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White farmer murdered

Zim Online

Wed 5 April 2006

      MASVINGO - A white commercial farmer in Zimbabwe's southern Chiredzi
district was brutally murdered on Sunday night by unknown assailants amid
reports that newly resettled black farmers were not happy with his continued
stay on his property.

      The farmer, Joseph Fredrick of Hippo Valley Estates, was one of the
lucky few white farmers to retain his farm under President Robert Mugabe's
chaotic and often violent land acquisition programme which began in 2000.

      But on Saturday night, unknown assailants pounced killing the white
farmer before escaping with Z$45 million in cash and some household
property. No arrests have been made so far.

      Police in Masvingo town said yesterday Fredrick's body was discovered
on Sunday morning with stab wounds all over. His gardener is also said to
have disappeared from the scene after the incident.

      "Police discovered his body on Sunday. The body had stab wounds
particularly around the neck.

      "We suspect that his gardener might be involved since he disappeared
from the scene soon after the incident," Masvingo police spokesman Inspector
Charles Munhungeyi told ZimOnline.

      However, according to a neighbour to the late farmer who refused to be
named for fear of victimization, relations between Fredrick and the new
black farmers resettled on farms by Mugabe since 2000 were strained after
the new farmers demanded to take over his property.

      "Some new black farmers had clashed with him (Fredricks) as they
wanted to take over his property. It will be in the interest of justice if
some new farmers are taken in for questioning," said the neighbour.

      Several white farmers including their black farm workers were brutally
murdered during Mugabe's violent farm seizure programme. Relations between
the few remaining white commercial farmers and newly resettled black farmers
have been strained over the years with the government accusing white farmers
of seeking to sabotage the government's land reform programme. - ZimOnline

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Harare rejects calls to extradite Mengistu

Zim Online

Wed 5 April 2006

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe government on Tuesday said it would discuss the
case of former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam with Addis Abba
only, rejecting calls by the opposition and civic groups to hand him back to
his country for trial.

      Mengistu, who has lived in exile in Zimbabwe since fleeing an armed
rebellion that ended his rule in 1991, is wanted in Ethiopia to face trial
for his infamous "Red Terror" campaign in which tens of thousands of
opponents of his "Dergue" regime were slaughtered in the 1970s and 80s.

      Zimbabwe has refused past requests by the Ethiopian government to hand
over Mengistu for trial.

      Information Minister and government spokesman Tichaona Jokonya told
ZimOnline: "We have an embassy of Ethiopia here .. we will respond when the
embassy raises it (Mengistu's extradition)."

      MENGISTU Haile Mariam . . . Harare refusing to hand him over to
Ethiopia to face justice

      Jokonya spoke after the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party and the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) civic alliance on
Tuesday urged President Robert Mugabe to follow the example of Nigerian
leader Olusegun Obasanjo - who handed over former Liberian dictator Charles
Taylor for trial - by extraditing Mengistu to Ethiopia.

      Obasanjo had resisted calls to surrender Taylor but had said he would
give up the dictator and warmonger if an elected Liberian government
requested him to do so.

      The Nigerian leader kept his word when Liberian President Ellen
Johnson Sirleaf asked for Taylor, even though Taylor was able to briefly
escape from his Nigerian guards before being recaptured.

      But Jokonya notably did not say whether Harare would react any
differently were Addis Abba to a make fresh request for Mengistu. The
Information Minister however appeared to unwittingly suggest increasing
exasperation in government circles at opposition and civic leaders who never
miss an opportunity to call for Mengistu's extradition.

      Jokonya said: "We are disturbed by a group of individuals calling
themselves democrats trying to usurp the mandates of foreign governments."

      ZimOnline was unable to immediately get comment on the matter from the
Ethiopian embassy in Harare.

      In a statement the NCA, a coalition of pro-democracy civic
organisations in Zimbabwe, said it was unacceptable for the government to
use taxpayers' money to host Mengistu, adding that after the example set by
Nigeria the only honourable option left for Harare was to hand over the
former Ethiopian ruler.

      The civic alliance said: "We believe the only honourable thing to do
is to send Mengistu back home ..we cannot have (the reputation of) the whole
nation tarnished by continuing to keep him here.

      "NCA does not mean to say he is guilty or not, but whatever the case
is, Ethiopia is the place where Mengistu belongs and he has to first answer
the charges which are being levelled against him."

      Speaking separately, the spokesman of the main faction of the MDC,
Nelson Chamisa, said Mengistu should be taken back to Ethiopia not only so
he could face trial for human rights abuses there but also to stop him from
imparting some of his crude methods to Mugabe and his government.

      "What Nigeria did to Taylor is what Zimbabwe should do to Mengistu,"
said Chamisa.

      He added: "What is even disturbing (in Zimbabwe's case) is the fact
that he (Mengistu) is the mastermind of Operation Murambatsvina which
displaced millions of Zimbabweans."

      Chamisa was referring to information unearthed by ZimOnline last
February that the former exiled Ethiopian dictator was the brains behind the
brutal urban clean-up campaign last year that left close to a million people
homeless after the government demolished shantytown homes and informal
business kiosks.

      Mengistu, who is said to work as a security consultant to Mugabe,
advised the President to pre-empt a possible mass revolt by depopulating
opposition-supporting urban areas through the controversial slum-clearing
exercise. - ZimOnline.

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Zimbabwe labour union fears foreign delegates could be barred from congress

Zim Online

Wed 5 April 2006

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) yesterday
expressed fears that the government could bar South African and other
international union leaders from its congress scheduled for May.

      Harare has in the past deported Congress of South African Trade Unions
(COSATU) officials and two Dutch and Finn trade leaders from Zimbabwe whom
it declared prohibited immigrants.

      ZCTU spokesman Mlamuleli Sibanda said the union wrote to Labour
Minister Nicholas Goche about two weeks ago requesting a meeting with him to
clarify whether the government will allow international trade union leaders
to visit the country.

      Goche has not bothered to respond or even acknowledge the letter
raising fears the government - which accuses the ZCTU of working with its
Western enemies to topple it - might once again prohibit foreign labour
union leaders from the country.

      "We did not get a response but we will keep trying because we want the
issue sorted out as we expect several foreign delegates including from
COSATU and other international trade unions and foreign partners for the
congress on May 18 and 19," said Sibanda.

      Among foreign and international labour organisations expected to
attend the ZCTU congress are COSATU, the African Free Trade Unions and the
Brussels-based International Federation for Trade Unions.

      Relations between the ZCTU and President Robert Mugabe's government
have remained strained since the union gave birth to the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party six years ago.

      The MDC, founded by then ZCTU secretary general Morgan Tsvangirai, has
posed the greatest threat to Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party's hold on
power although the opposition party appears less potent now following a
split among its top leaders. - ZimOnline

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Algeria donates 2 000 metric tonnes of rice to Zimbabwe

Zim Online

Wed 5 April 2006

      HARARE - The Algerian government has donated 2 000 metric tonnes of
rice to Zimbabwe to feed thousands of starving school children in rural

      The food will be distributed under the direction of the World Food
Programme (WFP) school feeding project which was launched last year to
alleviate starvation at rural schools.

      Zimbabwe is in the grip of severe food shortages which had seen most
school children skip classes because of hunger.

      In a statement to the Press on Tuesday, Jeff Ladenson, the WFP
programme officer in Harare, confirmed the donation by the Algerians and
said the rice will be handed over to Labour and Social Welfare Minister
Nicholas Goche on Thursday.

      "The hand over of 2 000 metric tonnes by the Algerian government to
the Zimbabwean government was initially set for Wednesday but has now been
rescheduled for Thursday afternoon," he said.

      The WFP launched the school feeding programme in 2005 in a bid to
"support school attendance and enrolment" resulting in more than half a
million children who were not getting enough to eat at home receiving a
nutritious meal at school each day.

      The donation of the rice comes amid reports that some school children
are skipping classes while others are fainting in class because of hunger in
rural schools in Zimbabwe.

      Zimbabwe has grappled severe food shortages over the past few years
after President Robert Mugabe seized large commercial farmland from whites
for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

      The farm seizures slashed food production by at least 60 percent
leaving once-food sufficient Zimbabwe depending on food hand-outs from
international donors.

      But Mugabe denies his land reforms are to blame for the food shortages
insisting the crisis is because of sabotage by Britain and her Western
allies whom he says were unhappy over his land reforms.

      Earlier this year, the United States-based Famine Early Warning System
(Fewsnet) said Zimbabwe's food security situation would deteriorate further
this year because of a severe shortage of fuel and inputs in the country. -

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Zimbabwe Cricket official faces arrest for flouting exchange regulations

Zim Online

Wed 5 April 2006

      HARARE - Macsood Ebrahim, a central figure in the crisis that has
rocked Zimbabwe cricket, faces possible arrest on allegations that he
allegedly externalised millions in foreign currency.

      Ebrahim is the the former convener of the national team selection
panel as well as a director on the Zimbabwe Cricket board.

      Sources yesterday said police were keen to investigate Ebrahim after
Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka last week claimed that Ebrahim had
allegedly acquired foreign currency "to the sum of US$700 000, which was
externalised to various destinations".

      Chingoka claims to have in his possession accounting documents of the
transactions. Although Ebrahim has said the allegations are untrue, the
sources said the police were interested in probing whether or not he had
breached Zimbabwe's tough foreign exchange regulations.

      "Just like the police have dealt with other forex issues involving
Zimbabwe Cricket officials and players, Ebrahim will certainly be arrested
if the claims made by Chingoka are found to hold water," a source within the
police said.

      The allegations might also rope in Ebrahim's father, Justice Ahmed
Ebrahim, who was vice-chairman on the Zimbabwe Cricket board before it was
disbanded in January by the Sports and Recreation Commission as the bid to
unseat Chingoka intensified.

      Chingoka and Zimbabwe Cricket managing director Ozias Bvute spent two
nights in remand prison for allegedly contravening the Exchange Control Act
after the central bank had swooped on the union.

