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African leaders aren’t all the same

September 30, 2007

ROD LIDDLE ("Why pick on Mugabe when Africa is teeming with tyrants?", Sept 23) put forward the proposition that it was illogical for Gordon Brown to refuse to meet President Robert Mugabe while continuing to meet allegedly equally despicable leaders such as President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia. This attempt to establish some equivalence between the two presidents is a travesty.

There are legitimate criticisms which can be made about the Mwanawasa government, but the situation in the two countries is totally different. The Zambian economy is growing; agricultural output is increasing; inflation is below 10% (7,000% in Zimbabwe); the exchange rate has, if anything, been kept too strong. Zambia’s elections in 2006 were judged peaceful and genuinely competitive by international observers.

Under its three presidents Zambia has enjoyed peace and no tribal group has been able to oppress the others. It is a country to which refugees from neighbouring countries flee to find safety; white farmers are not being bullied off their farms – indeed white farmers from Zimbabwe have been allowed to settle in Zambia.

The homes and businesses of the urban poor have not been bulldozed as a reprisal for voting for the opposition. Foreign investment is not being expropriated – indeed, the criticism is that the concessions made to foreign mining companies are too generous.

Brown is right to refuse to attend any meeting which includes Mugabe, thereby highlighting the failure of African leaders to confront the oppression of the people of Zimbabwe by one of their number.

LORD TURNBULL, Cabinet Secretary, 2002-2005


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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 29th September 2007


A busy Vigil - partly because we had so many students interviewing us for
projects they are doing for various courses such as journalism,
international affairs etc.  Among them was Danielle Batist, a Dutch student
studying for a post-graduate degree in Denmark, and a Norwegian girl
studying in London who was interested in the similarities between Zimbabwe
and Burma. Fortunately we had Vigil supporter Chipo Chaya, who is herself a
student here, to help them.  Our new front table collapsed because of the
crush.

Another visitor was Patrick Durlat of Refugees International based in
Washington.  He is going to countries around Zimbabwe later this week to
investigate the refugee situation at border crossings.  He is coming through
London on his return and we invited him to report back to the Vigil.

The day started early for Vigil Co-ordinator Rose, who was invited to speak
at a Quaker meeting at the local Friends House in St Martin's Lane.  They
were discussing Africa and were anxious to have someone from the Vigil to
speak about our activities and what's happening in Zimbabwe.She was asked
her personal opinion on what should be done and said "Support the Vigil
petition for suspension of government to government aid to SADC countries
until they honour their human rights obligations and instead use the money
to support the suffering in Zimbabwe.  They could also follow the Archbishop
of York's suggestions and toughen up sanctions that hit the Zimbabwean
kleptocracy". Two people from the meeting later attended the Vigil.  We hope
they will keep coming.

We were sorry to say an early goodbye to Joseph Nyoni from Leicester.  He
had to go home because he is "tagged". We didn't realise that some of our
asylum seekers were still treated like this.

The Vigil Diary thinks it's about time we had a gossip column and we have
two items.  We learnt today from an insider that staff at the Embassy have
not been paid for eight months.  Our source said people were making do by
doing odd jobs.  We suspect they are doing more than this. There are plenty
of ways that diplomats, being able to pass freely through border controls,
can make a good living and we are told by another source that there is
certainly no shortage of mbanje in Luton, where there are many Zimbabweans.
As one of our supporters said "it is not so much an axis of evil as an axis
of petty crime". He was referring to the story told to us by a man who
passed by the Vigil today.  He said he had just been released from prison in
Latvia where he had met a Cameroonian who was serving 20 years for dealing
in counterfeit US dollars emanating from North Korea.  The Cameroonian said
the money had been given to him by Zimbabwean diplomats in Abu Dhabi and
Canada.  We intend to hand over five names to the American police.

PS Good news - Kate Hoey, MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on
Zimbabwe, has confirmed she's coming to our fifth anniversary Vigil to
receive our petition mentioned above to pass on to the Prime Minister, Mr
Brown.  MDC UK is supporting the anniversary and using it to protest against
Portugal's invitation to Mugabe, demand the diaspora vote and press for free
and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/

FOR THE RECORD: 95 signed the register. Supporters from Bedford, Birmingham,
Bolton, Coventry, East Grinstead, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton,
Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Northampton, Oxford, Reading, Romford,
Southampton, Southend, Stoke-on-Trent, Tunbridge Wells, Watford,
Wolverhampton and many from London and environs.

FOR YOUR DIARY:
-   Monday, 1st October 2007 - Central London Zimbabwe Forum.  This
week the forum follows up on the campaign to stop Mugabe's visit to
Portugal. Too many voices are now advocating a softly-softly approach to
Mugabe in spite of the pain and suffering that he is causing to the people
of Zimbabwe. Come to the forum this week to map the way forward as we take
this campaign to the next stage. We will be meeting in the downstairs
function room of the Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London, WC2N
6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John
Adam Street (near our usual venue the Theodore Bullfrog).
-   Saturday, 13th October, 2 - 6 pm. Zimbabwe Vigil's 5th Anniversary
followed by a social event at RampART Creative Centre and Social Space,
15-17 Rampart Street, London E1 2LA.  Plans for the anniversary are moving
forward following a meeting after the Vigil - grateful thanks to the many
supporters who have volunteered to help out and are already organising food,
drink, music and transport.

Vigil co-ordinator

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk


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Teachers' strike shuts down schools

Zim Standard

  By Walter Marwizi and Nqobani Ndlovu

THOUSANDS of disgruntled teachers will tomorrow shun classrooms,
signalling the beginning of one of the most potentially crippling strikes in
the education sector since independence.

The industrial action, over poor pay and what the teachers describe as
appalling working conditions could lead to the shutdown of all government,
mission and council schools in the country.

The Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA) last week issued a circular
to its members, telling them to stop teaching until the government raises
their basic pay to $16 million a month.

They earn around $3 million; the Poverty Datum Line is $16.7 million.

Zimta president Tendai Chikowore confirmed yesterday the teachers
would be on strike from tomorrow.

"All the teachers are aware that Monday the strike is starting," she
said.

Chikowore would not disclose their specific pay demands.

"Salaries are confidential, between our members and the employers. We
can't discuss that with the press," she said.

Zimta has a membership of 58 000 teachers, making it the largest union
in Zimbabwe.

Previous strikes called by the organisation have forced the government
to review their members' salaries.

Headmasters said yesterday ZIMTA's announcement would effectively stop
any teaching activities in classrooms, after another teachers' union, the
Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe announced that it was beginning a
full-scale strike from 24 September.

The union said their members would not settle for anything less than
the PDL.

It is not just students in primary and secondary schools who will be
hit hard by the strike.

University lecturers and non-academic staff have also indicated they
plan to down tools this week to press the government for over 300% and 1
000% salary adjustments respectively.

Lecturers want the government to raise junior lecturers' pay from $6
million a month to above $25 million, excluding allowances. Non-academic
staff, among them cleaners, want their salaries raised to $13 million from
$934 000 before allowances.

If their demand is granted, a junior lecturer and a cleaner will earn
over $35 million and $15 million respectively, inclusive of transport and
housing allowances.

Bernard Njekeya, a spokesperson for the Zimbabwe State Universities'
Union of Academics (ZISUA) and Readyforward Dube, the spokesperson for
non-academic staff yesterday told The Standard they would first embark on a
go-slow until the end of a two -week deadline before embarking on an
indefinite industrial action to force the government to address their
grievances.

"If the government does not award us what we want by next week, then
we will be left with no option but to down tools," Njekeya said.

"We are losing a number of lecturers every month and at the moment
there is a vacancy level of over 65% (of lecturers) at the universities."

Dube said: "Life has become very tough for non-academic staffers who
are earning less than $2 million while prices of goods and transport keep
shooting up."

No comment could be obtained from Stan Mudenge, the Higher and
Tertiary Education Minister, who was said to be locked in meetings with
representatives of lecturers over salary issues.

The country's ailing education sector is grappling with a shortage of
teachers and lecturers who have fled the economic crisis that has driven
other professionals to foreign lands.

The government faces more work boycotts and street protests from
inflation-weary Zimbabweans.


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Children stranded as teachers desert in droves

Zim Standard

  BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE,
KHOLWANI NYATHI AND ZVIPO MUZAMBI

THOUSANDS of children across the country, mostly in rural areas, might
not write their final examinations after several schools failed to re-open
for the third term following mass desertion by teachers protesting against
poor pay.

The crisis deteriorated last week when teachers staged a full-scale
strike demanding better salaries. Others quit altogether.

It emerged most teachers were holed up in their homes, waiting for the
outcome of negotiations between the government and their two unions.

These are the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA) and the radical
Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).

Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) Grade VII examinations
start on Monday next week, with "O" levels expected to begin a week later.

There are also fears that the examinations will be postponed or
written under unsuitable conditions.

"For those schools that managed to reopen, there will be a shortage of
invigilators to supervise the examinations," warned the official. "We are
not talking about children who will face these tests unprepared."

A snap survey by The Standard showed that several schools were manned
by skeleton staff.

Mzingwane High School in Matabeleland South - scorer of best "O" and
"A" level results in the country a number of times - is still searching for
teachers.

Last week, it had seven vacancies in History, Physics, Mathematics,
Management of Business, Accounting, Biology and Computers for "A" Level
classes.

Several schools are also flighting advertisements on a daily basis for
teachers half way through the third term.

Some schools had virtually no teachers and students were seen
loitering around the school premises, like sheep without a shepherd.

Manunure High School in the Midlands Province, which had 100 teachers
at the beginning of this term, now has only 40.

An administration source said five mathematics teachers were failing
to cope with 2 500 students.

"By the end of this term there will be virtually no one here," said
the teacher. "I also intend to go to Botswana to look for a job."

At Kambuzuma High School, Warren Park and Harare Girls' High School,
students said many teachers had not reported for work over the past week.

In some schools, there were only senior teachers, who spent most of
their time selling sweets, biscuits, and popcorn to supplement their
salaries.

It has become common to see students in uniform wandering around
Harare and Bulawayo central business districts during lesson time.

Some students have since stopped going to school altogether.

But enterprising students have formed "study groups" to prepare for
their final examinations. They conduct their studies at school premises and
in home as the crisis deepens.

"We have not had teachers for the greater part of this term. This is
why we formed this group," said Abel Mungate, a Form IV student at a high
school in Glen View, Harare.

Some teachers, who have stopped teaching, have started their own
"schools" in their homes where they tutor pupils in different subjects for a
fee.

In Kamubuza high-density suburb, there are more than four such schools
but it is not everybody who can afford the fees - between $300 000 and $500
000 a month for a student. This is higher than government fees for a whole
term.

Some schools haved considered asking parents to pay teachers
"additional salaries", a system operating in private schools.

"It is not official yet but we intend to take it up for
consideration," said a headmaster, who refused to be named. "The current
situation is really pathetic. Teachers are continuing to leave the country
and those that have remained no longer teach because of the poor salaries."

One parent with a child at Tamuka Primary School in Seke said they had
started the system in a bid to retain teachers.

"We are already paying for our children's teachers. The government has
totally compromised the quality of our education," said a parent at the
school.

ZIMTA officials in Matabeleland North and South, hardest hit by the
teacher shortage because of their proximity to the neighbouring countries,
said an average of five schools a district had not reopened for the third
term.

"In Tsholotsho alone I can count Lihumbe, Dibutibu, Mathula and
Bhayana where there is not a single teacher," said the ZIMTA official. "We
are still assessing the situation throughout Matabeleland North but a
similar pattern is emerging in all the seven districts. The authorities must
be alerted to this crisis."

The government has refused to award teachers salaries pegged to the
poverty datum line (PDL) as the teachers demanded.

Since the beginning of this term in September, teachers have been on a
go-slow which escalasted into a full-blown job last week after the
government failed to address their demands.

The least paid teacher averages $2.8 million a month. The unions have
turned down a government offer of $7.9 million for the lowest paid, saying
this would not make a difference, as it is well below the PDL: $16 million.

The teachers are demanding a minimum of $18 million a month, transport
allowances of $8 million, housing allowances of $6 million.

PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said State security agents
were harassing and intimidating teachers but the "struggle" would not be
derailed.

Acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Sport and
Culture, Zipora Muzenda, said she was not aware there was a countrywide
teachers' strike.

But when given the names of schools that are as good as closed,
Muzenda changed her tack: "What I have said is not the ministry position,
fax your questions but I can't guarantee that you will get a response
today."


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Govt critic denied visa to Harare

Zim Standard

  BY WALTER MARWIZI

HENNING Melber, executive director of the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation,
was probably denied entry into Zimbabwe last week for being openly critical
of former guerillas who have turned into autocrats as leaders of their
independent countries.

The Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Sten Rylander told The Standard in
Harare on Friday that may be the reason why his application for a visa was
rejected.

He said the decision to bar Melber even shocked former Mozambican
President Joaquim Chissano who delivered a keynote address at the
Commemoration of the Week on the legacy of Hammarskjold where Melber was
scheduled to speak.

Hammarskjold was UN Secretary-General from 1953 until 1961 when he
died in a plane crash in Ndola, Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, while on a
peace mission to the troubled Congo (Kinshasa).

Melber was to have delivered a speech centred on the role of the
Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) in resolving the Zimbabwe
crisis.

But when he inquired at the Zimbabwean embassy in Sweden on the
progress of his application for a visa two weeks ago, he was told he would
not be allowed to travel to Harare.

No reasons were given. The Swedish Embassy in Harare tried in vain to
have the decision reversed,

Melber was left with no option but to send his speech to Ambassador
Rylander, who delivered it at Africa University.

In the speech, Melber said liberation movements were not immune to
corruption.

He cited British Lord Acton's dictum -"power corrupts and absolute
power corrupts absolutely".

"Former liberation movements, who after long and painful sacrifices by
the oppressed people against colonial occupation ultimately secured the
fundamental right to self-determination and seized the legitimate power
based on popular vote, are not protected from such temptations. As a result
of such limits to liberation, Zimbabwe is in the midst of an ongoing
crisis," he said.

Melber said Hammarskjold had stressed that it was not possible to
maintain a society with the 'haves" and "have nots".

"The challenge to turn his words into social and political realities
remains on our agenda. It includes the Southern African region in general
and in particular Zimbabwe."


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Bulawayo has not endorsed Mugabe

Zim Standard

  By Kholwani Nyathi

BULAWAYO - The Zanu PF Bulawayo province has become the first to
publicly announce it has not decided to endorse President Robert Mugabe
(pictured) as the party's presidential candidate next year.

Addressing meetings in Bulawayo last week, the provincial executive
members said they would not join others staging the so-called solidarity
marches in support of Mugabe because they had not endorsed him as their
presidential candidate.

Effort Nkomo, the party's provincial spokesperson, said last week:
"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."

Expelled war veterans' leader, Jabulani Sibanda is now leading the
campaign for Mugabe's endorsement through the so-called solidarity marches.

"This (Sibanda's readmission) is seen as a slap in the face for the
old guard from PF Zapu who feel that Mugabe is undermining them by using
Sibanda in his campaign," said a senior ruling party official. "They would
rather support Mujuru if Mugabe does not want to show them respect."

Zanu PF, now divided into three factions, was forced to take the
unusual step of calling a special congress to settle Mugabe's candidacy
after he failed to bulldoze his way.

Firstly, Mugabe was thwarted by factions led by Solomon Mujuru and
Rural Housing and Social Amenities minister, Emerson Mnangagwa, when he
tried to extend his term under the guise of harmonising the electoral
systems at the party conference in Goromonzi last year.

Another bid to endorse him as the party candidate fell through at a
Central Committee meeting in February.

Following these setbacks, Mugabe has reportedly roped in war veterans
who have been holding "solidarity marches" throughout the country.

Bulawayo province is believed to be behind the Mujuru faction, which
is pushing for Vice-President Joice Mujuru to succeed Mugabe at the
congress.


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No unity with Zanu PF - MDC

Zim Standard

  BY OUR STAFF

MASVINGO - MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai has ruled out a government
of national unity with Zanu PF.

He told supporters in Masvingo yesterday Zanu PF would never "swallow"
the MDC, as it did PF Zapu after the Unity Accord in 1987.

"Some people think by agreeing with Zanu PF during the SADC talks,
especially on the 18th constitutional amendment, we would form a government
of national unity," he said. "It is impossible. We will never do that.

"If they (Zanu PF) think they will swallow us, they must forget it. I
want to tell people that MDC will remain MDC and Zanu PF will remain Zanu
PF.

"We will not unite with those responsible for the suffering of the
people through their misrule. Totally impossible!"

Tsvangirai said he would remain steadfast to the principles and values
of the MDC.

"How can I sell out now when we have travelled a long and rough
journey in the struggle to remove Mugabe's dictatorship?"

Tsvangirai said the 18th Amendment and other reforms agreed during the
talks would ensure Zimbabwe had a level playing field for elections next
year.

"What we did was necessary as the elections draw close. What I want to
tell them is that half a loaf is better than nothing. We will deal with the
new constitution when the right time comes."

He said they would continue to press Zanu PF to remove repressive laws
and allow newspapers such as The Daily News to return.

