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

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Zimbabwe appeals to IMF against possible expulsion
Sun Sep 4, 2005 12:42 PM GMT163

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government on Sunday made an indirect appeal to the International Monetary Fund not to expel the cash-strapped southern African country at a meeting later this week.

An IMF team gave no hints on Harare's future on Friday as it left after a two-week mission to Zimbabwe, which coughed up $120 million last week to try to avoid expulsion from the fund over a total of $295 million in unpaid arrears.

"As monetary authorities, we have one request and just one request alone," Zimbabwe's central bank governor Gideon Gono told the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper.

"...that is, our creditors and the international community should not, as I have said before, take precipitous actions whose effect is to blunt or negate the turnaround efforts currently under way," he said.

Gono also said that President Robert Mugabe's government, which is battling severe fuel, food and foreign shortages, had made great sacrifices in the last two months to raise the $120 million in a bid to secure its future in the IMF.

"You...see how we have subordinated all these other needs and channelled funds to secure our membership of the global lender," he said.

Gono -- who was not available for comment on Sunday -- also dismissed media reports that the surprise last-minute payment to the IMF had been made by raiding local private company bank accounts or from money given by Mugabe's friends.

"I challenge anyone with an interest to know how we accumulated this money to come and have a cup of tea and I will be able to show them," he said, without elaborating.

The central bank chief said Zimbabwe had given the IMF details on its sources for the $120 million payment.

The IMF said last week that its team had reviewed Harare's economic developments and prospects, and was preparing a report for the IMF Executive Board meeting on Sept 9 set to discuss Zimbabwe's problems.

Mugabe's relations with the West have soured over his seizure of white-owned farms for the landless black majority, as well allegations of human rights abuses and vote rigging.

Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis since independence in 1980 has seen inflation soar to triple digits and the jobless rate rise above 70 percent.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.
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The Courier Mail
Zimbabwe's phones disconnected
By Gavin du Venage in Cape Town
TELEPHONE services in Zimbabwe were thrown into chaos this weekend after South Africa's telecommunications firm Telkom cut off its services to Zimbabwe for unpaid debts.

Zimbabwe's creaking telephone service is heavily dependent on South African infrastructure for regional and international calls.
TelOne, Zimbabwe's fixed line operator, owes South Africa's Telkom $23.5 million, according to a report in Johannesburg's Business Day newspaper.
TelOne public relations manager Phil Chingwaru confirmed Telkom had disconnected Zimbabwe for non-payment.
"Currently, the company has had its connectivity to and through SA terminated as it has not honoured its debt to Telkom South Africa," he said.
Zimbabwe is on the brink of being kicked out of the International Monetary Fund for non-payment of debts. This could precipitate a catastrophic collapse in services as funds run out.
Zimbabwe does have three mobile telephone networks, but their coverage is limited and service patchy, as network operators are unwilling to commit large amounts of capital to upgrading their facilities in the climate of economic uncertainty.
"I spent the whole of Friday trying to call my family in Harare and could not get through," said Simon Japera, a Zimbabwean working in Cape Town.
"It's like trying to call the moon."
TelOne also owes British Telecom $18.3 million, and Kenya has severely restricted telephone traffic from Zimbabwe for non-payment for services.
Zimbabwe used to be able to claim one of Africa's best telephonic networks.
But Zimbabweans have got used to living with fuel shortages, long queues for staples and an inflation rate of 47 per cent a month.
Business Report
Telkom's credit freeze may win where quiet diplomacy has failed
September 5, 2005

††By Lynda Loxton

Cape Town - The decision last week by Telkom, the partially state-owned telecommunications company, to freeze credit lines to TelOne has brought a new dimension to Zimbabwe's mounting economic crisis.

Not only is the country facing expulsion from the International Monetary Fund for not paying its debts - although a last-minute partial payment was drummed up last week by withholding foreign exchange from the private sector - but Zimbabwean firms and utilities are facing growing demands from mainly South African entities to start paying their bills.

Some analysts have speculated that, in the face of the abject failure of the "quiet diplomacy" approach to restore some semblance of democracy in Zimbabwe, the government has just as quietly given the nod to parastatals to put the squeeze on Zimbabwe to stop President Robert Mugabe's apparent mindless race to oblivion by crippling the country's economy.

