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Mugabe legalises seizure of white farms

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has confirmed signing into law controversial constitutional changes he says will finally settle any dispute over the legality of seizing white-owned farms.

Mr Mugabe, who is on a state visit to Cuba, says he has approved laws passed two weeks ago by Zimbabwe's Parliament that allow his Government to effectively nationalise formerly white-owned farms and impose travel bans on "traitors".

"The amendment ends any doubt about the acquisition of land from British settlers," he said.

"That it is now final and no one can question it. Our constitution has put a seal to the liberation of our land and its acquisition by our nation."

The changes also provide for the creation of a Senate as the second chamber of Parliament.

Critics of Mr Mugabe say the new chamber would be packed with the veteran leader's allies.

But Mr Mugabe describes it as a "consolidation of national power".

He says elections for the Senate would be held before the end of the year.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change says the latest changes to the constitution - which Mr Mugabe has altered 17 times since independence from Britain in 1980 - are proof that Mr Mugabe has become a classic dictator.

Changes to land laws will effectively bar white farmers from challenging in courts the seizure of their property under the Government's land reform program, which critics say has destroyed Zimbabwe's commercial agriculture.

Critics say the clauses allowing the Government to impose travel bans are yet another tool to suppress opposition to Mr Mugabe's 25-year rule.

- Reuters

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Zimbabwe's President Signs Controversial Constitutional Amendments into Law

12 September 2005

Robert Mugabe speaks at a state funeral August 28
Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe has signed into law several constitutional amendments restricting freedom of movement and property rights and creating a Senate that critics say will help tighten his grip on power.  The president announced the signing in a speech to students in Cuba.

Without much fanfare,  Mr. Mugabe signed the controversial constitutional amendments Friday, shortly before his departure for Cuba and the day the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided to postpone for six months a decision on whether to expel Zimbabwe. 

The Law Society of Zimbabwe and a number of other civic groups had opposed the amendments.  Arnold Tsunga, director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said Monday his organization and others were hoping that Mr. Mugabe would yield to critics at home and abroad and would not sign the amendments into law.  Zimbabwe's parliament, controlled by Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, passed the amendments last month.

Mr. Tsunga said the signing of the amendments was a "bleak day for Zimbabwe."

The amendments, among other things, nationalize Zimbabwe's farmland and deprive landowners of the right to challenge in courts the government's decision to expropriate their land.  It also authorizes the government to deny passports to people whose travel abroad would not be deemed in "national interest."   Human rights advocates say this measure is aimed at preventing critics of Mr. Mugabe from going abroad and speaking out against his regime.  

Another amendment will create a second legislative chamber, the senate, that many Zimbabweans fear will be packed with Mr. Mugabe's allies.  

Last Friday the International Monetary Fund gave Zimbabwe another six months to pay off its debt or risk expulsion.  Zimbabwe surprised many when it produced $131 million to pay the IMF a portion of its debt. 

Financial sources told VOA at least some of the money paid to the IMF came from exporters' foreign currency accounts and left the companies short of funds to operate.

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Zimbabwe's Mugabe: Property Curbs Consolidate National Power

HAVANA (AP)--New amendments to Zimbabwe's constitution restricting property and citizenship rights and creating a senate represent a "consolidation of national power," Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said Monday.

During a three-day trip to Cuba, Mugabe said the amendments he signed into law Friday marked "the liberation of our land" and prevented the "acquisition of land from British settlers."

"It's now final, and no one can question it," Mugabe said of the change, speaking to reporters at Havana's historic Colon Cemetery, where he laid flowers at a tomb for Cuban soldiers who died fighting in independence movements around the world.

The amendments strip landowners of their right to appeal expropriation and declare that all real estate is now available only on 99-year leases from the government. The bill also gives the government authority to deny passports if it is deemed in the national interest, a provision government officials have said could be used to keep their critics from traveling abroad to speak out about problems in Zimbabwe.

The amendments also create a 66-seat Senate, which critics charge the ruling party will use to increase its patronage powers.

Mugabe quietly made the amendments law before coming to Cuba Saturday, his ninth visit to the island since 1978. He was accompanied by his wife Grace Mugabe, and planned to travel next to New York, where he is to address the United Nations General Assembly.

Mugabe was to meet with Cuban President Fidel Castro later Monday. He called Castro "a revolutionary," saying, "so are we, so am I."

The African leader said Cuba and Zimbabwe are "comrades at arms," united by similar struggles for independence from global powers.

