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Secret police seize leading Zimbabwean activist Jestina Mukoko
December 3, 2008
Jestina Mukoko

(Peter Bischoff)

Jestina Mukoko, executive director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project

A leading Zimbabwean human rights activist was seized today by suspected secret police, in the most high level abduction operation yet by President Mugabe’s government.

Fifteen armed men in civilian clothing burst into the home of Jestina Mukoko, the executive director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, in the small town of Norton 40km west of Harare at 5am, lawyers said.

“They assaulted her caretaker and took her away,” said Abel Chikomo of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. Her teenage son watched the incident, and reported to lawyers.

The project has catalogued incidents of violence and human rights abuses for the last eight years, and Ms Mukoko ran a network of hundreds of monitors throughout the country who provided detailed and reliable accounts of the campaigns of brutality carried out by the government under Mr Mugabe. She is the most senior person to have been kidnapped yet.

“Her work was extremely valuable,” said a human rights activist who asked not to be named. “Thanks to the Peace Project, there is now a detailed record of thousands of incidents of murder, assault, torture, arson and so on, and who the perpetrators are."

“They had just shifted from cataloguing violence, to abuse of food aid by the government, forcing people to support Mugabe or starve to death,” said a human rights lawyer. “It was going to be extremely embarrassing. It’s clear the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation, Mr Mugabe’s secret police) want to stop it.”

It is the second serious kidnapping in over a month, after a suspected government hit squad seized 14 MDC activists – as well as the two year-old daughter of one of them – from the town of Banket 100 km north of Harare. Witnesses saw them being taken by police officers who have been identified.

The government initially claimed they were involved in training “insurgents” against Mr Mugabe’s government, but now denies they are in official custody.

The 15 have not been seen alive since they were seized 36 days ago, and police have ignored court orders for them to be produced in court.

Police violently broke up separate demonstrations in Harare by the national trade union movement, demanding that the central bank lift limits on the amount people can draw from their bank accounts, and by health workers, pressing for “a safe working environment” in the midst of the country’s cholera epidemic.

Thirty-eight unionists were arrested in Harare, and another 26 in other centres around the country.

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Zimbabwean police 'use batons' against doctors
Baton-wielding Zimbabwean riot police broke up a demonstration by doctors and nurses protesting against the collapse of the country's health system on Wednesday, while scores of trade unionists were arrested ahead of marches over the cash crisis.
Zimbabwean police 'use batons' against doctors
Doctors and nurses demonstrating in Harare Photo: AFP/GETTY

The country's economy has been collapsing for several years, but now appears to have reached a stage where hardly a day passes without some new example of the consequences.

With the country in the grip of a cholera epidemic, which the United Nations said today had now killed 565 people, doctors, nurses and health workers tried to present a petition at the health ministry.

But they were forcibly dispersed by the riot squad, who are well-treated by the regime and remain steadfastly loyal.

There was a heavy uniformed presence in the centre of the capital and one professional man said: “It was all over very quickly as the riot police are all over the city. It is quiet now.”

Three journalists, two from the Zimababwean weekly, The Independent, and one from the South African Broadcasting Corporation, were arrested as the demonstrations began.

In a protest letter the medical personnel said: "We are forced to work without basic health institutional needs like drugs, adequate water and sanitation, safe clothing gear, medical equipment and basic support services.

"Health workers can no longer afford to buy food and other basic goods and services." Efforts by trade unionists holding a general strike to mount protests against the cash shortage that is crippling daily activities were also broken up, after the authorities signalled several times that they would not be tolerated.

The secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Wellington Chibebe, was arrested while addressing workers in the capital, along with nine other people, the organisation said in a statement, while more than 30 were held around the country. It said 10 of its members were "heavily assaulted" by police in Harare.

Hyperinflation is raging in Zimbabwe, with the official figure for July, the latest available, at 231 million per cent and independent estimates far higher. The phenomenon means money becomes worthless within days of being earned or paid, leading to vast queues at banks as people try to access their funds, but at the same time there are not enough notes to go around.

In an attempt to tackle the shortage of money, the authorities announced that three new banknotes would be issued, with the biggest, the 100 million zimbabwe dollar bill, 100 times larger that the current maximum.

Having cut 13 zeros off the currency in the last three years, the new note is worth one sextillion original Zimbabwe dollars – one of which, at independence, was worth more than the American dollar.

In recent days soldiers have gone on rampages after being unable to obtain their earnings, attacking black-market currency dealers and looting shops, and on one occasion being fired upon by riot police.

The authorities revealed that the incidents had been more widespread than previously thought, with the defence minister Sidney Sekeramayi telling the official Herald newspaper: "A number of properties were damaged, innocent people injured, money and property stolen. These acts are unacceptable, deplorable, reprehensible and criminal."

In a sign that Mr Mugabe's government is more concerned by the development than it might want to admit, he added: "The coincidence of the above-stated incidents and the call for a nationwide stayaway and demonstrations raises a lot of questions."

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Over 70 peaceful protesters arrested countrywide

By Violet Gonda
3 December

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said about 70 protesters,
including civic and labour leaders, were arrested countrywide on Wednesday
as repressive tactics by the Mugabe regime escalated. Several protesters
were severely assaulted by the increasingly militant police.

The labour union had called for peaceful protests against the Reserve Bank's
capping of withdrawal limits, and called on the general public to march to
their banks on Wednesday to demand their money.

But as usual riot police descended on the few protesters who were brave
enough to come out. Journalists say in Gweru there were more police officers
than protesters.

At the time of broadcast, the ZCTU said 15 people who were arrested in
Harare had been released without charge, including ZCTU Secretary General
Wellington Chibebe. In Kariba five people arrested are still in police
custody. Three of the four arrested in Karoi have been released and asked to
return to the police station tomorrow. One person, Cherechedzai Rubiwa is
still in custody.

35 people arrested in Gweru are still in custody after police refused to
release them. The police said they will deal with the matter tomorrow.

Seven people arrested in Bulawayo are still in custody with lawyers working
to have then released. In Zvishavane six demonstrators are still being held
at a local police station. The lawyer is still negotiating with the police.

The ZCTU leadership are set to meet the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono on
Thursday morning, to discuss the issue of cash withdrawal limit.

At least 10 women leaders were also assaulted when police violently
dispersed the peaceful protesters. Those included Gertrude Hambira the
General Secretary of the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers' Union,
Angeline Chitambo the President of the Zimbabwe Energy Workers' Union and
Mirriam Katumba the Vice Chair Women's Advisory Council.

An SABC correspondent, John Nyashanu was briefly detained when he was
covering the ZCTU protest.

The riot police also clamped down hard on another demonstration by doctors
and nurses who were marching against the worsening cholera epidemic and
their appalling work conditions.

In Bulawayo, Enock Paradzayi, a Coordinator with PTUZ, was picked up by
Central Intelligence Operatives and is reportedly being held at the CIO
building - Magnet House on the 4th Floor in Bulawayo.

Meanwhile, Jestina Mukoko, a former ZBC television personality and director
of the human rights group the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), was abducted
from her house at 5 am Wednesday. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said
15 unidentified men abducted her from her Norton home, while she was still
wearing her nightdress.

The ZPP is an institution that has been monitoring and recording human
rights abuses perpetrated around the country.

The clampdown on rights defenders came after former Defence Minister Sidney
Sekeramayi, flanked by two top army officials, made a rare appearance on
state television, warning the ZCTU against holding any demonstrations.

A severe cholera epidemic, anthrax, starvation and Mugabe's determination to
hold on to power, have become a lethal combination for an already exhausted
population. A dejected protester said: "We are expected to go to work but at
the end of the month we cannot even access our hard earned salaries from the
banks. We are going to work to earn nothing. I walk to work everyday hoping
that at the end of the month I can provide for my family but what do you do
when even the backs cannot give you your money?"

Earlier in the week the Reserve Bank Governor increased the withdrawal limit
from Z$500 000 to Z$100 million, starting Thursday. But in Zimbabwe today
this means nothing to the majority of workers who earn much less than the
new Z$100 million limit, and it means absolutely nothing to the estimated 90
percent who are unemployed.

While Zimbabwe's crisis rapidly worsens, questions are being asked about the
implementation of the power-sharing deal between ZANU PF and the two MDCs.
How can there ever be any power sharing, given the fact that ZANU PF
continues to brutalise and arrest all voices of dissent, including abducting
and killing MDC members? To date 14 MDC activists and a two year old baby
are still missing - a month after they disappeared and another two members,
including the party's director of security, were abducted from their homes
last week.

The Tsvangirai MDC issued a blistering statement on Wednesday denouncing the
crackdown on the peaceful protesters by the Mugabe regime. The party said:
"Zanu PF remains the undemocratic party of terror and thuggery. It remains
the epicenter of repression of the people's basic rights and freedoms. It
remains the haven and sanatorium of an unstinting instinct that believes
that the solution to all problems lies in violence and repression. Zanu PF's
actions on the ground undermine their commitment on paper."

With statements like this, you have to wonder why the MDC is continuing to
pursue the power sharing agreement, when Zanu PF is clearly negotiating in
bad faith.

Politicians have not even called for the urgent reconvening of parliament to
attempt to deal with the many crises facing Zimbabwe. Parliament was forced
to close down last month because there was no water in the building.

If politicians believe they can run a country, surely they can organize for
a water bowser, so that the business of governance can take place?

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Zimbabwean authorities target activists and trade unionists

3 December 2008

A Zimbabwean human rights activist was abducted from her home at dawn on
Wednesday by a group of armed plain-clothes men who identified themselves as
policemen. Jestina Mukoko is the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project
(ZPP), a local human rights organisation that is involved in monitoring and
documenting human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

Several trade unionists, including the Secretary General of the Progressive
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Mr Raymond Majongwe and a journalist working for
a South African broadcaster, have also been arrested in Harare today.

"The abduction or arrest of Jestina Mukoko is part of an established pattern
of harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders by Zimbabwean
authorities in an attempt to discourage them from documenting and
publicising the violations that are taking place," said Erwin van der
Borght, Amnesty International's Africa programme director.

At around 5am local time on Wednesday, a group of at least 12 men stormed
Jestina Mukoko's home in Norton, South of the capital, Harare, and took her
by force while still barefoot and dressed in pyjamas. An eyewitness told
Amnesty International that the men then drove off in two cars, one of which
did not have registration plates.