      Chingoka is also facing another charge of paying a Pakistani
sportswear firm in foreign currency without getting clearance from the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

      Two Zimbabwe cricketers as well as national team manager Mohamed Meman
were also arrested and fined in December over foreign currency transactions.

      Chingoka believes Ebrahim has been behind efforts to throw him out of
office, although the two were close allies when 15 white players revolted
against Zimbabwe Cricket over racism and selection policy in 2004.

      Ebrahim has meanwhile promptly responded by taking legal action
against Chingoka for making the allegations, saying the Zimbabwe Cricket
boss was desperate to deflect attention from the long-running cricket

      "My lawyers are now looking into the issue," Ebrahim said. "What I can
say is the allegations are false and untrue. This is the work of a man who
is desperate and under intense pressure.

      "I am very comfortable. I have done nothing wrong. If he has evidence,
please let's see it. I'm not guilty of anything." -  ZimOnline

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Shocking revelations as slaughter of endangered species continues

      By Violet Gonda

      4 April 2006

      A foreign journalist has made shocking revelations showing that
slaughter of endangered species is continuing in Zimbabwe. Caroline Graham
from the UK Mail on Sunday, who went as an undercover investigator to a
safari firm owned by business tycoon Charles Davy, has revealed how lots of
money was made through the cruel and barbaric treatment of endangered
species. She saw first hand animals shot with bows and arrows - a cruel
hunting form that has been discarded by many countries.

      The journalist said she was also shocked at the brutal treatment of
desperate black workers. Davy, who is tightly connected to members of the
Mugabe regime, is father of Chelsy, girlfriend of Britain's Prince Harry.

      The journalist observed that the local population is in dire straits
and people are literally starving. She said a lot of black Zimbabweans are
working as trackers for the safari operators to feed their families. She
added; "They call the locals African short hair pointers and other phrases
too offensive to even recount to you."

      The undercover reporter was assigned to a professional hunter when she
arrived at HHK Safari, the firm owned by Charles Davy near Hwange National
Park. It's reported that black workers were referred to as "k****rs",
"disgusting" and "HIV positive", and were forced to drink dirty river water.
The hunter assigned to her allegedly said; "We lose trackers to AIDS but it
doesn't matter there is always another one to take their place."

      Graham described at length how workers are treated appallingly. "We
were in a Toyota land cruiser in blazing sunshine. It was 90º. We were in an
air conditioned cabin of the land cruiser and three trackers were on the
back. And we were given iced water and refreshments and sandwiches. They
were drinking river water."

      The actual hunting itself is reported to be pretty barbaric. Graham
said the most distressing thing for her was that in her group one of the
hunters wanted to shoot a Zebra with a bow and arrow. This is a system that
many countries do not allow anymore.

      She said; "And so of course he shot this poor Zebra on an airfield
while it was grazing in a herd. And this animal was wounded and he ran away.
We never found the animal. And that night the hunter said I really wanted to
mount a zebra on my wall. And the guy that runs the camp said if you pay
another US$600 you can come back and shot another one. Which he did!"

      Charles Davy is said to have made his money by controlling the hunting
concessions - the big money earner. It's reported that rich Americans will
pay between US$15 to US$20 000 to go to Zimbabwe to shoot animals they
cannot shoot in their own country.

      When asked if Davy himself was directly involved the journalists said;
"What I was told is that because of the Harry/Chelsea controversy he is now
trying to distance himself from HHK although I was told he is going to be
very much involved with it for the next 3 years."

      Government officials who are supposed to be protecting the quota on
animals are said to be just as bad as the poachers and have little regard of
the rules. Someone like Charles Davy is also able to avoid hunting
restrictions because of his tight links with senior government officials
like minister Webster Shamu.

      She also said although some of the white commercial farmers have been
victims of Mugabe's vicious farm invasions a lot of the honourable white
farmers have left.

      Graham said corruption goes so high up to Mugabe's government and the
international community will have to bring down stricter regulations. She
added: "What I saw with my own eyes down there was absolutely barbaric and
very sad for the long term future of Zimbabwe."

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Mugabe government buys junkets for Chinese journalists

International Journalists Network


In a bid to get positive publicity and attract tourists, the Zimbabwean
government is paying Chinese and other foreign journalists to visit the
country's major attractions and resorts.

The government is sponsoring a tour by a delegation of Chinese journalists,
who will visit nature reserves, lakes and major cities, the state-owned
Herald newspaper reported April 4. The delegation includes reporters,
photographers, anchors and news directors from agencies across China. A
group of Malaysian journalists took a similar tour in March, and a visit is
planned in mid-April for a group of French journalists, according to local
news reports.

Tourism officials say the goal is to inform foreign journalists about
resorts and other tourist areas. Zimbabwe's revenue from tourism has dropped
49 percent over the past year, the Herald reported. The government blames
bad publicity in the Western press, but President Robert Mugabe's critics
point to violent land reform, political turmoil and a large-scale crackdown
on press freedom.

Independent journalism is scarce in Zimbabwe. A Committee to Protect
Journalists (CPJ) report in October 2005 found that at least 90 Zimbabwean
journalists live in exile in South Africa, the U.K. and elsewhere. In
January, Mugabe approved a law establishing two-year prison terms for
journalists who practice without a government-issued license.

The Herald:
Zimbabwe Journalists Association:
CPJ on Zimbabwe:

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Disappointment at slow progress - International Press Institute

International Press Institute

      H.E. Denis Sassou-Nguesso
      Chairman of the African Union
      The African Union Commission
      PO Box 3243
      Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
      Fax: + 251 1 517844
      H. E. Kofi Annan
      United Nations
      New York, NY 10017, USA
      Fax: +1-212 963 4879

      Vienna, 4 April 2006

      Your Excellencies,

      The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of
editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 110 countries, is
writing to express its disappointment at the slow progress being made by the
African Union (AU) in criticising Zimbabwe's record on human rights,
particularly freedom of the press.

      Based on IPI's review of the situation, there have been several
attempts by the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) to
encourage the AU to condemn Zimbabwe's abysmal human rights and press
freedom record. To this day, however, these attempts have foundered for
reasons ranging from improbable excuses made by the Zimbabwean government,
to the AU's desire to focus on procedural matters and alleged reporting
irregularities rather than human rights abuses.

      In June 2002, the ACHPR sent a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe. The
delegation was led by the ACHPR's vice-chairperson, Jainaba Johm, and
included the commissioner responsible for Zimbabwe, N. Barney Pityana, and
the commission's legal officer Fiona Adolu.

      After consulting with individuals and groups inside Zimbabwe, the
delegation produced a strongly worded report calling on the Zimbabwean
government to promote a climate conducive to freedom of expression, and
noted the existence of legislation undermining freedom of expression.

      At the AU's third summit in July 2004, there were plans to discuss a
summary of the mission as part of the ACHPR's annual review of Zimbabwe;
however, the decision was later rescinded after the Zimbabwe government
successfully argued that it had not had an opportunity to examine the
report. According to the Zimbabwean government, the report had been sent to
the wrong ministry thus preventing an assessment of its contents.

      Following its 38th session, held in Banjul, The Gambia, the ACHPR
passed a 5 December 2005 resolution on the human rights situation calling on
the "government of Zimbabwe to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms
of expression" and to allow a second fact-finding mission to enter the

      Prior to the AU's sixth summit in Khartoum, Sudan, in January 2006,
the council of ministers once again rejected a report on Zimbabwe by the
ACHPR claiming that it contained "irregularities and procedural flaws."

      According to news reports, one reason for the rejection was that the
report resembled the 2004 report, while another was that the 5 December
resolution on Zimbabwe, which formed part of the overall report, called for
the AU to follow a recommendation of the United Nations. Another perceived
flaw was that the report contained the work of a group of non-governmental
organisations (NGOs).

      It is now nearly four years since the original fact-finding mission
and IPI is concerned that the AU is failing in its duty to uphold human
rights, particularly freedom of the press. While it is entirely proper for
the Zimbabwean government to be allowed time to reflect on any report
containing allegations of human rights violations, it is wholly
inappropriate that the AU should allow transparently obvious delaying
tactics to derail the process of criticising the Zimbabwean government for
these abuses.

      Regarding the other alleged reasons for rejecting the report, IPI is
surprised that the AU does not support a recommendation of the United
Nations. The role of the ACHPR is to report on the measures taken to
implement the African Charter, and towards this end it may cooperate with
other African or international organisations, including the United Nations.

      Moreover, the same is also true concerning the NGOs. The ACHPR has the
right to receive and consider communications from these organisations,
including information on human rights abuses. These organisations have a
wealth of information and experience about the present situation in Zimbabwe
and it should be noted that the ACHPR met with similar organisations when
conducting its fact-finding mission in 2002.

      IPI would also take issue with the notion that information about
abuses may be set aside purely because they stem from the reporting of NGOs.
The only deciding factor for the inclusion of information on human rights
violations should be whether the allegation occurred and whether it is
supported by evidence.

      Furthermore, the AU is well-advanced in the unique process whereby the
political, governance and human rights practices of countries are
voluntarily assessed under the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a vital
part of the important and internationally-acclaimed New Partnership for
Africa's Development (Nepad) initiative.

      IPI believes that in failing to take action on the ACHPR's criticism
of Zimbabwe, the AU may be jeopardising the credibility of this process. The
ACHPR statement on Zimbabwe requires a review by Zimbabwe's peers in the AU
and if that is not forthcoming, the world may be led to believe that the
Nepad APRM lacks substance.

      Bearing the above in mind, IPI calls on the AU to reassess the
Zimbabwean situation and to re-examine the reports of the ACHPR. IPI
believes that Zimbabwe represents an important test for African democratic
institutions and it is essential that the AU places the importance of human
rights and freedom of the press above what appears to be a deep-seated
reluctance to criticise African leaders.