The 8th Anniversary of the MDC where Tsvangirai spoke, attracted over
10 000 supporters.

Meanwhile civil society organisations meeting in Bulawayo yesterday
withdrew their threats to dump the MDC after it endorsed the 18th Amendment,
fearing this would be "playing into Zanu PF's" hands.

A communiqué released after the meeting, reiterated their stance the
MDC had "sold out" by supporting the amendment, but would set up a taskforce
to engage the party.

"We regard the recent events as a serious infringement of our
principles," said National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman, Lovemore
Madhuku who read the communiqué.

"However, we will communicate our position to the political parties
and ask them to retract their position. Pursuant to our recommendations, we
shall convene a people's convention to consider the responses of the
political parties."

Most delegates felt that by abandoning the MDC, civic groups "would be
bolstering Zanu PF", said Jethro Mpofu of Bulawayo Dialogue Institute. "In
the interest of Zimbabwe what we need at the moment is unity of strength."


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More reforms needed: envoy

Zim Standard

  By Jennifer Dube

ZIMBABWE and the Southern African Development Community must continue
pushing for more political and economic reforms in preparation for the 2008
elections, the Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe has said.

Addressing journalists in Harare last week, Sten Rylander said while
the agreement over the 18th Amendment of the Constitution was welcome, there
was need to push for more reforms to end the economic and political turmoil.

"Recent developments, especially the announcement of the first results
of the SADC negotiations and particularly the endorsing of the amendment,
show there is light at the end of the tunnel.

"The donor community welcomes this as the first step to better things
and it is already gearing up for a new era in Zimbabwe," he said.

Rylander said Zimbabwe now needed to look into the whole election
framework, especially regarding such laws as the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act
(POSA).

The envoy was speaking at the unveiling of a US$1 million facility
donated by the Swedish government to World Food Programme's Zimbabwe
projects.

The fund will be used in the WFP's drought relief programmes.

Kevin Farrel, WFP Zimbabwe resident representative, said the food
agency continued to be "very concerned" about the food situation in the
country and hoped to increase the scale of its programmes to help thousands
of Zimbabweans facing hunger.

He said the organisation was satisfied with the donor community's
response to its calls for more aid for Zimbabwe, an estimated four million
of whose people require food aid.

"We have resourced about 65 % of our target so far and although we
still have some shortfalls, we are optimistic we will reach close to, if not
the full scale of the target."

Farrel said the WFP was encouraged by the level of collaboration by
local authorities and the level of transparency in aid distribution.

He said the donor community would continue to monitor the programmes
tightly, to safeguard against their manipulation, especially in light of the
elections next year.

"Despite all this, though, we are concerned that food costs in the
region, particularly in South Africa, have gone up significantly and we can't
buy as much as in previous years," he said. "This is unfortunately happening
at the back of an increase in demand for food in Zimbabwe".


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Boarders cook own food at Gweru school

Zim Standard

  By Rutendo Mawere

WHEN the bell rings for the start of afternoon lessons at a reputable
Gweru high school, a student walks lethargically towards the classrooms.

The lower six boarder, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals
by the school authorities, explains his predicament thus:

Instead of being in class for morning lessons, he has been in the
kitchen, preparing food for the rest of the students of the hostel.

"The heat and the work there are unbearable," he said.

His predicament would have been unheard of at boarding schools just a
few years ago. But it is now familiar territory for many students at Chaplin
High School in Gweru.

Besides having to put up with the on-going teachers' strike, the
continuing shortage of food and other basic commodities, students have had
to prepare their own meals: the non-teaching staff have been on strike.

Hostel cooks, groundsmen and other general workers began their strike
for higher wages and improved working conditions last Monday.

When The Standard visited the school on Tuesday, students in their
civvies during school hours were seen preparing food in the Coghlan Dining
Hall while the workers were assembled in the school hall.

A teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that when
the strike began, the school authorities organised Form V and VI boarders in
the four hostels into groups that take turns to prepare their own meals and
for others.

Students interviewed complained that having to cook for themselves, on
top of their lessons, was seriously disturbing their studies. They called on
the school authorities to quickly resolve the matter.

"Our lives have become miserable," said one student. "Instead of
concentrating on our studies, there are so many other problems to be
attended to. Imagine having to cook for the rest of the students at a
boarding school because some people have failed to resolve their problems."

Efforts to obtain comment from the Minister of Education Sport and
Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere were fruitless.

Some of the striking workers showed The Standard payslips: the least
paid worker gets $197 000 a month while the rest were below $205 000.

One worker said: "We are forced to prepare for a good learning
environment for other children when we cannot even send our own children to
school. We are now saying Enough is Enough and we need to be treated like
humans, living in a hyper-inflationary environment."

The non-teaching staff accused the school headmistress, identified as
Nhemachena, of being insensitive to their plight. They alleged that for the
past three months, workers' representatives had been trying in vain to
negotiate for a better package.

Nhemachena was said to be away from the school but her deputy,
identified only as Banda, said the workers' wages were the responsibility of
the school's development committee. "Talk to the SDA chairman," Banda told
The Standard over the phone.

The committee's chairman, identified only as Zanga was not available
for comment. But the SDA levy secretary, a Ms Matshona, insisted the workers
were not on strike.


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Masvingo politicians in public brawl

Zim Standard

  BY OUR STAFF

MASVINGO - Two senior Zanu PF provincial members last week traded
blows shortly after Vice-President Joseph Msika had officiated at a function
to raise money for Chikombedzi hospital.

Zanu PF provincial information secretary, Retired Major Kudzai Savious
Mbudzi, and Eddison Zvobgo Junior, fought after arguing over the amounts
they donated to the Chikombedzi nursing project.

They are said to have also argued over a yet- to-be demarcated
Masvingo Central Constituency.

Zvobgo, who manages an estate left behind by his father is alleged to
have told Mbudzi that he was bankrupt after his company, Treasure
Consultants Limited, involved in the construction of houses here, was put
under judicial management.

Mbudzi did not take Zvobgo Jnr's words lightly after he had
individually donated $100 million to the project. Zvobgo Jnr and four other
people in the fundraising committee cumulatively raised $300 million.

Mbudzi hit back by saying that Zvobgo was "just being showy" with his
deceased father's empire.

He then accused Zvobgo of squandering the proceeds at the expense of
his brothers and sisters, born out of wedlock.

The High Court declared them beneficiaries but they are yet to receive
a fair share of the estate. The case remains in the courts.

The reference to the disputed estate is said to have been "the last
straw" for Zvobgo, who pounced on the former soldier, much to the amazement
of other senior party officials, quietly quaffing their drinks at the hotel.

Mbudzi fought back before the two were restrained by other party
members who described their brawl as "a disgrace to the VP" who had retired
to bed at the same hotel.

But the drama was not over as Mbudzi bolted out of the hotel, only to
return shortly afterwards, wearing a tracksuit bottom, a muscle top and
sneakers. He apparently wanted to resume the fisticuffs, but was restrained
by other party officials.

Contacted for comment, Zvobgo said:

"Mbudzi is my brother, and we were only playing. It was not a big
deal. Today, we called up each other and talked over the matter and we are
still friends."

Mbudzi said: "That's a lie (the brawl), we are educated and we are
best of friends who would not resolve differences of opinion through fights.
Everybody in Masvingo knows we are best of friends."

The incident was witnessed by a Standard reporter covering the
fund-raising function.


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'Zim young hold torch for future'

Zim Standard

  By Our Staff

YOUNG Zimbabweans will be the force for change and will be found at
the forefront of reconstructing the country when it starts to emerge from
the current crisis, a British diplomat said last week.

In a keynote address at the 2007 Cover to Cover Short Story Writing
Competition awards dinner in Harare on Thursday, Gillian Dare, the First
Secretary at the British Embassy, said the country's reconstruction will
need people of vision, ambition and determination to build a new Zimbabwe.

"The short story competition," she said, "embodies some of the most
important qualities which you will need for personal and national success."

The short story competition is an initiative of The Standard that has
attracted support from partners such as the British Embassy, the British
Council, Stanbic, the World Bank and World Vision Zimbabwe. It targets young
people of school-going age because young people are a country's greatest
asset and future.

Describing the competition as a great initiative, Dare quoted Article
19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this
right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek,
receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of
frontiers."

That freedom of expression, she said, was a fundamental right and was
axiomatic in the modern world.

"Freedom of expression is at the heart of our human condition and of
democracy," she said. "It is a basic condition for the progress of society
and the development of persons.

"An informed population can participate in the decision-making process
which affects all our lives. Freedom of Expression also helps an individual
to obtain self-fulfillment and in the discovery of truth.