On Saturday, about six men, believed to be part of the same group, tried to
enter her house during her absence after claiming to be workmates, according
to the same eyewitness.

"We hold the Zimbabwean authorities responsible for anything that may happen
to Jestina Mukoko. She should be released immediately and while in detention
the authorities should guarantee her safety and ensure that she has access
to a lawyer and family, as well as food, warm clothes and medication," said
Erwin van der Borght.

The arrests coincide with a protest action called for by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) over serious cash shortages against a back
drop of daily price increases of basic goods fuelled by hyperinflation.

The ZCTU had encouraged members of the public to demand their money from the
banks following daily limits imposed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ),
which was not enough to pay for a single bus journey. Although the RBZ
revised the daily withdrawal limits this week, most banks are experiencing
cash shortages.

On 1 December, a group of at least 40 soldiers who had failed to withdraw
their salaries from banks ran amok in Harare beating up members of the
public, looting shops, seizing cash from street money changers and
destroying public property. In a statement on Tuesday, the Minister of
Defence Mr Sydney Sekeramayi blamed the disturbance on what he termed
"unruly elements from the defence forces."

As the country waits the setting up of a new government, the socio-economic
conditions have been deteriorating at unprecedented levels. Zimbabwe's once
envied health infrastructure is in a state of near collapse.

A cholera outbreak that started in August has claimed at least 484 deaths
and 11,735 cases as reported by the United Nations. Since November,
Zimbabwean doctors and nurses have been on strike over low salaries and poor
working conditions.

Amnesty International has expressed deep concern about the deteriorating
human rights situation in Zimbabwe. The organization is once again calling
on President Mugabe and Prime Minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai and other
political leaders in Zimbabwe to urgently address the current human rights
and humanitarian crisis.

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Hundreds demonstrate in Harare. as crisis deepens

More than five hundred people from all walks of life staged a peaceful
demonstration in central Harare's First Street, demanding among other things
that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe make available unlimited cash access to
the public from the banks. The demonstration was organized by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and had support from the Zimbabwe Social
Forum (ZSF) and numerous civic society organisations. Youth Forum in
conjunction with other youth organisations successfully mobilized youths
from Harare and Chitungwiza to take part in the demonstration under the ZSF
banner. The demonstrators marched for about 100 meters along First Street
before three truck-loads of armed anti-riot police descended on the
demonstrators, injuring about 10 people including the leadership of various
affiliate unions of the ZCTU. The police also arrested several leaders from
the ZCTU as they addressed the people at a local bank along First Street.
Among the arrested were Raymond Majongwe (General secretary of the
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe) and Japhet Moyo (Deputy General
Secretary of the ZCTU).

The demonstrators later converged at corner First Street and George
Silundika Avenue at 1130 a.m where they were addressed by the ZCTU president
Mr. Lovemore Matombo who informed them that they had handed their petition
to the Reserve Bank governor and the governor promised to address the issue
on Thursday 4 December 2008. The ZCTU president also informed the
demonstrators that he will be meeting the governor in the morning tomorrow
(Thursday 4th of December).

Meanwhile the Youth Forum is shocked by the absence of uniformed forces
during today's demonstration despite having led a series of demonstrations
over the past seven days demanding that the government address the cash
crisis and other socio-economic evils bedeviling the country. While we do
not condone violence, the actions by the uniformed forces were clearly in
sync with the plight of the ordinary citizens and we hope they will continue
to be enlightened and participate in popular action in solving the current

The Youth Forum continues to support initiatives to take the struggle to the
streets. The Forum firmly believes that it will take pressure from the
ordinary person on the street to compel the political actors in the country
to address the plight of Zimbabweans. The Youth Forum will continue to
mobilize youth from all walks of life to take to the streets and force those
in authority to address the plight of Zimbabweans.

Youth Forum Information & Publicity

+263-11 320 878, +263-912 766 450,

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Zimbabwe on edge of the abyss: Riot police charge protesting doctors as cholera epidemic infects up to 12,500 people

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 12:17 PM on 03rd December 2008

Zimbabwe riot police charged protesting doctors, nurses and union members with batons early today.

At least one hundred doctors and nurses protested outside the health ministry in the capital of Harare as the country faced the worst cholera crisis in its history.

Zimbabwean trade unions have also called a day of protest over a deepening banking and cash shortage crisis.

The latest death toll from the disease was put at 565, with the UN claiming that up to 12,546 people were suspected of being infected.

'God is with us': Doctors and nurses demonstrating in Harare today run away from police while protesting against the collapse of the health sector as a cholera epidemic grips the country

'God is with us': Doctors and nurses demonstrating in Harare today run away from police while protesting against the collapse of the health sector as a cholera epidemic grips the country

Under normal circumstances, cholera is both preventable and treatable - but in Zimbabwe, with electricity shut off on a regular basis and Harare running out of clean water, the situation is spiralling.

Now even the Limpopo River, bordering South Africa, is infected, the BBC has reported.

Yesterday, as children played near cesspools, their parents shook their heads at a public service announcement drifting over the radio: It urged people to boil water before drinking it.

It sounded like a taunt in the country where water and electricity are cut off far more than they are on.

Authorities turned off the taps in Zimbabwe's capital again this week because they had run out of purifying chemicals in the midst of the killer epidemic. The water was turned on in Harare again today.

The crisis is the latest chapter in the collapse of this once-vibrant nation. President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled for 28 years, has refused to leave office even though he and his party lost elections in March.

A Zimbabwean police officer falls from a police pickup truck while trying to disperse demonstrating healthcare workers

A Zimbabwean police officer falls from a police pickup truck while trying to disperse demonstrating healthcare workers

An agreement to form a unity government with the opposition has been deadlocked for weeks over how to share Cabinet posts.

In the township of Mabvuku, where residents have dug shallow wells in open ground, people say they know that not boiling the water can make them sick, but they have no choice. There is no electricity, and wood, charcoal or other fuel to build fires is scarce and so expensive it is out of reach for most people.

"We are afraid, but there is no solution. Most of the time the electricity is not available so we just use the water," one resident, Naison Chakwicha, said.

In the western Harare suburb of Mbare, Anna Marimbe said she had traced the deaths last week of two neighbour children to the stinking open drains where they used to play.

Robert Mugabe, pictured during the launch of basic commodities in Harare in July this year, blames his country's difficulties on the West

Robert Mugabe, pictured during the launch of basic commodities in Harare in July this year, blames his country's difficulties on the West

Residents of Chitungwiza, a densely populated township 15 miles (24 kilometres) south of Harare, sued the National Water Authority last week, saying they had been without running water for 13 months, causing an outbreak of cholera and leading to deaths.

The lawsuit filed with the High Court describes "large pools of raw sewage" in the streets of the town of 500,000, where the first cholera cases were reported in August.

Like most of Zimbabwe's main cities and towns, Chitungwiza once had functioning sewage and water delivery systems, but authorities have made no repairs for years.

Harare is the epicentre of the cholera epidemic, which has spread across the country. Controlling the disease depends on providing clean water, which means repairing broken water and sewage pipes as well as dilapidated pumping and purification equipment.

And the collapse of all services, including refuse collection, has turned the city into a playground for rats that threaten to spread other more deadly diseases.

The government has reported 473 cholera deaths since August and a total of 11,700 people infected as of Monday, according to Paul Garwood, spokesman for Health Action and Crises, the humanitarian arm of the U.N. World Health Organization.

Garwood said that according to the official toll, four per cent of people are dying of a disease that usually claims fewer than one per cent of those infected and is easily treated with rehydration salts or an intravenous drip.

Doctors say the death toll is nearer 1,000, or 10 per cent of victims, because many of those afflicted with cholera die at home or in the countryside without medical care.

All the country's main public hospitals have closed and those that continue to operate have little or no medicine and suffer from a shortage of staff, whose monthly salaries do not cover even one day's bus fare to get to work.

Costly private clinics, which accept only foreign currency, are out of reach for the vast majority of the population.

Women and children wait to collect water from an underground source after thewater cut in Harare earlier this week

'We are afraid': Women and children wait to collect water from an underground source after the water cut in Harare earlier this week

The opposition-controlled Harare City Council is burying cholera victims for free because people cannot afford to buy graves.

Zimbabwe's government, normally hostile to international aid agencies, is welcoming an initiative by several - including UNICEF, WHO and Doctors Without Borders - to provide emergency care and try to ensure safe water supplies.

Health officials, following the line of a government that has refused to declare a national emergency, insisted the cholera outbreak was under control until five days ago. The best advice Health Minister David Parirenyatwa could offer was to urge people to stop shaking hands.

"I want to stress the issue of shaking hands. Although it's part of our tradition to shake hands, it's high time people stopped shaking hands," he told state-run daily, The Herald.

Still, Zimbabweans continue to find ways to deal with the crisis.

Those who can afford it are digging wells and bore holes. Others are buying tanks and pumps to install on their roof or yards, then paying $50 in foreign currency for a single delivery of 500 gallons (1,900 litres) of water.

Cholera patients rest on their beds inside the male ward of Budiriro Polyclinic in Harare

Cholera patients rest on their beds inside the male ward of Budiriro Polyclinic in Harare

Most vendors in Zimbabwe only accept U.S. dollars or South African rand since the Zimbabwe dollar, once on a par with the greenback, devalues with each passing hour.

Yesterday, it was trading for 1.8 million to the dollar - even after the Central Bank dropped 10 zeros from the local currency this year in an attempt to keep up with inflation last set officially at 231 million per cent in July.

The economic collapse of what was once a regional bread basket followed Mugabe's often-violent campaign, beginning in 2000, to seize white-owned farms and hand them over to veterans of his guerrilla war against white minority rule.

Now, even those who have the money often can't buy water. One supplier said yesterday that he has a waiting list more than two weeks long.

Those without foreign currency must turn to "water Samaritans" - residents of Harare's wealthier neighbourhoods who have wells or bore holes and are allowing people to fill buckets and jerry cans for free. Some residents are charging for the privilege.

Lines of mainly women and children gather daily outside the homes of people with wells. But even that supply is not assured.

Parirenyatwa, the health minister, voiced the fears of many when he said the cholera epidemic is likely to only get worse with the onset of the rainy season, which began last month and brings the heaviest rains in late December and January.

"What I am afraid of is that now that the rainy season has come, all the feces lying in the bushes will be washed into shallow wells and contaminate the water," he said.

