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BBC
Waiting for change in Zimbabwe
By Joseph Winter
BBC News Online

MDC supporters
Some MDC youths are impatient for change
The euphoria which surrounded the birth of Zimbabwe's main opposition party five years ago is being replaced by disillusionment on the part of many of its supporters.

At a mass birthday party in Harare, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai told thousands of supporters: "We are on the winning track. Zimbabwe is on the verge of massive and decisive change."

But others are not so sure.

"By now, I was sure we would be in power," one MDC activist told BBC News Online.

"We were complacent, we though it would be easy," he said.

'Nothing tangible'

Just six months after the MDC's launch on 11 September 1999, President Robert Mugabe suffered his first - and still only - national election defeat in a referendum on a new constitution.

But that set-back only stirred him into action and the MDC has been unable to loosen his grip on power.

If people are not prepared to suffer, they won't get change
Lovemore Madhuku
Political analyst
The opposition says he used violence and rigging to narrowly win elections in June 2000 and March 2002 and now the MDC has said it will not even contest polls due next March.

"The MDC has succeeded in maintaining the hopes of Zimbabweans that change is possible, said Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, which is pressing for a new constitution.

"But it has achieved nothing tangible. There has been no change of government, oppression has got worse and the economy has collapsed."

He says there has been a lack of strategy in the MDC leadership, which has been outsmarted - and literally outfought - by Mr Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.

'Final push'

A woman in Harare, who says she wants a change of government, admits: "Zanu-PF is better at long-term planning than the MDC. "The MDC just react and by then, Zanu-PF is already far ahead."

But Mr Mugabe has certainly done everything in his power to make life difficult for the opposition to operate.

President Robert Mugabe
Mugabe has pulled out all the stops to remain in power
The MDC complains that elections are rigged and street protests are brutally suppressed by the security services.

New security and media laws have also made life much more difficult for the opposition.

All political meetings now require police approval, which is rarely given to the MDC.

All foreign correspondents have been expelled and the only privately-run daily newspaper closed down, so the MDC has trouble getting its message out to the electorate.

They tried to organise a "final push" - mass street protests to bring down Mr Mugabe - last year but the security services succeeded in stamping these out.

Waiting game

In such circumstances, it is certainly not easy to see how to defeat Mr Mugabe, except for hanging on and waiting for the economy to deteriorate to such an extent that he is unable to remain in office.

This has always been Mr Tsvangirai's back-up plan but living standards for Zimbabweans have got worse and worse and this has not yet led to a change of government.

ZIMBABWE'S INFLATION
Bag of sugar
2000: Z$40
2004: Z$5,303
Packet cigarettes
2000: Z$22
2004: Z$4,500
Milk
2000: Z$15
2004: Z$2,600
Twelve eggs
2000: Z$36
2004: Z$7,500
Loaf of bread
2000: Z$21
2004: Z$3,500
Source: MDC
"People are impatient and disillusioned," the activist said.

He said that water-rationing has now been introduced in the capital, Harare. There is no water from 0830 until 1730 in residential areas.

The MDC website publishes shocking statistics showing the rampant inflation which has eroded the buying power of the Zimbabwe dollar since 2000. The cost of a bag of sugar has shot up from $40 to $5,303 in four years.

Mr Madhuku is one of those calling for popular protests to bring about change.

He says the MDC abandoned mass action too quickly after the failure of the "final push."

"If people are not prepared to suffer, they won't get change. More oppression is the only alternative."

Regional hopes

Mr Madhuku is certainly willing to put his words to the test and was arrested last week for the umpteenth time for organising an illegal demonstration.

But others are intimidated. The MDC activist says: "It is difficult to organise marches now. People are afraid."

Morgan Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai want African leaders to put pressure on Mugabe
With so many of its options closed, the MDC says it will not take part in elections - including parliamentary polls die next March - unless there are genuine reforms, such as an end to violence and an independent body to organise the elections.

It is hoping that this boycott will stop Mr Mugabe from being able to argue that he has a democratic mandate to govern Zimbabwe and so regional leaders will put pressure on him to introduce electoral reforms before next March, as part of a new promise by Southern African leaders to raise the standard of democracy in the region.

But Zimbabwe's neighbours have always been the most reluctant to criticise Mr Mugabe, who they see as a hero of the fight against colonialism.