"The Cubans are being punished with sanctions in the same way we are," he said, referring to a decades-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. "We are in the same trench."

Cuba aided Zimbabwe during the country's independence struggles more than 20 years ago, and "continues to support us (to) this day," Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe's economy has been in a free fall, with inflation now running at 255% a year, 80% unemployment and chronic shortages of most staples.

"Inflation comes and goes," Mugabe said, adding that the country's natural resources would help improve the economy.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires


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President On Investment Opportunities

The Herald (Harare)
September 12, 2005
Posted to the web September 12, 2005
PRESIDENT Mugabe has said the Government is committed to building stronger and more resilient bridges of economic co-operation with the international community to boost national investment.
In his foreword in the Zimbabwe Investment Guide to Foreign Investors, Cde Mugabe said Government was working tirelessly to open up opportunities to the international community across all sectors of the economy.

The investment guide was tabled by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Dr Gideon Gono last week before the Parliamentary Committee on Budget, Finance and Econ-omic Development.
The President said as the country gears to consolidate the economic turnaround programme, it has become imperative that Harare enters into strategic win-win partnerships with friendly states.
"In Zimbabwe, we pride ourselves on our sovereignty and stand like a rock on matters of principle, drawing from our strong hearts which always remember those of our international friends who mean well to the people of Zimbabwe," he says.
"Indeed, through closer ties in trade and investment between Zimbabwe and other co-operating partners, we can unlock boundless opportunities for the betterment of the lives of future generations."
Zimbabwe's current macro-economic challenges, Cde Mugabe said, were a transitory phase which the country was determined to overcome within the outlook period.
The President said the past few years had presented unique challenges to Zimbabwe due to misconceptions and misrepresentation of the Government's transformation of the land distribution programme.
"This notwithstanding, however, we are pleased that the agrarian reform programme is progressing well on the rails towards resounding success," he said.
The investment guide presents a snapshot balance sheet of investment opportunities in the country, highlighting areas where gainful joint ventures can be structured between Zimbabwe and other nations.
The guide singles out agriculture, mining, tourism and manufacturing as the major sectors where huge investments are needed to stir the economy.
Opportunities in the agricultural sector include investing in horticulture, tobacco processing, timber extraction and sugar milling in the Lowveld and there is potential to extend this to Mashonaland Central Province.
In the manufacturing sector, potential investment opportunities include fertiliser production from investments in the extraction of coal bed, bio-diesel manufacturing and power generation.
Exploitation of gold, diamonds and foreign direct investment in coal-bed methane exploration are some of the major investments existing in the mining sector.
In the tourism sector, eco-tourism, setting up of tourism infrastructure, hunting safaris and joint ventures in the hotel and catering industry rank among the top investment opportunities.

Investment promotion remains a key pillar of the country's economic turnaround programme with Government having declared 2005 as the year for investment attraction.
On the other hand, Government reaffirms its commitment to working closely and co-operatively with its multilateral partners, who include the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, African Development Bank as well as bilateral creditors within and outside the Paris Club, who, over the years, have been understanding of the country's debt situation.
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Inflation to Breeze Past 300%

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
September 11, 2005
Posted to the web September 12, 2005
Our Staff

THE recent hikes in fuel and prices of basic will push annual inflation northwards to more than 400%, analysts warned last week.
Year-on-year inflation for the month of July was 254% from 164% as of June. A wave of price increases swept across all sectors in the past two weeks.

Fuel prices shot up by over 100% Wednesday due to what authorities say was the need to align the cost of oil products in line with those in the region and to take into account recent exchange rate changes. A litre of petrol now costs $22 300 from $10 000 while diesel now fetches a pump price of $20 800 from $9 600.
The price of fuel was last increased by 178% in June. Prices of basic commodities shot up early last week as retailers adjusted a 2.5% increase on Value Added Tax in line with the policies announced by Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa in his Mid-Term Fiscal Policy review statement. Electricity tariff went up by at least 100% a fortnight ago.
Economic commentators were unanimous last week that a wave of price increases will trigger annual inflation past 300% by Christmas.
Eric Bloch says the recent wave of price increases will trigger inflation upwards not on a downward trend.
In his Mid-Term Monetary Policy review Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono said annual inflation would be on an upward trend up to September, before tapering off in the last quarter of the year.
Bloch said: "We are going to see an annual inflation above 300% by the end of the year."
He warned that the increase in inflation would trigger some company closures because they would find it difficult to cope with the environment and demand by workers for an increase in salaries and wages.
Independent economic analyst John Robertson of Robertson Economic Information said the inflation target of 80% by year-end was now out of question.
Robertson said: "The country has no chance to meet the target and we are lucky if the figure is below 400% by year end."

