The ZIMBABWE Situation
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If Mugabe attends EU-Africa summit Brown won't: diplomatic sources

Yahoo News

Sat Sep 8, 10:49 AM ET

VIANA DO CASTELO, Portugal (AFP) - Britain has warned fellow EU nations that
Prime Minister Gordon Brown will not attend a planned Europe-Africa summit
if Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe does, diplomatic sources said Saturday.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband made London's position clear on
Friday during an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in the northern
Portuguese town of Viana do Castelo.

"He told them that the PM would not be there if Mugabe goes," a source close
to the closed-door talks said.

Miliband contented himself Saturday by saying: "I don't think anyone wants
to be part of a media circus in December," when the summit will be held in

"There is serious work to be done and that is what we are focussing on," he
said before joining his fellow foreign ministers for a group photo.

"I think we all want a successful summit, but we are also very, very
concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe," Miliband added, pointing out
that the Zimbabwean currency had been devalued by 1,200 percent on Thursday.

A senior British official told AFP that "it is difficult to imagine a
scenario in which the British prime minister and other EU leaders will
attend a summit at which Mugabe is present."

He added that Zimbabwe should nevertheless be represented at the meeting.

While Africa as a whole and Zimbabwe in particular have serious issues to
discuss, such as poverty, climate change and security "none of them will be
properly discussed if Mugabe rolls up and we have a Mugabe circus," the
British official said.

He added that there were precedents for such cases, such as Myanmar's
involvement in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) despite a
bar on prime minister Than Shwe attending.

An EU official said there could be some room for manoeuvre on the problem.

"You know how it goes, you send a generic invitation to everyone and hope
that there will be some kind of transport problem... The Africans know very
well that it is in their interests that this summit takes place".

Portugal, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, has said that it has no
intention of discriminating against Mugabe.

"It is not up to Portugal, current head of the EU, to invite some people
rather than others," Portugal's Deputy Foreign Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho
said at a Lusaka summit of southern African leaders last month.

The 83-year-old Mugabe is officially barred from travelling to the 27
nations in the EU.

The issue has long hampered efforts to organise a second summit between the
European Union and African states. The first was held in Cairo in 2000.

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Zimbabwe's precarious survival

8 September 2007, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
By Sue Lloyd-Roberts

With the Zimbabwean economy in ruins, it is the people leaving the country who are helping those who have remained to survive.

For a country which is in a state of economic collapse, there is a surprising amount of movement in Zimbabwe today.

Drive through the darkened streets of Harare at night - for there is no electricity - and you see hundreds of people walking purposefully at two and three o'clock in the morning.

Shoppers walk past empty shelves (Demond Kwande/AFP/Getty Images)
Empty shelves are a common sight in Zimbabwean supermarkets

They are the few who need to get to work - only one in five of the adult population still has a job.

They take up their positions on street corners waiting for a passing car or pick-up truck.

There is no petrol, and regular bus services are already a distant memory.

"I sometimes wait four or five hours to get to work," said one office worker.

Once one of the richest countries in Africa, Zimbabwe has become a barrow, bucket, and bag economy

"But even the bosses don't complain."

Everyone in Zimbabwe understands life is difficult.

Bread queues

A couple of hours later, as dawn breaks over the capital, many people - the mothers and unemployed - start forming long, silent queues that wind around entire blocks of the city.

There is a rumour that bread could be arriving in the city today.

Refugees on the South African side of the border with Zimbabwe
An estimated 3m Zimbabweans are thought to have fled to South Africa

Five hours later, people are still waiting.

Policemen arrive, apparently helpfully supervising the queue and giving a surreal air of normality to the city scene.

"They just pretend," said one man in the queue with five children at home to feed.

"They get the first news if a lorry is on its way with bread, sugar, or mealie meal and they jump to the top of the queue and loot the food."

Once one of the richest countries in Africa, Zimbabwe has become a barrow, bucket, and bag economy.

You see people walking for miles, wheeling barrows, buckets on their heads, and plastic bags in hand.

Like the "bag ladies" in the former Soviet Union, they are always on the ready just in case something turns up.

But it seldom does.

Medical horror

People are starving. The evidence is in the hospitals where tiny, wizened babies lie dying in their cots while their mothers look on helplessly.

