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Zimbabwe opposition factions begin legal tussle over brand name

Zim Online

Tue 28 February 2006

      HARARE - Lawyers of the two factions of Zimbabwe's splintered
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party are locked up in a
tug-of-war over rights to the MDC brand, in what appears to be the beginning
of  a long and damaging legal wrangle over the party's name, symbol and

      The first formal step to break up the MDC into two rival political
parties was completed when popular former student leader Arthur Mutambara
was last Saturday elected to head a faction of the opposition party opposed
to founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

      Although both Mutambara and Tsvangirai have openly called for a united
opposition to confront President Robert Mugabe, the situation on the ground
is different with their camps' lawyers writing to each other in the past
week insisting that only their client was the legitimate MDC and therefore
had sole right to the party's name, open palm symbol and assets.

      Harare law firm Dube, Manikai and Hwacha, representing Tsvangirai's
faction, last week wrote to the lawyers of Mutambara's group insisting that
Tsvangirai was the only legally recognised leader of the opposition party
after his rivals failed last year to get the High Court to endorse their
attempt to suspend him from the party.

      Refusing to uphold Tsvangirai's suspension, High Court Judge Yunus
Omerjee found that Mutambara's faction - represented in the court
application by the then party deputy secretary general Gift Chimanikire -
did not have authority to raise such an application on behalf of the MDC.

      The lawyers for Tsvangirai's faction say Omerjee's ruling effectively
meant that their client's rivals could not conduct any business on behalf of
the MDC or use the party's name or symbol. The lawyers say Mutambara's
faction - then co-led by secretary general Welshman Ncube and deputy
president Gibson Sibanda - accepted Omerjee's ruling and all its
implications because they did not appeal against it.

      In a letter last week to Coghlan and Welsh law firm that represents
Mutambara's camp, Tsvangirai's lawyers accused the rival faction of having
"continued to act in defiance of the logic and principle of the High Court,"
by continuing calling themselves the MDC and using the party's symbol.

      The lawyers for the Tsvangirai camp also pointed out that Omerjee had
found that an MDC national council meeting that overturned Tsvangirai's
suspension was properly constituted and had acted in accordance with the
rules of the party.

      But Coghlan and Welsh's Nicholas Mathonsi promptly responded insisting
that their clients (Mutambara's faction) were the only ones entitled to use
the MDC name and symbol despite Omerjee's refusing to uphold Tsvangirai's

      Mathonsi said Mutambara's faction had felt no need to contest
Omerjee's ruling because it was based on a technicality and not on merit.

      He wrote: "Justice Omerjee concluded that Gift Chimanikire had not
placed evidence before the Court that he had locus standi to bring
proceedings on behalf of MDC and dismissed the application on that basis.
"The court's decision to that extent could not be faulted, hence there was
no need to appeal against it as it was decided on a technicality and not on

      Mathonsi said his clients regarded Tsvangirai as irrelevant to the MDC
with or without Omerjee's judgment. The lawyers also dismissed the national
council meeting that sought to reverse Tsvangirai's suspension as a
"kangaroo court" whose decisions he said were not binding on Mutambara's
wing of the MDC.

      None of the squabbling sides has as yet said whether it may resort to
the courts to assert its rights. But such a court battle between the
factions seems more likely to become reality once the process to break the
MDC into two parties is completed when Tsvangirai's faction holds its
congress in about three weeks' time.

      A protracted battle in the courts will sap the energy out of both
opposition factions, while analysts say Mugabe will use to the opportunity
of a divided and wrangling opposition to strengthen his grip on power that
until the MDC split had appeared under serious threat from the opposition
party. ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe public transporters hike fares by 100 percent

Zim Online

Tue 28 February 2006

      BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe public transporters have hiked fares by between 50
and 100 percent, increasing the misery of commuters who must also brace up
for more hikes in prices of nearly every other commodity because of rising
fuel prices.

      Unstable and ever rising prices for goods and services are a common
feature in Zimbabwe as the country grapples a severe economic crisis shown
through high inflation of above 600 percent and shortages of nearly every
basic survival product. Prices of commodities often go up after every few

      After the latest fare increases, commuters in the second largest city
of Bulawayo will for example now pay Z$60 000 (US$0.60) to travel from the
city centre to a residential suburb about 15km away. Before yesterday's
hikes commuters paid about Z$30 000 (US$0.30) for the same distance.

      Bulawayo Public Transport Owners Association (BUPTOA) chairman Francis
Malunga said they had unilaterally hiked fares to remain viable after
increases in the price of fuel and spares, all mostly sourced from the
illegal black market just like everything else in the country.

      Transporters normally negotiate and agree new fares with the

      Malunga said: "The public transport associations have not met to
decide on the actual fares but owners are suffering and as a result most of
them have decided to effect the increase on their own.

      "Fuel went up drastically and you find that even garages are also
asking vehicle owners to pay the black market price for fuel. This is
unfortunate because at the end commuters are being made to bear the costs."

      The price of a litre of petrol on the black-market went up from Z$160
000 (US$1.61) to Z$200 000 (US$2.02), which is about nine times the official
price. The black-market is the only reliable source of petrol and diesel,
both in critical short supply because there is no hard cash to pay foreign

      Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, who must sanction fare
hikes, was not available for comment on the matter yesterday. But the
government has in the past arrested and fined commuter operators for
charging fares above rates gazetted by the state.