      We thank you for your attention.

      Yours sincerely,

      Johann P. Fritz

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More questions than answers - Sokwanele

Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Sokwanele Report: 4 April 2006

Now that the congresses of the two MDC factions have been held many have been passing judgment regarding which of the two factions now is the real McCoy. For many it is simply a case of numbers and both factions appear to be playing the numbers game. For example, a recent article in the Financial Gazette explored discrepancies in reports on the numbers of supporters attending Mutambara rallies, stating that at one rally, the reports on numbers in attendance ranged from between 800 to 10 000 people (30 March 2006). It is however generally agreed that out of the two political congresses, one congress had 15 000 people and the other had 3000 people.

Some have interpreted those figures to mean that the one faction is 5 times more popular than the other. In fact, Eddie Cross committed himself to this view by stating that the Tsvangirai congress now demonstrates that the Tsvangirai faction enjoys the support of 95% of former MDC supporters:

“Well, both sections have had their Congress’s and I think we have the right now to say that the main stem of the Party and 95 per cent of its root structure, were left standing with Morgan Tsvangirai. The branch that broke ranks with Morgan over the Senate issue are in reality simply a broken branch that now lies on the ground without sufficient root structure to sustain its mass or deliver any fruit to its members. It will either die or become firewood - like Zanu PF or it will simply lie there on the forest floor a crippled and broken branch of the original MDC.” (Eddie Cross, “Seeing wood in the trees”, 20 March 2006)

The truth is that it is hard for anyone to judge how much support any political party has in Zimbabwe today. We all know that Zanu PF had thousands of supporters at its December 2005 congress in Esigodini and that Zanu PF regularly “wins” elections. Does that mean Zanu PF is wildly popular? Hardly. And despite the reported 15 000 people at its congress, the Tsvangirai faction of the MDC was not able to hold the recently contested Mayoral election in Chegutu. Likewise, for all the Mutambara faction’s stated strength in Bulawayo it was unable to hold on to two Council seats in Bulawayo.

The only way to test any party’s true support would be through a genuinely fair political process that would enable the public to listen to each respective party’s programmes and to judge for themselves the respective strengths of those policies and the people who would implement them. To say the least that is unlikely in present day Zimbabwe.

However before we even consider the numbers game there are two other factors that must be considered. The first is to consider the context of the respective numbers of people attending the two MDC factions’ congresses. What is particularly interesting about the Tsvangirai faction’s assertion that 15 000 people attended their congress is the claim that these individuals were all congress delegates:

The MDC Congress this past weekend attracted nearly 20 000 delegates and others who tried to secure accreditation to attend on Saturday and Sunday. In the end, 15 000 delegates were accredited (Eddie Cross, 20 March 2006).

At this juncture it is pertinent to recall the provisions of the MDC Constitution regarding the Congress. Article 5.2 states:

The Congress

5.2.1 The Congress shall be the supreme organ of the Party and shall be composed as follows:

(a) all members of the National Council;
(b) all members of the National Executive of Women;
(c) all members of the National Executive of Youth;
(d) all members of the Provincial Executive Committees;
(e) the Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer from each District Executive Committee;
(f) the Chairpersons of the National Assembly of Women’s’ Committee and the National Assembly of Youths’ Committee from each district;
(g) the Chairperson of each Ward Executive Committee; and
(h) the Chairperson of each Branch Executive Committee.

There are 72 members of the National Council, 12 of the Women’s Executive, 12 of the Youth Executive, 144 members of the Provincial Executives (12 Provinces x 12 members in each), 360 Chairpersons, Secretaries and Treasurers on the District Committees (3 x 120) 240 Chairs of Youth and Women District Committees (2 x 120). The Ward and Branch Chairs are more difficult to quantify. However in some of the MDC’s best-organised Districts there have been no more than 5 Wards and 10 Branches giving 600 (5 x 120) and 1200 (10 x 120) people respectively. One should bear in mind of course that there are some places, particularly in Mashonaland rural areas, where there have not even been functioning Provincial structures never mind Ward and Branch committees. What should also be borne in mind is that there is some overlap in that some who are members of Youth Committees, for example, are also on the National Council and they do not have a double vote. In other words, in terms of the MDC’s Constitution, only some 2616 people are eligible to attend Congress as delegates. Even if one doubles the number of Ward Committees to 10 and 20 on average per District the numbers of those eligible to attend as delegates only comes to 4416.

This then begs the question – how could there possibly have been 15 000 delegates to the Tsvangirai faction’s congress in Harare? It simply is not possible. No one doubts the numbers of people there – one simply questions their right to be there, where they came from and why the organisers allowed them to be there.

It does appear as if not all 15 000 were allowed to vote. Consider what Women Chair Lucy Matibenga stated in her protest note published a day or so after the Congress:

“Even though they lost the election, the vote garnered by Gertrude Mtombeni and Sekai Holland was around 1 900 and 1 800 respectively while Pauline Gwanyanya secured over 500 Votes. Women therefore fared well in the numbers of votes they got for the positions that they stood for.2 (Statement of Lucy Matibenga, 21 March 2006)
It is pertinent to recall that Mtombeni stood against Thoko Khupe in the election for the Vice Presidency of the faction and observers present indicate that Khupe got some 3000 votes. In other words, some 4900 people cast their votes. Whilst this brings us closer to the truth of the number of lawful delegates, the number still seems high and one questions why it was that so many were able to vote – some 500 people more than the most liberal estimates (of those entitled to vote) voted. This sounds like something Tobaiwa Mudede would have been proud of!

So what then was the balance of some 10 000 people doing there? This is the second issue: would all of those present have been there had there not been some inducement? Eddie Cross again provides some insight:

“We ran the whole show on a shoe string - about 10 per cent of our budget, but were able to get all people going home last night enough money to travel. The final meal was served late in the day to ensure people had food before they travelled. Food was provided and served by Servcor who did an excellent job after the shambles on the first day went we were swamped with up to 20 000 people trying to get into the Congress. Eventually we fed them all on day one but on day two we fed only those with accreditation. These were about 15 000 and we had to bump up the food contract from 10 000 meals three times a day to 15 000 - thank goodness for private enterprise.”

“In an amazing way we were able to pay for Congress, we rented the Stadium, brought in professional caterers (at Morgan’s insistence) and were able to accommodate people all over the City. On Sunday we got all the Provincial Treasurers together and asked them how much money they needed to get home - we then went to a location in the City where we had what money was available and we were able to pay out 95 per cent of what was asked for - astonishing when you know that we had no support from any major donors and our State funding was arbitrarily handed over to the break away group in time for their Congress.” (20 March 2006)

For all the bitter complaints about the Mutambara faction having received Z$8 billion from the regime and having to run the Congress on a shoestring, there are some very interesting facts that emerge from Mr. Cross’s description of events. The Tsvangirai faction’s congress ran from Friday morning to Sunday evening. People were accredited on Friday and the congress proper was held on the Saturday and Sunday. By their own admission they got a private catering firm to feed some 20 000 people on day one and then 15 000 people the next day. These days a hamburger costs about Z$ 90,000. It is highly unlikely therefore that a private catering firm would have been prepared to cater for less than Z$ 100,000.00 per head. Conservatively, exceptionally conservatively, the food alone would have cost about Z$ 8 billion. It is very interesting to contrast the two congresses in this regard. Because of severe shortages of money the Mutambara faction held its congress on one day and was not even then able to feed all its delegates. The Zanu-controlled media had a field day reporting on this as indeed did Nelson Chamisa, the Tsvangirai faction spokesperson. There was clearly no such funding problem at the Tsvangirai congress.

This in turn begs two further questions. Firstly how many of the 20 000 people who attended were from Harare and only there because they knew they would get several square meals? Secondly, for all the complaints that the Mutambara faction received ‘all the money', where has the Tsvangirai faction money suddenly come from?

So what then of the resolutions passed at the Tsvangirai faction’s congress? Many were expecting that they would put their money where their mouths are. After all they state that the reason for the break-up was because of their deeply held principle not to participate in fraudulent elections. In the run up to the congress there were statements to the effect that the congress would decide on a resolution to abandon the electoral process. The closest the congress got however was in Resolution 8:

“Noting the complete failure of the electoral process in Zimbabwe and the futility of pursuing an exclusive electoral struggle, the party resolves to engage in peaceful democratic confrontation and resistance to the regime.”
This was not quite what was expected – clearly those Tsvangirai faction members enjoying the fruits of Parliament are not ready yet to abandon their positions. Indeed the first action of the new leadership of the Tsvangirai faction was to announce that they would contest the Budiriro by-election! Finally Zimbabweans were told that the Tsvangirai congress would usher in a new brand of leadership that will lead the MDC in a new positive direction.

There is no doubt, despite the illegality regarding the numbers of people entitled to attend the Tsvangirai congress, that Morgan Tsvangirai does at present command considerable support amongst Zimbabweans. However, aside from Biti and Bennett’s elevation, the Tsvangirai faction’s leadership team has been weakened. The discredited and highly suspect Isaac Matongo (one of the foremost advocates for participation in the Senate elections) is still Chairman. (It is worth recalling that Sokwanele raised many questions about Isaac Matongo in an earlier mailing titled "You will know them by their fruits": Is Zimbabwe's CIO involved in the MDC split? - dated 10 February 2006 and available on our website). Matongo is now joined by Thoko Khupe, one of the most ineffectual MPs of the last 6 years (as Vice President) and Lovemore Moyo, Zanu PF Cabinet Minister Sithembiso Nyoni’s son-in-law (as Deputy Chairman). (We should remind readers here that Moyo had previously contested and failed to secure election to a post in the parallel structures of the Sibanda/Ncube faction of the party). Throw in Tapiwa Mashakada (one of those implicated in MDC intra party violence) and a few others of his ilk and it will be apparent that an overwhelming majority of the new leadership at best simply do not have what it takes and at worst have questionable loyalties. Tsvangirai’s controversial cabinet is not simply just still in place; it has been greatly strengthened by the congress.

