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Zanu PF, MDC agree on new constitution
Dumisani Muleya

Zim Independent

THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change agreed to support Zanu
PF's constitutional amendment after an agreement on a new constitution and
changes to repressive legislation, it has emerged.

The MDC took the risky political decision after assurances from South
African President Thabo Mbeki - facilitator of talks between Zanu PF and the
MDC - two weeks ago that their concerns would be addressed.

Mbeki met with MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara in
Pretoria for private briefings on the weekend of September 15/16 before the
second reading of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 18) Bill on
September 17.

Sources said Mbeki promised the MDC leaders that he would guarantee
the new draft constitution which has largely been agreed between the two
parties, although its finer details and implementation are still subject to
negotiation.

They said Mbeki spoke to President Mugabe by phone during the same
weekend and secured guarantees of co-operation on the next phase of the
talks. Tsvangirai and Mutambara had met before seeing Mbeki to coordinate
their position. Tsvangirai is said to have admitted political risk was
inherent in the step they were about to take. Other MDC leaders also agreed
it was a risky but necessary adventure.

The next stage of the talks - where the MDC expects to wring
significant concessions compared to the piecemeal compromises it has got so
far - will deal with the process of introducing the new constitution and
amendment of repressive legislation.

The final draft constitution is said to have emerged from a series of
initial drafts which were scrutinised by senior lawyers who include former
Law Society president Sternford Moyo, Selby Hwacha, Harrison Nkomo and
Nokuthula Moyo. The draft is largely based on the government-sponsored
document rejected by voters at a referendum in 2000. It has elements from
the National Constitutional Assembly and the 2003/2004 proposals by Zanu PF
and MDC negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and Welshman Ncube.

The sources said if the final draft is ultimately adopted by the two
negotiating parties by October 30, it would then be taken to the party
leaders and structures in November and to parliament in December. After that
the draft would be kept ready for introduction after the elections in March.
The sources said the coming polls would be held under the current Lancaster
House constitution as modified by Amendment No 18 and the new one would come
into effect on an agreed date after the elections.

The MDC was also lured into supporting the amendment last week as it
saw the prospects of getting repressive legislation amended or repealed.

Ncube told parliament last week that after the passage of Amendment
18, the negotiating teams would move on to tackle the new constitution, the
Electoral Act, the Public Order & Security Act, the Access to Information &
Protection of Privacy Act, and sanctions.

"They are on the agenda and we will deal with them," Ncube said. "We
hope that we will find each other around all these issues. When we come back
to this House we will come back with a package which includes resolution of
all these issues. That is our hope."

The sources said some of the laws which would be reviewed during talks
are the Local Government Act to align it with the constitution on holding
joint elections and the Traditional Leaders Act on the role of chiefs whom
the MDC complain are partisan.

It was on that basis, the sources said, that Mbeki persuaded the MDC
to back Zanu PF's constitutional amendments in parliament last week. It is
said Mbeki assured the MDC that if they supported the reforms, Mugabe would
in return make significant concessions.

Although the date of the elections is still up for negotiation, Zanu
PF is pushing for polls in March. The MDC wants elections postponed to June
but lawyers say this would only be possible if a new constitution comes into
effect.


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Mugabe battles Mujuru faction

Zim Independent

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has intensified his hostility towards the Zanu
PF faction led by the influential retired army commander General Solomon
Mujuru ahead of his party's potentially explosive extraordinary congress in
December, it has been heard.

This came amid reports Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba, now
functioning more like a political spin-doctor than a speech writer, has
given a sensational off-the-record briefing to state media editors which has
ruffled the feathers of senior Zanu PF and government officials.

Charamba is understood to have recently made revealing remarks about
Zanu PF factionalism and political infighting and looming army threats over
elections.

Sources said Charamba wanted to keep editors clued up on current
affairs in view of the ruling party congress and elections in March next
year. Charamba was unavailable for comment yesterday.

But the sources said his briefing, which had an anti-Mujuru slant,
indicated Mugabe's growing hostility towards the faction. The Mujuru camp,
which dominates the Zanu PF politburo, central committee and cabinet, wants
to force Mugabe out at congress.

The camp has been vigorously campaigning for him to go since last
December when it blocked his plan to extend his term by two more years to
2010 at a party conference in Goromonzi. The faction also led resistance to
the campaign earlier this year to endorse Mugabe at a central committee
meeting on March 30 as the Zanu PF candidate. This has forced Mugabe to call
for the extraordinary congress to seek endorsement.

The sources said Mugabe's strategy at the moment is to dismantle
Mujuru's dominance in party structures packed with their supporters
following the 2004 Tsholotsho fallout in which Emmerson Mnangagwa, a Zanu PF
member, and his faction, were openly accused of trying to oust Mugabe via a
palace coup. Mugabe was aligned to the Mujuru faction and decisively pushed
for Joice Mujuru to come in as vice-president. He even suggested at the 2004
congress she would be his successor.

However, Mugabe clashed with the Mujuru faction head-on in February
after he accused the group of trying to oust him. After that Mugabe then
aligned himself with the Mnangagwa faction.

The sources said Charamba confirmed this.

It is said he directed that the government-controlled media must give
publicity to the Mnangagwa camp by interviewing people like war veterans
leader Jabulani Sibanda. Afterwards, Sibanda, who was fired from Zanu PF
over the Tsholotsho saga but has now returned through the back door, had an
extensive interview in the state-run Sunday Mail.

The sources said Charamba noted that Mugabe now preferred Mnangagwa as
his successor and if Mnangagwa played his cards right he could come in.

They said that Charamba further indicated the state media must not
give any media coverage to the Mujuru faction and if they were to feature on
the news pages or airwaves, it must be negative publicity.

They said Charamba also said the party and government structures such
as cabinet were generally divided into three groups, one supporting Mugabe,
the other behind Mujuru, and a few neutrals. He said Zanu PF now has a group
of people acting neutral but who could not be trusted. This group includes
officials like Elliot Manyika, Nicholas Goche and Saviour Kasukuwere.

"Political loners" such as Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo and party
administration secretary Didymus Mutasa must be left alone, he reportedly
said. It was noted Charamba's immediate boss, Information minister
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, should be avoided because Mugabe does not fully trust
him. However, he said Ndlovu must not be told about this as he would deny
it.

Last week Brigadier General David Sigauke was quoted as saying at a
graduation ceremony at 22 Infantry Battalion in Mudzi District the army
would first use the ballot and if necessary the barrel of the gun to defend
government. This was widely interpreted as a coup threat.

Two weeks ago Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru, named by former
Information minister Jonathan Moyo as Charamba, said congress would need to
"secure its leader".

He said Zanu PF had a "British-run faction which has been seeking to
worm itself to influence". "It is a faction which is greedy, anti-nation, a
bit daft, without structures, but well-heeled and quite white at its core,"
Manheru said before warning Mugabe's backers were moving relentlessly to
counter and reduce the influence of the faction, thought to be the Mujuru
camp.


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Zanu PF must stop lying: Zvinavashe

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

RETIRED army general Vitalis Zvinavashe recently accused Zanu PF and
government leaders of lying on political and economic developments in the
country, saying Zimbabwe will not come out of the woods if its rulers are
dishonest.

Impeccable sources in the ruling party said Zvinavashe told the
politburo on September 5 that Zimbabwe's greatest undoing was its untruthful
leaders.

The former war veteran reportedly said the biggest problem was that
Zanu PF and government leaders now believed their own lies.

Zvinavashe, the sources said, blasted party and government leaders
over the July price blitz that saw wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers
forced to reduce prices of goods and services by half.

The price war resulted in acute shortages of mainly basic commodities
and a marked rise in black market trading.

Zvinavashe, a member of the powerful politburo chaired by President
Robert Mugabe, reportedly said government lied that the blitz would see
prices of goods and service going down.

"Speaking in Shona, Zvinavashe said on the contrary, prices of goods
and services were now way beyond the reach of the majority of people. He
called Zanu PF officials liars," one of the sources said.

The Gutu senator reportedly accused the party and government of also
lying that the current political and economic crisis was a result of
declared and undeclared sanctions by the United States, Britain and its
allies in the European Union.

He reportedly said it was also a lie by the government that the
opposition MDC was a stooge of the West.

He reportedly said Zimbabwe's problems were a result of lying, poor
planning and implementation of unsound policies by government.

"The former army general said for Zimbabwe to overcome its problems,
its leaders should stop deceiving the people and tell the truth. He said
once the truth is known, the country will be able to find solutions to the
current crisis," another source said.

Zvinavashe, the sources said, was supported by another retired army
general, Solomon Mujuru, who reportedly told Mugabe that he was being fed
lies that he intended to topple him.

Mujuru reportedly said people who were not honest and truthful
surrounded Mugabe.Mujuru was quoted as saying: "Chef, people lie to you.
They come to you and say I want to topple you."

Mujuru reportedly leads one of the two Zanu PF camps fighting to
succeed Mugabe. Rural and Social Amenities minister Emmerson Mnangagwa heads
the other faction.

Zvinavashe reportedly belongs to the Mujuru camp.

He recently implored the government to stop financing new farmers,
especially those allocated land under the A2 model (commercial farming),
arguing they applied for land and were allocated after claiming they had
their own resources.


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MDC concessions basket still empty

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

THE opposition MDC is yet to wring any meaningful concessions from
Zanu PF in the on-going Sadc-initiated talks despite embracing
Constitutional Amendment No 18 Bill as a step towards resolving the
political impasse and the economic crisis in the country.

The only breakthrough for the MDC so far was to bring Zanu PF to the
negotiating table.

Critics and civil groups this week questioned the opposition's
commitment to changing the status quo following its endorsement of the
amendment.

The groups wanted to know what the opposition party was doing to
ensure that people would not be harassed and tortured by Zanu PF's youth
militia in the run-up to the elections. They questioned whether the
amendment would force Zanu PF to observe the rule of law, or stop the abuse
of food aid by traditional leaders as a way of swaying the vote in its
favour.

Civil groups also pointed out that the moving of presidential
appointees from the House of Assembly would not dilute President Robert
Mugabe's grip on power or his ability to influence the voting process.

The opposition has however argued that their action was based on the
commitment to South Africa President Thabo Mbeki-mediated talks and by
agreeing to Amendment 18, the opposition had paved the way for the
likelihood of a new constitution.

It argues that all the outstanding concerns would be addressed in the
ongoing discussions around the electoral laws, repressive laws, media laws
and the political environment.

The MDC said it had concurred with Amendment No 18 because Zanu PF had
agreed that there would be no more appointments to the House of Assembly as
all members will now be directly elected.

"The presidential appointees have been a thorn in the flesh as it gave
the incumbent president a head start of 30 unelected MPs before the
elections have even begun," the MDC Mutambara formation said in a statement.
"These have now been whittled down to five only in the senate. More
importantly, the management of elections will now be conducted by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission from start to finish, dealing a heavy blow to
Zanu PF's rigging mechanism which relied heavily on (Tobaiwa) Mudede."

It said it was not a new phenomenon that a president is elected by
parliament to complete the tenure of an elected one in the event of a
resignation or for some other reason. The British and the Americans have
similar provisions with the South Africans electing their president in
parliament.