But all official sources were mum on the issue at the weekend. Telkom refused to divulge any details of its spat with Zimbabwe, although contacts said the phone company had not pulled the plug on the country, as was reported by some newspapers last week.

Instead it had placed stricter limits on direct access for calls coming into the South African network from Zimbabwe.

All calls from South Africa to Zimbabwe appeared to be unaffected, but calls from Zimbabwe were "problematic" and of poor sound quality as they had been diverted through other countries, sources said.

Economists contacted on Friday unanimously agreed that Telkom's move against TelOne should be seen as an "economic imperative" rather than a South African government directive to parastatals to clamp down on Zimbabwe's outstanding debts.

Telkom, as a listed company, would be under particular pressure by stringent international accounting practices to call in any outstanding debts, they said.

Other parastatals, such as Eskom, were also obliged by the Public Finance and Management Act to keep their books clean of debtors unless special arrangements were made.
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Zim declares bus accident a national disaster

† † September 04 2005 at 12:09PM

Harare - The Zimbabwe government has declared a bus accident in South Africa that killed 20 Zimbabweans a national disaster, the state-controlled Sunday Mail reported.

The accident happened on Friday morning, when a minibus ferrying 26 passengers plunged off a cliff into a river near Makhado town in northern South Africa.

Nineteen Zimbabweans, including two toddlers, died instantly, and another person has since died of injuries sustained during the accident, reports said.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena told the paper that 16 of the bodies had already been identified.

The accident reportedly happened when the driver of the minibus got out of the vehicle to relieve himself but did not put the handbrake on. - Sapa-dpa

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From The Sunday Times (SA), 4 September
SA stands its ground on loan to Zimbabwe
Brendan Boyle
South Africa is sticking to its tough conditions for financial assistance to Zimbabwe despite that country coming up with a $120-million payment to the International Monetary Fund this week, officials said on Friday. The surprise payment is likely to prevent Zimbabweís expulsion from the fund this week, but is too little to enable new IMF lending. The officials said negotiations continued this week with Harare sending an undisclosed response to proposals for support worth up to $500-million over two years. "South Africaís offer rests on two pillars - economic recovery and political stability," one official said. Conditions revealed by the Sunday Times last month still stood, he said. South Africa would give humanitarian grant aid through churches and the United Nations, but loans would flow only if Zimbabwe committed itself to action that would ensure its ability to repay them. Using funds not previously disclosed to the IMF or South Africa, Zimbabwe this week paid $120-million of its $295-million arrears. A $50-million payment was made from a mystery Johannesburg bank account. Even if the payment wins Mugabe another six-month extension from the IMF when its board meets on Friday, Zimbabwe still needs about $174-million to clear its debt. Only then can the IMF consider new loans. Western diplomats said their governments were backing Mbeki on Zimbabwe, but they urged him not to relax the pressure for reform. "The humanitarian disaster building up on South Africaís doorstep is so immense that President Mbeki cannot just do nothing anymore," said one Western envoy.
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Zimbabwe denies working to impose travel sanctions
Sun Sep 4, 2005 2:10 PM GMT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ruling party denied media reports on Sunday that it was drawing up a list of critics who will be banned from travelling abroad under a new tough law passed by his government.

Mugabe's ZANU-PF party used its two-thirds parliamentary majority last week to approve changes that will allow the government to effectively nationalise formerly white-owned farms and impose travel bans on "traitors".

The privately owned Standard newspaper reported on Sunday the government was working on a list of politicians and human rights activists who will face travel sanctions.

The weekly, quoting official sources, said the list was being drawn up by ZANU-PF's information department led by former foreign affairs minister Nathan Shamuyarira.

It said the list is headed by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and includes former information minister Jonathan Moyo, who has fallen out with ZANU-PF and is now an independent member of parliament.

Shamuyarira was unavailable for comment on Sunday, but Zimbabwe's acting Information Minister Chen Chimutengwende denied the government had or was working on such a list.

"That is absolute rubbish. There is nothing like that happening at the moment," he told Reuters.

"You cannot tell in advance who is going to get affected because it (the law) will not apply in retrospect," he said.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi said it was only a matter of time before the law was put into effect.

"It is common knowledge that this law is designed to cripple the opposition," he said.

"The very fact that they passed such a draconian law with such a chilling effect confirms that ZANU-PF has become a classic dictatorship," he added.