If the election boycott does not succeed, the MDC will have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan - once again.



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No data yet on 'bumper' crop

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

JOHANNESBURG, 13 Sep 2004 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwean government is backing its
earlier estimate of a 2.4 million mt maize harvest this year, despite the
state's Grain Marketing Board (GMB) being unable to say how much maize it
has received from farmers.

Government spokesman Steyn Berejena told IRIN on Monday that the projected
2.4 million mt was "a realistic figure", after news reports that a
parliamentary committee had not been furnished with proof of the bumper
crop.

The parliamentary portfolio committee on land and agriculture requested that
the GMB and the Central Statistics Office (CSO) provide it with data on the
country's harvest two months ago, after various independent surveys
contradicted the government's forecast.

However, neither the grain monopoly nor the CSO have so far provided the
committee with the information requested.

"We need those figures and statistics, which should present a breakdown of
what was harvested countrywide, so that we could compare with the situation
on the ground," committee chairman Daniel Mackenzie Ncube was quoted as
saying in the local Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.

Berejena explained that the delay in supplying the committee with the
relevant figures was due to the fact that "farmers are still busy
transporting grain to the GMB - the harvest season is still on".

"Most farmers are not yet through with the delivery of their crops, so the
GMB may not be in a position at the moment to say 'yes we have received that
2.4 million mt'. It might take up to the end of September, as farmers do
have problems with transport and, where possible, the GMB has been trying to
assist them with transporting their grain to depots," Berejena said.

Berejena questioned the intentions of some NGOs, which allegedly "are buying
grain from farmers instead of facilitating farmers in delivering their grain
to the GMB, which is the sole buyer of maize in the country. You find some
NGOs with hidden agendas, wanting to make themselves middlemen instead".

"At times they are even hoarding [maize bought from farmers] for unknown
reasons," Berejena alleged. This "might affect the final [harvest] figures",
he noted, as not all the grain harvested would be delivered to the GMB by
farmers.

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Agrarian Reforms Set to Create Over 2 Million Jobs: Mangwana

The Herald (Harare)

September 11, 2004
Posted to the web September 13, 2004

Harare

LAND is the basis for poverty alleviation and employment creation in Africa
and Zimbabwe is looking at creating more than two million jobs over the next
few years through its agrarian reforms, the Minister of Public Service,
Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Paul Mangwana, has said.

He said this was the message the Zimbabwean delegation to the African Union
(AU) Extraordinary Summit on Poverty Alleviation and Employment Creation in
Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, put across to the African heads of state and
government attending the three-day meeting held this week.

"Our story was that we are going through agrarian reforms and we are looking
at creating more than two million jobs over the next few years.

"We have gone a long way towards mobilising resources to boost agriculture
and are channelling a large chunk of our budget towards agriculture and have
exceeded the 10 percent recommended by the African Union," said Cde
Mangwana.

He said poverty alleviation and employment creation in Africa could only be
achieved through affirmative action and empowerment of the local people.

Sources who attended the talks said President Mugabe emphasised that land
was the basis for fighting poverty and that control and ownership of land
should lead to a massive revamping of agriculture and investment in the
sector.

This view was supported by delegates from Southern Africa, namely South
Africa, Tanzania, Namibia and Zambia.

President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania said a robust and vibrant agricultural
sector means more jobs, more income and more food for the poor.

"Increasing employment opportunities also (arise from) processing
agricultural products. Economic growth originating in agriculture, coupled
with growth in rural non-farm activities, has strong poverty reducing
impacts," said Mr Mkapa.

The Tanzanian leader, who is also the co-chair of the World Commission on
the Social Dimension of Globalisation, said supportive policies were needed
for agriculture to be an effective engine of growth and employment creation,
through trying out alternative crops, enhancing irrigation, elimination of
price distortions and discriminatory practices.

There was also need for policies that support substantial public investment
in education and health and a recognition of the key role of women in
agricultural production and, therefore, poverty alleviation, Mr Mkapa said.

"For higher productivity, agriculture also needs sustained high investment
in transport, markets, electricity, water, infrastructure and information
and communication technologies, as well as agricultural research and
extension and financial services," he said.

Zimbabwe has made major strides towards implementing these and has opened up
opportunities for the previously disadvantaged majority.