"There should not be any confusion over the week's events in
parliament," the statement said. "We are on a war for democracy. Don't be
confused about what happened in parliament. It's a process to ensure there
are free and fair elections to fight it out and defeat Mugabe. Don't get any
illusions. It is not the time for celebrations; it's time to fight the
democratic war in Zimbabwe."

However, civic organisations such as the National Constitutional
Assembly and Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe argued that there was nowhere in
the amendment where it was stated that there would be an independent
electoral commission.

They further argued that Mugabe still has power to appoint 15
senators, not five as claimed by the MDC. Apart from that, 18 chiefs would
be in the senate and are known to be loyal to Mugabe.

The civic organisations also questioned where a president elected by
parliament sitting as an electoral college would draw his or her legitimacy
from.

The only route, the organisations argued, would be a new people-driven
constitution.

Below were the MDC's demands for the Sadc talks:

* The need to put a stop to political violence and intimidation in
order to create favourable conditions for proper negotiations and for
elections;

* The need for a new constitutional order prior to elections;

* The need to ensure that all Zimbabweans over 18 can exercise their
right to vote;

* The need for impartial and transparent management of electoral
processes;

* The need for a full audit of all the electoral processes at all key
stages;

* The need to ensure a speedy and impartial resolution of electoral
disputes and complaints;

* The need for impartial policing during the elections;

* The need to restore the right of political parties to hold peaceful
meetings and rallies;

* The need to prevent political abuse by the military, the
intelligence agencies and the youth militia:

* The need to prevent political abuse of the powers of traditional
leaders: The need to prevent political abuse of food aid;

* The need to ensure the full realisation of media freedom for both
public and private media and for political parties to have equitable access
to the public media:

* The need for extensive and credible observation of elections;*l The
need for election agents and monitors to have free access to polling
stations at all times during voting and counting;

* The need to prevent political parties from abusing state resources
for campaigning.


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Students homeless as UZ refuses to open residence halls

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

TENDAI is a first year law student at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ)
and, like many first year students, she is coming to Harare for the first
time and has high hopes of pursuing her studies and later securing a job
with a prestigious law firm.

Her dream is however shattered when she gets to the university and
finds all the halls of residence under lock and key with instructions from
the authorities that there will be no campus residence for students.

With no relatives willing to take her in and no money to find
alternative accommodation in Harare, the poor girl has no choice but to go
back to her rural home in Guruve.

Tendai's sad tale is just one of the many heart-breaking stories UZ
students have to tell after the authorities at the institution shut down all
the eight halls of residence at the campus.

When the Zimbabwe Independent visited the campus, all the halls were
locked with the main dining hall, which was gutted by fire in April, still
not repaired.

Students said the crisis was likely to force a number of them to drop
out of their studies.

"The situation here is terrible as some of us are commuting from
Marondera daily only to find no lecturers around," said a male student who
insisted on anonymity.

The university has an estimated 600 lecturers instead of the required
1 200 because of poor salaries and living conditions.

Another student said he would soon drop out of his studies as his
parents cannot afford to pay his transport costs.

"Commuter omnibuses are charging $100 000 per trip, which means that
on average I need $400 000 every day for transport," the student said.

Students coming from Chitungwiza, Mabvuku and Ruwa need at least $3
million weekly for transport.

A female student only identified as Ruth said her landlord in Mt
Pleasant was making maximum profits from students' predicament.

"I am paying $5 million for a room I am sharing with seven other
students and there are about 10 male students who are paying money to sleep
on the verandah at the same house," said Ruth.

However, the parents of these students, as is the case with most
Zimbabweans, live well below the poverty datum line.

Masimba Nyamanhindi of the Students Solidarity Trust said the
accommodation crisis needs urgent attention as most of the students have
been forced to live in conditions that are not conducive for learning.

"There are students who are spending the night in public places like
night clubs and railway stations, and we have received reports that some of
them are being abused," said Nyamanhindi.

The eight halls of residence, with a carrying capacity of 4 500
students plus an additional 1 000 squatting, were closed in July this year
after the students held a demonstration against a $1 million top up fee to
cover catering services for the extended semester.

The semester was extended by a month following a six-month strike by
lecturers that disrupted the learning process between February and June.

Disabled students have also been hit by the accommodation crisis. The
coordinator of the UZ Disability Resource Centre, Booker Chiparaushe, has
appealed to wellwishers and stakeholders to intervene.

All students were affected by what they have described as a ferocious
decision by Professor Nyagura, the vice-chancellor, to evict all students
from campus residence.

The UZ administration has instructed 17 visually impaired students who
are currently staying at Georgette Hostel along Kwame Nkrumah to relocate to
Montrose Hostel at Number 7 Five Avenue in the city centre.

The plight of the other 53 physically-challenged students has been
ignored.

According to the University Support Group for blind students, the
spiralling accommodation crisis at the UZ has worsened the situation of
physically-challenged and visually-impaired students.

"The decision to evict all students from the halls of residence has
exacerbated the plight of the physically-challenged and visually-impaired
students," the group said.

The group said it was traumatising for visually-challenged students to
negotiate their way from their hostel to Mbuya Nehanda Street to board
commuter omnibuses to campus.

Currently, only three out of the 17 students have canes to use. Canes
are literally the eyes for the visually-challenged.

UZ Students Representative Council (SRC) President Lovemore Chinoputsa
and Secretary for Legal Affairs Fortune Chamba were last week picked up by
university security officers for leading a demonstration against the July 9
evictions.

The students said the demonstration was a last resort after other
remedies had failed.


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MDC, civic groups fall out over how to fight Zanu PF

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

THE decision by the two opposition MDC formations to adopt the
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 18 Bill in Parliament last week under
the Sadc-brokered talks has ruptured the once united opposition and civic
society on the best modus operandi to unseat the ruling Zanu PF government.

The rift in finding a lasting solution to the Zimbabwean crisis
emerged at a public political forum on Tuesday night when National
Constitutional Assembly chairperson Lovemore Madhuku called for mass action
against the government while MDC (Tsvangirai formation) secretary-general
Tendai Biti said the ongoing dialogue should be given a chance.

The forum was held at a city hotel under the New Zimbabwe Lecture
Series to discuss the topic "Fighting Authoritarianism Through Democratic
Means".

In his no-holds-barred presentation, Madhuku said it was impossible to
unseat Zanu PF through democratic processes like elections and dialogue and
the only practical way to achieve regime change was through popular mass
action.

He took a swipe at the MDC for its decision on the constitutional
amendments adding that his organisation and other civic groups would
continue to mobilise the masses to resist continued repression by going out
on the streets.

"That's my prescription, that's what I believe. We are quite clear in
our criticism of the position taken by MDC. We are all genuine in our
endeavours to fight Zanu PF but we have different approaches. The spirit is
to interchange ideas but we believe we need to combine our forces. We must
organise people to revolt. It does not matter we are beaten.

However, Biti said there was need to give dialogue a chance and it was
too early and unfair for civic society to accuse MDC of selling out.

He said MDC had resolved at its last congress that dialogue would be
one of the processes it would also use to seek a solution to the Zimbabwean
crisis.

"The objective is the same. It does not matter it's through democratic
resistance, stay aways, final push or Pretoria. We all have a common
objective and the position we took on the amendment must be understood in
that context.

"In any case, we are very clear on what we will do should Zanu PF
renege on issues agreed upon in the on going talks. We will not participate
in the elections and we will resort to what we previously agreed on -DRC -
democratic resistance.

"So you must understand where I am coming from. Even our vice
president Thokozani Khupe was very clear on our position in Parliament. We
have not abandoned our principles and values," he said.

University of Zimbabwe political analyst Eldred Masunungure said hopes
of any effective resistance by Zimbabweans were weakened by the submissive
nature of the populace due to previous experiences like the Gukurahundi and
use of oppressive state apparatus.

He said Zimbabweans were generally weak and as a result any meaningful
resistance required total mobilisation and coordination by the leaders.


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Mugabe hits back at Bush

Zim Independent

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Wednesday reacted angrily to US President
George W Bush, accusing him of "rank hypocrisy" for criticising the Zimbabwe
government as "tyrannical" and its policies as "an assault on its people".

Bush had said in his address to the United Nations General Assembly
that Zimbabwe's ordinary citizens suffer under a tyrannical regime where
government has cracked down on peaceful calls for reform, and forced
millions to flee their homeland.

He said the behaviour of the Mugabe administration was an assault on
its people and an affront to the principles of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights.

Bush called on the UN to insist on change in Harare.

In reaction, Mugabe in his address said Bush could not lecture him on
human rights when his hands were "dripping with innocent blood" of many
nationalities.

"His hands drip with innocent blood of many nationalities," Mugabe
said in his speech to the General Assembly. "He kills in Iraq. He kills in
Afghanistan. And this is supposed to be our master on human rights?"

He said Bush imprisoned and tortured people in Abu Ghraib prison in
Iraq and at Guantanamo, the US military prison in Cuba where al Qaeda
suspects are held. He also accused Bush of having secret torture chambers in
Europe.

"At that concentration camp, international law does not apply," Mugabe
said of Guantanano Bay.

"Only Bush's laws apply. America is primarily responsible for
rewriting core tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We seem
all guilty for 9/11," a reference to the terrorist bombing of the US on
September 11, 2001.

Mugabe said Bush and his ally, former British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, "rode roughshod" over the United Nations when they went to war in
Iraq, and that Bush was now asking the world body to expand its role in
Iraq.

"Mr Bush thinks he stands above all structures of governance whether
national or international. Almighty Bush is now coming back to the UN for a
rescue package because his nose is bloodied. Yet he dares to lecture us on
tyranny," Mugabe said.

Mugabe accused Britain and the United States of negating weaker states'
sovereignties by controlling their resources and making them mere chattels
and minders of transnational interests.

"In my country and other sister states in Southern Africa, the most
visible form of control has been over land despoiled from us from the onset
of British colonialism," he said. "That control largely persists although
firmly challenged in Zimbabwe, thereby triggering the stand-off between us
and Britain supported by the US and Australia."

He also accused the West of having gone on a relentless campaign of
destabilising and vilifying Zimbabwe.

"They have sponsored surrogate forces to challenge lawful authority in
my country," Mugabe said. "They seek regime change, placing themselves in
the role of the Zimbabwean people in whose collective will democracy places
the right to define and change regimes."

He said the West were outsiders and should not author any regime
change.

"We do not interfere with their systems in America and Britain," he
said.

Mugabe paid tribute to the Sadc-initiated talks.

"In that vein, I wish to express my country's gratitude to President
Thabo Mbeki of South Africa who, on behalf of Sadc, successfully facilitated
the dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition parties, which
yielded the agreement that has now resulted in the constitutional provisions
being finally adopted. Consequently, we will be holding multiple democratic
elections in March 2008," Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe is grappling with the world's highest inflation rate of more
than 6 000%, shortages of foreign currency, fuel and food and rocketing
unemployment that has left 85% of the population jobless and unable to buy
basic foodstuffs. - Staff Writer.


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Manyika accused of imposing party leaders

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure/Augustine Mukaro

ZANU PF's restructuring exercise in Bindura failed to take off after
its national political commissar, Elliot Manyika, allegedly tried to
influence the outcome of the elections.