      The fare hikes came as Zimbabwe's bakeries at the weekend increased
the price of bread to Z$70 000 (US$0.70) from Z$44 000 (US$0.44) a loaf. The
bread makers also cited rising input costs as the reason for hiking the
price of the staple food. - ZimOnline

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48 percent of Zimbabwe's manufacturing firms have lost hope of economic recovery: survey

Zim Online

Tue 28 February 2006

      HARARE - About 48 percent of Zimbabwe's struggling manufacturing firms
have lost hope that President Robert Mugabe's government can revive the
country's economy in recession for the last six years, according to a survey
by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI).

      "48 percent (of companies) say the economy will not turn around in the
foreseeable future," the CZI said in a report on the findings of the survey
that was released late last week and made available to ZimOnline on Monday.

      The CZI is the biggest representative body for business in the country
and is generally regarded as the voice of the manufacturing sector.

      The organisation said an overwhelming majority of the 100 firms that
were polled cited the shortages of foreign currency to import raw materials,
the managed exchange rate and the government's frequent shifts on major
policy positions as critical factors most negatively affecting viability.

      Thirteen percent of the firms said they were operating well below
capacity while nearly all the companies approached during the interview said
they were worse off now than they were in 2004.

      The dark pessimism about Mugabe's capacity to improve Zimbabwe's
economic fortunes mirrors well the views of ordinary citizens 76 percent of
whom told the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion Institution (MPOI) in a
separate survey, whose results were released earlier last week, that they
did not believe the veteran President could resuscitate the comatose

      Fifty-eight of the firms polled by the CZI urged the government to
liberalise the economic environment with most of them voicing concern at
moves by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono to reintroduce
stringent controls on the exchange rate.

      Gono, widely regarded as Mugabe's economic fixer, late last year
ordered that movement of the exchange rate be based on volumes traded on the
interbank market, a measure industry has taken as an attempt to put tighter
controls on the movement of the local dollar again.

      Zimbabwe is grappling a severe economic crisis that has spawned
shortages of foreign currency, food, essential medical drugs, electricity
and just about every basic survival commodity.

      Critics blame the crisis on repression and wrong policies by Mugabe
especially his seizure of productive farms from white farmers for
redistribution to blacks. The often violent land reform programme
destabilised the mainstay agricultural sector, knocking down food production
by about 60 percent while hard receipts also dwindled as farm exports fell.

      Mugabe however denies ruining Zimbabwe's economy saying the country's
problems are because of sanctions and sabotage by Western countries opposed
to his land reforms. - ZimOnline

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An African Storm

For those of you who have not lived in Africa, an African storm is a
fearsome thing. The day will be hot and breathless and about mid afternoon
you will hear a low rumble in the distance. In a short while the wind comes
up and the black clouds tower into the skies above us and then they roll
over us in majestic order.

Suddenly lighting splits the sky and the clouds seem to be cut in half as
the air rushes into the space created by the heat of "gods fire". Then comes
the rain falling in vast wet sheets across the open veld. In seconds the
gullies are full and flowing and in minutes the streams are rising out of
their banks and when the storm passes we are left with the roar of nearby
rivers as they rush down to the lowlands.

Some fear and hate the storms - my wife's mother had to retreat into an
enclosed space until given the all clear by the family. I just love the
spectacle - not just because it is so magnificent and grand, but because of
the fact that it is the only way to bring life to the parched soil and to
carry us through another long dry season.

Each of the seasons of Africa has their own special character. Of them all I
appreciate the late summer and early winter - it is still green and lush,
the rivers are running and yet it is cool and dry, often with zero humidity.
The early mornings are just superb, the early light from the rising sun,
cool and crisp atmosphere and the joy of the birdsong. The late evenings,
iridescent greens and fantastic skies with the glow of the setting sun. The
early night sky, clear as crystal with millions of stars and a translucent
moon, the night sounds, a roar of crickets, the rasping grunts of frogs, the
soft cry of a nightjar.

As I write this, a storm approaches - I am nervous for the computer and my
modem, but the news of the day compels me to write again of the storm over

Today the President has held his birthday celebrations - no one else to do
it for him so he throws his own bash. No such thing as concern for those in
his country who are homeless and hungry, or of the massive impact of his
prolific spending on the majority. Just a desire to have a good time at our
expense and to wallow in the praises of his entourage.

At a cost of Z$10 thousand million dollars he has held a birthday party in
Mutare - a City close to the epicenter of the earthquake that hit us on
Friday morning. He arrived; I am told, in a 150-vehicle convoy with his own
ambulance, a contingent of the Presidential guard and dozens of Ministers
(we have 58 at last count) all of whom would have been accommodated in local
hotels and lodges at even more expense.

At the rally held by local Zanu PF "chefs" thousands are gathered - many are
simply told to attend (school children) others are forced to attend by
roaming Police and Army patrols. They arrived at 09.00 hrs and sat in the
sun until 12.00 when the "great man" arrived to speak. He spoke for an hour
and then without even a free cool drink, they are told to go home while the
elite go off to a fabulous spread.