Already the country had surpassed the AU-recommended 10 percent budgetary
allocation towards agriculture.

President Mugabe is said to have also emphasised the need for Africa to use
its own resources as a springboard for fighting poverty and creating
employment and adding value to natural resources.

Africa is endowed with vast natural resources such as oil, gold, copper,
coal, rubber and timber, yet these were exported in their raw form.

These resources, the summit heard, could be processed on the continent,
thereby creating jobs and reducing or eradicating poverty.

The role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the development of the
continent also came under scrutiny during the summit, with delegates from
West Africa wanting to, as one delegate said, "lionise" their role in issues
of governance.

Cde Mangwana said West African delegates were of the opinion that
governments should assist NGOs.

But this viewpoint was objected to mostly by delegates from Southern Africa,
who felt governments should not be obliged to create the capacity for NGOs.

Cde Mangwana said some NGOs had set agendas and wanted to remove governments
from power and that was why they were opposed to Zimbabwe's Non-Governmental
Organisations Bill.

Sources who attended the closed-door talks said there appeared to be an
orientation towards aid and to the Western countries, which provide that
aid, by some West African delegates. The Zimbabwean delegation said there
should be a special focus on the role of African banking institutions
towards development finance, employment creation and poverty alleviation.

Cde Mangwana said Zimbabwe was also of the view that Africa needed to engage
countries in Asia which had experienced similar problems but were well on
their way to eliminating poverty and creating employment.

The AU Extraordinary Summit on Poverty Reduction and Employment Creation was
attended by 14 heads of state and government, including South African
President Thabo Mbeki, President Mkapa, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade,
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Algerian President Abdelaziz
Bouteflika and President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, the host country.

President Mugabe led the Zimbabwe delegation comprising the First Lady Cde
Grace Mugabe, Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Stan Mudenge, Cde Mangwana,
Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development Cde David Chapfika and
senior Government officials.

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City to Borrow $49bn

The Herald (Harare)

September 13, 2004
Posted to the web September 13, 2004

Michael Padera
Harare

HARARE has been allowed to borrow another $49 billion for improving water
supplies, coping with sewage and repairing and extending infrastructure.

But nothing is likely to happen very quickly.

Two months ago, the Government advanced $10,7 billion to the capital city
under the public sector investment programme for use in the upgrading of
water and sewer reticulation early this year. The replacement parts bought
with the money are expected next week.

Harare has been neglecting its water and sewerage infrastructure for several
years despite the fact that some equipment is more than 50 years old and
needs urgent replacement.

The city's director of works, Mr Psychology Chiwanga, however, said there
has been an improvement in the pumping capacity following the replacement of
blowers at the Morton Jaffray plant and installation of a new pump at
Letombo.

Of the $10,7 billion, only $1,7 billion was specifically meant for repairs
at Morton Jaffray, while the $9 billion was for sewer reticulation, said Mr
Chiwanga.

The council was now awaiting delivery of some of the replacement parts after
it awarded tenders for the supply last week.

Mr Chiwanga said the water shortages currently being experienced were a
result of increased demand caused by high temperatures.

Harare's main reservoirs hold good levels, but treatment and pumping
capacity have not been extended since the early 1990s despite the rapid rise
in the city's population. Engineering reports and forecasts have been
consistently ignored by successive city councils.

Expectations, however, remain high that if the city successfully raises the
$49 billion, it will revamp the capital's water and sewerage systems, parts
of which have collapsed due to lack of proper maintenance and
rehabilitation.

Harare is also waiting to be given the go-ahead to borrow another $15
billion solely for the rehabilitation of phase one of the Morton Jaffray
plant.

The borrowing powers were acknowledged in a letter signed by the Minister of
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Cde Ignatius Chombo,
and the Acting Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Cde Herbert
Murerwa.

"We the Ministers . . . have granted approval to Harare City Council to
raise $48 570 215 billion from the domestic market for the purpose of
financing the infrastructural development, extension and improvement of city
services," reads part of the letter.

At least $18 billion would be used for water and sewer reticulation.

According to a council project proposal, nearly $5 billion would be used to
purchase replacement parts at the Morton Jaffray plant. Another $4 billion
will go towards the upgrading of the water distribution network, which is
reported to be in shambles and leading to the loss of large volumes of
treated water.