He said the increase in the price of fuel would not improve supplies.
Inflation had progressively declined from 623% in January 2004 to 124% by March 2005. In April the annual rate increased to 129%. In May and June the annual rate increased by 15 and 20 percentage points respectively.
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Zimbabwe's economy - still on the brink

As the International Monetary Fund delays a decision on whether to expel Zimbabwe, Justin Pearce from the BBC News website, fresh from visiting Zimbabwe, speaks to two researchers about a national economy that keeps going despite the odds.
Going shopping in Zimbabwe these days is an odd experience.
Drivers can beat fuel queues with foreign currency - or a cart

For one thing, you don't simply plan to go to the supermarket on Tuesday after work.
More likely, you find yourself rushing there when a rumour goes around the neighbourhood that one shop is selling bread that morning.
You get there, and if you're lucky there's bread, but there's no cooking oil, flour or soap; the shelves will, however, be stacked with things like wine, chocolate and electrical appliances.
Buying any of these luxuries will require wads of $20,000 notes - now the highest denomination, but worth less than US$0.50 on the black market. Inflation runs at more than 250% per year.
Outside the shop you might spot a $500 note lying on the ground - no-one considers it worth the effort to bend down to pick it up.
Wine but no bread
Zimbabwe has long had policies of fixing the prices of basic commodities so that the poorest may not go hungry, but in the context of inflation, general shortages and partial deregulation, the policy is backfiring: price-controlled goods mean little or no profit for shopkeepers.
Fuel shortages mean Bulawayo's streets have little traffic these days
"Any trader will try to put on the shelves anything that is not controlled," says Martin Rupiya, senior researcher in peace and security at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa's capital, Pretoria.
Until 1998, there was a heavy tax on imported items - the IMF insisted this tax be scrapped, providing a further incentive for shopkeepers to favour luxuries over essentials.  Is there hope for the common man in Zimbabwe?

While traders who have applied to the Reserve Bank for foreign currency are legally obliged to show that part of their allowance has been spent on basics, they tend to keep this to a minimum.
Zimbabweans complain of bakeries that sell bread at the regulated price, but bake their loaves less than the standard weight.
For years now, pundits have been predicting the imminent collapse of Zimbabwe's economy, amid hyperinflation and foreign exchange shortages.
Will it ever happen? Has it already happened? What does "collapse" mean anyhow?
 Zimbabwe, as a case study, keeps on surprising us

"The context of collapse may be different in terms of what we are looking for," Mr Rupiya says.
"At street level things have just about stopped functioning - it's at a different level for the international community."
Patrick Bond from the Centre for Civil Society at South Africa's University of KwaZulu-Natal also points to a difference between the big and the small picture:
"At the macro level, the state seems capable of periodically bailing out the economy... and by assessing where forex is for emergency purchases and making those available to its preferred importers. So I would anticipate this continuing though the costs - hyperinflation and the culture of the black market - are severe.
"On the micro side, the key question is whether the complicated functioning of a siege economy with very divergent market power can continue.
"But I think at a certain point, it's very hard to keep a patient alive when there's more Band-Aid than skin. When that critical point comes is impossible to say."
It's easy to find the petrol stations in Zimbabwe - just look for the queue of cars that may be 100 vehicles long. And if you do see a petrol station with no queue, it's probably one of the garages that the government recently designated as taking foreign currency only.
Food subsidies mean trading in basic goods is unprofitable
This response to the fuel crisis drew a furious response from Zimbabwe's privately-owned press, which felt that government's assurance that it would ask no questions about the source of the foreign currency legitimised those who have been stashing foreign exchange illegally for years.
Patrick Bond describes the measure as "the first step towards a more general 'dollarisation'. It's important but I think the state will limit dollarisation for the moment, because it still has this awesome power to grab forex everywhere it can sniff it out."
The government surprised most observers when it "sniffed out" $120m to pay back part of its IMF debt.
Mr Rupiya says there is a need to examine whether the economy is capable of generating foreign exchange: "If it's not, then dollarisation will start to undermine the economy."
So where are the dollars coming from these days?
A mismanaged land reform programme is widely blamed for the shrinking of the commercial agriculture sector, which cost Zimbabwe dearly in terms of foreign exchange, at the same time as drought exacerbated the need to import basic foodstuffs.
But South African and Australian investors remain committed to the mining sector, along with the unknown deals that may have resulted from President Robert Mugabe's recent overtures towards China - even electrical and fuel shortages are likely to take their toll on the mines' output.
IMF ruling
So what will happen once the IMF makes its decision?
Mr Rupiya believes that if the IMF votes not to expel Zimbabwe - as seems likely - Harare will respond by implementing some of the structural changes the fund has called for, including the lifting of restrictions on trade and the cancellation of subsidies.
Zimbabweans have to queue for everyday goods - if in stock
This is a measure that can hurt the poorest hardest - though in Zimbabwe's case it may be somewhat mitigated by the fact that the subsidised basics are barely available anyway.
Another recommendation would be to cut public spending, yet the recent decision to introduce the Senate - an upper house of parliament accommodating 66 new members - suggests the government is not about to tighten its belt.
"Zimbabwe, as a case study, keeps on surprising us," Mr Rupiya says.
In any case, Mr Bond argues, it will make no difference at all whether or not Zimbabwe is expelled from the IMF: "They haven't been repaying loans at the required rate since 1999, and they owe the World Bank and African Development Bank even more, with no prospect of paying.
"Even if they were fully repaid, their policies prevent any further lending. So the $120m repayment - if really true - was mere vanity, it seems."
According to Mr Bond, only fundamental political change will revive Zimbabwe's economic fortunes: "The most important aspects of economic revival are linked to a dramatic change required in social confidence and in the class character of the elite, who are generally parasitical and corrupt."
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State Seeks to Maintain Education Standards
The Herald (Harare)
September 10, 2005
Posted to the web September 12, 2005
GOVERNMENT has moved to tighten registration and supervision of private universities and tertiary institutions in order to maintain a high standard of education the country is renowned for, a senior Government official has said.
The move by the State follows the failure by some tertiary institutions to either adhere to their charter or failure to maintain minimum education standards.

