The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Zimbabwe Dollar Takes A Huge Plunge

HARARE - The Zimbabwe dollar on Friday plunged by more than 50 percent
in a space of 24 hours following the unveiling of the Zd 10 billion note by
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

†The Zimbabwe dollar, which was pegged at Zd 350 000 against a single
unit of the US dollar, on Friday shot to Zd 900 000, according to black
market rates.

The Zd 10 billion note, the highest bank note in the world, is now
equivalent to only USd 10.

The black market is now the most realistic source of foreign currency
in Zimbabwe.

The unveiling of the notes has further pushed prices upwards with a
single loaf of bread now costing Zd 1,2 billion up from Zd 350 000 on
Thursday while a one way trip on a commuter omnibus into the city centre is
now Zd 500 000.

Central bank governor Gideon Gono on Friday unveiled the Zd 1 billion,
Zd 5 billion and Zd 10 billion notes in a bid to ease re-current cash
shortages in Zimbabwe which have been occasioned by the world's highest
inflation of more than 230 million percent.

The introduction of the new notes coincided with yet another upward
review of bank cash withdrawal limits by central government, which are now
pegged at Zd 10 billion.

†But the latest round of cash withdrawal limits is exclusive to
Zimbabwean workers on production of their December pay slips.

Ordinary Zimbabweans, who now eke out a living through informal self
help projects, are only allowed to withdraw Zd 500 000.

A week ago, the maximum cash withdrawal limits rose from Zd 50 million
to Zd 500 million a week for individuals when the central bank introduced
the Zd 100 million, Zd 200 million and Zd 500 million notes.

Cash withdrawal limits have been criticized as they have failed to
address the cash crisis which surfaced in 2003.

Pressure is mounting on the central bank to do away with its unpopular
cash withdrawal limits that have seen ordinary Zimbabweans, who own
trillions of dollars in their bank accounts, starving.

Successive upward reviews this month followed a nationwide strike
early this month by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) which
called for the complete removal of the limits.

Government felt the heat when hordes of uniformed soldiers went on the
rampage at the beginning of December, looting shops in the city centre and
beating up suspected foreign currency dealers whom they accused of obtaining
wads of bank notes from corrupt and influential government officials against
cash withdrawal limits pegged by the central bank.

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Demo highlights Christmas of desperation facing Zimbabweans

December 20 2008

A grim Father Christmas handed out presents of death and disease to exiles
from Zimbabwe protesting against its President today.

Dressed in a Santa Claus suit, and wearing a Robert Mugabe mask, "Father
Cholera" dispensed gifts labelled devastation, murder, death, and cholera.

Protesters outside Zimbabwe's embassy in London said the major cholera
outbreak will not be stopped whilst Mr Mugabe remains in power.

The figure representing Mr Mugabe, who was claimed the disease is under
control, told the gathering: "There is no cholera in Zimbabwe!"
The demonstration was organised by the Zimbabwe Vigil, who have stood watch
outside the embassy in The Strand every Saturday for more than six years,
and says it will not stop its protests against the regime until
internationally monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.

Vigil spokesperson Ephraim Tapa, said: "The cholera situation in Zimbabwe
isn't going to go away as long as Mugabe is in charge. As long as he's
President there won't be any change.

"The problem is now nationwide. It's an emergency and it continues to spread
in the rural areas.

"There is no medication and the health system is corrupt.

"What we would want the international community to realise is the
relationship between cholera and the political crisis. Unless the political
system is dealt with then there won't be any positive changes.

"When Mugabe says 'I have arrested the spread of cholera', we say 'really'?
We are here to expose that lie and to tell the international community that
the cholera epidemic is still alive and spreading. Urgent action is needed."

As the symbolic presents were handed out protesters shouted 'Mugabe must go'
and told passers by 'If you are in Zimbabwe this is the only present you
get.' Yesterday Gordon Brown said conditions in Zimbabwe were 'deteriorating
rapidly' and that the situation in the country was 'a tragedy'.

The Prime minister urged Southern-African governments to distance themselves
from Mr Mugabe, after the President insisted African leaders were not 'brave
enough' to force him from office.

Power-sharing negotiations with the opposition MDC - widely thought to have
won elections earlier this year - have ground to a halt.

Meanwhile the cholera crisis has infected about 18,000 people and could get
worse as heavy rain threatens to spread the deadly disease, aid workers said
this week.

An appeal to raise four million pounds has been launched by Oxfam in an
attempt to provide clean water, sanitation and food to more than a million

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Madman Mugabe's got to go

His people are dying, his nation withering, as he clings to power
Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff
Saturday, December 20, 2008

The long and tortuous political career of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe
provides a perfect example of 19th Century British historian Lord Acton's
famous observation, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts

When the white minority regime of Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia,
transitioned to majority rule in 1980, a Mugabe-led socialist government was
elected. The new president was perceived as his country's George Washington.
And for years, that's how he ruled.

The white minority largely cooperated in integrating the long-oppressed
black majority into the nation's booming economy. The landlocked nation
became the breadbasket of the region, exporting food products to its

Though there had always been underlying tensions between Mugabe and his
political foes, matters turned seriously sour in 2000 when squatters seized
farmland owned by whites and two years later Mugabe ordered all white
commercial farmers to leave their land without compensation.

That was the beginning of the end of Zimbabwe's prosperity. The new owners
lacked the expertise to cultivate their land. Zimbabwe plunged into chaos,
and Mugabe's response, in true Marxist fashion, was to come down hard on all
his critics -- white and black.

For several years now he's been ruling with an iron hand -- fixing
elections, killing and imprisoning his rivals and letting his country slide
into economic chaos. With inflation running at a mind-bending rate of 230
million percent, Zimbabwe's currency is worthless.