Nearly $2 billion would be used for the same purpose at the Prince Edward
Water Works and at Warren Control.

Council will use $777 700 million for the rehabilitation and upgrading of
Firle Unit 3 sewage works, $2 339 000 billion would be used for the
construction of an 18-megalitre/day BNR plant and the expansion of existing
capacity of the Crowborough sewage works.

Part of that money will go towards the reconstruction of outfall sewers for
the disposal of sewage from Marimba catchment area to Crowborough catchment
treatment works.

At least $5,3 billion would be used for the installation of electrical and
mechanical equipment, construction of a 2km pumping main and transiting
chamber, inlet works, pump house, electricity sub-stations at pump stations
and treatment works at the Budiriro pump station, Mabvuku/Tafara outfall
sewer, Chisipite pump station and Chizhanje sewerage works.

Some of the money will be used to complete council's computerisation
programme.

Council will use $2,5 billion for the procurement and replacement of refuse
trucks.

Slightly over $1 billion would go towards street lighting. Harare streets
have for some time now been without lights, posing danger to residents who
live in perpetual fear of being mugged.

Some of the money will finance the day-to-day operations of council.

Government has already given council $10,7 billion under the public sector
investment programme for use in water and sewer reticulation.

Harare is currently facing a crippling water crisis that has seen some areas
going for almost seven days without water. The water problems are partly
because of ageing equipment at the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant and
heavy pollution of the water sources.

The heavy pollution has seen the city using at least seven water treatment
chemicals to purify the water to the required standard, a development that
poses high financial implications for consumers who are, in turn, expected
to pay increased charges for the water.

There have been recommendations and suggestions that Government should allow
council to access cheaper foreign currency from the auction floor to enable
it to buy purifying chemicals directly from manufacturers and do away with
middlemen

The water crisis deepened in some parts of Harare last week.

In Hatcliffe, some residents who had gone dry for a week said they were
resorted to drawing water from shallow wells for domestic purposes.

"We have no option as there is no other source for us. We had initially been
receiving intermittent supplies especially in the evening during the course
of the week, but we have not had a drop for the past two days," said one of
the women who were fetching water from a shallow well in Hatcliffe.

Some people in the area had since taken advantage of the situation as they
were selling water to desperate families.

Hatcliffe 1 School was selling a 20-litre bucket for $500.

One of the customers, Mr Munyaradzi Chatimuka, said he had to buy borehole
water at the school for cooking and drinking.

Other residents had to walk up to 3km to get water at nearby farms.

Another resident, Mr Peter Mun'ozho, who had a wheelbarrow carrying three
20-litre containers, said his family had gone for a week without water and
had to walk all the way to nearby Matenga Farm for borehole water.

In Epworth, some residents who spoke to The Herald on Friday said they had
gone for three consecutive days without water.

A man, who refused to be named, said some residents who own open wells in
the area are taking advantage of the situation to make brisk business.

"Most of the people would ask you to pay $2 000 a day so that you can use
water from the wells or else you go without water," the man told The Herald.

In other areas, people have begun drilling boreholes for reliable sources of
water.

In Greendale, Mr Collin Schafer said he had made arrangements with a
neighbour who owns a borehole to supply him with water.

Mr Schafer also complained about the deteriorating standard and quality of
water being supplied by the council.

"Are you still drinking water from the taps without filtering it?" asked Mr
Schafer, who said he would soon repair his borehole to ensure he got cleaner
water.

Council recently introduced a new water rationing system in which supplies
would be cut off at 3pm every day and restored at 8.30am the following
morning.

The Herald was yesterday inundated with phone calls from irate Harare
residents who felt council was not being fair in the manner in which the
system was being implemented.

They said council was introducing water rationing in suburbs which had
already been experiencing water problems.

Ironically, in some parts of the city, treated water was gushing out from
burst pipes.

In Greencroft, along Lomagundi Road, a water pipe that burst in the early
hours of Friday morning had still not been repaired by around 3pm when The
Herald arrived at the scene.

In Belvedere, water from a burst pipe reported to council three days
earlier, was still gushing out.

A resident in the area, Mr Thomas Marambanyika, said the problem had been
overlooked for a very long time.