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Police detain ZCTU leadership

December 3, 2008

By Raymond Maingire

HARARE - Police on Wednesday arrested and detained the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) leadership together with several top interest group
members for organizing a mass action against the central bank's cash
withdrawal limits.

Dozens are also said to have been injured when baton wielding riot policemen
violently dispersed a gathering which was addressed by ZCTU president
Lovemore Matombo along Harare's First Street in the morning.

Those arrested include ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe together
with other leaders of top civic groups who had joined the strike in
solidarity with the ZCTU.

The police seized the group shortly after they had gone to present their
petition to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono.

Matombo, Chibhebhe, and George Nkiwane, the deputy president of the ZCTU
formed the delegation that delivered the petition to Gono at his office at
the RBZ Along Samora Machel Avenue in the city centre.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has announced that the
director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, former TV newsreader Jestina Mukoko
had been abducted by suspected CIO agents at around 5am.

"She was bundled into an unmarked Mazda Familia and no one currently knows
her whereabouts, ZLHR statement said early on Wednesday morning. "No one
knows at this point whether Jestina's abduction is part of a wider clampdown
on civil society activists and human rights NGOs ahead of the planned ZCTU
strike action. The streets of Harare are currently infested with anti-riot

In Bulawayo a planned protest march to the central bank failed to take off
as people shied away from most banks, fearing a crackdown by the police.

Most banks in the city registered unusually short queues on Wednesday than
over the past few months due to fears that the police might swoop on bank
queues which had potential to become flashpoints of the protest.

"It is unusually quiet," said a bank teller in one of the commercial banks.
"Perhaps the people are waiting for tomorrow when new weekly withdrawal
limits of up to $100 million come into effect."

ZCTU deputy secretary general, Japhet Moyo told The Zimbabwe Times in Harare
that the ZCTU leadership had been taken to Harare Central police station
where they were detained.

Among those arrested were Gideon Shoko, the ZCTU deputy secretary general,
general council members James Gumbi and Hilarious Ruyi together with Ben
Madzimure, the editor of The Worker, a weekly tabloid published by the ZCTU.

Leaders of top civic groups also arrested were Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general Raymond Majongwe and Nicholas Mazarura,
secretary general of the Construction Union.

"The police did not state their offence but we suspect they will be charged
under the Criminal Law Codification Act for organization a rally which the
police say they did not sanction," said Moyo.

The whereabouts of ZCTU president Matombo however remained unknown by
Wednesday afternoon.

Harare lawyer Alec Muchadehama, who is representing the group, confirmed the
arrests saying more than 20 people were arrested over the strike.

"They have not been charged yet," said Muchadehama, "But they are more than
20 who were arrested."

The ZCTU announced last week it would lead disgruntled Zimbabweans to their
respective banks Wednesday to demand payment of all their monies.

The ZCTU charges it is illegal for the central bank to put a cap on daily
cash withdrawals while millions of ordinary Zimbabweans starve everyday when
they have billions in their accounts.

Gono this week introduced weekly cash withdrawal limits at which individuals
would now be allowed to withdraw $100 million, up from $$500 000 for
individuals while companies would be allowed access to $150 million, up from
$1 million.

The increases take effect from Thursday and will run concurrently with the
unveiling of another new set of bank notes - $10 million, $50 million and
$100 million.

The ZCTU dismissed the increase saying this does not have any long term
effects on cash woes that have been affecting Zimbabweans for the past five

There were however strong fears this week the ZCTU strike action may be
joined by angry soldiers and create a full blown rebellion against President
Robert Mugabe's government.

Harare was reduced to a war zone from last week when hordes of uniformed
soldiers went on the rampage, beating up foreign currency street dealers and
looting shops.

The soldiers were frustrated over their continued failure to withdraw their
salaries from banks when loads of scarce cash are mysteriously being
offloaded into the illegal but lucrative black market everyday.

Until now the central bank has not owned up to being the source of the cash.

Chibhebhe on Monday said the ZCTU was inviting every Zimbabwean regardless
of occupation to join their strike for as long as such action served to
advance the same cause.

Meanwhile, banking halls remained operational Wednesday although most banks
seemed to be employing strict security measures as a precaution.

Although operational, a Barclays Bank branch along Samora Machel Avenue kept
its doors closed and was accepting not more than 50 people inside its
banking hall at any given time.

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Authorities must guarantee the safety of Jestina Mukoko


03 December 2008

Zimbabwe: Authorities must guarantee the safety of Jestina Mukoko

The Zimbabwean authorities must immediately disclose the whereabouts of
human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, who was abducted from her home at dawn
today by a group of armed plain-clothes men who identified themselves as
policemen, Amnesty International said today.

"The abduction or arrest of Jestina Mukoko is part of an established pattern
of harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders by Zimbabwean
authorities in an attempt to discourage them from documenting and
publicising the violations that are taking place," said Erwin van der
Borght, Amnesty International's Africa programme director.

Jestina Mukoko is the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), a local
human rights organisation that is involved in monitoring and documenting
human rights violations in Zimbabwe. Today, at around 5am local time, a
group of at least 12 men stormed her home in Norton, South of the capital,
Harare, and took her by force while still barefoot and dressed in pyjamas.
An eyewitness told Amnesty International that the men then drove off in two
cars, one of which did not have registration plates.

On Saturday 29 November, about six men, believed to be part of the same
group, tried to enter her house during her absence after claiming to be
workmates, according to the same eyewitness.

ZPP produces periodic reports on the human rights situation in the country,
compiled through a network of community based human rights defenders.

"We hold the Zimbabwean authorities responsible for anything that may happen
to Jestina Mukoko. She should be released immediately and while in detention
the authorities should guarantee her safety and ensure that she has access
to a lawyer and family, as well as food, warm clothes and medication," said
Erwin van der Borght.

The organization has also received information that several trade unionists,
including the Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe Mr Raymond Majongwe and a journalist working for a South African
broadcaster, have been arrested in Harare today. Amnesty International fears
that the authorities may have launched a new campaign to silence human
rights activists in the wake of today's protest action by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions.

On Thursday 27 November three members of staff of the ZPP were arrested by
police in Budiriro (a low income suburb of Harare) at a clinic offering
treatment to cholera victims. Police initially threatened to charge them
under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the
Official Secrets Act. They were later charged with criminal nuisance and
made to pay a fine of Z$20 and released on Saturday 29 November.
Public Document

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Harare hospital 'has become a place of death'

††††December 03 2008 at 02:41PM

By Francis Hweshe

Activist for refugee rights Braam Hanekom has reported the dire
situation facing his countrymen in Zimbabwe after he managed to sneak into
the country last week.

At a press conference in Cape Town on Tuesday Hanekom told of the
horror he had witnessed first-hand.

"At Parerinyatwa hospital in Harare where I was born, there is no
electricity, running water and about 50 sick people are turned away daily to
go and die at home," he said.

"In its mortuary I saw bodies piled upon bodies as the facility has
become a place of death."

Hanekom is the chairman of refugee lobby group, People Against
Suppression, Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop). He has visited his
troubled homeland twice recently after a three-year absence.

He said a health official at the hospital had told him: "It's better
for them to die at home than here."

The doctor also told him those who were admitted to the hospital were
sure to die due to lack of medicine.

Hanekom said he had seen staffers at the hospital's mortuary working
without proper protective gear such as gloves and bodies were not being
cleaned as the city did not have water.

He said he had been deeply touched by an incident when a relative had
come to collect his beloved's body but staffers had refused him access to
the body as it was in a "mess".

"The agonised man protested that he could bring a bucket of water to
wash the body but they refused, as that would bring cholera."

Hanekom described the cholera situation as volatile - people have
ceased greeting one another with handshakes for fear of contracting the
disease which has claimed hundreds of lives.

"It's a hopeless situation... people are dying of dehydration... there
is no water, even in affluent areas," he said.

He said he had interviewed disgruntled civil servants including
soldiers and police officers, some of whom said they wanted to band with
civilians to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's government.

Soldiers earn R70 a month but for the past two months have not been
paid and they are frustrated, he said.

Hanekom said MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai should exploit the moment
and turn the tables on Mugabe.

He warned that failure to do so could result in the emergence of

"Schools have shut down, national examinations have been cancelled and
concerned parents are paying private tutors in foreign currency, which they
don't have.

"Malnutrition is everywhere, we estimate that about 40 percent of the
people are living beneath the daily nutritional intake needed for basic

"Queues ran across the city streets outside the banks with up to 300
people desperately waiting to withdraw their daily limits of Z$500 000

He said in the rural areas, where hunger and starvation is taking its
toll, subsistence farming had started, but many of the farmers lack the
necessary resources.

Zimbabwean refugee Barbara Zhungu, also present at the media briefing,
said: "We are caught up in a tight situation as it is tough for us to live
in this country."

This article was originally published on page 3 of Cape Argus on
December 03, 2008

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Zimbabwe in collapse

By Bram Posthumus


As Zimbabwe's top politicians plan yet another round of debate to settle
their differences, the country is facing total collapse. It is not only the
economy; A cholera epidemic has added to the crisis. A doctor and a
journalist describe life in a dysfunctional country.

In mid-December, the three parties that are trying to form a unity
government - the ruling ZANU-PF of President Robert Mugabe and the two
branches of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change - will meet again.
They will make another attempt to arrive at a government of national unity,
which is intended to put Zimbabwe back on its feet.

But as the weeks and months glide by there is hardly any Zimbabwe left to
govern or unite. The country's economy has been in decline for close to a
decade, and the United Nations has called Zimbabwe "the fastest shrinking
economy in the world", outside a war zone. Inflation stands at more than 200
million percent, unemployment is 80 percent, and eight out of ten
Zimbabweans live below the poverty line.

But it is not just the economy that has collapsed. Services that were once
taken for granted by many Zimbabweans, such as healthcare, education, water
and electricity, are erratic at best and mostly non-existent. And if any
more evidence were needed that the crisis has brought down even the most
basic infrastructure, a cholera epidemic has broken out.

Zimbabwe is no stranger to cholera, but an epidemic of this magnitude is
without precedent. Some 12,000 people have been infected and already 500
have died. The epidemic is spreading to border towns in South Africa and
Botswana, and medical staff there can no longer cope with the daily arrival
of more patients.