Today Zimbabweans are starving and riddled with disease, including cholera
which has killed 575 people and infected at least 12,700 more. Untreated,
cholera is deadly. But the disease is easily cured when caught in time and
is altogether preventable by simply making sure people drink from clean

In less than 10 years, Zimbabwe has gone from being one of Africa's most
prosperous nations to perhaps the most poverty stricken. The tragic
transformation staggers the mind, yet strongman Mugabe still hangs onto
power. He blames not himself, but Europe, the United States and other
nations that have tried to help by sending his country money, medicine and
food -- all of which gets swallowed up by the corrupt regime before it ever
reaches the people in need.

Indeed, there's no sense in sending any more aid at all -- not until
Mugabe's gone. Neighboring African nations, especially South Africa, could
force him out, but so far they have refused to do so, presumably because
they don't want to set a precedent that someday could be turned on them.

But until African nations do take action, matters will only get worse -- for
them as well as for Zimbabwe. The economic, nutritional and health
catastrophe Mugabe is inflicting on his own people could soon spread to
their countries, to which Zimbabweans are fleeing by the thousands.

The Kenyan and Liberian governments have already called for Mugabe's
ouster -- by force if necessary-- and their calls were recently echoed by
Desmond Tutu, South Africa's most distinguished cleric and peace activist.
There are compassionate, conscientious and popular black leaders available
to take over the reins of power in Zimbabwe, but without outside help they
can do nothing.

It will be up to the African nations, with help from the West, to bring
about democratic change in Zimbabwe. It can't happen too soon; thousands of
lives depend on it.

From the Saturday, December 20, 2008 edition of the Augusta Chronicle

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Speak Out for Zimbabwe - AVAAZ campaign

December 20th, 2008

AVAAZ campaign

AVAAZ are running another campaign for Zimbabwe:

The people of Zimbabwe are being ravaged by a spiralling cholera epidemic, hunger, violence and the accelerating collapse of their country. Talks to form a Government of National Unity facilitated by Thabo Mbeki have failed. Tensions are rising, and spilling over to threaten the stability of Southern Africa.

Only the South African government has the power to make a difference and secure a political solution, based on the will of the Zimbabwean people, behind which Africa could unite.

If enough Africans appeal to him for action, President Motlanthe of South Africa can act to resolve the crisis. So let’s send a thunderous message from across Africa to the South African leader — click below to sign the petition and then please forward this email to your friends and family…

Please sign the petition and then use the feature on the AVAAZ website to let as many people as possible know about it.

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Zimbabwean president hints at early elections

Associated Press

Dec 20, 2:05 PM EST

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- President Robert Mugabe says his party should be
preparing for early elections - and he wants no repeat of his March loss.

Mugabe spoke Saturday at the close of his ZANU-PF party's two-day
conference. He told about 5,000 party loyalists new elections would be held
if a power-sharing plan collapsed.

The unity government agreement Mugabe signed in September with opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai has stalled.

Mugabe came in second to Tsvangirai in a March election. Official results
did not give Tsvangirai enough votes to avoid a run-off. Tsvangirai pulled
out of the June run-off because of state-sponsored violence against his

Mugabe told supporters Saturday they should mobilize to avoid a repeat of
the March defeat.

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Mugabe vows not to reverse Zimbabwe farm seizures

Sat 20 Dec 2008, 19:09 GMT

(Recasts with Mugabe speech)

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

BINDURA, Zimbabwe, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
said on Saturday he would not allow a unity government to reverse his
controversial policy of seizing white-owned farmland and giving it to

Speaking at his ZANU-PF party's annual conference, Mugabe said that while he
hoped the opposition would agree to form a coalition government, he would
not compromise on policies such as land seizures, which critics say wrecked
Zimbabwe's economy.

"We don't want a unity which is retrogressive," Mugabe told about 6,000
ruling party supporters at this town about 80 km (50 miles) north of the
capital Harare.

"The biggest issue is of land ... the land has already been given to the
people, it will not be returned to whites."

Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed three months ago to
form a coalition government after disputed elections, but the pact has
stalled as they fight over who should control key ministries.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has sunk deeper into crisis: hyperinflation means prices
double every day and a cholera epidemic has killed more than 1,100 people.

Mugabe has threatened to form a government with or without the MDC, which
complains the president is trying to relegate it to a junior role.

Investors hope a unity government would wrest enough control from Mugabe to
reverse the policies they blame for the meltdown, and avert total collapse
in Zimbabwe. Mugabe blames Western sanctions for the crisis.


Under the Sept. 15 deal, land that was seized from white farmers and now
lies dormant would not be returned, but would be redistributed to black
farmers with the resources and skills to cultivate it.

In a sign of Zimbabwe's collapse -- and its potential -- the conference took
place in a town that once relied on mining for its economic lifeblood. Those
mines have recently been shut.

ZANU-PF officials earlier said the party was likely to vote on a resolution
on Saturday urging Mugabe urgently to form a government unilaterally -- a
move that would probably finish off the power-sharing pact.

Resolutions were being discussed behind closed doors and it was not
immediately clear whether the motion had been passed.

In elections last March, ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority for the
first time since independence in 1980. Tsvangirai boycotted a run-off
presidential vote in June, citing violence against his supporters.

Western countries and some African leaders have renewed calls in recent
weeks for Mugabe, 84, to step down.

But, a day after vowing never to "surrender", Mugabe railed against his
foes, saying the West wanted to topple him.

