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Zimbabwe government mulls plans to allow floor-crossing in Parliament

Zim Online

Tue 21 February 2006

      HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's Cabinet is considering new
legislation to allow legislators who either defect or are expelled from
political parties to retain their parliamentary seats, a senior government
minister told ZimOnline.

      Under present law, Members of Parliament (MP) who are elected to their
seats on a party ticket must relinquish the seat on leaving the party to
pave way for a by-election to fill the vacant post. An MP who loses his/her
seat in this manner can still contest the by-election on the ticket of
his/her new party or as an independent if they have not joined any other
political party.

      It was widely reported last year and not denied by the government that
it was planning to use its overwhelming majority in Parliament to amend
Zimbabwe's constitution for the 18th time to allow for floor-crossing in
both houses of Parliament.

      The minister, who cannot be revealed, said Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa had submitted a draft of the proposed new legislation to Cabinet
for its consideration and endorsement before it is brought before parliament
"in the next couple of months".

      "Instead of going to a by-election, the new proposal, tailoured along
the same 'Floor-Crossing' format in South Africa, will result in members of
Parliament being afforded an opportunity to either form another party within
parliament and cross over to it or join the ruling party without necessarily
going through an election process," said the minister, who is also a member
of the ruling ZANU PF party's inner politburo cabinet.

      Chinamasa, who is also ZANU PF legal affairs secretary and is leader
of the House of Assembly, denied that the government planned to change the
law to permit MP's to change political parties without losing their seats.

      "Who wants to cross the floor? As leader of the House such a proposal
has not been brought before Parliament by any MP," said Chinamasa.

      But our source said ZANU PF had always intended to amend the
constitution to allow floor-crossing as part of a series of constitutional
changes meant to smoothen Mugabe's exit from power when his term ends in two
years' time.

      The amendment was however being speeded up because of deepening
division in the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
that is most certain to break the party into two rival political parties.

      With support among the MDC's 41 MPs almost evenly balanced between
party president Morgan Tsvangirai's faction and his deputy Gibson Sibanda's
faction, the government would have to run more than a dozen by-elections in
the constituencies held by whichever of the two factions loses control of
the party.

      The government, which is battling to raise money to import food, fuel
and other basic commodities in short supply in the country, does not have
enough money for such an exercise and allowing for floor-crossing could
easily resolve the matter, our source said.

      The Sibanda faction of the MDC is expected to hold its congress next
weekend while Tsvangirai's group will have their own in March. The
congresses are expected to formalise the disintegration of the six-year old
political party that had until now looked the most likely to end Mugabe and
ZANU PF's 25 year grip on power. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwean academic tipped to take over MDC faction calls for reunification of party

Zim Online

Tue 21 February 2006

      HARARE - Former student leader Arthur Mutambara tipped to take over
the leadership of one of the factions of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party yesterday called for a re-unification of
the party and other democratic forces in the country.

      The MDC faction controlled by deputy president Gibson Sibanda and
secretary general Welshman Ncube is scheduled to hold its congress next
weekend at which new leaders will be elected. The other faction of the MDC
controlled by president Morgan Tsvangirai is due to hold a separate congress
next month.

      In a statement yesterday Mutambara, whose own bid to lead the
Sibanda-faction of the MDC is said to have sparked divisions within that
group according to some media reports, said there was critical need to
reunite and refocus the pro-democracy movement in Zimbabwe.

      "There are three critical success factors that define the way forward:
Reunification of all democratic forces fighting for change in the country,
the need to refocus and energise the vision, values and strategy of these
forces, the development of a comprehensive macro-economic blueprint that
resolves the economic crisis," Mutambara said.

      He however did not say how, if elected to lead the Sibanda group, he
hoped to reunite the MDC whose splintering has virtually rewound the
political clock back to the eighties and early nineties when President
Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF completely dominated the politics of

      A respected academic and popular leader even after spending many years
outside Zimbabwe, Mutambara, however said that the infusion of new
leadership "untainted" with the squabbles of the past was necessary to bring
the MDC together.

      He said: "(Zimbabweans have) witnessed with distress the split in the
main opposition party MDC. For the past four months, the party top
leadership has failed to unite the ranks of the movement.

      "As the party goes towards two separate congresses, the infusion of
new leadership, untainted by current disagreements, is imperative to
facilitate the reunification process."

      And in a separate statement Ncube, the kingmaker in the
Sibanda-faction of the MDC, rejected several reports that have circulated
since last weekend suggesting infighting in the group allegedly after deputy
secretary general Gift Chimanikire - who is also vying for the top post -- 
refused to step aside for Mutambara.

      Ncube said the MDC constitution guaranteed every member the right to
challenge for any post in the party.

      He said: "The management committee noted the right of all members of
the party including the deputy secretary general, Gift Chimanikire and
Professor Arthur Mutambara to present themselves to congress for election.

      Furthermore the management committee noted that in terms of article
5.4.3, it is the prerogative of the party's 12 provinces at Congress to
nominate for election any members of the party who wish to contest the
position of President, Deputy President or any other party position."

      Speaking to ZimOnline separately Chimanikire he was standing for
president of the faction because he could not see any reason to step aside
for Mutambara.

      Chimankire said, "I am standing for the post of president. I did not
find anything convincing for me to stand down so we have agreed that I will
be participating with anybody who wants to contest for the post.

      "No one wanted take responsibility of having spoken to Mutambara but
some just confirmed that they held telephone conversations with him. It was
a casual meeting characterised by frank talk." - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe will pay dearly for trashing economic rules

Zim Online

Tue 21 February 2006

      HARARE - Economic experts on Monday predicted that the final collapse
of Zimbabwe's long ailing economy was nigh after President Robert Mugabe
confessed that his government had discarded the economics rule book and was
printing money to guarantee its political survival.

      Besides the obvious push-up effect on inflation, the decision to
ignore basic economic rules will scare away the few investors still
interested in doing business in Zimbabwe while also dissuading the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Western donors from providing
financial assistance - vital to any efforts to revive the economy, the
experts said.

      Speaking during a televised interview last Sunday night to commemorate
his 82nd birthday, Mugabe said he would continue printing more money, a move
he said was necessary because accepted economic principles and monetary
rules did not apply to Zimbabwe's economic crisis.

      Mugabe turns 82 today.

      But Harare-based consultant economist John Robertson said Zimbabwe
will pay dearly for the government's decision to ignore economic rules.

      He said: "The President may have the power to order his government to
ignore the rules but in economics there are severe penalties to pay for such
behaviour - economies collapse because people disobey the rules."

      Robertson said the Harare administration's chances of redeeming itself
as a democratic government guided by sound economic principles and worthy of
international support were fast fading by the day, adding that Mugabe's
comments were only helping stick the badge of "rogue regime" on his

      An economist with a commercial bank in Zimbabwe's second largest city
of Bulawayo concurred with Robertson saying: "In essence, what the President
is saying is that he does not want to play by the accepted rules of the game
and that given a chance he would want to do things that are at tangent with
the IMF even against advice from his own officials."