Running water
Dr Mawere works with the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights.
He explains what is behind this deadly outbreak:

"The main cause is the deteriorating sanitation is the urban areas. The
authorities are failing to provide running water. So people are resorting to
digging wells to get water, which is contaminated. There is also sewage
flowing all over the streets...When you have cholera, you know that your
public health system, your water and sanitation systems have all collapsed."
Schools, hospitals, factories and government institutions have closed.
Meanwhile, Zimbabweans have been voting with their feet. Estimates of the
migrant population outside Zimbabwe vary widely. There are at least a
million Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa although some claim figures
three times as high. Hundreds of thousands have gone to Botswana, Mozambique
and as far afield as Britain, Australia and North America. The desperate
living conditions are the prime movers behind the urge to leave.

But this week it emerged that the collapse of the country has raised the
heckles of those who can actually put up a fight: the soldiers. Last Friday,
and again at the weekend, they rioted and looted in the capital Harare.
Davison Maruziwa is the editor of the independent weekly paper the Zimbabwe

"You have a government that is apparently unable to pay its own soldiers.
That is one indicator. The cholera epidemic is another. The collapse of
services is quite unforgivable and even the military are getting fed up. The
top echelons are taken care of, but the personnel below them are suffering
with the people. And they are saying: enough is enough."If anything, the
violence and the epidemic carry the same message to those who will re-start
the haggling over ministerial chairs in the next few weeks: important though
this may be, you'd better settle your differences quickly if you want to
govern anything resembling a country at all.

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Michael Trapido

Zimbabwe: Mugabe's informal death camp

Although Sky New's Emma Hurd's figure of 10 000 Zimbabweans crossing into
South Africa every month is yet to be confirmed, it will certainly be in the
ballpark as disease and starvation grips our northern neighbour. Their towns
and cities are becoming more of a death camp than a place fit for human
beings to live.

Inflation, last calculated in July, has risen to 231 million percent. Their
life expectancy can no longer be measured with any accuracy because death
from starvation, disease and government abuse stalks every corner of this
hellhole in Africa. With 90% unemployment you have very little for people to
do except sit around and wait for the inevitable.

The cholera epidemic is believed to be far worse than the official numbers
that have been released with aid agencies estimating the death toll in the
thousands not the hundreds. South Africa has also now suffered its first
casualties from this latest Zanu-PF export. An aid agency worker on Sky News
this morning explained the horrific conditions being found in Zimbabwe.

Children are seen drinking from cholera infested water and eating meat from
carcasses with anthrax, their plight long past desperate. As "Sarah"
explained to viewers, the situation can be addressed but the political
instability with its attendant collapse of the country's infrastructure is
playing havoc with their efforts.

Even still they are feeding hundreds of thousands of people in Zimbabwe but
need more financial backing to help a whole lot more in desperate need.

All of this so that Robert Mugabe and a handful of fat cats can live like

ANCYL president Julius Malema has already called time on Mugabe, Cope's
Philip Dexter says that if Mugabe refuses to go he should be removed by
force, the ANC is patently irritated by the current impasse while the
Democratic Alliance have long believed that Mugabe should be removed from
power. The question is what are they waiting for?

Step back for a second:

. Zimbabweans are flooding their neighbours with exiles, the bulk of which
are coming to South Africa. This has created enormous pressure on our
economy in a vast variety of ways extensively covered in this blog.

. At present they are a breeding ground for diseases which, if not
controlled, will create havoc in this region. They have already tried to
cover up cholera while anthrax is starting to rear its ugly head.

. Left to his own devices Mugabe and the Zanu-PF will watch five million of
their people wiped out. Their answer is to shoot those who rebel and drive
as many as they can over the borders. Leave them to the SADC to feed. Those
who stay at home can be looked after by aid agencies or die. Genocide any
which way you look at it.

. In better times Mugabe was involved in military adventures such as the
Second Congo War.

Accordingly where you have a situation where genocide is being committed on
the people of a country and the collateral damage is spilling out onto the
rest of the region you are forced to act. Where the collateral damage
involves tens of thousands of desperate people flooding into your country
from a health hazard like Zimbabwe the concern has to be that much greater.

What is Mugabe doing?

. Despite losing the election he demands the right to govern.
. Where the economy has failed he prints worthless banknotes.
. In response to diseases he tries to cover them up.
. Where soldiers start to rebel he prepares to "deal" with them.
. Where SADC says his land reform is illegal he tells the SADC what it can
do with itself.
. Whenever he is turned loose on the press he lambastes Britain and the USA.

The very people who are expected to bail out Zimbabwe are being alienated
(along with everyone else) by Mugabe.

South Africa and the entire SADC region are not only paying a huge price for
the pleasure of watching this unfold but are sitting on their hands lest the
great "liberator" become upset.

The only thing Mugabe has liberated is the country's wealth and the only
thing he cares about is his right to continue doing so.

Zimbabwe and Africa desperately need to be free of him.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 at 1:52 pm

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Cholera in your borehole

Dear Sir / Madam
Thankyou for maintaining what must be the best and most widely read Zim website, it is extremely useful to both international and local readers. i thought i would bring your attention to an advert for water analysis services recently posted on the Justice for Agriculture newsletter. I think your readers would be interested in their services given that 30% of boreholes in Zimbabwe have presence of faecal coliform bacteria, this is a real risk considering the current cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe. You may wish to include this info on your next news listing. I have pasted the advert below :

"Chemical analysis of borehole / well / tap water. Fact : 30% of all boreholes in Zimbabwe contain faecal coliform bacteria, this can originate from any river / septic tank / soakaway upstream from your underground water source, this should be known by the borehole and well using public given the current cholera situation.† We collect, results within one week, call Omega Laboratories 496829, 023894597 or email

keep up the great work!!!

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Cholera kills 1000 in Zimbabwe

By Angus Shaw in Harare

December 04, 2008 12:01am

DOCTORS in Zimbabwe said as many as 1000 people might have died in the
cholera epidemic caused by the breakdown of the country's water purification
The toll is just one dramatic sign that Zimbabwe is collapsing into anarchy
because of economic meltdown and the political deadlock between President
Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Army discipline is breaking down and on Monday soldiers looted shops in the
capital Harare and beat foreign currency dealers.

Cholera is spreading because Zimbabwe's infrastructure is collapsing.

Authorities turned off the taps in Harare because they had run out of
purifying chemicals.

This has forced people to dig shallow wells in open ground.

They can't afford to boil this unsafe water because there is no electricity
and no wood or charcoal to build fires.

The Government has reported 565 cholera deaths since August and a total of
12,546 people infected as of Monday, according to the UN.

Doctors say the death toll is nearer 1000 because many of those afflicted
with cholera die at home or in the countryside without medical care.

All the country's main public hospitals have closed and those that operate
have little or no medicine and suffer a shortage of staff, whose monthly
salaries do not cover even one day's bus fare to get to work.
The opposition-controlled Harare City Council is burying victims for free
because people cannot afford to buy graves.

Health officials, following the line of a regime that has refused to declare
a national emergency, insisted the cholera outbreak was under control until
five days ago.

The best advice Health Minister David Parirenyatwa could offer was to urge
people to stop shaking hands.

Zimbabwe's military has blamed "undisciplined soldiers" for Monday's looting
but some residents fear the country has now reached a dangerous turning
point in its crisis.

Soldiers rarely show open dissent against Mr Mugabe, the 84-year-old who has
governed the nation since independence from Britain in 1980.

Once one of Africa's most successful nations, the economy has been shrinking
for nearly a decade, pounded by the world's highest inflation, last
estimated at 231 million per cent.

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Zimbabweans ill and dying from cholera crossing border

By Nkepile Mabuse

MUSINA, South Africa (CNN) -- Doctors worry about the woman sitting on a bed
inside the large tent, an IV in her arm. Chipo Matewe, 23, is eight months
pregnant and stricken with cholera.

"When I started feeling sick, my whole body was so dry. I didn't think I
would be alive until now, because even the baby -- my stomach was so tight
... it was not kicking at all. But now it's kicking slowly, I don't know
what's going on," she said. Medics are concerned she is just too weak to
give birth to a healthy child.
Matewe is from Masvingo in Zimbabwe -- one of hundreds of people so
desperate for medical help that they have crossed the border illegally into
South Africa.

Cholera, a waterborne disease that causes diarrhea, dehydration and, if not
treated, death in a matter of hours, is widespread in Zimbabwe but help is

At least 565 people in Zimbabwe have lost their lives in the outbreak,
according to a statement from the United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Office
on Wednesday. Doctors in Zimbabwe, however, say more than 1,000 have died.
The U.N. says about 12,000 more people are suspected to be infected.

Aid organizations inside Zimbabwe warn that the contagious disease is
spreading fast since raw sewage from burst pipes near the capital, Harare,
flowed into wells, rivers and streams -- the only source of drinking water
for many Zimbabweans.
The country's public health care system is collapsing with shortages of
resources and staff. Clinics run by aid agencies are being swamped by the
sick, some brought in by wheelbarrow or cart.

So the sick and the dying head to Musina, a town on the South African side
of the porous border.

Hundreds have arrived since the middle of last month, desperate for help. At
least five were too sick to save -- including one Zimbabwean who died upon
reaching the hospital.

The hospital looks like a war zone. Tents have been set up and packed with
cots and IVs for cholera patients. Recently, one tent was filled with
victims, including a toddler who narrowly escaped death, and grown men in

The doctors are doing whatever they can to treat sick people such as Chipo
Matewe and her unborn child, but only time will tell if they are successful.

Time might cause problems of its own, if cholera gets a foothold inside
South Africa as well.

Just a few miles from the hospital, nearly 1,000 Zimbabwean asylum seekers
are living and sleeping in an open field under conditions ideal for cholera
to flourish.

A cholera carrier who neglects to wash his or her hands after using the
bathroom can easily pass on the bacteria that live in human feces.

"There is no one who is safe, there is no one who is immune," said Sabelo
Sibanda, a human rights activist.

"This situation here, if allowed to carry on indefinitely, will explode."

His fears go beyond a medical crisis, worrying that South Africa could see
another outbreak of xenophobic violence against Zimbabweans accused of
bringing in disease.
The South Africa government says it is still working on the problem, while
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said he is getting cholera vaccines from

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Despite outside help, cholera deaths continue to mount

By Lance Guma
03 December 2008

The death toll from the cholera epidemic plaguing Zimbabwe continues to
mount, despite Zimbabwe receiving help from some of the countries that
Mugabe regards as his enemies. On Tuesday the executive arm of the European
Union - the European Commission - said it was providing 9 million euros to
help Zimbabwe deal with the cholera outbreak. The UK based Save the Children
group is also running an emergency appeal to help with the triple crisis of
cholera, anthrax and the hunger facing Zimbabweans. The group, which has
been working in Zimbabwe for 25 years, says the country is on the verge of
the biggest anthrax outbreak since the one in 1979-80.