Impeccable sources in Bindura said riot police had to be called after
party members alleged that Manyika wanted to impose leaders in Chipadze
district.

This is not the first time that Manyika was accused of interfering
with the ongoing Zanu PF restructuring. Earlier this year, the minister
without portfolio failed to oversee the restructuring of Bulawayo and
Masvingo provincial executive committees.

During the Masvingo restructuring exercise, former provincial governor
Josaya Hungwe and Chivi North MP Enita Maziriri were allegedly assaulted for
backing Paul Mangwana as chairman. Manyika was understood to favour Mangwana
ahead of the eventual winner, Alex Mudavanhu.

In the latest accusations, Manyika, the sources said, failed twice
this month to have people loyal to him and his faction which is campaigning
for the continued stay in power of President Robert Mugabe, elected into the
Chipadze district.

Manyika, deputy Youth Development minister Saviour Kasukuwere and
Labour minister Nicholas Goche reportedly belong to a camp opposed to
Vice-President Joice Mujuru's presidential plans.

The sources said the restructuring of Chipadze district was abandoned
on September 16 and 23 at Tendai Hall after party members alleged that
Manyika had paid officials who formed the electoral college.

Members of the party's six branches in Bindura make up the electoral
college to elect district committee executives.

The aborted exercise was presided over by youth leader Moses Tore.

"After the complaints, some members of the electoral college confirmed
having received money from Manyika, leading to the abandonment of the
restructuring exercise," one of the sources said.

The source said Manyika - who represents Bindura in the House of
Assembly -- wanted to retain the seat at all costs and needed the district
committee to be in his pocket before Zanu PF's primary elections.

Manyika's hold on the seat is reportedly under threat from Provincial
Governor Ephraim Masawi and war veteran Monica Mavhunga.

"The district executive is very influential in the election of
parliamentary candidates. Manyika wants the executive to be under his
control to facilitate easy re-election as the party's parliamentary
candidate next year," the source said.

During the September 16 fiasco, the sources said, it was alleged that
Manyika summoned to Harare some members of the branches (names supplied) and
gave them money to influence the outcome.

As a result of the allegations, the Police Internal Security
Intelligence (PISI) reportedly investigated the allegations.

"The PISI probe was for security purposes. Six members of the various
branches had their statements recorded by police," another source said.

Mashonaland Central police spokesperson Michael Munyikwa said he was
not aware of the PISI investigations of Manyika.

"I have checked with Bindura police (urban) and I am told they have no
reports of such a case," Munyikwa said.

Last Sunday, the sources said, members of the party complained that
most members of the electoral college had been suspended unprocedurally from
the party to bar them from voting. Among those suspended are three Bindura
town councillors, Dorcas Chitimbe, Edmore Magasa and one Chirimangombe.
Others are George Goriati, Max Manokori, Dixton Wadi and Eliza Longa.

"Manyika and his colleagues want Felix Masumbe and his group to lead
the district and they have deliberately suspended people they think will not
support their cause," a senior party official in the province said.

The official said on Sunday, Tore was taken to task by party members
and he allegedly confessed that he was under pressure from Manyika to make
sure that only people loyal to him are in the district executive.

"The party members wanted to assault Tore and the riot police had to
move in to save him," the official added.

Repeated efforts to get a comment from Manyika throughout the week
were in vain as he was not reachable on his mobile phone.


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Marimba police assault Zinwa official over tour

Zim Independent

Jesilyn Dendere

A ZIMBABWE National Water Authority (Zinwa) senior official was last
week assaulted by Marimba police officers for allegedly conducting a media
tour of burst water pipes without police clearance.

Nicholas Mukarakati, Zinwa's spokesperson, was allegedly beaten up by
two officers in the presence of several local journalists after he was
accused of contravening provisions of the Public Order and Security Act
(Posa) by moving around with more than three people.

One of the journalists who witnessed the assault said the officers
demanded to know what Mukarakati and the journalists were doing as a
"crowd".

The incident took place when the scribes were shooting pictures
outside Marimba Police Station.

Mukarakati confirmed the officers assaulted him.

"Journalists were taking photographs while some were having soft
drinks when the police officers arrived and started harassing them,"
Mukarakati said. "I realised that something was wrong and I moved closer to
find out what was going on. The police officers asked me if I was the head
of the delegation and I answered - no. I told them I was a public relations
officer with Zinwa. That is when the started beating me up."

The Zinwa official said he was told that under Posa it was illegal to
have such a large crowd and not have a police clearance.

Mukarakati said they were initially supposed to conduct the media tour
with Munacho Mutezo, the Minister of State for Water Resources and
Infrastructural Development, but the minister was later summoned to attend a
parliamentary session.

"Whenever we have a media tour with the minister, we never seek a
police clearance, so I was quite surprised," said Mukarakati. Mukarakati
later filed an assault report at the same station - RRB 0138008.

This week, police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka could not give a
comment on the matter, saying he had not yet received any report on the
alleged incident.


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Zanu PF cracks widen over Sibanda

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube/Pindai Dube

FISSURES have widened in the ruling Zanu PF with senior officials
clashing over the role of former party provincial chairman and war veterans
leader, Jabulani Sibanda, in campaigning for President Mugabe.

Sibanda, who was fired from Zanu PF for taking part in the ill-fated
Dinyane meeting in Tsholotsho in 2004, has of late been playing a leading
role in party functions and activities.

Sibanda this week said he was brought back into the party by President
Mugabe. He said he was doing a national duty in campaigning for Mugabe.

"I was recommended back by President Mugabe. So I am still the
national leader of the war veterans association and a member of Zanu PF,"
Sibanda said.

Zanu PF national chairman, John Nkomo, however said Sibanda was still
suspended from the party. He said Sibanda should stop organising
demonstrations in the name of the party.

"Sibanda should stop organising unsanctioned national demonstrations
without the party leadership's knowledge because Zanu PF is led by people
who are war veterans themselves," Nkomo said.

He said Sibanda remained suspended until the party issues a directive
to the contrary.

Sibanda was fired from the party and relieved of his duties as
national war veterans association leader after a three-member team led
retired army general Solomon Mujuru dissolved the national leadership
structures.

The team that was tasked by President Mugabe to reform the war
veterans association was composed of former combatants and politburo members
Dumiso Dabengwa, Mujuru and the late Josiah Tungamirai.

Sibanda's reemergence has riled senior politburo members in the
province. He has lately assumed a leading role in campaigning for President
Mugabe's re-election bid in next year's harmonised parliamentary and
presidential elections.

He has been organising countrywide marches to drum up support for
President Mugabe's re-election.

Politburo members in Matabeleland who masterminded Sibanda's downfall
are livid that he has been brought back into the forefront of party politics
by President Mugabe and war veteran leaders from other provinces despite his
being expelled from the party.

It has also emerged that the war veterans leadership in Bulawayo
refused to undertake the marches after disagreements over Sibanda's
involvement.

But at a provincial meeting addressed by national party chairman
Nkomo, Bulawayo provincial spokesman, Effort Nkomo said the province will
not join other provinces in endorsing President Mugabe.

"Bulawayo is a disciplined province and Zanu PF as a party has a
system where provinces are called upon to have nominations for any posts and
that communication has not come to us yet. When it finally does, we will
respond accordingly," Effort Nkomo said at the meeting.

However, in the last few weeks Zanu PF officials have been treating
Sibanda as a bonafide leader of the war veterans association after he led
war veterans in solidarity marches for Mugabe in Harare, Masvingo and in
Lupane.

"Zanu PF is in turmoil and politburo members from the province are
seeking an audience with President Mugabe to discuss Sibanda," said a
source.

"Most of them feel they are being undermined since they are the ones
who recommended that Sibanda be dismissed from the party."

The sources however said divisions in the province will boil over when
the issue of the party's candidate comes up for discussion at the Zanu PF
special congress in December.

The Zanu PF special congress is expected to choose a presidential
candidate as it is believed that President Mugabe might step down in line
with outcomes of negotiations taking place in Pretoria between the
opposition MDC and Zanu PF.


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'MZWT is broke'

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube/Lungile Zulu

THE chairman of Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT), Dumiso
Dabengwa, has for the first time revealed that the organisation has no funds
and that there is no government support to take the project forward.

The MZWT is the management arm of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water
Project (MZWP), an ambitious project to pipe water from the Zambezi River to
arid Matabeleland provinces. The government has in the past said it has
taken over the implementation and funding of the entire project. The
revelations by Dabengwa reflect its insincerity on the whole project.

Dabengwa this week told a meeting convened by international donor
agencies to discuss the water problems currently affecting Bulawayo that the
MZWT has no funds to implement the project in the near future and appealed
for funding from international donor agencies.

"MZWT has no money at the moment," said Dabengwa.

"We are appealing for funds from all NGOs to chip in and help save our
project as the government also does not have any money to do so," he said.

"We are in dire need of 300 000 tonnes of cement to complete the dam
wall at the Gwayi-Shangani dam. We still do not have a dam wall and the
contractors have left the site," Dabengwa said.

Donor agencies that attended the meeting included Christian Care, the
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Canadian International
Development Agency, Unicef and the Fund for International Development.


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'Foreign companies can go'

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

THE Minister of Indigenisation and Empowerment, Paul Mangwana, says
foreign companies that are not happy with the indigenisation law which was
passed by parliament this week can pack their bags and go.

Parliament this week passed the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill
that will compel foreign companies to sell 51% to locals. The Bill is now
awaiting President Robert Mugabe's approval to become law.

The move triggered fears in the market that it will scare away
potential investors as well as force the few remaining foreign companies to
leave.

Analysts say the law will further damage investor confidence which has
already hit rock-bottom because of government policy flip-flops and failure
to respect property rights.

Mangwana however says he is unmoved by these concerns. He says he does
not care if the foreign companies leave. "If they don't want (the law) they
can go. We don't care," Mangwana said.

"If they feel that we went into the bush (liberation war) for them to
enjoy our wealth then they can leave. We are talking about the total
liberation of this country. I have no apologies for that."

"They can leave now," said Mangwana. Business people are concerned
that the Bill gives the responsible minister sweeping powers.

The minister has the power to review, approve or reject all proposed
transactions. The minister will also have sweeping powers to cancel the
operating licences of companies that fail to comply with the stipulated
shareholding structure. Mangwana said these powers are necessary to move the
indigenisation process.

"What is wrong with those powers? Why should a minister oversee such a
process and not have real powers?"

Mangwana said non-black people who want to benefit from the
indigenisation programme should prove that they were disadvantaged by the
colonial regime..

"In other words they should prove that they did not benefit from the
(Ian) Smith regime," he said.

Asked what criteria government would use to determine who benefited
from the Smith regime, Mangwana said it was clear that every non-black
person was not the real victim of colonialism in Zimbabwe.

"There were laws specifically targeting blacks and that is a fact. It
cannot be disputed." Asked whether this might not turn out to be a grabbing
contest like land reform, Mangwana said he was convinced that the
indigenisation process "will be as successful as the land redistribution
exercise".

"It's not factual to say that the land reform has been a failure," he
said.