Then the shocking news from an IMF press conference in Washington that our
estimated budget deficit in 2005 was 60 per cent (yes, I said SIXTY per
cent) of our GDP. In 2004 it was a "moderate 24 per cent). No wonder our
currency is spiraling out of control and prices are rising so fast we cannot
keep track any more. Remember it is regarded by most economists and Central
Bankers that the deficit should be held below 3 per cent to be sustainable
and to ensure growth with low inflation. In fact our Minister of Finance had
claimed that the deficit was three per cent - he just lied.

Since the end of last month our currency has slipped from 100 000 to 1
against the greenback to 200 000 to 1. Cooking oils have doubled in price
and bread is now also reaching that level. Eggs are Z$30 000 each and milk
is anything from Z$50 000 to Z$75 000 a litre. Given the shortages of maize
meal - the basic staple food, this has also leapt in price reaching Z$60 000
a kilo in many markets. Liquid fuels have risen from Z$95 000 a litre to
Z$200 000 a litre.

Far from facing up to the crisis in the country, Parliament met for two days
and then adjourned until mid April - not a mention of the crisis and no
discussion of any solutions. In fact I think they have given up on finding a
solution while Mugabe is in power and his henchmen rule the roost. It's not
that they do not know what to do - they do. It's just that to take those
steps would run the risk, which they dare not take, of letting the tiger
loose. They are quite simply terrified of the consequences of their own

So Zanu PF finds itself locked into a crisis situation of it's own making
and to which they have no solutions, no exit. They are in a blind alley with
the wall at the end of the road staring them in the face. I found it
interesting that they did not bring forward expected constitutional changes
designed to extend the term of office of the President to 2010 and to allow
Zanu PF to appoint Mugabe's successor. This legislation was expected and has
been drafted. I think it points to the fact that Mugabe does not want to
step down at all - he wants to finish his term and he wants it to run to
2010. He wants four more years!

There is simply no way that that is going to happen. I recall Clintons
famous line "It is the economy, stupid". With the Reserve Bank running the
printing presses flat out we can expect inflation - already at 50 per cent a
month - to continue it's upwards climb. My own graph of the numbers shows us
already on a near vertical part of the graph. We are close to the point
where industry and commerce will simply not be able to continue. It cannot
be business as usual any more.

So I predict a storm is coming - a real African storm, violent, spectacular
and short and that this storm will wash away the debris we have accumulated
in the past 25 years and signal a new beginning for Zimbabwe. We simply
cannot continue like this and there is only one way out of the crisis. If
you do not like or fear storms like this then it is time to get your closet
ready. You might need it for a while, but when you come out hopefully you
will find the country washed clean and the dry veld coming alive again.

MDC - that is the real MDC, is clearing the decks for this final struggle to
get Zimbabwe back onto the road to democracy and prosperity. We shortly meet
the leaders of civil society and the Churches to chart the way forward and
will then, for the first time, take the struggle direct to the regime.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo 26th February 2006

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Zim bread price goes up 50%


27/02/2006 15:07  - (SA)

Harare - Many bakeries in Zimbabwe have hiked the price of bread by more
than 50%, increasing the misery of ordinary consumers, a state-controlled
newspaper reported on Monday.

President Robert Mugabe's government says the new prices are "illegal and
mischievous", the Herald reported. Bread is a controlled product in
Zimbabwe, and bakeries are supposed to sell a loaf for 44 000 Zimbabwe
dollars ($0.44).

But bakeries and supermarkets in the second city of Bulawayo have hiked the
price to as much as 70 000 dollars ($0.70), the paper said.

Police have been deployed to investigate outlets violating the price
controls, the report said.

"We have already assigned police officers and inspectors to visit those
bakeries and supermarkets that are charging between 65 000 dollars and 70
000 dollars for a loaf," industry minister Obert Mpofu was quoted as saying.

"Government allowed the bakery industry to increase the price of bread to 44
000 dollars and that is the price we recognise," Mpofu said. "Any other
price increases are illegal and we will take the perpetrators to task."

Zimbabwe is grappling with inflation of at least 613% and acute foreign
currency shortages, causing headaches for the countr?ys factories and
businesses. Prices of most other goods in supermarkets go up every few days.

Bakeries have said other in puts used to produce a loaf of bread, such as
sugar and yeast, have shot up. They say that selling bread at 44 000 dollars
a loaf is unviable.

Some Zimbabweans try to substitute sweet potatoes for bread, but they are
not yet properly in season. - Sapa-dpa

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Travel costs force students to stay home

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

BULAWAYO, 27 Feb 2006 (IRIN) - Mthatheni Sibanda scribbles in an untidy
notebook as he watches over his family's vegetable stand at a mini-market in
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city.

The 19-year-old is a final year advanced-level student trying to balance the
needs of school work with finding the money for his transport to school.

Like several Zimbabwean students, Sibanda can only afford to attend class
twice a week. "I really would love to be at school with other children,
especially since I am preparing for my final examinations," he said.

Sibanda's teachers initially accused him of truancy, but escalating
transport costs soon made them wiser, he explained.

Transport fares have been rising steadily since last year. This week the
cost of a single trip to Bulawayo city centre nearly doubled to 50 US cents.
Five round trips a week could add up to $20 a month in a country where
average salaries range between $50 to $100 a month.