"I salute The Standard and The Zimbabwe Independent newspapers for
continuing to hold aloft the beacon of freedom of expression in Zimbabwe
today despite all the constraints. It is also entirely appropriate that they
should sponsor a short story competition, for after all what are journalists
and newspapers doing? They are telling stories. The story of what is
happening in Zimbabwe and stories about people's lives."

Encouraging the young people to make the most of the gifts they have,
Dare said success came from within and urged them to continue writing and
learning.

"The future is yours," she said, "seize the opportunities that come
your way and you will succeed in life and Zimbabwe will experience a new
renaissance."

The British Council provided cash prizes for the winners, while the
World Bank provided book hampers for the individual winners of the
competition. Mumvurwi Primary School in Shamva, Inkanyezi Primary School and
St Bernard's Secondary School, both in Bulawayo, and Glen Norah High 1 in
Harare won cartons of books for their libraries after they were identified
as institutions operating in disadvantaged environments.

The World Bank has a policy of supporting areas in need of support,
hence the support to these particular schools instead of any other schools,
which might enjoy better support from school development associations or the
communities in which they operate. Last year the programme benefited Cheziya
High School in Gokwe, St Augustine's and St Gabriel's in Bulawayo.

World Vision Zimbabwe, a new partner, also provided book hampers for
the winners and their schools, while Meikles Hotel accommodated winning
students from out of Harare and their parents/guardians.


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Hotel alarm scares Chissano

Zim Standard

  BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE

FORMER Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano was evacuated from a
hotel in Mutare last week after fire alarms, triggered by a suspected
electrical fault, caused pandemonium at the Holiday Inn.

Chissano was in the city for the commemoration of the life and work of
former United Nations Secretary-General, the late Dag Hammarskjold at Africa
University later that Monday.

Panicking security details whisked away Chissano from Hotsprings
restaurant, where he had sat down for his breakfast near the hotel swimming
pool, as others inspected a safe route out of the hotel.

After standing for nearly five minutes by the pool, a visibly shaken
Chissano, was led to a waiting motorcade outside the hotel, then driven off.

He did not return to eat his breakfast.

Security details, including armed soldiers and police officers who
were stationed at Mutare Central police station, directly opposite the hotel
were spotted as they took up strategic positions.

Other guests ran out of their rooms when the alarm was raised. A
journalist from Harare jumped out of the bath tub straight into his clothes
without drying himself.

Water was still dripping down his legs when he reached the foyer.

"I didn't know the magnitude of the problem and for my own safety, had
to do the normal thing - run," he said.

A security officer said it was routine for them to act hurriedly
whenever an alarm was raised, especially when a VIP was in the vicinity.

Hotel management barred journalists from visiting the room where the
alleged electrical fault triggered the alarm. They were running around with
fire extinguishers.

The hotel manager on duty, Everisto Gambiza, referred all questions to
the hotel's head office in Harare.

ZimSun Leisure through its public relations firm, Network Public
Relations, said the pandemonium was caused by a fire alarm set off by
exhaust fumes from a vehicle parked near a smoke detector.

"Emergency procedures worked as planned and reacted in response to
what was, in fact, a false alarm. Investigations have revealed that the fire
alarm was set off by exhaust fumes from a diesel engine vehicle which was
idling while parked close to a smoke detector at the hotel," a statement
from the PR group said.


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WFP needs US$97m for Zimbabwe

Zim Standard

  BY OUR STAFF

THE United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) urgently needs US$97
million to fund the growing need for food aid in Zimbabwe, a senior official
has said.

The WFP says it is scaling up its operations in Zimbabwe to assist the
increasing number of people facing food shortages.

The vulnerable group feeding programme is set to benefit about 3.3
million people, and will run until next March, when farmers are expected to
start harvesting their crops from the forthcoming farming season.

But Richard Lee, the WFP regional information officer for Southern
Africa, said on Thursday if they did not raise the money, they might not be
able to assist all intended beneficiaries, mostly in the drought-stricken
southern parts of the country, where the need is most pronounced.

"WFP still needs another US$97 million to fund our operations in
Zimbabwe until the next main cereal harvest in April 2008. If we do not
receive sufficient funds then we will not be able to reach all our targeted
beneficiaries over the next six months," Lee said.

His statement came three weeks after the WFP's head in Zimbabwe, Kevin
Farrell, described the food situation in some parts of the country as
"acutely serious".

Receiving a CA$3.5 million donation to the organisation's Immediate
Response Account (IRA) in Harare three weeks ago, Farrell said he had
visited some districts in the southern parts of the country and the
situation there was "acutely serious".

In the last farming season, Zimbabwe recorded one of its worst
harvests, but the government has until recently played down the need for
food aid.

Last month, the WFP's regional director for Southern Africa, Amir
Abdulla, said "hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are already starting to
run out of food and several million more will be reliant on humanitarian
assistance by the end of the year".

The WFP currently assists 300 000 people a month in 26 districts in
Zimbabwe. The organisation says by the end of the year, that figure would
rise by more than 10 times, to 3.3 million.


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Gundamiti gains in sales as ARV prices skyrocket

Zim Standard

  By Leslie Nunu

BULAWAYO - Faced by skyrocketing prices of life-prolonging
anti-retroviral drugs, people living with HIV and Aids are now turning to
the newly-introduced, controversial herbal concoction, gundamiti.

The price of ARVS, imported mostly from South Africa and India,
continues to soar beyond the reach of many, due the country's volatile
exchange rate. They now cost $15 million-$36 million for a month's supply.

A snap survey at city pharmacies showed there had been a sharp decline
in the number of patients still buying the drugs. Medical sources said most
were switching to herbal drugs, particularly gundamiti.

"We have seen a huge number of patients switching to gundamiti because
the ARVs are either unavailable or are too expensive," said a pharmacist who
cannot be named for professional reasons.

A man living with AIDS told The Standard he was forced to switch to
gundamiti, produced by University of Zimbabwe scientists, as ARVs were no
longer affordable.

Dr Peter Mashava, one of the scientists who is behind the production
of the herbal concoction insisted that the drug was effective, despite
criticism of its efficacy by other medical practitioners .

"The drug was tested and it has proved that it improves the immune
system," he said. "There are many people who have publicly testified that
the drug has worked for them."

Mashava said people using the drug had suffered none of the
side-effects associated with ARVs, such as swollen feet and nausea, among
others.

But the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa,
says the government has not noticed any shift in the number of people
accessing ARVs from public health institutions.

"People on the government's ARV programme are still taking the drugs
as usual," he said.

Parirenyatwa discouraged people from taking gundamiti as the drug was
on trial.

Gundamiti is based on three plants, including the "magical" moringa.
According to the promoters of the drug, the process of identifying it as an
effective anti-HIV herbal remedy has been ongoing since 1992.

It was tested on 12 HIV positive people who showed a collective drop
in levels of the viral load, combined with significant rise in CD4 count.

The herbal concoction is initially extracted from its plant source and
ground into powder, and is dispensed in capsules, taken two at a time, three
times daily.

A full month's course costs about $600 000.

No food restrictions are recommended for those taking gundamiti,
although a healthy diet is advisable for general health.

The drug is available in small quantities but not enough to distribute
throughout the whole country.

 


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Chombo threatens Bulawayo over Zinwa

Zim Standard

  By Kholwani Nyathi

BULAWAYO - The government last week raised the stakes against the
council in its eight-month long battle for the control of the city's water
and sewer reticulation.

It threatened to forcibly takeover the systems before handing them
over to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).

A confidential letter from the Minister of Local Government, Public
Works and Urban Development to the mayor says the takeover will now go ahead
regardless of opposition from residents and council.

The Minister, Ignatious Chombo, expressed frustration that the
Movement for Democratic Change-led council of executive mayor Japhet
Ndabeni-Ncube was the only local authority that had so far resisted the
takeover.

Almost all the local authorities initially opposed the government
directive to allow Zinwa to take over their water and sewer infrastructure,
citing the parastatal's poor track record.

"Regrettably, you continue to flog the same issues and your officers
are unable to participate fully in the proceedings of the five committees
(preparing for the takeover) because they have no mandate from you as the
executive mayor and your council," Chombo said.

He said to date, 95% of urban centres throughout the country had
transferred their water and sewerage systems to Zinwa and the "government
expects Bulawayo council to do the same".

But Chombo's letter, copied to the Minister of Water and
Infrastructural Development, Munacho Mutezo and resident minister, Cain
Mathema, was immediately dismissed as "contemptuous" by councillors.

The council's executive committee chaired by Ndabeni-Ncube met on
Monday and resolved that they would stand by their decision not to hand over
the water and sewerage systems to Zinwa.

Ndabeni-Ncube said Zinwa should stick to its mandate of providing bulk
water to the city. Chombo was not available to comment on the latest
developments.