Baby lying on blankets
Infant mortality is 51.12 per 1,000 live births (Source: CIA Factbook)

One mother cradles a child who is losing her hair and her skin, a sign of the most advanced form of Kwashioka or vitamin deficiency.

It is certainly the first time I have seen this condition in 20 years of reporting on the developing world.

"Zimbabwe once offered the most comprehensive medical service in Africa," a doctor explains.

"It is now becoming a textbook case of medical horror."

Many children arrive with grandmothers.

Grandmother or child-headed families are a growing social phenomenon in Zimbabwe today, often the result of the Aids epidemic.

In other cases - if parents still have the energy and the means - they flee abroad to look for food and to send back money.

Fleeing to South Africa

Buses loaded with people and luggage wait for days around the petrol stations on the roads leading out of the country.

When fuel eventually arrives, they lurch off, swaying precariously under the weight of so many passengers, on the five-hour journey to the border with South Africa.

Zimbabwean immigration officials do not bother them and, on the South African side, they can be paid off with bribes.

Map of South Africa and Zimbabwe

For those who do not have the money and who have to duck through the bush, there is a greater risk.

Gangs wait on either side of the river for the groups of desperate refugees.

"They had guns and knives," one girl tells me. "There were 15 boys and five girls in our group.

"They killed one boy when he refused to give them his shoes. They raped all the girls."

Still, they arrive in South Africa at the rate of thousands a week.

The many victims of political persecution will never go back while Robert Mugabe is alive.

Others just come for a few weeks to make enough money to take home.

I met two teachers. Liliana told me she worked as a domestic cleaner while Patience told me she worked as a prostitute.

"What else can I do?" she said.

"My husband is dead and I have three children back home to feed."

Slow agony

It is a situation that suits the governments on both sides.

Among the refugees, there are doctors, engineers, agricultural experts, just the kind of people who are needed by South Africa's growing economy.

Anyone expecting a swift conclusion to Zimbabwe's agony will be disappointed

Zimbabweans have long since given up hope that the South African leader - Thabo Mbeki - will put pressure on his old friend, Robert Mugabe, to reform.

And as for Robert Mugabe, an opposition politician in Harare says: "This makes him a very, very happy dictator.

"He gets rid of his opponents and they in turn send back money to their families in Zimbabwe and that keeps things ticking over."

Anyone expecting a swift conclusion to Zimbabwe's agony will be disappointed.

Thanks to the ingenuity and tolerance of people still in the country and the remittances sent back by those who have left, Zimbabwe's death throes could last a long time yet.

From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday 8 September, 2007 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.

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Zimbabwe labour union to stage two-day strike

Yahoo News

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's main labour union will stage a two-day strike
against the economic meltdown in a country with the world's highest
inflation rate and could launch more "drastic" protests, its head said

Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
told a news conference that the union had decided to "continue with the
national action in the form of a stay-away on September 19 and 20."
Matombo said the supplementary budget presented by the finance minister on
Thursday also falls short of workers "expectations of a tax free threshold
that is linked to the poverty datum line".

"September 19 and 20 is a warm up. If government does not heed our calls
they will be more drastic measures such protests and demonstrations which
the ZCTU is known for."

Zimbabwe's economy has steadily declined over the past seven years,
characterised by inflation running well past the 7,500 percent mark and high
employment, with at least 80 percent of the population living below the
poverty threshold.

The southern African nation is in the midst of an eight-year recession,
characterised by food shortages, high unemployment and an economy shrunk by
more than a third.

Matombo criticised President Robert Mugabe's government for ignoring demands
to link wages to the poverty line and expressed concern at a recent
presidential decree in which Mugabe barred any pay rises without special

"What the president has done is direct interference and unconstitutional,"
he said.

In September last year, labour unions were forced to abandon plans for mass
anti-government protests after organisers were rounded up in a police

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Zanu-PF calls special congress


08/09/2007 14:01  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's ruling party announced on
Saturday it will hold an extraordinary congress this year in a move analysts
say is meant to whip dissenting factions into line ahead of key elections
next year.

Mugabe is due to stand as his party's candidate in presidential elections
expected to be held jointly with parliamentary elections in March next year.
Mugabe, who has ruled without a break since 1980, will be seeking
re-election at the age of 84.