He said the empowerment programme will be designed along the same
lines as the land reform.

"In the land reform we had the A1 and A2 programmes. That is the same
process we will use. There will be a programme for those rich Zimbabweans
who already have money to buy shares from foreign companies. There will also
be a plan for the common people who will be able to borrow from government
to buy the shares," said Mangwana.

Companies already listed on the stock exchange will not be spared
either, said Mangwana.

"Listed companies will have to comply. We are not going to have a
situation where blacks are used as fronts for foreign investors. Every
transaction will be investigated to make sure it fits into the policy."


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BA pull-out costs Zim US$2 million/year

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

BRITISH Airways (BA)'s decision to pull out of the Harare route will
cost Zimbabwe US$2 080 000 worth of revenue per year in handling and landing
fees. BA announced its decision last week to pull out after 75 years of
service, citing viability problems.

The move is a financial blow to National Handling Services (NHS),
which handles the luggage of all airlines that land in Zimbabwe.

It will also hit the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) which
relies on landing and parking charges.

Information to hand shows that NHS and CAAZ were making a combined
US$40 000 from BA every week, a figure which translates to US$2 080 000 a
year.

The charges include passenger services, parking, entry and exit
charges and Maximum All up Weight (MAUW).

A total of 18 international airlines have left the country since the
economic crisis started 10 years ago.

The international airlines that have left Zimbabwe include Lufthansa,
Qantas, Austrian Airlines, Swissair, Air India, Air France and TAP Air
Portugal.

African airlines that are no longer coming to Harare include Egyptair,
Air Mauritius, Linhas Aereas de Mocambique, Air Namibia, Royal Swazi
Airlines and Air Seychelles. Air Tanzania, Ghana Airways, Air Uganda, and
Air Cameroon have also pulled out of the route.

Although BA said the route was making losses, aviation sources said
the decision was reached after the airline clashed with the government.

Government refused to allow the airline to remit its earnings to the
UK. The deteriorating diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and Britain
could have also contributed to BA's decision, the sources said.

BA's area commercial manager for South East and West Africa, Steven
Harrison, denied the airline pulled out because of a dispute over foreign
currency remittances. He said BA had pulled out because of "commercial"
reasons.

"The route has been making a considerable loss over the past few
years. We operate in a highly competitive global market and cannot afford to
sustain these losses on the Harare route any longer," Harrison said.
Aviation sources however maintained that the Harare-London route had been
profitable for BA.

"We have worked hard to try to improve the profitability of the route
over the past few years but, although revenues have increased, our passenger
volumes have reduced and our costs have spiralled. The economic situation in
Zimbabwe has contributed to a decline in market demand," said Harrison.

BA first threatened to pull out of Zimbabwe in 2000 when it
temporarily cut its service to Harare relocating to Lusaka following
political clashes in the run up to the June parliamentary election.

The following year the then BA general manager, Peter Best, announced
that they were contemplating pulling out of Zimbabwe following the
government's refusal to allow the airline to remit its earnings to the UK.

BA will however continue to have a presence in Harare through its
franchise partner, Comair, which operates a daily service between Harare and
Johannesburg, and between Victoria Falls and Johannesburg.

Customers that had made bookings for flights after October 28 will be
rebooked to alternative flights or given refunds.


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Air Zimbabwe boss in trouble

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

FORMER Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive, Oscar Madombwe, is in
trouble with the Minister of Transport and Communications Chris Mushohwe
after he produced an adverse report on the planes that government wanted to
buy from Russia.

Government is currently negotiating to buy Russia's Ilyushin and
Tupolev planes. According to information to hand, Madombwe, who was expected
to be appointed substantive chief executive after acting on two occasions,
fell out with Mushohwe after compiling a report which discouraged government
from buying planes from Russia.

Madombwe is understood to have told the government in the report that
it was better to buy from reputable plane makers. He said Russian planes had
a history of technical problems, something which will cost Air Zimbabwe a
lot of money in the long run. Sources said the report angered Mushohwe who
has been pushing for the Russian deal since last December.

Leo Mugabe, the chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on
Transport and Communications this week alleged that Madombwe had been sent
on forced leave.

"I don't know what they are doing to him but Madombwe has not been
coming to work for sometime now. Our investigations show that he might be on
forced leave," Mugabe said in an interview yesterday.

"We as a parliamentary committee have communicated the issue to the
ministry and we hope the matter will be addressed soon. We cannot have
professionals being victimised like that, especially when we already have a
human resources problem in this country."

Madombwe referred all questions to Air Zimbabwe board chairman, Mike
Bimha and Mushohwe.

"I do not know where that is coming from. The best person to talk to
is the minister or the (Air Zimbabwe) board chairman," Madombwe said.

Mushohwe was said to be in Canada attending a International Civil
Aviation Authority conference.

Businessdigest understands that he is scheduled to fly to Russia from
Canada next week where he will team up with Air Zimbabwe chief executive
Peter Chikumba to finalise the Russian planes deal.

Bimha said he was not able to comment on the adverse report that got
Madombwe into trouble. He however said Madombwe was not on forced leave.

"He is on leave and not fired," said Bimha. Sources said Mushohwe
asked Madombwe to do an evaluation of the deal and to assess the technical
capabilities of the Russian planes. Mushohwe said he needed the report to
make an informed decision before going into the deal to buy the planes.

The source said Madombwe's report expressed serious misgivings over
the planned US$381,8 million deal. He raised concerns about the quality of
the planes, adding the planes were well known for their technical faults and
failures.

"An upset Mushohwe insisted that the deal would go through because he
had already made the decision to buy the planes. He said Madombwe's report
would not be allowed to stand in the way of such a lucrative deal," said a
source close to the minister.

According to details of the deal Air Zimbabwe will get three IL 96-400
P for passengers and two IL-96-400 M for cargo. The planes will be delivered
as soon as Zimbabwe government makes a 30% cash down payment which
translates to US$114,5 million. The remaining 70% will be in the form of a
loan.

Deliveries will start next year from the Voronezh Aircraft
Construction Company (Vaco) plant once the final deal is signed.

The deal will be financed by Ilyushin Finance Co, one of two state run
Russian companies involved in the domestic aircraft construction and sales
programmes.

The Independent reported earlier this year that Zimbabwe's plans to
buy the planes had run into problems amid bribery allegations involving
US$25 million.

Aviation sources said Mushohwe and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono
last year left Russia in a huff after a dispute erupted during negotiations.
The problem had started after the Russians demanded that Zimbabwe must pay
in advance a "commission" of US$25 million which was to be shared equally
among political and business "chefs" in Moscow and Harare to facilitate the
deal.


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Ward voters' rolls set off fresh worry

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

THE proposed introduction of ward voters' rolls in next year's
harmonised elections requires a fresh registration exercise and massive
financial, human and material resources, supported by an effective public
awareness campaign, all of which may entail postponing the elections to
avoid chaos, analysts have said.

The analysts said while the use of ward voters' rolls was the
practical way to ensure that the electorate voted for councillors in their
wards, together with the legislative and presidential candidates, the new
system could see the majority of the electorate failing to exercise their
right as specific ward rolls were not yet in place while the delimitation
exercise hadn't even started.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which will be mandated to
carry out voter registration and the delimitation of constituencies in terms
of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 18 Bill, is expected to come up
with 60 new parliamentary and 10 senatorial constituencies respectively, and
new boundaries for urban and rural council wards.

Under the Bill, parliamentary constituencies will be increased from
150 to 210 while the senate's directly elected members go up from 50 to 60
with six senators per province.

Presenting agreed committee stage amendments of the Bill to parliament
last week, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said: "The commission (ZEC),
in determining the limits of House of Assembly constituencies, be empowered
to ensure that no local authority ward falls into two or more House of
Assembly constituencies.

"The point to note here is that we are introducing with this change a
ward voters roll, a ward-specific voters roll. In other words, a voter can
only vote in the ward in which he or she is resident and registered to
vote."

University of Zimbabwe political analyst Eldred Masunungure said in an
interview last week that while voters could have registered for the polls in
their constituencies - enabling them to elect legislative and presidential
candidates - the introduction of ward voters rolls meant that they could
only vote for candidates from specific wards.

"This will obviously require fresh registration to ensure that people
vote for councillors where they stay. Such rolls with specific information
on where one stays are not there yet," he said.

"Given the timeframe within which the elections are supposed to take
place and the fact that delimitation has not yet started, this will
inconvenience the electorate. The introduction of ward voter rolls would
need an extension of the voter registration exercise, coupled with a massive
voter education campaign," Masunungure said.

"It is against this background that I feel there is nothing
significant in the adoption of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 18
Bill by Zanu PF and the MDC."

Masunungure said issues in the amendment were peripheral. He said the
fundamental issue was the constitution itself and the setting up of credible
electoral institutions and a fresh voters' roll.

"The voters' register is a very vital area and that must be
investigated," he said. "The current voters' roll is full of ineligible
people - ghost voters - and under such circumstances the outcome of
elections cannot be deemed legitimate. This is an issue the MDC should be
alert to. There should be an audit of the voters roll by all parties."

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) concurred that the
introduction of ward voters rolls would require a deliberate registration
exercise as new boundaries of wards and constituencies were necessary.

Tsungai Kokerai, a Zesn official, said her organisation had also noted
with concern the logistical problems which would arise from the introduction
of ward voters rolls and was in the process of formulating recommendations
for the authorities.

"That is one of the issues we have identified and we are going to make
our submissions once the Bill becomes law," said Kokerai. "At the moment I
cannot comment much on the issue since the Bill is not yet law. But I agree
that it's an issue that needs to be addressed and we will make our
submissions on that once the Bill is signed into law," she said.

The senate approved the Bill this week. It is now awaiting President
Robert Mugabe's assent before it becomes law.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Harare teacher who said he has
been a polling officer over the years, said the voters' roll was arranged in
alphabetical order and so long as one was registered, their names would
appear and one should be allowed to vote.

He however noted that the
proposed system would entail a potential voter having to be
ascertained whether he stays in a particular ward to be eligible to vote for
a councillor.

"There can be a number of wards within one constituency," said the
teacher. "In the past, one would go to any polling station within a
constituency and cast their vote for a parliamentary candidate. Under the
proposed system, it means one will have to go to polling stations under a
particular ward to vote for a councilor.

"Given the fact that the harmonised elections will be held in one day,
I foresee a situation where most people will opt to vote for parliamentary
and presidential candidates whose names appear in the usual voters' roll,"
he said.

"Although the name may appear in a roll at ward level, there would be
need for verification on whether a potential voter is resident in that ward.
So there could be need for a specific voter registration exercise to ensure
residents are on specific ward voters rolls and I do not think this is
feasible given the time left before the elections, unless they are
postponed."

He said the extension of the mobile voter registration exercise
announced by the ZEC should be targeted at specific wards to help build up
the envisaged ward voters' rolls.

The teacher added that this could be achieved with the provision of
adequate human, financial and material resources.

He emphasised the need for a vigorous voter education campaign
involving all stakeholders to expedite the exercise, adding that
registration venues should be increased in the wards and stay open till late
to cater for the working class.

Monica Makonyonga, who recently re-located to Dzivaresekwa in Harare
from Bulawayo, said she wanted to re-register now that the exercise had been
extended.

