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Ruling party rebel lays down his challenge to ageing President Mugabe

The Times
February 16, 2008

Jan Raath in Harare
A three-horse race for Zimbabwe's presidency was set in motion yesterday
when candidates registered for elections that for the first time pose a real
challenge to the octogenarian President Mugabe.

The main threat to his rule comes from a rebel within his own party, Simba
Makoni, 57, an articulate former Finance Minister sacked by Mr Mugabe. Mr
Makoni, a member of the ruling party's politburo until last week when he
denounced Mr Mugabe's “failure of leadership”, arrived at the high court to
register his nomination in a Toyota Sedan, accompanied by his wife, Chipo.

Mr Mugabe will be the sole candidate for his ruling Zanu (PF) party. Morgan
Tsvangirai will stand for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, now
making his fourth attempt to unseat Mr Mugabe, 83. In contrast, the head of
a rival faction of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara, announced that he and his
party had decided they would not be fielding a presidential candidate and
would instead urge supporters to back the independent candidate, Mr Makoni.
“We are going to support, vigorously and throughout the country, the
presidential bid of Dr Makoni,” he said. “We feel we owe it to Zimbabweans
to close ranks with Dr Makoni so that Zimbabweans can deliver change.”

The elections for president, parliament, and 1,958 local government wards on
March 29 are seen as the most crucial in the country's history since
independence in 1980.

Related Links
  a.. Party rebel to stand against Mugabe
  a.. Rally violence 'exposes Mugabe reform pledge'
Once one of Africa's most highly developed nations, Zimbabwe is now racked
by frequent shortages of food, drinking water and power. Roads are potholed
and streets strewn with uncollected rubbish and awash with sewage.

The collapse of the economy has begun to affect ruling party heavyweights
whose access to money, farms, 4x4 vehicles and diamonds is now under threat.
The dire state of affairs was underlined this week by the publication of
inflation figures for last year of 66,212 per cent.

Presidential candidates have to pay a non-returnable deposit of Z$1 billion,
which is worth £50. Aspiring MPs and senators have to produce Z$100 million,
or about £5.

The two factions of the MDC failed to present a unified platform after Mr
Tsvangirai broke an agreement on the shared allocation of seats. The
splitting of anti-Zanu (PF) votes may be fatal for the party that, before it
divided in 2005, is seen to have been beaten in the three elections since
2000 only by violence and intimidation.

Millions of Zimbabweans are expected to vote in the elections, but the
ruling party remained confident of victory. “We're very confident of
victory, 99.9 per cent confident,” said Emerson Mnangagwa, a Cabinet
minister, after presenting Mr Mugabe's election registration papers to the
court in Harare.

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Zimbabwe presidential candidates confirmed

Yahoo News

by Godfrey Marawanyika

HARARE (AFP) - Candidates for Zimbabwe's March presidential elections were
confirmed on Friday by a nominations court in Harare.

"The following candidates have been duly nominated; Makoni Herbert Stanley
Simbarashe (Independent), Mugabe Robert Gabriel (ZANU-PF), Toungana Langton
(Independent) and Tsvangirai Morgan," Zimbabwe electoral commission
presiding officer Ignatius Mushangwe announced when he adjourned the court.

"Since more than one candidate has been duly nominated for the office of
president the polls shall take place on Saturday March 29 2008 in accordance
with the electoral act."

Papers for President Robert Mugabe were submitted to the nominations court
by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union -
Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) secretary for legal affairs.

Former finance minister Simba Makoni, standing as an independent, handed in
his papers in person while forms for the main opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, were submitted by his senior aide Nelson Chamisa.

Nomination papers for William Gwata of the little-known Christian Democratic
party were rejected for failing to satisfy the criteria while former ZANU-PF
official Daniel Shumba was barred from submitting his papers after turning
up at the close of nominations.

Mnangagwa, who is also Mugabe's rural housing minister, said the ruling
party was confident of extending its rule both at the presidential vote and
the parliamentary elections which are also taking place on March 29.

"We are extremely confident because we have been organising for the last
year or so and restructuring the party," he said in brief comments to
reporters outside the courthouse.

Makoni, who has been kicked out of ZANU-PF over his challenge to Mugabe,
said he would immediately launch his election campaign.

"I feel good and I am raring to go," he told reporters after filing the
acceptance of papers.

"As soon as I leave this building I will launch my campaign."

Chamisa expressed confidence that the MDC would romp to victory in the

"There is no doubt that this election is between the MDC and two ZANU-PF
factions, one led by Simba Makoni and the other led by Robert Mugabe,"
Chamisa said.

"We are fighting a fractious ZANU-PF and we are going to win."

A breakaway faction from the MDC did not put up a candidate but rather
decided to support Makoni.

"Our political party, has decided in pursuit of national interest to endorse
the presidential bid in Zimbabwe by Dr Simba Makoni," the faction's leader,
Arthur Mutambabra, told a news conference.

"Dr Makoni is a courageous Zimbabwean. Makoni has the ability to unify
people across the political divide and he has a strategic vision."

Mutambara added he would be himself be contesting for a seat in Zengeza
West, 30 kilometres (18 miles) southwest of the capital.

But Makoni said: "I am not in an alliance with anyone. I am an independent
candidate and I am standing alone."

Mugabe, who is 84 next week, is hoping to secure a sixth term of office as
leader of the former British colony of Rhodesia which he has ruled since
independence in 1980.

The elections are taking place against a backdrop of economic meltdown in
Zimbabwe, which has an official inflation rate of more than 66,000
percent -- the highest in the world.

Unemployment stands at around 80 percent, even basic foodstuffs are scare,
and the general infrastructure is rapidly crumbling.

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New twist in Zim election race


    February 15 2008 at 04:11PM

Harare - A splinter group of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) backed former finance minister Simba Makoni on
Friday in his bid to win a presidential election next month.

Arthur Mutambara, leader of a group that split from MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai's main faction in 2005, said its party would, however, stand for
parliamentary and council elections on March 29, when the presidential poll
will also take place.

"I am here today to announce to Zimbabweans that our political party
has decided that, in pursuit of national interests, we are endorsing the
presidential bid by Simba Makoni," told reporters.

"Makoni has shown courage by standing up to (President Robert)

Makoni, an economic reformer, was expelled this week from the ruling
party after he announced he would stand against Mugabe.

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Can Tsvangirai make the ultimate sacrifice?

New Zimbabwe

By Dr Alex T. Magaisa
Last updated: 02/15/2008 21:08:32
MORGAN Tsvangirai is a brave man. Few have endured the tortuous path of
opposition politics in Zimbabwe as he has in the last eight years. When the
history of the nation is told, surely, his name will appear alongside the
men and women who made sacrifices in the service of their people.

But there is one more sacrifice, perhaps the greatest and most difficult of
all to execute, which now stares him in the face.

And if he were to make it, so that change could indeed become a real
deliverable, it could well confer the greatest accolade any man could ever
receive from his people. It is whether he has the courage to make the
ultimate sacrifice, that is, to eschew his personal ambition in order that
the greater cause for which he has fought so valiantly may be realised. It
is the new challenge that Simba Makoni poses, having now entered the
presidential race against his erstwhile boss, Robert Mugabe.