Zimbabwe's relations with the West are at an all-time low with Harare accused by many of human rights abuses.

Zimbabwe is struggling with a deepening economic crisis characterised by fuel, food and foreign currency shortages, which many critics blame on mismanagement by Mugabe's 25-year-old government.

Mugabe, 81, says the economy is being sabotaged by foreign and domestic opponents trying to oust him over his nationalist policies, including the seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution the landless blacks.

© Reuters 2005.

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Sunday Times
A fistful of Zim dollars can buy you only sorrow
"I had to take four wheelbarrow-loads of cash to buy plane tickets for myself, my wife and our child. The country was on fire. We needed to get out immediately. The rebels [of Laurent Kabila] were approaching Kinshasa, putting government forces on the retreat. We did not want to get caught in the crossfire. Thank God for those wheelbarrows full of cash; we managed to get out. Which is why we are here," Angelo, a new friend of mine from the then Zaire told me as we sat sipping some cold ones at an eatery in Yeoville a few years ago. I took a gulp of the bittersweet brew, threw my head back and looked at the ceiling, trying to imagine thousands of panic-stricken Zaireans pushing wheelbarrows overflowing with cash to the airport. The picture didnít gel. It was too Orwellian; too surreal. I could sense that the man was trying very hard, perhaps too hard, to coax some sympathy from my heart. He was trying to explain why thousands of his countrymen were flooding into South Africa during those tumultuous years, the years that would culminate in the demise of Mobutu Sese Sekoís reign, and the entry of his successor Laurent Kabila. Iíve always had an ear for foreigners, but it riled me that he had to resort to hyperbole to get my attention and gain my sympathy. No one wants to be patronised. Perhaps he wanted me to continue plying him with beer? Perhaps he was in need of a shelter? As it turned out, he was far richer than me. Not only did he continue to buy more libations for the two of us, but he introduced me to the owner of the restaurant - a friend of his from back home. By the time we left the restaurant we were the best of buddies. But I still did not want to believe the story about wheelbarrows of cash just to buy air tickets. It sounded ridiculous. Three years ago, when I went to cover the elections in Zim, Angeloís tale resurfaced in my mind. I was only into my fourth beer at Meikles, the sumptuous hotel in Harare, when I reckoned that I had already parted with stacks of currency that would fit in a briefcase (thereís very little hyperbole here).
Now, Iím one of those conservative creatures who donít carry credit cards. As a result, every time I ran out of cash I had to go upstairs to my room and raid the stash in the safe. The safe was almost the size of a microwave, and it was stacked with Zim dollars. By the time the night was over, the mountain of banknotes had been reduced to a humble molehill. That sobered me up. Rest assured, this was no reflection on my levels of consumption; nor did this point to the fact that the drinks were expensive (comparatively speaking they were) - itís just that the currency was even then so useless, reminding me of Angeloís wheelbarrows. A wheelbarrow of Zim dollars would have lasted me the weekend, now that I think of it. But, anyway, something happened this week that had me mentally clawing back to the past and replaying the conversation I had with Angelo the night he told me about wheelbarrows of cash. Over the past few weeks, thereís been a furore over some unconfirmed reports that the South African government had promised to extend a loan running into billions of rands to Zimbabwe to help that country settle its bill with the International Monetary Fund lest it face expulsion from the august body. This week, the Zimbabwean government decided that enough was enough; their country, an erstwhile breadbasket of Africa, could not be seen begging for alms from its southern neighbour. The Zimbabweans decided to fork out $120-million to service part of their IMF debt. The Zimbabwean state radio said the payment was "a source of immense national pride as it demonstrates the countryís unwavering commitment to turn around its economic fortunes". Well and good. Now you must recall that I am a man who believes in cash, not credit cards or electronic transfers and all that confusing stuff. With the news that Zimbabwe was going to pay so much money to the IMF, I found my mind working overtime.
Just how many wheelbarrows, I wondered, would the Zimbabweans need to cart the cash off to the IMF guys? Mind you, even if they wanted to, the Zimbabweans canít use trucks for this purpose because thereís not a drop of fuel in that country now. Also, even if South Africa was prepared to sell them emergency stocks of petrol, the Zimbabweans canít afford to buy it, seeing that theyíve just used up all the foreign currency in their possession. The last time I tried to change Zimbabwean dollars at a Thomas Cook bureau de change in Sandton, the tellers laughed at me. Blushing (yes, I can blush), I walked hurriedly away. I went to one of the street corners manned by a brood of blind Zimbabwean beggars. I rolled down my window, extended my fistful of Zim dollars to the beggars. There was a stampede as they ran away from me, almost getting knocked down by another car. They cried out as they ran: "Run, comrade, I can smell Mugabe in the air!"
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Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 8:23 AM

HAPPY IN ZIM, even though ...