"Mugabe must go before Bush is going?" he said, referring to U.S. President
George W. Bush, who leaves office in January. "Is it a ritual now that Bush
with his political death must be accompanied by some African from Zimbabwe,
and that African must be the leader himself, and that leader is Mugabe?"

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MDC Denies Receiving Invitation Letters From Mugabe

HARARE, December 20, 2008 - THE two Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC)† formations have denied receiving letters of invitation for the
formation of an inclusive government contrary to President Robert Mugabe's
claims last week that he had officially invited them.

Mugabe told delegates at the Zanu PF national people's conference held
in Bindura on Friday that he had sent letters to MDC leaders Morgan
Tsvangirai and Authur Mutambara inviting them to form the inclusive
But the two MDC formations have denied ever receiving any letters from
the 84-year-old President, accused of ruining the country's economy and
gross human rights violations.
MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said: "We have not received any
communication from Mugabe or his office. The only communication we are
receiving are the abduction of our officials and supporters across the
He added, "In any case, the President (Tsvangirai) is not in the
country in circumstances caused by Mugabe himself. He needs his passport
MDC-M spokesperson Edwin Mushoriwa has also denied that his party
received the letter of invitation from Mugabe.
"We have not received the letter as of now. It might be still on its
way," he said.
"In as much as we understand his (Tsvangirai) reasons of staying out
of the country, it is imperative that he come back and we form a government
as quickly as possible because people are suffering," said Mushoriwa.
Tsvangirai has threatened to suspend power-sharing negations with Zanu
PF unless all its supporters and human rights activists abducted in the past
two months are released or charged.
Tsvangirai said he would withdraw from the Southern African
Development Community (SADC)-mediated talks unless all the abductees are
released or charged in a court of law by the first day of next month.

He said there would be no meaningful talks while Zanu PF was waging a
campaign of terror on his supporters.
"Therefore, if these abductions do not cease immediately, and if all
the abductees are not released or charged in a court of law by January 1st
2009, I will be asking the MDC's National Council to pass a resolution to
suspend all negotiations and contact with Zanu PF," said Tsvangirai in a
statement he delivered in Botswana.
Tsvangirai said more than 42 members of the MDC and civil society have
been abducted in the past two months and their whereabouts are still
Among those abducted recently are former personal assistant to
Tsvangirai, Gandhi Mudzingwa, the party's director of security Chris
Dhlamini and Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) director Jestina Mukoko together
with two workers from her organisation.
Tsvangirai said the abductions were a clear signed that Zanu PF did
not respect the Memorandum of Understanding and the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) the parties signed on September 15.
Chamisa said his party had raised the issue of abductions with the
African Union and SADC, who are the guarantors of the talks. The MDC has
also raised the issue with Zanu PF but has not received any response.
"The situation has become so precarious at the moment. We keep
receiving reports of abduction everyday," said Chamisa

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Zanu thievocracy knows no boundaries

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Bindura- With Zimbabweans now poorer than they were in 1953, even the
privilleged Zanu executive members will resort to stealing meat being
prepared for their next meal.
Most Zimbabweans are now dependent on food aid from Western countries
that President Robert Mugabe denounces at every turn.
On friday Mugabe saw for himself how the hunger that has been stalking
large swathes of Zimbabwe has driven his own executives who are normally
cushioned from it by an elaborate patronage system to stealing from the
party's pantry.
the delegates are gathered in this mining town for their annual

Addressing the 7000 delegates, Mugabe warned against rampant
indiscipline and immorality.

"There is lack of morality in the party. You stole meat last night.
nine beasts were stolen. They were found today. Mealie-meal had been stolen.
It's lack of morality. We must think of our grassroots. We must have
definite principles, binding principles," said an angry Mugabe.

He said most party members were seized by a self enrichment mentality
at the expense of the people who voted them into office.

Mashonaland Central Governor and Resident Minister Advocate Martin
Dinha, who spoke before Mugabe, urged the 84-year-old leader to expel
corrupt officials from the party.

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Zimbabwe Food Security Outlook Oct 2008 to Mar 2009

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Source: Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET)

- Progress on cereal imports by both the Government of Zimbabwe and
the humanitarian agencies from 1 April 2007 to 31 October 2008 indicates
that only a total of 316,000 MT of cereals (maize and small grains) had been
imported, leaving a cereal harvest deficit for the 2008/09 consumption year
at 666,000 MT. Available major cereals are just enough to cover national
consumption up to the end of November 2008. There is, therefore, an urgent
need for government and humanitarian agencies to accelerate their cereal
- Cereal availability at the sub national level is limited, and most
households have depleted their own production stocks and are now heavily
relying on purchases and bartering. Prices of maize grain have remained
high, twice above average, making it very difficult for the poor households
to access adequate food. Trading of grain and other basic foods in foreign
currency is widespread across the country, but this has only benefited the
small proportion of households with access to foreign currency.

- Availability of basic commodities on the formal market has remained
limited, and these commodities are mainly available on the parallel market,
where prices are very high. The dollarization of the economy has resulted in
a limited improvement in the availability of basic goods on the formal
market, which the majority of poor households cannot access as they cannot
obtain the foreign currency to buy the goods now legally sold in foreign

- In addition to being continuously constrained by the hyperinflation
in the economy, household purchasing power is also restricted by the cash
shortage crisis that has characterized the economy for the past two years.
Salaries and wages for the few still formally employed are eroded by
inflation while locked up in the banking system as workers spend days
battling through endless queues to access the maximum daily cash withdrawal,
which cannot buy a loaf of bread. Zimbabwe is a cash economy; plastic money
has very a very limited role.