It is testimony to the vicissitudes of politics that one who has enjoyed so
much acclamation and to whom much hope has been invested for the past eight
years, should now be facing pleas to ‘step aside’ for another who until a
few weeks ago was part of a system against which he was fighting.

Yet in truth, it says a great deal more about the character of the present
struggle in Zimbabwe. For too long, it has been mischaracterised as simply a
struggle for democracy. There is, of course, good reason for clothing it in
the apparel of democracy and human rights. These are fashionable robes,
resonating across the world and also providing the beautiful cover of
respectability and universality.

But when you lift that veil, when you peer through, you discover that in
truth, this is but a stage in a very long and protracted process that will
linger for years to come. You unearth the reality that this stage is really
and practically about achieving change in the national leadership.

All the beautiful arguments often advanced about democracy and systematic
change do make sense. Yet they also conceal the fact that the most urgent
and pragmatic objective is to substitute a new leader for President Mugabe.
This rests on a widely held but unspoken assumption. It is the hypothesis
that a change in national leadership and therefore a replacement of Mugabe,
is more likely to unlock other opportunities. This, very importantly,
includes unhinging opportunities for economic revival, a matter that is,
surely, uppermost in the minds of ordinary citizens.

This postulation does not dismiss issues of democracy and systematic
changes. It simply envisages them as long-term deliverables which rest on
the attainment of the first and most urgent objective: leadership change.
Realistically, even the forthcoming elections will not deliver these
systematic changes overnight. They are simply about opening the doors,
currently locked by the leadership question.

That is why from a strategic platform, it is important to make decisions on
how best to confront the leadership challenge. It cannot be done through a
divided opposition. It becomes pertinent, therefore, to gauge who among the
opposition has the best opportunity to make a successful challenge. It is in
this context that both Tsvangirai and Mutambara have been asked to consider
backing Makoni. Apparently, Mutambara has agreed. But Tsvangirai has
reportedly refused to heed this call.

Perhaps Tsvangirai does feel belittled and hard done by. Perhaps the
language carrying the message has appeared to denigrate his audacious
efforts over the years. For a man bearing scars that evidence his personal
sacrifices, it may appear too condescending, yes, perhaps, too dismissive to
simply ask him to ‘step aside’ for another man.

Yet, ultimately, when all is considered, he may wish to see this not as a
denigration but an acknowledgement of his mass appeal, that men and women
have to make pleas, uncultured though the language may appear, for him to
sacrifice a personal ambition, in order that the greater goal of change may
be achieved. He may even see his role here as playing the ‘King-maker’ and
thereby anointing Makoni for the pursuit of the greater cause.

There can be no doubt that Tsvangirai enjoys popular appeal, earned by both
sweat and blood. Flawed though he may be, there are many in and outside
Zimbabwe in whose hearts he occupies a comfortable place. And yet, also, a
leader must make some tough decisions.

Tsvangirai has faced difficult questions before, one of which ultimately
resulted in the break-up of the fractured MDC in October 2005. He made the
tough decision and has almost got away with it, retaining the larger measure
of support in the party. But even that does not seem enough to deliver his
ultimate ambition.

Yet the Makoni Factor presents a similarly difficult question, one that
demands a leader’s fluency in the language of leadership. It is a language
that is indeterminate; one that combines both the pursuit of long-term
principle and an understanding of pragmatism. Perhaps in dismissing the
Makoni Factor, Tsvangirai is holding steadfastly to his principles. But that
may also be to overlook the fundamental demands of pragmatism in the
language of leadership and politics.

Why, therefore, Simba Makoni?

It is because of all the challengers, he seems to be more uniquely placed.
He seems to represent an important bridging factor in a nation ravaged by
rifts across parties and mini-parties. He is likely to enjoy the support of
ordinary citizens who want change but have been disillusioned by the
opposition’s incapacities. These swing voters will have been reawakened by
this dramatic turn of events. He is also likely to enjoy the backing of
those in Zanu PF who want change but have, until now, not been presented
with any choice within their party. This appeal across divisions is
something no candidate has been able to achieve for a long time.

Makoni also appears to enjoy the confidence of the international community,
broadly defined, and it is quite likely that he could receive the ‘quiet
confidence’ of the regional leaders who, it seems, have always preferred
someone emerging from within their beloved liberation movements. He has
undoubtedly stolen the limelight from the line-up of challengers. He
represents hope that Zanu PF itself can change.

Tsvangirai and his most ardent backers may wish to consider that this
election by no means represents the ‘end of history’ for Zimbabwe. It does
not mean that if Mugabe loses, there will be no more struggle for democracy
and related causes. It is, rather, a stage in a more protracted process that
will linger for years to come. Tsvangirai and indeed others who will emerge,
may still be called upon to pursue the good fight.

Tsvangirai may of course not see this in the same way. But fluency in the
language of politics is also about reading the omens. The widespread
excitement over Makoni does represent something, which no-one can
comfortably overlook. But there is always the disease that afflicts most
people who find themselves subject to the wild forces of acclamation. It is
that one may become so engrossed in the pursuit of personal ambition and so
overwhelmed by the celebration that they lose their ability to read the

With thousands that will attend his rallies and a large coterie of advisers
around him, Tsvangirai might just be unable to resist the urge to pursue his
personal destiny. The trouble is if he were to lose, as is quite likely
under the circumstances, he does risk becoming irrelevant in the aftermath
of the election. The moral and material support that has sustained his long
campaign is finite and a failure to read the omens could prove politically
fatal to a career that until now has looked so promising.

Perhaps too much is being asked of an earthly being. Perhaps sacrifice is
the language that only the Son of Man could muster. But then, that is why,
perhaps, millions still worship Him to this day. Perhaps these matters of
sacrifice are questions that lie far beyond the grasp of humankind. Perhaps
these deeds that we ask for are not deeds capable of being done by those of
this universe.

Alex Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, UK and can be contacted at

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Concern over media bias in Zimbabwe

Mail and Guardian

Cape Town, South Africa

15 February 2008 02:28

      With only weeks to go before the Zimbabwean elections, there has
been no let-up in the slanted coverage of the campaign by the country's
public broadcaster, according to the independent Media Monitoring Project
Zimbabwe (MMPZ).

      The Harare-based project said it noted with concern that the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation showed no sign of observing either
Zimbabwean law or Southern African Development Community guidelines
requiring it to provide fair and balanced coverage.

      Nor had it tried to publicise important voter information on the
complicated electoral process.

      MMPZ said that last week ZTV devoted 37 minutes in its news
bulletins to "approving coverage" of the ruling Zanu-PF, compared with a
combined total of just four minutes for the Movement for Democratic Change
and the newly formed Zimbabwe Development Party (ZDP).

      Although new presidential hopeful, former finance minister Simba
Makoni, received 18 minutes on ZTV's news bulletins, this was overwhelmingly
dominated by reports chastising him for breaking ranks with the ruling party
and challenging President Robert Mugabe.

      The government media deliberately trivialised the significance
of Makoni's decision to challenge Mugabe for the presidency.

      On the day it was announced, ZTV "buried it" in a minor item
announcing the formation of the ZDP by little-known Kisnot Mukwezha.