The takeover issue is set to dominate the full council meeting on
Wednesday.

The government has come under fire for failing to alleviate the
Bulawayo water crisis, expected to get worse next month after the fourth dam
runs dry.

 


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Zim rated among the worst, again

Zim Standard

  BY NDAMU SANDU

ZIMBABWE is one of the worst destinations for prospective businesses
in Southern Africa, a report published last week shows.

The report, Doing Business 2008, is published by the World Bank and
the International Finance Corporation.

It ranks Zimbabwe at 152 out of 178 countries used in the survey.

The annual report, in its fifth year, investigates the regulations
that enhance or constrain business activities.

South Africa was placed 35, Namibia 43, Botswana 51, Swaziland 95 and
Zambia 116. Lesotho was placed 124, Malawi 127, Mozambique 134 and
diamond-rich Angola 167.

Mauritius was the best ranked African country at 27.

Singapore retained pole position while Zimbabwe's political "enemies",
United States and United Kingdom fared better in the survey - in third and
sixth positions respectively.

The report ranks economies on their ease of doing business with a
high-ranking index signifying that the regulatory environment is conducive
to the operation of business.

This index averages the country's percentile ranking on 10 topics:
starting a business; dealing with licences; employing workers; registering
property; getting credit; protecting investors; paying taxes; trading across
borders; enforcing contracts; and closing a business.

Zimbabwe fared badly in the "starting a business" topic, at 143 out of
178. The topic identifies the bureaucratic and legal hurdles an entrepreneur
had to overcome to register the company.

Dealing with licences category shows the procedures, time, and costs
to build a warehouse, including obtaining necessary licenses and permits,
completing required notifications and inspections, and obtaining utility
connections. Zimbabwe was placed 172 in this category.

Doing Business 2008 also examined the ease with which businesses can
secure rights to property. Zimbabwe was ranked 79.

The report looked at the flexibility of labour regulations and
difficulties employers face in hiring and firing workers and Zimbabwe did
not fare any better, at 123.

The report looked at the credit information registries and the
effectiveness of collateral and bankruptcy laws in facilitating lending:
Zimbabwe was ranked 97.

The report ranked Zimbabwe 107 in the "protecting investors" category.

The tax that a medium-size company must pay or withhold in a given
year, as well as measures of the administrative burden in paying taxes was
also considered by the report: Zimbabwe was 144.

The trading across borders category examined the favourable conditions
that would stimulate trade across borders, looking at the costs and
procedures involved in importing and exporting a standardized shipment of
goods: Zimbabwe came in at 169.

Enforcing contracts category looked at the ease or difficulty of
enforcing commercial contracts. This is determined by following the
evolution of a payment dispute and tracking the time, cost, and number of
procedures involved from the moment a plaintiff files the lawsuit until
actual payment.

In the closing a business category Zimbabwe was ranked 151. The data
identifies weaknesses in existing bankruptcy law; the main procedural and
administrative bottlenecks in the bankruptcy process; and the recovery rate,
expressed in terms of how many cents on the dollar claimants recover from
the insolvent firm.

The report comes at a time the government has railroaded through
Parliament a bill that intends a take-over of 51 percent in foreign owned
companies.

Economic analysts say the report is reflective of the situation on the
ground.

"Overnight policy changes," said Dr Daniel Ndlela, an economic
consultant, "cannot allow you to establish business in Zimbabwe".

Ndlela said it was "very difficult" to do business in a country that
operates outside its budget.

"How do you do business in a country with inflation of over 7000
percent?" he said.

Ndlela blasted "ambivalent and schizophrenic policies which are anti-
business".

Bright Matonga, Information and Publicity deputy minister dismissed
the report as being political, "meant to appease Bush (George) and Brown
(Gordon)".

"We are not surprised by that report because the World Bank imposed
sanctions on Zimbabwe," Matonga said. "They can rank us on 178. It does not
matter because they are biased."


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I'm no fugitive: Mawere

Zim Standard

  BY OUR STAFF

ZIMBABWEAN-BORN South African citizen, Mutumwa Mawere says the
government should not lump him together with exiled bankers, who fled the
country in March 2004 because he successfully challenged a request by Harare
to extradite him to Zimbabwe at Randburg Magistrates' court.

The move followed Mawere's arrest in South Africa at the request of
the Zimbabwean authorities.

Soon after that in September 2004, the government took over the
running of Mawere's Shabanie-Mashaba Mines in terms of the Presidential
Powers (Temporary Measures) (Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent
Companies) Regulations 2004.

Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana,
early this month said the government was determined to have all exiled
businesspeople "put on trial on their return into the country".

Mangwana appeared to contradict himself as he has previously invited
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to participate in the government's planned
National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment exercise.


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Delta in U-turn, bemoans price blitz

Zim Standard

  By Pindai Dube

BULAWAYO - Delta Corporation has made a covert u-turn from its support
of the government's controversial price blitz because the company is now
failing to produce due to a number of problems associated with the two-month
operation.

Delta's corporate affairs manager, George Mutendadzamera, said last
week the beverages company was facing serious viability problems.

"It has come to our realisation that our products are not correctly
priced," he told journalists during a tour of the company's facilities on
Friday last week. "At the same time the environment is not conducive and is
making it very difficult for us to produce."

After the government embarked on Operation Dzikisa Mutengo (Reduce
Prices) the country has faced critical shortages of most basic commodities,
including soft drinks.

Mutendadzamera said critical water shortages in Bulawayo, coal
shortages and constant power outages were the other factors forcing the
company to frequently halt production.

Harare and Bulawayo have both been hit by serious water supply
disruption. In Bulawayo, the industry has not been spared from the water
rationing schedules used by the council to save water.

The shortage of coal has affected most industries as the sole coal
producing company Hwange Coal Colliery has reduced production due to foreign
currency shortages to buy spare parts and replacing aging critical machinery
at the mine.

Local companies have been forced to import coal, using scarce foreign
currency

Mutendadzamera said although Delta imported coal from neighboring
countries such as Botswana, the quality was below that of the local product.

Early this year Delta saw a drop in production of soft drinks after
the breakdown of machinery at the official distributor of carbon dioxide in
South Africa.


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Zimbabwe gets taste of its own medicine

Zim Standard

 Comment

THE government is unhappy about the way Western media networks covered
or did not cover President Robert Mugabe's address to the 62nd Session of
the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week. It should be the
last to complain about such treatment.

Information and Publicity Minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, last week
reacted angrily to what he alleged were attempts by the CNN and BBC to put a
blackout on Mugabe's speech to the General Assembly.

Ndlovu's argument was that a boycott of the address would deprive
"billions" of viewers worldwide from hearing and seeing Mugabe put his case
before the world body.

"(President George W) Bush was given full coverage to demonise our
President and our nation but our President was not given equal time to
defend himself and his country," Ndlovu protested, describing both CNN and
the BBC as "hypocritical" in the observance of international principles of
journalism of giving equal opportunity and tolerance to different opposing
views.

The problem with Ndlovu's complaint is the duplicity of his own ruling
party and government.

The State-run media, which falls under Ndlovu's supervision, violates,
on a daily basis the very same observance of international principles of
journalism that require media organisations to give equal opportunity and
tolerance to contesting views.

Opposition parties in Zimbabwe and civil society organisations are
victims of the same practice by State media under Ndlovu's watch. The only
time they have been allowed an opportunity was in order to either caricature
or demonise them - this is in total disregard of the fact that during the
2002 Presidential election, Morgan Tsvangirai's vote was fractionally
separated from Mugabe's. It is on this basis that the opposition leader
believes the votes for him were stolen.

The government cannot have its cake and eat it. It threw a curtain
wall around the country when it booted out Western media organisations such
as CNN and the BBC from operating in Zimbabwe and it was either disingenuous
or presumptuous of Ndlovu to expect sympathy from the same networks it
kicked out of the country.

It is hoped that the current dialogue between the government and the
opposition, one of the immediate benefits will be in the coverage of civil
society organisation and the opposition by the State media.

But Ndlovu's puerile complaint was just one of several contradictions
exhibited by the government last week. In recent years, the government has
championed a "Look East policy", and yet for all its demonisation of the
"imperialist West", Zimbabwe comes across as extremely desperate to wine and
dine with the same West at the Europe-Africa Summit, which Portugal will
host in December this year.

The protestations by regional leaders and threat of a possible boycott
are no more than mere posturing. They will be in Portugal and for the first
time Harare will be left behind on its own. These leaders have cheered the
government on while the country pursues destructive economic policies. If
they really cared about Zimbabwe as much as they profess, they would not
have allowed the situation to deteriorate.