"Initially there were just trickles of water coming out, but now the
situation has worsened. Efforts by council to rectify the problem have not
yielded any positive result as they will just come to mend a section of the
pipe," said Mr Marambanyika.

When The Herald visited the site, a stream of water stretching for several
hundred metres had meandered into nearby bushes.

Generally standards of service have been going down in Harare with roads,
sewerage systems and streetlights being left for protracted periods without
repair.

At the Herbert Chitepo Road and Seventh Street junction, a street light pole
that was hit by a Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings bus two months ago is yet
to be repaired.

Several others along Enterprise Road are being corroded by rust. Tall grass,
which is growing around the electricity poles, is testimony of gross
negligence by council authorities.

Wires and other electricity cords that could be seen dangling at the street
light poles along Harare Drive in Borrowdale area tell past of a formerly
well-lit street.

Roads leading to suburbs like as Tynwald North, a brand new suburb
developing after Sanganayi Inn and the Westgate-Sanganayi Park area, can
best be described as some of the most dangerous in terms of potholes in the
city.

A commuter omnibus driver who plies the Westgate-Dzivaresekwa route said the
potholes had been there for a long time and nothing had been done.

Some of the potholes would better be described as pits because of their
size, which could swallow a Mini Cooper.

In Glen Norah, about six families have learnt to live with raw sewerage at
their doorsteps as the city council employees are reportedly taking their
time to attend to a burst pipe.

Mr Zacharia Sahondo, a Glen Norah resident, told The Herald that they
reported the problem of a burst sewer pipe to the council last Monday but
nothing had been done by late Friday.

"They simply promised us that someone would come here but ever since no one
heeded our call. We tried different council offices from district level to
the headquarters in Harare but to no avail," said Mr Sahondo.

Another affected father at a neighbouring house said he and his family have
resorted to use containers in place of toilets.

A Borrowdale resident complained that council no longer kept records of
complaints and will simply laugh at you when you ask for a complaints
reference number.

"I phoned Wynne Street a couple of times complaining about water problems
and they would not take my name. It seems no one is interested in improving
Harare. So, why then are paying those hefty rate and water charges?" she
asked.
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New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's UK embassy shamed over unpaid rates

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 09/14/2004 05:23:13
ZIMBABWE has been named and shamed on a list of foreign embassies in Britain
owing more than £1.3 million in unpaid parking fines and rates.

The British foreign office has been forced to release the list in a bid to
shame the embassies into paying-up, officials said this week.

The list, given in a written statement by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, also
shows that 16 serious offences were allegedly committed last year by some of
the 20,000 foreign officials benefiting from diplomatic immunity.

It was not immediately possible to verify if there were any Zimbabwean
officials linked to 'serious crimes'. The definition of "serious" is crimes
that could otherwise result in a year or more in jail.

Zimbabwe is one of the African serial offenders alongside Mozambique,
Cameroon, Nigeria and Libya, although the Foreign Office has withheld the
names of 12 states owing more than £10,000 because they have made
arrangements to pay.

Libya tops the list of diplomatic missions which owe money for traffic
violations, running up a bill of £34,480 for 365 offences.

It is followed by Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Georgia at the head of a list of
64 nations who have 11 or more fines still to be paid.

The sums remain outstanding despite a plea from the Foreign Office to all
missions to pay up in May which yielded just under £50,000.

Foreign missions are also yet to settle 1,847 fines for non-payment of the
central London congestion charge: Egypt with 250, United Arab Emirates 182
and Angola 126 topping the list.

Almost £1 million is owed in national non-domestic rates for embassy and
other buildings.

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MDC PRESS

13 September 2004

ZIMBABWEANS CELEBRATE MDCíS 5TH ANNIVERSARY††

On September 11, the MDC celebrated its 5th anniversary. As a party we have made tremendous progress during this period. We gained 57 seats, out the 120 that were contested, in the June 2000 parliamentary elections. In municipal elections held in 2002 and 2003 the people of Zimbabweís 12 major towns and cities resoundingly punished Zanu PF for their record of failure by overwhelmingly electing the MDC to run their municipal affairs.

We are now firmly established as a truly national party that transcends the ethnic and rural/urban divisions in our society that have been deliberately sown by the Zanu PF government.