      The bank economist, who did not want to be named for professional
reasons, said Mugabe's comments were "the clearest sign yet that unless
there is a complete change of direction, the total collapse of Zimbabwe's
economy will be a reality sooner than most people expect."

      Defending his stance to ignore accepted economic principles and
conduct, Mugabe said his government had no option but to keep the printing
machines running in order to be able to feed hungry Zimbabweans, a quarter
of whom require urgent food aid after poor harvests last farming season.

      The veteran President, whom critics hold responsible for ruining
Zimbabwe's once vibrant economy because of repression and wrong economic
policies, castigated his Ministry of Finance for wanting to implement
"bookish" economics that he said cannot work in Zimbabwe.

      Respected University of Zimbabwe business lecturer, Anthony Hawkins,
said Mugabe's utterances would damage investor confidence and help fuel the
country's inflation, already among the highest in the world.

      Zimbabwe's annual inflation was pegged at 613.2 percent in January
from 585.5 percent recorded the previous month and is seen approaching 1 000
percent in the next three months.

      "It will also drive up the price of foreign currency especially if
that money (being printed by the government) is used to buy foreign
currency," Hawkins said.

      Zimbabwe is facing a serious shortage of foreign currency, which is
blamed for shortages of fuel, food, electricity and agricultural inputs
because there is no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers.

      Mugabe's televised birthday address comes about two weeks after a team
from the IMF completed a mission to Harare, during which they told the
Zimbabwean authorities to adopt economic policies that conform to
international best practice.

      Among its recommendations was the need for the central Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) to discontinue its quasi-fiscal activities that were cited as
fuelling money supply growth and high inflation.

      The RBZ has been dolling out large sums of money to largely ruling
ZANU PF party supporters without proper monitoring strategies in place.

      RBZ governor Gideon Gono also shocked the business community last week
when he revealed that he had to print Z$21 trillion to purchase the foreign
currency that was used to settle Zimbabwe's arrears to the IMF. - ZimOnline

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Police starve as food money pays for Mugabe birthday bash

Zim Online

Tue 21 February 2006

      HARARE - Hundreds of police recruits in Harare have been forced to
skip meals after Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri allegedly diverted
Z$800 million meant to buy their food towards President Robert Mugabe's
birthday  celebrations.

      Mugabe turns 82 today but celebrations to mark his birthday will be
held at the weekend in the eastern border city of  Mutare.

      Sources within the Zimbabwe police told ZimOnline on Monday that
Chihuri ordered the police finance department to divert $800 million meant
to buy food for the recruits towards Mugabe's birthday celebrations.

      "Chihuri ordered the finance department to set aside at least $800
million for the 21st February Movement celebrations. It is unfortunate that
the recruits have to miss some of their meals as part of their monies have
to be channelled towards the celebrations.

      "But this is having a terrible effect on the recruits who have to
undergo gruelling physical training. The training saps their energy," a
senior police officer said.

      The 21st February Movement is named after Mugabe's date of birth and
is made up of youths born after independence in 1980.

      Contacted for comment, police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne
Bvudzijena could neither confirm nor deny the allegations only saying the
police had a duty to participate in "programmes of national significance".

      "I cannot confirm anything regarding the disbursement of police funds
as this is an internal matter but the police have a duty to participate in
programmes of national significance," he said.

      Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party was last week still making frantic
efforts to raise about Z$10 billion for the event. Businesspersons in Mutare
have also complained that ZANU PF officials were forcing them to donate
towards Mugabe's birthday.

      Mugabe's birthday has over the years almost been elevated to a
national event marked by feasting, music and dance. The event comes as the
country grapples its worst ever economic crisis critics blame on repression
and wrong policies by the Zimbabwean leader. Mugabe denies the charge. -

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Black farmers blamed for bleak Zim harvests


          February 20 2006 at 04:23PM

      By Angus Shaw

      The deputy agriculture minister forecast bleak food harvests this year
in Zimbabwe, and blamed fertiliser shortages and technical ignorance among
black farmers resettled on formerly white-owned land, a state-run newspaper
reported on Monday.

      Deputy Agriculture Minister Sylvester Nguni, in a rare admission of
failures in the nation's land redistribution programme, said many new
farmers who received land lacked the expertise to produce crops on what he
called a "commercial and even subsistence level," The Herald reported.

      Even farmers with adequate resources still failed to produce
"meaningful" crops, Nguni said.

            'Slashed the yields'
      Despite good seasonal rains, Nguni predicted the harvest beginning
around April would produce half of what had been expected.

      "The truth is, most crops have adversely taken the brunt of the
shortage of fertilisers, and this has inevitably slashed the yields by about
50 percent," he said.

       In some areas where fertilisers were used, above-average rainfall had
leached out crop nutrients and herbicides.

      He said many new farmers lacked training and experience. And the
government's Agricultural Research and Extension department (Arex), which
provides trainers and advisers, was understaffed and lacked transport and
gasoline as the country suffers its worst economic crisis since independence
in 1980.

      President Robert Mugabe has insisted his land redistribution
programme, begun in 2000, was intended to correct colonial era imbalances in

      Critics say, however, that prime farms were allocated to ruling party
cronies, judges, city business owners, government supporters and
law-enforcement officials with no farming experience.

      The central bank governor, Gideon Gono, in October criticised some new
farmers for using their land only as "weekend picnic venues."

      He also castigated some for allegedly using agricultural loans to buy
luxury off-road vehicles for private use and profiteering by selling the
subsidised gasoline available to resettled farmers at black-market prices
that were inflated tenfold.

      Nguni was receiving a donation of 28 bicycles for Arex experts,
according to The Herald, a government mouthpiece.

      It said the department now employed about 3 000 extension officers,
about half the 6 000 it needed countrywide.

      Last year Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, produced about 800
000 tons of corn, the staple food. The country consumes around 1,8 million
tons a year. Before the chaotic and often violent seizures of thousands of
white-owned commercial farms began in 2000, food surpluses were exported.

      Last week, the state-run Tobacco Industry Marketing Board predicted a
50-percent drop in production estimates for the main, hard currency-earning
crops this year, citing late and inadequate loans to growers and shortages
of fertiliser, chemicals and gasoline.

      Official inflation in the crumbling economy soared last month to 613
percent, one of the highest rates in the world, as the United Nations (UN)
food agency distributed emergency food aid to more than three million people
facing acute hard currency and food shortages.

      At least five million of the 12,5 million population were likely to
need food assistance before the next harvests, and food handouts were now
expected to continue long afterwards, according to UN experts and charity
groups. - Sapa-AP

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Intelligence agents beat up a reporter accused of working for foreign media

Reporters without borders

20 February 2006

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemned a brutal attack against
freelance journalist Gift Phiri, former reporter for the weekly Zimbabwe
Independent, who was beaten up by men accusing him of working for media
hostile to the government.

The attack came three weeks after threats were issued against those who
contribute to foreign media by the minister in charge of the Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

"Forced into unemployment, threatened with prison and now beaten up : the
fate Robert Mugabe reserves for independent journalists is more and more
vicious," said Reporters Without Borders.

"Given the timidity of certain African political leaders when it comes to
criticising Zimbabwe, we call on African press freedom organisations to
express their solidarity with independent journalists and to protest to the
government in Harare."