They would have counselled Zimbabwe on how it can pull itself from the
brink of collapse, but no, they have egged Harare on to do things they would
not themselves dare do. They have cheered President Mugabe on while he leads
this country on a ruinous path. They are not going to sacrifice their
presence at the Europe-Africa Summit because of Mugabe.

They are far more concerned about their countries than rescuing
Zimbabwe because its loss has been their gain. If they were behind Mugabe
they would have joined him against Bush. They didn't.


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If they did it to a man of God. . .

Zim Standard

  sundayopinion by Bill Saidi

MY heart was in my mouth as I watched the TV footage. There I was,
laughing like an idiot, hugging and slobbering all over Tafataona Mahoso
like a long-lost kid brother.

What the hell was that garbage spewing out of my foul mouth?

"We shall stand shoulder-to-shoulder against the running dogs of the
imperialists!" I shouted into the camera. "Yes!" said Mahoso, his voice
strangely strident for a man normally soft-spoken. "We shall send them
running back to their paymasters in London and Washington, their tails
between their legs! Pamberi!"

The next footage was more damning. There I was, interviewing Joseph
Chinotimba on TV, or pretending to be interviewing him . . . He kept egging
me on: "Tell them, comrade, tell them what we shall do them when . . ."

I was flabbergasted to hear myself say into the microphone: "We shall
defeat them on the beaches, on the seas, in the air . . ." Would the ghost
of Winston Churchill ever forgive me for this abomination?

In horror, I shut my eyes as the footage seemed to screech to its
apocalyptic, cataclysmic denouement. There I was on the steps of Shake Shake
building, draped in a Zanu PF flag, shaking my right fist into the air.

"I shall fight for Zanu PF tooth and nail, until everyone of the
sellouts is dead and buried!"

I discovered I had been toppled from the bed by a force of
unimaginable ferocity. There I was, on the floor, screaming my head off,
sweating and gasping for breath. The terror had coursed through my every
vein, so that I was one solid block of fright.

For a while, it was difficult for me to believe that I had indeed been
dreaming, or blundering through one of the worst nightmares of my adult
life. It had all been so real.

I staggered to my feet, groggy from the terror still ringing loud in
my ears, making my heart go thump-thump with the beat of someone fresh from
an encounter with a ferocious chidhoma.

But I had to confirm certain facts for myself. I took a chair and a
torch and searched every nook and cranny of the roof of every room,
including the kitchen. I was particularly thorough with the lavatory. Their
hidden camera could catch me in a very embarrassing position here, what the
papers love to call inflagrante delicto.

I searched for the hidden cameras under every bed.

Then I sat on the bed, exhausted, wondering if there was any way I
could guarantee that they couldn't do a "Ncube" on me.

What happened to the archbishop is evidence enough that this is a game
of high stakes - with no quarter given, none asked for. This is a
winner-take-all game, as Abba sang a long time ago.

All over the world, in politics, in war, in love, in business, sport,
religion, in any field you care to imagine, there comes a time when the
contest assumes a life-and-death element. Kill or be killed.

I don't mean that literally, although Humankind has been known to duel
with evil to the death, if they felt life would lose meaning if they gave
in.

But back on terra firma, life must go on, without gargoyles, wraiths
or headless chickens quoting Shakespeare or Sigmund Freud.

It must go on with the fallible, amoral, morally decrepit politicians,
some pathological liars, or incurable romantics or latent despots, others
libidinous adulterers.

What can the few good men and women in the midst of this decay hope to
achieve, to salvage, to restore to sanity?

At the end of it all is the individual and his God, or not. Voting in
the election in 2008 may be crucial, but even before then, people must
re-evaluate their own piece of Zimbabwe, what it means to them.

After my piece on either hanging on or seeking greener pastures
elsewhere, I can safely say most people see no hope at all. For the moment,
Zanu PF, Robert Mugabe or whoever is running this sinking ship - as Levy
Mwanawasa of Zambia once called it, before lightning hit him - is doing a
lousy job.

Most people prefer not to be around when The Big Bang occurs.

Someone wrote: "I envy you, old man, for your thick rock solid
optimism. But I think your two friends are right. Next year Mugabe will win
all the numbers - just think what will happen to the economy! Gushungo has
broken many lives but does he care? As for his colleagues - Dongo was
right - all are worse than his wives

I am about to leave my beloved country, mudhara - convinced beyond
doubt that nothing will be better. My worst fear - will this not lead to the
Somalia scenario ?"

I fear that too.

saidib@standard.co.zw


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The final moments and death of Lookout Masuku

Zim Standard

  sundayview by Judith Todd

I went back to Lookout at about 5.30PM. He was shaking with fever and
hardly able to speak. Jeremy had told Lookout that I knew the position.
Lookout said to me that people had not properly informed him. He was not
afraid of death, but he needed to be able to plan. He wanted to be the one
to tell his wife, but Jeremy had said Gift might need a friend present. I
volunteered.

While I was with Lookout, both Gift and Cephas Msipa telephoned and he
motioned to me to take both calls. It was very, very difficult for him to
communicate with me through the violent shaking and, as I left, he started
vomiting.

It had already been arranged that Gift would come from Bulawayo on
Thursday 27 March. She stayed with me, and I took her to see Lookout that
night, knowing full well what Lookout was going to tell her. While we were
with him, there were interruptions all the time by friends and nurses, and
Lookout said to me over their heads as it were, that the time wasn't
opportune. I'm sure that by then Gift had a strong suspicion of what she was
to be told.

After the friends had gone, Lookout asked me, in front of Gift, to
take her to meet David, the specialist, and that the doctor would tell her
everything. It was not necessary for him to be present. To be absolutely
sure of what he wanted, I had to do the astoundingly presumptuous thing of
asking Gift if I could have a couple of minutes alone with her husband. She
left without demur, and I asked Lookout if he really, clearly meant that
Gift must be told that he was dying, and he said yes.

When we got home, with Gift's agreement, I rang David Katzenstein in
accordance with Lookout's wishes. He came round immediately with Dr Noel
Galen. Noel and his wife Doris were my saviours, comforters and friends.
Gift was sitting by the fire. I introduced her to both men, and then Noel
and I left Gift and David by the fire and went to my study. Eventually Gift
came out onto the stoep with David and, with the utmost composure, thanked
him and Noel for their time, and they left. We went silently back to the
fire. Eventually she sobbed once and heart-wrenchingly and fled from the
fire to bed.

The next day Gift cooked lunch for Lookout and took it to him, then
had to return to the children in Bulawayo. She came back on Monday 31 March
to spend the last few days with her husband.

My father came to Harare at about the same time and managed to see
Lookout, who said to me, "I feel very proud."

On Wednesday 2 April, a nursing sister put a chair for me beside his
bed and twice tried to shake him "awake". "Mr Masuku. There is someone to
see you." He tried very hard and rolled his eyes open, but they couldn't
focus. I sat beside him for some time. He was shivering in his sleep. By
that afternoon he was conscious but swinging here and away in his mind. I
held his hand for a long time, trying to interpret what he wanted. He had
said: "Please try and pull me back." He held my hand firmly, but in case he
didn't really want to hold it, I gently detached it and just left it lying
next to him. He groped for it, and held it again. Someone else came in and I
left. Gift was now with him every possible minute.

I remembered my old friend and former Zapu representative overseas,
Eshmael Mlambo, telling me that when I had rung him in a Geneva hospital to
say hello, never guessing how ill he was, "the sound of your voice pulled me
back from very far away". Both men used the word "pull". So dying can't just
be like going to sleep.

That afternoon, Lookout said, as if he had just arrived at this
conclusion, "I think they knew".

"Knew what, Lookout?"

"They released me because they knew I was dying."

On Friday 4 April there was the third meeting on Zanu - Zapu unity,
and Dr Nkomo, Vote Moyo and others were in Harare. One of the last things
Lookout passionately wanted was a piece of watermelon. He asked both me and
Jeremy to find him some. There were no watermelons in Harare. My father had
been to see him the previous afternoon. He rang me about 5PM in the office
and said Lookout was asking for me and he had said I would be there by six.
Nkomo was there and Vote Moyo and a whole crowd of people.

As I had got the impression that Lookout had said he couldn't hang on
until six, I raced to the hospital. Dr Nkomo stopped me outside the
building. He said he wasn't sure my father had understood what Lookout had
been trying to say, but he, Nkomo, thought that Lookout was trying to say
that I was bringing him some watermelon and that he couldn't wait for it
until six. Nkomo said I had to find some.