With vibrant party offices in all 12 provinces, and vibrant party structures in each of the countryís 120 districts, we have ensured that we have the capacity to continue our impressive growth as a political party and sustain our formidable challenge to the existing status quo.

Last weekend, thousands of Zimbabweans, in towns and villages across the country, defied government intimidation to celebrate the MDCís 5th anniversary. In Harare on Saturday, and in Bulawayo on Sunday, crowds of over 20,000 attended rallies addressed by President Morgan Tsvangirai and the rest of the MDC leadership. A week before, over 15,000 people turned up at an MDC rally in Gweru.

The message from last weekendís celebrations is clear: Zimbabweans desire a new beginning and will not be cowed in their struggle for a restoration of their basic rights. They have no desire to participate in another fraudulent election which denies them their hard earned right to freely elect a government of their choice.

They know that the economic recovery necessary to create jobs and provide food will remain stunted until democracy has been restored. This acknowledgment serves to strengthen the collective resolve for change.

It is time the government listened to the people and acted in accordance with their wishes; it therefore needs to act in accordance with the spirit and letter of the SADC protocol on genuine democratic elections.

Paul T Nyathi

Secretary For Information and Publicity

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From The Daily News Online Edition, 13 September

Chamisa released

Nelson Chamisa, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Kuwadzana was on Friday
afternoon released from police custody after charges against him and 12
others were withdrawn. The police had indicated during his arrest that the
MP had violated sections of the draconian Public Order and Security Act
(POSA) by holding a meeting without clearance. The Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) yesterday said the police would proceed by way of summons if
they still felt they needed to charge the MP, who is also the national youth
chairman for his party. Chamisa was arrested on Wednesday and detained at
Marimba Police Station in Mufakose. The allegations against the MP were that
he was holding a public meeting at his house in the constituency. Among the
people arrested together with Chamisa were women and children who were found
at his house. "The police found no evidence incriminating Chamisa and so
they released him," the MDC said in a statement. "The majority of the 12
arrested are lodgers in his constituency who had come for a meeting with
their MP to brief him of their problems. The police are harassing the MDC
membership on the strict orders of the illegal regime of President Robert
Mugabe. We will not be intimidated." The opposition party said the police
were now just releasing people they knew had not committed any offence.
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Inflation eroding household security

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

JOHANNESBURG, 13 Sep 2004 (IRIN) - The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)
has warned that inflation continues to erode household purchasing power,
with low-income groups experiencing rising vulnerability.

The CCZ has revised the cost of its monthly basic needs basket for an
average family of six upwards to Zim $ 1.4 million (about US $249 at the
official auction rate) from Zim $1.3 million (US $231) in July, spokesman
Tonderayi Mukeredzi told IRIN on Monday.

"We have noted a wave of increases in some commodities between July and
August. Whilst official inflation slowed from January to August, the prices
of commodities have progressively increased. It is still a struggle for most
consumers to access basic commodities because not many of our workers are
taking home Zim $1.4 million," Mukeredzi said.

The CCZ monthly needs basket is based on prices of commodities such as
cooking oil, maize, bread and milk, as well as water, transport, school fees
and rental costs.

"We include rent at a minimal level, for a three-roomed home in a
high-density setting," Mukeredzi explained.

"Not many of our consumers can afford to buy all the things they need. Most
in the low-income group have a monthly take-home of between Zim $500,000
[about US $89] and Zim $800,000 [about US $142]. We think that, judging by
this basket, not many people would be able to afford three square meals a
day," he added.

"Meat is one of the commodities that has gone up so much that I don't think
many people can afford to have a dish with meat every day - it's out of
reach for most people. A kilogram of beef costs between Zim $20,000 [US
$3.56] and Zim $25,000 [US $4.45]," Mukeredzi said.

According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, year-on-year inflation slowed to
362.9 percent in July, compared to earlier year-on-year inflation of 622.8
percent in February.

However, Mukeredzi noted, the cumulative effect of years of galloping
inflation meant that "things people should have as basics are now considered
luxuries, even things like bread".

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The Future of Zimbabwe.

To celebrate 5 years since we founded the MDC in September 1999, MDC held a
series of rallies in major cities. In each case the stadium/venue was packed
with MDC people - the majority being poor working class. The main topic
discussed was the decision by the MDC to suspend participation in the
electoral process until the Mugabe regime has implemented their recent
commitments to the SADC in full.