      The MMPZ said that under amendments to the electoral laws, the
Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) was obliged to draw up a code of conduct
for the media for this election period and to ensure they adhere to this

      However, it had not yet done so.

      While it had been reported that the ZEC had been conducting
"house-to-house" voter education, there was no indication of how extensive
this exercise was.

      Neither, apparently, had it enlisted any of the media in its
efforts to explain changes to constituency and ward boundaries, and how
these would affect voters.

      "Nor has it attempted to disseminate other important electoral
information, such as the number and location of polling stations [and] that
voters will need to cast their ballots effectively in Zimbabwe's most
complex electoral exercise," the MMPZ said.

      Private civic organisations had been the only voices
disseminating voter education.

      All of the 53 voter-education advertisements monitored on ZTV
last week were placed by private bodies. -- Sapa

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Zimbabweans ignore inflation in battle for survival


Fri 15 Feb 2008, 14:45 GMT

By Nelson Banya

HARARE, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Anywhere else, news that inflation has topped
66,000 percent might have sparked street protests and sent nervous shudders
through a government facing an election in just over a month.

But Zimbabwe's economy has sunk so low for so long, that many appeared to
have resigned themselves to their fate, largely shrugging off Thursday's
announcement that year-on-year inflation had yet again shot to a record in

Analysts say despite the decaying economy, President Robert Mugabe does not
face much of a challenge to his 28-year rule during the March 29 election,
given a deeply divided opposition and a political climate of fear.

Zimbabwe's economy has been in recession for seven consecutive years,
resulting in chronic shortages of food, fuel, water and electricity.

Zimbabweans have long become used to finding their way around soaring
prices, using barter to trade goods from magazines to cooking oil.

"The reality is that we see the effects of high inflation each time we visit
the supermarket, the (inflation) figure tells us what we know already," said
Gabriel Makombe, a clerk at an insurance firm in central Harare.

"The surprise, this time, is they actually released such a figure ahead of
the elections," he added.

The government statistics agency, often accused by analysts of understating
price rises, said year-on-year inflation reached 66,212.3 percent from
26,470.8 percent in November.

Zimbabwe has long had the world's highest inflation rate as it grapples with
a recession blamed on Mugabe's policies, such as the seizure of white-owned
farms to resettle landless blacks.

The central bank was forced to issue high-value notes amid a bank note
shortage between December and January.

But the highest denomination 10 million Zimbabwe dollar bill -- worth $333
at the official exchange rate but only $1.25 on the black market -- will buy
only two loaves of bread and is rapidly losing value.

Apart from the chronic shortage of basics, frequent power cuts, broken
sewers and bad roads mirror the economic decay in a country where only one
in four adults is in formal employment.

The government statistics agency has been increasingly reluctant to release
the data, a tacit acknowledgement that authorities are losing the battle
against inflation.

The official inflation rate is nearly double that of the Weimar Republic in
1923. But it is still well below the worst modern-day hyperinflation, when
inflation in Yugoslavia in 1994 peaked at 313 million percent.


Mugabe, 83 and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, is seeking
re-election in the general election. He faces challenges from former ally
Simba Makoni and old rival Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change.

While the rotting economy has piled pressure on Mugabe, political analysts
say a divided opposition might be too weak to unseat him from power.

"Despite glaring evidence of economic mismanagement, chances of Mugabe being
voted out remain remote," political analyst Eldred Masunungure said.

Mugabe denies ruining one of Africa's most promising economies and says it
has been sabotaged by Western nations that have imposed sanctions on
Zimbabwe as punishment for his land reforms.

Last year Mugabe ordered a blanket price freeze in a desperate bid to stem
inflation, but the move backfired as supermarket shelves were rapidly
emptied of basic goods, worsening widespread shortages.

Although the government has gradually relaxed price controls, many producers
are yet to recover from the devastating price blitz and most shops are
stocked with imported products that are beyond the reach of many.

Supermarkets that were flooded by consumers at the height of the government
crackdown on prices are now relatively well stocked but short of shoppers.

"We simply cannot afford goods, like meat, a pint of milk and a loaf of
bread, that we used to take for granted. Even the single meal most of us
have grown used to is no longer guaranteed," said a government worker who
declined to be named.

Salaries for most government employees range from 200 million to 500 million
Zimbabwe dollars and a union representing teachers making up the bulk of
state workers is pushing for a wage hike to at least Z$1.7 billion to keep
up with inflation.

"My earnings are hardly enough for transport fares, let alone school fees
and food," the government worker added. (Editing by Marius Bosch and Myra

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'NIPC Not to Blame for Price Hikes'

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

15 February 2008
Posted to the web 15 February 2008

Tambudzai Nyahasha

National  Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) chairman, Mr Godwills
Masimirembwa this week said that the commission should not be blamed for the
current spate of price increases.

His comment comes against the background of rising of basic foodstuff
prices, some of which sanctioned by the commission, and others, raised out
of greed. "When we increase prices we assume that employers increase
salaries and wages. The commission establishes wage determinants across the
economy for the purposes of wage and salary negotiations," he said.

As a result of high inflation, Mr Masimirembwa explained that the NIPC had
been flooded with requests to increase prices and more increases are taking
place without the price regulators' permission. Mr Masimirembwa urged trade
unionists to work with the NIPC to bring about a budget allocation for

He dismissed allegations that the NIPC was failing to consider the welfare
of low-income earners most of them earning salaries way below the poverty
datum line (PDL). Pricing structures are meant to absorb production costs
that manufacturers incur, keeping in mind that workers need a decent wage.
Analysts are of the opinion that the NIPC needs to focus on its targeted
goal, which is to balance the price and wage variables on the
consumption-production scale. In addition, the efficiency of the NIPC's
approach to prices in such an inflationary environment can be achieved if
the NIPC faces less rebellion.

"I support the NIPC as an urgent way of balancing the need for business
viability, product availability and consumer affordability," said an
economist. Another analyst commented that there was need to continue with
price controls as they were a necessary tool in the turn around of the
economy. The market saw a change in prices for a wide range of commodities
such as bread which is now pegged at $3,5 million, 10kg mealie meal costing
$10 million, 2kg brown sugar going for $7,4 million, white sugar (2 kg)
selling for $7,9 million and 2 litres cooking priced at $24,6 million.

All these prices have been approved by the NIPC. In most cases, the products
will be available only immediately after the price increases, and will
disappear for a very long time.

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The Zimbabwe Enigma - Wake Up Africa

New Era (Windhoek)

15 February 2008
Posted to the web 15 February 2008

Andrew N. Matjila

Thus has come to southern Africa in the SADC region, an enigma that defies
all logical solutions, viz. Zimbabwe, or, as old man Vusa Mazulu Mutwa
refers to it in African mythology, Zimabje, in reference to an age-old
Kingdom of Monomotapa, whose demise left behind the awe-inspiring Zimbabwe

The enigma refers to the tough nut that Zimbabwe has become, defying
neighbours and the world at large to call her to order, or even to give a
word of caution. The authorities in Harare do not even contemplate asking
their neighbours for assistance in economic expertise, but rather stoically,
like old man Ian Smith himself, stick to their guns and prefer to go it

Rhodesia did that and ironically, survived economically until Lancaster

Now the shoe is on the other foot, the only difference being that Ian Smith
and his white population were capable of living well even under siege, and
unemployment was unknown in those days.