Transport costs are yet another burden for students and parents already
struggling to keep up with a 150 to 500 percent hike in fees for missionary
and private schools. Even public school fees of about $151 per term is
beyond the reach of many Zimbabweans.

Collin Chibango, a student leader at the University of Zimbabwe, has urged
the government to intervene, "because where does a student get a dollar
everyday for their transport costs?"

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has also petitioned the
government to enforce a law that will compel minibus operators to charge
pupils half the normal fare.

"Classes are empty; in most cases we find ourselves having to teach only a
fraction of the whole class after students fail to turn up. It is a sad
development that is unfolding at national level that should be addressed as
a matter of urgency," said Raymond Majongwe, PTUZ secretary-general.

Escalating transport costs have also made girl pupils vulnerable to
exploitation by taxi drivers and some motorists who ask for sexual favours
in exchange for a free lift to school, said Majongwe, citing a PTUZ survey.

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Project Set to Benefit Over 500 Mudzi Families

The Herald (Harare)

February 27, 2006
Posted to the web February 27, 2006


CANADIAN Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mrs Roxanne Dubé on Thursday commissioned a
$8,56 billion Mudzi jatropha oil processing, soap making and bio-diesel
project that is expected to benefit more than 500 mostly women and
child-headed families.

The project, which is being funded through Canadian International
Development Agency's Environmental Response Fund, covers two wards -- 
Chikwizo A and Goronga B.

Ambassador Dubé said the project was aimed at mitigating climate change
induced vulnerability by promoting the growing of drought resistant crops
that are of economic benefit to communities.

These include cassava, sunflower and jatropha whose by-products can also be
used to generate income.

The project is being implemented through Edit Trust, a non-governmental
organisation that seeks to improve communities through interventions that
built their capacities to diversify food resources and sources of household

She said her country was pleased to be associated with the establishment of
such income generating projects that would help enhance the lives of the
disadvantaged in the country.

"Canada is pleased to be part of this climate mitigation project and will
contribute immensely towards transforming the lives of people in Mudzi

"The project aims at reducing the devastating effects of climate change on
families by encouraging them to grow crops that are drought resistant and in
the process generating income and creating employment.

"Most important to me as a woman is that the project will benefit women and
child-headed families. My government pledges to continue working with the
Government of Zimbabwe in areas that improve the people's lives. I hope to
facilitate the export of the products from this project to Canada so that
these women can get foreign currency," she said.

Guest of honour at the commissioning ceremony, Mashonaland East Governor Cde
Ray Kaukonde said his province was grateful with the donation that would
improve the lives of the people in the area.

"The project will indeed improve the lives of people in Mudzi district,
which falls in one of the low rainfall areas of Zimbabwe.

"Zimbabwe is prepared to work with those non-governmental organisations that
want to uplift the people and not those with hidden agendas. The gesture by
the Canadian government and Edit Trust clearly shows that through
co-operation we will improve the lives of our people," Cde Kaukonde said.

He said he hoped the project would continue to grow to other areas of the

"We hope we will continue to work together and develop this project so that
it can spread to other areas of the district. As a country, we can not
operate alone hence we welcome projects like these that improve lives of our

Through the project, five-nursery centres and green houses were established
to offer technical advice to farmers and to provide nurseries for jatropha
and cassava.

The project will raise awareness among the people on the value of jatropha
and sunflower as sources of oil and erecting an oil-pressing machine for the
production of diesel and soap.

The Government has been encouraging the growing of the jatropha plant that
can be used in the manufacture of diesel and animal food.

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MDC wrangling leaves opposition ill-placed


          February 27 2006 at 07:47PM

      By Stella Mapenzauswa

      Harare - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader still enjoys grassroots
support in his strife-torn party, but a new breakaway faction may win over
students who constitute the bulk of future voters, analysts said on Monday.

      The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), for six years the most
potent challenge to President Robert Mugabe, formally split in two over the
weekend when a dissident faction elected a new leader to challenge party
chief Morgan Tsvangirai.

      Tsvangirai has led the MDC since it was formed in 1999, and almost
defeated President Robert Mugabe in 2002 elections the opposition says were

      But Tsvangirai has clashed with his top lieutenants over how best to
take on Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF, spurring the defection of the dissident
group which on Saturday elected former student leader Arthur Mutambara, 40,
to "replace" Tsvangirai.

      Tsvangirai's faction has rejected the dissidents' move and said the
"real" MDC will meet next month to elect its leader, presumably meaning
another term for Tsvangirai.

      Analysts say the wrangling leaves the MDC badly placed to challenge
Mugabe's 26-year grip on power, although Tsvangirai continues to command
support from working class voters who have been the backbone of the MDC.

      "Tsvangirai still enjoys a lot of the grassroots support and the other
guys have a lot to do in that regard even though their congress showed they
have some following," said political analyst Lovemore Madhuku, longtime
Mugabe critic.

      Mutambara, who led student protests against Mugabe's government in the
1980s before leaving to study abroad, has been compared to Tsvangirai, a
self-taught former mine worker who rose to prominence as a combative trade
union leader.

      Both have a history of militant confrontation with the government. But
the two opposition leaders speak to different constituencies.