"It's always easier to register during mobile exercises than going to
the registrar's offices especially when you go to work. If there are mobile
units, one can register during weekends at the various venues," said
Makonyonga, who had registered in Babourfields in Bulawayo.

Zesn acknowledged that there was a lot of movement of people from one
place to another which could result in some not being able to vote.

The ZEC recently announced that it would extend the mobile voter
registration exercise but it has not yet re-deployed staff or publicised the
venues and times.

Efforts to get clarification on how the ZEC would come up with the
proposed ward voters rolls and handle related issues were fruitless at the
time of going to press despite submission of written questions to the
commission.


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Welcome to our empty paradise!

Zim Independent

APPARENTLY the price monitoring task force has wrought havoc on
business like the government did on the farms.

We are now left with empty shelves and a thriving black market! Bread,
which is going to be completely unavailable within the next few days is
being sold in tuck shops for $200 000 per loaf.

Cigarettes are going for $500 000 per packet and $5 million per
carton, eggs $1,5 million per tray, and a 2kg packet of chicken pieces is
going for $2 million.

Amazingly when you phone producers (the likes of Suncrest, Irvines
etc), they have no chickens or eggs.

I presume the chickens were "told" to stop laying eggs until the task
force allows the price of eggs to be increased. I guess there must be
millions of chickens running around as none have been culled since the raids
on shops by the task force.

The cows too must have had strict instructions not to produce milk
until the price of milk, cheese, butter etc is increased.

Poor cows must be suffering badly carrying so much milk in their
udders!

I also find it amazing that the cigarette producers are "catching up
on their exports" hence the non-availability of cigarettes on the local
market.

We read wonderful tales about large herds of beef cattle being bred in
the New Farmer magazine. Where then is all the top quality beef?

On June 5 I had lunch at Coimbra Restaurant, the chicken and chips
were $490 000. On June 23, the same dish was the same price, $490 000 and
yesterday I had the same dish and, guess what, it now costs $1 200 000.

Despite three calls to the task force this restaurant remains
untouched, maybe it belongs to someone in a position of authority!

I was unfortunate to be at Makro the day Madam Chiwenga threw her toys
out and verbally attacked the MDC leader. She is a true Zanu PF supporter
and stands for everything Zanu PF is famous for - violence and racism!

What else can I say but to endure yet another day in "paradise" with
very little else to "beef" about!

Z Chibaya

Harare.


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Civic society must allow MDC to forge ahead

Zim Independent

Jacob Rukweza

THE decision by the MDC to endorse the controversial Constitutional
Amendment (No 18) Bill has sparked a volley of hysterical outrage from civic
society in Zimbabwe.

The misunderstanding arises from the MDC's acceptance of the
constitutional amendment or its perceived failure to object to the passage
of the amendment.

The NCA, which leads the chorus of condemnation of the constitutional
amendment, has accused the MDC of selling out.

The embittered NCA insists that as a matter of principle the MDC
should have rejected piecemeal amendments to the current constitution.

The frenzied condemnation of the MDC's position on the constitutional
amendment by the NCA and a coterie of civic groups would be understandable
in the context of the opposition's pronounced departure from the principle
of a new constitution as a foundation for good governance.

But so far the MDC has not said anything to the effect that it has
abandoned the agenda of a new constitution for Zimbabwe.

Morgan Tsvangirai has told party members in particular and Zimbabweans
in general, that the MDC remains loyal to the founding objectives of
building a democratic and prosperous country premised on a new constitution
as the bedrock of a new order.

The question is, is it not too early for the NCA and its bandwagon of
civic groups to wax hysterical and to condemn the recent constitutional
concession while discounting the direction and outcome of the inter-party
talks? The MDC must be allowed to move on.

The inter-party talks between Zanu PF and the MDC - which are far from
being concluded - are multifaceted and not singularly centred around
Constitutional Amendment No 18 which, in any case, had already been
unilaterally tabled in parliament by Zanu PF.

The fact that the ruling party enjoys a two-thirds majority in
parliament clearly means that the amendment could still have passed anyway
and with even worse provisions had the MDC not contributed, albeit
minimally.

It may be wrong at this stage for civic society to condemn the MDC and
accuse it of selling out without bothering to recognise the context within
which the MDC is making these obviously critical concessions.

It must be understood by civic leaders from the onset that the MDC is
a political party and not a pressure group in pursuit of a singular
objective like the NCA.

The MDC unlike the NCA has a fastidious membership to which it must
answer periodically during election time pertaining to the broader agenda of
representative governance.

While the NCA has no fixed schedule in its pursuit of a new
constitution, the MDC has a defined schedule fixed by existing laws and
legitimate expectations. As things stand the MDC will be expected to account
to its membership in the harmonised election slated for March next year
while the NCA may afford to clamour for a new constitution without being
answerable in any plebiscite.

It appears that sabre-rattling civic groups were expecting the MDC to
adopt an intransigent attitude in its approach to the current national
crisis. In the absence of tact the MDC may risk being overtaken by political
events.

Realising the futility of combative obduracy it should be clear to all
by now that the MDC needs the talks as much as the ruling party. Because,
while the talks are meant to address the plague of illegitimacy for Zanu PF,
they are creating a realistic alternative and a tenable avenue towards a new
Zimbabwe for the MDC.

However, while Zanu PF had several extra-democratic alternatives in
its pursuit of the power retention agenda, the alternatives are limited for
the fragmented MDC.

Confrontational engagements between the MDC, civic society, and trade
unions on one hand and the Zanu PF government on the other have clearly
failed to achieve the desired results in the past.

Intermittent street protests by the NCA, Woza, Crisis Coalition, the
Law Society and others have failed to achieve fundamental objectives.
Besides sustaining their nuisance value, the protests have only served to
maintain the visibility of such pressure groups while further exposing
activists to obvious brutality by the regime with fatal ramifications in
some cases.

The MDC's final push in June 2003 did not do much to enhance the
ordinary people's struggle for a new and democratic Zimbabwe.

Last week's stayaway called by the ZCTU has proved beyond any
reasonable doubt that at the moment confrontation with the Zanu PF
government will not do anything to improve the situation of the suffering
masses. Unfortunately Zimbabweans have shown that they are not yet ready to
take political risks.

The MDC has awakened to this realisation and the civic movement should
allow the opposition party to move away from the captive and futile strategy
of confrontation to dialogue.

Justifiably, Zimbabwe's civic society which has been humiliated,
brutalised and maligned by the Zanu PF regime is apparently in a vindictive
mode and looking for an opportunity to humiliate Zanu PF in order to get
even with the autocracy. It is becoming palpable that the NCA and elements
in the civic movement were viewing the Sadc-mediated inter-party talks as a
rare opportunity to humiliate Zanu PF by wanting the MDC to make a new
constitution the alpha and the omega of the inter-party talks.

But those who have followed the Zanu PF pattern of thinking will
concur that it is wishful thinking if not foolhardy for anyone to
realistically believe that the ruling party will agree to the polemical
demand for a new constitution before elections in March 2008. The
implications of that demand are too glaring for Zanu PF to ignore.

Belligerent grandstanding as a tactic to wring set concessions has
worked with limited success in addressing delicate political questions of
the day. It may be necessary to briefly take civic society leaders back to
the process of the negotiated constitutional deal between the Patriotic
Front and the Rhodesian Front which brought about Zimbabwe's Independence in
1980. The Patriotic Front went to Lancaster House in 1979 with the critical
demands including the immediate return of farm land to the black majority
and securing one man one vote for the black Africans before free and fair
elections in 1980.

But when the negotiations were finally concluded on December 21, 1979
the Patriotic Front got free and fair elections, the one man one vote
concession but not the land.

The Lancaster House Constitution made it categorically clear that the
land question would not be addressed until after 1990 - 10 years after
Independence. Knowing well that they were not winning the war (never mind
claims to the contrary) the Patriotic Front took the necessary political
risk and endorsed the Lancaster House Constitution. Fortunately, the
Patriotic Front did not have vociferous civic society allies or a
sophisticated membership to accuse them of selling out on the land issue.

In those circumstances, embracing the seemingly deceitful Lancaster
House Constitution and the raft of attendant agreements was the best way
forward for the battle-weary Patriotic Front.

It is important for the MDC and civic society groups to manage the
current fallout carefully and avoid the trap that results in democratic
allies fighting themselves instead of fighting the Zanu PF dictatorship.

The NCA makes very scathing claims while attacking the MDC and
insinuating that the MDC is out of touch with ordinary Zimbabweans.

The statement by the NCA has two worrying features. First it exposes a
salient and disquieting belief within the NCA that they are the only genuine
evangelists of constitutional reform because of the mere fact that they
identify themselves as a constitutional assembly.

Second, the declaration by the NCA that the claim by one of the MDC
formations that it is closer to the people is hollow and is meant to smuggle
into the fray the mischievous impression that the NCA is comparatively
better connected with ordinary Zimbabweans and therefore more representative
than the MDC.

In their quarrel with the MDC civic groups should not make impulsive
decisions and reckless utterances that may have the ramifications of
polarising the strategic alliance of democratic forces under the umbrella of
the Save Zimbabwe Campaign as we approach the inevitable 2008 elections.

While criticising the MDC for its
occasional blunders, civic leaders must be informed by both history
and current developments. But when the talks are concluded the long
suffering Zimbabweans will be there to judge the MDC on the basis of the
final outcome.

* Jacob Rukweza is a sub-editor at the Zimbabwe Independent.


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MDC behaving like a dog chasing a car

Zim Independent

By Tanonoka Joseph Whande

CIRCUS maestros Barnum and Bailey couldn't have dished out better
entertainment. The greatest show on earth runs in Zimbabwe's politics and
parliament.

Go ahead, count the skeletons. It's all part of the grotesque act
because, you see, Zimbabwe's parliamentary circus plays with skulls not
balloons.

And these parliamentarians, supposed custodians of our democracy, are
the authors of the current tragicomedy. They appease a dictatorship instead
of clipping its despotic wings.

MPs from both sides of the political divide are on the Zimbabwean
stage and are the ones cheering the audience. They are mistaking activity
for accomplishments.

Our parliamentarians were elected to represent the people's views yet,
as has become clear, they just attend parliament to assure their salaries.

Morgan Tsvangirai's mission, as leader of the opposition, was to
topple Robert Mugabe, albeit constitutionally, to restore democracy. And the
people gave him the necessary support.

Several times, Tsvangirai was physically battered for his efforts. The
so-called "war veterans" were the first to have a go at him.

With the intensity of swarming bees, they beat him to a pulp as he sat
helplessly behind his desk. But Zimbabweans were soon to discover that
Tsvangirai had more guts than one can find on an abattoir's floor.

People almost thanked God.

A lot then happened and some of his supporters and assistants died
horrific deaths, like being burnt alive inside locked vehicles.

We remember all too well the farmers who were killed for their farms
and for showing an interest in the possibility of a change of government.

We remember much too well the hundreds of citizens who were beaten up,
abused and killed because they supported Tsvangirai. Thousands, both black
and white, lost their homes, their property and lives.

Dogs were set on our children at colleges, with some disappearing and
others dying mysteriously.