Secretary for Higher and Tertiary Education Dr Washington Mbizvo said his ministry had already completed drafting the National Council of Higher Education Bill, which seeks to ensure that high quality education is maintained.
"The Bill to be tabled before Parliament soon provides for the setting up of three units - accreditation, registration and research and all this is meant to maintain high standards of education in the country.
"The current legal requirements in registering a tertiary institution is not tight enough as one is merely required to bring a balance sheet and a bank statement to see how much one has and this can be easily manipulated as one can just borrow money for purposes of registering an institution," said Dr Mbizvo.
Many institutions, said Dr Mbizvo, were not complying with their charter, and he gave an example of one local private university, which applied and was granted a registration certificate on the basis that it would operate at a farm near a local town but was still operating in the capital.
His ministry, he said, would soon move in to take action against the institution and others some of which he said were not teaching the right syllabi and leaking examination questions.
"If one wants to set up a tertiary institution under the proposed Bill, we will give the organisation an interim authority and give him guidelines to be followed and meanwhile we will be making assessments if it is worth granting a permanent certificate," he said.
Inspectors from his ministry have already been deployed in various provinces to assess education standards in various private colleges.
"Right now they are in Gweru and they would soon be moving to Bulawayo and we will not hesitate to close any college offering sub-standard services," said Dr Mbizvo.

The ministry closed de-registered four colleges in June this year for failure to comply with laws that govern their operations and conduct likely to tarnish the image of the country's examination system.
The colleges were International Technical and Commercial College (ITCC), Centre for Information Technology, Management and Accounting (CTMA), Foundation Business School (FBS) and Emmanuel Andrews College.
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State Urged to Help Undo Damage of Murambatsvina

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
September 11, 2005
Posted to the web September 12, 2005
Our Staff

THE Zimbabwean government must urgently co-operate with the international community to assist victims of its controversial "Operation Restore Order", which affected more than 2.4m people, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.
In a report titled, Clear the Filth: Mass Evictions and Demolitions in Zimbabwe, the report revisits the widely condemned exercise, challenging the government to seriously consider "the humanitarian consequences of the operation" which "have been catastrophic".

The HRW also calls on the international community, regional bodies and neighbouring countries to "exert far more sustained political pressure" on Zimbabwe, and "rein in the government's excesses" in the execution of the clean-up exercise.
It describes the magnitude of destruction caused during the operation as "unprecedented".
"There are few, if any precedents of a government so forcibly and brutally displacing so many of its own citizens in peacetime. The victims are mainly the poor and vulnerable in Zimbabwe's cities and towns, many of the households already devastated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic," reads the report.
Despite criticism the government has remained defiant and unmoved by repeated threats of isolation by the international community.