      The MDC has its roots in the trade union movement and remains closely
allied with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) which represents
the bulk of the labour force.

      "There is no doubt that there seems to be a drift towards the
Tsvangirai faction because of the element of the worker base as reflected by
the ZCTU," said political commentator Heneri Dzinotyiwei of the University
of Zimbabwe.

      Analysts say, however, Mutambara's student history is likely to strike
a chord with young Zimbabweans who struggle at run-down state schools while
an economic meltdown has left many others jobless.

      Official figures show that 50 percent of Zimbabwe's population is aged
30 years and under.

      "The youth element, and these constitute a large block of potential
voters of the Zimbabwean population, would find common affinity with
Mutambara," leading political analyst Eldred Masunungure wrote in an online
Zimbabwe news column.

      "Mutambara would (also) deliver votes from ... the intelligentsia who
are sceptical of Tsvangirai's modest education and who doubt the latter's
capacity to grasp modern and complex global issues," added Masunungure, head
of Political and Administrative Studies at the University of Zimbabwe.

      Analysts said a key test of strength for both groups would be in the
next presidential elections due in 2008.

      Zimbabwe's state-run media has made much of the internal bickering
within the MDC, although analysts say they detect a more favourable attitude
toward Mutambara's faction, triggering suggestions of a "secret" alliance
with Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

      In what analysts see as a further indication Mugabe does not regard
Mutambara as a serious opponent, the veteran leader made no mention of him
in a weekend speech to celebrate his birthday, but spent almost 15 minutes
denouncing Tsvangirai.

      Mutambara rejected suggestions he was working with the ruling party,
telling a news conference on Sunday: "Our agenda is to fight and defeat the
regime of Robert Mugabe and get into power ... If anyone has illusions that
(we are) pliant and cohorting with the dictator, you are in for a big

      One analyst said Mutambara's status as a relative newcomer to the
national political fight means he has a lot of work to do to become a real
threat to Mugabe's rule.

      "The biggest disadvantage for Mutambara is that he has not been in the
political game for long, despite his history as a student leader, while
Tsvangirai has been there from the start. Mutambara is starting from zero so
to speak," Dzinotyiwei said.

      The rift in the MDC comes against the background of a deepening
economic crisis blamed on Mugabe, 82, who critics say has mismanaged the
country since assuming power at independence from Britain in 1980.

      Mugabe denies responsibility for persistent shortages of food, fuel
and foreign currency, unemployment of over 70 percent, and the world's
highest inflation rate. He charges the economy has been sabotaged by
opponents of his drive to forcibly redistribute white-owned farms among

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Tsvangirai faction dismisses pro-senate congress and the significance of Mutambara's return

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      27 February 2006

      The MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai has dismissed the congress
held in Bulawayo this weekend by the pro-senate group as just a private
meeting of individuals who do not represent the MDC. The involvement of
former student leader Professor Arthur Mutambara as leader of the pro-senate
MDC faction was also criticised as meaningless. William Bango, personal
assistant to Tsvangirai, said the pro-senate congress and Mutambara's return
were a media issue that was being fuelled by a few individuals. He said a
planned rally by the pro-senate group had failed to take off and few of the
leaders had met for just 2 hours.

      Bango referred to the judgement that was made by Justice Omarjee, who
threw out an application by the pro-senate side seeking to remove Tsvangirai
as leader of the party. He said: "Until this high court decision is set
aside, Tsvangirai's leadership is not under threat." Bango explained how
only the congress scheduled for March 17th can deal with this issue. As for
Mutambara's return to politics, Bango said those on the ground in Zimbabwe
were not aware of all the buzz in the media. He said unfortunately Mutambara
was trying to enter politics through a platform that is not recognised.
Mutambara's statement, he said, was a media sound bite but he does not
represent the MDC, according to Bango.

      Asked whether reconciliation with the pro-senate leaders was possible,
Bango said Tsvangirai's view was that any wayward members of the MDC who
went astray for any reason were welcome to come back. He said all aggrieved
members can bring their grievances to the congress and the people will
decide, not Tsvangirai and not any other individual. Tsvangirai's group has
organised their congress for March 17th to March 19th in Harare.

      With both factions of MDC claiming to be legitimate as prescribed by
the party's constitution, the opposition vote will continue to be split
during elections. This will give ZANU-PF a huge advantage in future
elections. It is not yet clear whether the courts will get involved in this
internal dispute over the name, but until then there will be 2 sets of MDC
officials in each province, 2 leaders and 2 executive councils. Mugabe
cannot be defeated by a split opposition, and Zimbabweans remain confused as
to what all this means and how their suffering will end.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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MDC mediator Brian Raftopoulos welcomes Mutambara factor

      By Violet Gonda

      27 February 2006

      In the aftermath of the congress by the MDC pro-senate faction that
took place in Bulawayo this past weekend, political analyst and MDC advisor
Professor Brian Raftopoulos said the election of former student leader
Arthur Mutambara as leader of the pro-senate camp is a positive development.
He said Mutambara adds a new dimension to the leadership, and introduces a
new important figure into the political scene.

      But Raftopoulos warned that, "It's early days yet as we have to see
how both Arthur and his leadership introduce him to the Zimbabwean public.
The biggest challenge that faces him is how he grows as a national figure."