Conversely, the MDC’s long-held position on non-violent political change in Zimbabwe has been weakened by conflicting statements from the Mutambara-led faction on the subject of the use of violence. Media reports early last month quoted Mutambara as laudably saying “We won’t be qualified to fight Mugabe if we are little Mugabes”. However, at a recent rally at Chitungwiza, Mutambara was reported in the Herald as declaring, " We will not rule out using violence because this is still our option". So which is it? And if he is against violence and the Herald has misreported him then a statement unambiguously clarifying what he said should be issued.

For clarification we turn next to statements made by Mutambara’s spokesperson, Morgan Changamire, who explains, “The MDC president, Professor Mutambara, is on record as denouncing violence of any form.” However, Changamire’s reiteration of that point was immediately followed by what can only be interpreted as a threat:

“This should, however, not be construed by Chamisa, and others like him, as a sign of weakness or lack of capacity on our part to defend ourselves when provoked. We wish to warn Chamisa that he is treading on dangerous ground. He has no monopoly of violence.” (Financial Gazette, 29 March 2006).

So, are we to conclude that the Mutambara faction denounces violence of “any form”, albeit with some exceptions...? What does that mean exactly? It’s worth reminding the Mutambara-led faction that the other political party that regularly justifies the use of violence in the name of so-called ‘self-defense’ is Mugabe’s Zanu PF. Zimbabweans are tired of violence and of political parties that threaten each other with violence.

Changamire’s comments (above) emerged in connection with media reports that supporters of the Tsvangirai faction had attempted to disrupt the Mutambara rally at Chitungwiza – reports which raise yet another layer of questionable facts and allegations. SW Radio Africa tried to report on that story and, despite speaking to both factions in an effort to find out exactly what happened, was nevertheless forced to begin their article with the comment that “the split in the MDC leadership is now also creating friction among opposition supporters and making it difficult for journalists to get at the truth” (27 March 2006). If journalists with their well-placed sources can’t get at the truth, how can ordinary members of the public – voters and supporters – ever expect to be able to reach an informed opinion? Do either factions of the MDC consider this lack of transparency acceptable in a fight for democracy?

In the midst of all the statistical spin surrounding the Tsvangirai-led faction’s congress and the subsequent allegations and counter allegations of violence following the Mutambara rallies, it is apparent to all Zimbabweans that the opposition is now weaker than ever. Supporters find it increasingly difficult to know whom to believe. Morgan Tsvangirai for all his apparent personal popularity has been ring fenced, separated from his competent leadership. The greatest shame is that Tsvangirai himself appears to have been swept away by his faction’s own hype and propaganda and doesn’t yet understand the perilous position he is now in. But the saddest truth of all – one that both factions would be well-advised to wake-up to – is that while the opposition party is side-tracked by internal politics and squabbling, Zanu PF continues, unchallenged, machine-like, in relentlessly stripping Zimbabweans of their dream for democracy, human rights, and freedom for all in our country.

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Zimbabwe's Grain Monopoly Tightens Access to Food


By Jonga Kandemiiri
      03 April 2006

The Grain Marketing Board that now exercises a virtual monopoly over the
distribution of maize, maize meal, wheat and flour in Zimbabwe has announced
the suspension of direct sales of grain to individuals. The GMB said the
move is intended to relieve the acute shortage of such staples, but critics
say it a de facto rationing measure.

GMB officials said the suspension of grain sales to individuals is intended
to frustrate the diversion of grain by syndicates which resell it on the
black market for profit.

Under its new rules, only farmers, hospitals, prisons and other such
institutions will be allowed to purchase grain from GMB depots and stores.
GMB spokeswoman Muriel Zemura said the agency is doing all it can to supply
shops whose shelves are bare.

But opposition figure Renson Gasela, an ex-Grain Marketing Board general
manager now the spokesman on agriculture for the faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change led by Arthur Mutambara, says the GMB has simply run out
of maize.

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Zimbabwean legislators urged to unite for country's development

People's Daily

      Zimbabwean Vice President Joseph Msika on Monday during a workshop
urged members of the house of assembly and senators to work together for the
development of the country and desist from undermining each other.

      In his speech read on his behalf by the Leader of the House of
Assembly, Patrick Chinamasa, Msika said Members of the House of assembly and
the upper house should work as a team and bring development to the
electorate who vote them into office.

      He urged parties to work towards the consolidation of gains of
independence and direct their efforts for improvement of social conditions
in the field of education, health among others.

      Msika urged both Senators and Members of the House of Assembly to
promulgate laws that incorporate the views of the people represented in

      The one day workshop is aimed at establishing cordial working
relations between the Upper House and the Lower House while at the same time
championing party principles that is democracy, sovereignty and social

      Source: Xinhua

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Masses Give Tsvangirai And 'Liberation Team' Thumbs Up

Zim Daily

            Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 12:05 AM BST
            Contributed by: correspondent

             Charismatic MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his "Liberation
Team" rapped up the first leg of nationwide rallies to drum up support for
mass protests on sunday, addressing massive rallies in Gweru and Masvingo
attended by a cumulative 20 000 people weekend. The two rallies by the newly
elected leadership team was aimed at meeting the people and to chart the
road map to a new Zimbabwe characterised by political and economic stability
in Zimbabwe, the MDC said yesterday.

            Buoyed by a successful 2nd congress attended by a record 16 000
delegates a fortnight ago, Tsvangirai kicked off his programme on Saturday
with a rally at Mkoba in the central city of Gweru in Midlands province. MDC
spokesman Nelson Chamisa said this rally was attended by 17 000 people
although independent estimates put the number at 12 000.

            The MDC team then proceeded to Masvingo at Mamutse Stadium on
Sunday where an estimated 8 000 people attended the rally although the MDC
says there were 12 000 present. "In Gweru on Saturday, 17 000 MDC members
thronged Mkoba stadium while another 12 000-strong crowd turned up for a
morning rally held at Mamutse stadium in Masvingo the following day," MDC
spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Zimdaily yesterday.

            "President Tsvangirai told the impressive crowds he was not
worried by the dictatorship's incessant threats to kill him if he led people
in a sustained programme of democratic resistance to achieve a new and
democratic society." In Masvingo, Tsvangirai told the crowd, to tumultuous
applause, that he was "prepared to die for the nation's cause" and he would
not retreat on the pledge he made at Congress to 'lead from the front.' He
said the people had made a clear statement at the recent Congress that
elections alone without a parallel political programme would not bring a new

            "The President reiterated that he had not called for an illegal
overthrow of the regime, but had merely said the people would express their
anger in peaceful, non-violent confrontation with the dictatorship," Chamisa
clarified. "He also introduced the newly elected leadership, dubbed 'The
Liberation Team', and said he was confident they would heed the nation's
call to be the midwives in the birth of a new Zimbabwe." Zimdaily heard that
Vice President Thokozani Khupe chronicled the untold suffering among
Zimbabweans across the political divide, particularly the women and urged
the nation to always remember that the future was in their hands.

             National chairman Isaac Matongo urged the all the party
structures to remain vigilant and united. He said the party had devised a
comprehensive mobilisation programme for the rural areas ahead of a cold
winter of democratic resistance against tyranny. Secretary-general Tendai
Biti chronicled the collapse of all sectors of the economy and the endemic
corruption that had eaten into the entire body politic. He also condemned
the kleptocracy and thievery of the State itself, which he said was at the
epicentre of the national crisis. "The collapse of Zimbabwe as a beacon of
hope could only be salvaged be a sustained programme of people power," Biti
told a cheering throng in Masvingo.

            The national youth assembly chairperson, Thamsanqa Mahlangu and
the women's assembly chairperson, Lucia Matibenga, also addressed the
rallies. They urged the youth and women respectively to play a vanguard role
in organising the party. Zimdaily heard that in the coming weeks, the MDC
will continue with its whirlwind rallies across the nation. "The thousands
of people turning up at the party's rallies are a bold statement that the
nation is behind the cause," Chamisa told Zimdaily. "We shall move to all
corners of the country.

            We shall rally people for democratic resistance. We shall talk
to the people and listen to them. We shall hold our fate firmly in our
hands. We are confident that the people of Zimbabwe shall triumph. All
Zimbabweans and democratic forces should join hands to build a new Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe belongs to the people," he said.. Observers say all indicators
demonstrate increasing and popular support for Tsvangirai and his Liberation
Team, if the numbers truning up for his rallies are anything to go by. They
point to waning support for the Mutambara faction and his bandwagon of
hangers on, who at best have failed to ammass a paltry 3 000 people for any
of their rally since the split that saw Tsvangirai's former deputy Gibson
Sibanda, secretary general Welshman Ncube and other senior leaders breaking
away to form another party that is also called the Bulawayo MDC.