01. A Vienna sausage costs more than a 3-bedroom house cost 25-years ago.

02. Fuel has increased by 59,000% in the last 18-months.

03. If you want fuel you have to buy foreign currency on the black market
(illegal) drive 120kms, smuggle your cash through an international border, &
fill a container. On return you have to pay duty in Z$ on the fuel you have
purchased but you are not allowed to take out sufficient Z$ to pay the duty

04. In August you are advised of the new minimum wages for July.

05. Kariba Bream now costs $1,200,000/kg which is double the price of
imported Hake.

06. Fees in Government schools are increased by 1,000% retrospective for
6-months, whilst private schools are restricted from increasing their fees
at all.

07. Colgate toothpaste in supermarkets is kept locked in a glass display
cabinet otherwise it will be stolen.

08. Reserve Bank officials enforce laws on illegal currency deals, yet the
Bank uses illegally obtained currency to pay satellite television

09. New Zealand butter is half the price of Zimbabwe butter.

10. Water rationing is introduced 4-months after the end of the rains when
the dams are already almost empty.

11. A $10 note is still in circulation and is worth 0,05 of one US cent.

12. A $10 note costs over $3,000 to print.

13. Toilet paper costs more than $10 a sheet - so it's cheaper to use the

14. Banks charge 300% interest on overdraft but pay 0,001% interest on
current account balances.

15. It is cheaper to hand deliver mail than to use the postal system.

16. Government knocks down houses when there is a housing shortage.

17. It can take up to a year to renew a firearms licence which is only valid
for 3-years.

18. A replacement drivers' licence can take up to 3-years.

19. Electricity Supply Commission is unable to send out monthly accounts, so
estimates the usage - a previous average usage of $250,000 p.m. is estimated
at $24-million.

20. A monthly govt. pension of $13500 will buy one small sip of Coke but
this is not an issue because you can't buy cokes anyway.

21. Pensioners living outside our borders would receive half one US cent per

22. ADDENDUM: An ordinary washer costs 20 to 30 dollars. If you are lucky
enough to find a coin; drill a hole in it! Our largest coin is $5. If you
can find a 1 cent coin you can really "coin" it. It is even made of copper.
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Sent: Monday, September 05, 2005 7:30 AM
Subject: Inflation Alert

We are in for a major increase in inflation. The rate for July was 47 per
cent on one month and August is going to be worse. Most commentators believe
we are going to see treble digit inflation in September. This means that
most prices will double in one month. The impact of this on people with
fixed incomes or low incomes is going to be very severe and to avoid
hardship and worse we are all going to have to pay especial attention to a
few fundamentals.

1.††† The elderly. Many do not understand what is going on and will not have
the resources to cope with this surge. It is vital that all our
organisations and the hundred of individuals who are helping the elderly
amongst us cope, take new steps to protect those who are being assisted.
They should not hold cash balances at banks as these will shrink in value
every day. Rather think through what will be most needed and buy these items
in bulk and in advance. People will be most helped with things they can use
or consume and gifts in kind are as valuable as cash. We must also make sure
that if we are giving to such organisations that we adjust our giving to
reflect the inflation. Do not delay these decisions as time is of the
essence in these circumstances.

2.††† Low income workers. Although these are all under government and Union
backed agreements, adjustments to these wage rates will simply be too late
and in most instances too little to help them avoid real hardship. Get their
agreement that you will effect monthly adjustments to their wages within
your ability to pay and that in return they will not demand retrospective
adjustments should government or NEC agreements cone out granting them
percentage increments on top of what they are currently earning.