Save the Children are helping to vaccinate cows and are providing food and
training to health workers. The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and
the International Red Cross are also mobilizing the shipment of medicines
and other forms of relief into the country.

According to World Health Organization figures, 565 people have died of
cholera and this represents 81 more deaths since Tuesday. But unofficial
figures are already running into the thousands. This is because many
families don't report the deaths of their loved ones and most people are
dying at home, because of the collapse of the health system. One man who
left Chiredzi to seek treatment in South Africa said their provincial
hospital alone has recorded more than 362 deaths.

The official number of infected people is over 12,000. Oxfam has said this
figure could in reality be more than 300,000. With most mortuaries out of
service due to the breakdown of refrigeration units, there are reports of
body bags piling up at hospital toilets. On Monday the authorities cut water
supplies to Harare in the absence of water treatment chemicals, putting 2
million more at greater risk as residents desperately looked for water from
newly dug wells.

When the cholera crisis initially broke out, Beitbridge hospital did not
have any IV fluids or oral rehydration salts. Owing to the large numbers
swamping the facility the hospital authorities made the decision to place
patients, 'behind the buildings, on the dirt, so that body excretions could
be absorbed into the ground. Sick people lying in the dust and under
scorching heat all cried out for the life-saving drip.'

The two doctors from Doctors Without Borders who initially responded to the
crisis gave horrendous accounts of their experiences while treating
patients. An Argentinean doctor said she had never administered so many
'catheters' in one day in her life. 'There was a man lying next to one of
the trolleys under the sun. By the time I got to him, he was in shock. We
tried to get a vein, like, ten times, but then he started gasping and he
died right there in front of our eyes,' she said. 54 people died in one

Doctors Without Borders, who provide free humanitarian and medical aid,
brought in over 800 liters of life saving drips. Around 16 expatriates,
comprising doctors, nurses and other support staff, have since been deployed
to help in the town.

Meanwhile the crisis has slowly spilled over into the region with South
Africa's health department conducting tests on the Limpopo River and
declaring it to be infected with cholera. Reports say Zambian and South
African border officials have set up screening camps, to ensure infected
Zimbabweans do not enter their countries.

It is time the region woke up to the fact that urgent action is needed, if
Zimbabwe is not to bring down the whole of Southern Africa.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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NCA Protest in Harare tomorrow, 4 December 2008

NCA peaceful protest in Harare tomorrow, 4 December 2008.
3 December 2008

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) will stage a peaceful
demonstration in Harare tomorrow, 4 December 2008. The action supports NCA's
suggested three-point plan for restoring democracy and prosperity to

The three-point plan that the NCA has proposed in response to the country's
political, social and economic crisis is as follows:

1. Setting up a Transitional Government. There must be set up a Transitional
Government, whether composed of the political parties engaged in the current
dialogue or by neutral people with the immediate responsibility of
addressing our humanitarian tragedy: food crisis, health crisis, water
crisis, cash crisis. It must avert starvation and save lives. It must
restore normalcy to other aspects of our national life.

2. People-Driven Constitution. During the lifespan of the Transitional
Government, Zimbabweans must be given full freedom to write their own
constitution in an open process such as that outlined in the Zimbabwe
People's Charter. The process must end with a referendum.

3. Free and Fair Elections. Free and fair elections must be held under the
new constitution and the new government emanating from the elections must be
installed. The elections must be internationally supervised and monitored.

The NCA urges all its members and different stakeholders to come and join in
tomorrow's peaceful demonstration.

Madock Chivasa
NCA Spokesperson

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Zimbabwe govt admits soldiers' riot

News - Africa news

Harare, Zimbabwe - After a day of silence, the government of Zimbabwe
finally admitted on Wednesday that a group of 100 soldiers took part in a
riot in the capital city of Harare on Monday.

In what is seen as the biggest threat yet to President Robert Mugabe, the
soldiers rioted this week in the capital city over growing economic

Shaking off denials by some government officials, Defence Minister Sydney
Sekeramayi Wednesday confirmed the riot, in which the angry soldiers beat up
people and looted shops, the first such incident in the country.

They were angered, among other things, by their failure to withdraw cash
from banks due to a shortage of notes which has forced the Central Bank to
impose limits on cash withdrawals.

In the rioting, the soldiers - who clashed with police - targeted street
money changers, and later looted goods from shops.

Zimbabwe is facing a deepening economic and political crisis, characterised
by hyper-inflation of more than 230 million percent, absence of a
substantive government after disputed elections, closed schools and
hospitals, and widespread shortages of food and water, amid a raging cholera
outbreak which has so far claimed more than 400 lives across the country.

Although Sekeramayi blamed the riots on indiscipline and 'rogue elements'
among the soldiers, the incident has sent shock waves across the country,
and within the government in particular.

Soldiers and other security services are widely seen in Zimbabwe as the
bedrock of government support, in the face of growing public discontent with
Mugabe's rule over the economic hardships.

Until now, the army was feted with cash salaries for soldiers, while all
workers struggled to withdraw their pay from banks.

Soldiers also enjoyed privileged shopping, which is increasingly becoming
worthless due to shortages of basic goods.

It is unclear why the cash salary service for soldiers was withdrawn, and it
appears this is what triggered the unprecedented riots by the boys in
uniform Monday.

"As a result (of the riots), a number of properties were damaged, innocent
people injured, money and property stolen. These acts are unacceptable,
deplorable, reprehensible and criminal," said Sekeramayi.

The large number of soldiers involved in the rioting, and the organised
nature of the violence, analysts said, had sent an alarming message to
Mugabe that his grip on power may not be as tight and secure as widely

As he spoke, Sekeramyi was flanked by the commanders of the army, air force,
secret service and police, underlining the gravity of the incident.

He said an inquiry into the incident had opened, and that those involved,
including those suspected of inciting the riots, would be harshly punished.

The incident took place while Mugabe was away in Qatar attending a United
Nations economic conference.

The long-serving Zimbabwean leader was expected back home Wednesday.

Harare - 03/12/2008

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Institute for War & Peace Reporting (London)

Zimbabwe: Soldiers' Protests Rock Harare
Chipo Sithole

3 December 2008

Harare - Zimbabwe is facing widespread protests by discontented soldiers
feeling the heat of the country's collapsing economy.

Some analysts are forecasting that continuing army revolts and economic
instability could force President Robert Mugabe to share power with the
opposition, putting the country's shattered economy on the road to recovery.

The rising groundswell of anger within the army over poor salaries and cash
shortages poses a serious threat to Mugabe, who has traditionally relied on
the loyalty of the army to keep the opposition in check.

Dozens of soldiers have been taking to the streets of Harare since November
27, clashing with anti-riot and military police deployed in the city centre
to counter the protests. There have been sporadic exchanges of gunfire in
the capital as dissident soldiers and military police clash.

Army protests hit a crescendo on December 1 when over 100 soldiers, dressed
in full military fatigues, emerged from banking halls in the city centre
empty-handed after cash had run out due to rationing.

They first attacked the Market Square bus terminus in downtown Harare, which
is notorious for illegal foreign currency dealings, assaulting foreign
currency dealers and seizing cash from them to demand "our money".

Then they swept across the city, looting and vandalising shops.

The detachment of troops was from Cranborne Barracks and accused the street
foreign currency dealers of consorting with the central bank to vandalise
the economy.

Zimbabwe's bankrupt central bank regularly raises foreign currency from the
black market and relies on an informal network of street traders.

The riots on December 1 were repulsed by the military police, resulting in
the death of "two miscreants", according to the army.

Security sources say Zimbabwe's army is seriously considering a curfew and
has maintained a heavy deployment of military police in the city centre.
"We need to take appropriate measures to counter their actions effectively,"
said a military spokesman.

A pact signed by the military and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono in
November set up a scheme where soldiers could access cash weekly from army
barracks. However, soldiers say the facility is being abused by top
generals, who are making hefty withdrawals daily, leaving the rank-and-file
in the army with nothing.

Government regulations only permit withdrawals from banks of 500,000
Zimbabwe dollars a day, hardly enough for a single fare on public transport.

Military experts are warning the riots are a precursor to mutiny, while
pro-government analysts say the disturbances were just a simple case of
indiscipline within the ranks.

Army sources said the military courts are currently overwhelmed with cases
related to indiscipline in the rank-and-file of the army as rebellious
troops protest against mounting hardships. The troops on December 1 were
also objecting to appalling conditions in the army barracks, where they
complain of being forced to subsist on a diet of the staple sadza (a maize
meal mush) and beans only.

Dozens of anti-riot and military police have taken up positions around the
city centre after fresh threats by labour leaders to march to the central
bank to demand the complete removal of withdrawal limits, imposed to ration
scarce cash supplies.

Tensions are mounting as civilians supporting the soldiers' demands join the
demonstrations; many hurled rocks at anti-riot and military police troops
during the December 1 protests.

The scene then was reminiscent of acts of civil disobedience in 1999 in
Zimbabwe's capital sparked by food shortages that spread like wildfire
through this impoverished nation of 11.8 million people.

Zimbabwe, once a breadbasket of southern Africa, is now among the poorest
countries in the region, and has been struggling to establish democracy
since disputed elections held in March.

The bloody rebellion of soldiers could lead to Mugabe's ousting, warned
Harare-based political commentator Ronald Shumba.

"It's a situation becoming rapidly explosive," he said. "This is a sign of a
deep-seated problem in the army - in Mugabe's regime, in fact."

An official police spokesman tried to downplay the near mutiny, claiming it
was a simple case of "theft and robbery".

Some analysts said the protests herald the beginning of the end for Mugabe,
84, who is beginning to lose the support of powerful factions in his own
party and the increasingly disaffected army, police and security forces.

Mugabe, who has been in power for 28 years, has ruled with fear and
patronage. But now a combination of an unprecedented economic collapse and
growing opposition within his security forces and the ruling ZANU-PF party
present the clearest threats to his rule.