But political commentator Bill Saidi said Zanu-PF was in a state of
disarray, with some of the party's political provinces against having Mugabe
stand as the party's candidate.

He said he expected Mugabe to call for unity and make a few threats at the
congress due in early December.

"From what we have heard, there's a movement in some provinces to not have
Mugabe as a candidate. This congress is to sort it out and formally announce
Mugabe as the candidate," Saidi, who is the deputy editor of the private
Standard newspaper, told Deutsche Presse Agentur dpa.

"Maybe Mugabe is going to read them the riot act," he said.

The ruling party is divided into at least two rival factions jostling to
succeed Mugabe - one aligned to former parliamentary speaker Emmerson
Mnangagwa, and the other behind former army commander Solomon Mujuru, whose
wife Joyce is one of the country's two vice presidents.

Traditionally, Zanu-PF holds a congress every five years. The next congress
was only due in 2009, with only a much smaller national conference billed
for later this year.

Writing cryptically in his weekly newspaper column under his pen name
Nathaniel Manheru, Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba suggested news of
the extraordinary congress could prompt speculation of an imminent unity
pact with the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
But he quickly dismissed the idea.

"It (MDC) has to be defeated. Extirpated from the body politic," he wrote.
"The Extraordinary Congress will be about Zanu-PF!"

This year's meeting had been scheduled to take place in the northern mining
town of Bindura, but has now been moved to the capital to accommodate
hundreds of delegates drawn from more than 50 districts across the country,
state media reported.

Mugabe's party is set to pass into law a constitutional amendment bill that
will allow presidential and parliamentary elections to be held jointly in

The amendment will also allow the Zanu-PF dominated parliament to choose a
successor to Mugabe should he die in office or stand down mid-term.

Discussions around the harmonised 2008 elections are due to take centre
stage at this years Zanu-PF congress, said a report on state radio. -

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Few cheers over Zim budget as crisis bites

Mail and Guardian


      MacDonald Dzirutwe | Harare, Zimbabwe

      07 September 2007 03:46

            President Robert Mugabe's exchange-rate devaluation and promises
of tax relief were dismissed on Friday by Zimbabweans weary of an economic
crisis marked by the world's highest inflation and severe shortages.

            His government's latest bid to ease the economic turmoil,
announced in a supplementary budget on Thursday, highlighted the worsening
plight of the Southern African nation and widespread fears that cash will be
worthless in the face of runaway prices.

            Zimbabwe's inflation rate has surpassed 7 600%.

            Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi -- who devalued the official
exchange rates -- said on Thursday that the tax changes would see a worker
earning Z$4-million a month no longer pay tax. The threshold had previously
been Z$1,5-million.

            But that raised few spirits on Friday on the streets of Harare,
where a chicken costs Z$1-million.

            "This [budget] is ridiculous," said Tawanda Sambaza, an
electrical technician in Harare.

            "I can only buy four chickens with that money on the other
[black] market because there is nothing in the shops," added Sambaza, who
earns Z$14-million more than the average Zimbabwean.

            Queues for everything from soda to maize-meal are getting
longer. Zimbabwe's main bakery said this week that bread shortages would
worsen after closing one of its outlets due to a lack of wheat from

            A growing number of Zimbabweans have resorted to using a
thriving black market for foreign currency to try to protect themselves
against the inflation that has caused the Zimbabwean dollar to plummet in

            The government on Thursday scrapped a two-tier foreign-exchange
system for government and exporters, devaluing both rates for the Zimbabwe
dollar to 30 000 against the greenback.

            Zimbabwe had applied an exchange rate of 250 to the United
States currency for government transactions and had allowed exporters and
foreign currency account holders to exchange at a rate of 15 000 prior to
the move.

            The new rate still falls short of a widely used black market
rate of about 250 000 to the US dollar.

            Amid fears that the economic bleeding could lead to growing
support for a divided opposition, Mugabe, in power since independence from
Britain in 1980, has cracked down on political opponents, tightening his
grip on power ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections expected
next year.

            But the economic crisis may pose the biggest threat to his rule,
analysts say, and his Western foes, who have imposed sanctions in a bid to
weaken Mugabe's rule, are still banking on their strategy.

            "On the political front the government may be winning but the
economy is its Achilles' heel," Eldred Masunungure, a political analyst,
said. "This budget is testimony that the economic policies are not working."