3.††† Many in small businesses will not be able to cope with these huge
changes in prices and we can only advise that they price their goods and
services in such a way as to reflect expected inflation - not past
inflation. Unless you do so your income will not keep pace with inflation
and then you can help no one or even stay in business. Do not hold cash for
longer than required but be careful as to what assets you put your cash
into. Holding foreign exchange may be a best bet but if this is not possible
then go out and bulk buy or look at short term investments which are secure
and will yield a return in a very short time.

4.††† Children. Baby foods are virtually unobtainable and are very
expensive. If you are in touch with families with small children and babies
pay especial attention to their needs and chip in with advice and selected
protein foods when you can. Teachers should monitor their pupils very
carefully when school starts next week and watch out for children who come
to school hungry and obviously malnourished. These should be reported to the
Headmaster and he should then contact the Ministry to report problems and
perhaps ask local agencies such as Churches, Rotary Clubs and welfare
organisations to help with a local feeding scheme. Organised assistance from
major international organisations are not available this time round and real
food shortages across the country are now inevitable. Even if food is
available many families simply cannot afford the new prices.

Remember we are the kind of people who survive and thrive in these
circumstances because we care for each other and we help each other as we
can. This is such a time for all of us, lets pull together and get through
this crisis and into a new and more hopeful and stable era that is surely
just around the corner.

Eddie Cross
4th September 2005
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People's Daily
Cost of living soars in Zimbabwe due to high inflation

It is now common in most supermarkets in Zimbabwe to find piles of abandoned goods at till points competing with those on the shelves in terms of volume.

The goods are left by disgruntled shoppers who fail to pay for them because some retailers are continually hiking prices of most basic commodities.

The southern African country is currently facing the problem of currency plummet and the high inflation has sent the price roaring.

Day after day, prices are being increased at the expense of consumers who are now restricting their buying to purely basic necessities and many families have to cut down on the number of meals they consume per day.

Zimbabweans used to have three meals a day. Instead of tea and bread in the morning, they have now resorted to a breakfast of porridge without sugar in the mid-morning that also serves as early lunch, and then supper.

According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe's July monthly consumer basket, a low-income urban family of six requires about 5. 4 million Zimbabwean dollars (about 540 US dollars) for groceries, up 200 percent since January.

Manufacturers are now focusing more on producing the expensive refined supplementary products which are not controlled but beyond the reach of many consumers.

Controlled basic commodities such as sugar, cooking oil, soap, bread and soft drinks, among other products, are still scarce.

Some manufacturers are working in cahoots with retailers to produce in large quantities basic commodities that are not controlled as a way of skirting around the recommended prices.

These manufacturers have resorted to producing the refined products such as the milk-loaf that is not price-controlled and is always available, while the normal bread affordable to many has since disappeared from the supermarkets.

The same is happening with cooking oil which is not price- controlled.

All the controlled basic commodities have disappeared in supermarkets and all you find are products which are not controlled.

Most people are now forced to buy the basic commodities on the black market where they are found in abundance.

Many people have expressed concern over the packaging loopholes being taken advantage of by manufacturers to circumvent the recommended prices and called on the government to act quickly.

Industrialists have recently assured the government that there would be an improvement in the availability of basic commodities on the formal markets.

With the increasing prices of basic commodities, school fees have decupled starting from August while some schools backdated the increases to January this year.

Most parents expressed concern over whether their children would be able to continue going to their current schools or if they should transfer them to those schools charging lower fees.

As much as the parents appreciate the economic challenges in this country, they have to meet other expenses which have also gone up markedly, for example, the electricity tariffs and municipal rates.

It is said that most parents are surviving on loans from money- lending firms, which were charging exorbitant interest rates. As a result, they are now caught in a debt trap.

Source: Xinhua

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The Standard
Police defy court order on vendors
By Nqobani Ndlovu

BULAWAYO - Police are still carrying out raids on vendors despite a High Court ruling that the blitz is unlawful and interferes with the individual's property rights.

Bulawayo judge, Justice Maphios Cheda, ruled that the police had acted outside the confines of the law when they confiscated the goods of the vendors.

"The seizure and confiscating of traders merchandise in the absence of a court order is unlawful as this interferes with individuals property rights,"

Cheda said in a ruling made on 2 August.

The ruling came after the Bulawayo Upcoming Traders' Association (BUTA) had taken the police to the High Court, challenging the confiscation of their goods during the height of "Operation Murambatsvina". BUTA is a grouping of close to 3 000 traders in the city.