- Food aid is improving food access for many rural households, and its
impact is likely to increase in December as the planned distributions are
expected to cover about 90 percent of the rural districts and also target
vulnerable groups in the urban areas if these programs are fully sourced and
implemented in full. However, coverage for the remainder of the marketing
year is in jeopardy as a pipeline break is expected in January.

- The rainfall season forecast predicts increased chances of normal to
above-normal rainfall during the first half of the summer season over the
major cereal producing areas of the country, but increased chances of below-
normal rains are expected over the same areas in the second half of the
season, when cereal crops are expected to be in critical reproductive growth
stages. Limited availability of key agricultural inputs (seed and
fertilizer) is likely to delay planting (which will in turn make most cereal
crops more vulnerable to moisture deficits in the second half of the
season), reduce area planted, and reduce yields.

- Looking ahead into the period from January to March 2009, the
majority of urban and rural households are likely to be moderately food
insecure. While food access will be very difficult, most household are
expected to still manage through purchases, food aid, remittances, and
various expenditure, income, and consumption strategies to meet their
minimum calorie requirements. From February 2009, meager green harvests of
maize, cowpeas, beans, and pumpkins will complement the other food sources,
particularly in areas where food assistance coverage is expected to be
least. However, some households will fail to meet their minimum calorie
intake, resulting in acute malnutrition levels for children under five of
between 3 and 10 percent.

- On the other hand, if food assistance programs are poorly resourced,
government food imports do not improve or are scaled down from current
levels, the green harvest is much less than currently projected, and the
economic decline accelerates faster than the current pace, households across
the country could become highly food insecure, and malnutrition rates could
rise to levels rarely seen in Zimbabwe.

- In both scenarios, water, sanitation, and health services will be
inadequate, which could trigger the spread of waterborne diseases, including
cholera, and result in reduced food utilization.

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Party official refuses to hand over vehicle

December 19, 2008

By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO - Zanu-PF was forced to resort to strong-arm tactics to retrieve a
luxury vehicle from a disgruntled party official after the former Masvingo
provincial chairman refused to hand over the truck.

Retired major Alex Mudavanhu lost the provincial chairmanship to former Gutu
North legislator Lovemore Matuke last month but held onto the vehicle,
arguing that the twin-cab Isuzu 4◊4 truck was fair compensation for services
rendered to Zanu-PF during his stint as party chairman.

Mudavanhu argued that the vehicle was a benefit after his tenure of office.

Four policemen accompanied an unidentified party official initially but
returned empty-handed after they failed to persuade the former provincial
chairman to surrender the truck.

The officer commanding Masvingo, senior assistant commissioner Mekia
Tanyanyiwa says he intervened by writing a letter to Mudavanhu to appeal to
him to return the vehicle to Zanu-PF but the former chairman had stood his

In an undated letter to Mudavanhu, Tanyanyiwa wrote: "Please be advised the
following party elections in which you lost, you are now supposed to return
the car in your possession.

"Zanu-PF officials have advised us to impound the car but we hope you will
understand and hand over the property.

"(If you fail) to do so, we will use all means at our disposal to ensure
that the party retains its car".

Heavily armed police officers then raided Mudavanhu's farm on the outskirts
of the city and demanded the car. They managed to recover the truck and
handed it over to Matuke who is the new Zanu-PF chairman.

"I refused to hand over the car because the party has to thank me for the
time I was the chairman," said Mudavanhu.

"If they had not used armed policemen, I was not going to return it because
the party cannot just fire me like that after years of hard work and

Mudavanhu and members of his executive lost the elections which insiders
allege were engineered to ensure that candidates loyal to retired army
commander Solomon Mujuru would be defeated.

During the recent Zanu-PF restructuring exercise throughout the country,
election candidates aligned to Mujuru's rival, Emmerson Mnangagwa, for long
regarded as the successor to President Robert Mugabe, were voted into
influential posts amid reports that the minister was now seriously
positioning himself for a take over from Mugabe.

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Press freedom body pleads with Mugabe over missing Zimbabwe journalists

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) The World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), an umbrella
body of 45 media rights groups, has written to Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe protesting at the worsening media environment in the country
following a spate of abductions of journalists this month, APA learnt here

In the letter dated December 19, WPFC executive member Markham Bench
expressed concern at the continued threats to media freedom in Zimbabwe,
citing the unsolved cases involving the disappearances of journalists
Jestina Mukoko and Shadreck Manyere.

Mukoko, who now heads a church-based non-governmental organisation which has
been documenting human rights abuses by Zimbabwean government officials, has
been missing since December 3 when she was allegedly abducted by police
officers from her home near the capital Harare.

The police have denied knowledge of her whereabouts after a court ordered
her release.

Manyere has been missing since last Saturday when men claiming to be police
officers came looking for him at his Harare home. He was not at home but
never returned or made contact with his family since that day.

Bench implored President Mugabe to guarantee the safety of journalists,
particularly those employed by independent media houses and foreign news

"Mr President we urge you to put the necessary measures in place to
guarantee that the members of your country's independent media, both
national and international, can fulfil their duty to keep the public
informed without any fears for their safety or their lives," Bench said.

Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba earlier this week threatened to ban
the accreditation of all members of the foreign media, accusing them of
"playing little gods" on the country's affairs and of having embarked on a
propaganda assault on Zimbabwe.

Member organisations of WPFC include the Committee to Protect Journalists,
the Commonwealth Press Union, the Inter-American Press Association, the
International Association of Broadcasting, the International Federation of
the Periodical Press, the International Press Institute, the North American
Broadcasters Association and the World Association of Newspapers.

† JN/daj/APA 2008-12-20

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Soldiers, Police Mount Road Blocks

MASVINGO-Soldiers with the millitary police together with traffic
police mounted roadblocks along the country's major roads seaching for guns
in the wake of a recent shooting on Air Force Commander Prence Shiri.