            Mugabe remains defiant, attempting to focus attention on the
Western powers he accuses of sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy in retaliation
for his controversial seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to
landless black Zimbabweans, analysts say.

            He is likely to push a Bill through parliament, dominated by his
Zanu-PF party, that would give Zimbabweans majority ownership of
foreign-owned firms, fuelling fears it will drive away the few remaining
foreign investors.

            The veteran leader's salary, along with those of his ministers,
was sharply raised this year. Veterans of Zimbabwe's anti-colonial struggle,
among the hardest core supporters of his government, also saw their
allowances increased.

            "I'm disappointed there's no real attempt to cut spending,"
economic commentator Eric Bloch told Reuters.

            "The income tax measures are not sufficient ... they are still
taxing people who are starving." -- Reuters

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Tsvangirai Faction Of Zimbabwe's MDC Denounces Fiscal Plan


      By Patience Rusere
      08 September 2007

The supplementary budget unveiled this week by Zimbabwean Finance Minister
Samuel Mumbengegwi came in for some harsh criticism this week from the
faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan
Tsvangirai, which called it a "hotch-potch of contradictory and
self-defeating policy tools.

Mumbengegwi told parliament this week that the government would need more
than Z$37 trillion dollars (US$145 million at the parallel market rate) to
run the country until the end of the year. Of this, he said Z$735 billion
would go to finance presidential and parliamentary elections due in march
2008, while Z$500 billion would cover upgrades to airports in Harare and
Victoria Falls with South Africa's 2010 World Cup in view.

Secretary General  Tendai Biti of the Tsvangirai MDC faction said in a
statement put out Friday that the fact "that the supplementary budget can
exceed the original budget presented in December 2006 by 800% betrays a
fundamental lack of understanding of the nuts and bolts of economics. But
even more importantly, it exposes the fact that the regime has no failing
control over this failing economy (and) they do not care."

Biti said Mumbengegwi's fiscal plan had little connection with the National
Economic Development Priority Program launched by the administration of
President  Robert Mugabe in March 2006. "Sadly, the supplementary budget is
not anchored on this. Instead, it is a hotch-potch of contradictory and
self-defeating policy tools."

He said a "staggering" Z$12.662 trillion or a third of the supplementary
budget was dedicated to the office of the president, which encompasses the
"notorious Central Intelligence Organization," the Defense Ministry and the
Home Affairs Ministry.

The supplementary budget would increase the nation's stock of domestic debt
to Z$16 trillion from Z$8.1 trillion, Biti stated, while at the same time in
order to dispose of the necessary funds the government would be obliged to
aggressively print money.

He charged that in presenting the supplementary budget without disclosing
estimated revenues, the government had violated Section 103 of the
Zimbabwean Constitution requiring full disclosure of revenues and
expenditures in an appropriations bill.

Biti expanded on his critique of the supplementary budget in an interview
with reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe.

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Playing football

Saturday 8th September 2007

Dear Family and Friends,
This week I write with three short anecdotes from small town Zimbabwe. They
are not connected to each other in any way except by example of life in a
country which, by all reasonable accounts, is barely functioning. These are
all true stories, and putting them down in black and white makes the
absurdity, and fragility, of our lives here frighteningly real.

Milk is like gold in our town, as it is almost all over the country. When
you appreciate that the shops are empty and there is no food to buy, no
protein, no meat or eggs and now not even bread, you understand that people
are desperate for nourishment. A phone call to the local bulk dairy
marketing outlet this week went as follows:
Q: Hello, Do you have milk please?
A: Nothing.
Q: What about lacto (sour milk)?
A: Nothing.
Q: Any cheese?
A: (Bored) Nothing
Q: Ice Cream! ?
A: (Slightly annoyed) No, we have nothing. We are playing football in the
car park!