If nothing is done within the shortest possible time, says the report, this will "push the country closer to total devastation".
Like the UN report before it, the HRW report calls for the government to immediately "provide assistance including alternative accommodation to those affected, and legal remedies including appropriate compensation or other forms of reparation to all those affected in a speedy, impartial and transparent manner".
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Threat to Harare's Ecosystem

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
September 11, 2005
Posted to the web September 12, 2005
Caiphas Chimhete

FOR most people resettled at Hopley Farm in Harare, selling firewood to nearby high-density suburbs has become a lucrative business.
"This is the only business I can do because I have no capital to start any other project. For this, I just need an axe," said Alfred Marwa, pointing to a pile of wood he was selling, just outside the farm.

He has a ready market in Waterfalls, Glen Norah and Highfield where more people are turning to firewood, which is the cheapest and most easily affordable source of energy.
A few metres away, hordes of people, mostly women, could also be seen with bundles of wood balanced on their heads, as they headed for the nearby high-density suburbs.
Wood poaching, which has been worsened by a combination of load shedding, high electricity tariffs and the resettlement of people at farms such as Whitecliff and Hatcliffe where there is no power, has resulted in massive deforestation in and around Harare.
Environmentalists warn that this "reckless" clearing of trees might lead to deforestation, posing a serious threat to the city's water bodies and ecosystem.
Environment Africa (E-Africa) branch manager, Barnabas Mawire, said urban deforestation remained a major threat to Harare's water bodies.
Mawire said forest clearing for agricultural purposes and city expansion should be properly planned to avoid "contamination" of sources of water as well as disturbing the ecosystem.
"Increased agricultural activities were also causing massive deforestation, as people clear land to plant crops. This leads to soil erosion and ultimately to the siltation of water bodies," Mawire said.
A dense forest just after Harare's Msasa area towards Mabvuku, where a few months ago people gathered wild fruits for resale, has virtually disappeared.
A programme officer with the Municipal Development Partnership (MDP), Takawira Mubvami, said deforestation was causing the siltation of small streams and rivers that feed Lake Chivero, reducing the amount of water the lake can hold.
Other than causing blockages of water pipes, more financial resources would be required to purify water for drinking.
"Because of siltation, aquatic life is threatened. Apart from that, loosing a variety of trees that support other living organisms disturbs the whole ecosystem," said Mubvami, adding that deforestation also leads to global warming.
The Department of Natural Resources deputy director, Moses Mandisodza, said wood poaching was increasingly becoming difficult to stamp out because of urban poverty. "We are trying our best but it is very difficult because people have limited alternative sources of energy. Paraffin is not always available," said Mandisodza.

He said the department, together with other government agencies, was carrying out awareness programmes to discourage people from cutting down trees or cultivating along riverbanks and wetlands.
Preservation of natural resources, Mandisodza said, was difficult because some people derived their livelihood from selling firewood.
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Bus operators face arrest for fare hike
    September 12 2005 at 05:12PM

Harare - Zimbabwe's police on Monday warned they would arrest private bus operators who had hiked fares after a doubling of fuel prices which comes amid triple-digit inflation and a lingering transport crisis.

State radio quoted police Inspector Loveless Rupere as saying that "commuter operators should revert to old fares or risk being arrested".

The report quoted him as saying that "commuters who were overcharged for a trip should write down the registration number of the vehicle concerned and report to the nearest police station", the radio report said.

Rupere said "police will need at least two witnesses to convict unscrupulous operators", it added.

 Zimbabwe, which is facing a crippling fuel shortage, on Wednesday upped petrol and diesel prices by more than 100 percent, an increase the government said was needed to keep up with international prices.

The latest move exacerbates the fuel and transport crisis, the worst since independence in 1980, which has seen many people walking miles to work and cars queueing up for days outside gas stations.

Petrol prices zoomed from ZIM$10 000 per litre to ZIM$22 300, while diesel shot up from ZIM$9 600 to ZIM$20 800.

Private bus operators - who are now the backbone of Harare's public transport system - immediately upped fares to more than double, sparking an outcry.

The Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe said its members would be forced to stay home.

"The cost of travelling to and from work has more than doubled for most teachers who have to board two buses to get to school," secretary general Raymond Majongwe said, adding: "The teachers will not be able to get to work."