The now free and independent government of President Robert Mugabe cannot
make ends meet, at least not to keep the wolf from the door for the man in
the street. That it has been able to limp along for so long, is a mystery
that only Zimbabweans can elucidate. And, Zimbabweans are known to be hard
workers who rarely ever buy fresh vegetables, but produce them in their own
backyard all year round.

Of late, SADC is engaged with contingency plans to, for lack of a better
word, "rescue" Zimbabwe from the doldrums of an economic meltdown. In
layman's language, that country needs assistance to overcome the great
financial difficulties it is going through, to enable it to emerge on the
other side of the river, home and dry. What the world is subjected to on TV
about Zimbabwe does not augur well with an Africa that is now in the hands
of educated men and women. And Zimbabwe is generally regarded as a country
led by polished, well-groomed and "thoroughly ripe" leaders. Here we are
talking of leaders who told the colonisers in Lancaster House to "git" out
of Zimbabwe, because "we are ready to shoulder all responsibility to rule

Today, the same leaders maintain that the Zimbabwe issue is being
exaggerated by people pandering to the West. Maybe! But in case we forget,
the Zimbabweans who are daily crossing into South Africa along their
country's southern border, are not just a figment of the imagination of TV
reporters. The Zimbabweans who are regularly paraded by SABC Africa in the
African Views Programme, are not an exaggeration as some politicians in SADC
maintain, but genuine refugees.

World War II

I can still recall that the same crossings happened in the early 1940s at
the outbreak of World War Two. Thousands of Zimbabweans (then Rhodesians)
and Malawians (the Nyasalanders) crossed the South African northern frontier
in search of "hiding". They were escaping from being drafted into the
Rhodesian African Rifles to fight for the British Commonwealth.

Then, as now, they were welcomed with open arms by white farmers, many of
whom were wont to fight for Britain. Anyone then, who was not prepared to
fight for the British was very welcome. They were employed on thousands of
farms in the Transvaal, Free State and Natal. The black people referred to
them as Mablantani, a name that was associated with the town Blantyre, at
that time.

Sixty years later, the grandchildren of the men of the forties who were
escaping the draft, now cross the same fence into South Africa to seek
employment from the grandchildren of the farmers of the forties.

In those traumatic years of "Hier kom Hitler" (Here Comes Hitler) when the
escapees were in relaxed moods at shebeens and were asked where they came
from, they proudly responded: "Thina phuma lapha British, Mphaya."

(We Come from the British Empire - meaning - from a country that is a member
of the - ). An empire by the way, that they were not prepared to serve when
it needed their protection. Ai! But our people!

The current wave of crossing into South Africa by Zimbabweans is therefore
not new at all, but old hat to those who know the history.

African America

South Africa is a highly developed, industrialised and wealthy country that
offers almost the same opportunities that are available in America. But for
apartheid, it could have become the Mecca of Africa long ago, a safe haven
for the destitute, unemployed, runaways, strays, smugglers, etc.

When the Madiba era was ushered in, in 1994, Africans from all over the
Diaspora gate-crashed into South Africa by their millions, from Cape Town to
Muzina on the border with Zimbabwe.

Johannesburg is the New York of Southern Africa to all those looking for a
quick buck, drugs, gambling, prostitution, and other unholy activities.

SADC Summits

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is not only a very elderly African
gentleman, at whose office many of latter day young Presidents knocked for
assistance in the past, but is a well cultivated, polished leader, second to
none on our continent. Fondly called "Bob", short for Robert in English, he
speaks immaculate English and had it not been for the political hazards of
this world, and perhaps his own undoing, he could long have been knighted by
the Queen of England as Sir Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

He is, as far as I'm concerned, the uncrowned prince of African Politics.

Walking with a poise that makes younger men look old, Robert Mugabe does not
fall prone to the oft' sought after African titles of "Doctor", "Professor",
etc, but is satisfied with the normal title of Mr President, or Mr Mugabe -
very modest.

And by the way, the name Robert means "bright fame" in English, while the
biblical name Gabriel means "God is strong". Here is a man who is endowed
with the wherewithal of making a country vibrant, outgoing, wealthy and

But why is Zimbabwe rubbished so much lately? Does a country with that much
potential and possible economic muscle deserve to be muddied around by all
and sundry? Bearing in mind that the way to men's hearts is through their
stomachs, one is tempted to say that after colonisation, those who are set
free usually expect manna from heaven. The new bosses must deliver or lose

Mr Mugabe failed to deliver to his people as Mr Smith did. And so, the SADC
leaders meet from summit to summit, seeking for a possible solution to the
nail-biting problem that Zimbabwe has become.

Ian Smith's UDI

Let me first take a look at UDI of Ian Smith: Unilateral Declaration of
Independence - 1965. Smith and his Rhodesia Front white supremacists took
the cudgel and vowed that never in a thousand years would they hand over
Rhodesia to the natives. Britain immediately swung Plan B into action -

Now, this is perhaps one of the most interesting twists in the history of
that country by which it should be measured today. UDI - Ian Smith loved his
white countrymen so much that he was prepared to highjack a country for
their welfare. He also swung his Plan B into action - Beat the Sanctions.

The English expression: "Necessity is the mother of invention", refers to
situations when, due to pressure, deprivation and lack of resources, one
devises an ingenious plan to make do with what one can forge locally, as a
substitute. And so, the Smith regime's Save Ourselves machinery swung into

Rhodesia's industries mushroomed overnight, manufacturing the needs of the
country when imports dried up. Within five years, Namibians living in the
then landlocked Caprivi Region were shopping at Victoria Falls, two hundred
and eighty kilometers away.

Within ten years of UDI, the Rhodesian dollar was selling for two Rand and
fifty cents. Motor car mechanics in that country became highly proficient in
the trade, maintaining old vehicles and forging and manufacturing their own
parts to make old cars look like new.

Self-sufficiency was attained, and not one Zimbabwean dreamed of crossing to
South Africa to look for work. There were no women from Rhodesia carrying
heavy loads all over the place to sell table cloths and bed-sheets.

The only cry of the people was that of longing for freedom, but stomachs
were always full. Eventually, the boys of "Chimurenga" (War of liberation)
won the day and freedom came after drums of blood and buckets of tears had


The Mugabe Government took over amid pomp and ceremony. Our Bob became the
first black Prime Minister of a free Zimbabwe. At his first debut at the UN
General Assembly, he said the following among others: "When ZANU ascended to
power we felt the moment demanded of us a spirit of pragmatism, a spirit of
realism, rather than that of emotionalism, a spirit of reconciliation and
forgiveness rather than that of vindictiveness and retribution.

"We had to stand firm to achieve total peace rather than see our nation sink
to the abyss of civil strife and continued war we had to embrace one another
in the spirit of our one nationality, our common freedom and independence,
our collective responsibility."

Many Zimbabweans, now living in exile, might not be so sure that Mr Mugabe
loves his black countrymen so much that he is prepared to develop every
square inch of his country for their benefit, as much as Ian Smith did.
There doesn't seem to have been a Plan B here, because Smith's strong dollar
started taking a dive after independence. Everything started shrinking from
the countryside towards the capital city Harare.