Just about everyone wished for a change of government.

Tsvangirai soldiered on, making some questionable decisions along the
way. Although it is now obvious that there were some traitors waiting for a
chance to rock the party, he must take the blame because he could have
handled the issue better.

Earlier this year, Mugabe's people had another go at him again.
Tsvangirai's puffed-up face was plastered on television screens across the
world. The leader of the opposition was paraded in front of the world in a
torn shirt and with bleeding scars on his head.

We were shown the bloodied face of Nelson Chamisa, one of our legally
elected Members of Parliament. He could hardly talk and almost died. A Mack
truck could not have caused such damage; these could have been Mugabe's
self-confessed "degrees in violence" on display.

Then a veteran cameraman was abducted and murdered for allegedly
filming the victims.

Very shameful indeed!

People continue to be abused. Expensive mediation talks continue to be
hosted outside Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the country is gearing up for parliamentary and
presidential elections.

Whichever way one looks at it; it is all an effort to give people a
chance to change or renew their government's mandate.

Yet people are still being abused and starved or killed for supporting
not only an opposition party but a rival faction within Zanu PF itself.

The mediation talks are being held ostensibly to level the political
playing field.

But, truly, it is Tsvangirai who, more than anyone else, stands to
benefit from all these efforts. He is even the peripheral beneficiary of all
this mayhem.

Last week Tsvangirai instructed his party's MPs to vote for a
constitutional amendment that allows Mugabe to anoint his own successor.

To me, it was like reading a book with the last chapter removed.

Tsvangirai now instructs MPs, whom people voted into parliament, to
acquiesce to a Bill that denies the people of Zimbabwe the right to choose
their own candidate. Many people were beaten up, starved and killed for
supporting the MDC legislators from both factions but managed to support
them well enough to get them into parliament.

Because I have a curious oppression of spirit, I have questions that
arise from feelings.

To me now, the MDC behaves like a dog chasing a car and, as soon as it
catches it, does not know what to do with it.

I am honestly burdened with frank curiosity. Given the current
scenario, can Tsvangirai please tell me what the split within the party was
all about? May you enlighten me on why you let many Zimbabweans who
supported both factions get killed?

Survivors bear physical testimony as to how far they can go to fetch
democracy. Now the MDC tells them it is fine to give Mugabe parliamentary
approval to short-circuit democracy and to let him choose his own successor.

Take a little time and think, Mr Tsvangirai; you are about to become
guiltier than sin.

Meanwhile, as these ringmasters monkey around the circus-ring, the
"owner" of the circus is doing his funny bit too.

Mugabe is reported to have demanded from Sadc, of all quarters,
immunity from prosecution should he choose to retire. Not only that, he
wants a guarantee that the monetary wealth and personal assets, like land
and houses, that he accumulated not be taken away.

Zanu PF took over and ruined the country. From economic and political
survivors, Mugabe wants immunity from prosecution for crimes committed but
whose responsibility he does not acknowledge.

It is very easy to give Mugabe what he is asking for. All we need to
do is calculate how much he earned during his entire term as head of state.

In other words, Mr President, no chance of such guarantees. Anyone who
says "yes" they can guarantee you this, even if it is your own hand-picked
successor, will be lying, unless, of course, you choose Thabo Mbeki to
succeed you.

And immunity from prosecution is not possible either. Who is in a
position to offer Mugabe a guarantee of immunity from prosecution? Only the
people who were wronged. Not Gordon Brown. Not the EU. Not Mbeki. Not even
the MDC. It is only the Zimbabwean people.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and company, the future is in clay since it can be
moulded to our intentions. The past, our history, is cast in iron and that
is why Mugabe is having trouble with the phoney "history" he has been trying
to feed to our schoolchildren.

As for Tsvangirai, misunderstanding breeds distrust; you owe people an
explanation and pronto. As a leader, you are accountable to the people.

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


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Just like Burma?

Zim Independent

Comment

AFTER watching television footage of clean-shaven monks in Burma
marching up and down the streets of Rangoon in the last two weeks, many in
Zimbabwe cannot help but muse at the prospects of the country's impoverished
citizens following suit to pressure President Mugabe's government to reform.

National Constitutional Assembly chair Lovemore Madhuku should at
least be wondering why Zimbabweans stay at home when he calls for
"jambanja".

The Buddhist monks numbering more than 10 000, some shouting
"Democracy, democracy," have since August 19 been demonstrating against the
Burmese junta.

This week junta supporters and police started attacking demonstrators
and imposed a curfew in major urban areas. Militias were also driving around
Rangoon warning lay-people wanting to join the demonstrators that "action"
would be taken against anybody who continued to support the demonstrations,
news agency reports said. They announced a 9 pm-to-5 am curfew in Rangoon
and Mandalay, Burma's two largest cities, and said gatherings of five or
more people were banned, setting the stage for confrontation if the monks
continue to protest, the reports said.

Remember war veterans here threatening to take the law into their own
hands whenever the opposition and other pro-democracy groupings try to take
to the streets to demonstrate against the Zanu PF government. This is just
one of the similarities. There are more. Burma and Zimbabwe both have
governments which do not hesitate to unleash the military on unarmed
civilians to protect the tenure of the incumbent. The two governments have
kept a tight rein on the press and stand accused of promoting bone-head
policies which have resulted in their respective economies plummeting and
all human development indices heading south.

Burma and Zimbabwe have gained a notoriety for being pariah states.
The similarities however do not make the means of achieving democratic
change in the two countries uniform. Burmese monks for over a month managed
to express their disgust at the junta until the army and the police beat
them to the ground this week. It can be said that the demonstration showed a
measure of organisational aptitude on the part of the monks but it is also
clear that the government there exercised a measure of restraint.

These two aspects do not exist in Zimbabwe. Civic groups including
students, the National Constitutional Assembly and the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions, whose leaders have sometimes shown a willingness to take on
Zanu PF on the streets, have not exhibited the ability to rally people
around a cause. Greater organisational ability is required in Zimbabwe where
the government has given law enforcers a free rein to strike fear into the
hearts of unarmed citizens. This is amply shown in the way small
demonstrations by the NCA have been brutally suppressed by state brutes who
have recruited in their ranks Zanu PF militias and war veterans.

We have always said there is need for a change in strategy to engage
the regime. But Madhuku was this week clinging to the same old script. On
Tuesday at a public meeting in Harare, he was haranguing the nation to go
onto the streets because he believes the dialogue between government and the
opposition is not the way to go. And not many will heed the call and take to
the streets like the monks in Burma. By marching on the streets of Rangoon
and other urban centres in Burma in large numbers, they not only
demonstrated a national resolve but also the strategy to achieve their ends.

This is a critical point for Madhuku to ponder. Fruits of militancy
must be visible for this stratagem to work. Almost 20 years ago a huge
demonstration in Burma left thousands dead. There was loud international
condemnation of the junta which has however held on. Compare this with the
small NCA demonstrations which have resulted in broken bones and serious
injuries to members and sympathisers.

There is no hope in Madhuku's plan as long as the demonstrations fail
to move the struggle for a new constitution forward. The challenge before
Madhuku and the NCA is how to popularise their cause which has no
instruments to fight its adversaries. At the moment Madhuku's strategy has
become as predictable as the riot police's reaction to his placard-waving
supporters. No march of the monks here yet.


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A risky adventure

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Dumisani Muleya

THE main opposition MDC's decision last week to support Zanu PF's
constitutional amendment proposal designed to ensure President Robert Mugabe's
political survival has been greeted with suspicion in diplomatic circles and
outrage within civil society.

MDC critics say the party has either started a slow process of
committing political suicide or has succumbed to a negotiated surrender.

The National Constitutional Assembly has described the MDC resolution
as an "act of treachery". Others are using abrasive terms like sell-outs to
describe the MDC leadership.

In self-defence, MDC leaders are scrambling to explain their decision
which has not found any purchase within its constituencies, except in Zanu
PF and Sadc circles. Zanu PF MPs have been celebrating the move. Mugabe
alluded to it in his United Nations General Assembly address on Wednesday,
expressing gratitude to South African President Thabo Mbeki for facilitating
the deal. This has raised more misgivings about the whole process. Questions
abound on whether or not Mugabe has set a trap for the MDC or the MDC has
ensnared Mugabe?

MDC leaders have used different phrases in their bid to justify their
decision. Morgan Tsvangirai said it was a "necessary political risk", Arthur
Mutambara said it was a "political gamble", Thokozani Khupe said it was a
"confidence building measure", Welshman Ncube said the decision was meant
"for us to find each other", while Gibson Sibanda said "we are in the
process of making history".

Last week's decision was particularly strange after the MDC rejected
the 2000 draft constitution, now the basis of ongoing constitutional reform
talks.

Mugabe seems willing to negotiate even though he is still strong,
largely because of irritating resistance by the MDC and civil society, but
he may well be doing so to bargain the opposition into surrender.

Negotiations are tempting, but grave dangers always lurk in them. It
may be that Mugabe feels genuinely threatened by the MDC and wants talks to
salvage residual control. But the MDC cannot be seen to be helping him to
achieve his goal. The MDC must be wary of traps that may deliberately be
built into a negotiation process.

While trying to justify themselves, MDC leaders' remarks also betray
the distrust and anxiety shown by their critics. None of them is confident
about their "step in the dark", as Ncube put it in parliament, but they have
to put on a brave face before their party to appear as if they are providing
leadership in a difficult situation. Mugabe is also doing the same in a way
as he buckles under mounting pressure to reform or quit now. That is the art
of politics, especially the chameleon politics of deception, providing
different faces to different audiences to win them over or at least survive.

It is very easy to understand how Zanu PF benefits from the
Constitutional Amendment (Number 18) Bill, but difficult to appreciate how
the MDC gains.

Mugabe has got what he wanted: harmonised polls in one day to ensure
his re-election; vast expansion of parliament to increase rural
constituencies; appointment of 10 provincial governors to senate and five
extra senators; delineating of constituencies by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) which he appoints (the current ZEC chairman is retired
Brigadier General George Chiweshe, the very same person the MDC accused of
gerrymandering before the 2005 elections when he was the chair of the
Delimitation Commission) and most importantly legitimacy. The MDC has
legitimised Mugabe's self-preservation project.

By contrast, the MDC is happy that Mugabe will no longer appoint MPs
to the Lower House. Currently Mugabe appoints 10 provincial governors and 12
non-constituency MPs to the Lower House. There are also eight chiefs. This
means Zanu PF effectively has 30 unelected legislators.

However, nothing has really changed because Zanu PF will still have 10
governors, five appointed senators and 18 chiefs in the senate, which is
part of parliament.

What is the electoral utility of these piecemeal amendments to the
MDC? How will the amendment help the MDC to deal with gerrymandering in all
its different forms - stacking, packing and cracking? The same people in the
mould of Elbridge Gerry are still running the elections. Nothing has
changed.

The MDC has only gained in symbolic terms, not real concessions. The
talks may eventually spin out of Zanu PF's control but Mugabe knows this and
he must be hedging his bets. The MDC is hoping that by showing good faith in
talks and supporting the Zanu PF plan, the ruling party will reciprocate by
making an array of substantial concessions on a new constitution and
repressive legislation. But there is no guarantee at all. What is the MDC's
contingency plan? Withdrawal from talks, election boycott or what?