I went up to ward C8. Vote Moyo was outside the door, and I explained
that there wasn't any watermelon in Harare. Gift saw me and I motioned her
out, without Lookout seeing me. I explained that there were no watermelons;
they were out of season. She asked what could be done. I said I'd keep on
looking, and sped off to the Holiday Inn and other places. Nothing! I went
back to Parirenyatwa Hospital and explained the situation to Lookout, but
said that Nkomo, who had gone by now, had told me there was watermelon in
Bulawayo and so we would try to get some from there, as well as continuing
to try in Harare.

Gift came out of the ward with me. The nurses let us use their phone,
and Gift rang Colonel Tshinga Dube. He told us that at that very moment a
driver with his car was scouring Harare for watermelon and he expected the
car back at any minute. Gift asked me to ring Zodwa Dabengwa in Bulawayo
when I got home. I also rang Dr Nkomo and asked him to please find someone
in Bulawayo who had a piece of watermelon and have it flown up the next
morning. Over the next twelve or so hours I was constantly in touch with
Nkomo, now in Bulawayo, about watermelon, hoping that CIO didn't think the
word watermelon was a code for something intended to blow up the country.

I learned later that Colonel Dube had walked into Lookout's room at
about seven or eight on Thursday night with a piece of watermelon and that
Lookout's whole face lit up. Dube had gone to Meikles Hotel, quietly
motioned a waiter outside, given him Z$50 and said he would be waiting in
the lounge until the waiter found a piece of watermelon. Whew!

Zodwa Dabengwa also found a piece of watermelon in Bulawayo, and I
collected it from the airport on Friday morning. It looked beautiful. I told
Lookout it was from Zodwa, and he managed to say, "Zodwa".

On Friday afternoon, Gift told me that somehow Lookout was different.
When I went in to say goodbye, he was wearing an oxygen mask. He motioned
for my hand. I took his hand, the left one that had been partially shot away
in Zambia, and he held it tightly and looked at me very steadily above the
mask. Then his eyes started closing. But he still held my hand tightly until
I gently took it away. As I was leaving, he opened his eyes and looked at me
once more.

Lookout's father managed to come to Harare from rural Matabeleland and
reached him not long before his death. Lookout wasn't able to speak, but
with an apparently enormous effort he regained consciousness and his father
was able to see his son gazing at him. He died at 2PM on Saturday 5 April.
The state of Zimbabwe would not give him a hero's farewell, but Bulawayo was
already preparing.

  Excerpt from Judith Todd's latest book, Through the Darkness; A Life
in Zimbabwe, available from www.zebrapress.co.za.


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The Zimbabwean crisis: opportunities for reform

Zim Standard

  ALTHOUGH the Zimbabwean
crisis has preoccupied the attention of opposition parties, civil society
activists, global policymakers and researchers, particularly since 2000 when
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF government embarked on controversial land
seizures, there has been between little and no focus on viable solutions to
end the crisis beyond condemning and demonizing Mugabe and his misrule.

While the Zimbabwean crisis is now widening and deepening in every
respect, the continued focus on the description of the crisis at the expense
of finding and mapping out solutions to that crisis is now generating
widespread fatigue, cynicism and even resignation among Zimbabweans and some
concerned sections of the international community. It now appears that the
more the Zimbabwean crisis worsens the more Mugabe and his Zanu PF
government become entrenched in power.

I believe the time has come for those concerned about the
deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe to take a leaf from the Chinese language
which depicts the word crisis with two characters: one denoting danger and
the other representing opportunity.

Much as the situation in Zimbabwe is replete with dangers arising from
the political and economic meltdown in that country, the very same meltdown
is creating opportunities for change. Sadly, while the dangers have become
common cause, the opportunities have remained unexamined.

Against this background, and in the interest of shifting the focus of
our debate and policy action on Zimbabwe away from crisis-description to
crisis-resolution, I propose to share with you what I believe are four
opportunities that need our collective attention in the hope that we can
zero in on one or all of them to facilitate the much needed positive change
in Zimbabwe.

Let us take a closer look at each of these opportunities.

The First Opportunity

It is common cause that since the beginning of the year, President
Mugabe has made it clear that he wants to seek re-election after his current
presidential term expires in March 2008 when he would be 84 years old.
Indeed, he has thus far been mobilizing various Zanu PF affiliated groups,
especially among the ranks of the youth, women and liberation war veterans,
to endorse and support his controversial candidacy.

But how is Mugabe's determination to seek re-election an opportunity
for change? It seems to me that Mugabe's determination to seek re-election
is also a ploy by him to find what his supporters have defined as a
"dignified exit"-a short hand for an exit that would guarantee Mugabe
immunity after his departure. An election could end up as a disaster for him
should he be humiliated at the polls and be left without immunity
thereafter.

So far, those opposed to Mugabe have responded by merely condemning
Mugabe as being power hungry and wanting to cling onto power in order to
remain in office for life. While Mugabe's determination to remain in office
for life, and the brutality associated with that determination, is indeed a
central part of the Zimbabwean crisis, it is not enough to merely make this
observation without also critically examining the reasons behind his
determination.

After 27 years of misrule, 10 of which were under the extended
Rhodesian state of emergency that institutionalized brutality and
unaccountability in Zimbabwe's governance between 1980 and 1990, Mugabe has
accumulated too many human rights skeletons in his political cupboard,
particularly but not only those skeletons arising from four tragedies that
have stood out over the years including:

The Gukurahundi atrocities between 1981 and 1987 during which more
than 20 000 people were massacred while many more were tortured and others
lost their sources of livelihood.

n The torture, murder and forcible removal of former white commercial
farmers and their farm workers between 2000 and 2005.

n The consequences of Operation Murambatsvina (or so-called Operation
Restore Order) in 2005 when some 18% of the population was displaced as a
result of the destruction of its homes and sources of livelihood.

The torture, murder and disappearance of opposition and civic society
activists during presidential and parliamentary campaigns at the hands of
state and ruling party agents since 1985.

There is no doubt that these Zimbabwean tragedies, among others, have
left Mugabe vulnerable and liable to prosecution on allegations of crimes
against humanity. As such, it should be obvious that a driving force behind
Mugabe's determination to cling onto power and remain in office for life is
his fear of losing immunity of and from the office. His fear has been made
even more real by the experiences of former Liberian President Charles
Taylor, former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba facing various
prosecutions related to alleged abuses when they were in office.

In my view, without condoning his abuses at all which will have to be
addressed in the fullness of time through a two or three steps transitional
process, I believe that Mugabe's immunity fears provide us an opportunity to
structure and facilitate his exit in a creative way that would minimize if
not eliminate resistance from him and his staunch supporters in the security
forces.

One possibility in this regard, which I see as an immense opportunity
for reform, would be to persuade Mugabe to drop his reelection bid and to
accept a constitutional amendment, possibly as part of the 18th
constitutional amendment bill now before Parliament, abolishing the
executive presidency in favour of a titular presidency with an executive
Prime Minister.

In this arrangement, Mugabe would become a non executive president
elected by Parliament for a five year term from 2008 when his current term
expires to 2013. Effectively, this would address Mugabe's immunity concerns
without debating it-something which Mugabe does not want to entertain-while
also allowing a meaningful transitional process to begin in Zimbabwe.

The same Parliament would elect a consensus Prime Minister to lead a
consensus government of all national talents from 2008 to 2010 when a
general election would be due following the expiry of the tenure of the
current Parliament. The two year period before the general election would
thus be the transitional period for implementing the much needed far
reaching political, constitutional and economic reforms that would renew and
regenerate Zimbabwe while bringing it back into the community of nations.

THE SECOND OPPORTUNITY

If for whatever reasons the first opportunity does not materialize, I
see a second opportunity coming in three months at the Zanu PF special
congress in December.

The second opportunity would be a variation of the first. After facing
sustained opposition from the ruling party faction led by Retired Major
General Solomon Mujuru, Mugabe has over the last few months been renewing
his relationship with his former minister for national security, and now
minister of rural housing and social amenities, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who
leads a competing faction.

Although he was humiliated and sidelined ahead of the Zanu PF last
congress in 2004 after losing the party's vice presidency to Joice
Mujuru-wife to Solomon Mujuru-Mnangagwa has been slowly recovering and
reemerging as a power base again this time by lending his faction's support
to Mugabe's reelection bid.

On his part, Mugabe has been encouraging Mnangagwa by once again
making indications that he is his chosen successor. An obvious reason for
this is the presumption that, because he was security minister during the
Gukurahundi massacres, Mnangagwa has common prosecution fears over
allegations of crimes against humanity and would thus protect Mugabe as a
matter of self interest.

The growing talk within the Mnangagwa camp, and also from intelligence
sources in Zimbabwe, is that Mugabe has called for a special congress of his
party in December, which was not due until 2009, in order to publicly use it
to anoint Mnangagwa as his successor.