In any African State, when things go wrong, the first thing we hear is very
often a clash of the titans, the political rivals. The second thing we hear
is the colonial regimes who have destroyed everything, leaving the new
rulers with empty shells.

And so, Mugabe clashed with the late Nkomo, and the birds that laid the
golden eggs started looking abroad to invest their money.

The love that Ian Smith had for his fellow whites, was found lacking in
Robert Mugabe. But why? Why? Why? Why should an African political gem like
Zim deteriorate to the extent of being discarded by those who glowed in its

Why should a man who makes Africans proud be feared like a monster creature
when he is in fact a gentleman?

Getting tough and 'roughing them up' is no longer an accepted norm in the
politics of today. Tough men of Chinese and Russian politics have long left
this world. The young generations of today are no longer scared of being
roughed up.

In fact they started in 1976 in South Africa, when twelve-year-olds charged
into machine guns with stones in their hands. I do not have to re-tell that
history. We know what happened.

Today, Zimbabwe should proudly be standing up as a tower of strength for
every Shona, Ndebele, Tsonga and Venda-speaking citizen of that country.

Instead, we are daily subjected to wave upon wave of Zimbabweans tearing
their worn-out shirts and dresses while going through the barbed-wire fences
of their southern border.

What do the leaders of SADC say when they see this sort of thing? What do
their wives say? Every politician has a wife who tells him how to treat his
subjects. A wife who never reprimands her husband, has no love for him at
all, and is only waiting for his death, so that she can be free "of the
monster" herself.

What do the women in Zimbabwe say, when they see fellow countrywomen on SABC
TV with torn flesh, dresses and underwear, displayed running like hunted
animals in the border bush, others being swallowed by crocodiles of the
Limpopo River, looking for hope in South Africa? Is this what Chimurenga was
all about? Then it was not worth it at all.

Slap in the Face

Smith has not been given a slap in the face to show him how mistaken he was
about his "never in a thousand years". We in Africa are not really ready to
rule ourselves if we expect one tribe to rule over another - that is a
one-way ticket to civil strife. We must do things as countrymen and women.

Now SADC has appointed President Mbeki in the unenviable task of negotiating
between the parties in Zimbabwe. Quiet Diplomacy, they call it.

Personally I don't think negotiations are necessary here. Zimbabwe has
Priests, Bishops, Professors, Chiefs, Kings, Teachers and all those capable
enough to call a round-table discussion to sort things out.

Any country that cannot do this, is not fit to rule itself but must be
placed under the UN trusteeship until such times that the people are united
and do not see themselves as tribes, but citizens. What Zimbabwe should do:

- Call all their Kings and Chiefs together;

- Call men of outstanding academic stature with the experience to deal with
national issues;

- Call eminent politicians who are well respected citizens to join this

- Call the wives of these politicians to join the group;

- Call Bishops of the strong Churches to join the group;

- Let the UN SG chair this meeting;

- Let the meeting decide on how retiring politicians should be protected by
the nation, because they fear retirement;

- Let the meeting grant the retiring President a full-proof protection by
the state for a certain period;

- Draw up a constitution that strictly allows for two terms of office for
the Head of State. It is the too long staying in power that breeds many
wrongs which later deter the ruler from handing over power to others.

It is generally known that retiring political leaders are not sure of what
will happen to them in public. Many cannot even walk in the streets of the
countries they rule, because of the destructive policies they introduce.

Be that as it may, at the end of the day, no outsider can negotiate the
terms of agreement between the citizens of one country. This can only bring
about a temporary solution.

Countrymen must face each other, and accept that they will live together
forever and ever. History tells us that even in the great United States of
America, men and women faced each other in 1863, and fought it out in the
open, until they were united.

All the tribes of the world are in America, but there is no tribalism. Why
is that, where there are Africans there must always be tribalism? The
current spirit of electioneering in America is a big lesson in Democracy for
African Politicians and voters.

Millions and millions of voters - Jews, Russians, Chinese, Japanese,
AfroAmericans, Indians, both from India and local (let me say every tribe
under the sun lives in America) are voting in every state in their millions
without trouble. Rallies are held all over America and we don't hear a word
of intimidation, harassment, name-calling, cheating, election commissions
that can't count votes in time, shootings at rallies, leaders abusing each

The one leader, Obama, is for that matter a black man, but see how he fairs
wherever he goes. And Bush knows his time is up and he must go. He is not
busy trying to change the constitution to give himself another term.

No. There are no tribes in America but American citizens. Yet they speak all
the languages of the world. What's wrong with us Africans? Are we so
weak-kneed that we can't develop standards of living? Personally I think
it's all about standards.

In this world of ours, there are dictators who become so powerful and so
absolutely corrupt that they begin to think that they are untouchable -
immortal. They lock themselves up behind steel doors to keep out "the

But the end result is always the same - the hand from above stretches -
someone finally breaks through the concrete walls, and gets them - horribly.

Hitler, Napoleon, Mussolini, Idi Amin, Mobutu, Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, and
many such characters down the history lane, who regarded themselves to be
immortal. Someone up there dislikes that!

Wake up Africa! It is too late in the day to dream.

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Civic group says elections won’t be free and fair

Zim Online

by Nqobizitha Khumalo Saturday 16 February 2008

BULAWAYO – The Christian Alliance on Friday said next month’s presidential
and parliamentary elections will not be free and fair as the electoral body
charged with running the polls was inadequately prepared for the elections.

In a pastoral letter signed by spokesman, Useni Sibanda, which was released
yesterday, the alliance said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC),  was
inadequately prepared to run free and fair elections on 29 March.

“Christian Alliance is concerned that the electoral management institution,
ZEC, appears not to be adequately prepared to handle the harmonized

“The time allocated for the inspection of the voters roll has been
inadequate. Information has not been properly disseminated and most of the
electorate has no access to the media,” read part of the letter.

The Christian Alliance is a coalition of churches, opposition political
parties and civic groups that is pushing for sweeping political reforms and
a negotiated settlement in Zimbabwe.

Last year, the alliance organised a prayer meeting in Harare’s working class
suburb of Highfield that saw Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
and several other civic leaders brutally assaulted by state security agents.

“It is obvious that the coming elections are not going to be free and fair.
The situation on the ground is worse than what it was in our (last) election
in 2005. The voters’ roll, we hear is in shambles,” read the pastoral

The alliance said despite these anomalies, it was encouraging Zimbabweans to
go out and vote in the elections.

President Robert Mugabe will square off against his former finance minister
Simba Makoni and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential election that comes amid a worsening
economic crisis in the southern African country.

The alliance also took a swipe at South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki who
led talks between the ruling ZANU PF party and MDC that excluded civic

Mbeki was last year tasked by the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) to mediate in the search for a lasting solution to Zimbabwe’s
political crisis.

“The SADC talks failed to produce tangible results in terms of creating a
conducive atmosphere for free and fair elections. There were many
international figures who were interested in assisting in solving our

“President Mbeki kept them out by confidently claiming that his soft
diplomacy was working and that the talks were on course and would yield the
desired result,” read the letter.