Despite the ruling, police raids on the vendors in the city are still continuing with Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) spokesperson, Magodonga Mahlangu, saying: "Most of our members are vendors and earned income from vending. How are they going to pay the fees if the police are not allowing them to trade?"

Widow Anna Banda, who resides in Emganwini, said: "I have to feed the children but how can do that if the police do not allow us to sell our goods?"

Robert Ndlovu of James, Moyo Majwabu and Associates, who represented the vendors, said it was legal for his clients to sell their wares. "As of now I can't comment. As far as I am concerned, they have not come back to me but the High Court Order gave them the green-light to trade," Ndlovu said.

Contacted for comment, Assistant Commissioner, Wayne Bvudzijena said he had "no comment for The Standard" before switching off his mobile phone.

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The Standard
Exam scandal at Morgenster
By Godfrey Mutimba

MASVINGO - More than 200 students from Morgenster Teachers' College will not graduate this year after their final year results were nullified because of alleged cheating.

The Reformed Church of Zimbabwe (RCZ)-run institution will not deploy its students to schools for employment after a Theory of Education examination paper was leaked allegedly by a lecturer, suspected to have had an affair with a female student.

A student who spoke to The Standard said college officials had informed them that they would, as a result, not graduate this year but would rewrite the examination on a date to be advised.

"It is disturbing to note that even those who did not have access to the leaked paper will be affected because some lazy colleagues cheated," complained the student who declined to be named.

Other students attacked the college administration saying it was being unfair to the majority who had not seen the leaked paper.

The RCZ Synod Moderator Reverend Enos Chomutiri confirmed the leak.

"I can't give you a detailed explanation because when it happened I was out of the country. But from what I heard, the college officials are waiting for advice from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education giving another date. We will communicate the date to the students as soon as it is known," Chomutiri said.

Chomutiri did not name the lecturer suspected of leaking the examination paper because investigations are still in progress.

Lloyd Chaduka, the College principal was said to be on holiday.

Disgruntled students allege that the paper was leaked to a female student who later revised it with friends before examination day. She smuggled answers into the examination room but an invigilator spotted her.

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The Standard
Mujuru gate-crashes church meeting
By our staff

NYAMANDHLOVU - An annual Johanne Masowe retreat ended up prematurely 10 days ago in Nyamandlovu amid disgruntlement when Vice President, Joyce Mujuru, two cabinet ministers and State security agents turned up and started campaigning for Zanu PF. Mujuru arrived at the meeting with a few church leaders, among them Lawrence Katsiru from Marondera.

The leaders then went into a meeting aimed at resolving the crisis that threatened to split the church. The Standard understands the disagreements were over allowing politicians at the retreat.

Accompanying Mujuru were Deputy Minister of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation, Saviour Kasukuwere, and the Minister without Portfolio, Elliot Manyika, and unidentified State security agents.

Worshippers who were not aware of Mujuru's visit, said they were shocked to see her arriving at Mpiyazwe, which falls under the Bubi/Mguza district along the Nyamandhlovu road.

The area is 30km outside Bulawayo and some 10 000 worshippers held their six-day annual convention, which ended last Sunday.

The leaders accused of working in cahoots with the ruling party introduced Mujuru and afterwards, she started urging the people to pray for Zanu PF, The Standard was told.

Mujuru is alleged to have appealed to the church, which has a large following in the country, to use their numbers to canvass for votes for the party.

It was at this point, The Standard was told, that disgruntled church members stood up and started leaving.

Church members, such as Thomas Bhobho, who said he came from Macheke, outside Marondera said: "Anyone is free to attend the church but for Mujuru to try and bring party politics here is bad. It is taboo at this church."

Priscilla Chitemba, of Harare said: "We were shocked to hear her telling us to pray for the ruling party. We never thought that she had come to campaign."

Kasukuwere confirmed that he had travelled with the Vice President to the Nyamandhlovu. "Yes, I did attend, but call me later," Kasukuwere said.

When contacted, Manyika said it was not a secret that they travelled to Nyamndhlovu, especially as it was a public meeting.He said: "We also attended the Salvation Army meeting in Harare as part of mobilisation."

Mujuru was not immediately available for comment.