Perence Shiri survived an assasination attempt early this week while
driving to his farm outside Harare, state media reported on Tuesday. He
suffered a bullet wound on the hand and was said to be recuperating at
Manyame Airbase millitary hospital.

While the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the shooting
incident is linked to ZANU PF sucession battles, president Mugabe said it
was the opposition bandits allegedly trained in Botswana that are

But Botswana and South Africa rejected the alleged mercenary training
as baseless, saying president Mugabe wants to use the justification to
declare a state of emergency in Zimbabwe.

Sources within the army said the millitary police had been deployed
around the country's major roads to search for weapons which they believe
might be imported by the MDC to topple the Mugabe regime.

"Most of our collegues will not be going for the X-mass holidays as
they are mounting roadblocks along the country's major roads seaching for
weapons. The roadblock issue heightened following the shooting of Perence
Shiri," a soldier at Manyame airbase told Radio Vop.

Radio VOP witnessed numerous roadblocks where cars and people were
seached. Along the Harare-Masvingo highway, there were four roadblocks,
leading to traffic congestion along the way.

From Masvingo to Beitbridge, a journey that usually takes around four
hours, took longer due to the the riadblocks.

The same situation was also said to be prevailing along the
Masvingo-Bulawayo road, and Masvingo- Mutare highway.

However political analysts think the attack on Shiri was a job within
the Zanu PF party since there are factions.

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WHO Says Better Monitoring of Cholera Needed in Zimbabwe

By Lisa Schlein
20 December 2008

The World Health Organization says it hopes to have a surveillance system in
place soon that can accurately track cholera cases as they occur in
Zimbabwe. WHO says it is difficult to know which parts of the country most
need help in treating and containing the epidemic without accurate

The United Nations reports cholera in Zimbabwe has claimed more than 1,100
lives and more than 20,000, people have become infected with this deadly

But, the World Health Organization warns cholera cases could soar to 60,000
if urgent action to contain the disease is not taken. In fact, WHO says it
is likely there already are more cases than the official figures indicate.

Coordinator of WHO's Disease Control in Emergencies, Dr. Dominique Legros,
has just returned from Zimbabwe.†† He was there to help set up the United
Nations Command and Control Center for the Control of the Cholera outbreak.

He says the UN hopes to have a surveillance system in place in a few days.
He says this is absolutely crucial in monitoring the course of the epidemic.

"We are setting up with implementing partners, a system of daily reporting
of cases," said Dr. Legros. "We got clearance from the government to get
these figures from the periphery to the central level through contact
persons in the CTC's [Central Treatment Centers] and CTU's [Central
Treatment Units] in the main cities and the main towns so that we have
immediate, if you wish, updates and alerts for new outbreaks occurring in
different places."

Dr. Legros calls this absolutely critical. Until now, he says, the
surveillance system has been too slow for health workers to respond to

While in Zimbabwe, Dr. Legros was part of a WHO delegation that visited two
cholera treatment centers in the capital, Harare-the Budiriro Cholera
Treatment Center and the Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Clinic.

Approximately half of the cases have been recorded in Budiriro, a heavily
populated suburb on the western outskirts of Harare. Other major
concentrations of cholera cases have been reported along the borders with
South Africa and Mozambique.

Dr. Legros says the quality of health care has to improve if lives are to be
saved. Unfortunately, he says the health facilities are in terrible shape.

"The staff was basically not going to work because of the lack of salary or
too small salary with regard to the expenses," said Dr. Legros. "I have seen
hospitals, which were basically empty, like sort of ghost hospitals because
no material, no staff, etc. But, some staff resumed working for the cholera
outbreak and I have staff from the government working in the CTC's and
CTU's, cholera treatment units, cholera treatment centers."

Dr. Legros says efforts must be made to quickly fix the discrepancy in
salaries between government workers, who are badly paid and staff working
for non-government organizations, who command higher salaries. He says this
would act as an incentive to get health care workers back on the job.

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Oxfam launches £4 million appeal to help millions of Zimbabweans facing growing cholera and hunger crisis

International agency Oxfam today launched a £ 4 million public appeal to address the lethal cholera and hunger crisis that is rapidly deteriorating across Zimbabwe. Oxfam will be providing clean water, sanitation and food to over one million people and is calling on the public and international donors to support the emergency appeal as it substantially scales up its efforts in the country.

More than 5 million Zimbabweans now need food aid, in some locations only 1 in 10 farmers have seeds to plant for the coming growing season and many people are being forced to take increasingly desperate measures such as selling livestock and engaging in prostitution in order to survive. A shortfall in donations from the international community to the World Food Programme has forced Oxfam to cut the food rations each person receives by fifteen per cent.

Jane Cocking, Humanitarian Director of Oxfam said:

"The rapid deterioration of the situation in Zimbabwe makes this an extremely grave humanitarian crisis which could deteriorate even further in 2009. While the international community battles for a political solution in the country, millions of Zimbabweans are going hungry. Oxfam is able to get clean water and food through to people who need it most. We need to respond now, there is no time to lose."

In order to stem the growth of cholera, Oxfam is currently distributing hygiene kits, which include water purification tablets and soap, to 620,000 people as well as providing food rations to 250,000. A further 425,000 people are being helped through urban public health programmes such as drilling boreholes to provide clean water supplies.

Cholera, a water-born disease, continues to rise with the latest figures from the UN showing that it has infected 18,000 people and killed about 800 with many more deaths and infections are believed to have gone unrecorded. Cholera is now affecting nine out of Zimbabwe's ten provinces and is likely to spread further if, as expected, there are more heavy rains in the next month.