Tsvangirai earlier this week said Mbeki had failed in his mediation efforts
and urged the South African leader to show more courage in dealing with the
dictatorship in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the MDC parliamentary candidate for Bulawayo South, Eddie Cross,
who was initially barred from filing his nomination papers by the ZEC,
finally managed to do so after he won an urgent High Court interdict against
the electoral body.

The ZEC had barred Cross from filing his papers arguing that the
Bulawayo-based opposition official was not a Zimbabwean citizen as his
parents were of British descent, a charge he disputed.

Cross will represent the Tsvangirai-led MDC in the 29 March election. -

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Probe into Attorney General resumes next week

Zim Online

by Sebastian Nyamhangambiri Saturday 16 February 2008

HARARE – An inquiry into the conduct of suspended Zimbabwe Attorney General
(AG) Sobuza Gula-Ndebele resumes next week, with indications the state
planned to call an additional four witnesses to the nine it had originally
said would testify against the AG.

Mugabe last November suspended Gula-Ndebele for abusing his office after he
allegedly met former National Merchant Bank (NMB) deputy managing director
James Mushore who was wanted by the police on charges of breaching the
country’s foreign exchange laws.

Then president appointed a three-man tribunal to probe whether the AG – the
government’s chief legal officer and an ex-officio member of Cabinet –
should be permanently removed from office.

Top opposition politician and constitutional law expert Welshman Ncube, who
is representing Gula-Ndebele, said the hearing would resume on Monday.

“I am not sure now when it will end. It seems it is taking forever to finish
because of some complications,” said Ncube, who could not shed more light on
the matter because the inquiry is being held in camera at the orders of

Government sources told ZimOnline that among witnesses to be called by the
state are intelligence agents who spied on Gula-Ndebele and would testify
that he met Mushore at a Harare restaurant.

Mushore fled to Britain in 2004 at the height of a Zimbabwean banking crisis
that saw several finance houses shut down by the country's central bank. He
was arrested in October upon his return to Zimbabwe.

Police, who are separately investigating Gula-Ndebele, say he promised
Mushore he would not be arrested if he returned to Zimbabwe. The Attorney
General denies the charge.

High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu is chairing the tribunal. Justice Samuel
Kudya and Harare lawyer Lloyd Mhishi are the other members of the
committee. — ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe Primary Elections Flawed On Both Sides Of The Political Divide


      By Carole Gombakomba
      15 February 2008

Nomination court sittings around Zimbabwe on Friday marked an end to a
primary election season that observers say was marred by violence in some
instances and by alleged irregularities on both sides of the country's
political divide.

Primaries of the ruling ZANU-PF party were punctuated by clashes between
rivals for candidacy in a number of cities, leaving at least seven people
dead. Some top ruling party officials - including a number of ministers -
were toppled by newcomers, but the leadership imposed candidates
constituencies including Zvimba, Bindura and Gutu.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan
Tsvangirai was also in turmoil and although it departed from its previous
policy that incumbents would not be challenged, the grouping's leadership
nonetheless imposed a number of candidates in Harare constituencies such as
Mabvuku-Tafara and Budiriro.

The Arthur Mutambara MDC grouping was also accused of undemocratic

For perspective on the process, reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe turned to Women’s Trust Director Luta Shaba and National
Director Alois Chaumba of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in
Zimbabwe, who said attempts to hold democratic primaries were thwarted by
party hierarchies.

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Zimbabwe Business Leader Says 66,000% Inflation Probably Understated


      By Jonga Kandemiiri
      15 February 2008

A Zimbabwean business leader said Friday that the Harare government
significantly understated inflation when it gave December's 12-month rate as
66,000% this week.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce President Marah Hativagone said that
the figure of 66,212% issued by the Central Statistical Office does not
accurately reflect conditions on the ground - for instance the need to
import most goods for sale.

Hativagone told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that the true rate of inflation over the past year is probably over

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Hoogstraten had fake South Africa rands - court told

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 02/15/2008 19:23:52
BRITISH property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten pleaded not guilty to
illegally dealing in foreign currency and money laundering at the opening of
his trial in Harare Wednesday.

Prosecutors have also charged van Hoogstraten with possession of fake South
African rands.

He however, could not plead in relation to a pornography charge, arguing
that he wanted to be furnished with more documents relating to that matter
by the Attorney Generals Office.

Van Hoogstraten was arrested last month after demanding rent from his
tenants in foreign currency, according to police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena.

Bvudzijena added that police also recovered pornographic pictures of the
businessman and at least two young Zimbabwean girls from van Hoogstraten's
home in Harare.

In court documents, the Briton is also accused of money laundering,
exchanging money on the parallel market and possessing fake South African

On that last allegation, van Hoogstraten's lawyer George Chikumbirike said:
“It is common cause that the South African rand is not legal tender in
Zimbabwe. The issue of fake foreign bank notes is not covered by the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe Act. The offence does not exist.”

Hoogstraten, 63, is a multi-millionaire who once arranged a hand grenade
attack on a business rival and has built himself a palace in the Sussex

Van Hoogstraten, a frequent visitor to Zimbabwe since independence in 1980,
has invested in property, mining, farming and banking concerns in Zimbabwe
and has spoken openly of his support and financial dealings with President
Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party, which favoured him in more than two
decades of investment in the southern African nation.

In 2006, a British newspaper The Sunday Times quoted van Hoogstaten as
having said he had given President Robert Mugabe a £10 million pound loan.

But Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba said the claim was "cheap
propaganda and a vain attempt to besmirch" the president.

Charamba said the president was "neither a borrower nor lender", adding:
"Robert Mugabe has no relationship with any tycoon, let alone of British

van Hoogstaten later called a press conference in Harare to deny having
given money to Mugabe.

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The Devil's in the detail

Financial Mail

15 February 2008


By Rob Rose

Odd things are happening at Corwil, an anonymous JSE-listed investment
company which appears to be controlled by Nicholas van Hoogstraten - once
described by a British judge as a self-styled "emissary of Beelzebub".

Over the past week, Corwil has admitted to breaching JSE rules by not
revealing it had sold its stake in mining group Metorex and that it had been
acquiring shares in industrial group Marshall Monteagle without shareholder

These admissions come amid a row between Corwil's UK and SA directors
over the "unauthorised" sale of Corwil's investment in property group iFour.

As buried details of Corwil's deals emerge, the shadow of Van
Hoogstraten looms large. Though relatively unknown in SA, Van Hoogstraten is
well known in the UK, where he went to jail for attacking business rivals,
and in Zimbabwe, where he owns more than 200 properties and counts President
Robert Mugabe as his friend.

Among his many famous statements is one that "the only purpose in
creating great wealth like mine is to separate oneself from the riffraff".

To the surprise of many, Van Hoogstraten was arrested in Harare three
weeks ago for forex dealings and levying rents on his Zimbabwe properties in
foreign currency. (When arrested, he apparently had a stack of cash,
including Z$20bn, R92 880 and US$37 586.)

Considering that Van Hoogstraten once described Mugabe as "100%
incorruptible", his arrest sparked rumours that he had fallen out with
Mugabe over his Zimbabwe business interests. But Van Hoogstraten vehemently
denied any political fallout. In a statement, he described the arrest as "a
minor irritation".