This is a risky adventure. It's like navigating angry seas in a
corroded and creaky vessel.


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The beginning or end of MDC politics?

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

By Joram Nyathi

I ARGUED recently that the problem with Zimbabwean politics is that
ideas are rejected for who proposes them than for their substance. I didn't
know that confirmation of this observation would come in such a dramatic
fashion, from senior officials of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC).

It all had to do with the MDC's sudden volte-face on Constitutional
Amendment Number 18 Bill. In explaining the decision, secretary-general in
the Arthur Mutambara faction, Welshman Ncube, told parliament last week: "We
believe that we cannot continue to conduct politics for the sake of
politics. We believe that we must begin to conduct our politics in the
service of the people, otherwise it is meaningless."

Why would a political party with ambitions to form the next government
conduct politics for its own sake? Why would a party with clear policies and
alternative propositions to reverse the current economic slide engage in
something meaningless while potential voters suffer? It would appear the
overriding quest has always been to see the back of President Robert Mugabe
and Zanu PF, and hope that things will sort themselves out.

The MDC is not selling us usable policies for economic recovery or
employment creation. Nor is it selling us a vision of a new Zimbabwe which
should appeal even to the self-interest of those who now support Zanu PF.
The result is self-evident. There is no people-content in opposition
discourse despite calls for a people-driven constitution. It is classical
protest politics sustained by people's disenchantment with Zanu PF's
economic failures rather than an economic blueprint or political
dispensation significantly different from Zanu PF's politics of violence,
corruption and patronage.

I believe the reason our political discourse is so shallow is because
we focus on individual party leaders rather than look for sustainable party
programmes. We have failed to learn anything from opposition parties in
mature democracies in Europe and the United States where the party sells
policies, not just a candidate. In Africa opposition means being negative
about everything proposed by the sitting government and dreaming up the
worst nightmares about the country for the media.

This leads logically to "politics for the sake of politics". Which is
to say the MDC has been engaged in this idle pursuit for the past eight
years and is now beginning to sense signs of fatigue, frustration, cynicism
and disenchantment among Zimbabweans who have watched with dismay as the
party leadership lurched from one strategic blunder to another.

The result of such politics was summed up by another MDC official at
the same event. Morgan Tsvangirai's deputy, Thokozani Khupe, said the MDC
emerged out of the current crisis because Zanu PF's nationalist politics had
become "exhausted".

It is a telling phrase, except that the irony is lost on the speaker.
Politics for its own sake is bound to get exhausted as has happened to the
MDC's. Meanwhile Zanu PF keeps on inventing new projects to retain power.

Now the MDC has decided to change, but gone to the other extreme to
endorse Mugabe's candidacy and an expanded senate next year when everybody
expected them to persuade Zanu PF MPs to oppose both.

The implications of that haste decision are staggering. Mugabe has got
everything he ever wanted, which he probably would not have got so easily
from a Zanu PF special congress in December. The MDC has legally helped
Mugabe resolve a succession conundrum he was finding hard to resolve
politically in Zanu PF. It has also legitimised the constituency
gerrymandering. Yet there is no evident benefit to the MDC, unless its
leadership knows of an imminent supervening event which it wanted to preempt
or to capitalise on.

Ncube said he had spent time with both Mutambara and Tsvangirai, where
the latter is said to have observed that "there is no such thing as a
risk-free political decision". Again the irony begs for attention. This is
more than an ordinary political risk. It is political suicide for the MDC,
unless it has a secret deal with Mugabe's chosen successor.

The only positive is that at least for the first time in eight years
Zimbabweans are able to talk to themselves politically.

Then there is the contentious matter of the president appointing
people to the senate. Ncube said this was now immaterial. "The person who
wins the presidential race has the right to constitute the government of the
day from the day of his or her election. Whereas when the elections were not
synchronised, you could have a scenario where one political party could win
a parliamentary election whilst the presidency is in the hands of another
party," Ncube told parliament.

This fortuitous conclusion is derived from an assumption which cannot
be supported by logic. It reduces everything to Mugabe or Tsvangirai and
cannot separate the party from its leadership and is easily amenable to
charges of rigging when one party fails to win both parliament and the
presidency.

The point it misses is that there are people who support Zanu PF
programmes like the land reform and indigenisation but believe these have
been mishandled under President Mugabe's stewardship. Conversely, there are
people who will vote for Tsvangirai to spite Mugabe, but it doesn't follow
that they will support all MDC candidates. The same applies to Zanu PF. It's
not a Tsvangirai and MDC or nothing proposition. The fallout with Save
Zimbabwe Campaign may be a disaster for the MDC if not properly handled.

What happens if Tsvangirai gets 1 500 000 votes, President Mugabe 800
000, the MDC wins 60 seats and Zanu PF 120 seats? Can Tsvangirai form a
functional government when it cannot pass a single law in parliament?

This is not casuistry. It simply doesn't add up.


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MDC can't wish away sanctions on behalf of Zanu PF

Zim Independent

MuckRaker

YOU have to hand it to the state media; their imagination is always a
reliable substitute for facts.

The Herald's Bulawayo bureau last week reported that "Portugal" had
"blasted" British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for his "double standards and
hypocrisy".

This, if true, would have represented a rather serious falling out
between Britain and its oldest ally. But, reading further down, it soon
became clear that the writer had taken the views of a Portuguese MEP to be
those of the Portuguese government. It was the equivalent of Tendai Biti
attacking Levi Mwanawasa for behaving like a jelly and being reported as
"Zimbabwe blasts Zambia".

Mind you, Mwanawasa is giving good reason for journalists to report
him as spineless. He changes his mind every week. First he said Zimbabwe was
like the sinking Titanic. Then he said the country's problems were
exaggerated. And now he says he won't attend the Lisbon summit if President
Mugabe is excluded.

We can be sure he will have something else to say next week.

Are Zambians proud of this rather pathetic specimen? We would love to
have seen him whimpering "but I didn't mean that Mr President" as Mugabe
excoriated him at the Sadc summit in Lusaka.

What use is a head of state who bears the impression of the last
person to have sat on him? We have no doubt Brown is planning a fitting
response. But nobody seems to have addressed the central question here: why
shouldn't the British prime minister stay away from Lisbon if he finds
Mugabe's presence uncongenial? Isn't that his right?

As for the Portuguese, they will soon find their summit has become the
circus Brown predicted. There are already signs of that.

When we had former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano jetting in to
"throw his weight behind the president".

This is the same Chissano who was told to get lost the last time he
arrived here to offer his advice. It seems he's learnt his lesson and will
from now on only say what he is required to say.

And we are intrigued by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. He was
due to jet in ahead of the Lusaka summit but mysteriously pulled out at the
last minute. We have no doubt why. Last week he said a solution to Zimbabwe's
problems could not be engineered by Thabo Mbeki alone. Other African leaders
should be involved.

This would have been unwelcome news to Mbeki. The two have been
conducting a very public spat over Nepad, Mbeki's pet project which Wade
believes is going nowhere. The Zimbabwean authorities were understandably
reluctant to afford Wade a platform to have a go at Mbeki when he had been
so helpful of late!

Meanwhile, Muckraker is trying to fathom why the Herald's Bulawayo
Bureau is being commissioned to produce virulently anti-British and
anti-reform stories. What is wrong with the Herald's political staff? We can't
believe they are insufficiently pliant!

We liked the way the Herald held back Australian ambassador John
Sheppard's letter to the editor so Caesar Zvayi could craft a response. Can't
the paper simply publish a letter without having to carry a venomous reply?

The accompanying pic was captioned "Western ambassadors picket the
Harare Magistrates Court in support of MDC activists". We liked the
suggestion that diplomats doing their duty to follow events in Zimbabwe are
represented by the state media as "picketing" the courts. What's wrong with
"attended"?

At least this time the Herald confined itself to using the collective
"Western ambassadors". The last time the paper tried to name them it got
them horribly mixed up!

The same caption was carried on the Home Affairs' website for several
months with all the same mistakes despite our attempts to point out the
errors.

Nicholas Goche says Zanu PF will want to raise the issue of "pirate"
radio stations that are "demonising the government" in the next phase of
discussions with the MDC.

Let's hope the MDC points out to him that ZBC "demonises" the
opposition in just about every news bulletin. What is he doing about the
partisan and unprofessional service the public get from their broadcaster?
It is also as boring as hell which is why Zimbabweans switch off in their
thousands.

If the government could remove its clumsy hand from Pockets Hill,
respect the Supreme Court ruling removing ZBC's monopoly and give the people
a choice of what to watch, then the reason why "pirate" broadcasters exist
would be removed.

Goche also seems to share the na´ve view of many in his party that the
MDC can have sanctions removed. This will not happen until those countries
imposing sanctions are convinced there has been a change in the political
climate in Zimbabwe.

Why, for instance, has the person who attacked Nelson Chamisa with an
iron bar and stole his computer at Harare airport not been brought to
justice? Why have those officers who assaulted Morgan Tsvangirai, William
Bango, Sekai Holland and others not been prosecuted?

Goche and sympathisers such as Dr Leonard Kapungu must understand that
sanctions were imposed in response to state violence. Zanu PF will need to
demonstrate a change of attitude and end the culture of impunity that allows
people like Joseph Mwale to walk free.

If, by the way, it is true that Mwale is serving in the Zimbabwe
embassy in Lusaka then we should demand an explanation from the Zambian
authorities. Hiding refugees from justice in Zimbabwe is not sound
diplomatic practice although it may tell us a bit about the usefulness of
Sadc!

We expect there were a few heads rolling around on the floor in the
Herald newsroom on Tuesday morning when the editor saw the heading on the
paper's opinion page. As if it wasn't bad enough having Stephen Maimbodei
writing about "sitting" arrangements, the subs then used this malapropism
for their heading: "Of handshakes, sitting arrangements".

You don't have to be semi-literate to write political diatribes in the
state media. It just helps!

BBC have recently provided a good example of why we urgently need a
professional broadcaster. They have been running a poll on their web page
(http://www.zbcnewsnet.co.zw). It runs as follows:

Who do you blame for the current shortages?

1. Manufacturers

2. Retailers

3. The black market

4. Western sanctions

What happened to Option 5 - the government?

Isn't it amazing? The choice most people would want to make is
withheld from them amidst the deceit that it is someone else's fault. For
the record, results so far suggest viewers blame the black market for their
woes (43%) while only 6% blamed retailers.

The one thing we need more than anything else in the current
inter-party talks is an honest public broadcaster. Will the MDC please draw
a line in the sand and stop their orgy of self-congratulation. There is work
to do. In particular we want to know the fate of Posa and Aippa.

It was interesting to note an article in Sunday's Standard pointing
out that some 80% of goods on supermarket shelves were of South African
origin. Even the most cursory tour of one's local supermarket reveals the
extent of the South African invasion. Tins of tuna, butter, beer, cereals,
tinned fruit, fresh fruit, wine, and orange crush occupy space once
dominated by Mazoe, Willards, and Dairibord.