Morgan Tsvangirai expressed confidence that the regime would eventually
comply. But that they would only do so at the very last minute in the hope
that this will not give the MDC enough time to overcome the combined effects
of years of propaganda, violence and intimidation plus the use of food
shortages as a means of coercion. Morgan said that even if they did this -
MDC would be ready and would fight every constituency in the country. For
this reason the MDC was completing its plans for the elections, selecting
candidates and starting its election campaign.

Mugabe has already committed himself to "implementing reforms designed to
meet the SADC requirements". Initial evidence of this willingness is scant -
their first round of reforms actually change very little. The same
collection of goons remains in charge of the electoral process and they are
pressing ahead with gerrymandering the constituencies and the electoral
roll. If this is the full extent of their so-called "compliance" then a free
and fair election is absolutely impossible and the MDC will maintain its
suspension.

So we have two possible scenarios ahead of us: -

1. Little or no significant reforms of the electoral system and a rigged
election which the opposition boycotts in March 2005.
2. Comprehensive reforms initiated a few weeks before the election date with
the MDC participating.

Clearly, if the first is allowed to happen (I say allowed, because it is
quite within the power of the SADC States to force Zimbabwe to comply with
its obligations), then what we face is a crisis that will become a calamity.
The international isolation of Zimbabwe will intensify, the economic decline
will also continue - now into its 7th year of continuous decline in GDP. The
regime will have to intensify its repression of human and political rights,
human flight will accelerate. We can expect all the features of a
humanitarian crisis to intensify - hunger, malnutrition, higher levels of
mortality and the continued deterioration in all social services.

So far we have been able to prevent the total collapse of Zimbabwe into the
category of another failed African State. I do not think we can hold the
line much longer if there are no significant changes to our status as a
pariah state.

For the region, the impact of such an outcome would be equally devastating -
capital flight from the region will again intensify, social pressures
brought about by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of economic and
political migrants will also intensify. International governments will
rightly see this as a failure by the AU and the SADC to remedy a situation
that is clearly within the ambit of their responsibilities. Aid flows to the
region will continue to fall and international support for measures to
address the wider needs of the region will decline.

If the second scenario is achieved (as a result of regional pressure on
Mugabe) then the situation is much more hopeful. I would assume that the MDC
would be given several weeks of access to the State controlled media, that
the laws that restrict political activity will be suspended for the election
period and that all forms of violence and intimidation are also curbed. It
would also be a requirement that food be in free supply at market prices and
that aid agencies be allowed to address the serious food deficit, which now
prevails in many areas of the country.

Under these conditions, the MDC would enter the fray - seriously hampered by
the years of activity by the State against all forms of opposition. Zanu
would hope that the few weeks of free political activity will not be enough
to turn the tide and they will be able to hang onto their majority.

If then the elections themselves are conducted properly - under regional and
international supervision so that the process itself can be assessed as
being free and fair, then we might just be able to end up with a government
that has some standing - both in the region and internationally. Under such
conditions there is a chance that we will be able to climb out of the hole
we have dug for ourselves.

These are a lot of ifs and buts - at the rallies I saw lots of evidence that
the ordinary people of the country are in support of the MDC leadership's
views and current stance. But I also witnessed a lot of anger and
frustration.

Democracy may have its flaws, but at least it allows a people to change
their leaders if they come to the conclusion that are no longer acting in
their interests. That is the essence of the situation in Zimbabwe. It's the
question of our freedom to choose those who lead us and control our destiny.
Mugabe would like to see this crisis through the perspective of a global
conflict between rich western States and poor African States. Its nothing of
the sort - this is a 100 per cent domestic matter and is rightly left to
those of us who live and work in Zimbabwe.

But to be able to do so we must have normal conditions for elections. The
past decade has been characterised by continuous politically motivated
violence and oppression. By the use of the legal system as a weapon of
control and intimidation, theft and pillage and selective prosecution.† The
activities of the opposition have been crowded out and virtually all the
basic freedoms enshrined in the United Nation Universal Declaration on Human
Rights denied. If we are not permitted our democratic rights, then how do we
remove this failed and dictatorial regime? You and I know the answer to that
and it is not a very pleasant thought. It could become inevitable if the
region fails us again.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 14th September 2004

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