is hurting their nations.

They ignored that but agreed on decisions that do not benefit their own
countries or the people of Zimbabwe. And, for what even God would love to
understand, they decided to please Mugabe, the one individual who has
destroyed not only Zimbabwe but is disturbing the entire region. They
applauded Mugabe, the very man who is causing them sleepless nights.

How could they?
Yes, just how could they? I do not believe for one moment that President
Festus Mogae, let alone Botswana, agrees with what transpired in Lusaka.
Are Tanzania's Kikwete and Zambia's Mwanawasa sure about what they are
letting happen in Zimbabwe?

I agree that we should all forgive Thabo Mbeki because the man is out of his
depth .His ineptitude, both in and outside his country, is a matter of
public record. Even under my own circumstances as a Zimbabwean, I still have
room to feel sorry for South Africans. They honestly deserve better

Mugabe's defenders tell the world that the Zimbabwean issue can only be
solved by Zimbabweans themselves. And yet they know what kind of grip the
country is under. Zimbabwe ceased to be an 'internal problem' decades ago.
Have we not seen what Mugabe does to elected parliamentarians, the very
custodians of democracy in any normal country? Zimbabwe needs outside help.
SADC leaders will be surprised to find that, since the last time they
blinked, Mugabe had turned them into unwitting dictators; for one does not
have to oppress his own people to be a dictator or tyrant.

SADC leaders huddle behind the irresponsible and reckless notion of
collective responsibility. They should not continue to play games. There now
exists a serious possibility of an armed insurrection in Zimbabwe, an armed
struggle - if you prefer. And, when it happens, the dissenters will not ask
for permission from neighbouring countries. It is called spontaneity and
spontaneity is untamed.
SADC leaders, you better listen; this catastrophe is coming to a country
near you. That is collective responsibility!

*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean writer.


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