Company records show that the main vehicle through which Van
Hoogstraten does business in Zimbabwe and SA is a company called Messina

When reports emerged from the UK in 2003 that Van Hoogstraten had lent
$10m to Mugabe (which Mugabe hotly denied), the name on the agreement was
apparently Messina Investments. Equally, when Van Hoogstraten told
Zimbabwe's Financial Gazette that he sold his share in Zimbabwe's NMB Bank
in November, it was Messina that was actually the seller.

Who owns Corwil?

When it comes to Van Hoogstraten's JSE investments, Messina pops up
again. According to annual reports, Messina is a 43% shareholder in Corwil,
with Van Hoogstraten holding another 5% directly. But there is enough doubt
as to Messina's identity to suggest Van Hoogstraten might well control
Corwil himself.

Corwil has been suspended from trading on the JSE since 2005, and has
a market capitalisation of R8,9m. However, in recent days Corwil piqued
curiosity by admitting to breaking JSE rules in various deals.

In particular, Corwil didn't ask for shareholder approval for the
purchase of R5,6m worth of shares in Marshall Monteagle in early 2007. These
shares were bought from Messina - Corwil's largest shareholder - making this
a related party deal. Under the JSE rules, Corwil ought to have obtained a
"fair and reasonable" opinion, and allowed shareholders to vote on this

Also, Corwil sold 550 000 Metorex shares over the past few years for
R5,18m without telling shareholders, making a profit of R1,7m on these
deals. It also sold 525 255 shares in iFour for R5,7m, making a loss of R601

What is intriguing is that Corwil says the iFour deal "may have been
unauthorised", and is "being challenged" by four of Corwil's six directors.
"There are disputes regarding [Corwil's] business and conduct of certain
directors, which are now the subject of a legal process," Corwil said in the

It appears the UK directors (including Van Hoogstraten's son Max
Hamilton and his former girlfriend and Corwil chair Caroline Williams) are
at war with the two SA directors appointed in July last year, Nathan Hittler
and Gugu Xaba.

Hittler tells the FM he was simply trying to "regularise" Corwil so
the suspension could be lifted. "I noticed this company in March last year,
because it looked like a shell company that could be revived and used for
black empowerment. But we found material irregularities around the issue of
shares at Corwil," he says.

But the UK directors are accusing Hittler of fraud and stealing the
iFour shares, which were sold and used to buy Corwil's investment in 1Time.

Williams says: "Hittler is a fraudster who has stolen or attempted to
steal almost all of Corwil's assets." She says the UK directors launched a
high court bid which has "frozen the assets and accounts of Corwil, and the
accounts into which Hittler has fraudulently transferred Corwil's assets and

Hittler denies this: "I spoke repeatedly to Mr van Hoogstraten and he
gave me an express authority to fix this company. I believe the UK directors
are simply acting for Mr van Hoogstraten."

As to why Corwil breached the JSE rules, Williams says these were
"historic matters approved by holders of over 80% of the share capital. Our
then-advisers failed to advise the JSE of the deals."

Williams promises the two SA directors "will be removed at a general
meeting shortly... and legal and criminal proceedings continued to recover
stolen assets and cash".

Hittler says that more of Corwil's dubious past dealings will emerge
in his efforts to clean up the company.

Corwil labyrinth

Corwil potentially has some large assets (see diagram). These include
15% of UK-based Willoughby's, which controls half of property group

The ownership of Tombstone was discussed in a UK court ruling which
found it was "beneficially owned" by Van Hoogstraten. Tombstone's most
recent set of financials, for the year to April 2005, showed it had £24m in
"tangible assets", mostly "freehold property".

It seems the real issue is whether Van Hoogstraten really owns
Tombstone, Willoughby's and Corwil. Getting to grips with Corwil's largest
shareholder Messina could offer insight into Van Hoogstraten's control
structure. But finding out who actually owns Messina is tricky.

When the FM asked Williams who actually controlled Messina, she said
it is a "Van Hoogstraten family company" and "not owned by Nicholas, but by
his children and various trusts".

However, UK judge Peter Smith ruled in 2003 that "any shares
registered in the names of a Messina company belong beneficially to Mr van
Hoogstraten". The judge added that Van Hoogstraten "simply cannot be
believed about anything he has to say about his assets".

Williams also wouldn't disclose exactly what Messina and Van
Hoogstraten owned in Southern Africa, saying only that it was "too much to

Messina's 2006 financials don't shed much light on the matter, stating
that the company had "listed investments" of £464 453 at April 2006.
However, this is barely more than the value of its 43% of Corwil and one
wonders how this could reflect the value of Messina's other interests,
including shares in Zimbabwe's Hwange Colliery. Messina doesn't list its
investments or how it spends its cash, and got an "exemption from audit"
notice under the UK Companies Act, which meant it wasn't audited.

Chequered history

It is testament to Van Hoogstraten's shrewd sense that he has been
able to do business in SA largely below the radar.

Notoriously tight-fisted, he was said to have been the youngest
millionaire in the UK in the 1960s, with a fortune said to exceed £400m. His
home in England is a mansion in Sussex, which was designed to be larger than
Buckingham Palace, but has been under construction since 1985.

But beneath the cultured exterior lay a dark history. In 1968, at 23,
he was found guilty of ordering gangsters to throw a hand grenade into the
home of a business associate's father. After his release, complaints
abounded that he continued to terrorise those he dealt with.

In 2002, Van Hoogstraten was convicted in the Old Bailey of ordering
the killing of rival Mohammed Sabir Raja. The two killers had heroin
problems and were allegedly paid £7 000 by Van Hoogstraten, but did a
ham-fisted job in a brightly painted £300 van.

A year later, an appeal court overturned the conviction. But Raja's
family successfully claimed £6m in a civil suit as it was found "on a
balance of probabilities" that Van Hoogstraten was involved in the murder.

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‘Black thing’ creeping into South Africa

The Sowetan

15 February 2008
Bill Saidi: State we’re in

There is a creepy phenomenon known as “The Black Thing”, that emerged only
after 1957.

It’s got nothing to do with the military coups that occurred with sickening
frequency after the end of colonialism.

It’s nothing to do with corruption either which, in Ghana anyway, was always
associated with Krobo Edusei and the golden bed.

But I digress: the “black thing” could, finally, be defined as a typically
African way of handling ticklish problems, as opposed – I suppose – to how
Europeans, the former colonial masters, would handle them.

For instance, many of us believe President Thabo Mbeki’s bizarre reaction to
the HIV-Aids pandemic in his country was an African thing.

Of course, there were South African Africans who thought he had put his foot
into it. But his reaction was viewed as being intrinsically “black”.

But other allegedly “black things” followed: the struggle for power in the
ANC, for instance, contained the absence of finesse that typified it as

For many Africans, South Africa was expected to be the beacon for the
continent, showing the proper way to develop a country just released from
the bondage of white rule.

Everything seemed to work splendidly until Nelson Mandela left the scene. In
many ways, the former guerillas took over. So, even the “darkness” trouble
into which Eskom landed the country was ascribed to the preoccupation with
trivia of the former guerillas, among them Mbeki and his rival Jacob Zuma.