Phiri was brutally beaten, on 16 February 2006, when he was returning to his
home in the eastern Harare suburb of Sunningdale, after watching a football
match in a local bar. Five men jumped on him and beat him for about 20
minutes before leaving him for dead in front of his door.

The journalist, who was kicked and beaten with knuckle-dusters, was left
with injuries to his face and ribs. Earlier in the day, he had noticed the
presence of CIO men in the neighbourhood.

His assailants accused him of working for the US public radio Voice of
America (VOA) and the privately-owned radio Voice of People (VOP). Phiri is
currently unemployed given the steep reduction in jobs in the press after
the closure of many independent newspapers.

The attack came three weeks after the State Security Minister, Didymus
Mutasa, was quoted on 27 January by the government weekly Manica Post,
published in Mutare, eastern Zimbabwe as warning journalists that "the net
will soon close". The minister, in charge of the CIO, said that some people
were using pseudonyms to work for foreign media but the government had
pinpointed their "closets". He accused them of being "driven by the love of
the United States dollar and British pound which they are paid by the
foreign media houses to peddle lies."

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'UK using IMF for Zim regime change'

Mon, 20 Feb 2006
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe late on Sunday accused Britain of using
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a tool to overthrow his long-ruling

"The British want to use the fact of our owing the IMF, the British and the
Americans, to bring about the change of regime here," Mugabe said in an
interview broadcast on state television.

"(The IMF and Britain) is squeezing us economically so politically we would
do what they would want us to do. No other country has been treated this
way," the long-time Zimbabwean leader said two days ahead of his 82nd

"We saw through their machinations. We also realised they wanted to use our
neighbours in this strategy and we resisted it," said Mugabe, who has been
in power since independence in 1980.

Zimbabwe last week paid the IMF US$9-million to clear long-standing arrears
and thereby averting expulsion from the global lender.

"We have now succeeded in clearing the debt we owed directly to the IMF,"
Mugabe said during the interview.

'Political monster'

"That's because we want to get rid of this problem with the IMF. The IMF has
never worked in the interest of Zimbabwe here. It's only in regard to
Zimbabwe that the IMF became this political monster that we saw rearing its
head in order to consume us here," he said.

Zimbabwe's relations with Britain were strained over the past seven years
after Mugabe launched controversial land reforms that saw government seizing
properties from white commercial farmers, mostly of British descent.

Mugabe has often accused British Prime Minister Tony Blair of harbouring
plans to "recolonise" Zimbabwe by using the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party as a front.

In the interview, the president also lamented laxity among his cabinet
ministers and the growing problem of corruption.

He criticised ministers for fertiliser shortages and for failing to
resuscitate factories left idle when scores of white owners left the country
at the height of political violence which rocked the country four years ago.


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IMF is the devil: Mugabe


20/02/2006 10:41  - (SA)

Harare - President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has likened the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) to the devil, days after his country managed to avert
expulsion by clearing its critical debt arrears.

In a late-night interview on Sunday with state television ahead of his 82nd
birthday on Tuesday, Mugabe said former colonial power Britain had tried to
turn the IMF into a "political monster" to bring about regime change in the

Mugabe claimed: "The British wanted to use the fact of our owing the IMF...
to bring about, you know, a change of the regime here.

"It's only in regard to Zimbabwe that the IMF became this political monster
that we saw rearing its head in order to consume us.

Last week Zimbabwe paid back the last US$9m of debt arrears it owed to the
IMF's General Resources Account (GRA). The world body had threatened to
expel Zimbabwe if the debt, dating back to 2001, was not cleared by March.

Zimbabwe still owes the IMF around $120m in arrears under a less critical
account - the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF).

In Sunday's interview, Mugabe said the IMF "had never worked in the
interests of Zimbabwe" and likened the institution to the devil.

"We've paid back. Yes, that's their money. If you borrow money from the
devil you must know you're indebted to him and it's his money - otherwise
the devil will devour you and you've no excuse."

Zimbabwe's central bank governor Gideon Gono has been making strenuous
efforts to clear the country's name with the IMF. Zimbabwe has not been lent
any money from the IMF since August 1999.

For the past six years this once prosperous southern African country has
been dogged by critical shortages of hard cash needed to pay for medical
drugs, fuel and power. Inflation is over 600%, and poverty is deepening.


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Press Statement - Prof. Arthur G.O. Mutambara

Prof. Arthur G.O. Mutambara
Africa Technology and Business Institute (ATBI)
Managing Director
P.O. Box 78349
Sandton 2146
phone: (27 11) 704 3065
fax: (27 11) 462 6323
cell: (27 83) 287 9091

Press Statement

Prof. Arthur G.O. Mutambara: February 20, 2006

As Zimbabwean citizens, it is part of our civic duty and obligation to
develop political and economic solutions to the country's current problems.
There are three critical success factors that define the way forward:

Reunification of all democratic forces fighting for change in the country.
The need to refocus and energize the vision, values and strategy of these
The development of a comprehensive macro-economic blueprint that resolves
the economic crisis.

On the first factor, Zimbabweans have witnessed with distress the split in
the main opposition party MDC. For the past four months, the party top
leadership has failed to unite the ranks of the movement. As the party goes
towards two separate congresses, the infusion of new leadership, untainted
by current disagreements, is imperative to facilitate the reunification

It is in this context that I define the framework of my entry into
Zimbabwean politics. As a member of the MDC, I am prepared to work with
anybody who shares the above terms of reference.

Arthur G.O. Mutambara

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Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 12:57 AM
Subject: from Mdc uk

Roadmap for rebuilding Zimbabwe
MDC UK would like to take this opportunity to wish MDC Zimbabwe every success in their endeavours in the forthcoming congress on 25/26 Feb. We would also like to congratulate them on demonstrating their desire to succeed by including a diverse range of individuals – Zimbabweans from all walks of life who all share the vision of bettering the situation in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwean problems have always been a problem for every Zimbabwean, regardless of who and where they are. Inclusiveness is therefore the only method via which the problems can be tackled. We would like to salute those who have been immersed in the struggle and are still willing to accommodate, and seek assistance from, external benefactors. It only illustrates an altruism that is a mark of true heroism.
We would like to welcome those who have joined us and shown their confidence in the MDC. Your dynamism and support is both humbling and encouraging.
Our next District Meeting is set for 26 February 2006, 12pm – 3pm
  • Welcome
  • Adoption of minutes from the previous meeting
  • Issues arising from minutes
  • Brief of developments –update on the congress by the District Chair
  • An overview of  the Zimbabwe situation from Nick Mlamuli Ndebele,  a long standing Zimbabwean  human rights activist,  former  Chair person of Zimbabwe Human Rights Association(ZimRights) and former Director of Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe
  • Prioritising  issues into immediate, medium and long term-;
  1. Building democratic practices (democracy and good governance)
  1. Leadership training
  2. Strategy for economic turn-around (to include agriculture, programme of atonement for the return of exported foreign currency, programme for externally displaced people etc)
  3. Corruption
  4. Transparency and Accountability
  5. Divisions within the country, racial, tribal, regional
  6. Political action required for Zimbabwe to re-establish her rightful position in the international community
  7. Role of Diaspora
  8. Empowerment for Zimbabweans – projects to stimulate socio-economic development and address the problems of internally displaced Zimbabweans.
    • Action plan for each of the above by the District Secretary
5 Bridgemill
22a Beswick Street
M4 7HR
The place is 10 minutes walk from the city centre and the buses one can take are 216 and 76. It
is near The City of Manchester Football Stadium.
Sipho Nkala(mdcuksecretary)

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New Political Leader Emerging for Zimbabwe Opposition


      By Peta Thornycroft
      20 February 2006

The recent split in Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change has the
country's opposition in disarray. However, a potential new leader has moved
into view.