There is palpable anger in the police and army over low salaries and the
fast-track promotions of ZANU-PF loyalists and veterans of the guerrilla war
that ended white rule in 1980, according to a private in the army.

"Morale in the army has hit rock bottom," he said. "Everyone is complaining
about the increasing hardships. It would seem the majority are blaming
President Mugabe himself for causing the hardships.

"They think it's better for him to share power with the opposition to rescue
the economy."

He was unwilling to be identified for fear of reprisal.

Hyperinflation is spreading poverty, as even basic goods become
unaffordable. Supermarket trolleys lie idle as few can afford to buy more
than a handful of goods.

Zimbabwe's official inflation rate was 231 million per cent in July but
independent economists and retailers say it is now above quintillion per
cent and picking up speed.

The crisis has hit soldiers hard, who earn an equivalent of 3 US dollars per

Small-scale mutinies have been reported, but despite Mugabe's precarious
support in the army and police, analysts say a military coup or widespread
revolt are unlikely.

Professor Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's former information minister and currently
an independent member of parliament, dismissed suggestions that the revolt
in the security forces opened the possibility of a coup.

He said it was just a symptom of Mugabe's failure to reward the soldiers
with privileges, including generous payouts, as the economy collapses that
is responsible for the protests.

"He is fast losing the support of his most reliable supporters, but
suggesting it's a precursor to a coup is pie in the sky," he said.

However, Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei, an opposition deputy who is also a
lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said Mugabe faced trouble from his
army, which used to be considered solidly loyal to the president.

"I think to a large extent it is an indication of the intensity of
frustration in the army," he said. "As to what might happen? It depends on
how the banking community in collaboration with armed forces are able to
contain this. But you can't blame the soldiers."

A banking analyst who declined to be named said Mugabe was committing regime
change himself through his disastrous economic policies, now manifested in
the military protests.

"I think it's the end-game," he said. "Things have reached a critical

Chipo Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwe launches probe into looting soldiers

by Godfrey Marawanyika Godfrey Marawanyika - Wed Dec 3, 6:24 am ET

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's government vowed to punish troops involved in a
rampage against currency traders, as the inflation-wracked country printed
new banknotes Wednesday, including a 100-million-dollar bill.

The death toll in the country's cholera epidemic rose to 565, according to
UN figures released Wednesday.

Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi told reporters that the military was
investigating looting carried out by "unruly" soldiers in Harare on Monday
and promised the culprits would be punished.

"During the last five days, Harare experienced disturbances by a few unruly
elements from the defence forces," he said late Tuesday.

"As a result, a number of properties were damaged, innocent people injured,
money and property stolen," he added.

"Measures are being taken that this will not happen again. These incidents
are being investigated and those culpable would be brought to book."

The soldiers were accused of looting downtown shops in Harare and beating
foreign currency dealers. Several shops were looted and witnesses accused
soldiers of having carried off goods.

The state-run Herald newspaper and The Star newspaper in South Africa
Wednesday published pictures of uniformed soldiers apparently looting shops
and taking goods away. Police were called to break up the riot.

The army has denied having sent troops into the streets to attack the
foreign currency dealers, who provide an illegal but essential service in a
country where local bank notes lose value by the hour.

Zimbabwe's soldiers rarely show open dissent against President Robert
Mugabe, the 84-year-old who has governed since independence from Britain in

While senior army officials are seen as loyal to Mugabe, ordinary soldiers
have suffered the same stark deprivations that have cut across Zimbabwean

Police officers on Wednesday dispersed protesting doctors and nurses who had
gathered at the ministry of health headquarters in central Harare, hoping to
deliver their petition to the authorities.

"We are forced to work without basic health institututional needs like
drugs, adequate water and sanitation, safe clothing gear, medical equipment
and basic support services," their protest letter said.

Medical workers are struggling to cope with the nationwide outbreak of
cholera. Water supplies in the capital Harare have been cut off since Sunday
as the authorities struggle to contain the epidemic.

The disease, which can be transmitted in contaminated water, has already
killed at least 565 people across the country, according to figures released
Wednesday by the UN.

The capital Harare is the worst-affected area with 177 deaths and 6,448
suspected cases -- more than half the total number of 12,546 cases
nationwide, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said
in a statement.

On Wednesday, police officers beat up more than 20 people protesting over
their inability to get their money out of banks as the authorities prepared
to issue the first 100-million-dollar notes.

Officers used batons to hit the protesters and members of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) who had gathered for a protest march, an AFP
correspondent at the scene reported.

As part of its continuing struggle to cope with runaway inflation, Zimbabwe
is issuing three new denominations of banknotes, including a
one-hundred-million-dollar note, state media reported Wednesday.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said the release of the new notes -- 100
million, 50 million and 10 million -- followed recent a review of the limit
on cash withdrawal.

The limit has been revised to 50 million Zimbabwe dollars a day for
individuals and 100 million for company account holders -- up from 500,000
and a million dollars respectively, The Herald said.

The new notes will come into circulation on Thursday.

Once one of Africa's most successful nations, the economy has been shrinking
for a nearly a decade, pounded by the world's highest inflation, last
estimated at 231 million percent in July.

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Mass desertions in Zimbabwe army following killing of soldiers after riots

High level investigation in the Zimbabwe National Army are underway in
Harare after Mondays shock rampaging by hundreds of soldiers through the
streets and looting.

Wednesday 3 December 2008, by Will Ghartey-Mould

It was an unprecedented show of anger which has left Robert Mugabe's
government shaken. However, Mugabe's loyal generals have swiftly instituted
investigations and owed to take strong measures against junior soldiers.

Dressed in battle fatigues, they assaulted foreign-currency dealers and made
off with their money. The unarmed soldiers also fought with heavily-armed
police and several were arrested.

It was the third outbreak of such violence since last Thursday. The sight of
rampaging soldiers was then unprecedented.

Army sources said an inquiry had already begun, with dozens facing court

Unconfirmed reports say three of the 12 soldiers who took part in Thursday's
riot have been killed. As a result hundreds of fearful junior soldiers had
stopped reporting for duty. Mass desertions are likely to follow.

"Many of them will be kept away from the armouries because of suspicions of
disloyalty. They simply won't have the means to stage a full-scale coup or
embark on any sustainable revolt," said a middle-ranking army officer who
did not want to be named.

Soldiers' salaries which are now the equivalent of five US cents per month
and barely enough to cover a day's bus fare, could not be drawn from the
banks because of a cash shortage.

The food rations they used to get to supplement meagre salaries have been
stopped because imports have dried up because of the lack of funds. Instead,
soldiers are being asked to bring food from home.

Alarmed by the rampage and looting the government has warned that stern
action would be taken on soldiers while at the same time confirming that
they had looted in the city.

The minister of defence, Sidney Sekeramayi, also claimed that the situation
was under control.

"During the last five days, Harare experienced disturbances perpetrated by
unruly elements from the Defence Forces ... As a result, properties were
damaged, innocent people were injured, money and property was stolen," he
told a press conference.

"These actions are unacceptable, deplorable, reprehensible and criminal. The
ministry of defence expresses sincere regret that this has happened and
would like to assure Harare residents and the nation that the situation is
under control."

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Death to the mutineers!

How the government plans to deal with the rioting soldiers

Following my report on the Zimbabwe army's rioting soldiers, who have been
running amok in the streets of Harare, government sources are indicating
that those dissident troops who can be identified will be punished by
summary execution.

Since last Thursday mobs of soldiers, frustrated by lack of pay and food,
have been terrorizing local citizens, targeting foreign currency dealers,
and looting shops and market stalls. Their activities climaxed on Monday
with a pitched battle against riot police.

Today a government source close to the Joint Operations Command, the junta
that to all intents and purposes runs Zimbabwe today, told me that when
President Robert Mugabe returns from his current visit to Doha, he will be
recommended to impose the death penalty on the soldiers involved.

"There is a general fear in government of another Somalia here in Zimbabwe,"
said the source. "A stern message to all soldiers is considered necessary,
and that means execution."

Earlier defence minister Sydney Sekeramyi had hinted as much, when he
described the rioting troops as "rogue elements", and described their
actions as "unacceptable, deplorable, reprehensible and criminal."

Meanwhile concern is growing for the safety of Jestina Mukoko, a well-known
and popular human rights worker, who was abducted from her Norton, Harare,
home some days ago by 15 men , believed to be members of the feared spy
agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

Jestina rose to fame as a newsreader on the state-owned Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), but had moved on to work with the Zimbabwe
Police Project. A statement by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
said she can still not be found, All that is known is that one of the
vehicles involved in the abduction was a grey Mazda 325 Familia.

ZLHR has been consistently documenting cases of politically motivated
violence in the country for the past year, and has evidence that many more
human rights activists have been either abducted or arrested in the past few
weeks. They include a local councillor in the Banket area north west of
Harare, and his wife, a provincial women's leader. So far neither husband
nor wife can be found.

On the streets this week doctors and nurses marched to the Ministry of
Health to protest against the almost total collapse of the public heath
service, and were brutally dispersed by police. Another march by labour
union members, organized by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU),
was broken up before it reached the Central Bank.

So the demonstrations, official and violent supressions, the abduction of
human rights workers, beatings, and murders - all grow grow more numerous by
the day. If our government now begins to execute protesting members of its
own military establishment, can total anarchy be far away?

Posted on Wednesday, 03 December 2008 at 16:56 |

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Zimbabwe blames opponents over revolt by soldiers

By KITSEPILE NYATHI, NATION CorrespondentPosted Wednesday, December 3 2008
at 18:36

HARARE, Wednesday

The Zimbabwean government has accused its opponents of inciting soldiers to
revolt in what critics say is confirmation of suspicions the week-long
protests by the usually loyal security forces were a well calculated ruse to
allow President Robert Mugabe to declare a state of emergency.
The warnings came as riot police in the capital Harare violently broke up
marches by nurses, doctors and ordinary workers protesting against the
deepening cash shortages and the economic crisis.

Speaking for the first time after days of looting and street battles between
disgruntled soldiers and anti-riot police in central Harare, the Defence
minister, Mr Sydney Sekeramayi, told state media the government was worried
the incidents were coinciding with intensifying demonstrations against Mr
Mugabe's regime.

Zimbabwe's main labour body called for nationwide protests against cash
withdrawal limits imposed by the central bank.

Today morning, police maintained a heavy presence on roads leading to Harare's
central business district and tried to prevent protesters from raiding banks
as part of the protests.