See what Obert Mpofu and his delinquent associates have done to our
retail sector. As in commercial agriculture they have created a desert. This
is what happens when politicians try to intervene in the market. While
President Mugabe is lecturing us on sovereignty and independence, South
African exporters have been quick to take advantage of the chaos wrought by
inept government regulation.

One of the worst facets of this crisis has been the absence of bread
and milk. What happened to Zimbabwe's fine dairy herds which used to keep us
self-sufficient in milk, cheese and butter? What happened to our beef herds?

Bread has been the dietary cornerstone of all successful societies. We
used to have a steady supply of flour in this country, never for one minute
suspecting that an economically illiterate regime would deprive us of this
basic item by its misconceived social engineering. Now trucks are returning
from South Africa laden with loaves for well-heeled consumers like Mpofu and
his ilk.

So much for sovereignty and independence!


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Inflation: The grim fairy tale

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

VERY belatedly, as has become the norm, the Central Statistical Office
(CSO) finally released August 2007 inflation data last week.

The delay was undoubtedly not occasioned by the CSO, but by the
attendant requirement that the Ministry of Finance authorise the data's
release before any such publication is made.

It was that requirement which resulted in the April and May 2007
inflation data being withheld from the populace for over two months, and it
can therefore be argued that the private sector should be grateful to
government that the delays are now somewhat less!

Nevertheless, the delays are unjustifiable, are highly prejudicial to
commerce, industry and others, and further destroy government credibility.

But of greater concern must be that very little reliance can be placed
on the inflation data in attempting to assess, realistically, price
movements in Zimbabwe.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), on which the inflation rates are
calculated, has no foundation in fact, and is not only naught but a fairy
tale, but that fairy tale can best be described as grim.

That the CPI and the inflation data drawn therefrom are grim is
because they very grossly understate realities.

According to CSO, year-on-year inflation to August, 2007 was 6 592,8%,
and month-on-month inflation for August was 11,8%.

It is impossible to believe that there is even one consumer in the
whole of Zimbabwe as would give an iota of credence to those figures, for
they know full well that the inroads into their near empty pursues, and into
their fast declining, very minimal resources, are at a horrendous pace and
to a massively greater extent than implied by the CSO's inflation rates.

This is due to a number of facts. First and foremost is that,
unavoidably necessarily, CSO relies upon the so-called "controlled" prices,
and the movement thereof, to determine CPI and the underlying inflation
rates.

However, ever since government, with its demonic, foolhardy,
counter-productive and destructive price controls of June 26, 2007, drove
almost all goods off the shelves of the shops throughout Zimbabwe, virtually
no goods are available at the controlled prices.

To a major extent, the empty shelves are reflective of reduced
production by manufacturers, who could not afford to produce goods at costs
higher than the prices at which they were permitted to sell.

However, the scarcities have been exacerbated by the very considerable
extent to which informal sector traders commandeer almost all of the limited
quantities of essential commodities as do reach the shops, in order
thereafter to sell them in the black market, at very highly inflated prices,
no controls being enforced upon them.

The black market has also been fuelled by Zimbabwean commodities which
manufacturers export to neighbouring territories, thereby enhancing their
prospects of survival, by realising prices which exceed their costs.

Cross-border traders, flocking to Francistown, Mussina and
Livingstone, as well as elsewhere, purchase those commodities, smuggle them
back into Zimbabwe, and then sell them to consumers so desperate to access
their needs that they will, albeit reluctantly, pay whatsoever price is
demanded of them.

Thus, for example, in August the official price of a litre of petrol
was $60 000, but save for a few privileged individuals and providers of
essential services, who would access petroleum from Noczim, the motorists at
large could only source fuel from unofficial markets, with prices in August
ranging from $240 000 to $285 000 per litre and now exceeding $400 000 per
litre!

Thus, the real cost of fuel was at least four times that which was
used to determine the CPI. The same holds good for almost all essentials.
Bread, maize-meal, flour, sugar, soap, eggs and almost all else could not be
obtained from any hypermarket, supermarket, or other retailer.

Instead, consumers either had to seek fulfillment of their needs by
traveling crossborder to purchase them, or to purchase their requirements
from black market sources at uncontrolled prices.

But those uncontrolled prices are not used by CSO to determine CPI,
and therefore the inflation data calculated therefrom bears no relation to
reality.

According to the CSO data, inflation in transport costs was only 10,8%
in August, with the increase in fuels and lubricants being 7,1%.

Any motorists, haulage operators, or other providers of transport
would view these rates with total disbelief.

Food and non-alcoholic beverage inflation was allegedly, according to
CSO, 16,5%, with meat inflation being only 6,3%, and milk, cheese and eggs
having increased in prices by 7,9%.

But anyone who would have been fortunate enough to find any meat,
dairy products or eggs knows that the prices they paid were far above the
controlled prices, and as against costs prior to the price controls, were
200 to 300% greater.

The CSO inflation rates are also distorted by its consumer "spending
basket" no longer being realistically reflective of average consumer
spending.

The CSO's consumer spending basket ascribes 31,9% of total spending to
food and non-alcoholic beverages, 16,2% to housing, water, electricity, gas
and other fuels, 15,1% to furniture, household equipment and maintenance,
9,8% to transport, and the remaining 27% of spending is on clothing and
footwear, health, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, communications,
recreation and culture, education, and sundry other items.

However, the average consumer will claim not to have a sufficiency of
funding for food, accommodation, utilities, education, health, and
transport, let alone to spend on anything else.

Therefore, the percentages constituting the spending basket are not
factual and realistic, and therefore the inflation rates calculated there
from, the percentages constituting the spending basket are not factual and
realistic, and therefore the inflation rates calculated by applying that
basket to CPI are not factually representative.

The harsh fact is that the majority of Zimbabweans will remain reliant
upon the black, and other unofficial, markets until such time as scarcities
cease to exist, and that will only be when government allows market economic
fundamentals, instead of regimentation and control, to drive the economy.

* By way of a postscript, some have suggested that an absence of a
response from me to Muckraker's attack on me in the Independent of September
14, 2007 implies my concurrence therewith.

The reality is that as Muckraker's vitriolic criticism is founded upon
a fabricated quotation which in no manner reflected that which I really
said, and is based upon a gross misrepresentation of my expressed views, I
have accorded his diatribe against me the contempt it deserves.


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Zim Independent Letters

Madhuku has lost the plot

THANK you so much for your very progressive comment on the Zanu PF-MDC
talks. We need to move this nation forward beyond the Lovemore Madhuku's of
this world.

Allow me to congratulate the MDC and Zanu PF on realising that as a
nation we need each other and we can build a better country for future
generations.

A lot of time has been lost arguing over petty issues at the expense
of the suffering populace of this country while Madhuku and now lately
Wellington Chibebe enjoy donor monies. Of what use is a beautiful
constitution with no government to implement it?

Madhuku has lost the plot, he should join the MDC and Zanu PF or
forever stay irrelevant to the Zimbabwean situation.

Maybe he is worried that those he has labelled uneducated have stolen
the limelight from him.

Givemore Mvhiringi,

mvhiringi@yahoo.co.uk

-------------
MDC leadership is just power-hungry

RECENT developments in parliament where the MDC endorsed the 18th
Constitutional Amendment Bill exposed the opposition leadership and left a
lot of Zimbabweans shocked.

Firstly, the opposition leadership is accepting the principle of
amending the constitution in parliament as compared to crafting a new
democratic constitution by the people. This is unacceptable and not expected
of an opposition that claims to champion democracy in Zimbabwe.

The MDC leaders were probably promised political positions and they
are prepared to sacrifice the struggle for a new constitution in exchange
for personal power. The endorsement of the 18th amendment by MDC is a clear
sign of betrayal and the people of Zimbabwe should not turn a blind eye
while they are selling out.

The claim by the MDC leaders that they are supporting the amendment
for the good of the country is unfounded. There is nothing good about an
amendment that gives power to parliament to handpick a president in the
event of the incumbent leaving office.

It is the duty of ordinary citizens to decide on the laws that govern
the country and parliament is there to listen to the will of the people. The
MDC cannot justify supporting an amendment that increases the number of
parliamentary and senatorial seats given the state of our economy.

Where does the government intend to get the money to give to the extra
MPs and senators? The MDC leadership is just after power and they are
prepared to go out of their way to get power at all costs.

They are a disgrace to the suffering masses of Zimbabwe who have been
looking forward to an alternative leadership to emerge from the opposition.

What happened in parliament is a clear testimony that there is no
politician worthy to be trusted. Politicians, especially those in
opposition, are opportunists interested in power not the welfare of the
people. The MDC should not cry foul in next year's elections as it is public
knowledge that they will be rigged.

The MDC should have advocated a total overhaul of the Constitution of
Zimbabwe as compared to the piecemeal amendments in parliament.

Madock Chivasa,

NCA national spokesperson.

-------------
Thanks Zinwa!

THANKS Zinwa you have just killed any hope of my family surviving.

Your increases of 500% on the fixed charges and over 1 000% on the
water rates has knocked my monthly bill from $328 000 to $2,5 million for a
mere 23 units.

So my meagre vegetable garden, which was necessary because I cannot
find or afford shop food, now has to go.

How can the price control commission allow such a blatantly outrageous
increase after controlling everything else? Now we know why the fat cats
from government and Zinwa were smugly grandstanding on ZTV news - it was all
a big PR exercise ahead of when the inevitable consumer outcry hits.
Bulawayo residents are right in saying no to Zinwa taking over - Harare
should have done the same.

Drowning but dry,

Harare.

--------------
Why trees are being cut
IN an article I read in the Zimind recently, one of your columnists
asked who was cutting the pine trees along Steppes road. I may have the
answer.

All last week, pine trees were being cut along Beeston Avenue in
Mandara. Home owners seem to know nothing about this. This week, they cut
all the pine trees along Hazel Road, off Beeston.

The crew arrived at our front gate, and announced that they were about
to cut down all our 50+ year old pine trees, which had been planted by my
mother-in-law, who has lived here for all that time. Luckily she was on
hand, to point out that while the trees are outside our current wall, she
planted them just inside the boundary, and when the surrounding wall was
subsequently put up, it had been placed just inside the trees. In effect,
the trees are still on our property, but outside the perimeter walling.

Luckily also, my wife was on the ball, and shot off to Highlands
Municipality office, where she collected a city inspector. He knew nothing
of this operation, but luckily (again - a lot of luck involved here), he was
able to point out the boundary pegs, confirming my mother-in-law's claim,
and our trees were saved.

Whilst we were dealing with the people who were about to cut the
trees, a steel blue Mercedes Benz (registration number supplied) arrived. A
man (name supplied) from Tynwald Sawmill greeted us, and listened to what
the municipal officer had to say. He was very congenial, and accepted that
these trees were not to be cut.

A second man, who was driving, did not identify himself, but told us
he was from the municipality. But the officer we had from Highlands later
told us he'd never seen the man before, in over 20 years service with the
City.

As I said, the mood was very congenial, and non-confrontational, until
I took a photograph of the vehicle, whereupon, the two men became rather
aggravated, and very unhappy.No threats were made, but I am a little worried
that there may be some come-back if we have trodden on the toes of someone
very important.

Dendrophile,

Harare.

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