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Zanu PF MPs, Senators clash

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Apr-04

ZANU PF's commissariat yesterday moved in to quell clashes between Senators
and representatives in the House of Assembly, amid reports that, in some
cases, the legislators' working relations in constituencies were not
amicable. The commissariat headed by Minister without Portfolio, Elliot
Manyika, summoned the ruling party parliamentarians to a caucus meeting
where it was impressed upon them that they must work for a common cause.
Sources in the party told this newspaper last night that the caucus meeting
was called after the commissariat had received numerous reports on clashes
between Senators and members of the House of Assembly.
"What was happening was that working relations between some Senators and
House of Assembly members were not cordial. Some Senators lost party primary
elections for the 2005 parliamentary polls to incumbent House of Assembly
members and there was bad blood between them," a member of Zanu PF's central
committee and the lower house said.
He added that Manyika told the legislators that they should work together to
realise the goals of the government.
"We were told that we must improve our working relations. The problem was
that some Senators and members of the lower house sharing the same
constituency boundaries were doing each other down hoping to get support for
the 2010 elections," added the central committee member.
The sources added that Vice-President  Joseph Msika, in a speech read on his
behalf during the meeting, told the parliamentarians not to undermine each
other in their quest for power.
Manyika last night confirmed to The Daily Mirror that the caucus meeting was
called to, among other things, harmonise the relations of members of the
upper and lower houses.
"We were discussing how they should co-ordinate their activities in their
constituencies and focus on development agenda.
 As you know, in some of the constituencies, the MPs were elected by the
same people and so it is important that they coordinate their activities,"
he said, adding that the legislators were also urged to speak with one voice
in Parliament.
"Their role is to complement each other.
 We told them of the need to speak with one voice on all issues in
Parliament," Manyika said.
Apart from the clashes between the legislators, Manyika said the
commissariat also cautioned the parliamentarians on the need to attend
parliament regularly.
"We have to whip them into line and we told them on the need to regularly
attend Parliament.
These are people who were elected to represent views of the population and
we told them of the necessity to represent the people fully," he said.
Members of the MDC last week complained in the House of Assembly after
ministers failed to attend to the question and answer session in the house
resulting in 17 of the 18 questions that were on the order paper being
Harare North legislator, Trudy Stevenson, had to raise a point of order to
the Speaker of the House, John Nkomo, after the questions went without
In 2004, President Robert Mugabe threatened to take disciplinary action
against legislators who absconded Parliament after the ruling party was
nearly embarrassed when their MPs were outside the House when voting on
amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA) was about to start.
Zanu PF legislators appeared outnumbered and the amendments would most
probably have fallen away if voting had continued.
Former information minister, Jonathan Moyo, had to intervene to allow his
colleagues to return to the house resulting in chaos as the opposition
legislators wanted them barred from taking part in the voting as they
alleged that the required time they were supposed to be in the house had
The Zanu PF MPs were later allowed in and the amendments were passed.

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Zesa blasts tariff system

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Patson Ndhlovu
issue date :2006-Apr-04

POWER utility, Zesa Holdings, has shouldered the blame on the current power
crisis the country is experiencing on the tariff regulation system, which it
described as ineffective.
A source that spoke on condition of anonymity said this development has
dealt a major blow on the utility's financial and operational uprightness as
well as the country's power system.
The Zimbabwe Electricity Regulation Authority (ZERC) receives proposals on
electricity tariff adjustments from Zesa before they push them upward for
deliberation at Cabinet level.
The source said resolutions passed by Cabinet giving Zesa the green light to
effect tariff adjustments have been ignored either wittingly or unwittingly
by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), ZERC or the Ministry of Energy and
Power Development.
"The chaotic development of this regulation over the past two years has been
detrimental to the financial and operational integrity of Zesa Holdings and
the Zimbabwe power system.
"The three unfortunate incidents where Cabinet approvals are followed by
unilateral reversals, delays, or even amendments of content, effect or
intent of Cabinet resolutions on tariffs, (whether wilfully or unwittingly)
by RBZ, ZERC or the Ministry are at the centre of the current power crisis",
said the source.
Zesa currently offers the lowest tariffs for electricity in the whole
Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), charging US$0,50 per kilowatt, while
South Africa-based Eskom charges US$2,30 per Kilowatt and Botswana Power
Company charges US$5,20 per kilowatt.
A chronological account of events since April 2004, which is in the
possession of the Business Mirror, shows that the former Minister of Energy
and Power Development, July Moyo, following alleged spirited petition by RBZ
which sought to achieve its inflation targets directed Zesa to reverse a
tariff increase that had been approved by Cabinet and had in fact operated
for three months from January to March.
This led to a 45 percent slump in Zesa's revenue.
On October 30, 2004 a committee of Cabinet adopted the proposed
implementation of new tariffs inclusive of a 123 percent implied increase,
that were based on the SAD-ELEC cost of study supply but the new tariff was
not applied.
 In January 2005, RBZ intervened to request government to suspend the
proposed tariff increase and instead offered PLARP funds as an interim cash
flow rescue.
On August 26, 2005 an interim tariff increase of 82 percent was granted by
ZERC to Zesa against a 315 percent that had been approved by Cabinet on May
24, 2005.
The full Cabinet-approved tariffs were again not applied and even the 82
percent partial 'interim' increase was only came into effect over three
months after approval by Cabinet.
On December 8, 2005 a revised tariff increase of 326 percent was initially
granted by ZERC to the power utility for implementation with effect from
January 1, 2006.
ZERC then unilaterally cancelled the tariff increase for reasons allegedly
beyond their control leaving Zesa financially and operationally crippled.
Zimbabwe is faced with
an acute power shortage come 2007 if current problems bedevilling the power
utility are not addressed.
Speaking at the belated World Consumer Rights Day celebration whose theme
was 'Energy- Sustainable Access For All' ZERC commissioner general and
chairperson Mavis Chidzonga said the power utility could not balance demand
and supply.
She said Eskom and other regional suppliers are not able to supply us with
electricity during peak hours hence the utility reverts to load shading.
The country is in short of 450 mega watts.
"The power system has been subjected to inadequate maintenance in the last
five years", she said.
She added that Zesa's three power stations, Harare, Munyathi and Bulawayo,
were lying idle, as the power utility has been struggling to procure coal
and pay the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) transport fares from Hwange.
Further compounding the power crisis in the country is that three generators
are down at Hwange power station.
The current power crisis is impacting negatively on the operations of
Zesa announced last week that it would effect power cuts during the winter
period as part of efforts to balance supply and demand mismatch. The
development poses a threat to the winter wheat and efforts to bring normalcy
to the economy, whose inflation rate is currently pegged at 782 percent.

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Zim fuel supply improves

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Apr-04

Fuel supplies at most service stations countrywide have improved, giving
commuters and motorists hope that the problems that have been bedevilling
the country could be coming to an end.
A survey carried out by The Daily Mirror around Harare showed that most
service stations sold petrol and diesel, while reports from other cities
indicated that fuel was also in abundance.
Banners advertising the availability of fuel were conspicuous at most
service stations and queues were minimal.
Many, however, said the pump price was prohibitive, with diesel on average
selling at $200 000 and petrol going for about $220 000 a litre.
"Yes, there is lots of fuel at the pump, but it is selling at the same price
as the black
market and it's too much for anyone.
 "It's going to be difficult for commuter omnibus operators and commuters
alike, because an increase in fares is inevitable," said Herbert Manjengwa,
a commuter omnibus driver.
Another motorist, who only identified himself as Allan, said many motorists
had resorted to fuelling their vehicles only for convenience.
He said: "You have to calculate how much fuel you need in a day for a few
days and just buy that because it is not affordable to fill a tank to
"We hope the fuel continues to be available. Maybe the prices will stabilise
From Bulawayo, reports indicate that fuel was also available at service
stations, with
diesel selling on average at $195 000.
Fuel was also said to be available at service stations in Marondera and
Kadoma. In Bindura, it was reported to be available at one service station
at least once every week.
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) board chairperson, Charles
Chipato, last week could not shed details into the latest trends on the fuel
market, instead referring all enquiries to chief executive, Zvinechimwe
Churu, who
could not be reached for comment.
"I don't have the statistics on fuel at hand. You can contact the CEO on
that matter," said Chipato.
On its appointment in February this year, the Noczim board promised to look
into other sustainable means of availing fuel to the nation, besides

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Holocaust in Plain Sight

Village Voice

      On April 30 in Washington, a 'Rally to End Genocide' confronts the
shame of indifference

      by Nat Hentoff
      April 3rd, 2006 4:23 PM

[U.N.] official Jan Pronk told the Security Council that killings, rapes and
armed attacks on Darfur villagers [are being] committed by armed gangs
secure in the knowledge that no one would stop or punish them. New York
Times, March 22


Africa's largest country [Sudan] has the opportunity to reach for a
peaceful, prosperous and democratic future. From an eight-page special
advertising supplement by the self-congratulatory government of Sudan on
March 20-that enriched the Times by over $900,000- urging further investment
in that splendid country


Long before the genocide in Sudan, I had been reporting for years in the
Voice on the Sudan government's murders, gang rapes, and enslavement of
black Christians and animists in the south of Sudan-and the attempts of the
Boston-based American Anti-Slavery Group, black American pastors, Christian
Solidarity International, and a few members of Congress to awaken this
country to the horrors in Sudan.

The then secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, said to a protester that
the atrocities there were not "marketable" to the American public. But
eventually a critical mass of Americans- including schoolchildren around the
country sending money so that Christian Solidarity International could
redeem black slaves-helped create enough international pressure to lead to a
still unstable January 2005 peace agreement between the National Islamic
Front government in Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in
the South. But at least 40,000 black southern Sudanese slaves remain in
northern Sudan.

After three years of the atrocities in Darfur, which have now spread to
refugee camps in Chad, Hans Wuerth, part of a persistent interfaith
coalition in Pennsylvania acting to stop the genocide, received a letter
this past February 28 from Heather Flynn, a staff member of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, in support of their "grassworks action"
because, she said:

"The people of Darfur do not have a constituency here in the United States,
and there is no one to lobby for them in Washington."

That is no longer true. On April 30, the Save Darfur Coalition-an alliance
of more than 15 faith-based, humanitarian, and human rights organizations-
will hold a rally at the National Mall in Washington: the "Rally to Stop

I don't have the space to list all the members of the coalition, but they
include as co-sponsor the American Jewish World Service (which has been
instrumental in organizing the Jewish community and has already raised more
than $2 million to provide emergency relief and support for the Darfur

Among the other coalition organizers for the April 30 rally are: the
American Society for Muslim Advancement, the National Association of
Evangelicals, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Anti-Slavery Group, Amnesty
International, Christian Solidarity International, Physicians for Human
Rights, National Black Church Initiative, and various regional and local

For information on the rally and how to be a part of it, the website is: Chuck Thies, the rally director is at 202-478-6302. To
sign up for the rally, you can also click on

The April 30 rally will take place between 2 and 4 p.m. on the National
Mall, between Third and Fourth streets in front of the U.S. Capitol Metro
station Federal Center SW (orange and blue lines). Crowd assembly: 1:30 to
2:00 p.m.