Arthur Mutambara is a former student leader who is now recognized as one of
Africa's most prominent scientists.

Fifteen years ago at the University of Zimbabwe he lead the student
opposition to the ruling Zanu PF.

According to records at the university he was a brilliant engineering
student, who won every scholarship he applied for.

After completing his doctorate at Britain's Oxford University he went on to
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and became professor at several
other universities in the United States. Unlike many African academics,
Mutambara was always determined to return to Africa.

Over the weekend he arrived back in Zimbabwe from Johannesburg where he
heads up an African scientific institution for talks with leaders of one
faction of the MDC. Some in this faction want him to make himself available
as a candidate for the top job, as president.

Late Monday he confirmed his re-entry into Zimbabwe politics, and said he
hoped the enthusiasm of a new leadership which he said was untainted by
current disagreements, would make unification of the two factions of the MDC

According to the MDC's constitution any one of the 12 provinces would have
to nominate him and authorized delegates to the party's congress next Sunday
will vote for a new president.

Should he get the necessary nomination, and win the vote, analysts say his
political past, intellectual prowess and reputation as a leader, would do
much to revive Zimbabwe's stalled opposition politics and could lead to the
two factions re-uniting.

The faction of the MDC lead by party president Morgan Tsvangirai declined to
comment on Mutambara's sudden re-entry into Zimbabwe's opposition political

Tsvangirai's faction is holding its congress next month, but he is certain
to be the only candidate for the top job.

The MDC split last October over adherence to the party's constitution.

Tsvangirai said that even though a narrow majority of party executives voted
to participate in the first ever elections for a senate last November, the
MDC should not take part.

He said participation was a waste of time and money and the electoral
playing field was not level.

Most of the MDC's top leaders rebelled against him, saying he had defied the
party's constitution.

The party split into two factions with both declaring themselves to be

A senior MDC official, legal secretary David Coltart, who has remained
outside of either faction is trying to arrange what he describes as an
"amicable" divorce between the two sides.

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Zimbabwe's evicted and forsaken

Mail and Guardian

      Matthew Burbidge | Johannesburg, South Africa

      01 December 2005 12:02

            On May 25 this year, Zimbabwe's government began Operation
Murambatsvina -- a massive campaign of forced evictions and demolitions. Six
months later, says a damning Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released on
Thursday, the government has made no arrangements to provide even temporary
shelter to the internally displaced. Thousands of people are now living in
the open.

            "We have been out in the open since the end of May when our
houses were demolished during Operation Murambatsvina. We are not getting
any assistance from anyone. I have two children staying with me, but I sent
the other two to the rural areas.

            "My husband does not have a rural home and I don't think he
would appreciate it if we went to my rural home. I don't have the money to
send my children to school. The kids have colds because of staying outside
and in the cold. I can't afford medical assistance. Sometimes we sleep
without eating a meal or anything. We don't know what's going to happen once
the rains come," a displaced mother of four, living by the edge of a forest
in Victoria Falls, told a HRW researcher in September.

            HRW is an international NGO, based in New York, that conducts
advocacy and research on human rights issues.

            On the front page of the report, entitled Evicted and Forsaken:
Internally Displaced Persons in the Aftermath of Operation Murambatsvina,
there is a Reuters photograph of an old man sitting among his possessions in
front of his destroyed home in Norton, Zimbabwe. He sits close to a small
fire; his toes protrude from his shoes. He clasps his hands; he does not
look angry. There are cupboards, couches and clothes strewn nearby. Women
and children mill about in the background of the photograph. Perhaps they
are trying to reconstruct the rooms with the furniture, repositioning it
inside a house that now has no walls.

            In September and October, HRW sent a new research mission to the
country to look into the plight of the internally displaced persons. The
researchers carried out site visits to numerous locations in four of
Zimbabwe's provinces and conducted more than 50 interviews with displaced
people, human rights activists, local authorities, church officials, United
Nations staff in Zimbabwe and others.

            "The political, economic, humanitarian and human rights
conditions in Zimbabwe are all in precipitous decline. While drought and the
devastating HIV/Aids pandemic have influenced these conditions to some
extent, the actions of the Zimbabwe government and its indifference to the
dignity and well-being of its citizens lie at the heart of Zimbabwe's
current crisis," says the report.

            "Ruling through intimidation and with respect for the rule of
law or the rights of his citizens, President [Robert] Mugabe's latest
outrage -- the forced eviction and displacement of hundreds and thousands of
mostly poor people from the urban areas throughout Zimbabwe -- has attracted
international condemnation but been defended with characteristic bluster."

            'Cruel indifference'
            The report says the displaced "have continued to suffer the
cruel indifference of their government; no protection or assistance, no
compensation, no accountability, restrictions on freedom of movement".

            The report says up to 223 000 children were directly affected by
the operation.

            An ActionAid report found that, overall, 22% of children who had
been attending school dropped out because of the evictions. The
displacement, says the HRW report, also hindered parents' ability to pay for
schooling, which meant that even more children dropped out of school.

            The report says that with unemployment at about 80%, most adults
in Zimbabwe try to make ends meet in the informal sector. Many lost their
livelihoods when the government destroyed market stalls and other
informal-sector businesses and homes.

            Now the government has prevented them from making money by
selling fruit, for example, says the report.

            Chipo D, a Harare township resident, told HRW that although his
stall was destroyed, he still tries to sell vegetables, "but the police
arrest me and make me pay a fine".

            Another witness told HRW: "People whose market stalls were
demolished have come back and are selling their vegetables in the open.
Police come about five times a day and harass the vendors, and take their
goods for free.

            "One woman got tired of police harassment and threw stones at
the policeman three weeks ago. She was arrested by the police, and I don't
know what happened to her."

            The report says the Zimbabwean government has persistently
obstructed humanitarian operations. It says the UN staff interviewed by HRW
in September and October cited the Zimbabwean government's continuous
obstruction of operations as the main reason for the international agencies'
inability to implement their programmes.

            In its recommendations, among others, HRW calls on the Zimbabwe
government to take urgent measures to provide protection and assistance to
the displaced, including shelter, food, water and sanitation and medical

            It also calls on the government to allow the special envoy of
the African Union Commission, Tom Nyanduga, to return to Zimbabwe and fulfil
his mandate and report to the AU on the status of internally displaced

            It calls on the AU to adopt a resolution strongly condemning the
mass evictions and demolitions as well as strongly condemning the
obstruction of international humanitarian assistance.