      Mutambara who returned back after several years in the Diaspora, was
elected unopposed for the faction that broke with leader Morgan Tsvangirai
over last year's senatorial election.

      Gift Chimanikire was elected the party's chairman while Gibson Sibanda
and Welshman Ncube retained their positions as Vice President and Secretary
General respectively at the congress that was attended by at least 3000

      In his acceptance speech Mutambara said that his immediate goal would
be to try and reconcile the warring factions. Observers have said it may be
a tall order for him as he is one of the few people in that group who has
echoed remarks for unity. Professor Raftopoulos said, "He has to now build
his leadership and those around him have to work together to support him and
they can't afford to get into any divisive battle again."

      He added, "It's important for Morgan Tsvangirai and his team to look
at what's been done this weekend, to listen to the messages (Mutambara's
speech) that's coming out of there and see where the possible linkage and
bridges are."

      Meanwhile, the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai has already
dismissed the congress held in Bulawayo saying it was meaningless as it was
held by people who do not represent the MDC.

      Raftopoulos said this kind of "bravado" should be expected initially
but the reality is that the MDC is now split and that there are two parties
emerging carrying the name and that legacy, and they will have to deal with
each other in the future.

      He said, "What's important is that both sides consider national issues
in Zimbabwe, that they can find ways to work together to find common
strategic objectives. The common issue is to change the current political
environment in Zimbabwe."

      On questions about why Mutambara has been silent all these years,
Raftopoulos believes that no matter what leader comes along there will
always be questions. He said, "Mutambara now has to build trust and he can
only do this by being active, by being present and by being public. That is
the task that he faces."

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Six student leaders arrested during opening day demonstrations at the University of Zimbabwe

      By Lance Guma
      27 February 2006

      Six student leaders from the University of Zimbabwe were arrested on
Monday after allegedly leading a demonstration on the opening day of the new
semester. The group, which includes Secretary General Mfundo Mlilo, Zimbabwe
National Students Union president Washington Katema, Wellington Mahohoma,
Collen Chibango and two others, were picked up by riot police and taken to
Harare Central Police Station. Mlilo who spoke to Newsreel from the charge
office said the police were likely to detain them over night. After police
asked him to stop talking on his mobile phone he kept the line open to allow
a recording of the conversations inside the police station.

      Some of the students can be heard pleading to have one of their
colleagues, Mahohoma taken to hospital for treatment after receiving a
beating from the police officers. Arresting officers allegedly struck him on
the jaw with clenched fists. In the audio recorded by Newsreel, Mahohoma
says he felt like he had burst an eardrum. The officers on duty however can
be heard insisting on taking him to the cells despite the possibility of his
injuries being serious. Their lawyer Tafadzwa Mugabe confirmed the arrests
and says his clients have been moved from Harare Central to an unknown

      Despite the secret relocations, their lawyer suspects they have been
taken to the notorious Mbare Matapi Police Station known for its filthy and
unsanitary cells. The police are also refusing to disclose what the charges
are and have told their lawyer that they can hold the students for 48 hours
without charge. It's also not clear which arm of the police carried out the
arrests as neither the Operations nor the Law and Order sections are taking
responsibility. Their lawyer says his clients were arrested on the orders of
UZ campus security even though they were 'only marching to the offices of
the Vice Chancellor to have dialogue with him.'

      The University opened Monday and just as the students had threatened,
they demonstrated against the massive tenfold hike in tuition fees. Students
at the country's universities and colleges now have to fork out Z$35 million
per semester as opposed to the previous Z$3,5 million a year. They say
support grants of Z$11,5 million per semester fall far short of their
requirements and say the government should revise the new tuition fees.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Fresh cash crisis feared

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 02/28/2006 04:34:35
THOUSANDS of people failed to withdraw their money from some financial
institutions in Zimbabwe Monday raising fears of a fresh cash crisis.

Most banks in Harare were on Monday surrounded by snaking queus of people
who wanted to access their salaries to buy scarce commodities, but could not
get money due to shortages at the banks. Some financial institutions closed
shop before clearing their customers.

At the Beverly Building Society along Harare's Chinhoyi Street, the
financial opened its doors at 8am Monday, but people were told to wait for
cash to be delivered two hours later. Even after the delivery, it ran out
around lunch time with the institution resorting to doling out money at
intervals from other deposits which were trickling in.

At the Central Building Society (CABS) along Jason Moyo Avenue, the banking
Hall was closed with people accessing their cash through at an ATM.

A security guard said there was no enough money at the bank to cater for the
large numbers of people. There were reports at the weekend that other
financial institutions in Manicaland, where President Robert Mugabe held his
birthday bash, ran out of cash.

Cash shortages have come as a surprise to the people after recent
revelations by central governor Gideon Gono that the government had printed
21 trillion for buying foreign currency to pay the International Monetary
Fund (IMF).

The forex is believed to have been accessed on the black market. President
Robert Mugabe recently said his government would continue to print money,
despite the fact that the move fuels inflation currently pegged at 612, as a
way of meeting some of his government obligations.