The breakdown of public water systems and health services means help is vital to protect people from cholera. Unchecked, it will to contribute to many more deaths, and poses a particular threat to those with HIV, which is one in seven Zimbabweans.

Peter Mutoredzanwa, Oxfam Zimbabwe Country Director, said:

"The average Zimbabwean woman can only expect to live 33 years and the tragic fact is that unless we respond now, many more people will not live to see their 30s. Zimbabweans are no strangers to food shortages but we have now reached desperate levels. Some children only eat a meager portion of food once every three days and people scavenge in rubbish dumps for anything they can eat."

Ways to donate:

Donate online now, or

Call 0300 200 1999, or

Donate at your local oxfam shop.

Zimbabwe Cholera Crisis - general information online.

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Why can't African leaders see that Britain can help Zimbabwe?

†December 21, 2008

†Sam Akaki

Christmas season should, and has been a time of goodwill, even among sworn
enemies in a kill-or-be-killed situation.
"On December 24, 1914, British and German troops at the dreaded Western
Front, near the Belgian hamlet of St. Yvon, climbed out of their trenches,
crossed the no-man's land and, shook hands, sang Christmas carols and shared

"As their commanders watched, in disbelief, the soldiers played football,
kicking around empty beef cans, and using their steel helmets as goal-posts!
Like wild fire, the unauthorised truce quickly spread along the 500-mile
frontline where more than a million soldiers on both sides had died a few
hours, days and weeks earlier." (The Diary of Capt. Robert Hamilton)
Fast-forward to Christmas season on December 10, 2008, in the British House
of Commons, in London.

In his contribution to Foreign Affairs and Defence debate on the Queen's
speech, the Foreign Secretary and potential future Prime Minister, Mr David
Miliband said:
"There is unanimity across the House on the cause of Zimbabwe's descent into
ruin", he started.

"I hope there can also be unanimity today in honest explanation to the
British public of the following points: that there can be no solution in
Zimbabwe without the engagement of neighbouring African countries; that we
should remain committed to offering our support for a broad-based government
reflecting the March election results."

He was speaking as much to his colleagues in the House as to his sworn
enemies in the African Union (AU). Why?
For a decade, Britain and its former African colonies have been locked in a
diplomatic war of attrition, over Zimbabwe.
As Britain relentlessly led a sustained camping in the European Union, the
G8 and the United Nations, calling for a regime change, the AU have
consistently said no, never!

During the heated Commons debate, several MPs, led by the Labour MP for
Vauxhall, Ms Kate Hohey, demanded, "Why do so many southern African leaders
and the African Union ruling elite keep asking what the minimum is that they
have to do to get UK aid flowing back into Zimbabwe?"

It is time for us to stop trying to be nice to those African countries that
continue to recognise, talk to and support Mugabe. If they do not do what
they should do, we must ensure that we punish them, too."

However, Mr Miliband who knows something about collective punishment, thanks
to his Jewish immigrant parents Ralph Miliband and Marion Kozak, replied:

"In seeking to tackle the cause of the current death and destruction, we all
have to weigh up whether or not we are ourselves willing to cause death and
destruction to completely innocent people. That is something we have not
been willing to do."

With almost palpable humility, he apologetically said in conclusion, "I have
tried the House's patience for a long time and I have tried to be generous
in answering questions, so I think I should finish my speech on this note
then allow others to speak." "The precedents in respect of military action
[in Zimbabwe] are not auspicious, and I think that that discussion should be
left for the moment."

Given the irredeemable breakdown in the power-sharing talks, the horrendous
suffering of innocent Zimbabweans, and reported planned invasion from
Botswana and the assassination attempt on Air Chief Marshal Perence Shiri,
why can't the AU get out of its trenches and engage with the British in a
Christmas goodwill compromise to avert the escalating tragedy in Zimbabwe?

Just as Mr Miliband has recognised that "there can be no solution in
Zimbabwe without the engagement of neighbouring African countries", the AU
should also recognise that Zimbabwe will never receive the international
support it desperately needs without British co-operation. Why?

Britain may be small, geographically, but it strides the world like a
Collossus, politically, financially and militarily.
It is an influential member of the Commonwealth, the European Union, North
Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation
in Europe, the UN Security Council, and a major shareholder in both the
World Bank and IMF. The AU must recognise their historical disadvantage, and
accept that Britain is a part of the solution to the Zimbabwe tragedy.

If Germany and Britain, which fought two world wars are now working
together, promoting their common interests, why can't the AU work with
Britain to save Zimbabwe?
But why can't the AU use this Christmas to unveil their alternative plan to
rescue Zimbabwe, if they will not engage Britain?
How many more Zimbabweans must die before such a plan is revealed?


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The right to a functioning government

Dave McGuire


Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, said "that
government is best which governs the least..." But he also acknowledged
"great societies cannot exist without government". Certainly, living a safe
and prosperous life is difficult if you don't live under a working

People throughout the world are struggling to have leadership that meets
their needs, but in some places, having a government at all would probably
be better than what they've got now.

Complete collapse
The people of Zimbabwe are experiencing life without a functioning
government. Since disputed elections earlier this year, the country has been
in a free fall.

The president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has been in power for decades.
He's been accused of ruining the economy, torturing political dissidents and
rigging elections to keep his ZANU-PF party in power. The head of the
opposition is Morgan Tsvangirai and since the election, both men have talked
about forming a coalition government.

As their negotiations keep stalling, the country is collapsing. Inflation
figures are so high that they've become meaningless - 231 million percent is
one estimation. Stores are empty of food and recently, cholera outbreaks
have been reported across the land.