            The report says the plight of people displaced by the Zimbabwean
government cannot be overlooked any further.

            "It must generate a sense of outrage sufficient to trigger
concerted action to protect and assist the displaced."

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Diary of my African paradise lost

Sudbury Today, UK

A farmer forced to flee for his life from militants in Zimbabwe has written
a book about his experiences.
Now living in Nayland, Richard Wiles was driven off the land he had loved
and worked during more than half a century as radicals mounted a violent
campaign to reclaim white-owned land.

His three-year struggle to keep his land, part of which was a nature
reserve, is told in his diaries Foredoomed is my Forest, The Diary of a
Zimbabwe Farmer, which has just been published.

"Rhodesia was paradise," said Richard, now 80, who, after being de-mobbed
from the Second World War went to the African country in search of a better

"Britain was a pretty dreary, depressing place straight after the war, so a
lot of us went to Africa and a new life."

To start with, he worked for the Colonial Development Corps.

In 1950 he married Beth, and they had three children.

The couple started their own farm three years later, naming it Stockade, and
it was from there that Richard fled over two years ago.

"Beth died there in 1994. She is buried in a forest glade on the farm. It
was so sad to leave her behind but the situation made it impossible to
stay," he said.

The book is dedicated to her as "my wife and, later, my guardian angel".

Richard stayed at Stockade and continued to farm.

Rumblings of unrest started in the late 1990s when Zimbabwe's president,
Robert Mugabe, pledged to give white-owned farms to black poor people in
order to right the "wrongs" of British colonialism.

Squatters were encouraged to take over farms by force using intimidation and

"They moved into my home and I had to get out. It was heartbreaking because
I had been there for such a long time and then this happened," said Richard.

Militants set up base on his farm and he was constantly threatened and told
to leave. He tried in vain to save his land and his nature reserve but
failed, as did so many others, some of whom were killed or badly hurt by
those forcibly taking their land.

When he returned to England to settle after leaving Zimbabwe, Richard could
not believe how much had changed.

"The motor car rules here. People don't seem to be able to get along without
a motor car," he said.

"Luckily, this part of Suffolk is lovely and I am very happy here."

But he admits a lot of his thoughts are with his home in Zimbabwe.

He will never be able to forget the men who forced him out, strutting over
his land where once "his Beth" trod.

"My home?" he writes in his book. "I shall never see it again. In the grassy
clearing in the woods, no posy of garden flowers will rest on her grave. Her
wildlife visitors will be cruelly snared and killed.

"Now, saddened, I want to leave this battleground and everything associated
with it, far behind."

Foredoomed is my Forest, The Diary of a Zimbabwe Farmer can be ordered
online at It is priced at £14.99.
20 February 2006

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Mine firms threaten to leave Zim

Cape Argus

      February 20, 2006

      By Basildon Peta

      The last vestiges of Zimbabwe's crumbling economy seem set to go as
mining houses freeze billions of dollars in exploration, expansion and new
investments over a proposed law that wants them to relinquish half their
shareholdings to black Zimbabweans.

      The troubles in the mining sector are disclosed in a confidential
document prepared by the key mining federation, the Zimbabwe Chamber of
Mines (ZCM), for Mines Minister Amos Midzi, which warns that major investors
could withdraw from Zimbabwe if the government goes ahead and legislates
unrealistic local ownership targets that could see mining firms being
compelled to relinquish large chunks of their shareholdings to locals or to
the state.

      President Robert Mugabe has hinted that he wants up to 50% of mining
companies to be controlled by Zimbabweans.

      In the confidential document, the ZCM said the now widely held
perception among mining investors was that with the value of the industry at
more than $20bn, neither the government nor locals could raise enough money
to purchase 50% shareholding in existing mining companies, therefore the
government wanted to expropriate equity in private mines in the same way it
had seized productive farmland.

      The document added: "With this perception, both potential foreign and
local investors have stopped committing both borrowed and equity funds
towards exploration, expansion or Greenfield projects for fear of losing
both control of the business and a big portion of their investment."

      Meanwhile, Mugabe has blamed his country's economic woes on his
"self-centred ministers" whom he said were failing to meet the goals of a
"development cabinet".

      In an interview with the state-controlled Zimbabwe Television to mark
his 82nd birthday on Wednesday, Mugabe , who rarely dismisses ministers over
non-performance, warned that the chop might now be looming for some of them.

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SA borders under siege


          February 19 2006 at 06:16PM

      By Charlene Smith

      Every week tens of thousands of refugees flow into South Africa, and
each week South Africa ships out a few thousand - more than 1 000 to
Zimbabwe alone. But United Nations and police officials say trying to stem
the tide is like trying to stop a tsunami with a bucket.

      Jonathan Martins, programme manager of the UN-funded International
Organisation on Migrancy, said South African borders were "incredibly

      "People from as far away as Ethiopia tend to go to South Africa
because there is a perception there are jobs and opportunities (there)."

      People-smuggling rings are cashing in on the situation, particularly
from Zimbabwe, as people flee economic meltdown and political repression.

      Zimbabwe's The Herald newspaper says syndicates operating at Beit
Bridge use South African-registered vehicles to transport people from as far
away as Bulawayo to Johannesburg for a fee of R800 to R1 000.

      They are taken to the Beit Bridge border, where they are guided across
the Limpopo and then picked up by taxis on the South African side.

      According to Limpopo province police statistics, 753 illegal
immigrants were arrested between January 5 and 12, an average of 100 a day.
However, this is the rainy season in Limpopo which sees fewer immigrants
entering the country as the Limpopo River floods, making the
crocodile-infested waters even more hazardous than usual. But even when the
river is low it is dangerous.

      Jabu Ndebele, a 22-year-old Zimbabwean who goes back and forth across
the border carrying items to trade in Zimbabwe, always uses the river route,
but recalls that the first time he came with five friends, two were eaten by

      Lions in the Kruger Park also regularly attack refugees coming through
from Mozambique.

      United Nations officials and police say human trafficking - the "new
slave trade" - is on the increase. Human smuggling is often a choice by
people who want to, and will pay to be smuggled into a country.

      Martins said someone trafficked to South Africa from a neighbouring
state "could be sold for around R500".

      "Children are more expensive. The price depends on what is considered
exotic. We have cases of African women trafficked to Europe for $40 000
(R242 000) and European women trafficked here for R100 000 or R150 000 or

      According to police sources and the International Organisation on
Migrancy, women from places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are
offered jobs as housekeepers in South Africa, only to have their passports
seized and be forced into prostitution.

      South Africa is sufficiently concerned about trafficking to have
established a task force two years ago and a busy toll free helpline, 0800
555 999.

      Police say they have not had a successful prosecution yet against
traffickers, hindered by a lack of legislation against the practice in South
Africa, in spite of South Africa last year signing the Palermo Protocol, in
which nations pledged to fight the scourge.

      In South Africa, the Sexual Offences Unit tracks child trafficking,
while the Organised Crime Unit attempts to break adult trafficking rings.

      Police officers complain that, "because there is no legislation, the
initiative is on those trafficked to testify, so that we can get a
conviction. They may be frightened of the gang or they may want to return to
them because they get drugs and are often well treated."