Mugabe's warped economic policies have seen Zimbabwe, once a promising
African nation having the world's fastest shrinking economy outside a war

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Circus At Town House While Harare Decays

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

February 26, 2006
Posted to the web February 27, 2006

Desmond Kumbuka

JUST outside my gate, water is gushing from a burst pipe forming rivulets
streaming to a storm drain down the street on its way back to Lake Chivero.
Alarmed by this obvious waste of the precious liquid, and what it could mean
to the city's mounting problems especially that Town House has been trying
to impress on residents to use water sparingly, I considered it my civic
duty to bring the problem to the attention of the appropriate authorities.
So I dutifully went to my local district office to report the burst pipe.

After what seemed an eternity as she jabbered and laughed incessantly while
talking on her cell phone, a lady receptionist finally took down my report.
She said me workmen would duly be dispatched to check the problem. She
promptly returned to her cell phone.

In the meantime, grass and weeds are thriving at the oasis that has
blossomed in front of my gate. And in the thicket that has developed,
mosquitoes are finding sanctuary from which to disseminate their deadly
merchandise. I pray that none of my children will catch malaria because
taking them for treatment even for a curable ailment as malaria, is now a
formidable challenge given the extortionate doctors' consultation and
hospital charges. But I digress.

It is now more than a month since I made my report to the Mabelreign
District Office but there has been no one from the municipality to attend to
the pipe. And as if it's any consolation, I am told I am not the only one in
this predicament. In other areas, it's not only burst water pipes they have
to contend with but also the more petrifying prospect of drowning in sewage.

Residents in places like Chitungwiza, Dzivarasekwa, Mabvuku and other
high-density suburbs have perfected a new skill in their movements - a
remarkable dexterity in hoping from stone to stone to avoid splashing in raw
sewage. What is not so easy to avoid is the stench that goes with sewage
spewing from a manhole in one's backyard. And that despicable pest that has
plagued mankind from time immemorial - the indomitable fly proliferates with
abandon - along with its abominable cousin - the green fly, respectfully
known in Zimbabwe as the "green Bomber'.

But while Harare residents are hopping from stone to stone, holding their
noses against the stench of sewage, the circus at Town House is now in full
season. The latest episode in this tragi-comedy is the dismissal of Chester
Mhende, appointed by Ignatious Chombo, the Minister of Local Government,
Urban Development and Public Works, to the curious post of turnaround
strategist. It turns out Mhende did not even need to produce his CV to
secure his appointment, whose job description Harare residents who must foot
his obviously obscene salary, did not have the privilege of knowing.

Mhende got his marching orders after clashing publicly, and acrimoniously,
with Town Clerk Nomutsa Chideya in a vicious power struggle. Mhende,
obviously emboldened by Chombo's apparent confidence in him, challenged
Chideya's powers and refused to be answerable to the Town Clerk, who is his

Service delivery and the city's innumerable problems were invariably
relegated off the official agenda as letters containing accusations and
counter-accusations flew thick and fast between the two men. Sekesai
Makwavarara, the woman from Mabvuku that chairs Chombo's commission running
the affairs of Harare, obviously had other things on her mind while this war
of attrition raged on in the corridors of Town House.

Harare residents did not have long to wait to learn what was bothering the
good lady.

Having been catapulted from the squalid streets of Mabvuku high-density
suburb where she eked a precarious existence in the semi-formal sector of
bottle stores and butcheries, to the helm of the Capital City, doe-eyed
Makwavarara was dreaming of the splendour of the mayoral mansion.

She had apparently convinced her minions at Town House that $35 billion was
a befitting sum to spend on curtains and furniture to enable her to occupy
the obscene edifice which, given the collapse of services in the capital,
should be an embarrassment to any self-respecting local authority.

It is in the context of these developments that one must try and understand
the attitude of ordinary council workers to their jobs. At the Rowan Martin
Building, the revenue headquarters of the municipality, it is not uncommon
to find queues of 500 or more people struggling to pay their rates or
license their vehicles from one or two service counters while numerous other
available counters remain unmanned.

If one should muster the courage to ask why the council does not deploy more
staff at the available service counters especially during peak month-end
periods, the response is always predictably the same - "Taurai nevakuru
vacho - handisini ndinoita mutemo ye pano" (Talk to the superiors - I am not
the one who makes the rules around here.) Needless to say the elusive
"superiors" are never there to respond to queries, and if they are, one is
likely to find themselves at the receiving end of a nasty rebuke for
meddling in matters that do not concern them.

So the municipal worker, clad in orange overalls, and demanding $15 000 from
everyone entering a municipal public toilet, is acutely aware that he is
getting a raw deal when he gets paid a measly $6 million a month compared to
say, Leslie Gwindi who, despite going AWOL and getting suspended for it,
still enjoys a full salary of probably more than $100 million a month, as
well as a council vehicle, cell phone and fuel.

The guy in the orange overall knows he does all the dirty work, and
contributes in real terms to the services that council sells to rate payers,
but gets paid the least in terms of remuneration and benefits, while the
Mwakwavararas, Mhendes and Gwindis feed off the fat of the impoverished

Granted, ordinary workers cannot expect to be paid the same salary as their
executives but that is not the issue here. Executives the world over are
better paid than their subordinates because theirs is a more onerous
responsibility. It is they who must inspire commitment and loyalty among
their subordinates and this they can only accomplish through exemplary
behaviour, selflessness and visionary leadership.