I happened to be waiting for a friend outside a respectable local restaurant
in the town this week. Business inside has come to a virtual standstill.
They have no cold drinks, no alcohol, no bread or rolls, no sandwiches or
snacks to sell. As I waited a decrepit pick up truck, belching the smoke of
paraffin mixed with diesel, shuddered to a noisy halt next to me. A very
well dressed man in dark suit and red tie struggled to open the battered
door and emerged looking harassed. Many eyes watched, intrigued and eager to
see what the strangely shaped bundle in the back was. Covered with a filthy,
tattered piece of black plastic, there was a gasp as red tie man pulled off
the plastic to reveal an enormous rib cage and section of beef carcass. No
refrigeration, no hygenic wrapping, no protection from dirt and dust, just a
great, bloodied chunk of nyama (meat!) Red tie man looked at the half dozen
spectators, sweat beading his forehead and we all knew that he had probably
been through hell to get this meat. Someone jokingly asked red tie man if he
was having a braai (barbecue) and someone else asked if they could come!
"This is for the restaurant," red tie man volunteered. "It's come straight
from the abbatoir you know" he said defensively, in answer to our silent but
raised eyebrows.

A geyser in my roof burst this week and when the plumbers got it out the
original price was hand written in marker pen on the side of the tank
alongside a dated sticker from the shop where it had been purchased. The
date stamp was from a local hardware store and was machine printed: "02.
2000" was still legible. The price, written in clear red letters was one
thousand, nine hundred and eighty five dollars. The plumbers gave me a quote
to repair the geyser by welding the numerous leaking joints, flushing the
sludge which had gathered (thanks to our filthy and very intermittent local
water supply) and reinstalling the tank. The quote was for twenty six
million dollars. To replace the geyser with a new one, the plumbers quote,
before labour, was for one hundred and twenty million dollars. In just seven
years the price had gone from under two thousand dollars to 120 million
dollars - which, in reality is actually 120 billion dollars because 3 zeroes
were slashed from our currency a year ago.

And so we stumble into another week wondering what absurdity awaits. A
devaluation of 1200% as announced yesterday by the Minister of Finance? A
supplementary budget of 37 trillion dollars as produced this week? The
leader of the opposition charged for 'disorderly conduct' because he toured
empty shops followed by journalists?
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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Zimbabwe Vice President in Cuba

Latin American News Agency


      Havana, Sep 8 (Prensa Latina) Zimbabwe Vice President Joyce Teurai
Ropa Mujuru starts Saturday an official visit to Cuba, fulfilling an
invitation by the island's government.

      The African vice president will come accompanied by Health Minister
David Pagwese Parirenyatwa, as well as other top government officials.

      Her agenda until September 12 will include meeting with Council of
State Vice President Esteban Lazo and other Cuban leaders, in addition to
touring sites of cultural and scientific interest.

      Her visit is an expression of the excellent relations existing between
the two governments and peoples and will also be an occasion to discuss the
regional and international situation.

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Skeptical Of Outcome, Zimbabwe Public Weighs In On Amendment


      By Netsai Mlilo and Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
      Bulawayo and Washington
      07 September 2007

Public hearings in Harare and Bulawayo on the Zimbabwean government's
proposal to amend the national constitution in ways that would significantly
change the electoral landscape are primarily turning up opposition to the

A parliamentary public hearing Friday in Bulawayo, the country's
second-largest city, failed to draw a large turnout - but the few who showed
up said the amendment was an ill-timed waste of resources that would do
little to relieve suffering Zimbabweans.

Correspondent Netsai Mlilo reported from the Rainbow Hotel in Bulawayo.

Though parliament was registering public opinion on the proposed amendment,
some who attended the hearings said they doubted whether the public input
would have an impact on the final shape of the legislation to be tabled in

Experts noted that as a constitutional amendment, the law does not have to
be vetted by a parliamentary committee but can go straight to the floor for
debate after which the ruling party ZANU-PF party, armed with the two-thirds
majority it claimed in the 2005 general election, could easily pass it for
signature by President Robert Mugabe.

Another issue of concern is timing - presidential and general elections are
just seven months off, and many of the constitutional changes that are
envisioned in the draft of the legislation would tip the scales in favor of
Mr. Mugabe's ruling party.

For instance, the amendment will create 60 new house seats, for a total of
2010, giving the ruling party an opportunity to gerrymander ruling
party-safe districts.

For insight, VOA turned to Chief Executive Officer Cephus Zinhumwe of the
National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations and National Advocacy
Chairman Felix Mafa of the National Constitutional Assembly, who spoke at
public hearings this week in Harare and Bulawayo, respectively.

NANGO's Zinhumwe told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that while civil society groups doubt the hearings will make much
difference once the legislation is tabled in parliament, they want to
register their views.

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