      In a major child trafficking case last year involving Johannesburg,
Durban and the Eastern Cape, not a single child was prepared to testify.
Some ran away and others are back with the Nigerian syndicate leaders who
have moved them to the Phalaborwa area, according to a senior source in the
National Prosecuting Authority.

      The only laws that can be used against traffickers at present include
those against sex work, kidnapping, murder or sexual crimes.

      Criminal investigation authorities say a lack of laws and
co-ordination on trafficking between neighbouring countries mean, once a
person crosses a border, police in the investigating country are hamstrung.

      There are, however, two pieces of legislation pending that include
trafficking provisions. The Children's Bill was passed by parliament last
year and is waiting to be signed into effect by the president, but the
Sexual Offences Bill, which has waited four years to be heard by parliament,
is nowhere close to being passed. The SA Law Commission is also working on
draft trafficking legislation.

      Loren Landau of Forced Migration Studies at the University of the
Witwatersrand said, "A lot of people are voluntarily smuggled by syndicates.
Many come here with the idea of going to Europe or Canada. They use South
Africa as a transit point.

      "We have spoken to Home Affairs officials about finding a more humane
way of dealing with refugees than very costly forced repatriation. But they
are reluctant to recognise asylum seekers, especially from Zimbabwe."

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Letter from America

      By Professor Stanford Mukasa

      20 February 2006

      In today's Letter from America Prof. Stan Mukasa revisits
      a prediction made by Chinese Premier Chou Enlai 40 years ago that
      Africa was ripe for a revolution and argues this prediction is
      appropriate to today's Zimbabwe.


      The simultaneous protests last week by university students and the
women's organization, Women of Zimbabwe Arise, or WOZA, was an encouraging
beginning to the mass protests that many people had advocated for several
years now.
      This is the kind of natural response by any people anywhere in the
world when faced with the oppressive conditions imposed by an illegitimate
regime like that of Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF in Zimbabwe.
      For a long time the international community has been puzzled by the
lack of any real protest among Zimbabweans as Mugabe systematically drove
the country to a Stone Age existence.
      Zimbabweans are among the most enlightened people in Africa. They are
well aware not only of their visible oppression and the rape of their
country by Mugabe but also how people in other countries have reacted, and
in some cases successfully, in protests against their oppressive regimes.
      In Zimbabwe Mugabe has committed one criminal act against another with
utter impunity. Yet Zimbabweans have characteristically stood by like
spectators in a football match and done absolutely nothing of any
significance by way of protests.
      Apologists for the do- nothing politics of Zimbabweans have agued that
Mugabe has created conditions that are too militarily oppressive to stage
any meaningful protest.
      Mugabe is using the military, police and the youth militia thugs to
harass, threaten or intimidate and in many cases torture, kidnap, jail and
even arrest opposition supporters. Zimbabwe is now a military state. The
military are virtually running the country. Nelson Chamisa noted that
soldiers are now even selling ZANU PF party cards!
      To worsen the situation, Mugabe has so mismanaged the country's
economy that Zimbabwe has now been reduced from bread basket for the region
to a basket case. Over half of the Zimbabwean population is now surviving on
food handouts from the international community. Over one third of the
country's population has left for greener pastures.
      In a remarkable contrast, the economies of neighbouring countries are
improving. Mozambique, for example, has progressed by leaps and bounds. The
country that in the 1970s was regarded as one of the poorest in the world
has bounced back. It has replaced Zimbabwe as a leading economic power in
the region, even surpassing Namibia! Investment in Mozambique is booming
while it has dried up in Zimbabwe.
      The Zimbabwean dollar is now a joke.
      Here are some comparisons.
      In Somalia, where there is no government, US$1 is equivalent to 1,630
Somali shillings. Imagine that! People in a country without a government are
able to maintain a currency that is over 100 times stronger than the
Zimbabwean dollar.
      Let us come to the SADC region.
      In Mozambique, US$1 is equal to 26,323.2 Mozambique meticals. In
Zambia, US$1 is equal to 3,264.35 Zambian kwacha. Now remember the 'good old
days' when Zimbabweans used to laugh their lungs out at the value of the
kwacha and look with utter contempt the Mozambican metical, especially when
the Zimbabwean dollar was a legal tender in that country!
      When Joaquim Chissano replaced the late Samora Machel he paid a visit
to Zimbabwe and suggested that the two countries unite into one country.
Mugabe's officials scoffed at the idea. One ZANUPF chest thumping official
said Zimbabwe cannot unite with a country as poor as Mozambique. He boasted
it would only drag down Zimbabwe to the level of the impoverished
Mozambicans. I daresay if the same suggestion was made it would be the
Mozambicans turns to say "No thanks!"
      Even in one of the poorest countries in the world, Tanzania, US$1 is
equal to 1,194.66 Tanzanian shillings.
      And in Zimbabwe US$1 equals about 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars. On the
black market it was trading at up to 165,000 Zimbabwe dollars for every
      In terms of inflation Zimbabwe has scored a whooping 600 percent
inflation. This is likely to skyrocket after Zimbabwe printed 21 trillion
dollars to buy foreign currency to repay the IMF debt. Many economic
observers say real inflation in Zimbabwe is now over 1,000 percent.
      Now, whether it is 600 percent or 1000 percent let us comparing
Zimbabwe's inflation to neighbouring SADC countries. According to the
statistics released by the Ministry of Finance in Botswana SADC countries
had an average inflation rate of 10.3 percent in 2005!
      These are precisely the conditions Mugabe has created in Zimbabwe that
more than justify a long -drawn mass protest.
      Yet apologists for the do-nothing politics somehow do not seem to see
the gravity and dehumanizing impact of the pathetic misery these conditions
have created for the majority of Zimbabweans. Without protest nothing will
improve for Zimbabweans.
      In the same camp with the do-nothing lobby is another dinosaur species
of the so-called opposition politicians, notably the pro-senate MDC splinter
group led by Gibson Sibanda -Welshman Ncube fast- food combo who is
religiously and fanatically clinging to the old methods of protests that
have repeatedly failed dismally.
      Remember Ncube saying they will stick to Mugabe's election agenda no
matter how rigged. He even said even if it were to elect a janitor his group
would still participate in the elections. Presumably, Ncube would be the
candidate for the janitor!
      When Chinese Premier Chou Enlai made a tour of 10 Africa states
between December 1963 and February 1964 he declared that Africa was ripe for
a revolution.
      This was the same time Africa was gaining her independence from
colonialism. In essence what Cho Enlai was asserting here was a repudiation
of the nationalist flag independence that Africa was being granted.
      The term "revolution" as described by people like Samora Machel,
Amilcar Cabral and Augustino Neto was aimed at overthrowing a system of both
colonialism and neo-colonialism and to replace it with one that served the
interests of the masses and the workers.
      Nowhere in Africa can this be truer than in Zimbabwe today.
      The Mugabe regime has always perpetuated this neocolonial type of
independence in Zimbabwe. Neo-colonialism means taking over the reigns of
political power in order to enrich yourself and your cronies with the state
      The level of corruption in ZANU PF has reached alarming proportions.
Mugabe's cronies are using the State to enrich themselves. They are grabbing
state assets, farms, companies in their unending quest for private
      The entire state system has now been privatized by ZANU PF. A medieval
system of fiefdom has emerged where all the land and assets are said to
belong to the state when, in fact, they belong to individual ZANUPF
sycophants and cronies.
      The masses in Zimbabwe are now spectators in this unprecedented
plunder of the country. ZANUPF cronies are ransacking the country pocketing
anything they find. Yet Zimbabweans are witnessing this daylight theft of
their country's assets and apparently doing nothing about it.
      Imagine if you went to your house one day and saw some strangers
stealing your property. Or you woke upon one morning to find thieves
everywhere in your home, taking whatever they liked. Would you just stand by
and watch the way you would watch a football game? Or would you do something
to stop these thieves and robbers?
      The protests and demonstrations by university students and the women
of WOZA are indicative of Cho Enlai's statement on the conditions for a
      And 40 years after the statement by the Chinese premier, Mugabe has to
all intents and purposes created the conditions for a revolution. There is
an expectation from the international community that Zimbabweans cannot just
sit and watch their country being raped and plundered by Mugabe and his
      The students and women have taken the lead. It is now up to the rest
of the civil society leadership to play their leadership role in mobilizing
the masses into a concerted protest against the Mugabe regime.
      Two top MDC officials Thokozani Khupe and Nelson Chamisa recently
articulated this view of a protest when they said the party was now focusing
on a strategic shift, or what Chamisa called a paradigm shift, in the
opposition politics in Zimbabwe.
      By forming an alliance with other opposition groups MDC would now
appear to be mobilizing all the resources of the opposition movement in a
mass demonstration against Mugabe.
      If the leadership in the opposition movement can put their heads
together and not waste time and resources fighting among each other they
should be able to take their positions at the helm of the new onslaught
against Mugabe.
      Despite the do-nothing apologists, this time it looks like the people
of Zimbabwe might be ready to take to the streets, as evidenced by the
student and women's protests. What they need now is an organized machinery
to mobilize them into one final push against Mugabe.
      But the people of Zimbabwe should not just sit and wait for some
Messianic leader to lead them against Mugabe.
      They should also work on independent strategies aimed at achieving one
common aim: to make Zimbabwe ungovernable.
      The Mass Democratic Movement in South Africa is a good example of how
the masses in South Africa took to the streets without necessarily waiting
for any leader to take charge.
      If the opposition movement leadership are not able to put their act
together or are slow in putting together a unified front for confronting
Mugabe then people should on their own spontaneously take to the streets.
      There are occasions in history where people have mounted effective
demonstrations without waiting for some leadership to the front.
      Nelson Chamisa and Thokozile Khupe taught their Zimbabwean audience in
Philadelphia an interesting slogan: Mugabe mudenga. Rovera pasi.
      While, of course, no one would advocate or expect hoisting the
82-reay-old geriatric sky high and bashing him against some hard rock, let
this slogan be the marching song for a peaceful protest against Mugabe.
      As Cho Enlai stated 40 years ago: Africa, or more specifically
Zimbabwe, is now ripe for a revolution or a mass protest.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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New pastures not that green