"The coincidence of the above stated incidents (riots by soldiers) and the
call for nationwide demonstrations raises a lot of questions," Mr Sekeramayi
said. "While it is the right of citizens to demonstrate, it must be done
within the context and confines of the laws of this country."

He said investigations were already under way to identify those behind the

This raised suspicions that President Mugabe, who was attending the
just-ended United Nations Conference on Financing Development in Doha when
the soldiers began storming the streets and attacking illegal foreign
currency dealers, was targeting his opponents.

More disturbing were reports that the soldiers were seen showing the symbol
of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), an open palm,
as they ran amok on the streets, critics said.

"Let me also emphasise that those who may try to incite some members of the
uniformed forces to indulge in illegal activities will equally be found
culpable," Mr Sekeramayi said.

Already several MDC officials, including Mr Tendai Biti, the party's
secretary general have appeared in court facing allegations of trying to
influence security forces to revolt against the government.

The charges arose after Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF lost its parliamentary
majority for the first time since independence to the MDC during the March

Mr Denford Magora, a social commentator believes Mr Mugabe's opponents were
playing into a trap by organising protests they hope will be supported by
disgruntled soldiers.

Former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa who was once jailed by Mr
Mugabe's government for alleged treason also expressed similar fears saying
Zanu PF was desperate to extricate itself from a number of crises
threatening to sweep it away.

He said the protests by the soldiers bore a resemblance to a series of
mysterious bombings that have rocked police stations in Harare. Police
Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri who is a close ally of Mr Mugabe is
on record saying the bombings were an inside job.

Zimbabwe remains tense as the ruling party and the two formations of the MDC
continue to haggle over the formation of a unity government proposed by a
September 15 power sharing agreement.

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Mugabe's power base under threat as soldiers protest

By Tichaona Sibanda
3 November 2008

The MDC secretary for security and intelligence said on Wednesday clashes
between soldiers and the police in central Harare on Monday symbolize the
advanced decay of Robert Mugabe's power base, that has served him so well
since independence.

On Monday a group of irate soldiers clashed with police officers after
failing to access their money from their banks. In the fierce brawl that
ensued, several people were injured and shops were looted and had their
windows shattered.

Giles Mutsekwa, the MDC MP for Dangamvura-Chikanga in Mutare, described the
fight between elements of the forces of law and order as 'taboo' and an
indication that the centre can no longer hold.

The problem began last week Thursday when soldiers assaulted bank staff and
broke windows, before they poured onto the streets, blocking traffic and
intimidating passersby. On arrival of the military police the rampaging
troops fled down Julius Nyerere Way and converged at the Ximex Mall, behind
the Harare's main post office, where they disrupted business and caused
people to flee.

The following day on Friday, Harare's streets were the site of total chaos
as angry uniformed soldiers vented their frustration and anger on traders,
foreign currency dealers and passersby. Black market traders were the
initial targets of the soldiers, but there was a melee when they turned on
members of the public. Mutsekwa said this was an empire crumbling right in
front of their eyes.

'The grievances voiced by the soldiers have struck a nerve among the top
military brass. More than ever, the government should listen to the public's
long-time clamour for change,' Mutsekwa said.
In a rare television appearance Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi said the
disturbances were merely a 'blip' in the military, as the soldiers received
little public support during the disturbances.

Soldiers rarely show open dissent against Mugabe but events of the past week
indicate that the wheels are indeed coming off. Mutsekwa said while senior
army officials are seen as loyal to Mugabe; ordinary soldiers have suffered
the same stark deprivations that have cut across Zimbabwean society.

'Between 80 and 85 percent of the army population is deeply disgruntled. I've
told Sekeramayi several times in Parliament that the army was not being
managed professionally and warned him that when the patronage system fails,
it doesn't take any prisoners, they all go down,' Mutsekwa said.

He noted the speed with which Sekeramayi convened the media briefing to
issue a strong warning to the 'unruly' soldiers, whilst failing to address
issues that caused the problem.

'He (Sekeramayi) says they will leave no stone unturned to flush out the
culprits but glaringly missed to say why the soldiers acted in that manner.
You can't gloss over the indiscipline of soldiers without addressing the
problematic areas,' Mutsekwa added.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Zimbabwe tackles cash shortage amid riots and looting

People line up to withdraw cash from local banks in Harare

People line up to withdraw cash from local banks in Harare. Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

The Zimbabwe government is set to greatly increase the amount of money people can withdraw from banks from tomorrow in an attempt to quell growing unrest, including riots and looting by soldiers this week, over a drastic cash shortage caused by hyperinflation.

The central bank has raised the withdrawal limit from the equivalent of just 18p a day to about £33 a week following the protests in which scores of troops apparently angry at waiting in long bank queues targeted shops in Harare that will only accept payment in US dollars and blackmarket money changers openly dealing on the streets.

The growing anger among soldiers and other Zimbabweans is due in part to the increasing difficulty of using the national currency to buy anything but a few locally produced vegetables and bread after the US dollar was made legal tender.

The central bank is also issuing new Zimbabwe dollar bank notes tomorrow worth Z$50m (£17) and Z$100m to keep pace with inflation officially put at 231m% in July but which economists now estimate runs in to the billions.

Riot police today arrested trade union leaders and broke up a small protest over the limits on cash withdrawals. The union leaders were detained as they led a march of a few dozen people to deliver a petition to the central bank demanding an end to the restrictions.

The demonstrators carried placards reading "No to cash limits" and "We are tired of sleeping at the banks" because many people spend hours queuing every day just to get enough money to cover transport and a few basic foodstuffs.

The police today also broke up a protest by doctors and nurses attempting to deliver a petition to the health ministry in Harare objecting to the lack of medical supplies and the closure of some large government hospitals.

"We are forced to work without basic health institutional needs like drugs, adequate water and sanitation, safe clothing gear, medical equipment and basic support services," the letter said.

The collapsing health service is now grappling with the additional burden of cholera. The UN said today that it had confirmed 565 deaths from cholera among 12,546 reported cases but medical charities say the real toll is at least double.

One-third of the deaths were in the capital, Harare, where water has been cut off for days because of a lack of chemicals to treat the supply.

The government said it will punish troops involved in the protests but some of Mugabe's critics suspect the demonstrations may have been orchestrated to justify a further crackdown on his opponents and possibly the introduction of a state of emergency.

The former home affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa, who has joined a breakaway faction from Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, told the IRIN news service that the protests may not be what they seem.

"I do hope the demonstrations by the soldiers are genuine, and that it is not a ruse to come up with an excuse to crack down against the people, or even worse," he said.

"You can't rule out what they [the government] might do. They have so many problems ... such as cholera and money shortages. They want to rule a country where they have total control over the people. Anything is possible - they face so many problems that I don't rule out any move to contain the situation."

Suspicion is rife because the government has sought to retain the backing of the army by ensuring that banks regularly delivered cash to the barracks. However, the troops still have much to be disgruntled about.

The central bank is issuing the new bank notes tomorrow as the national currency continues its interminable decline. A new Zimbabwe dollar was launched in August after 10 zeros were wiped off the currency because banks and shops could no longer handle the numbers.

But the new dollar has plummeted just as fast, falling from about Z$10 to the pound in early August to Z$3m today for cash. Twenty-seven new currency denominations have been introduced in Zimbabwe this year alone.

The rioting soldiers told bystanders they were angry that what little money they have can be used for little more than paying for transport and buying a few of the sparse locally produced goods.

The government caught up with reality by legalising the use of US dollars and other hard currency in September. Dollars and South African rand were already in widespread use in what amounted to underground supermarkets selling imports. Now the transactions are legal, it is almost impossible to buy anything in Zimbabwe dollars.

The Spar in Ballantyne Park, in northern Harare, is used by middle-class Zimbabweans and their domestic workers. It prices almost everything in US dollars and will accept payments only in the American currency, rand or sterling.

Change is given in bread rolls because of a shortage of small foreign notes. Only locally produced vegetables, eggs and bread can be paid for in Zimbabwe dollars.

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Gono to meet ZCTU leadership Thursday

December 3, 2008

By Raymond Maingire

HARARE - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono on Wednesday
conceded to a formal meeting with ZCTU leaders to discuss the possible
scrapping of the central bank's unpopular cash withdrawal limits.

This was after the militant labour representative group had successfully
presented its petition to Gono in spite of a violent response by anti-riot

The petition was the highlight of a countrywide strike action against the
central bank's cash limits Wednesday.

ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe was arrested by the police,
alongside other ZCTU officials, for organizing the strike. They were later
released without any charge.

Chibhebhe told The Zimbabwe Times Wednesday that Gono said he was equally
concerned with the failure by Zimbabweans to access their cash.

"He was very welcoming," said Chibhebhe, shortly after his release from
police custody.

"He said he was equally concerned by the failure by fellow Zimbabweans to
access their cash in their bank accounts. We have agreed to meet tomorrow
(Thursday) at 9am during which meeting we are going to discuss modalities
through which the cash crisis can be addressed."

ZCTU deputy secretary general Japhet Moyo said during Wednesday's meeting,
Gono initially agreed to go and address restive crowds in the city centre
but later rescinded his decision for security reasons.

Gono this week reviewed upwards cash withdrawal limits while introducing
weekly cash withdrawal limits.

Under the new measures, individuals will now be allowed to withdraw $100
million, up from $$500 000 while companies would be allowed access to $150
million, up from $1 million.

The increases take effect this Thursday concurrently with the unveiling of
another new set of bank notes - $10 million, $50 million and $100 million.

The ZCTU dismissed the increase saying it would not have any long term
effect on the cash woes that have been affecting Zimbabweans for the past
five years.

Meanwhile, the ZCTU says a total of 69 demonstrators who include its leaders
were arrested throughout the country as police broke protests called by the

Eight protestors were also treated for injuries sustained when police
violently broke Wednesday's strike in the city centre.

ZCTU information officer Khumbulani Ndlovu said that 15 people who were
arrested together with ZCTU secretary-general, Wellington Chibhebhe in
Harare were later released without any charge.

According to the ZCTU, five protestors who were arrested in Kariba were
still in police custody while four people arrested in Karoi have been
released. However one Cherechedzai Rubiwa is said to have remained in police

Ndlovu said 35 people arrested in Gweru were still in custody after the
police refused to release them. The police said they will deal with the
matter tomorrow.