Council workers must have been astounded to learn that their boss, the woman
from Mabvuku, wants to spend $35 billion on curtains and furniture at the
mayoral mansion when their own salaries remain far below the official
poverty datum line of about $20 million.

The workers must wonder how it is that fortune favours the likes of Gwindi
who, in spite of being on suspension for absenteeism, is still gets his full
pay and benefits. How is it that Mhende, whose role, beyond causing
administrative chaos at Town House, is still a mystery, draws a huge salary
and benefits from the council?

Can anyone blame the lady receptionist at Mabelreign District Office for
seeing no urgency in taking down a report that no one is going to attend to

Tragically for Harare residents, our problems do not end with a management
hell-bent on self-enrichment as exemplified by Makwavarara's penchant for

The administrative chaos created by the appointment of dubious turn-around
strategists and the creation of so-called strategic units whose only merit
appears to be to warehouse unemployable Zanu PF loyalists like Gwindi, can
only exacerbate the decay of the city, and with it its long suffering

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Blind beggers the visible face of human trafficking

From The Sunday Independent (SA), 26 February

By Charlene Smith

The blind people we see begging at traffic lights are the most conspicuous
face of human trafficking, yet there is nothing the police can do about it,
they say. Last year the Johannesburg Metro police decided to round up the
beggars who proliferate at Johannesburg and Sandton traffic lights. They
were following the example of Bob Giulani, a former New York mayor, who
brought crime levels down dramatically by first removing street hawkers and
beggars. The metro police "loaded a bus up with more than 300 blind beggars.
Most were Zimbabweans who were here illegally, so we gave some to the
Lindela repatriation camp, and then released the others because it was not
such a serious crime and we didn't know what to do with them. So we released
them within 48 hours," Wayne Minnaar, the spokesperson for the metro police,
admits. "We knew these were people were trafficked into the country and we
suspect there is someone behind this, although we have no proof. They are
very happy to come here because they make a living, get food and can send
some money home to their families."

For Tekler Maruta, 60, who has been begging on Johannesburg streets for a
year, life is hard but it is better than in Zimbabwe. "At least we can eat
here and send money to our families". She has high blood pressure - her
latest reading is an alarming 214 - but she says she has no option but to
walk up and down at traffic lights from 6am to 6pm six days a week. Joseline
Shumba, 44, a mother of three children, two of whom are with her in South
Africa, was knocked down in a hit-and-run incident at an East Rand traffic
light and it took her a year to recover, though she still limps. She says
other blind women pooled together money to pay for her rent (an average of
eight women live in grimy, two-bedroom flats in Hillbrow and Joubert Park,
and pay anything from R65 to R200 a week each) and care for her children.
Her concern is that she is unable to put her two boys, aged two and five,
into daycare while she begs at traffic lights. The women don't want to talk
about how they came into the country. Some say the border guards felt sorry
for them and let them through, others say they paid couriers to get them
across the border, and yet others talk of men who "helped them come to South
Africa" - it is to these men that they pay their exorbitant rentals. Selina
Tom, 55, claims they average R30 to R50 a day begging.

Members of the police's organised crime unit, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said disabled and blind Zimbabweans were "brought over the
border, claiming they are coming here for treatment, taken to places to stay
and paid a salary at the end of the month. "Each morning they are taken to
traffic lights were they meet 'escorts', often South Africans, who walk them
up and down vehicle lanes. At night they are fetched, they hand over the
money, and they and the escort go their separate ways until the next day."
The unit echoes the frustration of the sexual offences unit and the
narcotics unit who come across trafficked people. "There are no laws against
human trafficking in South Africa, so the only legislation we can use is the
Immigration Act, and that penalises the person trafficked, not the
trafficker. They go before court, get fined R70 or R100, get told to get
their papers in order and are released." Police say it is "very difficult to
prove trafficking. People coming in are foreigners, they can't speak South
African languages, we can't communicate with them. The only police
translators are in Pretoria, and we could wait a day or more for them to
come out. We can't hold people if we don't know they are part of a crime".

Police say the Zimbabwean and Mozambique borders and Johannesburg
international airport are entry points. At the airport, for example, "people
will be told to go to gate one, an arrangement will have been made with
corrupt officials who are told, as an example, '12 people are coming', and
he or she will let them pass. Once through, they will be told to go to a
certain place where a taxi will pick them up. These taxi drivers are used
only by organised crime. The taxi will take them to Bruma Lake, for example,
where they will be told to go to a fast-food restaurant. From there someone
else picks them up. If we question that person, he or she says they were
helping the people because they appeared lost and he or she could speak
their language. The taxi driver will say he knows nothing about these
people, he is just doing his job as a taxi driver." Rodgers Mudarikwa of the
Zimbabwean Action Support Group says: "South Africa refuses to accept
economic refugees but it does not stop people coming. Every Saturday [the
department of] home affairs processes 1 000 people at its Rosettenville
office." He and Oliver Kubikwa of the Zimbabwean Political Victims
Association say refugees battle to legitimise their status here and to find
work, medication and food. "There is no way to find work or get decent
medical care in Zimbabwe and so many of those who come here are desperate.
We really need help," Kubikwa said.

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