      By a Correspondent

      When Zimbabwe's government seized his family farm in 2001, Graham Rae
looked for a way to start over.
      He cashed in an overseas nest egg, took out some big loans and moved
north across the Zambezi River, leasing land from a Zambian rancher to begin
planting tobacco, seed corn, soybeans, wheat and sorghum.
      "Zambia seemed politically mature," said the lifelong farmer, and
Zambia's government, eager for investment in agriculture, was welcoming.
      Five years later, however, Zimbabwe's cast-out white farmers are
facing eviction again--this time from an economic rather than political
      Since 2001, Zimbabwean farmers have helped boost Zambia's tobacco
production 500 percent, to 24,000 tons in 2005. But the world price for
tobacco--a major crop among the newcomers--has remained steady while the
price of fertilizer, fuel and other crucial inputs has doubled because of
rising oil prices and strengthening southern African currencies.
      That means farmers who once earned a hefty 50 percent profit on their
crop, and used much of it to pay back equally hefty start-up loans, are now
making almost nothing, even as loan payments continue to come due.
      Some are rushing to plant alternative crops or are just "living a
subsistence existence from hand to mouth," Rae said. But many, having
invested heavily in tobacco sheds and equipment, have no means to borrow
more and are struggling to stave off bankruptcy and avoid losing their farms
once again.
      "They're falling like bloody ninepins at the moment," lamented Chris
Thorne, another Zimbabwean farmer growing tobacco near Chisamba, an hour and
a half's drive north of Lusaka, Zambia's capital. But "we'll survive
somehow," he promised. "We can't start again. We've been there, done that."

      Starting over hasn't been easy for any of the Zimbabweans. Most lost
nearly all their savings with their farms, which Zimbabwe's government began
seizing in 2000 as part of a campaign to transfer land to black owners and
to salvage President Robert Mugabe's plunging popularity. That effort has
thrown once-thriving Zimbabwe into widespread hunger and near economic
      Evicted white farmers eager to remain in the business have since
fanned out across Africa, taking loans and starting new operations from
Mozambique to Nigeria.
      Most, like Rae, are raising what they always raised--tobacco, corn,
soybeans, cattle, vegetables and flowers. But many have had to learn new
languages, new weather patterns, new soils and new ways of living.
      Rae, 48, now sleeps under a mosquito net and takes anti-malaria
tablets but, like most of his neighbours, still has been "walloped" by the
disease, which wasn't a problem on his old farm. His marriage, stressed by
the land seizures, has broken down, and his three sons now live in South
Africa with their mother. He has lost touch with most of his old friends.
      "We slave from dawn to dusk here to re-establish what we established
over many years in Zimbabwe," he said. Still, "people are pretty adaptable
and they learn to make the best of any situation."
      Rae is doing better than many of his neighbours. As one of the first
to see his farm taken in Zimbabwe, he also was one of the first to arrive in
Zambia and was able to enjoy a couple of years of good tobacco profits
before production costs skyrocketed. After at first leasing land, he also
reached a deal with the owner to combine their investments and become
co-owners. That has given him a better financial footing than many of his
      Some, trapped in heavy debt, have had to sell their new farms to
tobacco companies, then remain on simply as hired hands, Rae said. Others
are barely hanging on, hoping for better times and better crop prices.
      "Almost all of the Zimbabweans are in exports and they're all having
the same problem, which is totally out of their control," said Peter
MacSporran, an agricultural consultant who helped many of the transplanted
Zimbabweans find land and loans to start over in Zambia.
      "They're really struggling," he said. "The little bit they have is at
risk, and they're feeling battered."
      Zambia also could be battered by the Zimbabwean farmers' losses.
Zimbabweans now are the fifth-biggest investor in Zambia, due largely to
about 200 Zimbabwean farmers in agricultural projects. And tobacco farmers
across Zambia employ about 20,000 workers, many of whom stand to lose their
jobs if the farms go under, MacSporran said.
      Politically, the transplanted Zimbabwean farmers face few problems in
their new homeland. Most are leasing land rather than buying, "so they
shouldn't [face] that same [ownership] issue," said Lovemore Simwanda, a
spokesman for the Zambian National Farmers Union. Only about 10 percent of
Zambia's arable land is being worked, so pressure to redistribute land is
minimal, he said.
      Rae now acts as a technical adviser to 60 small local farmers on land
adjoining his, building good relations and helping them learn about solar
power, conservation tillage and better seed varieties.
      "In Zimbabwe, we weren't as proactive," he acknowledges.