"Seven people arrested in Bulawayo are still in police custody with lawyers
frantically working to have then released.

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Zimbabwean women face state brutality

Crisis Coalition


During the 16 Days of Activism, Zimbabwean women activists have been hard
hit by the government's ongoing campaign against human rights defenders and
activists. One of Zimbabwe's foremost human rights activists was abducted
today by armed state agents and 10 women trade unionists were badly
assaulted during a protest.

Jestina Mukoko, the Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, a primary
documentation institution was abducted today from her home in Norton, about
31 km from Harare today, Wednesday 3 December, around 05h00 by armed plain
clothed security agents believed to be the Central Intelligence Organization
(CIO). The men were driving a Mazda Familia car without registration plates.
They gained access to her home after assaulting her caretaker/guard. Her 17
year old son and her domestic worker witnessed the abduction. Ms Mukoko was
taken away still wearing her nightdress.

Jestina Mukoko's organization, Zimbabwe Peace Project, has produced
meticulously-researched reports on partisan distribution of humanitarian and
food assistance by the Zimbabwe government and the violence inflicted on
Zimbabweans at community level. In past years Ms Mukoko was a news anchor
for the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

Another 10 women were heavily assaulted by the police in Harare, during a
protest organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). Those
assaulted include Getrude Hambira (General Agricultural and Plantation
Workers' Union - General Secretary), Angeline Chitambo (Zimbabwe Energy
Workers' Union - President), Tecla Masamba (Communications and Allied
Workers' Union of Zimbabwe), Martha Kajama (National Engineering Workers'
Union of Zimbabwe) and Mirriam Katumba (Vice Chair Women's Advisory

In Pretoria, a group of young refugee women, survivors of state-sponsored
violence and abuse in Zimbabwe, have been holding a picket on Church Street,
in front of Union Buildings, in protest against the ongoing violence and
abuse of women by Zimbabwean government State agents. They are vehemently
opposed to continued ZANU PF control of Zimbabwe's security ministries.

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Zimbabwe's meltdown in figures



Inflation reached 231 million percent a year in July, the latest month for
which a figure has been announced. Economists think it is now much higher
and say prices are doubling daily.


Gross domestic product has fallen every year since 2000, down 10.4 percent
in 2003 alone. The IMF estimated that the economy shrank 6.1 percent in

Per capita GDP was estimated at $200 (135 pounds) in 2007, from nearer $900
in 1990. Zimbabwe has the world's fastest shrinking economy for a country
not at war, according to the World Bank.


An estimated 83 percent of the population was living on below $2 a day by
2005. Since then, the situation has only worsened.


Exports averaged 33.5 percent of GDP between 1997 and 2001. UBS forecast
this would decline to 9.9 percent in 2007.


Once the breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe now needs to import maize.
The U.N. agricultural production index for Zimbabwe fell from nearly 107 in
2000 to just over 74 in 2005.

Official figures show maize production at 800,000 tonnes last season against
national demand of 2 million tonnes.


Gold output, which accounts for a third of export earnings, hit a low of 125
kg in October, from a peak of 2,400 kg, as the economic crisis forced mines
to close.


Unemployment is estimated at over 90 percent. Well over 3 million
Zimbabweans are thought to have fled, mostly to South Africa, in search of
work and food.


Aid agencies say 5 million people -- almost half the population -- might
need food aid by early 2009.


Zimbabwe fell into arrears with the International Monetary Fund in 2001. In
February 2008, it owed $88 million, of which nearly $80 million has been in
arrears for three years or more. While Zimbabwe has averted expulsion, the
IMF has suspended financial and technical assistance.


Average life expectancy fell from 63 years in 1990 to 40.9 years in 2005,
according to U.N. figures.

The mortality rate for children under five rose to 132 deaths per 1,000 in
2005 from 76 deaths in 1990.


The official death toll from a cholera epidemic since August is at least 565
with over 12,500 infected, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs in Zimbabwe.


In 2007, HIV prevalence was 15.6 percent among adults aged 15 to 49 -- the
fourth highest in the world. It causes the death of about 3,200 people per
week in the country of 13.3 million.

HIV prevalence among pregnant women at clinics actually fell from 26 percent
in 2002 to 18 in 2006, but some put that down to high mortality and
emigration rather than prevention measures.

* ANTHRAX Save the Children said an anthrax outbreak in the south west has
killed three people and could wipe out at least 60,000 livestock.

Sources: UBS, Reuters, WFP, World Bank, Unicef, UNDP, IMF, CIA World

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Mugabe will have no people left to rule

Wednesday, 03 December 2008

CAPE TOWN - Zimbabwe is in a state of absolute chaos. Even the people
who have beaten up and kidnapped MDC supporters for Mugabe have not been
paid for the last two months. The country is no longer under a dictator it
is completely lawless. The land is wet, but the crops are not planted.
Police, government staff and soldiers starve with the people, an almost
uniting struggle. The people have had enough, they have nothing.
Zanu (PF) has no foresight. They have cut off the hand that feeds
them, that hand that has beaten for them. The rural lands are filled with
people who can now only wait to die. Elders are saying: 'Mugabe will have no
people left to rule.'
Ironically, almost all of Zimbabwe uses - thanks to Mugabe and Gono -
the currency of Zanu (PF)'s hated America. The prices are even higher than
those in America itself! A coke costs you US$2.50 and mealie meal is R90 for
a ten kg bag.
This Christmas there will be no parties for the people, only funerals
to attend. The hard-earned money from the Diaspora will be spent on coffins.
People will have to pay more for food than they have ever paid in their
The police and soldiers have no faith in the thieves they work for,
but fear for their jobs. The people have seen it all, the dead bodies and
the Zanu chefs' BMWs. The cholera outbreak serves as a sign of how bad the
country is, with people unable to merely find or buy the rehydration fluid
they need to save their lives.
People from the outside world can not imagine how our people have
suffered, how without begging or stealing they have done everything possible
to survive. How they have eaten ants, wild fruit, rats, birds and cooked
pawpaw (like potatoes). How our people have suffered and died in their rural
homes and accepted a fate they have never chosen. How they have respected
Tsvangirai's calls of patience but at such a high price.
This time immigrants here in South Africa can never send enough. Gono
and Mugabe's men are stealing more than they have ever stolen - our bread
for their cake. It is a time when we are really running out of options and
an uprising is imminent, but let, I pray, the uprising be from the people,
by the people and for the people, not some opportunistic rebel group for
wealth and power.

*† If you have cholera it is dehydration that kills you. To increase a
person's chances of survival you can help by giving them rehydration fluid.
This is made by mixing one level teaspoon of salt, eight level teaspoons of
sugar, one litre of clean drinking (or boiled water and then cooled)
produces 5 cupfuls (each cup about 200 ml.)

Braam Hanekom
PASSOP Chairperson

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What are Zim's options now?

††††December 03 2008 at 04:08PM

By Matthew Tostevin

London - Zimbabwe's crisis is worsening rapidly in the absence of agreement
on implementing a power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Here are some possible scenarios:

The stalemate continues

Zimbabwe's economy and social system appear rapidly headed towards total
breakdown, highlighted by a cholera outbreak that has killed over 560 people
and by clashes earlier this week between Zimbabweans and angry soldiers.

Street protests in Harare on Wednesday were another sign of the growing
tensions in a country where nobody has money to buy food or meet other basic
needs. Although the protests have been small and easily suppressed by police
with batons, the weight of despair is clearly growing.

Central bank efforts to print more money are only adding to stratospheric
inflation. With exports collapsing, there is nothing to back the currency.
Output of gold, which had been a third of exports, has tumbled as the crisis
shuts mines.

A worried army is taking measures to curb "rogue soldiers" after the
disturbances. While there is no sign the army dissent amounts to a mutiny,
the rank-and-file is suffering alongside other Zimbabweans and could
potentially be a threat to the government as well as to public order.

The confrontation between police and the rampaging soldiers earlier this
week also raised the risk of trouble between forces once reputed for
discipline and cohesion.

There is no obvious breaking point, but the New Year has traditionally been
a time of high expenditure for Zimbabweans. School fees and other costs fall
due then for many. The government has lifted import duties on basic
commodities to help make them more available for Christmas, state media

The clock is certainly ticking on chances for the power-sharing deal.

Rivals agree

The spiralling crisis will increase pressure on both sides for agreement,
although Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change has said it
will be another two weeks before it is even discussed again.

Tsvangirai has been holding out for the home affairs ministry, which
controls the police, but the most on offer has been joint control. The
crisis could put greater pressure on him to avoid being seen as the
obstacle, but there is no sign yet that either he or Mugabe will budge.

If they do agree on a power-sharing cabinet, they could face a new
struggle - reaching compromise on economic policy to ease daily hardships
and persuade Western donors that reforms are in store so that they pump
money into the country.

Mugabe has said he will stick to policies such as seizing white-owned farms
and plans to nationalise foreign-owned banks and mines -- the last thing
donors and investors want. Tsvangirai promises free-market policies.

Western money would also depend on Tsvangirai having a clear say in the
running of the country, quite apart from the fact that global financial
turmoil means Zimbabwe is not a top issue and funds are in short supply.

Control of security forces would also be a sensitive matter in any
power-sharing government.

Mugabe tries to go it alone

Mugabe is waving a resolution from the southern African SADC bloc urging the
immediate establishment of a unity government to demand the right to appoint
a cabinet himself and has looked set to move in that direction.

He could name a government alone while still keeping spaces for the
opposition, but it is highly unlikely that main rival Morgan Tsvangirai
would take up such posts. It would also be likely to simply prolong the
stalemate with the same risks that entails.

Mugabe could also face a hurdle in parliament, where Tsvangirai's Movement
for Democratic Change and a breakaway MDC wing now have more seats than
Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

Western powers, including the United States and former colonial ruler
Britain, would not accept such a government as legitimate and could increase
sanctions. That could push the economy even closer total collapse.

Regional intervention

Impatience in the region is undoubtedly growing. The new administration in
South Africa has been taking a more active role to try to press the two
sides into a deal - symbolically putting some aid on hold.

The spread of cholera to Zimbabwe's neighbours, after the flood of millions
of Zimbabweans seeking work, has given them another reason to want to ensure
the crisis is resolved.

But there still appears little will for more forceful intervention and the
worsening crisis may lead, at least in the short term, to no more than an
increase in the calls on the two sides to agree. - Reuters

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