On the same day The New York Times took nearly a million dollars from the
mass-murdering government of Sudan for eight pages of glowingly illustrated
"bright prospects" for investors, a template of utterly false advertising to
gull Times readers. There was this Times editorial:

"After the Holocaust, the world vowed it wouldn't stand back and allow
genocide to happen again. Bosnia, Cambodia and Rwanda showed how empty that
promise was. . . . Is this really what we have come to? The United Nations
has described the carnage as the world's biggest humanitarian crisis but
continues to prove itself completely useless at doing anything to stop it.

"In the Security Council, China protects Sudan. Europe, for its part, has
been inert." Does this editorial atone for the advertising supplement?

And no journalist, anywhere in the world, has done more, in his repeated
trips to Darfur, to show the monstrous, insatiable face of this genocide
than Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times as in this March 14 column:

"It is brutally demoralizing for people in these villages to be hunted down
as if they were wild beasts, to have their children pulled from their arms
and thrown into burning huts. But we should be just as demoralized by our
own indifference. The shame belongs not to the good people of Darfur and
Chad, but to ourselves."

The organizers and participants in the April 30 Washington "Rally to Stop
Genocide" are, to say the least, not indifferent. And by April 30, the Save
Darfur Coalition expects to have at least a million postcards to send to
George W. Bush from its Million Voices postcards campaign (you can sign an
electronic Million Voices card at click on "Million Voices
for Darfur"). This is the postcard:

"Dear President Bush: During your first year in the White House, you wrote
in the margins of a report on the Rwandan genocide, ' Not on my watch.' I
urge you to live up to those words by using the power of your office to
support a stronger multinational force to protect the civilians of Darfur."

The president is making a lot of speeches to lift his poll ratings. Can't he
find time for one to save the survivors in Darfur?

The New York Times says it took nearly a million dollars from bloody
Khartoum in its "strong belief" that "all pages of the paper . . . must
remain open to the free flow of ideas . . . [but] we do not endorse the
politics . . . or actions . . . or the character of [the country's]

I won't be surprised- although no less disgusted- to see a bountiful special
advertising Times supplement paid for by Robert Mugabe on how the people of
Zimbabwe enjoy unprecedented prosperity and a free press under his deeply
compassionate reign. That should cost $2 million.

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Africa's top abusers of the workers' rights named

Daily Nation, Kenya

      Story by NATION Reporter
      Publication Date: 4/4/2006
            The worst violation of workers' rights occurs in the Africa's
export processing zones, trade unions have said.

            "The practice is also rampant in enterprises operating under the
Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), according to the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions, African region.

            "Companies in these two areas have continued to infringe on
workers' rights because they have not created an environment for productive
bargaining," said the organisation.

            "Due to their thirst for unbridled competition, often at the
expense of severe social and labour rights, owners and sometimes with the
tacit support of public authorities, have remained resolute in their
opposition to unionisation," said the organisation's secretary-general, Mr
Andrew Kailembo.

            Unbearable treatment

            Mr Kailembo said workers in the EPZs were unprotected and stood
to lose their jobs if they joined trade unions. "Given the serious nature of
the unbearable treatment in the EPZs, workers have had to seek recourse in
strikes that have often resulted in stoppages of work and loss of colossal
sums of money," he added.

            The secretary-general, who spoke at a labour conference in
Nairobi yesterday, also named Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Djibouti and Nigeria "as
countries where authorities persistently trampled upon the rights of workers
with impunity."

            He said some of the International Labour Organisation's
officials were recently denied entry into Djibouti when they said they had
gone to study working conditions in the country.

            Mr Kailembo said a substantial proportion of workforce in Africa
was poorly paid.

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Zimbabwe Proposal Worries Foreign Owned Mining Firms


      By Peta Thornycroft
      04 April 2006

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe says mining companies have nothing to fear
from a proposed new law that would nationalize foreign owned mines.
Despite Mr. Mugabe's assurances, foreign-owned mining companies remain
worried and have frozen plans to increase capacity.

Mr. Mugabe has told members of his ruling ZANU PF party that any amendments
to mining laws are still under discussion.

Last month, the minister of Zimbabwe's mine industry, Amos Midzi, said that
the government planned to change the law and take 51 percent of some key
foreign-owned mining companies, without compensation.

Midzi said that the proposed new law had been agreed to by the Cabinet,
which is presided over by Mr. Mugabe.

Since the uproar over the proposed nationalization of mines, Mr. Mugabe has
had at least one meeting with mining executives.  He was reported to have
told them they had nothing to fear and should continue with their plans to
expand their operations.

A Zimbabwe economist with specialist knowledge of the mining sector, John
Robertson, says foreign mining houses are still waiting for written
confirmation of Mr. Mugabe's assurances.  Because they are public companies
whose shareholders are private investors, they cannot hand over their
companies that easily.

"The main message that these companies gave the government was that they
would simply pull out right now," he said.  "And that the further
development that might have taken place would simply stop. In money terms,
this means right now on hold, is some hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars
worth of development work that would have enlarged the productive capacity
of several mines to an enormous extent."

Robertson said the Zimbabwe government may have not realized until recently
that they could not take over mines as easily as they took over the 90
percent of white-owned commercial farms in the past six years.  He says the
government does not have the expertise to run the mines.

"I think that is one of the issues they did not anticipate, that
international experts in what ever field, engineering, mining are easily
able to find jobs elsewhere," he noted.  "They were happy to work for
international companies presently in Zimbabwe.  If you told them today they
have now become employees of the Zimbabwe government most would be reaching
for passports and household removal company telephone numbers within

Other analysts in the mining sector say that Mr. Mugabe will not abandon
plans to take over foreign-owned mines, but may reduce the percentage of
ownership he takes.

Zimbabwe is going through its worst financial crisis, which began after the
commercial agricultural sector, formerly the mainstay of the economy, was

Agriculture used to earn 40 percent of Zimbabwe's foreign currency, and was
a regular exporter of food to the region. Only about five to 10 percent of
nationalized land is now used and Zimbabwe struggles to feed itself.

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Fighting in Mugabe's camp


04/04/2006 14:19  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwean vice-president Joseph Msika spoke of fighting among
senior members of the ruling party in a rare admission of discord in
President Robert Mugabe's camp, said reports on Tuesday.

According to reports, Msika said squabbles between recently elected senators
from Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF)
and party MPs was "deplorable".

Msika said: "This kind of behaviour is deplorable and only serves to benefit
our enemies at the detriment of effective party policy implementation.

"Let us behave like responsible people and desist from such retrogressive

Political challenges

Mugabe's party had been in power in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 and
had managed to shrug off political challenges from the only credible
opposition party to emerge, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The MDC had been severely weakened by a recent split, an event welcomed by
the ruling party. Msika said that Zanu-PF members were also divided.

He said that some Zanu-PF MPs looked down on the new senators, elected to
office last November, while other senators were "bent on frustrating the
efforts" of sitting ruling party MPs.

The first sign of cracks in the ruling party came in late 2004, after some
senior party members tried to derail the appointment of Zimbabwe's second
vice-president, former army commander's wife Joyce Mujuru.

Several top party officials were suspended over their role in an apparent
plot to thrust party heavyweight Emmerson Mnangagwa into the
vice-presidency. Since then, there had been redoubled efforts to make the
party appear united.

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Minister threatens to fire civil servants

      April 4, 2006

      By Tagu Mkwenyani

      Harare (AND) A Zimbabwe government minister has threatened to fire
civil servants who do not implement policies of the Zanu PF government

       The Minister of Policy Implementation in the Presidents' Office,
Webster Shamu, said programmes initiated by his government were being
ignored by civil servants who prioritised other things.

      Shamu was addressing a Matabeleland North Development Committee at
Mhlahlandlela government complex in Bulawayo last week. "Government has
failed to timeously implement programmes because of lazy civil servants. We
will not hesitate to wield the axe. You don't operate in a vacuum, you work
in a social and political environment." Shamu said civil servants had a duty
to see to it that its programmes were implemented urgently. "The ruling
Zanu-PF gives policies to the government that should be implemented and the
ministry officials should make sure that civil servants implement them so
that Zanu-PF programs are fulfilled," said Shamu. The Zanu PF government has
in the past accused poorly paid civil servants of being members of the
opposition MDC activists.

      Zimbabwe (AND)

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CIO intimidation forced magistrate to quit

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 04/04/2006 20:08:28
A ZIMBABWEAN magistrate who quit his job two weeks ago by abruptly storming
out of a courtroom in the middle of a rape case has fingered Zimbabwe's
state security agents, claiming harassment.

Chitungwiza regional magistrate Taurai Chigwedu, in his first interview,
says he quit after coming under intense pressure from Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) operatives to convict Misheck Chipunza who is charged
with raping his seven-year-old daughter several times.

Chipunza is a former CIO officer. He resigned under unclear circumstances in

Chigwedu said he could no longer stand the intimidation and decided to quit.

Chigwedu said: "I could not stand the intimidation. These people (CIO) have
been coming to court and pushing people around. There are other judicial
officers who have been visited, but the question was 'should I convict
Chipunza when I believe that he is innocent just because some people are
exerting pressure on me?' Under the circumstances it was better for me to

According to the record of proceedings at the Chitungwiza Magistrate Courts,
Chigwedu recused himself during a court session, but not before stating his

He told the stunned court of a group of men who had confronted him over the
case: "They came to me breathing fire and intended to inquire on matters I
was handling. They (the men) believed Chipunza's case was being improperly
handled. No reasons were actually given for that belief or allegation."

Chigwedu said he had been made aware of a letter being circulated, which was
addressed to President Robert Mugabe,'s Office, calling for an investigation
into his alleged corrupt behaviour.