South Africa, with its superior grasp of modern technology, was not expected
to be caught with its pants down when the lights went out.

The richest country on the continent was plunged into an example of the
“black thing”, considered par for the course for countries such as Zimbabwe
or Zambia or Mozambique, but not for South Africa, with its almost first
world economy.

There are some who believe that it was almost inevitable that South Africa
would develop, sooner rather than later, all the symptoms of being afflicted
with the “African thing” syndrome.

This can translate into such a morbid preoccupation with politics, and such
mundane matters as feeding the people, creating jobs for them, ensuring they
have enough water and power for their daily livelihood are relegated to the
back-burner, or simply postponed until the political matters have been

Would it surprise anyone if it is revealed, for posterity, that at the time
Mbeki and Zuma were quarrelling over the ANC’s plum job, they could have
been devoting their full attention to the problems at Eskom?

Basically, the “The African thing” consists of a surfeit of politics; it
seems most leaders find it more invigorating to be engaged in political
mayhem or polemics than to be sitting down to work out how to bring to the
people the real fruits of independence – enough water, food, enough jobs,
enough clinics and hospitals and enough schools.

In a newly-freed country, there is a need to allow for a time of adjustment.
But this can result in fatal preoccupations – such as the “dissident” menace
that occurred in Zimbabwe so soon after independence in 1980.

A phenomenon that has not been thoroughly ventilated is the calm that
characterised the immediate post-independent period of Botswana with Sir
Seretse Khama in charge.

To this day, Botswana has undergone fewer political upheavals than most
countries in the region. Perhaps there is a “Botswana thing” into which
sociologists and political scientists in the region ought to do research.

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Cholera Claims Seven in Mudzi

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

15 February 2008
Posted to the web 15 February 2008


Seven people from Nyamukuyo Village in Mudzi district, Mashonaland East
Province, have so far died of cholera. The Minister of Health and Child
Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, confirmed the outbreak, which started two
weeks ago.

Dr Parirenyatwa said a woman who had visited Mozambique was suspected to
have carried the disease to the village. This is the second reported cholera
outbreak this month after a similar outbreak in Muzarabani where four people
died last week. In a separate interview, principal director for preventive
services in the Ministry of Health, Dr Gibson Mhlanga, attributed the
increase of cholera and diarrhoea cases in the country to unsafe water and
inadequate sanitation.

He, however, said an epidemic taskforce committee was already on the ground
monitoring the situation. Dr Mhlanga said with assistance from the United
Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organisation and other
partners, his ministry had already mobilised drugs such as intravenous
fluids, water tablets and fuel to facilitate movement around in the affected

"In the past, about 40 percent of people in rural areas and about 90 percent
in urban areas had adequate sanitation facilities but now there is a reverse
trend in the statistics because of economic challenges," he said. He pointed
out that most of the sewer reticulation systems were not designed for large
populations, leading to persistent sewer blockages.

Speaking at a seminar held in Harare on Wednesday where issues of safe water
and adequate sanitation facilities were discussed, Unicef deputy
representative to Zimbabwe Mr Roeland Monasch said washing hands with soap
reduces the chances of contracting cholera and acute respiratory infections.
Mr Monasch said acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea were among the
leading causes of deaths in Zimbabwe. Government officials from the
ministries of Health, Economic Development and Water Resources and
Infrastructural Development attended the workshop.

Participants at the workshop agreed to resuscitate water and sanitation
institutions at all levels in a bid to increase sanitation accessibility. It
is estimated that an average of six million Zimbabweans have no access to
proper sanitation facilities. "We conclude that safe sanitation is a basic
human right fundamental to national development and need to be prioritised,"
reads part of a draft communiqué issued after the seminar.

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Bulawayo nominations extended by 2 hours

By Tererai Karimakwenda
15 February, 2008

Reports from the Bulawayo Nominations Court indicate that the processing of
applications was still taking place after 5:00 P.M. Our Bulawayo contact
Zenzele said officials from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC),
resorted to using gas lights as it became dark. There was no electricity in
the courtroom that served as registration headquarters for Matabeleland

Zenzele said the day was peaceful but the process was slow. Originally the
courts were scheduled to close at 4:00 pm but the deadline was extended by 2
hours by order of a High Court judge, after a lawyer for Eddie Cross of the
Tsvangirai MDC filed papers seeking an extension.

Cross is a parliamentary candidate for Bulawayo South. He had earlier
submitted his documents but was disqualified from entering the parliamentary
race for reasons that were not made public. His lawyer Job Sibanda quickly
approached the High Court in Bulawayo, which ordered that the registration
deadline be extended from 4 - 6 p.m.
The final list will show whether his application was successful.

Our contact also reported that many candidates who lost in the primaries for
both the ruling party and the opposition, registered as independents.
Several lawyers were also seeking to enter the political arena. Job Sibanda,
who represented Eddie Cross at the High Court, registered himself as an MDC
candidate for Mpopoma.

Zenzele said in some Matabeleland constituencies there was confusion when
two candidates from the same party showed up to register. This reportedly
happened for both ZANU-PF and the MDC. It is not clear how ZEC officials
decided which candidate was the official representative.

It appears the harmonised elections will present a logistical nightmare for
the Electoral Commission. ZEC officials will have to count the votes in 3
separate categories. If Friday’s registration of candidates was any example
to go by, it might be days after March 29th before Zimbabweans find out who
is their President, member of parliament or local councillor.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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I left my heart in Harare

African Path

G. Pascal Zachary

February 15, 2008 12:47 PM

I’ve never been to Zimbabwe, and my chances of going any time soon seem
slim. I’ve never taken the “ambulance chaser” approach to African affairs
and — getting older by the day — I’m not about to start chasing ambulances
now. And with Zimbabwe’s election looming at the end of next month, the
ambulance indeed is the right metaphor.

After watching Kenya’s disputed presidential election become the trigger for
ethnic violence, few Africa watchers remain sanguine about the prospects of
any contest vote in the region. On past occasions I’ve bemoaned the perils
of elections in Africa, and highlighted the apparent lack of benefits of
holding them.

In the case of Zimbabwe, the planned elections on March 29 are likely to
provide a flimsy pretext for the repressive and irrational Robert Mugabe to
bully and abuse his many opponents. Americans — and all friends of Africa —
ought to proclaim the end of Mugabe’s reign of terror as the number one goal
of diplomacy in the region.

That South Africa’s president Thabo Mbeki has failed to deliver a peaceful
transfer of power in Zimbabwe is no reason to despair. Mbeki is a lame duck
and the long period of deference to his status should come to a crashing
end. Mbeki deserves to hear harsh complaints over his protection of Mugabe.

The human cost of Mugabe’s hold on power is of course enough to justify his
removal as Zimbabwe’s president. Yet the damage to the prestige of the
African Union — and Mugabe’s own moral standing — is also very large.

African leaders are quick to remind Westerners in particular that they do
not deserve the disrespect they so often receive from do-gooders and media
the world over. By refusing to isolate and ultimately break Mugabe’s hold on
power, however, Africa’s “big men” make themselves seem very very small.

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