Private bus operators argue the hike is justified as they buy fuel at higher prices than the state-owned public transport corporation Zupco which gets a subsidised rate. - Sapa-AFP
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Diplomats Hail Operation Garikai

The Herald (Harare)
September 10, 2005
Posted to the web September 12, 2005
Bulawayo Bureau
Representatives of foreign missions accredited to Zimbabwe on Wednesday hailed the provision of houses and business premises under Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle as a bold step towards the empowerment of locals.
The 25 diplomats, drawn mainly from countries affiliated to the Non-Aligned Movement and representatives of the Chinese and Russian embassies, made the remarks after touring construction sites in Bulawayo and Esigodini in Matabeleland South to assess the progress made since the launch of the operation.

The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Mr Mahmud Azzabi, invited Zimbabwe's neighbours to come and see for themselves strides made by the country towards the provision of decent accommodation to its citizens under the operation.
"When the operation started, we visited two sites in Harare where we were impressed by the plans that the Government had put in place.
"Today we came to Bulawayo and Matabeleland South to see for ourselves what is happening on the ground and I must say that we are very impressed with what we saw," Mr Azzabi said.
"This is a vivid example of what the Government wants to do for its people. I think the time has come for the outside world, including Zimbabwe's neighbours, to come and see what the Government has done concerning the emancipation of its people."
Mr Azzabi, who is also Libya's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, said the massive housing programme was a demonstration of the Government's determination to empower the majority since independence.
"This is the second stage of the emancipation of the people of Zimbabwe.
"During the first 25 years of independence, the Government concentrated on developing the education sector and today the country has an 83 percent literacy rate and now they are moving to economically empower the people," Mr Azzabi said.
"I think this is the first country in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa to embark on such initiatives.
"For the years that I have spent here, I have come to appreciate that Zimbabweans are sincere and serious people."
Mr Azzabi has been in the country for more than nine years. The head of the delegation, Ambassador Kelebert Nkomani, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had extended invitations to 27 countries and received a favourable response with 25 senior officials having turned up.
"The representatives are mainly from countries that are members of the Non-Aligned Movement plus China and Russia. We are very impressed with the response as most embassies sent their heads of missions," Ambassador Nkomani said.
Most of the diplomats said progress made in Bulawayo and Matabeleland South in the provision of houses and vending marts had exceeded their expectations.
The diplomats' first port of call was the Cowdray Park construction site where the chairman of the Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Inter Agency Committee, Lieutenant Colonel Brave Matavire, told them that 208 houses had been completed while the rest of the 700 targeted under the first phase were at various stages of construction.
He also told them that the second phase of the housing programme had started in the province with the allocation of 524 stands to 32 housing co-operatives in the city.
Housing stands would also be allocated to individuals with the capacity to build their own houses to complement the Government programme.
The Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Cde Morris Sakubuya, told the diplomats that Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle must not be looked at in isolation, as it was part of a broader Government housing delivery programme.
During the tour, Bulawayo Resident Minister Cde Cain Mathema revealed that the first 50 houses built under the operation in the city would be allocated to beneficiaries tomorrow.
"This is part of a programme that started during the liberation struggle, which entails the empowerment of our people. Since independence in 1980, we have always had a housing programme," Cde Mathema said.
"If Ambassador (Anna) Tibaijuka (United Nations special envoy) was to come back today she will find a totally different place altogether. We believe what we are doing here is good for the African region as a whole."
Mrs Tibaijuka, who was sent to Zimbabwe to assess the clean-up operation, in her subsequent report claimed that the Government did not have the capacity to provide houses for those who were affected by the operation.
At the Lobengula Street vending mall, Lt. Col Matavire told the diplomats that 70 vending marts that would accommodate 350 vendors were at roof level.
Later in the afternoon, the diplomats went to Esigodini, about 40 kilometres from Bulawayo, where the Matabeleland South Inter Agency Committee chairman, Lt Col Tapson Dube told them that 400 houses had been completed in the province's seven districts.
He said although there were no housing structures that were destroyed in the province during the clean-up operation, the committee had to provide houses to more than 16 000 people on the waiting list as part of the Government programme.
Matabeleleland South Governor, Cde Angeline Masuku, told the diplomats that Zimbabwe had nothing to hide and hence everyone was free to come and assess the operation.