"If at all this was true, I was supposed to be investigated and arrested
rather than have people spreading such serious, malicious allegations,"
Chigwedu said, adding that the unidentified men wanted him to wave his
judgment on Chipunza's case.

He said: "When I took oath in 1995, I took the oath to deliver any judgment
without fear or favour. Now I am being forced to convict accused person
(Chipunza). My fettered.

"In the interests of transparency, I therefore recuse myself in this matter.
If it means starting it (the trial) afresh, that's it," Chigwedu said,
before walking out of the courtroom.

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No pay for Mirror journalists

New Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 04/04/2006 20:08:25
THE Zimbabwe Mirror Newspapers Group has failed to sustain a hefty pay hike
awarded to workers as it emerged
that they had not been paid Monday, more than a week after pay day.

The Mirror, which was taken over by Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence
Organisation in a publicly-funded covert operation, awarded the journalists
and other staff salary increments of up
to 200 percent when workers in some media houses got as little as 50

Media analysts said the salaries were meant to pacify workers who were
becoming increasingly agitated by the CIO way of running the newspapers
which has seen others losing jobs due to an ongoing purge.

Sources Monday said only workers who were account holders with the
Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ),
the financial institution which has come to the rescue of the company in
times, had received their salaries.

"Only those who have an account with CBZ have been paid," said one
journalist. "The rest of us, there is nothing. Indications are that there
may be nothing even by the end of this week. Maybe they want all of us to
abandon our respective banks and go to CBZ."

Sources said a junior reporter at the Mirror now earns more than $ 24
million from about $8million and bureau chiefs more than $30 million.

The posts of bureau chiefs were created this year.

Journalists and staff were granted a 200 percent pay rise. A similar
percentage will be effected in July this year.

Following the CIO take-over, the Mirror's new bosses have initiated a purge
to get rid of staff perceived to be aligned to suspended founder and Editor
in Chief, Ibbotson Day Mandaza.

Of late, the CIO has been struggling to pay workers - constantly turning to
CBZ to be bailed out.

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Taylor's trial may end Africa's gentleman's club


      Tue Apr 4, 2006 3:08 PM BST

By Daniel Flynn

DAKAR (Reuters) - Africa's ageing presidents may act as a gentleman's club
sheltering former dictators but Liberian warlord Charles Taylor's trial
suggests club rules could be changing.

Taylor became the first African leader to stand before an international
court on Monday after Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, under pressure
from Washington, handed him over to face trial in Sierra Leone for war

The former warlord, who fled to exile in Nigeria under a 2003 peace deal to
end Liberia's 14-year civil conflict, was Africa's most notorious war crimes
suspect and his arrest was welcomed across the world's poorest continent.

"The message here for the political leadership of Africa is that the days of
absolute impunity for mass crimes is coming to an end, and that is a major
milestone," Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's international
justice programme, said.

In the past, notorious African dictators such as the former-Zaire's Mobutu
Sese Seko and Uganda's Idi Amin have fled overseas to live out their days

Rights activists hope the Taylor decision will stiffen Africa's resolve to
tackle rights abuses. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is probing war
crimes in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan's Darfur region.

The first big test will come in June, when an African Union (AU) summit must
decide whether to extradite former Chad President Hissene Habre from exile
in Senegal to Belgium to face charges of mass murder and torture during his
1982-1990 regime.

But enormous resistance remains to foreign meddling in African affairs.
Sudan, due to chair the AU in 2007, blocked a visit this week by U.N. Under
Secretary General Jan Egeland to Darfur, where Khartoum is accused of
backing genocide.

Taylor's trial on charges of backing rebels in Sierra Leone during a
1990-2001 civil war may also deter African leaders from sanctioning further
tribunals, analysts say.

"This opens up an enormous can of worms for African presidents," said
Richard Reeves, West Africa specialist at London-based think-tank Chatham
House. "If you look at any African leader in office for more than a dozen
years, they have all tried to destabilise neighbouring countries."


Known as "Pappy" to a generation of drug-crazed child soldiers, Taylor
became a byword for more than a decade of civil wars in Sierra Leone and
Liberia. But leaders in Guinea, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso also played
their part.

With many leaders having much to lose by Taylor taking the witness box, his
arrest took many Africans by surprise.

"That we have not heard a wave of condemnation from African leaders after
one of their own handed over Taylor shows the African Union is coming of
age," Kenya's Sunday Standard wrote in an editorial.

It may have been the introduction of Africa's first elected female president
which helped change the rules of the "gentleman's club": Liberian President
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took office in January and soon sought Taylor's

But the Habre case may prove more problematic. Many African leaders resent
that a court in an ex-colonial power, accused of rights abuses in Congo, is
trying to extradite one of their own.

"It must be Africa which tries him ... It is a question of finding an
African judiciary to judge the case," Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade
said at an AU summit in January.

The torture charges against Habre could also be much more commonly applied
than war crimes accusations facing Taylor.

"The Habre case is more worrying for African leaders as it is more universal
in its implications," said Reeves. "They will find it a very difficult

The fate of other ex-leaders, such as Ethiopia's Communist dictator Mengistu
Haile Mariam, may depend on the Habre ruling.

Mengistu, accused of a "Red Terror" which killed thousands during his
1977-1991 rule, remains a guest of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe despite
Ethiopia's attempts to extradite him.

In Congo, Taylor's trial raised hopes the ICC probe could gather pace. Last
month a Congo militia leader Thomas Lubanga became the first suspect
transferred to the ICC for trial for conscripting children during a
1998-2003 war.

"This is a sign to those in power who have the blood of the Congolese people
on their hands," said Dolly Ibefo, vice president of Congolese rights group,
La Voix des Sans Voix.

Many ordinary Congolese, used to decades of rights abuses, remain phlegmatic
about Taylor's arrest.

"I guess it is a good sign," said Jean-Pierre, a taxi driver. "They arrested
Lubanga ... but what about the others here in Congo. The ones who are still
in power."

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Chaos At Rufaro

The Herald (Harare)

April 4, 2006
Posted to the web April 4, 2006

Lawrence Moyo

THE image of the Premiership suffered yet another battering on Sunday after
chaotic scenes engulfed Rufaro and marred the explosive Harare derby between
Black Rhinos and Dynamos.

Thousands of fans struggled to enter the ceremonial home of domestic
football, thousands more were turned away amid all the chaos and the Dynamos
secretary was manhandled by security personnel manning the gates. Rhinos
banked a whopping $1,45 billion after grossing a new Premier Soccer League
record $2,5 billion after 18 000 spectators paid their way into the stadium
but they could easily have raked in more had the situation at the gates not
been chaotic. Thousands of supporters returned home after enduring a
frustrating afternoon trying to enter the stadium, while most of those who
eventually got in missed Black Rhinos' opening goal scored by inform
midfielder Lazarus Muhoni after just five minutes and the disallowed effort
by striker Evans Gwekwerere.

Dynamos technical director Sunday Chidzambwa was among those who returned
home without watching the game after efforts to delay kick-off by between 30
minutes and an hour failed. On seeing the chaos that was outside the stadiu
m, PSL fixtures secretary Godfrey Japajapa met with Black Rhinos organising
secretary Taurai Tafirei and vice chairman Chris Chitinde just after 2pm and
they all agreed that most fans would miss the 3pm kick-off. Japajapa then
contacted PSL secretary-general Kennedy Ndebele on the possibility of
delaying kick-off to allow fans more time to enter the stadium and he agreed
to the proposal as the match was not being broadcast live on television
where schedules are strict.

The final say had to come from the chairman Tapuwa Matangaidze who however,
felt that allowing Black Rhinos to delay the start of their game would be
setting a bad precedent in the Premiership as they had agreed on sticking to
the 3pm kick-off. "I got into the stadium at around 2pm and I realised that
the people who were outside were about five times those who were inside. I
then approached the two Rhinos officials (Tafirei and Chitinde) who were in
the VIP stand, we went round the stadium and realised that on ly 18 gates
had been opened. "In an effort to avert a crisis we then tried to have the
match delayed to allow more people time to enter and also avoid stampedes.
This has happened before in South Africa (Kaizer Chiefs v Orlando Pirates)
and even in England because public safety is of prime concern.

"I phoned the PSL secretary general (Ndebele) and he said the match could be
delayed by 30 minutes but I needed to inform the chairman. I phoned the
chairman but he said he was on his way to the ground and we had to wait for
him. "At the same time the match officials could only be told to delay the
match by their assessor but we had to wait for the chairman to arrive and
make a decision before approaching the assessor. Unfortunately the chairman
did not make it in time and the referees proceeded by starting the game at
3pm as scheduled. "A number of people went back home in frustration but this
is just a minor setback and on Thursday we have a pre-match meeting for the
Dynamos-CAP S game and we will try by all means to make sure that it does
not happen again," said Japajapa.

Ndebele confirmed receiving a call from Japajapa. "After getting Japajapa's
analysis of the situation outside Rufaro I agreed to the suggestion that the
game be delayed as a way of avoiding pandemonium which usually occurs when a
game starts while there are thousands of people outside. It was
disappointing to note that gates were only opened after 1pm for such a big
game when matches involving crowd pullers like Dynamos and Highlanders
should have gates opened at around 11 am. "I haven't received a report of
what transpired because I was tied up on something else today but we have to
put our act together and come up with measures to avoid the chaos reported
at Rufaro on Sunday," said Ndebele.

Matangaidze blamed Sunday's chaos on Black Rhinos saying the authorities at
the club should have taken the match tickets much earlier than at midday on
Sunday as was the case. "Yes Japajapa p honed me on the need to delay the
kick-off but we are very strict on the 3pm kick-off and even at our assembly
all the clubs agreed on the fine for delayed starts and as such it would
have set a bad precedent to sanction the delay. The league will get into
chaos. "The blame lies squarely with Black Rhinos because they had to make
sure that they had the tickets early and not at 12. They also brought in new
cashiers who found themselves handling such a huge crowd for the first time.