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The Standard
Someone's death wish for Zimbabwe

ONE of the sharpest legal minds ever to grace Zanu PF, the late nationalist and liberation war hero, Dr Eddison Zvobgo criticised the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) saying journalists would live in terror of the minister because of the legislation.

On Tuesday last week, ruling party MPs ensured that Zimbabweans will hence forth live in perpetual terror of the State when they enthusiastically passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill No 17.

Its passage into law will transform this country into a vast Gulag, effectively declaring Zimbabwe a de facto one-party State. The Bill is a coup that completes the full cycle of repression by plugging the loopholes in both AIPPA and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

It is a tragic irony that the heroes of Zimbabwe's struggle for liberation have now mounted the most resolute and calculated assault on the rights of citizens of this country. Embarrassed by dwindling popular support during polls since 2000, the government and the ruling party are now intent on achieving public backing through coercion.

The defining moment of the Zimbabwean nightmare and tragedy was the sight of Zanu PF MPs breaking into song and celebrating. They may have celebrated the emasculation of the judiciary in the case of applicants contesting seizure of commercial farmland in the belief that it is a piece of legislation designed to punish white supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. This is unashamed racism and demonstrates how short their memories are. The victims of the government's so-called Third Chimurenga have not been and will not be entirely white commercial farmers.

Besides being whipped into line and voting along party lines, the ruling party MPs celebrated a pyrrhic victory. They decry the shortages of foreign currency and low levels of foreign direct investment, when in passing the Bill their message to external investors is unambiguous: there is neither observance of nor respect for property rights in Zimbabwe.

There are German, French and Italian investments in farming/agricultural enterprises in this country. Now they could contemplate pulling out or scaling down their activities in order to minimise potential losses and there will be lesser prospects of attracting further investment from these countries in particular or other nations in general.

The next front of assault on property rights, at the rate at which things are going, could be foreign factories and companies, or those whose owners are deemed to threaten national interests.

The usurpation of the authority of the judiciary poses a serious threat to efforts at turning around the economy, while the timing of the passage of the Bill was an instructive demonstration of the dearth of strategic planning and timing in the ruling party. Whether it was a show of the now familiar mindless and empty bravado directed at the visiting International Monetary Fund mission that was in the country, the mind boggles.

The IMF team is unlikely to have been impressed with both the Bill and the 11th hour payment of the US$120 million towards settling Harare's arrears in the hope of staving off expulsion from the international financial institution. The best that Zimbabwe can now expect from the IMF Board is that it will not expel the country, but neither will it open the taps to new balance of payment support, simply because Zimbabwe has not demonstrated any resolve to put the economy on the path to recovery. Mere expressions of intent are one thing, determined action towards attainment of an economic turnaround is quite another.

The actions of the ruling party MPs demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt where the real threat to national interests and security is coming from.

They may celebrate in the mistaken belief that in withdrawing travel documents from people who are calling for this country to be punished by the international community, they are responding to the EU and US travel sanctions. But, in fact, they are building a wall around Zimbabwe out of which people considered "dissidents" will not be allowed. The immediate targets are members of the opposition MDC and those from non-governmental organisations and civic society groups. To this, add media houses and practitioners.

Such a landmark amendment should have been preceded by broader consultations between the government, MPs and the electorate. Issues such as what constitutes threats to national interests should have been debated and agreed on before presentation of and debate on the Bill. The government and the ruling party are seeking support through coercion and in this instance the government is wielding a new weapon it proposes to use against its citizens in curtailing freedom of travel, association and expression.

The difference between this government and Ian Smith's, which banned and exiled many of the leading nationalists resulting in their recourse to UN or Commonwealth travel documents, is negligible. The timing of the Bill is also regrettable. It comes weeks before the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month. It is as if Zimbabwe is telling everyone else to go to hell.

The opposition has been rendered impotent, the judiciary disempowered and the economy dealt a mortal blow. Someone has a death wish for this country.

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Bizarre News Lion Seek Refuge In Toilet
September 5, 2005, 9:25:09

Thats bizarre: A lion has been found hiding in a public toilet in Zimbabwe.

The frightened animal was found in a cubicle after being stoned by fed-up residents in Nyamhunga who were trying to drive a pack of lions out of the town.

The police, army and rangers were called in to remove the lion after a vet travelled 350km to sedate it.

After a three hour operation the male lion was released back into the wild.
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