      Chicago Tribune

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Sanitary boost gives Zim women dignity back

HARARE, February 20 -- Over 500 000 sanitary products have been collected to
help desperate women in Zimbabwe forced to use newspapers and rags as

Speaking to Sapa on Monday Thabitha Khumalo, human rights activist and
founder of Dignity, Period!, said a pack of 10 sanitary pads in Zimbabwe
cost about 1,5-million Zimbabwean dollars (about R100).

"The problem started in the late 1990s when a company manufacturing sanitary
products relocated from Zimbabwe to South Africa.

"That's when we started feeling the pinch as prices of the remaining stock
started escalating," Khumalo said. "Then in 2001 and 2002 we started getting
sanitary pads from the black market, but the hygienic standards were not

Khumalo said women in Zimbabwe were now subjected to domestic abuse as their
spouses were mistaking infections acquired from using improper materials for
sexually transmitted infections.

Khumalo, who is also a member of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU), said the lack of sanitary products was a violation of women's rights
to dignity.

"The global village always forgets to provide sanitary products in cases of
disasters. They always assume that women can cope.

"There's always this talk of food and medical supplies, but none of basic
things such as sanitary pads," said Khumalo.

"Gone are the days when such things were taboo because as women get infected
they also infect their men."

The donations were made possible with the help of British-based
non-governmental organisation (NGO) Action for Southern Africa (ActSA).

The NGO raised money in the United Kingdom to help fund the campaign.

Among the supporters of the campaign are 5FM, Johnson and Johnson and
Procter and Gamble. - Sapa

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Parliament stops publishing Hansard

Sunday News, Zimbabwe

Acting News Editor

Parliament has not been publishing The Hansard since late last year,
depriving the public of a vital source of information on legislative
debates, the Sunday News can reveal.
The Hansard is a printed manuscript containing a complete and accurate
record of the debates of the House of Assembly.
The Clerk of Parliament, Mr Austin Zvoma, confirmed on Friday that Jongwe
Printers, the company contracted to print the handbook, has failed to
produce the publication owing to the availability of raw materials.
"It's true that we have not been receiving Hansards because Jongwe Printers
has been failing to procure newsprint. Jongwe Printers last printed Hansards
late last year and we have a backlog of 17 editions. We sat briefly last
year and the Hansards are not yet out. They have been giving us the Hansards
without any problems since mid-1980s.
"The backlog is seriously affecting all the Members of Parliament, the
Parliament and all Ministers who have to respond to the questions that are
raised by the House. Some of the debates are raised during the Ministers'
absence and they need the texts in front of them when responding to these
issues. We have written to them (Jongwe Printers) to give an assurance that
they should deliver on time and they confirmed they are going to do that,"
he said.
Mr Zvoma said Parliament had an agreement with Jongwe Printers to print The
Hansard and be paid thereafter. However, he would not reveal the amount of
money involved in the deal.
About 8 060 copies of The Hansard are supposed to be printed the day after
each Parliamentary sitting and these are meant for Members of Parliament,
constituency information centres and members of the public.
Following the passing of the Zimbabwe Constitution Amendment No 17 Act,
Zimbabwe's House of Assembly now consists of Lower and Upper houses.
The number of copies of The Hansard needed for the Senate could not be
ascertained yesterday.
The non-availability of The Hansard seriously affects democratic processes
because the public is not kept accurately informed on what happens in
Parliament. Voters want to know how their representatives in the House
contribute to national debates.
"The production of The Hansard also affects the general public. As part of
our reforms, we said Parliament is an open institution where the people
raise issues. If they (Jongwe Printers) fail to produce The Hansard, we can
go to other companies, but the last time we checked, there was no other
company that was able to print them. We are going to keep our doors open,"
said Mr Zvoma.
The Speaker of Parliament, Cde John Nkomo and the President of Senate, Mrs
Edna Madzongwe, could not be reached for comment.
Zanu-PF's secretary for information and publicity, Dr Nathan Shamuyarira,
confirmed on Friday that Jongwe Printers has not been able to print The
Hansard but attributed it to the unavailability of newsprint.
He said negotiations with Mutare Board and Paper Mills, Zimbabwe's only
maker of newsprint, were underway, adding that the printing of The Hansard
would resume next week.
"The problem is not with Jongwe Printers, but with Mutare Board and Paper
Mills. It (Mutare Board and Paper Mills) said it had a short supply of
newsprint because it is also supplying the paper to other companies. It has
very little in stock. The company is the only one that supplies newsprint to
all companies in the country like The Herald and others.
"I spoke to the managing director of the company, a Mr Gwaunza, yesterday
(Thursday) who said we will receive newsprint next week. He said he will
give us 24 tonnes of newsprint on Monday. What is needed is 50 tonnes, but
he said he will give us only half of that. We will get the remainder during
the course of the week. If we get the newsprint, we will clear the backlog
the same day," said Dr Shamuyarira.

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Pregnant woman rescued from crocodile-infested Limpopo River

From The Limpopo Mirror (SA), 17 February

By Andries van Zyl

Two heroic farm labourers came to the rescue of a pregnant Zimbabwean woman
on Saturday, February 11, after she ran into trouble while trying to cross
the crocodile-infested Limpopo River illegally into South Africa. The woman,
said to be in her thirties and about seven months pregnant, tried to cross
the flooded river on Friday, but ran into trouble and got stuck on a tree
stump. It was only on Saturday afternoon at about 16:00 that she was spotted
by two farm labourers from a farm in the Weipe area. The police were
alerted, but in the meantime the two farm labourers swam in and rescued the
woman, taking her back to the Zimbabwean side as it was the closest dry land
at that stage. The woman said nothing, as she was in shock. By the time the
police arrived at the scene, the woman was gone. Fearing the worst, the
police even brought along a police diver. It is speculated that the pregnant
woman tried to cross over into South Africa to give birth to her baby,
allowing her to qualify for the South African government's child grant. The
Musina police said that no case had been opened, as the woman had returned
to Zimbabwe.

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Comment on the Article "Zimbabwe Border Charges"

From: "Masimira, David"

Comment on the Article "Zimbabwe Border Charges" published in good faith on

The article on carbon taxes is grossly erroneous. Some of your writers are
far removed from reality. I travel regularly between Zim and Botswana. The
rates advertised are annual rates and not 30 days. Carbon tax is 90 Pula per
30 days and Road Access Fee or Toll is 50 Pula per entry. Travellers are
allowed 5 million dollars as cash which they can carry out of the country
and not 300 000 as said. Similarly Botswana charges 120 Pula toll per
foreign vehicle for every entry. I don't find anything sinister about
that.For the record.

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