"It's easy to lay the blame on the PSL but clubs must take a look at the way
they are managing their gates because for instance there were no such
problems the previous week when Dynamos were in charge of gates against
Shooting Stars. "Dynamos did well to manage the situation because they are
used to huge crowds while Black Rhinos were probably overwhelmed by the
numbers," said Matangaidze. He added that Black Rhinos had not been
forthcoming after an earlier request to have the cheapest tickets inc reased
from $100 000 to $120 000. "The other problem is that Black Rhinos had
informally asked for a change of the minimum ticket denomination to $120 000
but they did not get back to the PSL offices as late as Thursday.

"This was also a contributory factor to the delay. Rhinos should have
collected the tickets earlier because the standard is that you can collect
tickets even for the whole month, which is why teams like Masvingo,
Lancashire Steel and Shabanie Mine are not collecting tickets every week.
"Rhinos did not have to wait until the day of the match." Black Rhinos
treasurer Thomas Manjengwa dismissed Matangaidze's comments while calling on
the Harare City Council to repair the damaged turnstiles at Rufaro.

"How did he expect us to collect the tickets early when they were only
delivered to the PSL offices late. The tickets had not been printed or
brought from the printers in time yet all our cashiers were already at the
stadium at 10. How could we have taken early del ivery of the tickets when
they were not there? "We ended up having to drive to the PSL offices after
12 to get them. The City Council must also use the money they collect from
clubs to repair the stadium because there are a number of gates that could
not be opened on Sunday because they are no longer functional. "The council
is collecting a lot of money and they should at least use part of it to make
all gates functional," said Manjengwa.

Tafirei added that by the time they drove to the PSL offices at the National
Sports Stadium, office administrator Elisha Mandishora-Chitiyo was still
entering the ticket details onto the computer. "No tickets leave the PSL
offices before their details are recorded on computer and when we got there
at 12 that was what Elisha was still doing. CAPS had just collected their
tickets when we got there. We don't blame him (Elisha) because he is working
alone and is overwhelmed but there is no way one can blame Black Rhinos.

"We only started sellin g tickets after 1pm and only 18 gates could be used
and that is why we wanted the match to be delayed to allow people more time
to enter the stadium because it was not their fault. Unfortunately it didn't
work out as even Dynamos were now saying that they had spent time warming up
and could not want any delays. "We tried our best to get all those people
into the stadium and had it not been for the Military Police we could easily
have suffered huge losses at the gates but those guys maintained order and
no one went in unaccounted," said Tafirei.

Meanwhile, the Harare City Council's 20 percent share from Sunday's game at
Rufaro was more than the total gate takings from the other Harare derby at
the National Sports Stadium between champions CAPS United and Buymore. The
Harare municipality earned $500 million as their share of gate revenue from
the Black Rhinos/Dynamos match while only 4 400 spectators made it to the
National Sports Stadium where the total revenue was $404 milli on. While
Black Rhinos were left with $1,45 billion for their coffers, CAPS' net
revenue was $190 million, which translates into a revenue difference of
$1,26 billion in favour of the army side. Last week, Dynamos were involved
in another PSL record as their season opener against Shooting Stars
generated $1,98 billion of which the popular giants were left with $1,1
billion. On Sunday Dynamos are set to be involved, for the third week in a
row, in another revenue-breaking record as they host traditional rivals CAPS
United in the real Harare derby at Rufaro.

Fixtures Saturday: Buymore v Monomotapa (Rufaro) Sunday: Dynamos v CAPS
United (Rufaro), Chapungu v Shooting Stars (Ascot), Lancashire Steel v Black
Rhinos (Baghdad), Mwana Africa v Highlanders (TBA), Hwange v Masvingo United
(Colliery), Shabanie Mine v Railstars (Maglas), Zimbabwe Saints v Motor
Action (Barbourfields).

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Malawi president accused of developing Mugabe-style oppressive government

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      4 April, 2006

      We have been following developments on the Malawi political scene ever
since the president Bingu Wa Mutharika and his Zimbabwean wife Ethel hired
security agents and kitchen staff from Robert Mugabe last year. Now Malawi
residents and the opposition say the relationship between the 2 has
developed further and they fear Mutharika is turning into a more oppressive
leader. Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa, who has been in Malawi this week,
confirmed that residents in Lilongwe are talking about the Mutharika's
recent behaviour and comparing it to Robert Mugabe next door. New
legislation is expected to introduced soon which is very similar to
oppressive legislation forced through parliament by Robert Mugabe in

      Opposition leader Kamlepo Kalua, who heads the Malawi Democratic
Party, told us Mutharika is coordinating information with Zimbabwe against
the advice of local and international donors. He said the Malawi president
is exchanging ideas and information with Mugabe and people are worried their
country will deteriorate the way Zimbabwe has in the last few years. Mugabe
is believed to be planning a visit to Malawi this week.

      Asked to specify just what Mutharika has done that is causing so much
fear, Kalua said he ditched the party that brought him to power and is now
bribing opposition members of parliament to join him. Kalua said Mutharika
recently began boasting that he has 84 MPs ready to support him. To achieve
this, Kalua said Mutharika wants to amend section 65 of their constitution.
This would allow MPs to change parties or "cross the floor" in parliament
without going back to their constituencies for a fresh mandate.

      Kalua told us that people are now too scared to criticise Mutharika
because they can be arrested. He also claimed that civil servants who openly
do not support the president can be fired. According to Kalua, 2 officials
from the opposition were recently charged with treason and denied bail. He
said this is new to Malawi and it seems as though the country is moving
backwards. He added that he is not afraid to speak himself because he was
one of the people who campaigned for a multi-party system in Malawi and is a
well-known figure. Kalua believes chiefs and NGOs already fear these changes
they see in Malawi. As for Mugabe's role in all this, Kalua said anyone you
speak to in Malawi will tell you it all began to fall apart as Mutharika
strebngthened his ties with Mugabe.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Soaring inflation turns Zimbabwe into a nation of big spenders

From The Globe & Mail (Canada), 4 April

Stephanie Nolen

Harare - Winston doesn't teach his children about the value of a piggy bank
or saving for a rainy day. He teaches them to spend - and fast. With the
official inflation rate in Zimbabwe at 730 per cent last month, and the
unofficial rate estimated to be much higher, it would be foolish to keep
cash. Winston quickly changes any money he earns into food, which he keeps
in a room off the kitchen stocked with rice, vegetable oil, sugar and flour.
If he were to come into a little extra cash, he reckons he would invest it
in something safe, like a sofa, or a set of chairs. Something he could sell
that would have gone up in value. "Once you save money for a day or more,
then inflation is knocking at your door and it's gone," he explains. The
economic collapse of Zimbabwe has hit everyone in the country hard, save for
the tiny elite that lives on foreign currency. The subsistence farmers, who
are the country's poorest citizens, live much of their lives outside a cash
economy and purchase only the most essential items: bags of maize meal, the
staple food; seeds; fertilizer; and medical consultations. The government is
attempting to control prices of all these things.

But middle-class families such as Winston's must navigate the careening
Zimbabwean economy on a day-to-day basis. Over the past few years, the
family has slipped from well off and is teetering dangerously on the edge of
poverty. They say they never could have dreamed of life as it is now, and
they can't begin to imagine what will come next. Winston works as a driver
for aid agencies and tourists. As often as he can these days, he tries to
get paid in foreign currency (even though this is illegal and risky),
accepting a lower wage if it comes in precious greenbacks. he family lives
in a large house with a TV and a VCR; it had an Internet connection and a
fixed-line telephone, but neither work these days. Winston still manages to
keep his daughters in sparkly Barbie shoes, and to keep the family car on
the road -- but he wonders how long this will last. Now he and his wife,
Millicent, make a trip to the shops every couple of days; each time, it's an
exercise in discovering what's still on the shelves, and how thick a brick
of currency they will need to pay for it. "You go back to the store after
two days and the price is up," Millicent says, adding that shops don't
bother sticking prices on anything any more. Instead, a would-be buyer must
find someone to ask what soap or sugar costs this afternoon. "And you wonder
if it is more than what it cost in the morning."

Zimbabwe was once an economic star in southern Africa, but its economy,
based on commercial agriculture, started to implode after President Robert
Mugabe began a highly politicized land-handover process in 1998 that gutted
the farming industry. Exports have dwindled and the country is critically
short of foreign currency for imports to keep even the most basic industries
running. The shortages, and the government habit of churning out "bearer's
cheques" in ever-higher denominations, have sent inflation out of control.
That makes day-to-day life in a city such as Harare an exercise in painful
ingenuity. Winston has two children of his own and is raising nine orphaned
relatives. A year ago, school fees and rent in the city became unmanageable
and he moved the children into the countryside, to a plot of land where they
can grow their own maize meal and bake their own bread on a wood fire,
eschewing the oven, which burns costly gas. Primary school fees that cost
him $630 (Zimbabwe) in 2000 had tripled by 2003, hit $27,300 in 2004 and
clocked in at $2.8-million (about $33 Canadian) when the new term started a
few weeks' back.

School uniforms he bought in January at $1.5-million each were $3-million
last week. Bread was $45,000 a loaf at Christmas; it's $80,000 now. When he
must buy gas for the car on the black market, it costs $250,000 a litre.
That's about $2.95 in Canadian currency at the official rate, but the going
exchange rate on the street is about twice as much. The electric company
just announced tariff increases of 95 per cent a month. But salaries change
either very little or not at all. A military officer might earn $8-million a
month (about $94 Canadian), a police officer $6-million, a secondary-school
teacher $12-million. Winston explained that many people he knows are coping
by seeking extra work, either dealing in illegal imports, currency or fuel
on the black market, or angling for a government position, working at an
inspection agency or sitting on a land-tenure review committee. "These are
the only positions that pay reliably and consistently and well," he says.
"If you are employed in just one job, you won't survive."

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