Rock Bottom
Gorden Moyo is Executive Director for Bulawayo Agenda, a civic society
organisation that works with the community in Zimbabwe's second city,
Bulawayo. He says there's no government at all:
"The country is merely rolling on its own down the doldrums, deeper into the
malaise of economic meltdown. It is a miracle that Zimbabweans are surviving
without a government. But I don't think we will manage - we have hit rock

The people of Zimbabwe have tried everything, Moyo says. They voted against
Mugabe in the last elections, they protested in the streets, they appealed
for help. But still, he says, Zimbabweans are responsible for their own
livelihood and reconstructing a government.

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Lessons of Zimbabwe

From Timothy Scarnecchia, Jocelyn Alexander and 33 others

For a number of scholars, Mahmood Mamdani's 'Lessons of Zimbabwe' requires a
further response, given Mamdani's stature as a scholar and public
intellectual (LRB, 4 December 2008). Some aspects of his argument are
uncontroversial: there was a real demand for land redistribution - even the
World Bank was calling for it in the late 1990s as the best way forward in
Zimbabwe - and some of the Western powers' original pronouncements and
actions were hypocritical. There is a real danger, however, in simplifying
the lessons of Zimbabwe. It isn't just a matter of stark ethnic dichotomies,
the urban-rural divide, or the part played by 'the West'.

One of the more difficult tasks for scholars working on Zimbabwe is to
convince peers working on other areas of Africa to look more deeply at the
crisis and not to be fooled by Mugabe's rhetoric of imperialist
victimisation. Mamdani has, unfortunately, fallen in with this rhetoric by
characterising Zimbabwean history and politics as fundamentally a battle
between what he sees as an urban-based opposition, supported by the West,
and a peasant-based ruling party besieged by external forces. This flight of
fantasy portrays Mugabe and his Zanu-PF cronies as heroes of a landless
peasantry (which is how they see themselves) and the state - backed up by
the paramilitary violence of war veterans and others - as the vanguard of a
peasant revolution. We suggest that Mamdani acquaint himself with the large
body of Zimbabwean scholarship, which is easily available, rather than
selectively using the arguments of scholars such as Sam Moyo and Paris Yeros
on land reform, and Gideon Gono, Mugabe's Reserve Bank governor, as his
source on sanctions. Citing Gono is rather like using Milton Obote's
writings as a source for conditions in Uganda in the 1960s and 1970s. A
starting point for more informed scholarship is the recent Bulletin of the
Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, found at http://concerned

Mamdani's portrayal of Zimbabwe's opposition politics is insulting to those
who continue to endure so much in their struggle to build a better Zimbabwe.
He argues that urban trade unions have always been marginal to the
nationalist movement because of their supposed 'Ndebele leadership', and
that the current opposition follows in this 'weak' trade-union tradition as
well as being in thrall to Western interests. What he doesn't mention is the
trade unions' hard-fought battle against repression before and after 1980.
There were many challenges to overcome, among which ethnic politics was
hardly the most prominent. That leaders such as Morgan Tsvangirai managed to
reshape the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) from what had been a
pro-Zanu organisation into a viable political opposition by the early 1990s
reflects an Africa-wide and Africa-based phenomenon that Mamdani apparently
missed. By accepting Zanu-PF's argument that the MDC is primarily limited to
urban areas and is the product of the West, Mamdani's account loses

Mamdani has also sugar-coated his portrayal of political violence in
Zimbabwe. He fails even to mention that many 'peasants' in Shona-speaking
Zanu-PF strongholds turned against Mugabe and major Zanu-PF leaders in the
March 2008 elections. It was this reversal that sparked a new round of
state-sponsored violence against the same Shona peasantry that Mamdani cites
as the beneficiaries of Mugabe's benevolent dictatorship. In addition,
during the months preceding the run-off election (April-June 2008), food
relief was denied to rural areas, leaving the World Food Programme and other
groups to scramble to re-establish supply to the Zimbabwean peasantry
Mamdani suggests are at the centre of Zanu-PF's concern. Repressive
legislation and actions by Zanu-PF activists are magically transformed by
Mamdani into acts of generosity to outsiders. After noting discrimination
against farm workers in gaining access to land on the grounds they or 'their
elders' came from another country, Mamdani adds that 'some were given
citizenship.' Yet he omits the fact that just before the 2002 presidential
election the Zanu-PF government removed citizenship from many farm workers
and other Zimbabweans whose parents or grandparents had non-Zimbabwean
citizenship rights. The disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of perceived
opposition supporters disappears in Mamdani's analysis.

Mamdani's contention that the West, not Mugabe and the Zanu-PF government,
is responsible for the current crisis is as dangerous as it is wrong. By
selectively citing instances over the past eight years when the West has
cancelled donor funding, Mamdani gives the impression that the West has not
been involved in sustaining life in Zimbabwe. The reality is that there are
whole sections of the Zimbabwean population that the Zanu-PF leadership
would rather punish with starvation than allow to support the opposition.
'We would be better off with only six million people, with our own [ruling
party] people who supported the liberation struggle,' Didymus Mutasa, one of
the key insiders in Zanu-PF, said in 2002, when drought again threatened to
kill thousands of rural Zimbabweans. 'We don't want all these extra people.'
Western food aid has been a lifeline for 'these extra people' - when the
state has allowed access.