What remains unclear is whether Mugabe would allow Mnangagwa to
takeover the party leadership in December and move on to be the Zanu PF
presidential candidate should elections be held in 2008 or whether Mugabe
would still insist on running for reelection with a promise that Mnangagwa
would takeover a year or two after the 2008 elections should Mugabe win.
However, what is clear is that Mnangagwa's camp prefers the latter not least
because it does not trust Mugabe would give up power after the elections
should he win.

The fact that the Mnangagwa camp does not trust Mugabe, who
unceremoniously ditched it in 2004 in favour of Joice Mujuru, means that
Mugabe will go to the special congress in December without assured political
support.

This creates an opportunity for change through a "soft surprise" at
the special congress as happened in December 2006 when delegates
"surprisingly" rejected Mugabe's bid to postpone presidential elections to
2010 in the hope of remaining in office as executive president until then
elected by Parliament without facing the electorate.

What this means is that at the December special congress, Mugabe will
be manifestly opposed by the Mujuru faction and latently opposed by the
Mnangagwa faction. Such a political climate could pave way for a dark horse
to emerge as a compromise candidate. It is hard to say who that candidate
could be at the moment although Simba Makoni's name keeps coming up.
Alternatively, the same political scenario engendered by manifest opposition
to Mugabe from the Mujuru camp and latent opposition from the Mnangagwa
faction could cause Mugabe to accept the first opportunity described above.

But the possibility of a "soft surprise" development at the special
Zanu PF congress in December would obviously need to be socially-engineered
taking advantage of clear and present political dynamics on the ground ahead
of the congress. My view is that progressive forces in and outside Zimbabwe
could play a pivotal role to encourage if not to engineer that development
by working with strategic Zanu PF elements. That would be far better than
simply mourning about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe and denouncing
Mugabe for wanting to remain in office for life.

THE THIRD OPPORTUNITY

In addition to an opportunity of the possibility of a "soft surprise"
at the special Zanu PF congress in December, that could see the emergence of
a compromise candidate to replace Mugabe, there is also a third opportunity
that would be in the form of a "hard surprise" through a palace coup led by
the Mujuru camp.

In recent months, the Mujuru camp has been making it clear to anyone
who cares to listen that they want Mugabe out. Early this year when the Zanu
PF central committee was reported to have endorsed Mugabe's reelection bid,
the Mujuru camp started openly calling for a special congress at the end of
the year to settle the leadership question in the ruling party.

The fact that Mugabe has now called for that special congress can
indeed be seen as a victory for the Mujuru camp because it has all along
since March this year badly needed the special congress. Already, the Mujuru
camp is very busy on the ground organizing the ten Zanu PF provinces and
asking them to identify individuals they think could be presidential
candidates to replace Mugabe. This is being done openly.

It seems that the plan is to use the special congress in December to
achieve two objectives:

First to. challenge and even humiliate Mugabe by making it clear that
he is not the sole Zanu PF presidential candidate as several provinces would
come up with competing names.

Second to. force a nomination election by secret even open ballot
which the Mujuru camp believes would be won by either Joice Mujuru or Simba
Makoni.

Strategists in Mujuru's camp believe that, should it become clear that
such a nomination election is imminent, Mugabe would not want to be part of
it as the writing would then be on the wall about his assured defeat.

THE FOURTH OPPORTUNITY

The above three opportunities are all available to the ruling party
and thus dependent on what happens within it. Yet the Zimbabwean crisis is
national in scope and options to its resolution are not limited to
developments within the ruling part.

It should stand to reason that Zanu PF's continued failure thus far to
resolve the crisis creates an opportunity for the opposition. Unfortunately,
the Zimbabwean opposition has not been able to exploit that opportunity due
a range of structural and leadership weaknesses that are now well known and
do not need to be repeated save to point out that as currently constituted
the opposition does not have a chance in heaven to move Zimbabwe forward.

What is notable is that the three opportunities that are available
within Zanu PF are potent material for a new progressive opposition with
nationalist and democratic roots.

Rather than standing by and watching events unfold in Zanu PF, I
believe progressive forces in Zimbabwe have an historic opportunity to forge
a Third Way that would bring together elements from the ruling party, the
two formations of the MDC, other opposition groups, civic society
organizations, churches, labour unions, student movements and the business
community to form Everyone's party to dislodge Zanu PF.

Mugabe, and indeed Zanu PF, continues to define the opposition as the
MDC. A major if not only reason why Mugabe continues to be determined to
stand for reelection against all odds is that he believes he cannot lose to
the MDC. He has not factored the possibility of facing a united front of
progressive forces against which he and Zanu PF cannot win. (to be
continued).


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Zim Standard Letters

Determining who would be president: the pros and cons

I refer to recent comments made by Professor Arthur Mutambara on who
should be fit to be Zimbabwe's president.

Ibbo Mandaza in the Zimbabwe Mirror volume 1 of 29 of 19 - 25 June
1998 asked the late Dr Eddison Zvobgo, the following question:

"As a national leader, you are one of the great minds this country
ever produced, who do you think are the other contenders? We cannot put it
off anymore; presidential elections are four years away."

Zvobgo replied and I quote: "I do not know whether I am qualified to
comment on that one. You see, we are all senior (members of the party and
government), we have worked together for a very long time, we have strengths
and weaknesses.

"To be a successful president, a combination of qualities is required.
It is not enough that you are brilliant and nor is it enough that you are
eloquent although both help. There are other intangible factors like public
perceptions of how you hold yourself. Public perceptions, whether you can be
trusted, as to whether you are honest. Again, it boils down to whether a
person can look at you and say: 'I can trust him, I have faith in him.'

"Those qualities are difficult to disentangle and to say who has them
and who hasn't got them, I shall not pretend and say I wanted to judge
others because the views of my colleague or colleagues are my views. It is
irrelevant in politics. Even if I think that a particular politician is
undeserving of becoming a politician, but if the people of Zimbabwe think he
does, he becomes president. That is the end of the matter. My view will be
expressed in the ballot box.

"I cannot go along and say, so and so is less qualified, and so and so
is less qualified. That is not the role of an individual person,
particularly if that person prizes the contributions that other people have
made."

Zvobgo's view is brought out by the fact that in America John Kerry
and the Democrats won all national debates but because he was not perceived
as a leader, he lost the presidential election in 2004.

Mutambara is on record as saying that Morgan Tsvangirai is a hero.
Surely he prizes his contribution and he should let the people of Zimbabwe
decide on how they perceive Tsvangirai.

Mutambara's comments also remind me of similar comments made by Bishop
Abel Muzorewa on the late Dr Joshua Nkomo in response to the late Willie
Musarurwa. He had this to say: "Dr Joshua Nkomo is a political giant,
political dwarfs shudder at his height."

If we are to measure Tsvangirai's performance against Robert Mugabe
during the 2002 Presidential election, he performed much better than Nkomo
and Edgar Tekere. This shows that Tsvangirai is a political giant.

John Katuli

Zvimba North

---------
 Harare wants results from new chairperson

THE new chairperson of the commission running Harare, we were
informed, is a planner/ architect. We are all waiting to see what planning
he is going to bring to the crisis he inherited from his predecessor.

The rains have already started falling and I was saddened to see that
several commuter bus pick-up and drop off points along Harare Street (near
Doves), Mbuya Nehanda (around Denenga) and Jason Moyo (near Cimas) have no
shelters to protect commuters from the rains. Worse still there are no
toilet facilities anywhere near these sites, I am not sure what kind of
planning and foresight went into the identification of these places, but it
would be helpful if something is done right away. The sight of a woman
huddling with her children in the rain because someone forgot to provide
shelter is distressing.

This is an opportunity for the new chairperson of the commission to
show us he is a cut above his predecessors, just as he should in other areas
of service delivery such as refuse collection and road maintenance ahead of
the rainy season, notorious for producing potholes.

Advertising companies could be encouraged to put up billboards that
act as shelter - there is a captive market, waiting to board buses to their
various destinations around the capital.

We live in hope

Emerald Hill

Harare

---------
 What makes a national hero?

IF the late Simon Kanhema did what the glowing tributes to him by the
likes of Governor Nelson Samkange for Mashonaland West and Webster Shamu,
the MP for Chegutu, suggest what he did during the struggle for independence
but could only lead to him being considered a provincial hero, then I would
like to know what one needs to accomplish in order for her/him to be
accorded national hero status.

In my view, this injustice to his memory and his family only fuels the
debate about the need to establish an independent authority that can
objectively outline the contribution/achievement one has made to the
independence and well being of this nation for one to be a national hero.

It's time we put an end to this lottery by people who themselves never
suffered so much for the liberation of this country. My sympathies are with
the Kanhema family.

Dumisani Mpofu

Waverley

Kadoma.

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