She said the operation had provided employment to more than 2 500 people in the province and would empower both men and women economically.
The diplomats will today tour Victoria Falls as they continue with their assessment of the housing programme that succeeded the clean-up operation.
Zimbabwe Standard

Chombo threatens military action

Chinhoyi - Irked by lack of progress in the construction of houses under the government's "Operation Garikai", the government is now threatening to set soldiers on those failing to meet the unrealistic targets set in July. Last week, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Ignatious Chombo, blasted civil servants for "dereliction of duty" and warned that soldiers would be deployed to forcibly make them perform. Chombo was addressing senior civil servants at Chinhoyi Training Centre on Thursday. Senior heads of department were asked to go and relay the message to their subordinates that picnic time is over. Chombo, who was riled by the snail's pace of "Operation Garikai", furiously took to task the government heads of departments. He directed that they hand over culprits to the army who will be deployed in all the provinces and who would deal with them "accordingly". Chombo did not elaborate. Nor did he say under what law the military would be empowered to punish civil servants. However most of the construction is being spearheaded by military personnel. Addressing the same gathering Brigadier Nyikayaramba, who is heading the building of houses under "Operation Garikai" in Mashonaland West, admitted that the operation had failed to provide even one complete house in Chinhoyi. But in an all familiar pattern of the blame game, he accused the British and Americans of planting "willing tools to derail the process". He said they were going to deal with them, but did not say how. When it was pointed out that progress on construction had been slowed down because of lack of fuel, Nyikayaramba declared that fuel for the operation was available and urged the council to use police vehicles if need be. Although 200 had been targeted for completion by 30 August, no houses had been completed.
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Women's Groups Rap Virginity Testing

The Herald (Harare)
September 12, 2005
Posted to the web September 12, 2005
VIRGINITY testing has come under fire from some women's groups who say, instead of protecting the children, the practice actually exposes the girl child to further exploitation.
This comes on the backdrop of reports that chiefs and headmen in Gokwe have thrown their weight behind the revival of virginity testing as a means of discouraging premarital sex and reducing the prevalence of HIV and Aids.

Chiefs Nembudziya and Chireya of Gokwe are reported to have recently directed headmen under their jurisdiction to identify elderly men and women to conduct the tests.
The Women's Action Group (WAG) said virginity testing was not the best way of reducing HIV and Aids prevalence.
Promoting abstinence among unmarried young people, both boys and girls, however, was effective.
"The young girls who are being subjected to such violence as virginity testing are said to be undergoing these tests voluntarily but is that so? Are they not giving in to these tests for fear of stigmatisation, being labelled and regarded as impure?
"The practice is an intrusion of privacy and it infringes on the rights of the girl child," said WAG in a statement.
The group said it had carried out a study in Rusape and young women had revealed that they resented the practice.
The study had also shown that those who failed the tests sometimes were victims of unreported cases of rape and incest.
"What is virginity testing supposed to do to these girls except adding salt to injury and must the responsibility of curbing the spread of HIV be heavily and placed solely on the shoulders of the girl child in such a manner?"
"What have the chiefs and the wider community done in their personal lives to show their commitment to the fight against HIV? How many of them have gone for HIV testing and as adults are we not the ones responsible for the greater part of the spread of HIV?" WAG said.
It also called on chiefs to instead put in place measures for the prevention of promiscuity of adult men and women, which had seen married people getting infected.
Recently, the Girl Child Network also questioned the wisdom of putting girls through virginity testing.

Girls proven to be virgins have in the past become victims of older men whose virginity and HIV status in unknown while in some instances some HIV positive men actually go in search of virgin girls believing that sleeping with them would rid them of the infection.
Virginity testing was resuscitated a few years ago by Chief Makoni of Manicaland for what he termed "moral and health" reasons.
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Urge Husbands to Use Condoms, Wives Told

The Herald (Harare)
September 12, 2005
Posted to the web September 12, 2005
WOMEN should urge their husbands to use condoms once they suspect infidelity if Government is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, a cabinet minister has said.
The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said this while addressing people that had gathered at the opening ceremony of a temporary clinic in Murehwa North constituency.

"Women, if you are suspecting your husband of unfaithfulness, ask them to use condoms than to let the disease bite you and the future generation.
"I know it's hard for you to decide along those lines but you need to be firm in decision-making so that you are free from contracting sexually transmitted infections, HIV and Aids," said Dr Parire-nyatwa.
He also took the opportunity to commend the behaviour change by most men citing the drop in the number of people infected by HIV and Aids.
According to recent statistics, the number of people infected by HIV has dropped by 3 percent from 24 in 2003 to 21 percent this year.
"Looking at the issue of HIV, statistics in 2003 indicated that 24 in every 100 people were living with the virus and the figure has fallen to 21 in every 100 people so there is a significant change," said the minister.
He said this was part of the Government's initiative to empower women in the society to a balanced scenario of equal power sharing in all circumstances.