Sanctions cannot excuse the callous disregard for human life Mugabe and his
associates have shown, dating back to the Gukurahundi between 1983 and 1986
(which Mamdani glosses over as a brief bout of violence following from the
tension between Zanu-PF and the 'Ndebele unions' in 1986), or the repeated
land seizures which have been going on since the 1980s, the forced removals,
violent reprisals, and the withholding of food aid. Furthermore, Mamdani's
suggestion that the fall in direct investment in Zimbabwe is the result of
sanctions is dishonest. There are no sanctions against direct investment in
Zimbabwe, as shown by Anglo American's willingness to invest $400 million in
Zimbabwe during the summer of 2008 to protect access to platinum mines.
There have been large investments from South Africa, India and China, as
Mugabe has bartered away the nation's resources for short-term interests. It
is the kleptocracy and violence fostered by Mugabe and Co that has scared
off other investors, not sanctions.

At a time when thousands of people in Zimbabwe are threatened by a cholera
epidemic - in part at least as a consequence of Zanu-PF's decision to
replace MDC municipal officials with Zanu-PF 'urban governors' - and
international donors are scrambling to help deal with the collapse of the
health sector and widespread hunger, intellectuals such as Mamdani should
display more responsibility and less posturing in their attempts to draw
meaningful lessons from Zimbabwe.

Timothy Scarnecchia, Kent State University, Ohio
Jocelyn Alexander, Linacre College, Oxford
Andrea Arrington, University of Arkansas
Michael Bratton, Michigan State University
Bill Derman, Michigan State University
William J. Dewey, The University of Tennessee
Matthew Engelke, London School of Economics
Linda Freeman, Carleton University
Petina Gappah, Zimbabwean writer and lawyer
Kenneth Good, RMIT University Melbourne
David Gordon, Bowdoin College Amanda Hammar, Nordic Africa Institute
David McDermott Hughes, Rutgers University
Diana Jeater, University of the West of England
Tony King, University of the West of England
Bill Kinsey, University of Zimbabwe
Norma Kriger, Cornell University
Todd Leedy, University of Florida
JoAnn McGregor, University College London
Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Showers Mawowa, University of KwaZulu Natal
David Maxwell, Keele University
Donald Mead, Michigan State University
John Metzler, Michigan State University
David Moore, University of Johannesburg
Shylock Muyengwa, University of Florida
Blair Rutherford, Carleton University
John S. Saul, York University
Richard Saunders, York University
Anne Schneller, Michigan State University
Marja Spierenburg, Vrije University of Amsterdam
Colin Stoneman, JSAS Editorial Coordinator
Blessing-Miles Tendi, Oxford University
Wendy Urban-Mead, Bard College
Elaine Windrich, Stanford University

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Christmas Message from MDC-T Sec. for Welfare

Saturday, 20 December 2008

When I wrote a Christmas letter at the end of last year, I never
believed that the year 2008 would be worse than the previous year. That
starvation, violence, torture, rape, murder, abductions, looting and arson
would be a state sponsored and perpetrated part of almost every Zimbabweans
lives, particularly those in the struggle for peaceful and democratic change
in Zimbabwe.
The resilience of Zimbabweans is legendary.† This year has been no
exception. Some call it patience and resilience, others call it cowardice.
Who is to judge?

There are many loyal Zimbabweans who have stood up against the evil of
the regime now for over ten years. Peaceful demonstrations have always been
met with state brutality, arrest and in many cases torture in detention. Yet
a core group from the opposition, unions and civic society have continued
with the struggle through peaceful democratic resistance.† Many have lost
their lives.

The retired South African Generals who came up to Zimbabwe (on behalf
of the Mbeki government) to assess the violence during the pre and post
election period said " We have not seen such brutality outside of a war
situation".† That sadly sums it up in a short sentence.

How disgusting, how tragic, how criminal and immoral that a President
and a government that was democratically voted out of power, by the people,
should visit such retributive atrocities on its own brothers and sisters,
mothers and fathers, and the children of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans will not be going home to kumusha/ekhaya this Christmas
for a joyous celebration with their families - there is no money, no food,
no fuel. There are no medicines and little clean water - cholera and
HIV/AIDS stalks every citizen.† Instead they will, no doubt, be praying to
their Almightly God for deliverance from the pervading evil.

Zimbabweans go into this supposedly joyful festive season with heavy
hearts. Over 300 people are still missing, having been abducted pre and post
elections. Over 220 have been brutally murdered in the same period of time.
30 more have been abducted since 15th September and are still missing.† The
pain in their families hearts is unimaginable.† We must keep them in our

As a salute to those who have died (and are missing) and those who
continue the peaceful struggle, I want to end with a few lines on courage
written by an amazing woman, Aung San Suu Kyi.


Fearlessness may be a gift but perhaps more precious is the courage
acquired through endeavour,
Courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear
dictate one's actions,
Courage that could be described as "grace under pressure",
Grace which is renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting

May God enfold our beloved country in His shining white light and
through His divine intervention raise it from the ashes.

Kerry Kay,
Secretary for Welfare,
Movement for Democratic Change.

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Olympic swimming sensation crowned Zimbabwe's top 2008 sportsperson

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Olympic swimming gold medalist Kirsty Coventry was on
Friday night crowned Zimbabwe's Sportsperson of the Year following her
impressive performance at the Beijing Olympics in August.

The United States-based Coventry beat a strong field that included world
doubles women's tennis champion Cara Black to scoop the top award during the
2008 Zimbabwe Annual National Sports Awards held in the capital Harare.

The 25-year-old Coventry impressed the judges with her outstanding
performance that saw her win four medals at the 2008 Olympic Games, three
silvers and a gold in the 200m backstroke final.

US-based sprinter Brian Dzingai, who reached the final of the 200m dash at
the Beijing Olympics, was named the Sportsman of the Year.

African junior tennis champions and Wimbledon quarter-finalist Takanyi
Garanganga won the Junior Sportsperson award.

† JN/daj/APA 2008-12-20

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