"It is one of the Government's intentions to make sure that by 2015 there be 50 percent women representation in parliament," he added.
MDGs also include fighting poverty, improving the education system in the country and seconding women to challenging positions of authority among other things.
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Judge refuses to quit in Zimbabwe ex-fin min case
Mon Sep 12, 2005 12:46 PM GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - A Zimbabwe High Court judge on Monday refused defence attorney calls for her to step down from trying a case against former finance minister Chris Kuruneri.
Kuruneri is the first high government official in Robert Mugabe's government to face trial following an anti-graft drive last year. He is charged with breaking foreign exchange laws.
Critics of Mugabe's government say the anti-graft drive was an attempt to divert attention from Zimbabwe's economic crisis.
Kuruneri's lawyer Jonathan Samkange said Judge Susan Mavangira was biased and asked that she recuse herself. Samkange pointed to five instances he said showed bias against Kuruneri, including denying bail and amending the major charge, which compromised her position.
"I have considered the grounds raised and non of them in my view is valid grounds indicating bias on the part of the court and thus justifying recusal," Mavangira said in her judgment. Kuruneri could appeal the decision, the judge said.
Samkange said he had not yet received instructions from Kuruneri on whether to appeal as the court was immediately adjourned to allow the former finance minister to see a doctor.
Kuruneri spent more than a year in custody and was released in July, although he is effectively under house arrest. He has already pleaded guilty to a charge of using a foreign passport without authority.
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Business Day SA
Hollow victory

"I am hearing only bad news on radio Africa", the ’80s rock band Latin Quarter once sang. The song consisted of a catalogue of familiar woes; corrupt politicians, desperate poverty and an overall sense of hopelessness. For nearly three decades, the image of Africa as the "hopeless continent" has been adapted, embellished, exaggerated and repeated endlessly. And yet now, almost everywhere, there are signs of a turnaround. More than 20 African states have growth rates of more than 5% and inflation of less than 10%. In the face of a sustained atmosphere of negativity, this is a heroic achievement. But in the middle of this continental step forward comes a real blast from the past; an entrenched politician of monumental arrogance, confirming every negative stereotype, every entrenched prejudice, and every bigoted categorisation - President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe almost perfectly demonstrates everything that westerners believe in their heart of hearts about Africa’s politicians; that they will use racism against them to justify an even more egregious form of racism against others; that African "elites" feed off their people; that African rulers are arrogant beyond measure; that whatever African leaders say about the rule of law, eventually they will descend into thuggery. It is true that he is not necessarily the worst or the most despotic African leader, but he has without doubt presided over Africa’s largest economic decline, taking a country on the edge of industrialisation back to the edge of the dark ages. At the weekend, Mugabe narrowly escaped ejection from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the fate of only one other country in history, by making a surprise $120m repayment of its IMF debt of $295m, a fraction of Zimbabwe’s total foreign debt of $2,6bn. The victory was achieved without help from SA, which sought to place conditions on any loan, and consequently constitutes a simultaneous rebuff of SA’s "interference", a rejection of what a blind man could see would be the minimum necessary to restore the country to a semblance of order.
Fresh from this "victory", Mugabe travelled to one of the decreasing number of countries that will accept him, Cuba. In the company of his fraternal outcast, he gifted the IMF a great compliment by criticising it severely, which can only be construed an accolade since any organisation castigated by Mugabe can’t be all bad. He did so notwithstanding the IMF’s patient decision to postpone yet again the day of reckoning by six months, after which it will consider ejection again. The IMF took this decision despite more than half Mugabe’s debt to the organisation still being outstanding, and despite it not having been paid any instalments since 2001, until now. The way events have unfolded confirms many of the things we already know about Mugabe; that his monstrous sense of personal pride somehow allows him to both criticise the IMF while frantically trying to beg and borrow money from everyone - even his quasi-foe SA - before finally raiding his own depleted foreign reserves to avoid being cast out by the very organisation he claims to despise.
In a way, Mugabe’s belligerence demonstrates why President Thabo Mbeki has been so careful not to criticise Mugabe publicly. But in another way, it shows how the lack of public criticism is an insufficient condition in advancing a Zimbabwean solution. So what now? The short answer is the situation in Zimbabwe is going to get worse. What should SA do? Probably the best thing to do is nothing, because nothing can be done if the interlocutor is impervious to reason, which in times of crisis is really the only tool of the diplomat. Mugabe has the pleasure of wallowing in SA’s diplomatic powerlessness; let him enjoy that miserable pleasure until he loses power himself.
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